The Medici family, also known as the House of Medici, first attained wealth and political power in Florence in the 13th century through its success in commerce and banking. The Medici first mentioned in 1230. A self-made man, Giovanni Medici was one of five sons of a poor widow. His success with the Medici bank branch in Rome made him the Capo of the Medici family. After Giovanni's death, his son Cosimo fought with the richest in Florence and jealous Albizzi family. Cosimo became the patron of the arts, commissioned Lippi, Donatello, Michelozzo and Gozzoli, financed the extraordinary Duomo and the Council of Florence. He is known as the Godfather of the Renaissance.
His son Lorenzo foiled an ambush against his father, saved his family and secured the position of the Medici in Florence. Lorenzo’s was also the patron of genius artists, including Botticelli, Leonardo, and Michelangelo. Lorenzo's son Giovanni received the tonsure at seven years old and by thirteen and became the youngest cardinal in history. In 1513 he became the Pope Leo X, best-known for his failure to control Martin Luther.
Giovanni's bastard brother Giuliano had a son named Giulio who was adopted by his uncle, Lorenzo. With cousin's death, Giulio became Pope under Clement VII name and dealt with Henry VIII’s divorce. The Medicis produced four popes (Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV and Leon XI), and their genes have been mixed into many of Europe’s royal families.
Cosimo Medici got rid of Florence's republican government and became the King. His gentle son Ferdinand was standing up to the Pope, trying to protect his mentor and tutor, Galileo, but Intimidated by papal authority, Ferdinando was forced to withdrew his support from Galileo.
Another prominent figure, Catherine Medici was orphaned at birth and raised by illegitimate cousins and papal uncles. She was threatened during the siege of Florence and handed to her new husband, the future King of France. After her husband death in hunting episode, she ruled France through her deranged and deviant sons. Her rule saw the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572. She was obsessed with the prophecies of Nostradamus and ruled her court through the whispers of her “flying squadron ladies“.
The last Medici ruler died without a male heir in 1737, ending the family dynasty after almost three centuries.