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The Medici Family

The Medici Family was the richest family of the 15th century. They had become the most important family in banking and commerce in Europe. They had maintained their power for 300 years.

The Family had 4 papas and 2 Queens of France. With the financial power, the family also gained political power in Florance, Italy. The family is also referred to as the “Godfathers of Renaissance “ because of their spearheading the entire Renaissance through their support of artists.

In the beginning, their initial wealth source was textile trading. The rise of the family was also related to the continuous conflicts in the area. They took full advantage of conflicts that solidified their reputation. Furthermore; over time, they expanded their social network by marriages with elite families and good relations with the papacy and also the rich merchants.

from: Fragments of a textile with Medici emblems

The Medici Bank, (it was created in 1397 and fell in 1494) was one of the most respected institutions in Europe, and also the main financial institution of the papacy. It is also said that they introduced new methods for banking such as a double-entry bookkeeping system and general ledger system. The photo left is the emblem of the Medici Bank.

Note: Due to the loss of power in the banking empire, economic troubles with debt-ridden foreign nationals, and the Pazzi conspiracy, the Medici Bank was nearly bankrupt. But the fortune was not lost. The inheritors like Lorenzo, maintained their fortune and fame by new ways of obtaining power, like sponsoring the artists.

Even though Florence was a republic, the family members were ruling Florance indirectly, benefiting their financial power. In 1532, the family acquired the hereditary title Duke of Florence* and later, Tuscany (in 1569).

Note: Italy was not a unified nation in those times. It was organized into city-states like Siena, Venice, Naples, and Florance. However, then, these cities came together under one leadership and, in 1569 Grand Duchy of Tuscany was created. Cosimo I de’ Medici was the first duke of Tuscany.

The Medici family supported Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Brunelleschi.


 In 1489, Lorenzo de Medici noticed a young artist's unusual talent and proposed he move into the Medici Palace and be educated along with the Medici children. The young artist improved his talents there and carved the most famous sculptures in history. The young artist was Michelangelo, his masterpieces were David and The Madonna della Pieta.

image: Michelangelo

image: David of Michelangelo image: Madonna della Pieta


Lorenzo de Medici Boticelli

The famous painting, “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli is known to be made as a present for the cousin of Lorenzo de Medici.

The Birth of Venus:

Moreover, Galileo was the Medici Family’s tutor too. In the early 1600s, Galileo was cash-strapped and had a family to provide for. He took a job tutoring Cosimo de Medici, the teenage son of Ferdinando I, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He tutored multiple generations of the family.

Galileo made discoveries with a telescope, including the fact that Jupiter had moons, which he named after the Medici. He named the 4 Javion moons he discovered in 1610 “Medicean Planets”. However, in the mid-1800s they came to be known as the “Galilean Satellites” in honor of the discoverer.

Galileo’s patronage was eventually abandoned by Ferdinando II when the Inquisition accused Galileo of Heresy in 1633.


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