The Medici produced several popes and cardinals as the dominant family in early modern Florence and married in Europe’s Catholic royal houses, which dominated the rule of the city from the early fifteenth century to 1737. Family members from the Tuscan village of Cafaggiolos lost their influence in the late 14th century when Salvestro de Medici was forced into exile as the gonfalonier (standard-bearer) of Florence. In 1434, banker Cosimo De Medici (1389-1464), who respected the republican constitution, seized power in Florence behind the scenes.
Giovanni Bicci de Medici, the first patron of the family, helped Masaccio to commission Filippo Brunelleschi in 1419 to reconstruct the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence. He also supported Masaccio’s assignment to Brunelleschi to restore the church.
His grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492) was a poet and supported works of Renaissance masters such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Medicis, which was to complete his family tomb in Florence. Piero’s younger brother Giuliano (1479-1516) ruled from 1512 until 1516 and became a prince; he was succeeded by Lorenzo (1492-1519), whose son Piero was appointed Duke of Urbino by Pope Leo X (himself a Medici son of Lorenzo) and after his death by Giulio (1478-1534), the illegitimate son of Leonardo the Magnanimous, who took the city and abdicated in The Medici family continued their power in Rome through Giulio, the son of Medici in a relationship with Giuliano, entrusted to Lorenzo, later Pope Clement VII (1523).
After a brief interlude of fewer than two years, Medici’s cousin Giovanni was himself elected Pope. In the case of his son Cosimo who was renamed Father Patriae (elder), he not only succeeded in consolidating and expanding the wealth and prestige of the banks of the Medici family but also became the richest man of his time. Cosimo’s son, daughter, and daughter-in-law Lorenzo the Magnificent, Tuscany became a modern and well-managed state, and the power of the family was broadly consolidated.
We only see it fit to leave out the mention of Piero Di Cosimo, the son of Lorenzo, and his father because he was in poor health and was not interested in family business or politics, but he governed family and urban politics for five years until his untimely death. Lorenzo’s son Piero was only twenty years old when he took over the leadership of Florence in 1492 against the resistance of his father. His relative inattention to the family bank meant that he was the first Medici to try to control the city despite ample funds.
The importance of later Medici was that Lorenzo married a significant and established noble family, the Orsini, which gave wealth and political influence to the Medici and was supported by aristocratic blood. Lorenzo’s relationship with the family was important for his diplomacy as he was able to defend Florence against his enemies, gain new allies, and enhance his own security. His success as a diplomat and politician enabled him to gain influence within the papacy, which for many years depended on the Medici-Bank.
As immigrants from the countryside, the Medici family accumulated wealth and used it to gain power in Florence and throughout Italy. Giovanni di Bicci de Medici (c. 1360-1429), son of Averardo de Medici (1320-1363), with the founding of the “Medici bank” greatly increased the family wealth and became one of the richest men in Florence. The family of the Medici, also known as the House of Medici, gained wealth and political power in Florence in the 13th century thanks to its success in commerce and banking. While many Medici families seem to have earned their living as merchants, banking became an important career line for the family at the time.
The Medici family, perhaps the most important family you have never heard of, came from Florence, Italy and during their 300-year reign are credited with making the city an important center of the Renaissance movement. After 1434, when Cosimo de Medici came to power (Cosimo the Elder), the Medici’s support for arts and humanities made Florence the cradle of cultural flowering of the Renaissance, which competed with the old Greece. Unlike other Italian ruling families, the Medici ruled their city and were able to bring it under their family power and create an environment where art and humanism flourished.
In the first half of the 15th century, the Medici family became the most important house in both Florence and Tuscany, a position it held for three centuries. The Medicis became the leading family of the Florentines, another position they would continue to hold for the next three centuries. The Medici family, the most famous Italian noble family and great power from the 15th to 18th century in Florence, achieved wealth and political power in the city of Florence through their success in commerce and banking.
From 1492 to 1537 the relationship between the Medici and Florence was turbulent, but the exiled families were able to regain their influence. Turmoil ensued during the reign of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Florence, who began in 1537 and placed the family under the control of city officials. After the death of Cosimo II in 1720, the region suffered under the ineffective rule of the Medici.