Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Medici family was a powerful and influential Florentine family from the 13th to 17th century. The family produced four popes, numerous rulers of Florence, and later members of the French royalty. From humble beginnings (the origin of the name is uncertain, though it probably reflects a medical trade - medico), the family first achieved power through banking. The Medici Bank was one of the most prosperous and most respected in Europe. From this base, the family acquired political power initially in Florence, and later in the wider Italy and Europe.
Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici was the first Medici to enter banking, and while he became influential in Florentine government, it wasn't until son Cosimo the Elder took over that in 1434 as gran maestro that the Medici became unofficial head of state of the Florentine republic. The "senior" branch of the family — those descended from Cosimo the Elder; ruled until the assassination of Alessandro de' Medici, the first duke of Florence, in 1537. Power then passed to the "junior" branch — those descended from Lorenzo the Elder , younger son of Giovanni de Bicci, starting with his great-great-grandson Cosimo I the Great.
The Medici were accomplished in fields other than politics too.
Art and architecture
The most significant accomplishments of the Medici were in art and architecture, within which the portfolio of talent employed by Medici is a "Who's Who?" of Renaissance art and architecture. Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, the first patron of art in the family, aided Masaccio and ordered the reconstruction of the Church of San Lorenzo. Cosimo the Elder's notable artistic associates were Donatello and Fra Lippi. The most significant addition to the list over the years was Michelangelo, who produced work for a number of Medici, beginning with Lorenzo the Magnificent. In addition to commissions for art and architecture, the Medici were prolific collectors and today their acquisitions form the core of the Uffizi museum in Florence.
- Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici personally commissioned Brunelleschi to reconstruct the Church of San Lorenzo in 1419.
- Cosimo the Elder also commissioned Brunelleschi to finish the uncompleted dome of Santa Maria del Fiore. The dome, the largest in the world at that time, was finished in 1436.
- Eleonora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I the Great, purchased Pitti Palace from Buonaccorso Pitti in 1550.
- Cosimo I the Great patronized Vasari who erected the Uffizi Gallery in 1560 and founded the Academy of Design in 1562.
- Marie de' Medici, widow of Henri IV and mother of Louis XIII, is used by Peter Paul Rubens in 1622-23 as the subject in his oil painting Marie de' Medici, Queen of France, Landing in Marseilles.
- Salvestro de' Medici (1331–1388), led the assault against the revolt of the ciompi, became dictator of Florence, and banished in 1382
- Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (1360–1429), restored the family fortune and made the Medici family the wealthiest in Europe
- Cosimo the Elder (1389–1464), founder of the Medici political dynasty
- Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449–1492), leader of Florence during the Golden Age of the Renaissance
- Giovanni de' Medici (1475–1523), also known as Pope Leo X
- Giulio de' Medici (1478–1534), also known as Pope Clement VII
- Giovanni di Angelo de' Medici (1499–1565), also known as Pope Pius IV
- Cosimo I the Great (1519–1574), First Grand Duke of Tuscany and restored the Medici lustre
- Catherine de' Medici (1519–1589), Queen of France
- Marie de' Medici (1573–1642), Queen and Regent of France
Medici family tree (1360 - 1675)
Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (1360–1429) | +-Cosimo de' Medici (the Elder) (1389–1464) | | | +-Piero I de' Medici (the Gouty) (1414–1469), Lord of Florence | | | | | +-Giuliano de' Medici (1453–1478) | | | | | | | +-Giulio de' Medici (1478–1534), Pope Clement VII | | | | | | | +-Alessandro de' Medici (the Moor) (1511–1537), Duke of Tuscany | | | | | | | + Giulio de' Medici (ca. 1533–1600) | | | | | | | + Giulia de' Medici (ca. 1535–?) | | | | | +-Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent) (1449–1492), Lord of Florence | | | | | +-Lucrezia de' Medici (1470–1550) | | | | | | | +-Maria Salviati (1499–1543), wife of Giovanni dalle bande nere (see below) | | | | | | | +-Francesca Salviati | | | | | | | +- Alessandro de' Medici (1535–1605), Pope Leo XI | | | | | +-Piero II de' Medici (the Unfortunate) (1472–1503), Lord of Florence | | | | | | | +-Lorenzo II de' Medici (1492–1519), Duke of Urbino | | | | | | | +-Catherine de' Medici (1519–1589), wife of Henry II of France | | | | | +-Maddalena de' Medici (1473–1528) | | | | | +-Giovanni de' Medici (1475–1521), Pope Leo X | | | | | +-Giuliano de' Medici (1478/79–1516), Duke of Nemours | | | | | | | +-Ippolito de' Medici (1511–1535), Cardinal | | | | | +-Contessina de' Medici (?–1515), wife of Piero Ridolfi | | | +-Giovanni de' Medici (1421–1463) | | | +-Carlo de' Medici (1430–1492) | +-Lorenzo de' Medici (the Elder) (1395–1440) | +-Pierfrancesco de' Medici (the Elder) (1430–1476) | +-Lorenzo the Popolano (1463–1503), Lord of Piombino | | | +-Pierfrancesco de' Medici (the Younger) (1487–1525) | | | +-Laudomia de' Medici (1463-?) | | | +-Lorenzino de' Medici (1514–1548) (also called Lorenzaccio) | | | +-Giuliano the Medici (ca. 1520–1588) | | | +-Maddalena de' Medici (?–1583) | +-Giovanni the Popolano (1467–1498) | +-Giovanni of the Black Bands (1498–1526), the most noted soldier of all the Medici | +-Cosimo I de' Medici (1519–1574), Grand duke of Tuscany | +-Francesco I de' Medici (1541–1587), Grand duke of Tuscany | | | +-Eleanora de' Medici (1567–1611) | | | +-Marie de' Medici (1573–1642), wife of Henry IV of France | | | +-Antonio de' Medici (1576–1621) | +-Isabella de' Medici (1542–1576) | +-Giovanni de' Medici (1543–1562), bishop of Pisa and cardinal | +-Lucretia de' Medici (1545–1562), wife of Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrana and Modena | +-Ferdinando I de' Medici (1549–1609), Grand duke of Tuscany | | | +-Cosimo II de' Medici (1590–1621), Grand duke of Tuscany | | | | | +-Ferdinando II de' Medici (1610–1670), Grand duke of Tuscany | | | | | | | +-Cosimo III de' Medici (1642–1723), Grand duke of Tuscany | | | | | | | +-Ferdinando III de' Medici (1663–1713) | | | | | | | +-Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici (1667–1743) | | | | | | | +-Gian Gastone de' Medici (1671–1737), Grand duke of Tuscany | | | | | +-Giovanno Carlo de' Medici (1611–1663), Bishop of Sabina | | | | | +-Margherita de' Medici (1617–1675), wife of Odoardo I Farnese, count of Parma | | | | | +-Anna de' Medici (1616–1676), wife of archduke Ferdinand Charles of Austria | | | | | +-Leopoldo de' Medici (1617–1675), Cardinal | | | +-Claudia de' Medici (1604–1648), wife of archduke Leopold V of Austria | +-Pietro de' Medici (1554–1604) | +-Virginia de' Medici (1568–1615), wife of Cesare d'Este, Duke of Modena
- Christopher Hibbert, The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall (Morrow-Quill, 1980) is an excellent and highly readable overall history of the family
- Ferdinand Schevill, History of Florence: From the Founding of the City Through the Renaissance (Frederick Ungar, 1936) is the standard overall history of Florence
- Niccolo Machiavelli, History of Florence and of the Affairs of Italy: From the Earliest Times to the Death of Lorenzo the Magnificent (Niccolo Machiavelli, 1521-25) is one of Machiavelli's most important works
- Paul Strathern, The Medici - Godfathers of the Renaissance (Pimlico, 2005) is an informative and lively account of the Medici family, their finesse and foibles - extremely readable.
- PBS/Justin Hardy, Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance Four-hour documentary, covering the rise and fall of the family from Giovanni through the abandonment of Galileo by Ferdinand II. Very watchable and informative, available on DVD & Video.
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