The Medici Family

By Jenna Johnson


  • Either dominated or ruled Florence from the early fifteenth century until 1737.
  • Cardinal Giovanni (Pope Leo X) re installed his family in Florence in 1512.
  • Every generation of the Medici in the early modern period produced at east one cardinal.
  • For most of the 15th century, the Medici mostly only married other Florentine patrician families.
  • The Medici story began around the 12th century when family members from the Tuscan village of Cafaggiolo moved to Florence. The Medicis rose to become one of the most important houses in Florence through banking and commerce.


  • The family remained ground dukes until the death of the last male, Gian Gastone, in 1737. That was around 300 years long!
  • Leo X made Rome a great artistic center. The city was then established as the second great center of the Renaissance.
  • The Medici patronage had a huge impact on the Renaissance, allowing artists to focus on their work without having to worry about money.
  • The Medici family were wool merchants and bankers. Both businesses were very profitable and the family became extremely wealthy.

Interesting Facts

  • Cosimo general supported the arts, demonstrated great support for education, and spent approximately 600,000 gold florins supporting architecture, scholarly, learning, and other arts.
  • Two years after Lorenzo's death, Florentine republicans and followers of the Dominican Girolamo Savonarola forced Piero di Lorenzo and his brothers to exile.
  • Giovanni had an election claiming that the Medici lived like other citizens But once he became Pope Leo X in 1513, they ignored the constitution and went about like lords with armed retainers.
  • The Medici lived first in the Palazzo Vecchio and, as of about 1550, in the Palazzo Pitti. They also owned substantial property outside Florence.
  • Catherine (great grand daughter of Lorenzo) was blamed for the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre of 1572.
  • The Medici Family produced four popes in total including Pope Leo X, Pope Clement VII, Pope Pius IV, and Pope Leo XI.

Impact on Today

  • In 1397, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici formally established a family bank in Florence. (That was their fist bank. If they didn't start banks, we wouldn't have banks like today.)
  • The Medici used their wealth not only to build more wealth but to build prestige and exercise power and influence as well. They funded many of the buildings, statues, and paintings that made Florence a center of art during the Renaissance.
  • When Cosimo I moved the Florentine administrative offices into a building known as the Uffizi, he also established a small museum. The building is now the site of Florence's famed Uffizi Gallery, home to many of the great Renaissance-era treasures.
  • The Medici family made it easy to exchange ideas between politicians, artists, and scholars. This continued as Florence entered a period of unrivaled cultural vitality.


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"Medici Family." Reformation, Exploration, & Empire. Vol. 6. N.p.: Grolier, Inc., 2005. N. pag. Print.

Gozzoli, Benozzo. "Journey of the Magi." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2014. Web. 9 Mar. 2014. <>.

Tangient LLC. "Renaissance and Reformation Documents." Cooperhmuseum. Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike, 2014. Web. 9 Mar. 2014. <>

Bresnahan, Carol M. "Medici Family." Biography in Context. Ed. Charles Scribner's Sons. N.p.: Gale Cengage Learning, 2004. N. pag. Biography in Context. Web. 28 Feb. 2014. <>

Heads of the Medici

Medici Family Tree