The Family Medici: The Hidden History of the Medici Dynasty

The Family Medici: The Hidden History of the Medici Dynasty

by Mary Hollingsworth


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A fresh, revelatory, and shockingly revisionist narrative of the rise and fall of the House of Medici, by the acclaimed author of The Cardinal’s Hat and The Borgias.

Having founded the bank that became the most powerful in Europe in the fifteenth century, the Medici gained massive political power in Florence, raising the city to a peak of cultural achievement and becoming its hereditary dukes. Among their number were no fewer than three popes and a powerful and influential queen of France. Their influence brought about an explosion of Florentine art and architecture. Michelangelo, Donatello, Fra Angelico, and Leonardo were among the artists with whom they were socialized and patronized.

Thus runs the "accepted view” of the Medici. However, Mary Hollingsworth argues that the idea that the Medici were enlightened rulers of the Renaissance is a fiction that has now acquired the status of historical fact. In truth, the Medici were as devious and immoral as the Borgias—tyrants loathed in the city they illegally made their own. In this dynamic new history, Hollingsworth argues that past narratives have focused on a sanitized and fictitious view of the Medici—wise rulers, enlightened patrons of the arts, and fathers of the Renaissance—but that in fact their past was reinvented in the sixteenth century, mythologized by later generations of Medici who used this as a central prop for their legacy.

Hollingsworth's revelatory re-telling of the story of the family Medici brings a fresh and exhilarating new perspective to the story behind the most powerful family of the Italian Renaissance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643131504
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 09/08/2020
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 307,685
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Mary Hollingsworth is a scholar of the Italian Renaissance. She is the author of The Cardinal's Hat; The Borgias: History's Most Notorious Dynasty; and Patronage in Renaissance Italy: From 1400 to the Early Sixteenth Century. She divides her time between Italy and England.

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader 9

Prologue: A City Under Siege: 'Florence in ashes rather than under the Medici' 10

1 Migrants

Bonagiunta, Chiarissimo and their descendants, 1216-1348 23

2 Survivors

Salvestro, Foligno, Bicci and Vieri, 1348-1400 43

3 The Fortune

Giovanni di Bicci, 1400-1425 63

4 Politics

Giovanni di Bicci, Averardo and Cosimo, 1426-1433 79

5 For Honour and Profit

Cosimo the banker, 1434-1450 97

6 The Republican Toga

Cosimo the politician, 1451-1464 115

7 The Succession Crisis

Piero the Gouty, 1464-1469 133

8 Youth at the Helm

Lorenzo and Giuliano, 1469-1479 151

9 Pride

Lorenzo the Magnificent, 1480-1492 171

10 Nemesis

Piero and Cardinal Giovanni, 1492-1503 191

11 Exile

Cardinal Giovanni, Giulio and Giuliano, 1504-1512 209

12 Age of Gold

Pope Leo X, 1513-1521 225

13 Age of Iron

Pope Clement VII, 1521-1530 249

14 Imperial Poodles

Pope Clement VII, Ippolito, Alessandro and Cosimo, 1531-1543 269

15 The New Augustus

Cosimo I, 1544-1559 291

16 Grand Duke

Cosimo I, 1560-1574 309

17 Adultery

Francesco I and Cardinal Ferdinando, 1574-1587 327

18 Cardinal to Grand Duke

Ferdinando I, 1587-1609 347

19 The Unlucky Prince

Cosimo II, Christine of Lorraine and Maria Magdalena of Austria, 1609-1628 369

20 Science and Religion

Ferdinando II, 1628-1670 387

21 Vanity

Cosimo III, 1670-1723 407

22 Extinction

Gian Gastone, 1723-1737 429

Epilogue: Revival 437

Genealogical Trees 442

Maps 450

Bibliography and Sources 452

Notes 460

Image Credits 466

Acknowledgements 468

Index 469

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