The Martin Pollins Blog

History, economics, business, politics…and Sussex


The Medici Family

The history[1] of the Medici family (also known as the House of Medici) involves a series of astute politicians and diplomats, bankers, popes and fearless leaders. There are murders and plots aplenty, vicious and dangerous enemies, piles of money and passion to add to the mysteries and intrigue of this family. And we shouldn’t forget that the Medicis shaped one of the most beautiful cities on earth – Florence – financing artists like Michelangelo, the polymath of all things called art, and Brunelleschi, a founding father of Renaissance[2] architecture. But how did an obscure family from the Apennine valley of Mugello[3] achieve their remarkable success?  Whilst there is much to understand, the starting point is the Medici familyfounder, Medico di Potrone[4] (born in 1046 and a doctor by profession) – Medici is the Italian word for doctor.

The Early Medici

The first member of the Medici family to hold high public office was Ardingo de Medici, elected Gonfaloniere in 1296. Although two more Medicis held the office again within the next 30 years, it was followed by a short period of decline until Salvestro de Medici returned the family to prominence, holding the office of Gonfaloniere in 1370 and 1378. Salvestro rose to power on the backs of a popular mob, the ciompi. As the ciompi fell, so did Salvestro’s political fortunes. Giovanni de Medici took up the office of Gonfaliere (one of the selected citizens who formed the government, or Signori) in 1421 and would be the last Medici to hold such a high office until the 16th century.[5]

The Medici was anItalian family that ruled Florence (and later Tuscany) during most of the period from 1434 to 1737, except for two brief intervals (from 1494 to 1512 and from 1527 to 1530). They first attained wealth and political power in Florence through their success in commerce and banking.[6]  The Medici were the first princely dynasty to win their status not by warfare, marriage or inheritance but through business. You can view the Family Tree on Wikipedia.

The family began gaining prominence under Cosimo de’ Medici, in the Republic of Florence during the first half of the 15th century. It originated in the Mugello region of Tuscany and grew gradually until it could fund the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century and facilitated the Medici’s rise to political power in Florence, although they officially remained citizens rather than monarchs until the next century.

The Medici produced four popes of the Catholic Church: and two queens of France: Catherine de’ Medici (1547–1559) and Marie de’ Medici (1600–1610).[7]  The four Popes were:

  • Pope Leo X (11th December 11 1475 – 1st December 1521), born Giovanni de’ Medici, was Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521.
  • Pope Clement VII (26th May 1478 – 25th September 1534), born Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534. He was a first cousin of Leo X.
  • Pope Pius IV (31st March 1499 – 9th December 1565), born Giovanni Angelo Medici, was Pope from 1559 to 1565. However, he was only distantly related to the other Medici popes.
  • Pope Leo XI (2nd June 1535 – 27th April 1605), born Alessandro Ottaviano de’ Medici, was Pope from 1st April 1605 to 27th April of the same year.

Portrait of Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder [Cropped]

Caption: Portrait by Jacopo Pontormo; the laurel branch (il Broncone) was a symbol used also by his heirs[8]. Attribution: Pontormo, Public domain, via WikimediaCommons.

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Cosimo de’ Medici was a citizen of rare wisdom and inestimable riches, and therefore most celebrated all over Europe, especially because he had spent over 400,000 ducats in building churches, monasteries and other sumptuous edifices not only in his own country but in many other parts of the world, doing all this with admirable magnificence and truly regal spirit, since he had been more concerned with immortalising his name than providing for his descendants.[9]

In 1532, the family acquired the hereditary title Duke of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany after territorial expansion. The Medici ruled the Grand Duchy from its inception until 1737, with the death of Gian Gastone de’ Medici. The grand duchy witnessed economic growth under the early grand dukes. The almost 300-year-long reign of the Medici family came to a close with the death of Gian Gastone de’ Medici, the seventh Medici to serve as the Duke of Tuscany. His life of debauchery left him with no heirs – resulting in the end of the Medici family line.[10]

Caption: A 16th-century portrait of Contessina de’ Bardi, Cosimo’s wife.
Attribution: Attributed to Cristofano dell’Altissimo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:,_Contessina_de%27_Bardi.jpg

Originally, the Medicis’ wealth and influence came from the textile trade guided by the wool guild of Florence, the Arte della Lana. Like other families ruling in Italian signorie, the Medici dominated their city’s government. They brought Florence under their family’s power and created an environment in which art and humanism flourished. They and other families of Italy inspired the Italian Renaissance, such as the Visconti and Sforza in Milan, the Este in Ferrara, the Borgia in Rome, and the Gonzaga in Mantua.

Not being soldiers, the Medici dealt with their adversaries with bribes of gold rather than with battalions of armed men. In addition, the early Medici courted favour with the middle and poorer classes in the city, and this determination to be popolani (“plebeian”) endured for a long time after they died. Finally, all the Medicis were passionate about art, letters and fine buildings.[11]

The Medici Bank

The Medici Bank was created in 1397. In its prime years, during the 15th century, it was the largest and most respected bank in Europe.[12] From this base, the family acquired political power initially in Florence and later in wider Italy and Europe. They were among the earliest businesses to use the general ledger accounting system by developing the double-entry bookkeeping system for tracking credits and debits (see below).

Double-Entry Bookkeeping

A notable contribution to the professions of banking and accounting pioneered by the Medici Bank was the improvement of the general ledger system through the development of the double entry system of tracking debits and credits or deposits and withdrawals.[13] The advent of double-entry bookkeeping was put into practice by Giovanni de Medici, who lost no time in popularising its use.

The earliest extant accounting records that follow the modern double-entry system in Europe come from Amatino Manucci, a Florentine merchant at the end of the 13th century.[14] The Farolfi firm employed Manucci, and the firm’s ledger of 1299–1300 provides evidence of full double-entry bookkeeping. Giovannino Farolfi & Company, a firm of Florentine merchants headquartered in Nîmes, acted as moneylenders to the Archbishop of Arles, who was the bank’s most important customer.[15] 

Some sources suggest that Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici introduced this method for the Medici bank in the 14th century, although verifiable supporting evidence is lacking.[16]  The system began to be adopted in Italian merchant cities during the 14th century. Before this time, there may have been systems of accounting records on multiple books that did not have the necessary attributes to control the business economy. In the 16th century, Venice produced the theoretical accounting science through the writings of Luca Pacioli[17], Domenico Manzoni, Bartolomeo Fontana, the accountant Alvise Casanova[18] and the erudite Giovanni Antonio Tagliente.

Picture: Showing Pacioli standing behind a table and wearing the habit of a member of the Franciscan order. He draws a construction on a board, the edge of which bears the name Euclides. Pacioli’s left hand rests upon a page of an open book, which may be his Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalità or a copy of Euclid. Upon the table rest the instruments of a mathematician: a sponge, a protractor, a pen, a case, a piece of chalk, and compasses. In the right corner of the table, there is a dodecahedron resting upon a book bearing Pacioli’s initials. A rhombicuboctahedron (a convex solid consisting of 18 squares and eight triangles) suspends at the left of the painting. The identity of the young man at the right is uncertain, but one commentator recognises the “eternal student” instructed by Pacioli. Some authors have also mentioned the possibility that the student is Dürer. Attribution: Jacopo de’ Barbari – Lauwers, Luc & Willekens, Marleen: Five Hundred Years of Bookkeeping: A Portrait of Luca Pacioli (Tijdschrift voor Economie en Management, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1994, vol. XXXIX issue 3 p. 289–304) pdf
Public Domain. 
File URL:

Ragusan precursor Benedetto Cotrugli‘s 1458 treatise, Della mercatura e del mercante perfetto, contained the earliest known description of a double-entry system, was published in print in Venice in 1573.[19]

Allegedly, double-entry bookkeeping was pioneered by the Romans and in the Jewish community of the early-medieval Middle East.[20] In 70 AD, Pliny the Elder described the structure of the “Tabulae Rationum” as “On one page all the disbursements are entered, on the other page all the receipts; both pages constitute a whole for each operation of every man”.[21] 

Eleventh-century Jewish bankers in Cairo, Egypt, used an intermediary form of credit-debit accounts for some of their documentation.[22]  The oldest European record of a complete double-entry system is the Messari Italian: Treasurer‘s) accounts of the Republic of Genoa in 1340. The Messari accounts contain debits and credits journalised in a bilateral form and include balances carried forward from the preceding year, and therefore enjoy general recognition as a double-entry system[23] – by the end of the 15th century, bankers and merchants in FlorenceGenoa, Venice and Lübeck used this system widely.

Michelangelo and the Medici

Michelangelo (1475 –1564) had a complicated relationship with the Medici family, who were the effective rulers of his home city of Florence for most of his lifetime. The Medici rose to prominence as Florence’s preeminent bankers,  amassing a sizable fortune, some of which were used for the arts’ patronage. Michelangelo’s first contact with the Medici family began early as a talented teenage apprentice of the Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. Following initial work for Lorenzo de’ Medici, Michelangelo’s interactions with the family continued for decades, including the Medici papacies of Pope Leo X and Pope Clement VII. Despite pauses and turbulence in the relationship between Michelangelo and his Medici patrons, it was the commissions from the Medici Popes that produced some of Michelangelo’s finest work, including the completion of the tomb of Pope Julius II with its monumental sculpture of Moses, and The Last Judgement, a complex fresco covering the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel (the earlier Sistine Chapel ceiling was not a Medici commission).[24] It was under Lorenzo that Michelangelo got his start, with the Medici family being credited as having sparked the Italian Renaissance.[25]  As a teenager, Michelangelo was recommended for admission to a school for sculptors established by Lorenzo de’ Medici. Sandro Botticelli was another artist who lived at the Medici palace as a young man and benefitted from the family’s patronage of the arts throughout his career.[26]

The Medici Bank’s Rise to Power

For most of the 13th century, the leading banking centre in Italy was Siena. But in 1298, one of the top banking families of Europe, the Bonsignoris, went bankrupt, and the city of Siena lost its status as the banking centre of Italy to Florence.[27] Until the late 14th century, the leading family of Florence was the House of Albizzi. In 1293, the Ordinances of Justice were enacted; effectively, they became the constitution of the Republic of Florence throughout the Italian Renaissance.[28] The city’s numerous luxurious palazzi were becoming surrounded by townhouses built by and for the prospering merchant class.[29]

The main challengers to the Albizzi family were the Medici, first under Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, later under his son Cosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici and great-grandson Lorenzo de’ Medici. The Medici controlled the Medici Bank – then Europe’s largest bank – and an array of other enterprises in Florence and elsewhere. In 1433, the Albizzi managed to have Cosimo de’ Medici exiled.[30] 

The next year, however, a pro-Medici Signoria (civic government) led by Tommaso Soderini, Oddo Altoviti and Lucca Pitti was elected, and Cosimo returned. The Medici became the city’s leading family, a position they would hold for the next three centuries. Florence remained a republic until 1537, traditionally marking the end of the High Renaissance in Florence, but the instruments of republican government were firmly under the control of the Medici and their allies, except during intervals after 1494 and 1527. Cosimo and Lorenzo rarely held official posts but were the unquestioned leaders.

