Sure, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have so much money they could build skyscrapers made of cash. But their little empires are only decades old. Some family enterprises span centuries — and come to dominate entire nations, too. What do you know about the famous and powerful Medici family that rose to dominance in Europe starting in the 1400s? In this quiz of fantastic wealth and influence, we’ll see how much you really know about what it means to be rich and famous in the days of yore!
In the 1400s, life in Europe was dominated by monarchs and religious figures. Some of them came by their power through force. Others, like the Medicis, earned their reigns through other means, including nearly unfathomable wealth. Do you think you know the myths and false statements about the Medicis and their calculating ways?
The House of Medici was a renowned Italian family based in the area of Italy. To be a Medici imparted great power in this region in the 1500s.
The Medici family was famous for its banking and financial prowess. They were also very active on the political front.
Actually, the family first flourished thanks to the textiles trade, particularly in wool. From there, the clan developed expertise in other aspects of the region’s economy.
The Medici family was incredibly powerful on every front, including politics and religion. The family produced four popes.
He was called "Piero the Gouty" because of the terrible gout in his foot, an affliction that led to his early death. He had power for only around five years.
No, but the Medici were incredibly adept with numbers. They were expert accountants and were early adopters of advanced accounting practices.
Leo X, known as Giovanni in his younger days, helped the Medici return to power after a short downfall. As a pope, he was known not for violence but for his love of art.
Cosimo de’ Medic was the first in the family to rise to power. He’s best known as Cosimo the Elder.
Although he was technically uncrowned, Cosimo the Elder ruled as a monarch in Florence. His power jump-started the Medici empire.
Why use violence when gold will do? The Medicis weren’t soldiers, they were bankers. They bought off their enemies to gain more power.
This is a myth. The family was incredibly powerful for about 300 years, long enough to establish a timeless legacy in Western history.
Few families in Western civilization have been such generous patrons of the arts. The Medici reveled in the arts and spent vast fortunes on artistic works.
There were indeed three primary Medici lines, from Chiarissimo II, which was a failure, to the more successful principate and grand duchy lines.
It’s a fact - Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici founded the Florence bank that gave birth to the Medici family empire. The bank, created in 1397, turned into Europe’s most powerful financial institution.
The Medicis loved both the arts and sciences, funding research in both areas. They were friendly with some of the era’s greatest thinkers.
With its adoration of artwork of all kinds, the Medici family paid for and helped to promote many artists and thinkers during the Renaissance era.
A friar named Girolamo Savonarola saw the Medici as corrupt overlords, and he publicly challenged their values. He helped run the family out of Florence... but he made the mistake of challenging the Catholic Church, too, and paid for it with his life.
Oh sure, Francis loved the arts. And you know how he paid for that art? On the backs of the citizens he taxed into oblivion.
Not only was he a prolific and aspiring poet himself, he was also a huge supporter of artists. No wonder they called him Lorenzo the Magnificent - much better than Piero the Gouty.
Lorenzo the Magnificent was taken with the beauty of the arts and maintained peace in the region. When he died, misfortune of all kinds overtook the family.
Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici was heir to his father’s empire - and he blew it, losing the family’s grip on power. He earned the nickname "Piero the Unfortunate."
Piero did make peace with France, and the terms were very favorable for the French, a fact that infuriated the Italians. "The Unfortunate" one last just two years in power.
As lovers of art, the Medicis were happy to let a young artist named Michelangelo live with them. The young artist was so talented that the family embraced him as one of their own.
Alum was a necessary binder that made dyes stay on textiles, and the Medici had a virtual monopoloy on the alum trade. That fact was kind to their bank accounts.
That’s a myth. The Pazzi conspiracy was a plot by rivals to get the Medicis out of power. Giuliano de Medici was killed, but Lorenzo survived the assassination attempt.
Sure, Leo X had a blast as Pope and ruler, but he spent far too much money, nearly bankrupting the Vatican. Being fun doesn’t mean you’re smart.
Before he became a scientist for the ages, Galileo was just a smarty-pants guy who needed money to support his family. He helped to tutor the Medici children in the sciences.
Piero the Unfortunate was unfortunate indeed, but his offspring fared better. Catherine even became queen consort of France, the very country that Piero was demonized for befriending.
Gian Gastone de’ Medici was the seventh duke of Tuscany and used his wealth and power for a depraved life of excess. He did, however, try to rule fairly. The family fell from grace during his reign.
Actually, the Medici rule ended because the seventh duke didn’t produce an heir. No sons ... no more Medici empire.