Grand Duchy of Tuscany

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Banner of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany under the Medici (1562–1737)
Flag of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, 1840 to 1848

The Grand Duchy of Tuscany (Italian Granducato di Toscana ) was a historical territory in present-day Italy that had existed in this form since the 16th century . It was a fiefdom of the Roman-German emperor as part of imperial Italy . The state emerged from the economically prosperous city-state of Florence , which began to acquire the surrounding communities in the late Middle Ages . Over time, the land encompassed almost all of today's Tuscany . A republican constitution developed in the city of Florence in the Middle Ages. In this context, the Medici rose to the initially informal rulers and finally to formal rulers of the city and Tuscany. After their rule was temporarily ended by a republican movement, Charles V restored their rule and elevated the country to a duchy in 1530. At the same time it became dependent on the House of Habsburg . Attempts to get closer to the Pope led to the elevation to the Grand Duchy in 1569 . After recognition of the feudal dependence on the empire, the emperor recognized the new and unusual title. Cosimo I de 'Medici was the actual creator of the Tuscan state through the extension of the Florentine citizenship to the whole of Tuscany on the one hand and the establishment of an absolutist ruling organization on the other.

When he married Maria Theresa of Austria , Duke Franz Stephan von Lothringen , who later became Emperor Franz I, had to exchange his home countries for the entitlement to the Grand Duchy, which his father-in-law, Emperor Charles VI. awarded when the Medici died out in 1737. His son Emperor Joseph II left the government of Tuscany to his brother Peter Leopold in 1765 , who transformed it into a model state in the spirit of the Enlightenment . When he became Emperor Leopold II in 1790, he made it a secondary school for the House of Austria-Lorraine . With interruptions during the Revolution and the Napoleonic era , the Grand Duchy remained part of the Habsburgs until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.


City republic and expansion

Map of the Grand Duchy

Like the other northern Italian cities, Florence also developed self-governing institutions in the 12th century. But independent action was strictly limited by the Marquis of Tuscany. Only after the death of Henry VI. this began to change. In the 13th century the city was split into the parties of the Guelfs and Ghibellines . The terms subsequently went through various changes in meaning. In the 13th century a social conflict arose between the magnates and wealthy traders and craftsmen who called themselves popolo . Between 1250 and 1260, the Popolo's party ruled. Then the Ghibellines and Guelphs replaced each other before the leaders of the guilds began to take power in 1282. In 1293, tough laws were passed against the magnates.

After Boniface VIII had been elected Pope, the Guelphs split into black and white Guelphs. The blacks were for cooperation with Rome, the whites against. In 1301 the blacks prevailed and forced their opponents, including Dante , to go into exile. In contrast to other city-states, it was not possible for any family in Florence to gain power, also because of the democratic constitution. However, the constitution was partially restricted by special authorities or commissions with special powers. Wealthy families also began to build a clientele system. With the help of their supporters, they were able to influence the city councils in their favor.

The Florentine Republic began to acquire other cities as early as the late Middle Ages. These included Prato (1351), Volterra (1361), Arezzo (1384) and Pisa (1405). Some of the surrounding areas joined voluntarily. The fear of the Visconti's expansion played a role. So Pistoia came under the protection of Florence. Of particular strategic importance was the acquisition of Arezzo, which dominated the road to the south. This city - like Pisa - was acquired through purchase. However, the residents of Pisa resisted and first had to be defeated in a long siege. A first completion of the establishment of a territory was reached in 1441 when Florence formed an alliance with Lucca for fifty years. A large part of Tuscany, with the exception of Siena in particular , was thus subject to Florence.

Militarily, the city made use of mercenaries early on, also because the military inclination of the wealthy inhabitants was low, and the associated areas were too small for the deployment of troops. In times of crisis one was forced to submit to the protection of the Kingdom of Naples, for example .

The city of Florence had around 100,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the 14th century. The ruled land had about 1 million inhabitants in the 15th century. It had got rich mainly from textile production. The Florentine banks were unparalleled in Europe, and long-distance trade also flourished. The school system was exemplary for contemporary standards.

