The Medici government had lasted more than 300 years when it finished with an act of
extraordinary importance: the testament that Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, better known
as the Electress Palatine, signed in 1743.
Anna Maria Luisa De’ Medici is without any doubt the most important woman in the history of Florence. She had lived in Sassonia since 1691, after marrying the Elector Palatine, Johann Wilhelm II. There, in Dusseldorf, she was admired as a woman of great culture and intelligence, and transformed Düsseldorf into a lively and intellectually stimulating place.
In October 1717 she came back to Florence to help her father Cosimo III and brother
Gian Gastone in their delicate task of putting an end to the Medici dynasty. Gian
Gastone had no descendants, and her other brother, Ferdinando, the ‘Great Prince’ as he was known, had died young and without an heir.
She accepted the challenge, clearly understanding that history, a history that was to
become her history, had reached a turning point. The Medici dynasty was over, but the
mark that it had left on Florence could not be removed with the transition to the Duchy
of Lorraine. She perfectly understood that a public testament rather than a private one
was necessary and the recipient of this public testament had to be Florence. Thus, she
gave away the treasury of her family, on the condition that “all the furniture, items and
rarities such as galleries, paintings, statues, libraries and other precious things that could attract foreigners should remain in Florence.” And they are still here, and the city lives on tourism.
This why Women’s Day in Florence is, first of all, a day to be dedicated to Anna Maria Luisa. Because to her, more than anybody else, Florentines owe both their past and their future.