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The Beauty and the Terror

An Alternative History of the Italian Renaissance

Catherine Fletcher



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04 May 2021
An imaginative and revelatory new history of the Italian Renaissance that challenges our preconceptions of the era *A THE TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020* 'Brilliant and gripping, here is the full true Renaissance in a history of compelling originality and freshness' Simon Sebag Montefiore The Italian Renaissance shaped Western culture - but it was far stranger and darker than many of us realise. We know the Mona Lisa for her smile, but not that she was married to a slave-trader. We revere Leonardo da Vinci for his art, but few now appreciate his ingenious designs for weaponry. We visit Florence to see Michelangelo's David, but hear nothing of the massacre that forced the republic's surrender. In fact, many of the Renaissance's most celebrated artists and thinkers emerged not during the celebrated 'rebirth' of the fifteenth century but amidst the death and destruction of the sixteenth century.

The Beauty and the Terror is an enrapturing narrative which includes the forgotten women writers, Jewish merchants, mercenaries, prostitutes, farmers and citizens who lived the Renaissance every day. Brimming with life, it takes us closer than ever before to the reality of this astonishing era, and its meaning for today.

'Terrifying and fascinating' Sunday Times 'Enlightening...exactly the alternative history you might wish for' Daily Telegraph
By:   Catherine Fletcher
Imprint:   Vintage
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 27mm
Weight:   323g
ISBN:   9781784707941
ISBN 10:   1784707945
Pages:   400
Publication Date:   04 May 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Catherine Fletcher is a historian of Renaissance and early modern Europe. Her previous books include The Black Prince of Florence- The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici and The Divorce of Henry VIII- The Untold Story. Catherine is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University and broadcasts regularly for the BBC.

Reviews for The Beauty and the Terror: An Alternative History of the Italian Renaissance

Terrifying and fascinating ... If you thought the Renaissance was all about beautiful pictures and the 'rediscovery' of Classical writing, you are quite wrong ... The Beauty and the Terror dismantles our assumptions about the Renaissance with the precision of a wheellock arquebus ... an ambitious, multifocal book, encompassing more than 150 years [that] shine[s] a light on figures often forgotten in conventional histories -- Mary Wellesley * Sunday Times * Impressive and lucid ... Fletcher's narration excels in such colourful details ... a scholarly, but vivid history that shows the impact that the machinations of the great, good and not so good had on the insignificant ... a persuasive account of how Italy was brought low even as the culture floated high -- Michael Prodger * The Times * Richly well-informed and admirably well-written, containing material of real interest on every page ... has added a wealth of information that will be new to most of us -- Noel Malcolm * Sunday Telegraph * A story of alliances, betrayals, sacks, sieges, famines, assassinations and gruesomely ingenious tortures ... Fletcher navigates this difficult terrain with great skill. She creates atmosphere and drama without any surrendering of clarity... A powerful book -- Charles Nicholl * Guardian * Fletcher's expertise is enviable ... she knows better than anyone else just how treacherous a time and place it was. At its best, The Beauty and the Terror is as enlightening as you might hope: a chapter tracing early modern ambivalence about the rise of handguns ... is exactly the alternative history you might wish for, as are the sections on slavery, sexual mores and pornography -- Tim Smith-Laing * Daily Telegraph *

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