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own race, infinitely preferred a Spanish to an
Austrian one. France looked only at what
might best assist her views in regard to Milan
and Savoy; while England and Holland desired
peace in any way that it could be attained,
regardless of what consequences might result to

At length, in October 1735, an agreement
was made between Austria, France, England, and
Holland, as the basis of a general peace, that the
Grand Duchy of Tuscany should be given to


the Emperor's daughter, Maria Tlieresa : that she
should be married to Francis, Duke of Lorraine ;
and that the latter, in exchange for Tuscany,
should resign Lorraine to France ; Tuscany thus
becoming, instead of Lorraine, an appanage of
the house of Austria. Spain at first refused
to agree, but having suffered reverses both in
Lombardy and Naples, eventually did so on being
given a quid pro quo elsewhere. And in January
1736 this agreement between the five powers was
ratified at the Peace of Vienna.

The Florentines were furious at their country
being thus deliberately sold by the powers of
Europe, and the more so at being after all handed
over to an Austrian ruler, predicting that they
would be subjected to a grinding tyranny.^ Gian
Gastone sent urgent protests to London, Paris,
and Vienna, but without any avail ; he was looked
on by the powers as " a mere object of sale."
Weakened in mind and body by his excesses,
plunged into deepest melancholy at the fate of
his country and family, and sinking under an
accumulation of miseries, he left his ministers
to govern the country as they chose. On the
12th February 173G Francis, Duke of Lorraine,
was married to Maria Theresa,^ and formally
renounced the Duchy of I^orraine in exchange
for the territories of the JMedici whenever they
should become vacant by Gian Gastone's death,
the arrangement being guaranteed by France and

* 'Fills expectation was falsified by subsequent events, the Austrian
rule over Tuscany proving a lenient and beneficent one.

'^ By this marriage Francis nine years later became Emperor.

494 GIOVANNI GASTONE [chap. xxx.

In January 1737, in accordance with the above
convention, the Spanish garrisons throughout
Tuscany were withdrawn and Austrian troops
took their place, General Braitwitz at Florence
and General Wachtendonk at Leghorn swearing
allegiance to the Grand Duke on the 5th February
1737. But Gian Gastone was already dying of
an accumulation of diseases, and past caring who
had Tuscany. One last act his love of science
prompted —the erection in Sta. Croce of the monu-
ment to Galileo and removal to it of the latter's
remains from the Medici chapel attached to that
church. The first public act of the first Medici
had been that of taking a prominent part in the
birthday of Art ; the last public act of the last
Medici Grand Duke was the erection of a due
memorial to Science. On the 9th July 1737
Gian Gastone breathed his last at the age of
sixty- six, ^ sincerely regretted by the people, who
had greatly benefited by his principles of govern-
ment, and only saw his vices dimly at a distance,
while they mourned at the passing away of the last
ruler over Tuscany belonging to their own race.

1 He is buried in the family mausoleum. As in the case of that of
his father, his coffin escaped discovery by the thieves who subsequently
plundered the Medici coffins (chap, xxxii. p. 515), and when opened in
1857 was found unrifled. "The body was dressed in black velvet, with,
over this, the great cloak of Grand Master of the order of Santo Stefano.
On the head was the Grand Ducal crown, worn over a cap ; and by
his side the sceptre. But the crown and sceptre were corroded by the
acids which had been used in embalming the body. Round the neck
was a rosary with a gold filigree medal. On the breast and near the
head were two great gold medallions, each weighing twelve ounces.
Tliese had on one side a symbolical temple in ruins, with female figures,
representing Art and Science, weeping ; and on the reverse a funeral
urn with, resting upon it, his bust, and a figure representing Hope
letting another similar bust fall. Round tlie border was his name."
{Official Report on the examination of the Tombs in the Medici Mausoleum,




Born 1667. Died 1743.

