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Maria de' Medici (April 3, 1540 – November 19, 1557) was the eldest daughter of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Eleonora di Toledo. She was a member of the famous Medici family.


She was engaged to Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, but died at the age of seventeen, before the marriage could take place. She was educated with her brothers and was among the brightest of the children. When her brother Francesco didn't understand his Greek lesson, his tutors called on Maria to explain it to him. Maria kept herself somewhat aloof from her younger brothers and sisters. She grew into an elegant, highly educated, and decorous young woman.

According to one unreliable legend, recounted in Edgcumbe Staley's The Tragedies of the Medici, Maria was lovely and kept closely guarded from men, but managed to meet a young lover, Malatesta de' Malatesti, in secret. According to the story, she was stabbed in the heart by her father after he caught the young lovers together. Cosimo then supposedly put out the story that she had died of a spotted fever and threw her young lover in prison.

Other more accurate accounts indicate that Maria's cause of death was probably malaria. She died in Livornomarker. Her father mourned for her deeply and kept her portrait in his bedroom until he died, he had now lost two of his daughters, Bia de' Medici being the other daughter. "She was of the same disposition as myself," said Cosimo, "and she was deprived of fresh air." Her sister Lucrezia di Cosimo de Medici later married Alfonso.



  1. Murphy (2008), pp. 34, 41
  2. Staley, Edgcumbe The Tragedies of the Medici
  3. Murphy (2008), p. 63


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