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Medici Family

History >> Renaissance for Kids

The Medici family ruled the city of Florence throughout the Renaissance. They had a major influence on the growth of the Italian Renaissance through their patronage of the arts and humanism.

Profile portrait of Cosimo de Medici
Cosimo de Medici by Agnolo Bronzino

Rulers of Florence

The Medici family were wool merchants and bankers. Both businesses were very profitable and the family became extremely wealthy. Giovanni de Medici first brought the family to prominence in Florence by starting the Medici bank. He also was the leader of the Florence merchants. His son, Cosimo de Medici became the Gran maestro (leader) of the Florence city-state in 1434. The Medici family ruled Florence for the next 200 years until 1737.

Leaders of the Renaissance

The Medici are most famous for their patronage of the arts. Patronage is where a wealthy person or family sponsors artists. They would pay artists commissions for major works of art. The Medici patronage had a huge impact on the Renaissance, allowing artists to focus on their work without having to worry about money.

A significant amount of the art and architecture that was produced in Florence at the beginning of the Renaissance was due to the Medici. Early on they supported the painter Masaccio and helped pay the architect Brunelleschi to rebuild the Basilica of San Lorenzo. Other famous artists that the Medici supported include Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Medici didn't just support the arts and architecture. They also supported science. They supported the famous scientist Galileo Galilei in his scientific efforts. Galileo also worked as a tutor for the Medici children.


The Medici owed much of their wealth and power to the Medici Bank. It made them one of the richest families in all of Europe. It was the largest bank in Europe at its peak and was very well respected. The bank made notable improvements in accounting procedures including the development of the double-entry bookkeeping system.

Important Members
  • Catherine de Medici (1529 - 1589): Catherine married King Henry II of France and became Queen of France in 1547. She later served as regent for her son King Charles IX and played a major role in the reign of her third son Henry III. Catherine supported the arts and brought ballet to the French court.
Portrait of Catherine Medici
Catherine de Medici by Francois Clouet

Interesting Facts about the Medici Family

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Learn more about the Renaissance:

How did the Renaissance start?
Medici Family
Italian City-states
Age of Exploration
Elizabethan Era
Ottoman Empire
Northern Renaissance
Daily Life
Renaissance Art
Clothing and Fashion
Music and Dance
Science and Inventions
Famous Renaissance People
Christopher Columbus
Johannes Gutenberg
Henry VIII
Queen Elizabeth I
William Shakespeare
Leonardo da Vinci

Works Cited

History >> Renaissance for Kids

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