The Electress Anna Maria Ludovica^ was seventy-
years old when her brother Gian Gastone died.
Married at twenty-four to the Elector Palatine
of the Rhine, she had filled an important position
for twenty-six years up to the time of his death
and her return as a widow to live with her father
Cosimo. And during those years she had shown
herself to be a woman of unusual ability. After
her father's death she had, during the fourteen
years of her brother's reign, lived more or less in
retirement, not being on good terms with him, and
feeling shame at the degradation into which he
sank during the latter part of his reign. Endowed
with more energy and force of character than
either of her brothers, she had ruled well during
the few years that her father had left the go^'ern-
ment in her hands, notwithstanding that she was
considerably handicapped by the style of adminis-
tration which he had established. As the result

1 Plate XCIX. This portrait of tlie P^lectress Anna Maria Ludovica,
standing with tiie electoral crown by her side, shows her as slie ^^as at
the age of sixty. The manner in wliich she contrives to wear tlie
widow's veil required by the custom of the time, and yet not to let
it interfere witli her wearinji;- a jewelled ornament in her hair is
ingenious. The crown was buried with iier (p. 507, footnote^



of her satisfactory control of affairs she had seen
herself earnestly desired by the people of Tuscany
as their future ruler, and had seen a decree passed
by the Florentine Senate assuring the throne to
her on her brother's death ; and she had also seen
that decree spurned and over-ridden by the chief
powers of Europe, herself and her ancient family
insulted, and the independence of her country
trampled upon. She was now to see the final
stage in that process, and the inauguration of a
foreign rule over Tuscany ; even the promise that
in any new government established she should be
a member of the Council and have the rank and
title of Grand Duchess being set aside.

It would all have been hard enough for an
exceptionally proud woman like the Electress Anna
to endure if the Austrian Grand Duke had pro-
ceeded to occupy in person the throne which her
grandfather's great-grandfather had created. It
was made many times worse by the kind of rule
which was set up.

Upon Gian Gastone's death the new Grand
Duke, Francis II., came to Florence and formally
took possession of the state, but after a month
or two departed to A^ienna, and thenceforth left
the government of Tuscany to be permanently^
administered (or mal-administered) by an agent,
a certain JNI. de Beauveu, who was given the title
of Prince de Craon. Both he and his wife were

^ Tuscany continued to be ruled in this way^ as a mere province
of Austria, for the whole of the next twenty-eight years ; until in 1765
the Empress Maria Theresa's third son, Pietro Leopoldo, was at the
age of eighteen made Grand Duke of Tuscany, and came to conduct the
government in person.


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xxxr.j THE NEW REGIME 497

persons of exceedingly low birth and manners ;
yet they assumed vice-regal airs, lived in the Royal
Palace, and maintained a third-rate kind of court,
the chief feature of which was its vulgarity. All
posts in the new administration were speedily filled
with Lorrainers, and the Tuscans had occular
demonstration at every turn that they were now
under a foreign rule. The meanness, the corrup-
tion, and the degraded character of this collection
of needy place-hunters are graphically described
in the letters of the first English ambassador ever
sent to the court of Tuscany,^ which show that
as far as corruption in the administration was
concerned, the country had gained nothing by the

With a court of this description established
in the Palace, there ensued a total decline in
tlie dignity which even in the worst days of
Cosimo III. and Gian Gastone had ever been
accustomed to reign there. Horace Mann remarks
on the entire inability of the new regime to main-
tain a due ceremony even on grand occasions, and
says : — " They seem to forget the example of the
Medici, the ceremony of whose court put it in
their power to make a figure in things of more im-
portance." Added to this the ignorance and want
of taste of the newcomers in all matters relating
to Art was colossal ; and this, while specially
irritating to the Florentines, often had the most
ridiculous results. Among other demonstrations

' Hoiace Maim was sent as the first F^iifi^lish ambassador to the
court of Tuscany in ]741, four years after Gian Gastonc's dcatli. His
copious letters to Horace Walpole (wliich hcirin at once on liis arrival
at Florence) are therefore tlie l)est available evidence as to the social
and political conditions whicli succeeded those which had existed under
the Medici Grand Dukes.

VOL. II. 2 1


of this want of a quality which every Medici
had possessed, the arrangement of the pictures in
the Palace offered a conspicuous example. These
were rearranged on a new principle, the two
guiding rules of which were, first, the degree
of freshness of the gilding on the frames, and,
second, the position of the figures in the picture,
which figures must not turn their backs towards
the throne.

