It was a woman, Lucrezia, who salvaged the Medici finances, providing Lorenzo il Magnifico with the funds to turn Florence into the ‘ideal city’. Behind the genius of Cosimo I was another mother, Maria, who devoted her life to the making of the ‘prince’ and then withdrew into the shadows. It was a woman called Alfonsina who succeeded in bringing the Medici back to Florence after they had been driven out in 1494. And it was another woman, Anna Maria Luisa, who prevented the family treasures being dispersed among the European courts, bestowing the paintings and statues, furnishings and jewels on the city of Florence.
These twelve portraits weave into a tale spanning three centuries. Entering into the lives of these women belonging to the most illustrious Italian lineage, these stories cast light on their characters and the sometimes obscure reasons behind their choices, sufferings and mistakes. They also illustrate how, at many crucial points of history, it was indeed the women who steered the dynasty clear of shipwreck, and sometimes even put it back on its feet.
Originally published as: Le Magnifiche dei Medici. Dodici ritratti, Mauro Pagliai, Florence, October 2017
1st reprint: February 2018
1st English edition: March 2018 (translation: Aelmuire Helen Cleary)