The House of Medici was an Italian banking family and political dynasty that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the first half of the 15th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of Tuscany and prospered gradually until it was able to fund the Medici Bank. This bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, and it facilitated the Medicis' rise to political power in Florence — though officially they remained citizens rather than monarchs until the 16th century.
The Medici produced three Popes of the Catholic Church—Pope Leo X (1513–1521), Pope Clement VII (1523–1534), and Pope Leo XI (1605)—and two queens regent of France—Catherine de' Medici (1547–1559) and Marie de' Medici (1600–1610). In 1532, the family acquired the hereditary title Dukes of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to a grand duchy after territorial expansion. The Medicis ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from its inception until 1737, with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici. The grand duchy witnessed degrees of economic growth under the earlier grand dukes, but by the time of Cosimo III de' Medici (r. 1670-1723), Tuscany was fiscally bankrupt.
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