Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany: Wikis


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Cosimo I de' Medici
Duke of FlorenceGrand Duke of Tuscany
Cosimo I de' Medici in Armour by Agnolo Bronzino.
Spouse Eleanor of Toledo
Camilla Martelli
Maria de' Medici
Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
Isabella de' Medici
Giovanni Cardinal de' Medici
Lucrezia di Cosimo de Medici
Pietro de' Medici
Garzia de' Medici
Antonio de' Medici
Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
Anna de' Medici
Don Pietro de' Medici
Virginia de' Medici
House Medici
Father Giovanni dalle Bande Nere
Mother Maria Salviati
Born 12 June 1519(1519-06-12)
Florence, Republic of Florence
Died 21 April 1574 (aged 54)
Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Cosimo I de' Medici (June 12, 1519 – April 21, 1574) was Duke of Florence from 1537 to 1574, reigning as the first Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1569.



Cosimo was born in Florence, the son of the famous condottiere Giovanni dalle Bande Nere from Forlì and Maria Salviati.

According to the Medici Archives, Cosimo I was born June 15th, 1519 and died April 21st, 1574. Cosimo came to power at 17, when Duke Alessandro de' Medici was assassinated in 1537, as Alessandro's only male issue was illegitimate. He was from a different branch of the family, and so far had lived in Mugello, being almost unknown in Florence: however, many of the influential men in the city favored him, in some cases perhaps hoping to rule through him, taking advantage of his age. However, as Benedetto Varchi famously put it "One bill had the glutton in mind, and another the innkeeper" [1]. Cosimo proved strong-willed, astute and ambitious, and soon rejected the clause he had signed, which entrusted much of the power to a council of Forty-Eight.

Portrait bust from the workshop of Benvenuto Cellini, ca. 1550

When the Florentine exiles heard of the death of Alessandro, they marshalled their forces with support from France and from disgruntled neighbors of Florence. During this time, Cosimo had an illegitimate daughter, Bia (1537 – 1542), who was portrayed shortly before her premature death in a marvelous painting[2] by Bronzino.

Toward the end of July 1537, the exiles marched into Tuscany under the leadership of Bernardo Salviati and Piero Strozzi. When Cosimo heard of their approach, he sent his best troops under Alessandro Vitelli to engage the enemy, which they did at Montemurlo, a fortress that belonged to the Nerli. After defeating the exiles' army, Vitelli stormed the fortress, where Strozzi and a few of his companions had retreated to safety. It fell after only a few hours, and Cosimo celebrated his first victory. The prominent prisoners were subsequently beheaded on the Piazza or in the Bargello. Filippo Strozzi's body was found with a bloody sword next to it and a note quoting Virgil, but many believe that his suicide was faked.

In June 1537 Cosimo was recognized as head of the Florentine state by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, in exchange for help against France in the course of the Italian Wars. With this move he firmly restored the power of the Medici, who thereafter ruled Florence until the death of the last of the Medici, Gian Gastone de' Medici, in 1737. The help granted to Charles V allowed him to free Tuscany from the Imperial garrisons, and to increase as much as possible its independence from the overwhelming Spanish influence in Italy.

Cosimo next turned on Siena. With the support of the Emperor, he defeated the Sienese at the Battle of Marciano (1554), and laid siege to Siena. Despite the inhabitants' desperate resistance, on April 17 1555, after a 15-month siege, the city fell, its population diminished from forty thousand to eight thousand. In 1559 Montalcino, the last redoubt of Sienese independence, was annexed to Cosimo's territories. In 1569 he Pope Pius V elevated him to the position of a Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Cosimo was an authoritarian ruler and secured his position by employing a guard of Swiss mercenaries. In 1548 he managed to have his relative Lorenzino, the last Medici claimant to Florence, assassinated in Venice.

Cosimo also was an active builder of military structures[3], in an attempt to save his state from the frequent passage of foreign armies (examples are the new fortresses of Siena, Arezzo, Sansepolcro, the new walls of Pisa and Fivizzano, and the strongholds of Portoferraio, on the island of Elba, and Terra del Sole).

He laid heavy tax burdens on his subjects. Despite his economic difficulties, he was a lavish patron of the arts and also developed the Florentine navy, which eventually took part in the Battle of Lepanto, and which he entrusted to his new creation, the military Order of St. Stephen.

Equestrian statue by Giambologna
(Piazza della Signoria, Florence).

In the last 10 years of his reign, struck by the death of two of his sons by malaria, Cosimo gave up the active rule to his son and successor Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. He retreated to live in his villa at Castello, outside Florence.


Cosimo and the arts

Among his many accomplishments was the creation of the Uffizi, originally intended to house the government, now one of the world's great art galleries. He also finished the Pitti Palace as a home for the Medici and created the magnificent Boboli Gardens behind the Pitti. He was a great patron of the arts, supporting, among others, Vasari, Cellini, Pontormo, Bronzino, the architect Lanci, and the historians Scipione Ammirato and Benedetto Varchi.