The Medici family was connected to most other elite families of the time through marriages of convenience, partnerships, or employment, so the family had a central position in the social network: several families had systematic access to the rest of the elite families only through the Medici, perhaps similar to banking relationships. Some examples of these families include the BardiAltoviti, Ridolfi, Cavalcanti and the Tornabuoni. This has been suggested as a reason for the rise of the Medici family.[31] The Medici were the first princely dynasty to win their status not by warfare, marriage or inheritance but through commerce. But good things do not last for ever.

The Fall from Power

The fall from power of the once mighty Medici Bank is covered well in an excellent article[32] by, excerpts from which are:

“… From running one of the largest banks in Europe to shifting their fortunes to patronage and control of the papacy and other political posts, the Medici’s reign was a complex affair… they rose to financial prominence because of their banking success and [it led to] their eventual downfall. The family took their once great banking kingdom and dominance and turned it into a dynastic legacy that affected Europe and the world as we know it today.”

“… From the time of Giovanni and for the next hundred years, the Medici banking dynasty became one of the largest banks ever seen throughout Europe and the world. From Florence to Rome, to even Barcelona and London, it expanded its banking activities at an extraordinary pace. Many of its banking branches were partnerships that, up until 1455, were under a central holding company. The idea of a holding company is considered a Medici invention. During this period of banking dominance, the Medicis utilized a number of banking innovations which are still in use today… But the bank soon began to overstretch its reach, and just as fast as it had risen to power, it began to fall.“

 “… following Cosimo’s death in 1464, the seeds for disintegration were already set. His son Piero and grandson Lorenzo were less apt to the banking business than their elder… Piero, who was bedridden because of gout, had no experience in the banking sector, nor did his son, who put more stock on the Medici family’s fortune rather than continuing to run the bank. As these descendants lost their grip on the banking empire, economic troubles with debt-ridden foreign nationals and the Pazzi conspiracy – a coup by rival banking families backed by the Catholic Church to usurp Medici control in Florence – had brought the Medici Bank to an end. By 1494 the bank had closed all of its branches and was nearly bankrupt.“

Profile of some of the Leading Members of the Medici Family

Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici

Caption: Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, founder of the Medici Bank. [Cropped]
Attribution: Cristofano dell’Altissimo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. File URL:

Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (c. 1360-1429) was an Italian banker and founder of the Medici Bank. While other members of the Medici family, such as Chiarissimo di Giambuono de’ Medici, who served in the Signoria of Florence in 1201, and Salvestro de’ Medici, who was implicated in the Ciompi Revolt[33] of 1378, are of historical interest, it was Giovanni’s founding of the family bank that truly initiated the family’s rise to power in Florence.[34] Giovanni was the father of Cosimo de’ Medici and Lorenzo, the Elder; grandfather of Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici; great-grandfather of Lorenzo de’ Medici (the Magnificent); and the great-great-great-grandfather of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.[35]

Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici was born in Florence, Italy. His father, Averardo, died in 1363 with a respectable amount of wealth. This inheritance was divided among Giovanni and his four brothers, leaving Giovanni with very little. However, his uncle, Vieri de’ Medici, remained a prominent banker in Florence. Giovanni worked his way up through the ranks, eventually becoming a junior partner in the branch located in Rome. When Vieri de’ Medici retired in 1393, unsurprisingly, he left the bank in the hands of Giovanni. From that point, the Medici bank grew vastly and quickly. This growth culminated with the appointment as the Chief Papal Banker, which meant that the Medici Bank now handled the accounts of the Church of Rome. The Medici family bank, which he founded in 1397, became Giovanni’s main commercial interest with branches throughout the northern Italian city-states and beyond and constituted an early “multi-national” company.

Giovanni owned two wool workshops in Florence and was a member of two guilds: the Arte della Lana and the Arte del Cambio.[36] In 1402, he served as one of the judges on the panel that selected Lorenzo Ghiberti‘s design for the bronzes on the doors to the Florence Baptistery.[37] As examples of the many contributions he made to the world of art, Giovanni also funded the construction of the sacristy in the Church of San Lorenzo in 1418 and chose Brunelleschi to be the architect and Donatello to create the sculptures.[38] 

When he died, di Bicci was one of the wealthiest men in Florence, as shown by his tax report of 1429.[39]  It was reported that upon his death, that he was the second richest man in Florence, leaving abundant wealth to his son Cosimo. This wealth and banking system led to Cosimo becoming one of the wealthiest men in Europe. Also, upon his death, he had become a favourite amongst the Florentine public, with even professional rival Niccolò da Uzzano. Niccolò stated in a letter to Giovanni’s sons that he had made the family beloved by the people and positioned them for great success.[40]

By 1420, Giovanni had given the majority of control of the bank to his two sons, Cosimo and Lorenzo.[41]

Upon his death in 1429, he was buried in the Old Sacristy of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence,[42] and his wife was buried with him when she died four years later.

Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici

Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici (1449 –1492)[43] was an Italian statesman, banker, the de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic and the most powerful and enthusiastic patron of Renaissance culture in Italy.[44] Also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico by contemporary Florentines, he was a magnate, diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists, and poets.

Lorenzo was a passionate patron of arts and letters and arguably the most brilliant of all the Medici. He ruled Florence with his brother Giuliano from 1469 to 1478.[45] reports:

“After Giuliano was assassinated, the crowd stood by the Medici and tore the assassins limb from limb. Lorenzo was considered the Wise, “the needle on the Italian scales,” and ruled from 1478 to 1492. Lorenzo’s patronage of the arts was renowned, and those under his protection included Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci.”

Caption: Lorenzo de Medici.
Attribution: Bronzino and workshop, Public domain, via Wikimedia.Commons. File URL:

As a patron, he is best known for his sponsorship of artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo. He held the balance of power within the Italic League, an alliance of states that stabilised political conditions on the Italian peninsula for decades, and his life coincided with the mature phase of the Italian Renaissance and the Golden Age of Florence.[46]

On the foreign policy front, Lorenzo manifested a clear plan to stem the territorial ambitions of Pope Sixtus IV in the name of the balance of the Italian League of 1454. For these reasons, Lorenzo was the subject of the Pazzi conspiracy (1478), in which his brother Giuliano was assassinated.

Lorenzo, groomed for power, at 20, had assumed a leading role in the state when his father in 1469. Already drained by his grandfather’s building projects and constantly stressed by mismanagement, wars, and political expenses, the assets of the Medici Bank plummeted seriously during Lorenzo’s lifetime.[47]

Like his grandfather, father, and son, Lorenzo ruled Florence indirectly through surrogates in the city councils through payoffs and strategic marriages until 1490.[48]

Rival Florentine families inevitably harboured resentments over the Medicis’ dominance, and enemies of the Medici remained a factor in Florentine life long after Lorenzo’s death.[49] The most notable of the rival families was the Pazzi, who nearly ended Lorenzo’s reign.[50]

The Peace of Lodi of 1454, which Lorenzo had supported among the various Italian states, collapsed with his death. Lorenzo is buried in the Medici Chapel in Florence

Cosimo I, founder of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574) was the second Duke of Florence from 1537 when he became the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, a title he held until his death in 1569. Cosimo was born in Florence, the son of the famous condottiere[51] Ludovico de’ Medici (known as Giovanni delle Bande Nere) and his wife Maria Salviati, herself a granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Cosimo was the grandson of Caterina Sforza, the Countess of Forlì and Lady of Imola. He came to power in 1537 at age 17, just after the 26-year-old Duke of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici, was assassinated.

Caption: Lorenzo de Medici.
Attribution: Bronzino and workshop, Public domain, via Wikimedia.Commons. File URL:

Cosimo came from a different branch of the Medici family, descended from Giovanni il Popolano, the great-grandson of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, founder of the Medici Bank. It was necessary to find a successor outside of the “senior” branch of the Medici family, descended from Cosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici, as the only male child of Alessandro, the last lineal descendant of the senior branch, was born out-of-wedlock and was only four years old at the time of his father’s death.

Up to the time of his accession, Cosimo was almost unknown in Florence. However, many of the influential men in the city favoured him as the new duke. Several hoped to rule through him, thereby enriching themselves at the state’s expense. However, as the Florentine literatusBenedetto Varchi famously said: “The innkeeper’s reckoning was different from the glutton’s.”[52] Cosimo proved strong-willed, astute and ambitious and soon rejected the clause he had signed that entrusted much of the power of the Florentine duchy to a Council of Forty[53].

When the Florentine exiles heard of the death of Alessandro, they marshalled their forces with support from France and from disgruntled neighbours of Florence. Toward the end of July 1537, the exiles marched into Tuscany under the leadership of Bernardo Salviati and Piero Strozzi.[54] 

When Cosimo heard of their approach, he sent his best troops under Alessandro Vitelli to engage the enemy, which they did at Montemurlo.[55] After defeating the exiles’ army, Vitelli stormed the fortress, where Strozzi and a few of his companions had retreated to safety, but it fell after only a few hours, and Cosimo celebrated his first victory. The prominent prisoners were subsequently beheaded on the Piazza della Signoria or in the Bargello. Filippo Strozzi‘s body was found with a bloody sword next to it and a note quoting Virgil, but many believe that his suicide was faked.

Cosimo sent Bernardo Antonio de’ Medici to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to gain recognition for his position as head of the Florentine state. That recognition came in exchange for help against France in the course of the Italian Wars. Cosimo next turned his attention to Siena, where with the support of Charles V, he defeated the Sienese at the Battle of Marciano in 1554 and laid siege to their city, which fell on 17th April 1555 after a 15-month siege. In 1559, Montalcino, the last redoubt of Sienese independence, was annexed to Cosimo’s territories. In 1569, Pope Pius V elevated him to the rank of Grand Duke of Tuscany.[56]  But, in the last ten years of his reign, struck by the death of two of his sons to malaria, Cosimo gave the active rule of the Florentine state to his son and successor, Francesco I. He retreated to live in his villa, the Villa di Castello, outside Florence.

Cosimo was an authoritarian ruler and secured his position by employing a guard of Swiss mercenaries. In 1548, he managed to have his relative Lorenzino, the last Medici claimant to Florence who had earlier arranged the assassination of Cosimo’s predecessor Cosimo was an active builder of military structures,[57] as a part of his attempt to save the Florentine state from the frequent passage of foreign armies. Examples include the new fortresses of Siena, ArezzoSansepolcro, the new walls of Pisa and Fivizzano and the strongholds of Portoferraio on Elba and Terra del Sole.

