A New Golden Age for Florence: Thanks to Cosimo I

This was the ambitious goal of Cosimo I, who became leader of Florence in 1537. He didn’t know it yet, but his rule would mark the beginning of two hundred years of powerful Medici rule (ending in 1737). This sprawling dynasty wasn’t created single handedly. In 1539, Cosimo married Eleonora di Toledo, daughter to the Spanish viceroy of Naples, and together they had eleven children – seven sons and four daughters. As well as being the great love of his life, Eleonora brought with her an enormous dowry which she used well to advance her husband’s status and position. You can read more about her life and their marriage here.

Medici Coat of Arms – Order of the Knights of San Stefano – Pisa

Medici Coat of Arms – Order of the Knights of San Stefano – Pisa

Cosimo became more powerful than any Medici before him. With his youth came a healthy dose of arrogance and ambition; he was determined to make the Florentine court as grand as any in Europe. Perhaps this youthful ego is precisely what made him such a good leader, he was unafraid of bold decisions and choosing his own vision over others. He is remembered as a remarkable leader who stabilised Florence. When he came to power, the governing structures of Florence were a mess. There were many rival claims to power that created constant battles between families, and an ongoing struggle between the Republic and the Medici. Cosimo was not shy about trampling over challenges to his authority. He removed all competition for power, abolishing the Republic’s institutions to ensure the stable and consistent rule by his own family line. There were mixed feelings about this – some praised the stability he brought, while others saw him as a tyrant.

Read more at The Medici Dynasty website