Who were the Medicis?
We are back with another series of brief history lessons!
The Medicis were a family in Florence. Probably the most influential families of the Italian Renaissance, and perhaps one of the most influential families of medieval and enlightenment-era Europe.
They ruled the city of Florence as authorities of the state for 200 years from 1434 until 1737 through their vast amounts of wealth, which was accumulated through their success as a banking and merchant family. The Medici bank which was founded by Giovanni de Medici not only began their path to riches as one of wealthiest families in Europe, but their banking practises arguably shaped the world’s modern economy and methods of finance.
Giovanni’s son Cosimo de Medici inherited this fortune from the Medici Bank and used it to his advantage, eventually making his way to power as the leader of the Florentine state, beginning the family’s rule over the city.
Aside from the financial influence of the Medici Bank itself, the Medici family are mostly famous all over the world for one aspect of their leadership: their appreciation and using their wealth and clout to invest in the arts and science over the period of – and thus kickstarting – the Italian Renaissance. Because their investment into the city and into the creative arts, they are in a huge part responsible for the exposure of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinco, Galileo, and many other geniuses during this period.
The Medicis were not hedonistic aristocrats, but were known to purposefully avoid showcasing their wealth. Their collected art never boasted of any riches but modestly drew from images of the simple life. The family eventually took the mantel of royals for themselves as they became Dukes of Tuscany. They didn’t have much time left until they eventually lost their power and innovative foresight following this transformation.
200 years is a relatively short period of time in European history, although their mark upon of the city of Florence will perhaps be eternal.