He imposed heavy tax burdens on his subjects. Despite his economic difficulties, Cosimo I was a lavish patron of the arts and also developed the Florentine navy, which eventually took part in the Battle of Lepanto, and which he entrusted to his new creation, the Knights of St. Stephen.[58] Cosimo is perhaps best known today for creating the Uffizi (“offices”). Originally intended as a means of consolidating his administrative control of the various committees, agencies, and guilds established in Florence’s Republican past, it now houses one of the world’s most important collections of art, much of it commissioned and/or owned by various members of the Medici family.[59]

Cosimo III, the Medicean Grand Duke

Cosimo III de’ Medici (1642–1723)[60] was Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1670 until he died in 1723, the sixth and penultimate from the House of Medici. He reigned from 1670 to 1723 and was the elder son of Grand Duke Ferdinando II. His reign witnessed Tuscany’s deterioration to previously unknown economic lows. On his death, he was succeeded by his elder surviving son, Gian Gastone.[61]

Caption: [Cropped] Cosimo III, the Medicean grand duke, in Grand Ducal regalia.
Attribution: Baldassare Franceschini, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. File URL:,_Cosimo_III_de%27_Medici_in_grand_ducal_robes_(Warsaw_Royal_Castle).jpg

He married Marguerite Louise d’Orléans, a cousin of Louis XIV. The marriage was solemnised by proxy in the King’s Chapel at the Louvre on 17th April 1661. It was a marriage fraught with trials and tribulations. Marguerite Louise eventually abandoned Tuscany for the Convent of Montmartre. Together, they had three children: Ferdinando in 1663, Anna Maria Luisa, Electress Palatine, in 1667, and Gian Gastone, the last Medicean ruler of Tuscany, in 1671.

In later life, he attempted to have Anna Maria Luisa recognised as the universal heiress of Tuscany, but Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, would not allow it because Tuscany was an imperial fief, and he felt he alone could alter the Tuscan laws of succession. All Cosimo’s efforts to salvage the plan failed, and in 1737, upon his younger son’s death, Tuscany passed to the House of Lorraine.

Cosimo de’ Medici was the eldest surviving son of Vittoria della Rovere of Urbino, and Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Their previous two children had died shortly after birth.[62] Grand Duke Ferdinando wished to give his son the finest scientific education available, but the pious Grand Duchess Vittoria opposed that wish and got her way. Volunnio Bandinelli, a Sienese theologian, was appointed Cosimo’s tutor. His character was said to be analogous to the Grand Duchess’.[63]

As a youth, Cosimo revelled in sports. When he was 11, he killed five pigs with five shots.[64] However, whilst the Luchese Ambassador praised the young Cosimo to the heavens, his successor noticed a somewhat different person, whom he described as “melancholy” since, by 1659, Cosimo had ceased smiling in public and frequently visited places of religious worship and surrounded himself with friars and priests, concerning Grand Duke Ferdinando.[65] Cosimo’s only sibling, Francesco Maria de’ Medici, the fruit of his parents’ brief reconciliation, was born the next year.[66]

Marguerite Louise d’Orléans, a granddaughter of Henry IV of France, was married to Cosimo by proxy on 17th  April 1661 at the Palais du Louvre. She arrived in Tuscany on 12th June, disembarking at Livorno, and made her formal entry to Florence on 20th June to much pageantry. As a wedding gift, Grand Duke Ferdinando presented her with a pearl the “size of a small pigeon’s egg.” The marriage was unhappy from the start. A few nights following the formal entry, Marguerite Louise demanded the Tuscan crown jewels for her personal use; Cosimo refused.[67]

Marguerite Louise’s extravagances perturbed Ferdinando because the Tuscan exchequer was nearly bankrupt – so much so that when the Wars of Castro mercenaries were paid for, the state could no longer afford to pay interest on government bonds.[68] Accordingly, the interest rate was lowered by 0.75%. The economy was so weak that barter trade became prevalent in rural marketplaces.[69] In August 1663, Marguerite Louise delivered a boy: Ferdinando. Two more children followed: Anna Maria Luisa in 1667 and Gian Gastone in 1671.

Grand Duke Ferdinando pressed Louis XIV to do something about his daughter-in-law’s behaviour; he sent the Comte de Saint-Mesme. Marguerite Louise wanted to return to France, and Saint-Mesme sympathised with this, as did much of the French court, so he left without finding a solution to the heir’s domestic disharmony, incensing both Ferdinando and Louis XIV.[70] Marguerite Louise humiliated Cosimo at every opportunity: she insisted on employing French cooks, fearing the Medici would poison her. In September 1664, Marguerite Louise abandoned her apartments in the Pitti, the grand ducal palace. Cosimo moved her into Villa Lapeggi.

Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici

Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici(the Gouty) (Italian: Piero “il Gottoso”) (1416 –1469)[71] was the de facto ruler of Florence from 1464 to 1469, during the Italian Renaissance.

Caption: Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici (Piero the Gouty).
Attribution: Bronzino, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
File URL:

Piero was the son of Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder and Contessina de’ Bardi.[72] During his father’s life, he did not play an extensive role due to his perpetual poor health, the source of his nickname. His brother Giovanni was named as Cosimo’s executor but predeceased his father. Piero’s gout often kept him confined to bed, meaning that his bedroom effectively became his office, where he would conduct political meetings, leading to the Medici palace becoming the seat of government in Florence.[73]

Upon taking over the Medici bank from his father, Piero had a financial review prepared, the results of which led him to call in several long-standing loans, many to various Medici supporters, which his father had let stand. It immediately drove a good number of the merchants involved into bankruptcy and added to the ranks of those who opposed the Medici. Although not as brilliant a banker as his father, he kept things running smoothly during his tenure.

His time as leader of Florence was marked by an attempted coup led by Luca Pitti, Niccolò Soderini, Diotisalvi NeroniAngelo Acciaiuoli and his cousin Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, who used troops provided by Borso d’EsteDuke of Modena and Reggio, and commanded by his brother Ercole d’Este, planned for 26th August 1466. Piero was warned by Giovanni II Bentivoglio and was able to escape the coup, in part because his son Lorenzo discovered a road-block set up by the conspirators to capture Piero in his trip toward the Medici Villa di Careggi; he was not recognised and was able to warn his father. The coup failed, as did an attempted repeat backed by Venice, using troops commanded by Bartolomeo Colleoni. It has been argued[74] that the “coup” was a legitimate attempt to limit the power of the Medici faction and restore a system of government in keeping with Florence’s traditional republican ideals and that to refer to it as a “coup” or a “conspiracy” legitimizes Piero’s de facto and hereditary (but wholly unconstitutional) status as leader of the city.

In 1467, Piero faced a war against the Republic of Venice prompted by the Florentine support given to Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the new duke of Milan. However, the Venetian army under Colleoni was defeated at the Battle of Molinella by a league of Florence, Naples, the Papal States and Milan.

He continued the family’s tradition of artistic patronage, including Gozzoli‘s fresco Procession of the Magi in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi (in which both of Piero’s sons are also present, Lorenzo and Giuliano, as well as Piero himself). His taste was more eclectic than that of his father, extending to Dutch and Flemish artworks.

Piero continued to collect rare books, adding many to the Medici collections. With a strong interest in humanism, he commissioned Marsilio Ficino to translate Plato & other classical works. Ficino dedicated several books to him, such as De Sole.

He died in 1469 due to gout and lung disease and is buried in the Church of San Lorenzo next to his brother Giovanni. The tomb, created by Andrea del Verrocchio, was commissioned by his sons Lorenzo and Giulia.

The Medici Popes

Four Popes were related to the Medici family, and a brief profile of each is shown below and on the next few pages.[75]

Pope Leo X

Caption: [From] A Portrait of Pope Leo X (original with his cousins, cardinals Giulio de’ Medici and Luigi de’ Rossi.
Attribution: Raphael, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Page URL:

Pope Leo X (born Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici, 1475 –1521) was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 9th March 1513 to his death in 1521.[76]  Born into the prominent political and banking Medici family of Florence, Giovanni was the second son of Lorenzo de’ Medici, ruler of the Florentine Republic, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1489.

Following the death of Pope Julius II, Giovanni was elected Pope after securing the backing of the younger members of the Sacred College. Early on in his rule, he oversaw the closing sessions of the Fifth Council of the Lateran but struggled to implement the reforms agreed upon. In 1517, he led a costly war that succeeded in securing his nephew Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici as Duke of Urbino but reduced papal finances.

In Protestant circles, Leo is associated with granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter’s Basilica, a practice that was soon challenged by Martin Luther‘s 95 Theses. Leo rejected the Protestant Reformation, and his Papal bull of 1520 (Exsurge Domine) condemned Luther’s condemnatory stance, rendering ongoing communication difficult.

Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici was born on 11th December 1475 in the Republic of Florence. He was the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, head of the Florentine Republic, and Clarice Orsini.[77]

From an early age, Giovanni was destined for an ecclesiastical career. He received the tonsure at age seven and was soon granted rich benefices and preferments. His father, Lorenzo de’ Medici, was worried about his character early on and wrote a letter to Giovanni to warn him to avoid vice and luxury at the beginning of his ecclesiastical career. Here is a notable excerpt:

“There is one rule which I would recommend to your attention in preference to all others: rise early in the morning. This will not only contribute to your health, but will enable you to arrange and expedite the business of the day. Another very necessary precaution, particularly on your entrance into public life, is to deliberate every evening on what you may have to perform the following day, that you may not be unprepared for whatever may happen. You will probably be desired to intercede for the favours of the Pope on particular occasions. Be cautious, however, that you trouble him not too often, and if you should be obliged to request some kindness from him, let it be done with that modesty and humility which are so pleasing to his disposition. Farewell.[78]

Giovanni’s father prevailed on his relative Pope Innocent VIII to name him (Giovanni) Cardinal of Santa Maria in Domnica on 8th March 1488 when he was age 13,[79] although he was not allowed to wear the insignia or share in the deliberations of the college until three years later. Meanwhile, he received an education at Lorenzo’s humanistic court under such men as Angelo PolizianoPico della MirandolaMarsilio Ficino and Bernardo Dovizio Bibbiena. From 1489 to 1491, he studied theology and canon law at Pisa.

On 23rd March 1492, Giovanni was formally admitted into the Sacred College of Cardinals and took up his residence in Rome, receiving the letter of advice from his father.

