The story of Italy’s first family is one of political cunning, artistic genius, infidelity, execution and revenge. With sumptuous colour illustrations.
‘No historian gives me greater pleasure to read’
Between the 14th and 18th centuries, the Medicis rose from relative obscurity to become more powerful than any other banking or political dynasty in history, numbering artists, scientists, princes and even popes in their circle. For generations they held the destiny of Europe in their hands, until corruption and decadence led to a scandal-filled downfall. In this colourful history, Christopher Hibbert tells their story: one of political acumen and artistic patronage, but also of murder, infidelity, execution and revenge. We meet the dynasty’s founder, Giovanni, the prudent but ruthless banker who developed the family’s alliance with the Vatican; Cosimo the Elder, who survived betrayal and exile to become one of the fathers of the Italian Renaissance; and Lorenzo the Magnificent, patron of Michelangelo and Botticelli, of whom it was said that ‘If Florence was to have a tyrant she could never have found a better or more delightful one.’ The closing chapters depict figures such as Duke Cosimo I, who emulated Machiavelli’s Prince, and his sons: Francesco, whose mistress-turned-wife Bianca Capello was deemed a witch, and the murderous, profligate Pietro.
This reissued edition features a foreword by Sir Harold Acton, in which he praises the book as ‘the achievement of a polished historian who is blessed with an unusual gift for pleasing narrative’. Appendices include family trees and a list of the principal works of art commissioned by the Medicis and their present-day locations. The binding is of Jacquard cloth, woven with a design of fleur-de-lys and rampant lions, commissioned specially for this edition. It is presented in a gold slipcase, with gilded top page edges. The endpapers are printed with two different details of The Adoration of the Magi, a fresco in the chapel of the Palazzo Medici by Benozzo Gozzoli, showing Piero, Cosimo and Lorenzo Medici among the procession.
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