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Gian Gastone de' Medici
(May 25, 1671 - July 9, 1737) Italy

Medici's arms
Gian Gastone
Medici's arms

Last Grand Duke of Tuscany

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Grandson of Ferdinando II and last sovereign ruler of the Medici dynasty, he reigned from 1723 to 1737. Gian Gastone was a solitary young man who spent most of his time in a refuge he had in the Boboli Garden absorbed in his studies of plants and flowers and his collection of precious objects and beautiful things. Because of his homosexuality, he suffered from a deep melancholy.

As the second son of the grand-duke, Gian Gastone was not expected to inherit the throne until, in 1713, his elder brother Ferdinando died without heirs. Until then Gian Gastone had just profited from his brother's patronage of music to develop relationships - not limited to artistic ones - with musicians such as Baldassarre Galuppi, and singers like the celebrated castrato Gaetano Majorano.

For dynastic reasons, in 1697, Gian Gastone had been married to a German-Bohemian pricess, Anna Maria Franziska, an immensly fat twenty-three years old lady the daughter of the duke of Saxony and Lauenburg and widow of Palatine Count Philip of Neuberg. The marriage was a disaster from the start, based as it was on lack of understanding, repulsion and a kind of dejected resignation on part of Gian Gastone. No child was born from this marriage and obviously there was no hope for a Medici heir.

Already in 1699 he had scandalously begun to spend much of his time away from his wife, in Prague, where his lackey Giuliano Dami procured ever-changing lovers to him, choosing among the city students and servants. Dami, himself a homosexual, and the son of a paesant, had been noted by Gian Gastone because of his exceptional beauty, which had already attracted Marquess Ferdinando Capponi, who agreed to "cede" Dami to Gian Gastone.

In 1705, Gian Gastone left his wife and returned to Florence, where he acceeded the throne on the death of his father, Cosimo III, in 1723.

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Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001 - et alii

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