It was no wonder, the new Government being
of this description, that the Electress Anna (the
descendant of a race which even in their decay
had still been distinguished) kept herself aloof
from such a company. She occupied her own
separate portion of the Palace, and had no
relations with the new Grand Duke's agent and
his wife.

" She lived retired ; but it was a retirement
of the utmost splendour. All that art and in-
genuity could supply and money purchase the aged
daughter of Cosimo gathered round her — ^jewels,
precious metals, costly attire — the mass of these
was immense."^

Moreover, she still continued to add pictures to
the Uffizi Gallery. As a child she had known her
great-uncle. Cardinal Leopold, and had imbibed
some of the ideals which animated him, and
nearly all the pictures of the Flemish and
German schools which the Uffizi Gallery possesses
were added to it by her."

1 Horace Mann's letters to Horace Walpole.

2 " She was herself an artist, something more than an amateur, and
had added a picture by hei'self to the masterpieces in the great gallery."



The amount that this daughter of the Medici
spent in charity astounded the Enghsh ambas-
sador ; " 1,000 zechins a month, often more."^ As
three zechins made £1 sterling, this represented
£4,000 a year, equal at the present value of money
to considerably more ; and even this, he says, she
often exceeded. No wonder the poor wept incon-
solably when she died. She continued to maintain
to some extent the state to which she had been
accustomed in former days. The poet Gray, who
was presented to her in 1740, describes her as
receiving him " with much ceremony, standing
under a huge black canopy," and as " never going
out but to church, and then with guards and
eight horses to her coach."'

Thus did Anna Maria Ludovica de' Medici
maintain in all ways the name of her family.
However much that name had suffered discredit
through others, it suffered none through her. And
whether in regard to ruling with ability, the
encouragement of all forms of art, a generous
liberality to the poor, or the maintenance of a
proper dignity, she showed herself a worthy
descendant of the best of those who had gone

The object, however, which chiefly engaged
both her time and her money was the completion
of the family mausoleum. The work had somewhat
languished during the reigns of Cosimo III. and
Gian Gastone, but Anna Maria Ludovica applied
all her energies and the greater part of her large
income to completing it as far as possible during
the few years of life that remained to her. Her

* Horace Mauu's letters to Horace ^Valpole.


health was failing ; she knew she had but a short
time ; and she pressed on this work vigorously,
giving to it as much as " 1,000 crowns a week,"'
and in her will leaving a large sum to be invested
in order to provide a regular income for the com-
pletion of the building according to the original
design.^ There is something both pathetic and
fine in the sight of this lonely and childless
woman, the last of her race, steadily labouring
in the midst of disappointment, sorrow, and ill-
health, to complete the mausoleum of her ancestors
before death should call her away to follow

The parting ^^* Anna Maria Ludovica did some-
gif*- thing more noteworthy than this. Her

chief act was one as fine under the circumstances
as anything the Medici did throughout their
history. And by it she caused their sun, so long
enveloped in dark clouds and impenetrable gloom,
to shine out, as it sank, in one departing ray of
most resplendent glory. She hated the new
dynasty ; she felt that her family had been
grievously treated by not being allowed to leave
the throne of Tuscany to whomsoever they con-
sidered had the best right to it ; she felt herself
still more grievously ill used in not being allowed
to succeed her brother as Grand Duchess in her
own right ; while the sore feelings thus created
were daily kept alive by the conduct of the
ignoble court occupying the palace which had been
built by her family and been their home for two

^ Mann.

'^ See the codicil added for this purpose to her will (p. 509).


hundred years. But at the same time she loved
Tuscany ; she was keenly mindful of her family's
long and honourable connection with that country ;
and she was determined that, whatever her father
and brother had been, she at least would support
that connection with honour to the very end. And
so she made that splendid gift which should make
her name ever honoured in Florence.

Far - reaching memories and mingled feelings
must have filled the mind of Anna Maria Ludovica
as, last solitary owner of the greatest collection of
art treasures in the world, she wandered through
the long galleries of the UfRzi and the Pitti sur-
rounded by this mass of pictures, statues, bronzes,
rare gems, and other works of art, the earliest of
them executed for Cosimo, Piero, and Lorenzo,
the latest added to the collection by herself, and
thought over what she had determined on doing
with this great inheritance.

