Rich as Croesus, living like Rockefellers, the Medici were undeniably rich — surpassing their reigning counterparts so far that they financed foreign crowns as well as themselves. Conveying money into power was the alchemy of Renaissance rulers, and land was the sorcerer’s stone. Views of the estates of de Croy, Charles V’s tutor and chamberlain, underscore the ways in which he consolidated his power in the Imperial Court. At the other end of the display of financial power is the volume bound for Marie de’ Medici, who also married into the French royal family. The symbols splashed across the olive leather may be fleurs-de-lis, but the gilding is pure Medici coin.
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