The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher HibbertAt its height, Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power, and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the familys huge influence on the political, economic and cultural history of Florence. Beginning in the early 1430s with the rise of the dynasty under the near-legendary Cosimo de Medici, it moves through their golden era as patrons of some of the most remarkable artists and architects of the Renaissance, to the era of the Medici Popes and Grand Dukes, Florences slide into decay and bankruptcy, and the end, in 1737, of the Medici line.
Three lines of Medici successively approached or acquired positions of power. The line of Chiarissimo II failed to gain power in Florence in the 14th century. In the 16th century a third line renounced republican notions and imposed its tyranny , and its members made themselves a dynasty of grand dukes of Tuscany. The differences between these three collateral lines are essentially due to circumstances, for there was in all the Medici an extraordinary persistence of hereditary traits. In the first place, not being soldiers, they were constantly confronting their adversaries with bribes of gold rather than with battalions of armed men.
Birth of the Medici Dynasty
How did humble Italian bankers, born without aristocratic title, come to rule Florence for hundreds of years? Money helped. And the House of Medici had lots of it. What the Medicis lacked in popularity, they certainly made up for in power. Balance the books to 42 dangerous facts about the infamous Medici Dynasty. That last Medici Pope—Leo—only held on to the big hat for less than single month, which is one of the briefest papacies in history.