Francesco I de 'Medici

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Francesco I de 'Medici, Duke of Florence

Francesco de 'Medici (German Franz I. ) (born March 25, 1541 in Florence , † October 19, 1587 in Poggio a Caiano ) from the Medici family was the successor to the Grand Duke of Tuscany from April 21, 1574 to October 17, 1587 his father Cosimo I , whom he had represented as regent since 1564. His mother was Eleonora of Toledo .

Live and act

Francesco married on December 18, 1565 Johanna von Österreich (* January 24, 1548, † April 10, 1578), a daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I. After the death of his father, he ruled Florence with arrogance and in the manner of a despot. Ministers who were not completely devoted to him lost all influence. He forced his stepmother to retire to a convent and kept his brothers out of Florence . He is said to love the privileges of power rather than its burdens.

While Cosimo had asserted the independence of his state, Francesco joined Austria closely. In return, the emperor confirmed the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany, which Cosimo had received from the Pope, but which the emperor had not yet recognized. He paid large sums of money to Spain which were a heavy burden on the people of Florence. In order not to upset the protective powers Austria and Spain, he let the relations with France rest.

Economically, Florence experienced a decline during his reign. High grain taxes burdened the farmers so heavily that agriculture in the Maremma sometimes came to a standstill. He made trade a monopoly of the ducal house, which damaged the country as a whole. Industry also suffered a setback under his administration. The porcelain factories founded by Francesco (so-called Medici porcelain or soft-paste porcelain) and Pietra-Dura plants only flourished after his death.

Archduchess Johanna, Grand Duchess of Tuscany (painting by Francesco Terzio , 1565)
Bianca Cappello, his mistress and later second wife
Grave of Francesco I in the Princely Chapel

What is undisputed, however, is his affinity for science and literature, which he shares with many Medici. He promoted Giovanni Bologna , founded the Galleria degli Uffizi and had the Medici Theater and the castle built in Pratolino . During his reign the Accademia della Crusca was established. Francesco also had a passion for chemistry and alchemy and spent a lot of time in his laboratory.

He continued the construction of a new city near Livorno , which had been planned by Cosimo I and was also operated by all subsequent Medici. At that time, Livorno only had a poorly protected natural harbor.

Francesco's tendencies towards excess and even bloodshed are notorious. Crime rose in Florence during his reign (no fewer than 168 murders were committed during the first eighteen months of his reign). His bad example and - probably more rightly - his neglect of state affairs are blamed for it.

In 1575 a conspiracy of Orazio Pucci against Cosimo was discovered. Although the conspirators had already given up their plans, they were persecuted relentlessly and executed. Pucci himself was hanged in the same window of the Palazzo Vecchio , in order to do him a special shame , at which Cosimo had already had his father executed. The property of the conspirators was confiscated. The profit for the Grand Duke was more than 300,000 ducats.

During his marriage to Johanna, Francesco began a love affair with Bianca Cappello (1548–1587), a noble Venetian who was married to a young Florentine named Pietro Buonaventuri. Her husband initially received a post at court, but was murdered some time later. It was rumored that the Grand Duke approved this crime; in any case, he could now pursue his passion unhindered.

Immediately after Johanna died in childbed in 1578, Francesco married Bianca Cappello. However, the marriage was not officially announced until June 5, 1579.


In October 1587, Francesco and his wife Bianca became seriously ill. Francesco died on October 19, 1587 in his villa in Poggio a Caiano , his wife died the following day. Since Francesco had no surviving male descendants from either his first or his second marriage, his brother Cardinal Ferdinando became Grand Duke , who then gave up his post as cardinal .

