Research: Who were the Medici’s

This is a very late addition to my blog as I am literally submitting for assessment tomorrow but I cannot forget to add an albeit very brief piece on the Medici family who I have read about so many times during this course.

In essence the Medici family were the ruling family of Florence for many generations and also Tuscany for a period  and they include two popes – Leo X and Clement VII.  The family were originally bankers going back to the 14th century and were founded by one Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici who was born in 1397.   It seems the family business was based on cloth and silk manufacturing as well as banking – I confess to not being aware of the textile background to the family before this research. As well as banking the family were also politicians which of course makes sense with their eventual rise to power.

Giovanni founded the bank that eventually became the Pope’s bank such was its power.  Giovanni also apparently introduced a new taxation method as well as commissioned art and buildings by the likes of Brunelleschi or Donatello and that is where I have first come across the family – the Medici’s were wealthy and well-known patrons of the arts throughout the Renaissance and Baroque periods as I discovered through my research into Artemisia Gentileschi.  Two of the Medici son’s albeit different generations had a tomb made for them by none other than Michelangelo  – the Medici Tombs of Florence and this further displays the regard in which the family were held or at least the power that they held at the time.

During the lifetime of Giovanni’s son the bank expanded as far as London, Rome, Barcelona and Bruges and also into Rhodes and Cologne but then it started to go wrong during the next 2 generations and due to a combination of corruption, bad investment and bad management it collapsed in 1494.

The last Medici ruler died in 1737 without an heir but many of the ruling families of Europe can trace their lineage back to this family – one descendant, Catherine became Queen of France as the wife of Henry II  and 3 out of their 4 sons also became Kings of France.

It is a family which is rich in history and with tales of corruption and power and certainly money but from an art history point of view it is a family who commissioned some of the great works of the Renaissance and Baroque eras.

As I write this brief blog I am now more curious about the Medici family with both their personal history and how far the genes reach throughout the European families of today but also about the influence on the arts and the sheer power they held through the centuries and I have no doubt that I will do further research as my studies into art history continue beyond this course.


A+E Networks Digital. 2017. The Medici Family [online].  [Date Accessed:  January 2017].  Available from:

Encyclopedia Britannica. 2017.  Medici Family Italian Family [online].  [Date Accessed:  January 2017].  Available from:

Sansom, I. 8 May 2010.  Great Dynasties of the World:  The Medici Family [online].  [Date Accessed:  January 2017].  Available from:

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