Gian Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Gian Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Gian Gastone de' Medici (May 24, 1671 – July 9, 1737) was the last Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany (1723-1737) and the last direct scion of the line of Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Marguerite Louise d'Orléans, except for his sister Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici.

Early years

Born in Florence and baptised Giovanni Battista Gastone, he was introverted and inclined to solitude as a child. He was raised essentially motherless, by a father that never thought much of him. Indifferent to public affairs, he loved the arts and sciences - especially botany.

His older sister Anna Maria Luisa, who loved him fondly, felt obliged to arrange a marriage for him. It was a well-intentioned gesture that would have disastrous results for Gian Gastone. She set her eye on Anna Maria Franziska, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg. The young woman was widowed by the Palatine Count Philip of Neuberg, younger brother of Anna Maria's husband Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine, who - it seems - took to drinking in order to forget about his plain, simple wife, who was and would always remain completely absorbed in hunting and other outdoor activities.

Anna Maria Franziska doggedly opposed the marriage, but in the end she was compelled to surrender to the collective wills of Cosimo III, elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm and his wife. The wedding was celebrated in Düsseldorf in 1697, and it was decided that Gian Gastone would live in his wife's homeland.

Here, as could well be predicted, the difficulties emerged almost at once. Anna, who lacked any inclination whatsoever for the arts or sciences, lived in a small and dismal castle near Reichstadt, a tiny village perched in the mountains of Bohemia. Exiled at the side of a wife who by far preferred the pleasures of hunting to those of the nuptial bed, and surrounded by a hostile countryside, Gian Gastone became more melancholy than ever, and after spending some time in Hamburg, where he met Georg Frideric Handel, he fled to his mother in Paris. Compelled by Cosimo to return to Bohemia, he took to frequenting Prague to get away from Anna Maria Franziska. Here he would pass his time not, as one might imagine, in the libraries or laboratories, but in the pubs. Meanwhile in Florence, Prince Ferdinando was dying. The elderly Cosimo called his youngest son, the future Grand Duke, back to the homeland, and for ten years (1698-1708) tried in vain to bring back his wife as well.

Grand Duke

He came to power at age 57, over a Florence in decline, and although he made a start on needed reforms, reducing the taxation on corn, discontinuing public executions, rescinding restrictions on Jewish life, encouraging the sciences, and reducing the power of the Church which it had gained during his father's later years [C. Hibbert, p307.] , his inherent indolence soon overtook him.

He was also known for drunkenness. In his later years Gian Gastone became nearly blind and could hardly walk anymore. Gradually he became senile. In June 1737 he became seriously ill, suffering from a large stone in the bladder and died within a month.

On his death, the Grand Duchy passed to Francis, Duke of Lorraine, whom the European powers had picked to replace Gian Gastone, without troubling to consult anyone in Florence. Florence became part of the Habsburg Empire.


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1= 1. Gian Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
2= 2. Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
3= 3. Marguerite Louise d'Orléans
4= 4. Ferdinando II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
5= 5. Vittoria della Rovere
6= 6. Gaston, Duke of Orléans
7= 7. Marguerite of Lorraine
8= 8. Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
9= 9. Maria Magdalena of Austria
10= 10. Federico della Rovere
11= 11. Claudia de' Medici
12= 12. Henry IV of France
13= 13. Marie de' Medici
14= 14. Francis II, Duke of Lorraine
15= 15. Christina of Salm
16= 16. Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
17= 17. Christina of Lorraine
18= 18. Charles II of Austria
19= 19. Maria Anna of Bavaria
20= 20. Francesco Maria II della Rovere
21= 21. Livia della Rovere
22= 22. Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (= 16)
23= 23. Christina of Lorraine (= 17)
24= 24. Antoine of Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme
25= 25. Jeanne III of Navarre
26= 26. Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
27= 27. Johanna of Austria
28= 28. Charles III, Duke of Lorraine
29= 29. Claude of Valois
30= 30. Paul, Count of Salm
31= 31. Marie le Veneur
32= 32. Alberto I,Duke of Denmark


*cite book | first= Franco| last= Cesati| year=2005| title= The Medici: Story of a European Dynasty | chapter= The twillight of the dynasty| editor= Monica Fintoni, Andrea Paoletti| others= | pages= 131-132|Mandragora| publisher=La Mandragora s.r.l. | id= | url= | authorlink=
*cite book | first= Christopher| last= Hibbert| year=1979| title= The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici | chapter= The last of the Medici| editor=| others= | pages=| publisher= Penguin Books, London | id= | url= | authorlink=
* Dean, W. & J.M. Knapp (1996) Handel's Operas 1704-1726. Clarendon Press Oxford.


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