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The Medicis dynasty: Cosimo II

Cosimo IICosimo II de’ Medici was born in Florence in 1590, he became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1609 and he ruled until he died (1621). He was the eldest son of Ferdinando I and Chrisitne of Lorraine, who arranged for him a rather modern education: the young Cosimo studied actually the new sciences with one of the most important scientists of that time, Galileo Galilei, who remained one of his best friends throughout his life.
His father, in order to keep good relationships both with France and Spain, the major powers in Europe in the seventeenth century, chose Maria Maddalena d’Austria to become his son’s wife. Maria was the queen of Spain’s sister and the marriage was celebrated in 1608: She gave birth to eight children, four sons and four daughters.
In 1609 Ferdinando died and Cosimo, who was only 19 years old, became the new Grand Duke, despite his bad health conditions (he suffered from consumption). With the help of his prime minister, Belisario Vinta, tried arduously during all his reign, to preserve the equilibrium between Spain and France, by establishing a very clever and sensible policy, which secured a peaceful and prosperous period for Tuscany.
Cosimo also managed to develop his navy and to expand the harbour of Leghorn, by approving and continuing some of his father’s laws for the development of the harbour and limiting those which he considered too ambitious.
Well aware of his weak health Cosimo favoured the cooperation among his sons for the future government after his death. He even left exact instructions to his mother and his wife on how to rule the Grand Duchy before his eldest son sat on the throne. Unfortunately the two women did not respect his will.
Finally, Cosimo has to be remembered for appointing Galileo Galilei “Philosopher and Mathematic of the Court”. That is why Galileo decided to dedicate to the Grand Duke his work Sidereus Nuncius and call “medicea sidera” the four satellites of Jupiter that he discovered with his telescope he had invented. When the scientist was accused by the Inquisition Cosimo did all that he could to help his friend. Cosimo died at the age of 31 on February 28th in 1621.

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