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Overview of Paradoxplace Florence pages

Paradoxplace Artists of the Italian Renaissance

The Medici Popes Leo X and Clement VII

The Medici Queens of France Caterina and Maria

The Later Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany and their Women

Links to Other Paradoxplace Insight Pages

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The Medici Family  - 1

The Glorious 1400s

 The Senior (or 'Cafaggiolo') Family Line

Giovanni di Bicci

1360 - 1425 (65)

Cosimo il Vecchio, son of Giovanni

1389 - 1464 (75)

Piero il Gottoso, son of Cosimo

1416 - 1469 (53)

Lorenzo il Magnifico, son of Piero

1449 - 1492 (43)

Giuliano, brother of Lorenzo (killed in the Pazzi conspiracy)

1453 - 1478 (25)

Piero il Fatuo, son of Lorenzo

1472 - 1503 (31)

Giovanni de'Medici (Pope Leo X), son of Lorenzo

1475 - 1513 - 1521 (46)

Giulio de'Medici (Pope Clement VII), illegitimate son of Giuliano

1478 - 1523 - 1534 (56)

Lorenzo (Duca di Urbino), son of Piero

1492 - 1519 (27)

The Medici Queens of France - Caterina and Maria


Alessandro 'the Moor', illegitimate son of Giulio

1511 - 1537 (26)


The Medici Popes                           The Medici Queens of France

Medici 2 - The Grand Dukes

The Sassetti Chapel - Lorenzo & Sons
The Chapel of the MagI (Medici-Riccardi Palace)

Sandro Botticelli's Painting of himself and the Medici Magi Adoring the Virgin

Queuing and money counting in a 1300s bank - in pictures ...

Link to "Medicis take over Siena"

The Court Portrait Painters: Bronzino, dell'Altissimo, Sustermans




"Joust of the Saracen in Via Larga" by Giovanni Stradano, in the Room of Gualdrada, Apartment of Eleonora, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. 


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The Palazzo Medici-Riccardi today


The facade of Michelozzo's original Palazzo Medici (left) - Medici Family pad in Florence from mid 1400s for a hundred years until Duke Cosimo I took over part of the the Town Hall for his personal accommodation before eventually moving to the Palazzo Pitti (actually bought by his rich Spanish wife Eleonora) in the first half of the 1500s. 


This was the centre for Lorenzo the Magnificent's court in the 1470s and 80s,  a gathering point for leading Renaissance philosophers, writers, artists and poets, and home to Michelangelo and others.  Note the Baptistery, Florence's oldest public building, at the end of the street. 


The Palazzo was bought by the Riccardi family in 1655 and majorly altered - only a public outcry saving the Chapel of the Magi from even more gruesome mutilation than it actually received.


Link to the Chapel of the Magi

And this is where it all ended up - the over the top over the top Chapel of the Princes, added to next door "family church" of San Lorenzo between 1604 and 1640, though they were still at it (building that is) for the next couple of centuries as procurement of the huge quantities of semi precious stones was difficult and expensive - in fact the project to coat the the ceiling with lapis lazuli from Afganistan sadly had to be axed for financial reasons!! 


This was the third Medici family mausoleum to be build in the church and  the grandest one - for the most useless members of the dynasty!  The first was the Old Sacristy where Giovanni lies buried and which was part of Brunelleschi's original church.  Michelangelo worked on the New Sacristy between 1524 and 1533 at the behest of Medici Pope Clement VII and left two magnificent tombs for two of the less memorable Medici.

The photo on the left and some of the portraits are taken from "The Medici of Florence" by Emma Micheletti, a very well illustrated art book format by a local museum curator, but sadly not easy to find.


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Giovanni di Bicci, 1360-1425 (65)


Founder of the Medici Bank


copy by Agnolo Bronzino of an unknown original (1503 - 1572 (69)) (Uffizi warehouse)


Cosimo il Vecchio, 1389 - 1464 (75)


Cosimo il Vecchio,  son of Giovanni and builder of serious serious wealth on the back of his support for Baldassare Cossa (1370 - 1419 (49)) - the Pope (later Anti-Pope) John XXIII,  and the consequent Medici Bank monopoly over much church business - which is how they made so much moolah. 


