The Medici family was a powerful Italian family that was involved in politics, money and much more. The Medici was called “The Godfathers of the Renaissance”. They supported artists, ruled cities and were thought to be one of the wealthiest families in Europe during the 14th century. The family had humble beginnings and went on to start a dynasty.
1. There were four Popes that were from the Medici family.
Pope Leo X, Pope Clement VII, Pope Pius IV, and Pope Leo XI were all elected to lead the Catholic Church. Pope Leo X was interested in the fine arts and financed the restoration of St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Clement VII was he was taken prisoner and paid his own ransom price for freedom. Pope Pius IV was well liked by the people. Pope Leo XI was Pope for a single month.
2. The Medici ruled Florence, Italy for about 300 years.
The Medici family began to have influence in Florence in the late 1300’s. Although the family began as poor farmers, they became rich merchants. Through carefully arranged marriages, the Medici was able to gain political alliances that allowed them to make friends in the right places. During the year 1531, the Medici became Dukes of Florence. In 1718, with no male heirs left in the Medici family, the family’s lands were split up and given to other influential members of society. The Medici rules for just slightly less than 300 years.
3. The Medici family is known as the “Godfathers of the Renaissance”.
After coming into power in 1434, Cosimo de’Medici began the family tradition of being a patron of the arts. He built a large library and was a supporter of the famous sculptor, Donatello. Lorenzo the Magnificent, another Medici family member, was also a patron of the arts. Michelangelo became well known during Lorenzo’s rule. The Renaissance is said to have begun because of the family’s interests in the arts.
4. Many of the Medici family spent time in exile.
Despite being a powerful family, many members of the family spent time in exile. Piero II was such a bad leader that he was exiled from Florence in 1494. Less than five years later, a revolt in Florence sent most of the family into exile. They returned in 1512 only to be exiled again 1527.
5. The Medici produced two queens.
During their time in power, two of the women in the Medici family became a royal by marriage. Catherine de’Medici became the Queen consort to the French king of the time, King Henry II. More than fifty years later, Marie de’Medici became the Queen of France after marrying King Henry IV. In 1616, her son, King Louis VIII, banished her from court for two years.
6. Alessandro de’Medici nickname was “The Moor.”
An illegitimate son, Alessandro de’Medici was the son of a slave and Lorenzo II. He ruled Florence for less than a decade. He was commonly referred to as “The Moor”. It is said to be a direct reference to the shade of his skin.
7. Galileo named his discoveries in honor of several Medici children.
In 1610, Galileo, who was a favorite of Cosimo II, dedicated his discovery of the four moons of Jupiter to the Medici family. He wanted to call his discovery Medician Stars. In 1614, the names Simon Marius had chosen became the official names of the moons instead of Galileo’s Medician Stars.
8. The Medici family owned most of Florence in the 1400’s.
Due to their rise to power through their powerful bank, the Medici owned a huge portion of Florence. As the family became more prominent and were granted lands, their lands reached from Florence to Tuscany. The Medici family was at the center of society, with connections in every single type of business in Florence.
9. Lorenzo the Magnificent wasn’t magnificent at money.
Lorenzo de’Medici came to power in 1469. He was an excellent politician, but was faced with a huge debt inherited from his family. He continued to make bad money choices and drove the city to near destitution.
10. George W. Bush is distantly related to the Medici family.
Though all males of the Medici family died without producing any male heirs, Catherine de’Medici, Queen of France, had sons. Genealogical charts show that George W. Bush is a descendant of the French queen.
A powerful family that had connections everywhere, the Medici family is admirable for making cunning choices that led them to become leaders of Florence. Queens, Popes and the Renaissance movement can all be traced back to this large family.