The death of Lorenzo on the next 8th of April temporarily brought the 16-year-old Giovanni back to Florence. He returned to Rome to participate in the conclave of 1492, which followed the death of Innocent VIII and unsuccessfully opposed the election of Cardinal Borgia (elected as Pope Alexander VI). He subsequently made his home with his elder brother Piero in Florence throughout the agitation of Savonarola and the invasion of Charles VIII of France until the uprising of the Florentines and the expulsion of the Medici in November 1494. While Piero found refuge in Venice and Urbino, Giovanni travelled to and in Germany, the Netherlands, and France.

In May 1500, he returned to Rome, where he was received with outward cordiality by Pope Alexander VI and where he lived for several years immersed in art and literature. In 1503 he welcomed the accession of Pope Julius II to the pontificate; the death of Piero de’ Medici in the same year made Giovanni head of his family. On 1st October 1511, he was appointed papal legate of Bologna and the Romagna, and when the Florentine Republic declared in favour of the schismatic Pisans, Julius II sent Giovanni (as legate) with the papal army venturing against the French. The French won a major battle and captured Giovanni.[80] This and other attempts to regain political control of Florence were frustrated until a bloodless revolution permitted the return of the Medici. Giovanni’s younger brother Giuliano was placed at the head of the Republic, but Giovanni managed the government.

Giovanni was elected Pope on 9th March 1513, and this was proclaimed as such two days later.[81] The absence of the French cardinals effectively reduced the election to a contest between Giovanni (who had the support of the younger and noble members of the college) and Raffaele Riario (who had the support of the older group). On 15th March 1513, he was ordained priest and consecrated as bishop on 17th March. He was crowned Pope on 19th March 1513, at the age of 37. He was the last Pope not to have been in priestly orders at the time of his election to the papacy.

Leo borrowed and spent money without circumspection and was a significant patron of the arts. Under his reign, progress was made on the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica and artists such as Raphael decorated the Vatican rooms. Leo also reorganised the Roman University and promoted the study of literature, poetry and antiquities. He died in 1521 and is buried in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome.

Giulio de’ Medici (Pope Clement VII)

Pope Clement VII (born Giulio de’ Medici; 1478 –1534) was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 19th November 1523 to his death on 25th September 1534. Deemed “the most unfortunate of the Popes“, Clement VII’s reign was marked by a rapid succession of political, military, and religious struggles—many long in the making—which had far-reaching consequences for Christianity and world politics.[82]  Giulio de’ Medici’s life had begun under tragic circumstances – one month before his birth, his father, Giuliano de Medici (brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent), was murdered by enemies of his family in what is now known as “The Pazzi Conspiracy“.[83]  

Caption: Portrait of Giulio de’ Medici (1478 – 1534) Pope Clement VII.
Attribution: Sebastiano del Piombo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:

Elected in 1523 at the end of the Italian Renaissance, Clement came to the papacy with a high reputation as a statesman.[84] He had served with distinction as the chief advisor to Pope Leo X (1513–1521), Pope Adrian VI (1522–1523), and commendably as gran maestro of Florence (1519–1523).[85]

Assuming leadership at a time of crisis, with the Protestant Reformation spreading; the Church nearing bankruptcy; and large foreign armies invading Italy, Clement initially tried to unite Christendom by making peace among the many Christian leaders who were then at odds with each other.[86]  Later, he attempted to liberate Italy from foreign occupation, believing it threatened the Church’s freedom.[87]

The complex political situation of the 1520s thwarted Clement’s efforts. Inheriting unprecedented challenges, they included:

And as if the foregoing were not enough, Clement’s problems were exacerbated by:

In contrast to his sorely troubled pontificate, Clement was personally respectable and devout, possessing a “dignified propriety of character” and “great acquirements both theological and scientific“. But with all of his profound insight into the political affairs of Europe, Clement does not seem to have comprehended the altered position of the Pope concerning Europe’s emerging nation-states and Protestantism.[89]

Clement left a significant cultural legacy in the Medici tradition.[90] He commissioned artworks by Raphael, Benvenuto Cellini, and Michelangelo, including Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.[91] In matters of science, Clement is best known for his 1533 approval of Nicolaus Copernicus‘s theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun—99 years before Galileo Galilei‘s heresy trial for similar ideas.[92]

Giulio’s natural inclination was for the clergy, but his illegitimacy barred him from high-ranking positions in the Church. Lorenzo the Magnificent helped Giulio to carve out a career as a soldier. In 1492, when Lorenzo the Magnificent died, Giovanni de’ Medici took on his duties as a cardinal, and Giulio became more involved in Church affairs, studying canon law at the University of Pisa and accompanying Giovanni to the conclave of 1492 to see Rodrigo Borgia elected as Pope Alexander VI.[93]  Giulio de’ Medici appeared on the world stage in March 1513, at age 35,[94] when his cousin Giovanni de’ Medici was elected Pope, taking the name Leo X. Within just three months of Leo X’s election, he was named Archbishop of Florence.[95] Later that year, all barriers to attaining the Church’s highest offices were removed by a papal dispensation declaring his birth legitimate. It stated that his parents had been betrothed per sponsalia de presenti, (meaning “wed according to the word of those present“).[96]

Pope Pius IV

Caption: Portrait of Pope Pius IV, three-quarter-length, seated at a draped table.
Attribution: Circle of Scipione Pulzone, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
File URL:,_three-quarter-length,_seated_at_a_draped_table_(Circle_of_Scipione_Pulzone).jpg

Pope Pius IV (1499 – 1565), born Giovanni Angelo Medici, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 25th December 1559 to his death in 1565. Born in Milan, his family considered itself a branch of the House of Medici and used the same coat of arms. Although modern historians have found no proof of this connection, the Medici of Florence recognised the claims of the Medici of Milan in the early 16th century.[97]

In 1545, Pope Paul III ordained and consecrated Giovanni as Archbishop of Ragusa and sent him on diplomatic missions to Germany and Hungary. Giovanni presided over the final session of the Council of Trent. His nephew, Cardinal Charles Borromeo, was a close adviser.

After studying at the University of Bologna and acquiring a reputation as a jurist, he obtained his doctorate in canon and civil law in May 1525. Two years later, he went to Rome and, as a favourite of Pope Paul III, was rapidly promoted to the governorship of several towns, the archbishopric of Ragusa (1545–1553),[98] and the vice-legateship of Bologna. In April 1549, Pope Paul III made Giovanni a cardinal, and under Papal authority, he was sent on diplomatic missions to Germany and Hungary.

Giovanni was elected Pope on 25th December 1559, taking the name Pius IV,[99] and installed on 6th January 1560. His first public acts of importance were to grant a general pardon to the participants in the riot after the death of his predecessor and to bring to trial the nephews of his predecessor. One, Cardinal Carlo Carafa, was strangled, and Duke Giovanni Carafa of Paliano (with his nearest associates) was beheaded.

On 18th January 1562, the Council of Trent,[100] which had been suspended by Pope Julius III, was convened by Pius IV for the third and final time.[101]  

Pius IV created 46 cardinals in four consistories during his pontificate and elevated three of his nephews to the cardinalate, including Carlo Borromeo. The Pope also made Ugo Boncompagni (who would later be elected Pope Gregory XIII) a cardinal. In 1561, Pius IV nominated Daniele Matteo Alvise Barbaro as a cardinal “in pectore“, but the nomination was never publicly revealed. In 1565, Pius IV offered the cardinalate to Jean Parisot de La Valetta, the grand master of the Order of Malta, in recognition of his defence of Malta against the Ottoman Empire – but the invitation was declined.[102]

Pius IV canonised no saints during his papacy and beatified only one individual, Gundisalvus of Amarante, in  September 1561.

Pius IV had suffered from many illnesses, such as gout, which restricted his mobility.  He died on 9th December 1565 from complications following an infection in the urinary tract and a high fever. He was buried in Santa Maria degli Angeli on 4th January 1583 after his remains were initially housed at Saint Peter’s Basilica. His successor was Pius V.

Pope Leo XI (Alessandro Ottaviano de’ Medici)

Pope Leo XI (1535 – 1605), born Alessandro Ottaviano de’ Medici, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 1st  April 1605 to his death. His pontificate is one of the briefest in history, having lasted less than a month. He was from the prominent House of Medici, originating from Florence. Medici’s mother opposed his entering the priesthood and sought to prevent it by having him given secular honours, but after her death, he was eventually ordained a priest in 1567. In his career, he served as Florence’s ambassador to the Pope, Bishop of PistoiaArchbishop of Florence, papal legate to France, and the cardinal Prefect for the Congregation of the Bishops and Religious. He was elected to the papacy in the March 1605 papal conclave and served as Pope for 27 days.

Caption: Portret van paus Leo XI / Alessandro Ottaviano de’ Medici (1535-1605).
Attribution: Jacob Matham, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. File URL:

Alessandro Ottaviano de’ Medici was the son of Ottaviano de’ Medici and Francesca Salviati. His family belonged to Medici di Ottajano, a cadet branch of the Medici family. He was also the great-nephew of Pope Leo X. Ottaviano died early in his son’s life, after which Alessandro was home-schooled by a Dominican priest, Vincenzo Ercolano.[103]

Alessandro felt the call to the priesthood, but his mother opposed this since he was the only male in the family. She sent him instead to the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who appointed him a knight of San Stefano. In 1560 he travelled to Rome, where he commenced a lifelong friendship and collaboration with Philip Neri, the future saint. Philip predicted that Alessandro would ascend one day to the pontificate. Alessandro’s mother died in 1566 when he resumed his studies to become a priest. His ordination took place on 22nd July 1567.

Alessandro served as the Florentine ambassador to Pope Pius V from 1569 to 1584 and, in 1573, was appointed by Pope Gregory XIII Bishop of Pistoia. In March 1573, he received episcopal consecration in Rome. In 1574 he was made Archbishop of Florence.[104]  In 1583 he was made a cardinal by Pope Sixtus V and, on 9th January 1584, received the title of Cardinal-Priest of Santi Quirico e Giulitta, named after a titular church previously known as San Ciriaco alle Terme Diocleziane. In later years, according to custom, he would opt for other titular churches.[105]

In 1596, Pope Clement VIII sent Alessandro as a papal legate to France, where he remained until 1598, upon receiving word of his appointment as Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.[106]

On 14th March 1605, eleven days after the death of Clement VIII, 62 cardinals entered the conclave. Prominent among the candidates for the papacy were the great historian Cesare Baronius and Robert Bellarmine (the famous Jesuit controversialist and a future saint). But Pietro Aldobrandini, the leader of the Italian party among the cardinals, allied with the French cardinals and brought about the election of Alessandro against the express wish of King Philip III of Spain. King Henry IV of France is said to have spent 300,000 écus to promote Alessandro’s candidacy.[107]

On 1st April 1605, Cardinal Alessandro de’ Medici was elected Pope, choosing to be called Leo XI in honour of his uncle Pope Leo X. He was crowned on 10th April 1605 by the protodeacon, Cardinal Francesco Sforza and took possession of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran on 17th April 1605.

