Ferdinando's successor was his son Cosimo II: the first act of the new Grand Duke, Cosimo II, was an error. He closed the Medici bank and would have nothing more to do with any kind of commercial activity, arguing that involvement in business was degrading for a prince, when in fact precisely this had been the principal source of the great family wealth.
During the reigns of Cosimo I, Francesco, and Ferdinando, the bank had continued to flourish, providing an inexhaustible source of funds that had been available to emperors and manarchs. Now instead expenditures increased and income suddenly stopped.
There was also a conflict in the family between Cosimo's wife Maria Magdalena (austrian) and his mother Christine (french), as they were each determined on a different political course: Christine would continue to feel the ties of her native France; Maria Magdalena, a Hapsburg, was completely taken up with the idea of a Spanish-imperial alliance. The brief life of Cosimo II was not an easy one, with the continual discord between the two grand duchesses; later on their conflict worsened when both became regents on behalf of the young Ferdinando.
Perhaps owing to his poor health and to the free hand allowed to his wife
in politics, as a result of which Tuscany was submitted to Spanish domination, Cosimo II almost completly neglected the government of his state. He also shunned all forms of artistic patronage, contrary to the traditions of his family. His death was not mourned by the people of Florence, who had hardly known, let alone loved him. His sole merit (by no means a trifling one) was to have given shelter to Galileo Galilei, at a time when that eminent scientist was fleeing from persecution by the Inquisition in Padua. Cosimo gave Galileo a teaching position in the University of Florence and allowed him to continue his scientific research undaunted by persecution.
Chapter 7 - FERDINANDO II AND THE MEDICEAN EXPERIMENTAL
ACADEMY OF SCIENCE.
DON GIOVANNI DEI MEDICI
Family Portrait: The Medici of Florence (back to index...)