It was Cosimo who started the tradition of Medici family monetary and political support for leading artists, architects and thinkers - in his case including Brunelleschi, Michelozzo, Donatello, and Filippo Lippi.


The famous portrait of him in the Uffizi is a posthumous painting by Pontormo (1494-1557 (63)) sourced in part from medal images like the one below.



A medal struck with Cosimo il Vecchio on the obverse, and a set of Borromean Rings on the reverse.  The rings (named after the family Borromeo) were also known as a Medicean device (we know not why, nor what the "always" three mutually dependant rings represented - Medici - Profits - God maybe?).  The Sforza family joined in as no doubt did others, and even the church found it a useful way to illustrate the intellectually obscure conjunction of monotheism and the concept of the Trinity.


The characteristic of Borromean rings is that as a threesome they cannot be separated, but if you take away any one ring the remaining two are not joined.  But beware - there are 9 other ways in which it is possible to interlink three rings, so all three-ring devices are not Borromean!!


Michalengelo used three rings (but not Borromean) as his "chop" to signify the linkage of Art, Sculpture and Architecture - Vasari made them into laurels on his tomb in Santa Croce in Florence.  Whilst in Santa Croce, one of the chapel gates there has a handsome double set of Borromeans.  And whilst in Florence, the 1467 tempietto by Leon Battista Alberti in the Cappella Rucellai in the Church of San Pancrazio has a marble version.  Basta!




Piero il Gottoso, 1416 - 1469 (53)


Piero il Gottoso (the gouty) suffered from agonizing gout (as did many of the Medicis) and lived nearly all of his life in the shadow of his father Cosimo.  He did however play a major role in the affairs of Florence and in furthering the international fortunes of the Medici Bank, but in the end only outlived his father by 5 years.


This rather indignant bust of him by Mino da Fiesole is in the Bargello in Florence.





Lorenzo il Magnifico, 1449 - 1469 - 1492 (43)


Lorenzo il Magnifico, grandson of Cosimo, son of Piero, civic leader, serious renaissance man and spender but definitely not a banker (neither did he have any sense of smell).


He presided for 23 years over a Florence at the peak of her Renaissance energy, and established a glittering court of artists, philosophers and writers centred on the Palazzo Medici.  He added Botticelli, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, Ghirlandaio, da Vinci (for a time), Poliziano (who he credited with saving his life during the attack by the Pazzi), and Machiavelli (for a time) to the Medici supported stable of talent.


Lorenzo died in 1492 - a year, sometimes styled the last year of the Middle Ages, which also saw Columbus land in (or rather near) America and the defeat and closure of Granada, the last Moorish Kingdom in Spain.





The portraits shown above are posthumous - on the top left the well known one by Giorgio Vasari (1512-1574 (62)), now in the Uffizi.  The one on the top right is by Girolamo Macchietti (1535 - 1592 (57)).  His death mask is shown below - his skull, preserved fingers and hair are also available for perusal.


The portrait image of Lorenzo with Francesco Sassetti and his son (right) painted by Ghirlandaio c1485 is in the magnificent (and hardly visited) Sassetti Chapel in SS Trinita in Florence.  This is about the only contemporaneous portrait of Il Magnifico around.


Below right is a medal by Niccolo Fiorentino struck around 1480 when Lorenzo would have been 31.



Giuliano (1453 - 1478 (25)) (painted copy by Agnolo Bronzino of an unknown original) - Lorenzo's younger brother, who shared the family leadership with him until he was killed in the Pazzi Conspiracy in 1478.  Giuliano did not marry, but was an "admirer" (well, who wouldn't be) of Simonetta Vespucci (nee Cattaneo - thought to be the model for Piero di Cosimo's painting "Cleopatra" on the right) and the father, via Antonia Gorini, of  Giulio, the future Pope Clement VII.  It was, of course, the Vespucci family who produced Amerigo after whom the Americas are named.



