Florentine Patricians and Their Networks

Structures Behind the Cultural Success and the Political Representation of the Medici Court (1600–1660)


In Florentine Patricians and Their Networks, Elisa Goudriaan presents the first comprehensive overview of the cultural world and diplomatic strategies of Florentine patricians in the seventeenth century and the ways in which they contributed as a group to the court culture of the Medici. The author focuses on the patricians’ musical, theatrical, literary, and artistic pursuits, and uses these to show how politics, social life, and cultural activities tended to merge in early modern society. Quotations from many archival sources, mainly correspondence, make this book a lively reading experience and offer a new perspective on seventeenth-century Florentine society by revealing the mechanisms behind elite patronage networks, cultural input, recruiting processes, and brokerage activities.

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Elisa Goudriaan (1981) graduated in Romance Languages and Cultures and Art History at the University of Groningen. She completed her PhD thesis at Leiden University. She currently works as an archival researcher, author, and translator.

"an impressive scholarly achievement"

Nicholas Terpstra, University of Toronto, in Renaissance Quarterly LXXII.4 (doi:10.1017/rqx.2019.427)

“This excellent study not only helps to counter a previous limited understanding of the Florentine patriciate in the ‘forgotten centuries’, but also invites the reader to develop this new understanding further by examining other key figures and other networks of influence operating in seventeenth-century Tuscany.”

Konrad Eisenbichler, University of Toronto. In: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Summer 2019), pp. 552–554.

List of Illustrations

Abbreviations and Spelling


The Traditional View
A New View
Periodization, Methodology, and Structure
Social Networks
Archival Research in Florence and Rome
Insights into a Rich Cultural and Intellectual World

1. Florentine Patricians and Their Changing Social and Political Position (1530-1670)
1.1 The Forming of the Duchy of the Medici in Florence 29
1531-1537 - The Reign of the First Duke Alessandro de’ Medici and Changing Political Institutions
1.2 The Nomination of Duke Cosimo I, the Patricians’ Loss of Political Power, the Arrival of Non-Florentine Courtiers and The Patricians’ Quest to Regain Political Influence (1537-1609)
Cosimo’s Quest for Political Independence
The Patricians’ Counterquest for Political Recognition
1.3 The Patricians’ Run on Noble Titles, Their Social Domination over the ‘Uomini Nuovi’ and Their Growing Political Power (1609-1670)
1.4 Social and Economic Power of Seventeenth-Century Patricians
1.5 The Patricians’ Contribution to the Economic Stability of Tuscany in the Seventeenth Century
1.6 Cittadini or Noble Courtiers?
1.7 Patrician Careers in Tuscany, Rome and Malta

2. Florentine Patricians in Their Role as Ambassadors and Chamberlains and Their Influence on the Social and Cultural Representation of the Medici in Florence, Rome and at Other Courts
2.1 Patricians as Diplomats
2.2 Patricians as Ambassadors
2.2.1 Giovanni Niccolini (Tuscan Ambassador in Rome from 1587 until 1610)
Food Gifts
Other Gifts of Grand Duke Ferdinand I
Visitors in the Garden of Villa Medici
The Issue of Precedence: the Entry of the New Ambassador Piero Guicciardini in Rome
The Preliminary Concerns
The Medici and the Savoy: the Conflict of Precedence
A Precedence Issue of 1608: Don Antonio de’ Medici Visits Mantua
The Actual Arrival of Piero Guicciardini as the New Ambassador
2.2.2 Piero Guicciardini (Tuscan Ambassador in Rome from 1611 until 1621)
Socializing with Cardinals and Other Prominent Persons in Rome
The Acquisition of Paintings for the Medici Court
The Elsheimer-tabernacle
Cardinal Carlo de’ Medici Travels to Rome (1616)
2.2.3 Other Patrician Ambassadors and Their Direct Influence on the Course of Events at the Court of Madrid and Rome
Francesco Guicciardini and His Advice for Cultural Gifts at the Court of Madri
Francesco Niccolini (Tuscan Ambassador in Rome from 1621 until 1643) and the Palazzo Madama on the Campo Marzio in Rome
2.3 A Florentine Patrician as Chamberlain of a Medici Prince and His Influence on the Social Representation of the Medici in Rome: Filippo Niccolini and His Decisions Regarding the Entry of Cardinal Giovan Carlo de’ Medici into Rome (1645)
The Decoration of the Carriage: Polished or Gilded Ironwork?
The Uniforms and the Ceremonial Mace: Recycling, but Not Too Obvious
The Decoration of Palazzo Madama 77
The Public Entry of Cardinal Giovan Carlo de’ Medici into Rome (1645)