When he was elected, Leo XI was almost 70 years of age, and he died 27 days later.[108] His death came from fatigue and cold in the ceremony of taking possession of the Basilica of St John Lateran on 17th April.

The Medici Queens (of France)

Catherine de’ Medici

Caption: Catherine de’ Medici wearing the black cap and veil of a widow, after 1559.
Attribution: Workshop of François Clouet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.  File URL:

Catherine de’ Medici (1519 –1589) was an Italian noblewoman born into the Medici family. She was Queen of France from 1547 to 1559 by marriage to King Henry II and the mother of French Kings Francis IICharles IX, and Henry III. The years during which her sons reigned have been called “the age of Catherine de’ Medici” since she had extensive, albeit at times varying, influence in the political life of France.[109]

Catherine was born in Florence to Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino (not the famous Lorenzo de’ Medici known as “The Magnificent”) and
Madeleine de La Tour d’Auvergne. In 1533, at age 14, Catherine married Henry, the second son of King Francis I and Queen Claude of France.

Catherine’s marriage was arranged by her uncle Pope Clement VII. Henry excluded Catherine from participating in state affairs and instead showered favours on his chief mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who wielded much influence over him. Henry’s death in 1559 thrust Catherine into the political arena as the mother of the frail 15-year-old King Francis II.

Catherine’s three sons reigned in an age of almost constant civil and religious war in France. The problems facing the monarchy were complex and daunting, but Catherine maintained the monarchy and the state institutions functioning, even at a minimum level. At first, she compromised and made concessions to the rebelling Calvinist Protestants, or Huguenots, as they became known but failed to understand the theological issues that drove their movement. Later, she resorted in frustration and anger to hardline policies against them.[110]  In return, she was blamed for the persecutions under her sons’ rules, particularly the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre[111] of 1572, during which thousands of Huguenots were killed in France. Some historians have excused Catherine from blame for the worst decisions of the crown, but her letters provide evidence of her ruthlessness.[112] 

In practice, Catherine’s authority was limited by the effects of the civil wars. Therefore, her policies may be seen as desperate measures to keep the Valois monarchy on the throne at all costs and her patronage of the arts as an attempt to glorify a monarchy whose prestige was in steep decline.[113] 

Without Catherine, it is unlikely that her sons would have remained in power.[114] Catherine was called “the most important woman in Europe” in the 16th century.[115]

Within a month of Catherine’s birth, both her parents died: Madeleine died on the 28th April of puerperal fever[116], and Lorenzo died on the 4th of May.[117] King Francis wanted Catherine to be raised at the French court, but Pope Leo refused, claiming he wanted her to marry Ippolito de’ Medici.[118]  

Pope Leo made Catherine Duchess of Urbino but annexed most of the Duchy of Urbino to the Papal States, permitting Florence to keep only the Fortress of San Leo. After Leo died in 1521, his successor, Adrian VI, restored the duchy to its rightful owner, Francesco Maria I della Rovere.[119]

In 1527, the Medici were overthrown in Florence by a faction opposed to the regime of Clement’s representative, Cardinal Silvio Passerini, and Catherine was taken hostage and placed in a series of convents.[120]  Pope Clement crowned Charles as Holy Roman Emperor in return for his help in retaking the city.[121]  In October 1529, Charles’s troops laid siege to Florence. The city finally surrendered on 12th August 1530. Clement summoned Catherine from her beloved convent to join him in Rome, where he is said to have greeted her with open arms and tears in his eyes. Then he set about the business of finding her a husband.[122]  

Many suitors lined up, including James V of Scotland, who sent the Duke of Albany to Clement to conclude a marriage in April and November 1530.[123] When Francis I of France proposed his second son as a suitor (Henry, Duke of Orléans) in early 1533, Clement jumped at the offer. Henry was a prize catch for Catherine, but Prince Henry showed no interest in Catherine as a wife; instead, he openly took mistresses. For the first ten years of the marriage, the royal couple failed to produce children together. In 1537, Henry had a brief affair with Philippa Duci, who gave birth to a daughter whom he publicly acknowledged,[124]  thereby adding to the pressure on Catherine to produce a child.

In 1536, Henry’s older brother, Francis, contracted a fever and died shortly after, leaving Henry as the heir to the French throne. Suspicions of poison abounded, from Catherine to Emperor Charles V, but it was Sebastiano de Montecuccoli who confessed under torture to poisoning the Dauphin.[125] & [126]  As a dauphine, Catherine was expected to provide a future heir to the throne.[127]  According to the court chronicler Brantôme, “many people advised the king and the Dauphin to repudiate her as it was necessary to continue the line of France”.[128]  Divorce was considered, but then, on 19th January 1544, she gave birth (to a son) named after King Francis.

After becoming pregnant once, Catherine had no trouble doing so again. Catherine quickly conceived again, and on 2nd April 1545, she bore a daughter, Elisabeth. She went on to bear Henry a further eight children, seven of whom survived infancy, including the future Charles IX (born 27 June 1550); the future Henry III (born 19th September 1551); and Francis, Duke of Anjou (born 18th March 1555) and Claude (born 12th November 1547). The long-term future of the Valois dynasty, which had ruled France since the 14th century, seemed assured.

Sadly, Catherine’s ability to bear children failed to improve her marriage. In about 1538, at the age of 19, Henry had taken as his mistress the 38-year-old Diane de Poitiers,[129] whom he adored for the rest of his life. Even so, he respected Catherine’s status as his consort. When King Francis I died on 31 March 1547, Catherine became queen consort of France. She was crowned in the Basilica of Saint-Denis on 10 June 1549.

In 1556, Catherine nearly died, giving birth to twin daughters – Joan and Victoire. Surgeons saved Catherine’s life, but she bore no further children.

When Francis II died in 1560, she became Regent on behalf of her 10-year-old son King Charles IX and was thus granted sweeping powers. Then, after Charles died in 1574, Catherine played a key role in the reign of her third son, Henry III. He dispensed with her advice only in the last months of her life and outlived her by seven months.

Marie de’ Medici

Marie de’ Medici (1575 –1642) was Queen of France and Navarre as the second wife of King Henry IV of France of the House of Bourbon and Regent of the Kingdom of France officially between 1610 and 1617 during the minority of her son, Louis XIII of France. Her mandate as Regent legally expired in 1614, when her son reached the age of majority, but she refused to resign and continued as Regent until she was removed by a coup in 1617.

Caption: Marie de’ Medici by Frans Pourbus, the Younger, Art Institute of Chicago.
Attribution: Frans Pourbus, the Younger, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. File URL:,_the_Younger_-_Marie_de_M%C3%A9dicis_-_1920.1034_-_Art_Institute_of_Chicago.jpg

Born at the Palazzo Pitti of FlorenceItaly, on 26th April 1575,[130] Maria was the sixth daughter of Francesco I de’ MediciGrand Duke of Tuscany, and Archduchess Joanna of Austria. She was a descendant of Lorenzo the Elder –a branch of the Medici family, sometimes referred to as the ‘cadet’ branch– through his daughter Lucrezia de’ Medici, and was also a Habsburg through her mother, who was a direct descendant of Joanna of Castile and Philip I of Castile. Of her five elder sisters, only the eldest, Eleonora and the third, Anna, survived infancy. Their only brother was Philip de’ Medici.

As a member of the powerful House of Medici in the branch of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the wealth of her family caused Marie to be chosen by Henry IV to become his second wife after his divorce from his previous wife, Margaret of Valois. The assassination of her husband in 1610, which occurred the day after her coronation, caused her to act as Regent for her son, Louis XIII, until 1614 when he officially attained his legal majority, but as the head of the Conseil du Roi, she retained the power.[131]

Noted for her ceaseless political intrigues at the French court, her extensive artistic patronage and her favourites (the most famous being Concino Concini and his wife, Leonora Dori Galigaï), she ended up being banished from the country by her son and dying in the city of Cologne, in the Holy Roman Empire.

For France, the marriage of Henry IV with Maria de’ Medici represented a solution to its dynastic and financial concerns. Moreover, Maria de’ Medici was the granddaughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor (in office: 1556-1564), thereby ensuring and reinforcing a legitimate royal descent for prospective future members of the House of Bourbon (the Catholic League and Habsburg Spain had questioned Bourbon legitimacy during the previous French Succession War of 1589 – c. 1593).

After obtaining the annulment of his union to Margaret of Valois in December 1599,[132] Henry IV officially started negotiations for his new marriage to Maria de’ Medici. The marriage contract was signed in Paris in March 1600, and official ceremonies took place in Tuscany and France from October to December of the same year: the marriage by proxy took place at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (now Florence Cathedral) on 5th October 1600 with Henry IV’s favourite the Duc de Bellegarde representing the French sovereign. The celebrations were attended by 4,000 guests with lavish entertainment, including examples of the newly invented musical genre of opera, such as Jacopo Peri‘s Euridice.

Maria (now known by the French usage of her name, Marie de Médicis) left Florence for Livorno on 23rd October, accompanied by 2,000 people who made up her suite and set off for Marseille, which she reached on 3rd November. She and Henry IV finally met on 9 December and spent their wedding night together. On 17th December, the Papal legate finally arrived and blessed the religious wedding ceremony at the Cathedral of Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon.[133] Marie gave birth to her first child, a son, in September 1601 at the Palace of Fontainebleau. The boy, named Louis, and automatically upon birth was heir to the throne and Dauphin of France, was born to the great satisfaction of the King and France, which had been waiting for the birth of a Dauphin for more than forty years. Although the marriage succeeded in producing children, it was not a happy one. Marie mostly quarrelled with the maîtresse-en-titre Catherine de Balzac d’Entragues (whom Henry IV had allegedly promised he would marry following the death in 1599 of his former maîtresse-en-titreGabrielle d’Estrées[134]).

Also, it was said in court that Henry IV took Marie only for breeding purposes – exactly how Henry II had treated Catherine de’ Medici.[135] Although the King could have easily banished his mistress, supporting his wife, he never did so. Marie, in turn, showed great sympathy and support to her husband’s banished ex-wife Marguerite de Valois, prompting Henry IV to allow her back to Paris.

