Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance tells the story of a violent, dramatic and compelling age; a critical turning point in Western history. Travel back in time to see the real human stories behind the European Renaissance, and the family that bankrolled it.

Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 56 minutes

Premier: 2004-01-01

Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance - Gian Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany - Netflix

Gian Gastone de' Medici (Giovanni Battista Gastone; 24 May 1671 – 9 July 1737) was the seventh and last Medicean Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was the second son of Grand Duke Cosimo III and Marguerite Louise d'Orléans. His sister, Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa, arranged his marriage to the wealthy and widowed Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1697. The couple despised each other and had no children. As Grand Prince Ferdinando, Gian Gastone's elder brother, predeceased Cosimo III, Gian Gastone succeeded his father in 1723. His reign was marked by the reversal of his predecessor's conservative policy; he abolished taxes for poorer people, repealed penal laws which restricted Jews and discontinued public executions. The Medici were wanting in male heirs; his father, Cosimo III, wanted the Electress Palatine to succeed Gian Gastone. However, Spain, Great Britain, Austria and the Dutch Republic disregarded Cosimo's plan and appointed Charles of Spain—whose mother, Elisabeth Farnese, was a great-granddaughter of Margherita de' Medici—Gian Gastone's heir. Charles later transferred his claim to Francis Stephen of Lorraine pursuant to a preliminary peace that was finalized in 1738. Francis Stephen duly succeeded at Gian Gastone's demise, on 9 July 1737, ending almost 300 years of Medici rule over Florence. For the latter part of his reign, Gian Gastone chose to remain confined in his bed, tended by his entourage, the Ruspanti.

Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance - Return to Florence (1708–1723) - Netflix

As Prince Gian Gastone disliked his father's hyper-pious character, he elected to stay away from him and the royal court. The closed court that Gian Gastone did keep was dominated by his favourite, Dami. Meanwhile, the Grand Prince Ferdinando was slowly dying from syphilis, making Gian Gastone's immediate succession more likely. Ferdinando, nonetheless, was not alone in his suffering: Guyot de Merville, a French adventurer, took note of Gian Gastone's mental decline: “He carries [apathy] so far that it is said he never opens a letter, to avoid having to answer.” Additionally, Gian Gastone's fragile temperament required long periods of isolation; he spent several hours alone each night, drinking and staring up at the moon. The Grand Prince finally succumbed to syphilis on 30 October 1713, sparking a succession crisis. Cosimo III deposited a bill in the Tuscan senate, the nominal legislature, provisioning for a male line succession failure by making the Electress Palatine Gian Gastone's heiress. It passed and was disseminated to chancelleries across Europe. Austria refused to sanction it, fearing that Tuscany would fall into the Bourbons' hands. However, France and England did. The Electress returned to Florence in October 1717, following the death of her husband the previous summer. Violante Beatrice of Bavaria, to whom Gian Gastone had become quite attached, disliked the Electress and therefore left the grand ducal court for the position of governor of the town of Siena. The Electress, now the First Lady of Tuscany, and Gian Gastone were not on good terms: he scorned her for marrying him to Anna Maria Franziska, who, for eleven years, made his life unbearable. On 4 April 1718, England, France and the Dutch Republic (and later Austria) selected Charles of Spain, the elder child of Elisabeth Farnese (a great-granddaughter of Margherita de' Medici) and Philip V of Spain, as the Tuscan heir, the Electress's rights to the throne being completely disregarded in the process. All his ambitions in regards to the succession being thwarted, Cosimo III distributed one final proclamation shortly before his death, on 31 October 1723, decreeing that the Electress shall succeed Gian Gastone. Unfortunately for Cosimo, his declaration was completely ignored.

Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance - References - Netflix