The Medici Bank, from the time it was created in 1397 until its fall in 1494, was one of the most prosperous and respected institutions in Europe, and the Medici family was considered the wealthiest in Europe for a time. From this base, they acquired political power, initially in Florence and later in wider Italy and Europe. The family produced important artists, architects, and scientists.
The dynasty that ruled over the city of Florence from 1378 to 1737 was called the Medici House. It was during this period that the wealth and power of the family reached their zenith. The family's founder, Giovanni di Bicchier da Buonivento di Ferrara, moved his family to Florence where he began to make money as a goldsmith. Over the next few decades he became one of the largest bankers in Europe managing all of his household's finances himself. In 1350, he died at the young age of 49 but he had already set up his children so well that by the time they came of age there was no one else who could run the bank except them. This is when they started giving out loans to the government and the people of Florence which turned out to be a very good idea because about a hundred years later, when the family wasn't around to lend money to others any more, everyone else was doing it and going bankrupt.
As the leader of the family, then, they went through severe financial difficulties but still managed to keep up with the most successful merchants in Europe.
The Medici bank, founded in Florence in 1397, was one of the most important financial entities in Italy throughout the Renaissance period. It had branches all across Western Europe, supporting the fabric and luxury trades as well as princes', mercenary generals', popes', and lords' aspirations and extravagances. The name "Medici" comes from the family's home town of Mediceo, near Florence; however, they were known as "De' Medici" which means "of the Medicis".
The dynasty that ruled over the city-state of Florence came to prominence under Cosimo de' Medici (1389-1464). He managed to make his family very wealthy by trading in gold, spices, and silk. By the time of his death, he had been appointed captain of the palace guard by the mayor of Florence and had successfully defended the city twice against attacks by neighboring states. He also married one of the daughters of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici (1342-1416), who had become pope as Clement VII in 1406. Through this marriage, the family became associated with the papacy and gained further prestige. There were several other members of the family who served as governors or ambassadors for the Republic of Florence but none who proved to be as successful or influential as Cosimo de' Medici.
From its inception in 1397 until its demise in 1494, the Medici Bank was one of Europe's most lucrative and revered organizations, and the Medici family was once considered the wealthiest in Europe. Medici House.
|Cadet branches||14 cadet branches; still alive only 2: show List|
Florence is in Italy. The Medici were also at the forefront of financial innovation, which aided in raising their prominence among Europe's wealthy. Banking not only made the Medici family wealthy, but also tremendously influential. Giovanni was a savvy banker, but his eldest son and successor was a savvy politician. This latter role brought him fame and fortune while he was alive, and after his death it became the reason for the family's continued existence.
The Medici family was not the only powerful family in Florence, but they were the first to use their wealth to advance themselves within the city-state. They did this by donating money to scholars who would praise them on public monuments, by sponsoring festivals that attracted tourists from around Europe, and by supporting politicians who would leave them space to influence government policy.
Their power came at a price, though. The Medici were forbidden from holding political offices themselves, but they managed to put several relatives in key positions over the years. In addition, they had many enemies inside and outside of Florence who wanted to see them fail. Finally, they tended to rely too much on one particular branch of the family and when this line died out there was no further hope for the dynasty.
In short, yes, the Medici were the most powerful family in Florence.