A large bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna, erected in 1598, still stands today in the Piazza della Signoria, the main square of Florence.

Cosimo was also an enthusiast of alchemy, a passion he had inherited from his grandmother Caterina Sforza.

Marriage and family

Eleonora of Toledo, Duchess of Florence, who purchased the Palazzo Pitti in 1549 for the Medici family.

In 1539, he married Eleonora di Toledo (1522 – 1562), the daughter of Don Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, the Spanish viceroy of Naples. Her face is still familiar to many because of her solemn and distant portraits by Agnolo Bronzino. The most famous of them, with her son Giovanni, hangs in the Uffizi Gallery. She provided the Medici with the Pitti Palace and seven sons to ensure male succession and four daughters to connect the Medici with noble and ruling houses in Italy. She was a patron of the new Jesuit order, and her private chapel in the Palazzo della Signoria was decorated by Bronzino, who had originally arrived in Florence to provide festive decor for her wedding. She died, with her sons Giovanni and Garzia, in 1562, when she was only forty; all three of them were struck down by malaria while traveling to Pisa.

Before his first marriage, Cosimo fathered an illegitimate daughter with an unknown woman:

With Eleonora, Cosimo fathered eleven children[4]:

After Eleonora's death in 1562, Cosimo fathered two children with his mistress Eleonora degli Albrizzi:

  • Giovanni (1563 – 1621)
    later legitimized by his father
  • unnamed daughter (born and died 1566)
    died before baptism

In 1570, Cosimo married Camilla Martelli (died 1574) and fathered one child with her[5]:

Ancestors and Descendants

Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand duke of Tuscany ancestors in three generations

Pierfrancesco di Lorenzo de' Medici
Giovanni de' Medici il Popolano
Laudomia Acciaiuoli
Giovanni dalle Bande Nere
Galeazzo Maria Sforza
Caterina Sforza
Lucrezia Landriani
Cosimo I de' Medici
Giovanni Salviati
Jacopo Salviati
Maddalena Gondi
Maria Salviati
Lorenzo de' Medici
Lucrezia de' Medici
Clarice Orsini


  1. ^ it. "Ma un conto facea il ghiotto, e un altro il taverniere", B.Varchi, Storia Fiorentina
  2. ^ Bia's portrait by Bronzino, now at the Uffizi Gallery
  3. ^ Role, R.E., Fort 2008 (Fortress Study Group), (36), pp108-129
  4. ^ Cosimo's children
  5. ^
  • Eisenbichler, Konrad, editor (2001). The Cultural Politics of Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici. 
  • Eisenbichler, Konrad, editor (2004). The Cultural World of Eleonora of Toledo, Duchess of Florence and Siena. *

External links

See also

Preceded by
Alessandro de' Medici
Duke of Florence
Succeeded by
became Grand Duke of Tuscany
Preceded by
Grand Duke of Tuscany
Succeeded by
Francesco I de' Medici

Simple English

Cosimo I de' Medici (12 June 1519 – 21 April 1574) was Duke of Florence from 1537 to 1574 and then the first Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1569. He was the son of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere and Maria Salviati.

Marriage and family

In 1539, he married Eleonora di Toledo (1522 – 1562). She died, with her sons Giovanni and Garzia, in 1562, aged forty. All three of them died from malaria while traveling to Pisa.

Before his first marriage, Cosimo fathered an illegitimate daughter with an unknown woman:

  • Bia de' Medici (1536 – 1 March 1542) died in infancy.

With Eleonora, Cosimo fathered eleven children:

  • Maria de' Medici (3 April 1540 – 19 November 1557) died unmarried.
  • Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (25 March, 1541 – 19 October 1587) married Joanna of Austria and then Bianca Cappello.
  • Isabella de' Medici (31 August 1542 – 16 July 1576) marrried Paolo Giordano I Orsini.
  • Giovanni de' Medici (28 September 1543 – November 1562) Bishop of Pisa.
  • Lucrezia de' Medici (7 June 1545 – 21 April 1561) married of Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara.
  • Pietro (Pedricco) (10 August 1546 – 10 June 1547) died in infancy.
  • Garzia de' Medici (5 July 1547 – 12 December 1562) died unmarried.
  • Antonio de' Medici (1548 – 1548) died in infancy.
  • Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (30 July 1549 – 17 February 1609) married Christina of Lorraine.
  • Anna de' Medici (1553 – 1553) died in infancy.
  • Pietro de' Medici (June 3, 1554 – April 25, 1604)
    murdered his wife Eleonora di Garzia di Toledo because of infidelity

After Eleonora's death in 1562, Cosimo fathered two children with his mistress Eleonora degli Albrizzi:

  • Giovanni de' Medici (1563 – 1621)
  • unnamed daughter (1566) died at birth?

In 1570, Cosimo married Camilla Martelli:

  • Virginia de' Medici (29 May 1568 – 15 January 1615) Cesare d'Este, Duke of Modena.


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