Rise of the Medici

Lorenzo il Magnifico

At the beginning of the 15th century, the supporters of the Albizzi families and those of the Medici faced each other. The Medici, who had become rich through banking, prevailed. Even if the democratic institutions remained, Cosimo de 'Medici and his successors de facto ruled the city. With a pronounced social policy, they succeeded in bringing the majority of the population behind them. Gradually, an open rule developed from this. Lorenzo il Magnifico married a woman from the Orsini family and banking was neglected. The distance between the family and their clients grew. In April 1478 there was an assassination attempt on Giuliano di Piero de 'Medici and Lorenzo il Magnifico, behind which the rival Pazzi family ( Pazzi conspiracy ) and high-ranking church circles were. Even Pope Sixtus IV was involved. The attack was stylized as tyrannicide and was intended to trigger an uprising against the Medici. When it became known that Lorenzo had survived the attack, the crowd turned against the conspirators, and some of them, including Archbishop Francesco Salviati of Pisa, were killed. The Pope excommunicated Lorenzo for alleged murder of the bishops, an interdict was imposed on the city and a war even broke out without the Pope having any success. The Medici had asserted themselves in power. Lorenzo pursued a policy of foreign balance.

Although Cosimo and Lorenzo were very different in their personalities, they both became promoters of art and science. The Medici were patrons of great style and made Florence one of the metropolises of the Renaissance . Verrocchio , Botticelli and Michelangelo , among others , were among those sponsored by them . Through the Platonic Academy and the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana , they also made Florence a center of humanism .

Creation of the Duchy of Tuscany

Alessandro de 'Medici was the first duke of Tuscany

After Lorenzo's death in 1492, his son Piero took over the government. Both internally towards strengthening competing families, but also externally towards France, which was beginning to expand its position in Italy, he behaved poorly. Because he left Livorno and Pisa to the army of the French king in 1494 , he was overthrown by the opposition in Florence. The defeat of France also weakened Florence and lost Pisa, which it only regained in 1509. Inside there was quarrel between different parties; Savonarola tried to build a theocracy. His opponents eventually prevailed and he was executed in 1498.

It was not until 1512/1513 that the Spaniards enforced the restoration of the Medici. The government was officially headed by Giuliano . However, Cardinal Giovanni stood behind him until he was elected Pope Leo X in 1513 . Lorenzo di Piero de 'Medici took his place in Florence . This implemented a constitutional reform and ruled from 1519 as Capitano generale della Republica .

In 1526, Florence joined the Holy League of Cognac against Charles V in. After the Sacco di Roma there was a revolt of the opponents of the Medici. The republic again took the place of their rule. In order to get Pope Clement VII from the Medici family on his side, the emperor promised him, among other things, the restoration of Medici rule. However, this turned out to be not that easy. The emperor met stiff resistance in Florence. It was only after long fighting that imperial and papal troops succeeded in taking the city in 1530.

Alessandro de 'Medici took over the rule . He was made Duke of Tuscany and married a daughter of the emperor in 1536. The republic had finally become a monarchy, which was also under the influence of the House of Habsburg. A French-backed uprising against the Medici in 1536 had no long-term success. Cosimo followed the murdered Duke Alessandro . This was declared a hereditary duke by the emperor and approached the upper classes.

Equestrian statue of Cosimo I de 'Medici

In the course of the wars for supremacy in Italy between Charles V and France, Cosimo succeeded in expanding the national territory so that it encompassed almost all of today's Tuscany. In particular, it succeeded in acquiring Siena and its associated territory.

In 1569 the Pope elevated the Duchy to Grand Duchy. One reason was that Cosimo turned down an offer from the inhabitants of Corsica to become their king, as the island was, at least in theory, still in fiefdom from the Pope. The title of Grand Duke was not in use until now.

Because Florence had long insisted on its communal constitution, there were various tensions with the subjugated cities. These were only resolved when Cosimo the Younger extended the citizenship of Florence to all ruled cities in 1555. But behind this was also the intention of creating a dependence of Tuscany on the Pope. Cosimo saw in striving for the papal title a means to become more independent from Habsburg. Emperor Maximilian II , who saw Tuscany's belonging to Imperial Italy in question, protested decisively, and an agreement was only reached after years of dispute. Cosimo's successor, Ferdinando I de 'Medici , was allowed to keep the title of Grand Duke, but had to take the emperor's oath of feud.