3. Patricians as Patrons and Collectors During the Reigns of Ferdinand I, Cosimo II, the Regents and Ferdinand II de’ Medici
3.1 Patricians as Patrons and Collectors During the Reigns of Ferdinand I and Cosimo II de’ Medici
3.1.1 Giovanni Niccolini (1544-1611)
The Niccolini Chapel in Santa Croce
The Niccolini Palace and Giovanni’s Collection of Paintings, Sculptures and Coins
3.1.2 Piero Guicciardini (1569-1626)
The Guicciardini Chapel in Santa Felicita
The Guicciardini Palace and the Collection of Art
3.1.3 Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger (1568-1647)
The First Three Rooms of the Galleria Buonarroti
Some Contemporary Decoration Cycles of the Medici and Influences of the Galleria Buonarroti on the Decoration of Casino Mediceo
The Fourth Room of the Galleria Buonarroti, Buonarroti’s Attempt to Build Up an Antique Sculpture Collection, and Pietro Da Cortona’s Stay in Florence
Buonarroti’s Influences on the Patronage of Grand Duke Ferdinand II
3.1.4 Niccolò dell’Antella (1560-1630)
3.2 Patricians as Patrons and Collectors During the Reigns of the Regents and Ferdinand II de’ Medici
3.2.1 Giovan Battista Strozzi the Younger (1596-1636)
His Art Collection and the Interest of the Medici and Patricians for Paintings with Literary Themes
3.2.2 Tommaso Guadagni (1582-1652)
The Guadagni Palace
3.2.3 Giovanni (1600-1661) and Lorenzo (1602-1656) di Jacopo Corsi
The Corsi Villa
The Corsi Palace and the Difference Between the Decoration of the Palace and the Villa
3.2.4 Filippo Niccolini (1586-1666)
The Montauto Castle
Villa Camugliano and the Niccolini Palace

4. The Shared Cultural World of the Medici Princes and the Florentine Patricians: Musical Performances, European Networks, and Cultural Academies
Part I
4.1 Giovanni de’ Medici and the Alterat
4.2 Giovan Carlo de’ Medici and Filippo Niccolini
4.2.1 Niccolini as Supervisor of Giovan Carlo’s Cultural Projects
4.2.2 Niccolini’s Correspondence with Musicians: New Baroque Influences from Rome
The Unknown Copyist Vannucci Sends Ariettas by Caproli and Carissimi to Florence
Marco Marazzoli and His Recitatives for Antonio Rivani
A Private Music Academy at the Palazzo and Villa of Marchese Niccolini?
4.2.3 Niccolini’s Contacts to Clients of Queen Christina of Sweden
4.3 Leopoldo de’ Medici (1617-1675) and His Cultural Contact with Florentine Patricians
The Acquisition of Books and Works of Art on Paper
Leopoldo’s Interest in the Theatre Life at Different Italian Courts
Relations with European Men of letters
Part II
4.4 Patricians, Artists, and Their Literary, Linguistic, and Theatrical Experiments at Florentine Cultural Academies and Confraternities
4.4.1 Literary and Linguistic Academies
The Apatisti
The Svogliati, the Crusca and Burlesque Poems Influenced by the Literary Academies
The Pastori Antellesi
4.4.2 Theatrical Academies
The Incostanti, the Improvvisi/Percossi, the Affinati, and the Sorgenti
Theatrical Performances at the Youth Confraternity Arcangelo Raffaello

5. The Brokerage Activities of Michelangelo Buonarroti The Younger and the Exchange of Cultural Gifts 155
Part I
5.1 Social Networks
5.2 Patronage Networks
Patrons, Clients, and Friends
Dyadic, Non-Corporate Groups
5.3 Brokerage Networks
Brokerage Networks in Theory
How Did a Broker Make Profit?
Dyadic Chains
5.4 Maintaining Patronage Relationships: Exchanging Courtesies and Gifts
Part II
5.5 The Social Network of Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger
5.6 The Exchange of Gifts and Genealogical Information Between Buonarroti and Florentine Patricians at Different Italian and European Courts
Books, Manuscripts, and Genealogical Information
Poems and Songs
Food Gifts
Buonarroti’s Own Works as Gifts
5.7 The Brokerage Activities of Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger
5.7.1 Social and Geographic Mobility of Artists
5.7.2 Cultural Brokerage Services and Arranging Gifts
Arranging a Diplomatic Gift for the Cardinal Infante Ferdinand of Austria
5.7.3 Improving Patron-Client Contacts and Bringing Commissions to Completion
The Commission of ‘Judith’ (Cristofano Allori) for Cardinal Alessandro Orsini
The Commission of ‘Latona and Her Children’ (Domenico Pieratti) for Cardinal Francesco Barberini
5.7.4 Job Requests

6. The Patricians’ Contribution to Cultural Events the Medici Organised for Public Ceremonies and in Honour of Visiting Guests
6.1 Theatre Plays in Honour of Visiting Guests
6.1.1 Theatre Plays in Honour of Fakhr ad-Din
6.1.2 Theatre Plays in Honour of Other Important Guests
6.2 The Patricians’ Contribution to the Organisation of Memorial Ceremonies
The Memorial Ceremonies of 1598, 1610, and 1612
6.3 The Patricians’ Contribution to the Organization of Marriages
The Marriages of 1600 and 1608
Descriptions of Marriages and Memorial Ceremonies
The Marriages of 1637 and 1661


Appendix I: Archival Sources Referring to Chapter 2
Appendix II: Archival Sources Referring to Chapter 4
Appendix III: Archival Sources Referring to Chapter 5
Appendix IV: Archival Sources Referring to Chapter 6



Index of Historical Persons

Scholars, specialists, students, and educated laymen interested in brokerage activities and court culture in early modern Europe, and anyone concerned with social networks and the Medici court.
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