Gian Gastone de’ Medici
Gian Gastone de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1671-1737)
was the son of Cosimo III de’
He showed promise as a youth, gaining a reputation for
learning that ranged from antiquarian studies to an interest in the work of the
mathematician Leibniz. At the same time, however, he was prone to bouts of
hypochondria and gradually declined into a life of dissolution and
To some extent this appears to have been due to his unhappy
marriage, celebrated in Düsseldorf on 2 July 1697, to the unprepossessing Anna
Maria of Saxe-Lauenburg, which necessitated his enforced absence from Florence
and residence in remote Reichstadt and then in Prague.
He returned to Florence in 1708 and on the death of his brother Ferdinando in 1713 was required
to prepare himself for the succession ten years later. As Grand Duke, Gian Gastone repealed much of the legislation
imposed by his father to control popular morality and relaxed literary censorship, while his political appointments
were directed towards reducing church influence in his state.
Measures were also taken by him to reduce the national debt, though the economies in court
expenditure he introduced resulted in the departure from Florence of many artists and especially architects,
including Alessandro Galilei and Ferdinando Fuga. His own artistic tastes are difficult to define, but he appears
to have shared his brother’s interest in the work of the Genoese painter Alessandro Magnasco and was a patron of
the sculptor Giuseppe Piamontini.
In 1729 he retired from public life and spent the last eight years of his reign in bed,
entertained by the companies of young debauchees he had gathered about him and who were known as the ruspanti. On
his death the title passed to Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine (1708–65), husband of Maria-Theresa of Austria.