Book Series The Medici Archive Project, vol. 1

The Grand Ducal Medici and their Archive (1537-1743)

Alessio Assonitis, Brian Sandberg (eds)

  • Pages: 222 p.
  • Size:220 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:41 b/w, 5 col.
  • Language(s):English, Italian
  • Publication Year:2016

  • ISBN: 978-1-909400-34-4
  • Hardback
  • Available

Taking advantage of the vast archives of the Medici Grand Dukes, the authors of this volume present original research and fresh perspectives on the Medici family and the Tuscan court, revealing the mechanisms of Medicean diplomacy, patronage, and cultural brokerage.


“(…) this book gives us precious new insights into the extraordinary material preserved in the archive of the Medici, and testifies to the exceptional effort by the Medici Archive Project to disclose to us this little-known world of papers (…) This volume must be celebrated as an important step toward a better understanding of one of the most important archival collections of that age. It especially shows the extraordinary importance that the creation of the online database (BIA) of the Medici Archive Project has had for the work of historians of early modern Tuscany as well as for scholars working on the history of information, gender, society, and the court of the ancien régime.” (Andrea Guidi, in H-NET Reviews, November 2017)

“Together they throw very interesting spotlights on a range of diverse topics from politics to medicine and with a geographical reach from the Old to the New World.” (Andrea M. Gáldy, in ElectrumMagazine, 26/03/2017)

“Both volumes contain an abundance of historical riches. They exemplify the potential of what can be learned from the Medici Archive Project and its mining and categorization of the voluminous grand ducal archive. I look forward to future volumes in this series adding to that knowledge.” (Natalie Tomas, in Parergon, 34/2, 2017, p. 181)

“In conclusion, this volume is a kaleidoscope that, in each of its sixteen essays, deconstructs and recomposes our views on this society, offering multiple perspectives thanks to the variety and quantity of documentation that has been tracked down and pieced together according to a valid interdisciplinary methodology.” (Paolo Simoncelli, in Renaissance Quarterly, LXXI/1, 2018, p. 292)

“Den Autoren gelingt ein kaleidoskopischer Einblick in die Elitenforschung im Kontext des Medici-Hofes.” (Heinrich Lang, in Sehepunkte, 18/12, 2018)


Alessio Assonitis (PhD Columbia, 2003) is the Director of the Medici  Archive Project.

Brian Sandberg (PhD Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001) is Associate Professor of Early Modern European History at Northern Illinois University.


The Grand Ducal Medici and their Archive offers a unique window into early modern Florentine society through an exploration of the archives of the Medici ruling family. Teeming with circa three million letters, the archival collection of the Medici grand dukes housed at the Archivio di Stato in Florence chronicles the culture and history of Europe and beyond, across a span of over two hundred years. The letters of this collection, known as the Mediceo del Principato, embrace a great variety of themes including diplomacy, art,  medicine, food, science, and warfare. Since its contents originate from a court archive that served both the state and a ruling family, this collection comprises administrative, political, and financial correspondence, as well as more private and intimate accounts of the Medici themselves and their activity at court. At the same time, it would be a great misconception to assume that this enormous archival corpus pertains just to Florence or just to the Medici, given that the vast majority of these missives were written by ambassadors, agents, and informants stationed throughout Europe. This volume, The Grand Ducal Medici and their Archive, aims to unlock not only the complex structure of the Mediceo del Principato but also the richness of its content. The sixteen essays address a variety of topics – book history, Ottoman relations, collections of New World artifacts, medical history, gender studies, and material culture – all with direct reference to the Medici grand duchy. The original research that supports these studies was drawn in part from the Medici Archive Project's online platform (BIA) for querying over 350,000 digitized and/or transcribed letters. Making use of these and other original sources, the essays in The Grand Ducal Medici and their Archive shed new light on the mechanisms and strategies that enabled Florence to emerge from decades of internecine confl ict and diplomatic chaos in order to enjoy cultural and political prominence.


Alessio Assonitis (The Medici Archive Project)

1. The Revenge of the Emperor: Rewriting the Story of Lorenzino de’ Medici’s Assassination
Stefano Dall’Aglio (University of Leeds)

2. Searching for Cosimo’s Books 
Alessio Assonitis (The Medici Archive Project)

3. Le ‘spoglie’ invisibili.
Note a margine di alcuni documenti relativi al reimpiego dei materiali nei cantieri orentini di Giorgio Vasari
Francesca Funis (The Medici Archive Project)

4. "When He Becomes Pope …" The Rise and Fall of Don Luis de Toledo at the Medici Court (1545-1579)
Anatole Tchikine (Dumbarton Oaks)

5. Jacobiglio Hebreo.
Mercante, antiquario, informatore di Cosimo I de’ Medici
Piergabriele Mancuso (The Medici Archive Project)

6. Political Meddling in Women’s Lives: Sienese and Florentine Solutions in Difficult Times (1490-1560)
Elena Brizio (The Medici Archive Project)

7. Sofonisba Anguissola, Francesco de’ Medici and Chiappino Vitelli: a Lady-in-waiting, a Prince and a General at the Spanish Court 
Maurizio Arfaioli (The Medici Archive Project)

8. Medical Culture and the Women of the Medici Grand Ducal Court
Sheila Barker (The Medici Archive Project)

9. The Riches of the Indies: Francesco and Ferdinando de’ Medici and the Americas 
Lia Markey (Villa I Tatti - The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies)

10. "Al certo che questa corte ha un bel misto": Mapping the Artistic Relations between the Medici and the Savoia
Roberta Piccinelli (Università degli studi di Teramo)

11. Jachia ben Mehmet and the Medici Court 
Mark Rosen (University of Texas at Dallas)

12. Donna Livia’s New Clothes
Brendan Dooley (University College Cork)

13. Of Mothers and Aunts: Regency Government and Performance in Early Modern France and Tuscany under Maria de’ Medici and Christine de Lorraine 
Brian Sandberg (Northern Illinois University)

14. A Grand Duchess and her Painters as Matchmakers: Maria Magdalena of Austria, Tiberio Titi, Giusto Suttermans and the Betrothal of Empress Eleonora Gonzaga 
Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato (The Medici Archive Project)

15. "What news abroad?": Florentine Avvisi from London, 1614-1622
Lisa Kaborycha (University of California Education Abroad Program)

16. A Medici Agent’s Newsletters to Florence during the Leghorn Crisis of 1653
Nicholas Brownlees (Università degli Studi di Firenze)