The Hidden Side of a Great Dynasty
6 9 2018
The Hidden Side of a Great Dynasty

Courtly secrets in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Luca Scarlini spoke after a brief musical interlude, as the audience were just finishing their breakfast. He spoke about the Medici, in particular about the part of the family that is not associated with the period of grand splendour of the dynasty. He spoke about Ferdinando II and how he kicked off the period of decadence that led to the end of the Florentine lordship.

The sixteen-year-old Grand Duke succeeded the regents Christina of Lorraine and Maria Maddalena of Austria, "who had turned Florence into a church." He first thought about marriage, marrying Vittoria della Rovere, a very rich but ugly woman: in fact, she had other aims, which is why she surrounded herself with pages who appeased her desires. But the Grand Duke was not only vicious: wishing to bring science back to its former glory, he founded the Accademia del Cimento, in which his pages could best express their talents in science and mathematics. Another musical interlude introduced us to the world of these children and one of Ferdinando’s favourites stood out: Bruto della Molara, from Rome. A preference that undermined him marriage marriage with Vittoria (who, through despair, went from 69 to 119 kg), who called for a mass to condemn her husband’s homosexuality.

After the service, the young pageboy confronted the canon who had made the homily and told the Grand-Duke everything: the canon was exiled and there were no more obtacles to his actions. In this rather tense climate, Cosimo was born: educated by his mother as a priest, he was instead pushed towards sex by his father, who ordered the court physician to provide for his deflowering. Sex, however, remained for him a gymnastic exercise: his relationships lasted from 59 to 76 seconds and his wedding night was no exception. It is therefore not surprising that his marriage (with Marguerite Louise d'Orléans) was not the happiest. Scarlini introduced us to this hidden world with colourful language and theatrical gestures, making them laugh and revealing intriguing back story, while at the same time creating great expectations for the next event.