Grand Duke of Tuscany
(b Florence, 11 June 1519; reg 1569–74; d Castello, 21 April 1574).
Nephew of (10) Ottaviano de’ Medici. His mother, Maria Salviati (d 1543), was a granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent; his father, the professional soldier Giovanni delle Bande Nere (1498–1526), was killed when Cosimo was seven. When, in 1537, Lorenzino de’ Medici murdered Alessandro de’ Medici, the tyrannical Duke of Florence, Cosimo was the only available successor. Initially his power was limited, but he became Duke of Florence in 1537, after his victory at the Battle of Montemurlo, and Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569. Cosimo, more powerful than any earlier Medici, strove to create a court whose splendour should rival the proudest European courts and to express the triumphs and ambitions of his dynasty through the architectural magnificence of his palazzi and public works. He cultivated the myth of the great tradition of Medici art patronage, restoring the plundered Palazzo Medici, and reassembling and enriching the Biblioteca Laurenziana, founded by Cosimo il vecchio. . . . Humanists and poets, such as Vincenzo Borghini, and artists, such as Agnolo Bronzino, Benvenuto Cellini, Pierino da Vinci and Giorgio Vasari, gathered around him and enhanced his glory and power. In 1554 he established the Arazzeria Medicea, and he was joint head, with Michelangelo, of the Accademia del Disegno.
Marlis von Hessert