The convention between the powers which had
assigned the throne to a foreign prince had not
touched the vast private property of the family,
including the countless objects of art and other
valuable things with which their palaces, villas,
and picture - galleries were crowded ; and to all
these she had succeeded on her brother's death.
The whole of this invaluable collection of treasures
Anna Maria Ludovica now gave to the state of
Tuscany for ever, in the person of the new Grand
Duke and his successors, on condition that none of
it should ever be removed from Florence, and that
it should be for the benefit of the public of all

^ Article III. of the document in which Her Serene Hip^hness the
Electress Anna Maria Ludovica makes this gift to Tuscany.


What the value in money of this truly royal
gift may be is probably beyond computation. It
included, with much besides : ^ —

(a) The whole of the pictures and statues

which were in the Uffizi Gallery, the
Royal Palace, the Villa Medici at Rome,
and the other villas of the family,
and now forming the Uffizi and Pitti

(b) The rare collection of gems and other

objects of art, now in the Gem Room
of the Uffizi Gallery.

(c) A great collection of cameos, engraved

gems, and similar articles, now in the
museum of the Bargello, and including
the celebrated collection of coins and
medallions of Lorenzo the Magnificent,
the oldest in Europe.

(d) Statues and busts by Donatello, Verrocchio,

Mino da Fiesole, and other notable
sculptors, now in the museum of the

(e) A great collection of bronzes, now in the

museum of the Bargello.
(/) The New Sacristy, with the masterpieces

of Michelangelo.
(g) The whole of the contents of the Library

of the Palace, and the Medici Library

in San Lorenzo.
{h) A large and important collection of

Egyptian and Etruscan antiquities,

^ It is not meant to imply that there have not been other works of
art added to these galleries and museums since^ but these additions are
in proportion insignificant.


now forming the chief part of the
Egyptian and Etruscan JNIuseums,
the Etruscan portion being specially

(i) A valuable collection of majolica, Urbino-
ware, Faenza-ware, rare suits of armour,
and curious and valuable arms, now
in the museum of tlie Bargello.

(j) A large collection of valuable tapestries,
now forming the Galleria degli Arazzi.

(A*) The valuable tables of pietra dura work,
cabinets, and other precious furniture,
now in the Uffizi and Pitti Galleries.

(/) The inlaid tables, valuable cabinets,
tapestry, and other similar articles now
in the Royal apartments of the Pitti

{m) The gold dessert service, gold and silver
ornaments, rare china, valuable plate,
croziers and crucifixes in i\ory and
amber, the mitre with miniatures made
of humming-birds' feathers which had
belonged to Clement VII., priceless
works in niello, handsome goblets and
vases by Benvenuto Cellini, and many
other heirlooms of the family, all now
in the Treasure Room of the Pitti

[n) The reliquaries and other ornaments of
the Grand Ducal chapel in the Pitti

(o) The immense Medicean wardrobe of costly
robes and dresses for state occasions.^

^ See p. 605.


From Poggio Imperiale, from Castello, from
Petraia, frora Cafaggiolo, from Poggio a Caiano,
from the Villa Medici at Rome, from every habita-
tion that the Medici had occupied, poured in for
many years afterwards this great collection of
objects of art to be gathered in the galleries
and museums of Florence in accordance with the
terms of this gift ; terms to which Florence owes
it that these treasures have not been long since
either dispersed,^ or removed to Vienna or Rome.
The Medici themselves have passed away, but
their works live on. And of all that they have
left behind them as a record of the spirit which
animated them, nothing can surpass that which
a whole world enjoys through the gift which
was their last act, and which the traditions of
their house and the principles implanted long
before by its founder caused them to present to
their nation, even when smarting under a sense
of injustice and disappointment.

