Gian Gastone became Grand Duke of Florence late in his life at the age of 53. He succeeded into power after his father, Cosimo III, died. Gian Gastone was the third son, therefore despite being well educated, as a child he was not fully groomed for the role of Grand Duke. Gian Gastone did not particularly crave a position of power, yet he understood his duty as a member of the most important family in Florence. Although he was not the typical Medici family member, Florence thrived under his rule.
Gian Gastone had an unfavorable reputation during his lifetime due to his private vices and depression. Despite his melancholy attitude, he was a good king and chose his advisors well. Gian Gastone had qualities that differed from the rest of his family. The Grand Duke was open minded, intelligent, tolerant, and sensitive.
The Reign of Gian Gastone de’ Medici
Gian Gastone famously despised the church and he purged the government of corrupt church officials. He worked to reform laws to create a better Florence. He was concerned for the well being of the public, and he decided to reverse his father’s conservative policies. Gian Gastone honored Galileo Galilei by placing his tomb in the Basilica of Santa Croce. He also entrusted the government of Siena to Violante Beatrice of Bavaria, who shared a close friendship with him. In light of Gian Gastone’s sense of justice and morality, during his reign he ordered all public executions to be stopped.
Gian Gastone cared about the public and wanted a city where the human condition was improved. He repealed the unjust penal laws that restricted Jewish people, prostitutes, and secular parties. The Grand Duke strived to create a better living situation for those severely less fortunate than him; in turn he abolished the taxes for the poor.
Gian Gastone succeeded in improving overall living conditions of the public and gave birth to a more just and refined Florence. He implemented the following major reforms:
- He reduced the power of the church in Tuscany
- He abolished taxes for the poor
- He gave Galileo Galilei a monumental burial place in Santa Croce
- He entrusted the government of Siena to Violante Beatrice of Bavaria
- He reversed his father’s conservative policies
- He repealed the penal laws that restricted the Jews, prostitutes, and secular parties
- He stopped public executions
What will you remember Gian Gastone de’ Medici for?
Post by Brianna Pohl