Only now did the Tuscan state develop from the city republic. Florence was developed into the capital by the builder Giorgio Vasari . The Palazzo degli Uffizi was completed in 1560 . The old Florentine communal offices were retained, but the actual rule lay with the duke with a small council of state ( practica secreta ). The bureaucracy, which was growing in size, was also subordinate to the body. In this the representatives of the provinces had a growing weight. However, the change from a city commune to a more and more absolutistically governed state was associated with disadvantages. The vitality of the city-state tended to be lost. Economically, Florence developed at the turn of the 17th century from a trading and industrial metropolis to a residential city, in which landowners and the administration set the tone. The overall absolutist regime persisted even under the less important successors of Cosimo.

Until the end of the Medici

Ferdinand I de 'Medici in his time as cardinal

Cosimo abdicated in 1574 in favor of his son Francesco . He was followed by Ferdinando I from 1587 to 1609. Cosimo's sons tried to steer a course between the great powers Spain and France. The Grand Dukes also tried to counteract the economic decline, for example by expanding the port of Livorno . Ferdinando founded the Order of Knights Santo Stefano with the task of protecting maritime trade from attacks by the barbarians . The Tuscan warships attacked Annaba in what is now Algeria , and a year later they won a victory against an Ottoman fleet. The country was changing more and more into an agricultural region. Since the second half of the 16th century, swamps have been drained and previously fallow land reclaimed.

Ferdinando I was succeeded by his son Cosimo II in 1609 . This turned out to be little capable. After his death in 1621, the country was ruled by his mother Christine of Lorraine and his wife Maria Magdalena of Austria , before Ferdinand II took office in 1628. Although quite capable, he too could not stop the economic decline. He was followed by Cosimo III. (1670–1723) and after this Gian Gastone . He was childless, and with him the ruling Medici family died out in 1737.

House of (Austria) Lorraine

Pietro Leopoldo (later Emperor Leopold II) as Grand Duke of Tuscany

When Duke Franz Stephan (Francesco Stefano) of Lorraine married Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria in 1736 , under pressure from France, he had to exchange his home countries for a claim to Tuscany. The last Medici Gian Gastone tried in vain to prevent the emperor Charles VI after his death in 1737 . the Grand Duchy awarded his son-in-law as a reverted imperial fief. After the Peace of Vienna , Franz Stephan took possession of Tuscany in 1738 and appointed the Prince of Craon as regent. He himself only stayed briefly in 1739 with his wife in the Grand Duchy. This was ruled by a number of foreign officials who carried out some reforms, but mainly treated the country as a source of money for the Grand Duke and later Emperor ( Franz I ), for the wars of Maria Theresa and for themselves.

When Franz Stephan died in 1765, his son Emperor Joseph II left the government of Tuscany to his next younger brother Peter Leopold (Pietro Leopoldo). He resided permanently in Florence and is considered one of the reform princes of the 18th century. He replaced most of the foreigners in the government with locals, released the trade in food and textiles (at the suggestion of the Sienese Sallustio Bandini ), promoted agriculture and had marshland cultivated. He abolished the tax privileges of the nobility , reformed the judiciary and administration, abolished torture and, as the first ruler, the death penalty , and replaced the standing army with a citizens' militia. He restricted the power of the clergy , abolished monasteries, confiscated church property and rejected the interference of the Pope (→ Synod of Pistoia ). He also toyed with the idea of granting the country a constitution , but did not carry out this plan. On the other hand, Peter Leopold was suspicious (also of his brother in Vienna) and his Teutonic rigidity was unpopular. Many of his reforms, especially those in the ecclesiastical field, met resistance in conservative circles.

After the death of Joseph II, Peter Leopold became regent of the Austrian Union of States in 1790 and, as Leopold II, Emperor. On this occasion he transferred Tuscany as hereditary property to his second son Ferdinand III. (Ferdinando III.), Who was born and raised there. The Grand Duchy thus became a secondary generation of the House of Austria-Lorraine (later Habsburg-Lorraine ), which existed with interruptions until 1859.

Revolutionary and Napoleonic era

Pine trees shape the landscape

During the French Revolutionary Wars , Ferdinand III tried. Maintaining neutrality to avoid foreign invasions, but in 1799 a French force entered Florence and was welcomed by a small number of Republicans. The Grand Duke had to flee, a tree of freedom was planted and a provisional French government proclaimed an "Etrurian Republic". The great mass of the people was appalled by the irreligious character of the new regime, and a counter-revolution , fueled by Pope Pius VII , the supporters of the Grand Duchy and the clergy, broke out in Arezzo. Gangs of armed peasants roamed the country shouting “Viva Maria!” And drove the French out, not without committing atrocities. With the help of the Austrians, who put an end to the disorder, Florence was occupied and a government formed on behalf of the absent Grand Duke Ferdinand.

