Excerpt from Lives of the Early Medici: As Told in Their Correspondence
Many a book has been written about the Medici; yet how little has been said about the private lives of the founders of that wonderful family which rose from prosperous middle-class condition to take its place among the sovereign houses of Europe, to seat its daughters on the throne of the Queen-consorts of France, and its sons on the Chair of St. Peter? Their rival capitalists north of the Alps climbed high in those days when the gulf was dug deep between nobles and all who were below them in the social scale. The Fuggers made many alliances with the German and Bohemian nobles, and the Welsers had the unheard-of glory of mating one of their daughters with the Emperor of Germany; does not the Philipine-Welser Strasse in Augsburg commemorate to this day the renown of the match? But neither had the fortune to found a dynasty as did the Medici. They are so inseparably connected with the history of their native city that the biographies have insensibly become sketches of Florentine, even of European history. The men and women have disappeared, and we see instead the dexterous manipulators of tortuous Italian diplomacy, or the splendid patrons of art and literature during the best period of the Renaissance. Yet, in our day, we sometimes like to turn aside from the stage life to learn about the vie intime of personages who have become historical.
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