Another bone of contention concerned the proper maintenance of Marie’s household as Queen of France, despite the huge dowry she brought to the marriage. Household scenes took place, followed by periods of relative peace. Marie was also keen to be officially crowned Queen of France, but Henry IV postponed the ceremony for political reasons. Marie had to wait until 13th May 1610 to be finally crowned Queen of France. At this time, Henry IV was about to depart to fight in the War of Succession over the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg; the coronation aimed to confer greater legitimacy on the Queen from the perspective of a possible regency which she would be called upon to provide in the absence of the King.[136] The next day (14th May 1610), Henry IV was assassinated by François Ravaillac – immediately raising suspicions of a conspiracy.[137]

Within hours of Henry IV’s assassination, Marie was confirmed as Regent by the Parliament of Paris on behalf of her son and new King, eight-year-old Louis XIII.[138] She immediately banished her late husband’s mistress, Catherine de Balzac d’Entragues, from the court.[139] At first, she kept the closest advisers of Henry IV in the key court positions and took for herself (in 1611) the title of Governess of the Bastille, although she entrusted the physical custody of this important Parisian fortress to Joachim de Chateauvieux, her knight of honour, who took direct command as a lieutenant of the Queen-Regent.

From the beginning, Marie was under suspicion at court because she was perceived as a foreigner and never truly mastered the French language.[140] Moreover, she was heavily influenced by her Italian friends and confidants, including her foster sister Leonora “Galigai” Dori and Concino Concini, who was created Marquis d’Ancre and a Marshal of France, even though he had never fought a single battle.[141] Marie maintained her late husband’s policy of religious tolerance. As one of her first acts, Marie reconfirmed Henri IV’s Edict of Nantes, which ordered religious tolerance for Protestants in France while asserting the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church.

To further consolidate her authority as Regent of the Kingdom of France, Marie imposed the strict protocol from the court of Spain. An avid ballet performer and art collector, she deployed artistic patronage that helped develop the arts in France. Daughter of a Habsburg archduchess, the Queen-Regent abandoned the traditional anti-Habsburg French foreign policy (one of her first acts was the overturn of the Treaty of Bruzolo, an alliance signed between Henry IV’s representatives and Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy), forming an alliance with Habsburg Spain which culminated in 1615 with the double marriage of her daughter Elisabeth and her son Louis XIII with the two children of King Philip III of SpainPhilip, Prince of Asturias (the future Philip IV) and Anne of Austria, respectively.

Nevertheless, the Queen-Regent’s policy caused discontent. On the one hand, Protestants were worried about the rapprochement of Marie with Spain; on the other hand, Marie’s attempts to strengthen her power by relying on the Concinis deeply displeased part of the French nobility. Stirring up xenophobic passion, the nobility designated the Italian immigrants favoured by Marie as responsible for all the wrongs of the Kingdom. They are getting richer, they said, at our expense. Taking advantage of the clear weakness of the Regency, the princes of the blood under the leadership of Henri II, Prince of Condé, rebelled against Marie.

In application of the Treaty of Sainte-Menehould (15th May 1614), the Queen-Regent convened the Estates General in Paris.  The Prince of Condé failed to structure his opposition to royal power. However, Marie undertook to cement the alliance with Spain and to ensure respect for the theses of the Council of Trent. The reforms of the paulette and the taille remained a dead letter. The clergy played the role of arbiter between the Third Estate and the nobility who did not manage to get along: Civil lieutenant Henri de Mesmes declared that “all the Estates were brothers and children of a common mother, France”, while one of the representatives of the nobility replied that he refused to be the brother of a child of a shoemaker or cobbler. This antagonism benefited the court, which soon pronounced the closure of the Estates General. The Regency was officially ended following the Lit de justice of 2nd October 1614, which declared that Louis XIII had attained his legal majority of age, but Marie then became head of the Conseil du Roi and retained all her control over the government.

One year after the end of the Estates General, a new rebellion of the Prince of Condé allowed his entry into the Conseil du Roi by the Treaty of Loudun (3rd May 1616), which also granted him the sum of 1,500,000 livres and the government of Guyenne. During this time, the Protestants obtained a reprieve of six years to the return of their places of safety to the royal power.

Despite being legally an adult for more than two years, Louis XIII had little power in the government; finally, he asserted his authority the next year. Feeling humiliated by the conduct of his mother, who monopolised power, the King organised (with the help of his favourite, the Duc de Luynes) a coup d’état (also named Coup de majesté[142] on 24th April 1617: Concino Concini was assassinated by the Marquis de Vitry, and Mariem was exiled to the Château de Blois.

During the night of 21st – 22nd February 1619, the 43-year-old Queen Mother escaped from her prison in Blois with a rope ladder and by scaling a 40-metre wall. Gentlemen took her across the Pont de Blois, and riders sent by the Duc d’Épernon escorted Marie in his coach. She took refuge in the Château d’Angoulême and provoked an uprising against her son (the King) – the so-called “war of mother and son” (Guerre de la mère et du fils).

A first treaty, the Treaty of Angoulême, negotiated by Richelieu, calmed the conflict. However, the Queen Mother was not satisfied and relaunched the war by rallying the great nobles of the Kingdom to her cause (“second war of mother and son”). The noble coalition was quickly defeated at the Battle of Ponts-de-Cé (7th August 1620) by Louis XIII, who forgave his mother and the princes.

Aware that he could not avoid the formation of plots as long as his mother remained in exile, the King accepted her return to court. Marie then returned to Paris, where she worked on the building of her Luxembourg Palace. After the death of the Duc de Luynes in December 1621, she gradually made her political comeback. Richelieu played an important role in her reconciliation with the king and even brought the queen mother back to the Conseil du Roi.

From the time of her marriage to Henri IV, the Queen practised ambitious artistic patronage[143], and placed under her protection several painters, sculptors and scholars. The Queen also surrounded herself with portrait painters, such as Charles Martin and especially the Flemish Frans Pourbus the Younger.

Honoré de Balzac, in his essay Sur Catherine de Médicis, encapsulated the Romantic generation’s negative view. She was born and raised in Italy, and the French never really accepted her; hence, the negative reviews. Although Henry IV of Navarre was not rich and needed Marie’s money, the French were still not pleased with his choice of an Italian wife.

Marie de’ Medici, all of whose actions were prejudicial to France, has escaped the shame which ought to cover her name. Marie de’ Medici wasted the wealth amassed by Henry IV; she never purged herself of the charge of having known of the king’s assassination; her intimate was d’Épernon, who did not ward off Ravaillac’s blow, and who was proved to have known the murderer personally for a long time. Marie’s conduct was such that she forced her son to banish her from France, where she was encouraging her other son, Gaston.[144]

Marie travelled to Cologne, where she took refuge in a house loaned by her friend Pierre-Paul Rubens. She fell ill in June 1642 and died destitute from a bout of pleurisy on 3rd July 1642, a few months before Richelieu. Her body was brought back to the Basilica of St Denis and buried without much ceremony on 8th March 1643, and her heart was sent to La Flèche, in accordance with the wish of Henry IV, who wanted their two hearts to be reunited. Her son Louis XIII died on 14th May 1643.

Sources and Further Reading

Endnotes and Explanations:

[1] Source: Mainly, from:

[2] Explanation: The Renaissance was Europe’s scientific, artistic and cultural rebirth.

[3] Explanation: The Mugello is a historic region and valley in northern Tuscany, Italy, corresponding to the course of the River Sieve. It is located to the north of the city of Florence and includes the northernmost portion of the Metropolitan City of Florence. Source:

[4] Details of the first Medici are available at: 

[5] Source:

[6] Source:

[7] “Medici Family –  Encyclopædia Britannica”Encyclopædia Britannica

[8] Commentary: After the return of the Medici in 1512, Lorenzo di Piero formed a compagnia for carnival 1513, and called it Broncone; the Pontormo portrait was commissioned by Goro Gheri, Lorenzo’s secretary. Shearman, John (November 1962). “Pontormo and Andrea Del Sarto, 1513”. The Burlington Magazine. 104 (716): 450, 478–483.

[9] Source: Francesco Guicciardini. The History of Italy. Translated by Sidney Alexander. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. p. 60

[10] Source:

[11] Source:

[12] Commentary:  The qualifier “during the 15th century” is important, as the Bardi and Peruzzi banks of the 14th century are considered to have been considerably larger in their prime; the smaller size of the Medici bank is attributed to the poor business conditions of the 15th century, which are sometimes one of the proffered causes for the Medici bank’s ultimate decline and failure. The Medici’s relative lack of ambition can be seen in how they never truly challenged the Hanseatic League, established no branches in the Middle East, and did not pursue business in and around the Baltic Sea. See de Roover (1966), pp. 5–6, 8. Referenced at:

[13] Explanation:  A surviving fragment of the ledger of the Bruges branch shows that the books were carefully kept and that the double-entry system was in use (De Roover (1948), p. 24). In an attached footnote, de Roover identifies the erroneous belief that the Medicis did not use double-entry as stemming from Otto Meltzing’s mistake in Das Bankhaus der Medici und seine Vorläufer (Jena, 1906) and repeated in Gutkind’s Cosimo. Referenced at:

[14] Source:  Lee, Geoffrey A. (1977). “The Coming of Age of Double Entry: The Giovanni Farolfi Ledger of 1299–1300”. Accounting Historians Journal. 4 (2): 79–95. doi:10.2308/0148-4184.4.2.79JSTOR 40697544  Referenced at:

[15] Source: Lee, G. A. (1977): The Coming of Age of Double Entry – The Giovanni Farolfi Ledger of 1299-1300, Abacus, Vol. 4(2), pp. p.80, and 79-95. Referenced at:

[16] Source: de Roover, Raymond (1963). The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, 1397-1494. Beard Books. p. 97. ISBN 9781893122321. Referenced at:

[17] Explanation: Friar Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli (sometimes Paccioli or Paciolo; c. 1447 – 19 June 1517) was an Italian mathematicianFranciscan friar, collaborator with Leonardo da Vinci, and an early contributor to the field now known as accounting. He is referred to as the father of accounting and bookkeeping, and he was the first person to publish a work on the double-entry system of bookkeeping (called Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalità) – published in Venice in 1494. He was also called Luca di Borgo after his birthplace, Borgo SansepolcroTuscany. Several of his works were plagiarised from Piero della Francesca, in what has been called “probably the first full-blown case of plagiarism in the history of mathematics”.