After Napoleon's victory at Marengo , however, the French returned with a large army, dispersed the gangs and occupied Florence again (October 1800). They too committed atrocities and plundered churches, but they were received more warmly than before by the people. Joachim Murat (later King of Naples) initiated the formation of a provisional government, which has since been replaced by a grand ducal one. Due to the Peace of Lunéville in 1801, however, the Habsburg secondary school had to - apparently for good - forego Tuscany: In the Treaty of Paris (1802) , the previous Grand Duke Ferdinand was initially reunited with the Duchy of Salzburg , which succeeded the secularized Prince Archbishopric of Salzburg , in 1805 countries exchange with the newly created Grand Duchy of Würzburg (also a former bishopric ) compensated within Germany and still a vassal of Napoleon, with whom he henceforth worked reliably in this way to 1814th

Tuscany, on the other hand, was assigned by Napoleon in 1801 to the dominion of the Spanish Bourbons , who were allied with him at the time , when the hereditary prince of the Bourbon duchy of Parma, which was claimed by the French, was raised as Ludwig I to " King of Etruria ". The new king, in fact also a powerless French vassal, died as early as 1803. His underage son Karl Ludwig - later Duke of Lucca or Parma - was proclaimed king as Ludwig II, for whom his mother Maria Luisa of Spain (1782– 1824) led the reign.

This Bourbon episode in Tuscany ended as early as December 1807: the Queen-Regent had to abdicate under French pressure and went to Spain with her son, Tuscany became part of the French Empire and in 1809 received Napoleon's sister Elisa Baciocchi as governor-general , the honorary was allowed to carry the title of "Grand Duchess of Tuscany". In contrast to other Italian states, it turned out in Tuscany that, due to the enlightened reforms of Peter Leopold, it hardly needed Europe-wide Napoleonic reform work. The burden of taxes and compulsory military service, which culminated in the disastrous Russia campaign of 1812/13, therefore had hardly any advantages. Therefore, in contrast to others, it was easy for the country to overthrow Napoleon in 1814 and to return the former Habsburg ruler.


The Habsburg Grand Duke Ferdinand III , who was reinstated in April 1814 . did not take revenge on the numerous collaborators in the nobility and bourgeoisie, but again pursued a moderate liberal-conservative policy, which stood out favorably from the reaction in numerous neighboring states of Italy. His son and successor Leopold II (1824–1859) remained true to this line. In the 1820s, Tuscany was an important intellectual center of Italy and thus also a moderately oppositional reservoir. The Grand Duke also took part in the liberal reform policy of 1847/48 - much to the displeasure of the Viennese government. The radical revolution of 1849, which temporarily abolished the monarchy and drove the ruler into the Austrian arms, changed this fundamentally. In the last ten years of his reign, Leopold was strictly subject to the policies of his imperial relative Franz Joseph I through a strong Austrian military occupation alone .

Connection to Italy

Last Grand Duke Ferdinand IV.

When the Austrian armies in 1859 the allied troops of France Napoleon III. and the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont promoting the unity of Italy (cf. also Risorgimento ), the rule of the once so popular Tuscan Habsburgs collapsed. The abdication of the Grand Duke in favor of his son Ferdinand IV (1859) could not change anything. This was deposed in the summer of 1859 by the provisional government, and his attempts to do so through contacts with Napoleon III. possibly still to change, did not prevent the formal annexation of Tuscany to Sardinia in 1860. From 1861 it belonged to the United Kingdom of Italy, whose provisional capital Florence was allowed to function for a few years - until the capture of Rome in 1870.

In the same year the overthrown Grand Duke Leopold II died in exile in Austria. His son, formally the last Grand Duke Ferdinand IV, who in fact never reigned, lived mainly in Salzburg, Austria, until his death in 1908, which had once served his grandfather in exile.

