Tuscany’s enlightened dukes
he pages of history are full of families that through insight, vision and perseverance, shaped a generation and influenced civilization. One such dynasty was the Lorraine family, from where successive Grand Duchy of Tuscany came from until 1859.
The first, Leopold, was a wise man, yet at times unpopular. He put his intelligence and political standing to work for the people, reforming the tax system and tackling social issues that had been ignored by his predecessors. He banned torture and the death penalty, created rehabilitation programs for juveniles and took steps to better recognize and treat the mentally ill. He also made widely available a vaccination for smallpox, the disease that took so many Italians in the prime of life, striking fear into communities.
These may seem like pretty standard reforms today, but back then, they were verging on revolutionary, elevating Tuscany’s profile in the eyes of the world and proving Leopold and his sons who would continue his work, to be ahead of their time. Little wonder then that their work helped Florence become known as ‘Citadel of Enlightenment’.