Italian family that ruled Florence during the 15c., originally the plural of medico "a physician," from Latin medicus (see medical (adj.)). Related: Medicean.

[A]n illustrious family of Florence, appearing first as merchants of the medieval republic, and at the dawn of the Renaissance, in the fifteenth century, raised to supreme power through their liberality and merit. From this time on for three centuries, amid fortunes of varying brilliancy, this family produced popes, sovereigns, and tyrants, and it occupies a large place in the history of Europe. In the fine arts and literature the epithet has particular reference to Cosimo dei Medici, known as Cosimo the Elder, and to Lorenzo the Magnificent. [Century Dictionary]

updated on December 13, 2018