Prince Leopoldo, youngest son of Cosimo II (1590-1621), was one of the most eminent figures of his brother the Grand Duke Ferdinando II's (1610-1670) Court. Together with his other brothers, Mattias and Giovan Carlo, he managed the affairs of State. He was a patron of scientists and himself an impassioned scientific researcher. Together with Ferdinando II, he brought forward the projects of the Academy del Cimento, which was a meeting ground for the greatest geniuses of the day, inside and outside of Tuscany, and whose aim was to conserve Galileo's legacy. In 1667 Leopoldo was made a Cardinal, and in the absence of his patronage and his knack for settling the frequent disagreements among the Academy's members, they broke up that same year.
Leopoldo was not only a lover of science but of literature as well. He protected and sought as his librarian the scholar Antonio Magliabechi, who greatly augmented his collections through a continual search for rare texts in Tuscany and abroad.
Leopoldo's relationship with Galileo was marked by the highest esteem, and in addition to having as his tutors Jacopo Soldani, Famiano Michelini and Evangelista Torricelli, all disciples of Galileo, during the summer months he would invite Galileo to converse with him at his villa in Arcetri.