The Medici of Florence: while not especially distinguished in the 14th century, bankers Giovanni and especially his son Cosimo (the Elder) produced the single most powerful and influential family of 15th-century Florence which went on to supply early 16th century rulers of Florence and two Popes, Leo X (1513-21) and Clement VII (born 1478, 1523-34).
A second line of the family, starting with Cosimo I (great grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent) would rule Florence and Tuscany as Grand Dukes until 1737. As the family ruled in Florence, in one form or another, through the heyday of the Renaissance, their name is forever associated with the great artistic achievements of that era.
Medici “rule” in Florence can be divided into three phases: unofficial control of the republic’s political machine in the 15th century, recognized rulers through a transitional period in the early 16th century, then hereditary rulers as Grand Dukes from 1537 to 1737 (from Cosimo I to Gian-Gastone).
It was their good fortune and ours that the last of the Medici, Anna Maria Luisa, by means of the “Family Pact,” succeeded in passing on all the family’s possessions to the Medici’s political successors, the House of Lorraine in exchange for the promise that all would stay put and not be shipped off to Austria or dispersed by sale as had virtually all the collections of other great Renaissance ruling families in Italy.
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