• Karan Sirdesai

The House that Medici Built

The contentious tale of Europe’s most influential family.

‘Lorenzo de’ Medici’ by Raphael

The 14th and 15th Century was big for Europe. It was getting out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. Harsh cold winters and opressive society gave way for Art and Culture and Science (when the church permitted that is).

The Medici family, an Aristocratic House, in the Republic of Florence, had it’s fair share of entrepreneurs. Developments in Finance and trade and faster communications helped the Medicis build a bank that operated across Europe, From London to Barcelona and from Rome to the Flanders.

The Medic‘s used a complex system of Letters of credit to allow for money movement across its branches (to protect from theft). They built the first large scale use case of Double Entry Accounting. They were the first resemblance of a modern conglomerate, with a holding company, a bank, a trading firm and even an Investment Bank for its largest client - The Vatican. Other clients even included the British and Spanish Royalty.

The Medici were great patrons of the arts and sciences, funding the projects of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Galileo etc. to name a few. In fact they even gave refuge to Galileo when he was accused by the church for heresey.

In the 16th Century onwards, like most powers, the Medici Family gradually declined, ceasing to exist somewhere around 1743.

In conclusion, the Medici were a pseudo kingdom, not run on military, but financial might. Very similar to modern corporations - although it isn’t likely we’ll see Jeff Bezos ushering the new Renaissanice anytime soon.

Unless of course technology is the Renaissance of our times.

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