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Private Lives
The Medici were well-known for their personal as well as professional dalliances.

When Cosimo il Vecchio was a young man, he was given a slave girl. Despite his marriage he continued to live with her, away from his family. Their bastard son, Carlo, sought his fortune in Spain and became a wealthy man in Barcelona.

Lorenzo's brother, Giuliano de'Medici, famously impregnated his mistress before his brutal murder in 1478. Their child, Giulio de'Medici, was later crowned Pope Clement VII.

Clement took a black slave girl as a mistress. Their child, Allessandro, became the first black head of state when he was made Duke of Florence in 1530. But he met a sticky end - stabbed to death by his own cousin after an argument over a woman.

Pope Leo X had more exotic tastes. Famed for his extravagant lifestyle, he was entertained by young boys leaping naked from cakes. When the new Pope entered Florence in triumph, he had a young boy painted gold, from head to toe, who paraded through the streets. It was pure propaganda, implying the return of a golden age under the rule of the Medici. The boy died shortly afterwards, poisoned by the gold paint on his skin but the papal celebrations went on for days.

And Catherine de'Medici, Queen of France, made sure she was informed of the intrigues at court by expressly employing a group of pretty young women to engage in pillow talk with gullible male courtiers.

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