The House of Medici was a powerful family dynasty in Florence during the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. They made their money in banking, and although they were not monarchs, they held great political power. Their greatest legacy was their support of art and architecture during the Renaissance. As patrons they supported many important artists, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Brunelleschi and Botticelli.
With the Medici dynasty spanning hundreds of years, the easiest way to understand its genealogy is with a family tree. Florence Art Guide provides us exactly that, along with clickable links to articles about the family's most famous progeny, such as Cosimo I (1519-1574). These articles also contain links to articles about related people (such as Giorgio Vasari, artist and architect) and places ( the Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, and the Pitti Palace.)
My pick of the week is this PBS site, built as a companion to the 2004 four-part television special. Best clicks include the interactive tour of Florence (click on Florence Scape), the interactive family tree (look in the Medici section), the Medici Quiz (also in the Medici section), and the interactive timeline (in Turning Points.) Also visit for biographies of many of the most important Renaissance artists, including Botticelli, Donatello, Ghiberti, Michelangelo and Leonardo.
The Medici Archive Project is analyzing over three-million letters and documents from the famous family. Their "goal is to animate the actual words of the Medici Grandukes to tell the untold stories of power and intrigue from the most influential family dynasty in Western Civilization." Best reads for casual visitors (like us) are the Highlights listed on the front page, such as Women Artists and Women Patrons of the Arts, which translates snippets of a handful of letters describing women as both commissioned artists and art patrons. Fascinating!
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as Florence's Duomo, is a symbol of the Medici's impact on Florence. Supported by Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici (1389 - 1464), architect Filippo Brunelleschi designed and built its huge brick dome between 1420 and 1436. Learn more about this impressive cathedral with this hyperlinked illustration that explores the Dome, the Baptistry (with its famous Ghiberti doors), Giotto's Bell Tower, and more.
"Through banking and commerce, the [Medici] family acquired great wealth in the 13th century, and political influence came along with this wealth." This one-page overview of the Medici Family is part of The Galileo Project at Rice University. Ferdinand (1549 - 1609) appointed Galileo as a math professor at the University of Pisa. In 1610, his son Cosimo II (1590 - 1621) (who had been tutored by Galileo as a young boy) offered the scientist a court position.