POWER, LEGACY AND ART
More than three centuries of government and control of Florence, The Medici were both loved and hated by their own people, driven into exile multiple times, always to return stronger than ever before. The Medici Family were the power of Florence, reigning over the Renaissance and marking the city forever with their legacy. They governed for more than three hundred years, rising from humble beginnings to stand amongst the greatest leaders of Italy and the world. They had the power to change history, influencing the arts, the sciences, and the cultural and spiritual life of Florentine society.
With seven Grand Dukes of Tuscany, Cosimo I, Francesco I, Ferdinando I, Cosimo II, Ferdinando II, Cosimo III, and Gian Gastone, their dominance of Florence and the wider state of Tuscany was total. Three Medici Popes extended the family’s reach into the Vatican and Rome, Leo X, Clement VII, and Leo XI.
Greater Europe carried their legacy as they married into external positions of power including two Queens of France: Queen Catherine (Queen Consort of France and the wife of Henry II 1547-1559) and Queen Mary (Queen Consort of France and Navarre as the second wife of Henry IV France from 1600 to 1610). The daughter of Catherine de’ Medici and Henry II became Queen Consort of Spain, Elisabeth of Valois (as the third wife of Philip II).
They are the Godfathers of the Renaissance, the money and support behind the greatest artists of the time.
The Medici influence on the arts in Florence can be seen in hundreds of examples collected over seven centuries, beginning with Giovanne de’ Bicci, father of Cosimo and Lorenzo il Vecchio, and this vision still shapes the culture of Florence, and the world, today. The very architecture of Florence owes itself in grand part to their patronage. Cosimo I commissioned Giorgio Vasari to expand the Pitti Palace and to create the Vasari Corridor in only five short months, which carved through the rooftops of the city to join the old and new Palazzi of Medici power.
Their own palazzi and villas still stand proudly today, designed and built by the greatest architects of the time. Lorenzo the Magnificent and his Accademia di San Marco provided the training ground for Michelangelo, who created multiple sculptures, paintings, and monuments for the Medici including The Last Judgement inside of the Sistine Chapel.
Machiavelli’s literary masterpiece The Prince, Botticelli’s Venus, The Birth of Spring, and The Adoration of the Magi, even the presence of jewelers on the famous Ponte Vecchio, none of this could exist without the Medici. They encouraged the birth of Opera, the first piano was created within their Palazzo walls, and the remarkable Medici tombs behind their family church in San Lorenzo are all part of their extraordinary legacy.
The Medici Family were the power of Florence, reigning over the Renaissance and marking the city forever with their legacy. The story of The Medici began with Giovanni di Bicci, whose life and death are imagined in the TV series, Medici: Masters of Florence. Our historical drama, The Medici Dynasty, is performed live within the cradle of the Renaissance and shows the end of their long rule.
Witness an emotional meeting between brother and sister Anna Maria Luisa and Gian Gastone, who were the last of the family’s ruling line after failing to produce any heirs.
Gian Gastone was the last of the Grand Dukes and is famous for his debauched and indulgent lifestyle. Lesser known is how he bettered the lives of the poor, that he was the first leader to never apply the death penalty, and that he relocated Galileo’s Tomb to a place of honor in Santa Croce.
Anna Maria Luisa is remembered with honor for her creation of The Family Pact, a contract ensuring the impressive artistic patrimony of the Medici family would never be taken outside the borders of Florence, or the wider state of Tuscany. After Gian Gastone’s death she was all that remained of the Medici dynasty, and she changed history with extraordinary vision and foresight. Thanks to her ingenious Family Pact, the soul of the Renaissance lives on within Florence forever.
THE MEDICI COAT OF ARMS
THERE ARE VARIOUS LEGENDS EXPLAINING THE ORIGIN OF THE MEDICI COAT OF ARMS:
Legend has it that Mugello was a giant that was terrorising the region.
One day Averardo de’ Medici, one of the family’s ancestors and captain of Charlemagne’s army, defeated the giant Mugello while fighting against the Longobards.
During the battle the giant beat the gold shield of Averardo so hard that the dents left on the shield became the symbol of the the Medici family.
Another legend says the red balls represent pharmaceutical pills, which were red in medieval times, and signify the name Medici, meaning doctors.