With the appointment of Alessandro de' Medici, (1510-1537), as the first Duke of Florence in 1532, the Florentine republican government was transformed into a hereditary form of monarchy. On Alessandro’s rise as leader of the city the Medici’s political power reached its peak. The unfortunate Alessandro was assassinated in Florence aged 26 years.
In 1569, Cosimo I de' Medici, (1517-1574), not to be confused with the earlier Cosimo, rose to the position of Grand Duke of Tuscany, he to, in the family tradition, was a fervent patron of the arts. Cosimo was a supporter of Giorgio Vasari who painted the "Allegory of the Immaculate Conception", Vasari created the Uffizi, one of the world’s greatest art galleries, and he also founded the Academy of Design in 1562.
The Medici power and influence began to decline in the 18th century, even so the family continued their tradition of artistic patronage. The vast collection of treasures containing numerous masterpieces was donated to the city of Florence by Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, (1667-1743) who was the last family linage bearer. Their priceless collection of artworks now adorn the museums of Florence, they can be viewed in the Uffizi Gallery, the Medici Palace and the Pitti Palace. These important institutions have become must-see locations for the many tourists and art lovers visiting the city.
The Medici family legacy is extensive and spans centuries of political and artistic advancement. They not only nurtured the talent of young artists, many of these have names that are now revered worldwide, they transformed Florence into the prosperous epicentre of the Renaissance.