Rulers of Florence and Tuscany and Northern Italy

Click here for some initial background. It was ruled by many houses. The wealthy families in the city of Florence tended to be close to the Pope in Rome.

From 1397, the Medici Family's Banking Group rule Florence (and much of Tuscany).

Its founding is usually dated to 1397, the year that Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici separated his bank from his somewhat "unsuccessful" nephew Averardo's bank in Rome, and moved this small bank from Rome to Florence. The branch in Rome was entrusted to Benedetto de' Bardi who became general manager until his death in 1420. In Florence Giovanni took on Gentile di Baldassarre Buoni (1371 - 1427) as a partner, though Gentile soon left the firm. However they initially raised 10,000 gold florins and began operations.

From 1397 - 1737 the Medicis had a major influence over Northern Italy and Rome, supporting Renaissance artists Leonardo da Vinci 1452 - 1519, Michelangelo 1475 - 1564, and astronomer Galileo 1564 - 1642.

  1. Giovanni Medici 1360 - 1429
  2. Cosimo Medici 1389 - 1464
  3. Piero Medici 1416 - 1469
  4. Lorenzo (the Magnificent) 1449 - 1492
  5. Piero (the Unfortunate) 1472 - 1503. Was banished from Florence in 1494.

    Florence subsequently came under Girolamo Savonarola, Piero Soderini and Niccolo Machiavelli until it was recaptured by the future Pope Leo X in 1512.

  6. Pope Leo X 1475 - 1521 (the second son of Lorenzo)
  7. Pope Clement VII 1478 - 1534 (nephew of Lorenzo through Lorenzo's younger brother Giuliano)

    In May 1527 Rome was invaded by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's army, having over 20,000 soldiers — German (including many Lutherans), Spanish and Italian — mutinying over unpaid wages. They defeated the vastly outnumbered defenders, and looted the city. On 6th June, Clement VII surrendered, and agreed to pay a ransom of 400,000 ducats in exchange for his life, ceding lands as well. For two decades it all but ended the role of the Papacy as the largest patron of Renaissance art and architecture.

    In Florence, confusion reigned as the city refused to be ruled by Emperor Charles V or Pope Clement VII, supporting instead the French king, Francis I who was at war with Charles V. Francis signed a peace treaty in August 1529, following which the city of Florence was besieged. It surrendered in August 1530, and Alessandro de Medici arrived as their new head of state in July 1531.

  8. Alessandro (1510 - 1537) was the illegitimate son of Lorenzo II (1492-1519) the son of Piero the Unfortunate. Lorenzo had ruled Florence briefly from 1516 until his death in 1519. Alessandro's sister Catherine de Medici became Queen Consort of France, while Alessandro de Medici was now named the first Duke of Florence on 1st May 1532.

After his death in 1537, he was succeeded by Cosimo I (1519 - 1574). Cosimo was the great great great grandson of the original Giovanni Medici through a younger son. His mother was granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent. With Charles V granting him recognition as head of state, he expanded his territories throughout Tuscany. In 1569 Pope Pius V elevated him to the rank of Grand Duke of Tuscany.

The Medicis subsequently ruled Tuscany until 1737. The last Medici was Gian Gastone Medici (1671 - 1737), apparently he and his wife despised one another and had no children.

Tuscany was ruled by the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, starting with Emperor Francis I, until 1796 when it was invaded by French troops under Napoleon. Tuscany was under French rule until Napoleon's defeat in 1814, returning to the Austrian empire until 1860, when it united with Italy under military leader Garibaldi.

** End of Page

Go Top