Ferdinando, who had lived in the villa with the couple for a few weeks, immediately isolated the couple after the sudden onset of the disease and took control of the household. After the sudden death of the spouses, he had an autopsy carried out on the corpses and announced that malaria was the cause of death. Despite this, rumors of a possible poisoning persisted, especially because of the short interval between deaths after the couple was ill for eleven days. In 2006, the toxicologist Francesco Mari and the historian Donatella Lippi published a report in which they announced an increased concentration of arsenic in the remains of Francesco's body. Shortly afterwards, this was heavily criticized by the pathologist Gino Fornaciari from the Medici Project, in which the remains of the Medici were systematically examined from 2004 onwards. In 2010 he published a DNA analysis of the skeletal remains of Francesco, which clearly identified the DNA of Plasmodium falciparum , the causative agent of the particularly deadly tropical malaria . Fornacieri also thought that the assignment of the samples by Mari and Lippi was not clearly proven (they had found a whisker from Francesco and entrails in another church, which they both assigned to Francesco and Bianca). According to the pathologist Gino Fornaciari, a possibly increased arsenic content could be explained, for example, by the treatment of malaria with arsenic by the doctors of the time, secondary contamination after death or by the alchemical experiments of Francesco. According to Fornaciari, his discovery clearly confirmed the official cause of death, death from malaria. A corresponding examination of his wife Bianca could not initially be carried out because the whereabouts of her corpse are unknown. In 1857 all members of the Medici were exhumed and reburied in their present graves. In 2015 the medical historian Donatella Lippi continued to adhere to the fact that arsenic poisoning was the cause and relies on new archive finds: a report from Ferdinando to the Pope describes symptoms of the sick, which, according to Lippi, point to arsenic poisoning. Evidence of the DNA of malaria pathogens says nothing about the cause of death, since malaria was endemic there at the time.

A painter, Giuseppe Moricci (Florence 1806–1879), who was present at the exhumation at the time, described Francesco's corpse with the right half of his face hanging down , right clawed hand, right shoulder rotated inward, a sore right calf muscle and right clubfoot , which also had orthopedically adapted footwear. what speaks for a stroke . The cause and timing of the stroke are unknown. However, bleeding into the internal capsule of the brain as a result of malaria infections is known. In all official portraits painted during his lifetime, the Grand Duke is always depicted in the best of health and condition.


Francesco had eight children from his first marriage:

  • Eleonora (February 28, 1567 - September 9, 1611) ⚭ 1584 Vincenzo I. Gonzaga (1562–1612), Duke of Mantua
  • Romola (November 20, 1568 - December 2, 1568)
  • Anna (December 31, 1569 - February 19, 1584)
  • Isabella (September 30, 1571 - August 8, 1572)
  • Lucrezia (7 November 1572 - 14 August 1574)
  • Maria (born April 26, 1575 in Florence; † July 3, 1642 in Cologne ) ⚭ October 5, 1600 Henri IV , King of France (1553–1610)
  • Filippo (May 20, 1577 - March 29, 1582)
  • Stillbirth (April 10, 1578 - April 10, 1578)

In addition, he had Pellegrina (* 1564), the mother was Francesco's second wife Bianca, and Antonio (* August 29, 1576, † May 2, 1621), the adopted son of his second wife Bianca Cappello, adopted.


  • My Heilmann: Florence and the Medici . DuMont, Cologne 1981, ISBN.

Individual evidence

  1. Edith Schlocker: Ambras Castle: The Emperor's Unhappy Daughters. In: The press. July 25, 2010, accessed on July 26, 2010 (The exhibition "Nozze italiane" illustrates the marriage policy of the Habsburgs. The focus is on three daughters of Ferdinand I who were married to Italy).
  2. Francesco Mari, Aldo Polettini, Donatella Lippi, Elisabetta Bertol: The mysterious death of Francesco I de 'Medici and Bianca Cappello: an arsenic murder? In: British Medical Journal . tape 333 , no. 23–30 , June 2006, pp. 1299–1301 , doi : 10.1136 / bmj.38996.682234.AE , PMID 17185715 , PMC 1761188 (free full text).
  3. G. Fornaciari, V. Giuffra, E. Ferroglio, R. Bianucci: Malaria was "the killer" of Francesco I de Medici (1531-1587). In: American J. Medicine. No. 1232, 2010, pp. 568-569.
  4. ^ Medici Family Cold Case Finally Solved., July 14, 2010, accessed March 18, 2012 .
  5. Hubert Filser: It was arsenic. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. May 19, 2010.
  6. Donatella Lippi: Still about Francesco de Medici's poisening (1587). In: American J. Medicine. Volume 128, October 2015, p. E61. (Abstract)
  7. F. Arba, D. Inzitari, HJ Barnett, D. Lippi: time Stroke in Renaissance: The case of Francesco I de 'Medici. In: Cerebrovasc Dis. 33 (6), 2012, pp. 589-593.

Web links

Commons : Francesco I de 'Medici  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Cosimo I. Grand Duke of Tuscany
1574 - 1587
Ferdinando I.