Speaking of this action, an Italian writer of
the present day has said : —

" By this act the Princess Anna Maria, in
securing to the country so much that was most
notable of its art, acquired a truly imperishable
title to the gratitude of Italy, and one which
deserved to outweigh and make forgiven many
faults of her ancestors."^

It is when one looks at the Florence of to-day,
without manufactures or the business of a seaport
and yet so prosperous a city, that one realises what
this gift (with all the others previously given by

1 In the same manner as the valuable collections once possessed by
Modeua, Mantua, and Ferrara have been.

'^ GH ultinii dei Medici, by Emilio Robiony (1905).


the Medici) has meant to her. That prosperity
entirely depends on Florence's power to attract
visitors from other countries ; without that power
she, the second city of Italy, would sink back at
once to the level of her ancient rival Lucca. And
were all that the Medici gave to Florence taken
away^ the whole of that influx of visitors from
other countries would cease. For her three great
churches would not by themselves attract it ; and
even San Marco would be gone.^ So that Anna
Maria Ludovica, little as she could have reahsed
all that its consequences would be, by this parting
gift in the name of her family did the very best
thing she could have done to ensure the future
prosperity of Florence. Yet in the city which
her action has thus enriched her very name is
almost unknown. No statue of her adorns any
of its open spaces ; no gallery or museum of all
those which she has to a great extent filled, and
protected from having their contents removed to
other cities, has her name written over its doors
or any bust or picture of her placed in honour
on its walls. And thousands interested in art
pass through Florence every season, or even leave
that city after long residence there, witliout ever
having heard her name.

Of the items included in this gift the last, the
Medicean wardrobe, was not permanently retained.^
Some thirty years afterwards, in the time of tlie
Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo (the first of the
Austrian Grand Dukes who was a resident ruler of

1 Libraries, museums, and galleries of art, with inucli more Itesiiles.

- Vol. i. pp. mm.

* The terms of the jrift had specially allowed this item to be at the
free disposal of the Austrian Grand Duke.


Tuscany) it was broken up and sold. And some
idea of the magnificence customary in what we
now know as the Pitti Palace in the time of the
Medici Grand Dukes is given us by the details of
this sale, which on account of the mass of \'aluable
things to be disposed of continued monthly for ten
years. Napier says : —

" Nor was the ancient Medicean wardrobe,
which had long reposed in idle splendour, more
spared by the stern frugality of Leopold. . . .
Almost every residence of the Medici throughout
Tuscany had its peculiar wardrobe, independent
of the great magazine of Medicean splendour in
Florence, and all were now exposed to public
sale. Velvets, damasks, gold embroideries, chairs
and mirror frames of massive silver, gold brocades,
rich lace, fringes, and costly silken fabrics, were
either sold to the public or condemned to the
crucible. Gian Gastone's state bed, embroidered
throughout w^th a profusion of beautiful pearls
and other gems, was picked to pieces, and many
exquisite works in jewellery and precious metals,
the symbols of Medicean taste and magnificence,
were all broken up or otherwise disposed of to
the amount of half a million of crowns."^

Anna Maria T^idovica had not to endure for
many years the daily mortifications resulting from
the establishment of a foreign rule over her country.
In 1742, five years after that rule had been set
up, her health begaa to give way. She suffered
much from dropsy, and felt that she had not
much longer to live. Having still a large amount
of personal property to dispose of, including her
own wearing jewels, the contents of her ward-

^ Napier's Florentine Hklory, vol. vi. p. 197.


robes, the furniture of her rooms, china, plate,
and nearly £2,000,000 sterling in money, she set
about adding various codicils to the will which
she had made some three years before. And
desiring to leave some portion of her property to
her next-of-kin, whoever he might be, she had
drawn up for her a genealogical tree showing,
not only the historic INIedici, the descendants of
Giovanni di Bicci, of whom she was the last,
but also the collateral brandies of the family.^
By its means, retracing her family for some four
hundred and fifty years, back to Salvestro, the
grandfather of Giovanni di Bicci, ^ she discovered
that a descendant of Salvestro's brother Giovenco,
a certain Pietro Paolo de' Medici, was her nearest
of kin, though not, of course, a descendant of the

Online LibraryG. F. (George Frederick) YoungThe Medici (Volume 2) → online text (page 35 of 42)