The Medici started arriving in Florence as immigrants from the nearby valley of the Mugello in the 13th century, only becoming firmly identified with political influence and great wealth in the lifetime of Giovanni di Bicci (1360-1429). It was his son Cosimo who from 1434 became the leading figure in the city, a role intensified by Cosimo's son Piero and grandson Lorenzo. Periods of exile (1494-1512 and 1527-30) were followed by the family's near-absolute control of Tuscany as dukes and grand dukes, a process eased by the careers of two Medici popes, Leo X and Clement VII. Alternately praised as patrons and blamed as tyrants, the family has had a stormy historiographical career. It is unclear whether the palle (balls) on their coat of arms originated as pills (Medici: 'doctors') or coins (a reference to the banking origin of their fortune).
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