Arms of the House of Medici

Medici

In use 1465 – 1737

Blazon: Or five torteaux in orle, in chief a roundel of France

In 1465, King Louis XI of France granted Piero di Cosimo de’Medici (also known as Piero the Gouty) the right to bear a roundel of France as part of the family arms. The grant was apparently made out of respect for the family’s financial acumen rather than as a sign of political or familial affiliation. The Medici continued to bear these arms until they went extinct in 1737, when Gian Gastone de’Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, died without issue.

Former arms of the House of Medici

Medici_ancien

In use 1363? – 1465

Blazon: Or eight torteaux*

*Positioning of the torteaux seems to have been flexible; various depictions show them as 3, 3, and 2 or 1, 3, 3, and 1.

The alleged origin stories of the Medici arms are as entertaining as they are varied. One holds that one of the Medici ancestors was ennobled by Charlemagne after defeating a giant, and the torteaux represent the dents left on his shield. Another ties the arms to the family name; “medici” means “doctor,” so this theory holds that they represent pills or glasses. A more boring, but more realistic, hypothesis points out that the arms of the Moneychanger’s Guild are gules bezanté; the Medicis may simply have swapped the tinctures.