The Medici Family: Renaissance Intrigue and Influence
By Viator, June 2014
The Medici were bankers who amassed great wealth and power, and they were not shy about spending their money. In pouring huge amounts of cash into building palaces throughout the republic - not to mention outfitting them with countless pieces of artwork - they ended up leaving an architectural and artistic legacy that has lasted centuries longer than their time in power.
In Florence alone, the family lived in both the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti, and they had their offices in what is now the Uffizi Gallery. They were patrons of some of the most notable artists of the Renaissance, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Fra Angelico, and Botticelli - whose great works are on display in Florence’s top museums. Even in death, the Medici are a top tourist draw - the Medici chapel contains family tombs with beautiful sculptures by Michelangelo.
In addition to the artistic legacy the Medici left in Florence, there are also interesting historic tales associated with the family. The Medici produced four popes, giving the family increased power in both Rome and Florence. Certain political ties were established or strengthened by strategic marriages, such as that of Catherine de’Medici to the future King of France. A plot to murder Lorenzo The Magnificent in the Duomo in 1478 may have failed, but the assailants were successful in killing Lorenzo’s brother, Giuliano, who was stabbed 19 times during Easter Mass and died on the cathedral floor.
The family’s power waxed and waned over nearly 300 years - including seeing them banned from Florentine politics for a period of 20 years - but there’s no denying the lasting influence they had over the city and the country that Italy would one day become. It’s impossible to spend time in Florence today without seeing something that the Medici family left behind.
Tours & Tickets
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