Wednesday, May 29, 2013


When last we left the Medici, three generations had lived a comfortable life, a somewhat privileged life, in Mugello thanks to the fame of Medico di Petrone. But there would be born to the family one sprinkled with wanderlust. It is, then, to Chiarissimo di Medici that we go.

Born in 1167, Chiarissimo immigrated the short distance to Florence sometime in the 1180s. But It did not take him long to inculcate himself among the influential popolo of the city. Chiarissimo used his portion of the family wealth wisely, purchasing property near what is now called the Old Market, where the family would eventually become the undisputed lords of that segment of the bustling city.

But it was not just property in which Chiarissimo invested, and it was not just in real estate in which he wished to make his mark. He used his reserves of wealth to launch himself, and his family, as renowned money lenders. It began with a simple loan to Count Guido Guerra, who would later distinguish himself in the Battle of Benevento, earning himself mention in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The loan that would bring Chiarissimo his own distinction was that which he made to the Camaldolite Abbey of Coltibono. An ancient monastery in need of severe repair least it suffer extinction, it was Chiarissimo’s loan—Medici money—which brought it back to its former glory. The act brought Chiarissimo membership on the city council in 1201. It was the beginning of the Medici's inextricable link with the governing of Florence. Though there is little known of Chiarissimo’s brother, Bonaguinta, not even his birth or death dates, there are records that show he too became a member of the city council in 1216.

These first steps…those made not only to Florence but as influential citizens of it…made by these brothers, would find even greater glory and fruition in the next generation, in their sons.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Visconti, Sforza, Gonzaga…these are the names of some of the most powerful families, the most influential Houses, in the history of the Italian peninsula. But no such list would be complete without mention of the House of Medici, for there was no family as powerful or influential. Howard Means in his book, Money & Power: The History of Business states that the Medici were, “the greatest banking dynasty of its time and perhaps the most influential non-royal family in all of European history.”

While many consider the power of the Medici originated with Cosimo I, often called Cosimo the Elder, the patriarch of the family in the early 15th century, the true roots of this vitriolic and vital family begin much farther back, and it is there this story begins.

Considered the oldest ancestor of the House of Medici, the name of the lineage finds its genesis with this man as well. Though his true name has been lost to the vagaries of history, the man known as Medico di Petrone was born in 1046. Serving as the Lord or overseer of the territory of Petrone, “a fortified place since destroyed, and of which there only remains the church,” (Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo De' Medici by William Roscoe, Thomas James Mathias). Medico served on behalf of the Ubaldini, the true Lords of Mugello (a territory a few kilometers north of Florence), Medico was also a physician of sorts, said to possess miraculous powers of healing. Such men were called ‘doctors,’ or, in Italian, medici.

According to genealogists of the age, those that used the stars, planets and moons as their divining tools, Medico di Petrone was a descendant of the illegitimate line of Charlemagne. His miraculous healing powers served to confirm such heritage; it was a belief widely held up to and including the Middle Ages, that healing abilities were proof of royal descent. Such belief no longer holds any credence. Nonetheless, it set the family on a path of greatness, one that would live up to its destiny, both famously and infamously.

The next three generations of the Medici family would live in relative obscurity historically speaking, but it would not be long before the family was thrust into the limelight once more, before their indelible imprint on Italy would begin to take shape. It should be noted that among most genealogical sights, prevalent theory lists Medico di Petrone as ‘possibly Lady Diana's 26-Great Grandfather, Louis XVII's 20-Great Grandfather, HM Juan Carlos' 25-Great Grandfather or Philippe of Belgium's 26-Great Grandfather.'

Thursday, May 9, 2013


English born American Anne Easter Smith is the award-winning author of A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, The King's Grace, and Queen by Right. It's an honor to welcome her to Inside the Writers' Study.

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?
Tolerant--it’s so negative and condescending

What turns you on?

What turns you off?
Political ads 

What sound or noise do you love?
Crickets--it means summertime to me 

What sound or noise do you hate?

What is your favorite curse word?

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Theater director 

What profession would you not like to do?

If heaven or the after-life exists, what would you like to hear God, The Source (or whatever Deity you may believe in) say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
All your friends are here 

In one sentence, describe your newest or most recent release
My “Royal Mistress” is Jane Shore, Edward IV’s favorite and final concubine, whose ready wit and allure captivated the three most powerful men in London at the end of the Wars of the Roses.

To learn more about Anne and all her amazing work, please visit her website: Anne Easter Smith