This painting of Simonetta Vespucci by Piero di Cosimo can be seen in the Musée Condé, Chantilly


Link to the Medici clan starring in Botticelli's "The Adoration of the Magi" (1476), Uffizi, Florence

Piero il Fatuo, 1472 - 1492 - 1494 - 1503 (31)


Son of Lorenzo il Magnifico, Piero the Fatuous took over at Lorenzo's death in 1492, and lasted fatuously just 2 years before surrendering to Charles VIII of France and then being evicted by the Florentinians from their city along with future Medici Popes Leo X (Giovanni) and Clement VII (Giulio) (see below).  He died in exile in 1503 - drowned whilst fighting in a battle between the French (losers) and Spanish (winners) for Naples - we do not know which side he had taken.


The portrait copy by Agnolo Bronzino (original unknown) is in the Uffizi warehouse.





Many books, web sites etc state without qualification that there were four Medici Popes, but this is only true in a very limited sense.  Only Giovanni - Leo X (1475 - 1513 - 1521 (46)) and Giulio - Clement VII (1478 - 1523 - 1534 (56)), son and son by adoption of Lorenzo the Magnificent, count as Florentine Medici Popes.


Giovanni Angelo Medici (1499 - 1559 - 1565 (66)) - Pius IV - came from Milan and was not connected to the Medicis of Florence at all.  He presided over the concluding stages of the 18 year Council of Trent.  A member of the Florence Medicis, Alessandro Ottaviano de'Medici, was elected as Leo XI in April 1605.  He was a maternal nephew of Leo X, but he did not make it past catching something nasty whilst supervising his move to the Lateran Palace, and dying before the month was out.


Link to Popes of the Renaissance







The Last Medici Leaders from the Senior (or 'Cafaggiolo') Family Line


Lorenzo (Duca di Urbino), 1492 - 1519 (27)


After the short lived Savanorola experiment and other unsuccessful leadership initiatives, the Medici were restored to Florence in 1512 in the form of Lorenzo's son Giuliano.  After less than a year, he took off for the more enjoyable activity of working with his brother Giovanni, the new Pope Leo X, as Cardinal and a Gonfalonier of the Roman Church, also becoming the Duc de Nemours for good measure.  He left Florence in the hands of another Lorenzo - son of Piero the Fatuous and grandson of Il Magnifico.


Lorenzo (right - a Cristofano dell Altissimo copy of an unknown original) was an ambitious and unprincipled thug without redeeming features, who became Duke of Urbino by conquest of the della Rovere family who had earlier befriended and looked after him.  However, he contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 27 (just after his beautiful and much liked French wife Madeleine had died of fever aged 18). 


Lorenzo himself achieved a place in history of sorts because Machiavelli's (1469 - 1527 (58)) all time best selling book "The Prince" is preceded by a shamelessly grovelling two page dedication to Lorenzo (which was really a plea by Machiavelli for unbanishment and reinstatement in the government of Florence, which was ignored).  The book itself was actually modelled on the even more awful  and unattractive Cesare Borgia, son of the Spanish Pope Alessandro VI and brother of Lucrezia.  Lorenzo was also the father of Caterina, Queen Consort and Regent of France




Link to the Medici Queens of France

(page moved)


Alessandro 'the Moor' (1511 - 1537 (26)) - first Duke of Florence



Illegitimate son of Giulio (Pope Clemente VII) and an African servant (hence "the Moor").  Alessandro (right - another Cristofano dell Altissimo copy of an unknown original) was foisted on Florence by his Dad (aka "Uncle") the Pope and Charles V, whose army re-conquered the city after a brief (and final) bout of independence had broken out.   He was  made the first hereditary Duke of Florence when the four hundred year old City State Republic was finally snuffed out.


Alessandro was eventually assassinated by relative Lorenzino in 1537.  He was an even nastier piece of work than his predecessor, and merits no space here (though it is interesting that he married Margherita of Austria and several Habsburgs today can trace their ancestry back to him!).  The assassin Lorenzino hid out in Venice, where he got his come-uppance in Campo San Polo in 1548.





On to the Medici Popes - LEO X and Clement VII       The Medici Queens of France

The Cadet (OR Popolani) line:  COSIMO I - GRAND DUKE OF TUSCANY et seq

Books and a DVD on the Medici


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