|House of Medici|
The Noble House of Medici was a prominent and influential Italian family of the 14th century. They had much influence all over the continent.
The House of Medici was a prominent political dynasty, banking family, and later a Royal House. The family's prominence grew under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside, gradually rising until they were able to fund the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence— though officially they remained citizens rather than monarchs.
Wealth & Influence Edit
Their wealth and influence initially derived from the textile trade guided by the guild of the Arte della Lana. Like other signore families they dominated their city's government, they were able to bring Florence under their family's power, allowing for an environment where art and humanism could flourish. They fostered and inspired the birth of the Italian Renaissance along with other families of Italy, such as the Visconti and Sforza of Milan, the Este of Ferrara, and the Gonzaga of Mantua.
The Medici Bank was one of the most prosperous and most respected institutions in Europe. There are some estimates that the Medici family were the wealthiest family in Europe for a period of time. From this base, they acquired political power initially in Florence and later in wider Italy and Europe. A notable contribution to the profession ofaccounting was the improvement of the general ledger system through the development of the double-entry bookkeeping system for tracking credits and debits. The Medici family were among the earliest businesses to use the system.
Fall of a Dynasty Edit
Cosimo I de' Medici, was the founder of the Duchy of Tuscany; however it was virtually bankrupt by 1705, and his daughter Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, Electress Palatine was the last Medicean Grand Duke of Tuscany On 19 February 1743, she died, and the Grand Ducal line of the House of Medici died with her as The House of Medici lacked male heirs. The extinction of the main Medici dynasty and the accession in 1737 of Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine and husband of Maria Theresa of Austria, led to Tuscany's temporary inclusion in the territories of the Austrian crown. The line of the principi di Ottajano, an extant branch of the House of Medici who were eligible to inherit the grand duchy of Tuscany when the last male of the senior branch died in 1737, could have carried on as Medici sovereigns but for the intervention of Europe's major powers, which allocated the sovereignty of Florence elsewhere.
As a consequence, the Duchy expired and the territory became a secundogeniture (Dependent Territory) of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. The first Grand Duke of the new dynasty, Francis I, was a great-great-great-grandson of Francesco I de' Medici, thus continuing the Medicean Dynasty on the throne of Tuscany through the female line. The Hapsburgs were deposed for the Bourbon-Parma in 1801 (themselves deposed in 1807), and restored at the Congress of Vienna. Tuscany became a province of the United Kingdom of Italy in 1861. However, several extant branches of the House of Medici currently continue to exist including the Princes of Ottajano, the Medici Tornaquinci, and the Verona Medici Counts of Caprara and Gavardo.
The biggest accomplishments of the Medici were in the sponsorship of art and architecture, mainly early and High Renaissance art and architecture. The Medici were responsible for the majority of Florentine art during their reign. Their money was significant because during this period, artists generally only made their works when they received commissions in advance. Although none of the Medici themselves were scientists, the family is well known to have been the patrons of the famous Galileo Galilei, who tutored multiple generations of Medici children, and was an important figurehead for his patron's quest for power. Galileo's patronage was eventually abandoned by Ferdinando II, when the Inquisition accused Galileo of heresy. However, the Medici family did afford the scientist a safe haven for many years. Galileo named the four largest moons of Jupiter after four Medici children he tutored, although the names Galileo used are not the names currently used.
The House of Medici produced four Popes of the Catholic Church:
- Pope Leo X (1513–1521)
- Pope Clement VII (1523–1534)
- Pope Pius IV (1559–1565)
- Pope Leo XI (1605)
Two Regent Queens of France:
- Catherine de' Medici (1547–1559)
- Marie de' Medici (1600–1610)
In 1531, the family became hereditary Dukes of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to a grand duchy after territorial expansion. They ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from its inception until 1737, with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici. The grand duchy witnessed degrees of economic growth under the earlier grand dukes, but by the time of Cosimo III de' Medici, Tuscany was fiscally bankrupt.