[18] Source: Vittorio Alfieri, La partita doppia applicata alle scritture delle antiche aziende mercantili veneziane, Torino, Ditta G.B. Paravia e comp., 1891, pp. 103-148, Nabu Public Domain Reprints. Referenced at:

[19] Sources: (1) Zubrinic, Darko. “History of Croatian”, and (2) “SIESC Croatia 2”.Referenced at:

[20] Source:  Parker, Larry M. (1989). “Medieval Traders as International Change Agents: A Comparison with Twentieth Century International Accounting Firms”. Accounting Historians Journal. 16 (2): 107–118. doi:10.2308/0148-4184.16.2.107JSTOR 40697986. Referenced at:

[21]  Jane Gleeson-White (2012). Double Entry. W. W. Norton. p. 294. ISBN 9780393088960. Referenced at:

[22] Source: Gil, Moshe (1976). Documents of the Jewish Pious Foundations from the Cairo Geniza. Brill. p. 56. ISBN 9789004044807. Referenced at:

[23] Source: Lauwers, Luc; Willekens, Marleen (1994). “Five Hundred Years of Bookkeeping: A Portrait of Luca Pacioli” (PDF). Tijdschrift voor Economie en Management. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. 39 (3): 289–304 [p. 300]. ISSN 0772-7674.  Referenced at:

[24] Source:

[25] Source:

[26] Source:

[27] Source: Paul StrathernThe Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance (Pimlico, 2005), p.18. Referenced at:

[28] Source:  Kenneth Bartlett, The Italian Renaissance, Chapter 7, p. 37, Volume II, 2005. Referenced at:

[29] Source: “History of Florence”. Referenced at:

[30] Source: Crum, Roger J. Severing the Neck of Pride: Donatello’s “Judith and Holofernes” and the Recollection of Albizzi Shame in Medicean Florence. Artibus et Historiae, Volume 22, Edit 44, 2001. pp. 23–29. Referenced at:

[31] Source: Padgett, John F.; Ansell, Christopher K. (May 1993). “Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400–1434” (PDF)The American Journal of Sociology. 98 (6): 1259–1319. doi:10.1086/230190JSTOR 2781822S2CID 56166159. Referenced at:

[32] See:

[33] Explanation: The Ciompi Revolt was a rebellion among unrepresented labourers which occurred in the Republic of Florence, from 1378 to 1382. Those who revolted consisted of artisans, labourers, and craftsmen who did not belong to any guilds and were therefore unable to participate in the Florentine government. These labourers had grown increasingly resentful over the established patrician oligarchy. In addition, they were expected to pay heavy taxes, which they could not afford, forcing some to abandon their homes. The resulting insurrection over such tensions led to the creation of a government composed of wool workers and other disenfranchised workers, which lasted for three and a half years. Although the Ciompi Revolt was brief, it left an impact on future generations. The three-and-a-half-year revolt not only affected Florentine society throughout the 15th century but was a flashpoint in Florentine history, which continued to intrigue historians. Interpretations of the events evolved across the centuries. See more at: Referenced at:

[34] Source:  Grendler et al. S. v. “House of Medici.”Referenced at: Referenced at:

[35] Source:  Hale, J.R. (1977). Florence and the Medici. New York, New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. pp. 9-20ISBN 0-500-27301-4. Referenced at:

[36] Source: Hibbert, Christopher (1975). The House of the Medici: Its Rise and Fall. p.33. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc. ISBN 9780688003395 – via Internet Archive. Referenced at:

[37] Source: Parks, Tim (2005). Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence. p.8. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393058277 Referenced at:

[38] See Hale, above.

[39] Source: Grendler, Paul F., M. J. B. Allen, William R. Bowen, Margaret L. King, Stanford E. Lehmberg, Nelson H. Minnich, Sara T. Nalle, Robert J. Rodini, Ingrid D. Rowland, David B. Ruderman, Erika Rummel, J.H.M. Salmon, and William A. Wallace, O.P., eds. (1999). Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. Charles Schribner’s Sons, New York, New York. Referenced at:

[40] Source:  Von Reumont, Alfred (1876). Lorenzo De’ Medici, The Magnificent. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 35–36. Referenced at:

[41] Source:  Grendler, et al. S. v. “Medici, Cosimo de.’” Referenced at:

[42] Source: Pernis, Maria Grazia; Adams, Laurie (2006). Lucrezia Tornabuoni de’ Medici and the Medici family in the fifteenth century. p.9. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, New York. Referenced at:

[43] Source: Picotti, Giovanni Battista (1934). “Medici, Lorenzo de’, detto il Magnifico”Enciclopedia Italiana. Referenced at:

[44] Sources: (1) Parks, Tim (2008). “Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence”. The Art Book. New York: W.W. Norton & Co12 (4): 288. ISBN 9781847656872.(2)“Fact about Lorenzo de’ Medici”, (2) 100 Leaders in world history. Kenneth E. Behring. 2008, and (3) Kent, F. W. (28 December 2006). Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Art of Magnificence. Renaissance and Reformation. Vol. 27. USA: JHU Press. pp. 110–112. ISBN 0-8018-8627-9JSTOR 43445687. Referenced at:

[45] Source:

[46] Source: Brucker, Gene (21st March 2005). Living on the Edge in Leonardo’s Florence. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 14-15. 

ISBN 9780520930995JSTOR 10.1525/j.ctt1ppkqwS2CID 144626626. Referenced at:

[47] Source:  Walter, Ingeborg (2013). “Lorenzo der Prächtige: Mäzen, Schöngeist und Tyrann” [Lorenzo the Magnificent: Patron, Aesthete and Tyrant]. 

Damals (in German). Vol. 45, no. 3. p. 32. Referenced at:

[48] Sources: (1) Reinhardt, Volker (2013). “Die langsame Aushöhlung der Republik” [The Slow and Steady Erosion of the Republic]. Damals (in German). Vol. 45, no. 3. pp. 16–23, and (2) Guicciardini, Francesco (1964). History of Italy and History of Florence. New York: Twayne Publishers. p. 8. Referenced at:

[49] Sources: (1) Reinhardt, Volker (2013). “Die langsame Aushöhlung der Republik” [The Slow and Steady Erosion of the Republic]. Damals (in German). Vol. 45, no. 3. pp. 16–23. Referenced at:

[50] Source:  Thompson, Bard (1996). Humanists and Reformers: A History of the Renaissance and ReformationWilliam B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 189 ff. ISBN 0-8028-6348-5. Referenced at:

[51] Explanation: Condottiero or Condottiere were Italian captains in command of mercenary companies during the Middle Ages and of multinational armies during the early modern period. They notably served popes and other European monarchs during the Italian Wars of the Renaissance and the European Wars of Religion.

[52] Source:  “Ma un conto facea il ghiotto, e un altro il taverniere”, B. Varchi, Storia Fiorentina, 15, 600. Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[53] Explanation: The Council of Forty (ItalianConsiglio dei Quaranta), also known as the Quarantia, was one of the highest constitutional bodies of the Republic of Venice, with both legal and political functions as the supreme court.  it was likely established in the early 13th century, and in with responsibilities much different to those it assumed in later times. Referenced at:

[54] Source: Landon, William J. (2013). Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi and Niccolo Machiavelli. p.74. University of Toronto Press. Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[55] Source: Acidini, Cristina, ed. (2002). The Medici, Michelangelo, & the Art of Late Renaissance Florence. p.309. Yale University Press. Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[56] Ibid

[57] Source: Role, R.E., Fort 2008 (Fortress Study Group), (36), pp.108-129. Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[58] Source: Mason, Roger (1989). “The Medici-Lazara Map of Alanya”. Anatolian Studies. 39: 85–105. doi:10.2307/3642815JSTOR 3642815

[59] Explanation: The Uffizi Gallery is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Centre of Florence in the region of Tuscany, Italy. One of the most important Italian museums and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best-known in the world and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance. After the ruling House of Medici died out, their art collections were given to the city of Florence under the famous Patto di famiglia, negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress. The gallery was opened to visitors by request in the 16th century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public, formally becoming a museum in 1865. The building of the Uffizi complex was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates, hence the name uffizi, “offices”. Referenced at:

[60] Source: Guarini, Elena Fasano (1984). “COSIMO III de’ Medici, granduca di Toscana”. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. Vol. 30. Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[61] Source: Hale, J. R.: Florence and the Medici, p.185-186, Orion books, London, 1977, ISBN 1-84212-456-0 Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[62] Source: Acton, Harold: The Last Medici, p.25, Macmillan, London, 1980, ISBN 0-333-29315-0 Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[63] Ibid, p.44.

[64] Ibid

[65] Ibid, p.45

[66] Ibid, p.62

[67] Ibid

[68] Sources: (1) Hale, J. R.: Florence and the Medici, Orion books, London, 1977, p 180, ISBN 1-84212-456-0, and (2) Acton, Harold: The Last Medici, p.86, Macmillan, London, 1980, ISBN 0-333-29315-0 Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[69] Source: Hale, J. R.: Florence and the Medici, Orion books, London, 1977, p 181, ISBN 1-84212-456-0, and (2) Acton, Harold: The Last Medici, p.86, Macmillan, London, 1980, ISBN 0-333-29315-0 Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[70] Source: Acton, Harold: The Last Medici, p.91-93, Macmillan, London, 1980, ISBN 0-333-29315-0. Referenced at:,_Grand_Duke_of_Tuscany

[71] Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online 2015.

[72] Source: Tomas, Natalie R. (2003). The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence. p.7,  Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 0754607771. Referenced at:

[73] Source: : Tomas, Natalie R. (2003). The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence. p.48,  Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 0754607771. Referenced at:

[74] Source: Najemy, John M. (2006). A History of Florence 1200–1575. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-1405119542.