Dukes and Grand Dukes of Tuscany

Dukes of Florence (Medici)

Grand Dukes of Tuscany (Medici)

Grand Dukes of Tuscany (Habsburg-Lothringen)

Kings of Etruria (Bourbon – Parma)

  • 1801–1803: Ludwig I ( Lodovico or Luigi di Borbone )
  • 1803–1807: Karl Ludwig ( Carlo Lodovico or Luigi di Borbone )

Grand Dukes of Tuscany (Bonaparte)

  • 1808–1814: Elisa (titular)

Grand Dukes of Tuscany (Habsburg-Lothringen)

  • 1814-1824: Ferdinand III. ( Ferdinando III d'Asburgo-Lorena ) (again)
  • 1824–1849: Leopold II. ( Leopoldo II. D'Asburgo-Lorena )
  • 1849: Republic
  • 1849–1859: Leopold II (again)
  • 1859–1860: Ferdinand IV. ( Ferdinando IV. D'Asburgo-Lorena )

Annexation by the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont  - the formal title of the Grand Duke of Tuscany went to the Emperors of Austria , who held it in their title until 1918 .

  • 1860–1916: Franz Joseph , Emperor of Austria (I.), Apostolic King of Hungary (I.) etc.
  • 1916–1918: Karl , Emperor of Austria (I.), Apostolic King of Hungary (IV.) Etc.


  • Furio Diaz, Luigi Mascilli Migliorini, Carlo Mangio: Il Granducato di Toscana. I Lorena dalla Reggenza agli anni rivoluzionari. (= Storia d'Italia. Vol. 13, T. 2). UTET, Turin 1997, ISBN 88-02-05157-7 .
  • Ferdinand J. Mussinan: The Grand Duchy of Tuscany, historically, geographically and statistically. Weiß, Munich 1844 (digitized version)
  • Alfred von Reumont: History of Tuscany since the end of the Florentine Free State. FA Perthes.
    • First part: The Medici 1530–1737. Gotha 1876. (digitized version)
    • Second part: History of Tuscany under the House of Lothringen-Habsburg 1737-1859. Gotha 1877.

Web links

Commons : Grand Duchy of Tuscany  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Thomas Frenz: Italy in the Middle Ages. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, p. 105.
  2. ^ Thomas Frenz: Italy in the Middle Ages. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, p. 106.
  3. a b c Rudolf Lill: The Italy of the high and late Renaissance. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, p. 133.
  4. ^ Reinhold Schumann: History of Italy. Stuttgart et al. 1983, p. 107f.
  5. ^ Giuliano Procacci: History of Italy and the Italians. Munich 1989, p. 70.
  6. ^ Giuliano Procacci: History of Italy and the Italians. Munich 1989, p. 69.
  7. ^ Thomas Frenz: Italy in the Middle Ages. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, pp. 106-109.
  8. ^ Rudolf Lill: The Italy of the high and late renaissance. In: Wolfgang Altgeld / Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, p. 134.
  9. ^ Rudolf Lill: The Italy of the high and late renaissance. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, p. 134.
  10. ^ Rudolf Lill: The Italy of the high and late renaissance. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, pp. 142-144.
  11. ^ Rudolf Lill: The Italy of the high and late renaissance. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, p. 148.
  12. ^ Rudolf Lill: The Italy of the high and late renaissance. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, pp. 154-158.
  13. ^ Giuliano Procacci: History of Italy and the Italians. Munich 1989, p. 140.
  14. ^ Reinhold Schumann: History of Italy. Stuttgart et al. 1983, p. 139.
  15. ^ Karl Otmar von Aretin: Das Reich. Guarantee of peace and European equilibrium 1648-1806. Stuttgart 1986, p. 103.
  16. ^ Rudolf Lill: The Italy of the high and late renaissance. In: Wolfgang Altgeld, Rudolf Lill: Little Italian History. Stuttgart 2004, p. 159.
  17. ^ Giuliano Procacci: History of Italy and the Italians. Munich 1989, pp. 140f.
  18. ^ Art and History of Florence. Florence 2005, p. 126.
  19. ^ Gerhard Köbler : Historical Lexicon of the German Lands. The German territories from the Middle Ages to the present . 7th, completely revised edition. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-54986-1 , pp. 716 ( partially digitized ).
  20. See the entire question by Bernd Braun: The end of regional monarchies in Italy. Abdication in the course of the Risorgimento. In: Susan Richter, Dirk Dirbach (ed.): Renunciation of the throne. The abdication in monarchies from the Middle Ages to modern times. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2010, pp. 254–257.