A beautifully illustrated history of the Renaissance told through the lives of its most influential patrons.
From the late Middle Ages, the independent Italian city-states were taken over by powerful families who installed themselves as dynastic rulers. Inspired by the humanists, the princes of 15th- and 16th-century Italy immersed themselves in the culture of antiquity, commissioning palaces, villas and churches inspired by the architecture of ancient Rome, and offering patronage to artists and writers.
Many of thse princes were related by blood or marriage, creating a web of alliances that held society together but whose tensions sometimes threatened to tear it apart; thus were their lives dominated as much by the waging of war as the nurture of the artistic talent.
In a narrative that is as rigorous and closely researched as it is accessible and informative, Mary Hollingsworth sets the princes' aesthetic achievements in the context of the volatile, ever-shifting politics of a tumultuous period of history.
'An excellent study of the Medici ... A careful, understated book ... [It] is never short on drama' Helen Castor, Telegraph Book of the Year.
'A lucid and beautifully illustrated family history. In Hollingsworth's surefooted telling, this ruthless but enlightened family were at their best when they were true to the Florentine motto of "profit and honour"' Sunday Times Book of the Week.