[75] Source:  Williams, George L. (2004). Papal Genealogy: The Families And Descendants Of The Popes, pp. 71-75. Referenced at:

[76] Source: Löffler, Klemens (1910). “Pope Leo X” . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Referenced at:

[77] Ibid

[78] Source:

[79] Source: “Leo X”Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Vol. 13. C. Knight. 1839. pp. 426–428. Referenced at:

[80] Source: The Papacy and the Levant, 1204–1571 By Kenneth Meyer Setton pp. 117–119. Referenced at:

[81] Source: “The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church – Biographical Dictionary – Consistory of March 9, 1489”. Referenced at:

[82] Source: Clement VII”. Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume 5. Akron, Ohio: The Werner Company. 1905. 05015678. Referenced at:

[83] Source: “The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church”. Biographical Dictionary. Florida International University. 23rd September 1513. Referenced at:

[84] Source: Referenced at:

[85] Sources: (1), (2) The Works of John Adams, vol. 5 (Defence of the Constitutions Vols. II and III) – Online Library of Liberty”., and (3) “Luminarium Encyclopedia: Pope Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici) (1478-1534)” Referenced at:

[86] Source:  Gouwens, Kenneth; Sheryl E. Reiss (2005). The Pontificate of Clement VII: History, Politics, Culture. Aldershot UK; Burlington VT USA: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-0680-2. Referenced at:

[87] Source: “Clement VII”. Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume 5. Akron, Ohio: The Werner Company. 1905. 05015678. Referenced at:

[88] Sources: (1) “Clement VII”. Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume 5. Akron, Ohio: The Werner Company. 1905. 05015678, and (2) “Clement VII,” Referenced at:

[89] Source: “The Popes of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries”. Museum of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume 28. Philadelphia: E. Little. 1836. Referenced at:

[90] Source:  Chastel, André (1983). The Sack of Rome, 1527. Princeton: Princeton U.P. ISBN 978-0-691-09947-7. Referenced at:

[91] Sources: (1)Hankins, James (10 April 2020). “The Restorative Power of Faith”. Wall Street Journal, (2) “Drawing,  British Museum”, and (3) “Learn the Intriguing (and Sometimes Controversial) History Behind Michelangelo’s ‘Last Judgment’”. 1st August 2020. Referenced at:

[92] Sources: (1) Copernicus, Nicolaus (1473-1543)”. Online Library of Liberty, (2) Rabin, Sheila (17th September 2018). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University – via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and (3)“The Priest Who Realized the Earth Revolved Around the Sun”. National Catholic Register. Referenced at:

[93] Source:  “The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church”. Biographical Dictionary. Florida International University. 23rd September 1513. Referenced at:

[94] Source:  Cheney, David M. “Pope Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici) [Catholic-Hierarchy]” Referenced at:

[95] Source: Guilelmus Gulik and Conradus Eubel, Hierarchia catholica medii et recentioris aevi Tomus III, editio altera (Monasterii 1923), p. 197. Referenced at:

[96] Source:  Thurston, Herbert. “Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Clement VII” . Referenced at:

[97] Sources: (1) “Treccani – la cultura italiana | Treccani, il portale del sapere”, and (2) “The List of Popes.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. Referenced at:

[98] Source: Bartolomeo Scappi, The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L’Arte Et Prudenza D’Un Maestro Cuoco, Transl. Terence Scully, (University of Toronto Press, 2008), 688. Referenced at:

[99] Source: “Loughlin, James. “Pope Pius IV.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 4 Sept. 2014″. Referenced at:


[100] Explanation: The Council of Trent, held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent (Trento, in northern Italy), was the 19th ecumenical council of the Catholic Church. Prompted by the Protestant Reformation, it has been described as” the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation”. The Council issued condemnations of what it defined to be heresies committed by proponents of Protestantism, and also issued key statements and clarifications of the Church’s doctrine and teachings, including scripture, the biblical canon, sacred tradition, original sin, justification, salvation, the sacraments, the Mass, and the veneration of saints. The Council met for 25 sessions between 13th December 1545 and 4th December 1563. Pope Paul III, who convoked the Council, oversaw the first eight sessions (1545–47), while the 12th to 16th sessions (1551–52) were overseen by Pope Julius III and the 17th to 25th  sessions (1562–63) by Pope Pius IV. See more at:

[101] Source: Bard Thompson, Humanists and Reformers: A History of the Renaissance and Reformation, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 520. Referenced at:

[102] Source:  Salvador Miranda. “Pius IV (1559-1565)”. The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

[103] Source:  Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2000), 298. Referenced at:

[104] Ibid

[105] Sources: (1) Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). “Pope Leo XI”  Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, and (2) Cornelison, Sally J (5th July 2017). Art and the Relic Cult of St. Antoninus in Renaissance Florence. p. 126. ISBN 9781351575645. Referenced at:

[106] Source: Levillain, Philippe, ed. (2002). “Leo XI”. The Papacy: An Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. p. 929. ISBN 9780415922289. Referenced at:

[107] Source: Duffy, Eamon (2006). Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. p. 236. ISBN 0300115970. Referenced at:

[108] Source:  George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes, (McFarland & Company, 1998), 75. Referenced at:

[109] Source: Thomson, 98; Sutherland, Ancien Régime, 3; Neale, The Age of Catherine de Medici. Referenced at:

[110] Source: Knecht, R. J. Catherine de’ Medici, p.272. London and New York: Longman, 1998. ISBN 0-582-08241-2. Referenced at:

[111] Explanation: The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy) in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations and a wave of Catholic mob violence, directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants) during the French Wars of Religion. Widely believed to have been instigated by Queen Catherine de’ Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, the massacre started a few days after the marriage on 18th August 1572 of the king’s sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). Many of the wealthiest and most prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris to attend the wedding.

[112] Source: Knecht, 272. For a summary of the fluctuations in Catherine’s historical reputation, see the preface to R. J. Knecht’s Catherine de’ Medici, 1998: xi–xiv. Referenced at:

[113] Source: Sutherland, N. M. Catherine de Medici and the Ancien Régime, p.20. London: Historical Association, 1966. OCLC 1018933. Referenced at:

[114] Ibid p.26.

[115] Source: Strage, Mark (1976). Women of Power: The Life and Times of Catherine de’ Medici. London and New York: Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich. Prologue, p.xi. OCLC 1018933. Referenced at:

[116] See:  

[117] Source: Knecht 1998, p. 8 (dates of death); Héritier 1963, p. 15 (cause of Madeleine’s death). Referenced at:

[118] Source: Knecht, R. J. Catherine de’ Medici. London and New York: Longman, 1998. ISBN 0-582-08241-2.

[119] Source: Frieda, Leonie (2003). Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France, p.22. New York: HarperCollins, ISBN 0060744928. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 184212725X. Paperback edition: London: Phoenix, 2005, ISBN 0753820390.

[120] Source: Knecht, R. J. Catherine de’ Medici, p.11. London and New York: Longman, 1998. ISBN 0-582-08241-2. Referenced at:

[121] Source: Knecht, R. J. Catherine de’ Medici, p.10-11. London and New York: Longman, 1998. ISBN 0-582-08241-2. Referenced at:

[122] Source: Ibid, p. 12.

[123] Source: Hay, Denys, ed., The Letters of James V, HMSO (1954), p.173, 180–2, 189. Referenced at:

[124] Source: Knecht, Catherine de’ Medici, 29–30. Henry legitimised the child under the name Diane de France; he also produced at least two sons by other women (Knecht, p. 38). Referenced at:

[125] Source:

[126] Explanation:Dauphin of France/Dauphin de France, originally Dauphin of Viennois (Dauphin de Viennois), was the title given to the heir apparent to the throne of France from 1350 to 1791, and from 1824 to 1830.[126] The word dauphin is French for dolphin. At first, the heirs were granted the County of Viennois (Dauphiné) to rule, but eventually, only the title was granted. The first French prince called le Dauphin was Charles the Wise, later ascending to the throne as Charles V of France. The title was roughly equivalent to the English (thence British) Prince of Wales, the Scottish Duke of Rothesay, the Portuguese Prince of Brazil, and the Spanish Prince of Asturias. The official style of a Dauphin of France, prior to 1461, was par la grâce de Dieu, dauphin de Viennois, comte de Valentinois et de Diois (“By the Grace of God, Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois”). A Dauphin of France united the coat of arms of the Dauphiné, which featured dolphins, with the French fleurs-de-lis, and might, where appropriate, further unite that with other arms (e.g. Francis, son of Francis I, was ruling Duke of Brittany, so united the arms of that province with the typical arms of a Dauphin; Francis II, while Dauphin, was also King of Scots by marriage to Mary I, and added the arms of the Kingdom of Scotland to those of the Dauphin). The title was automatically conferred upon the next heir apparent to the throne in the direct line upon birth, accession of the parent to the throne or death of the previous Dauphin, unlike the British title Prince of Wales, which has always been in the gift of the monarch (traditionally conferred upon the heir’s 21st birthday).

[127] Source: Knecht, R. J. Catherine de’ Medici, p.29. London and New York: Longman, 1998. ISBN 0-582-08241-2. Referenced at:

[128] Ibid

[129] Source: Knecht, R. J. Catherine de’ Medici, p.30. London and New York: Longman, 1998. ISBN 0-582-08241-2. Another source (Héritier 1963, p. 36) dates the beginning of their sexual relationship to late 1536 or early 1537.  Referenced at:

[130] Commentary: The History of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, by Jacopo Riguccio Galluzzi and published in 1781, mentions Maria’s birth date as 26th April 1573, which has since been used by all her later biographers. Recent searches have made it possible to find the baptismal certificate of Maria de’ Medici, who correctly established her birth date as 26th April 1575 and consequently correct an error perpetuated for over two centuries. See Dubost 2009, pp. 48–-49, which refers to a communication by Maria Fubini Leuzzi entitled Maria dei Medici. La costruzione di una regina : dall infanzia al matrimonio au colloque Medici Women as Cultural Mediators (1533-1743) (Florence, 2008). Referenced at:

[131] Source:  Lawrence, Cynthia Miller (1997). Women and Art in Early Modern Europe: Patrons, Collectors, and Connoisseurs. p. 136. Pennsylvania State Univ Pr. ISBN 978-0-271-01568-2. Referenced at:

[132] Source:  Chiarini, Marco (2002). “Cosimo II and Maria Maddalena of Austria“. The Medici, Michelangelo, & the Art of Late Renaissance Florence. Yale University Press. p.77. Referenced at:

[133] Source: Delorme 2003, pp. 40–61. Referenced at:

[134] Source: THE AMERICAN CYCLOPEADIA. 1874. pp. 671. Referenced at:

[135] Source: Goldstone, Nancy (2015), The Rival Queens. p. 377, footnote.  Little, Brown and Company Publisher. ISBN 978-0-3-16409674. Referenced at:

[136] “Fanny Cosandey: The Queen of France in modern times” (in French). at:

[137] Source: Torres, Pascal (2013).Les secrets du Louvre (in French). La Librairie Vuibert. p. 288.ISBN 9782311100211.  Referenced at:

[138] Source: “MARIE DE MÉDICIS (1573-1642) queen of France” (in French). 30 October 2019. Referenced at:

[139] Source: Herman, Eleanor (2005).Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge. p. 80. ISBN 9780061751554. Referenced at:

[140] Source: Fischer, David Hackett, 1935- (2008). Champlain’s dream (1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & SchusterISBN 978-1-4165-9332-4OCLC 213839989. Referenced at:

[141] Source: “Concino Concini, marquis d’Ancre | Italian diplomat”Encyclopedia Britannica.Referenced at:

[142] Source: Yves-Marie Bercé, “The blows of majesty of the kings of France, 1588, 1617, 1661”, in: Complots et conjurations dans l’Europe moderne. Proceedings of the international colloquium organised in Rome, 30th  September–2nd October 1993, Rome, École Française de Rome, coll. “Publications of the French School of Rome” (n° 220), 1996, 786 p. (ISBN 2-7283-0362-2online), p. 491–505. . Referenced at:

[143] Explanation:  In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings, popes, and the wealthy have provided to artists such as musicians, painters, and sculptors.

[144] Source: Sur Catherine de Médicis, Furne ed., vol. XV, p. 471. Referenced at:

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