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

Catherine Fletcher

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Bodley Head
05 March 2020
History; European history; Early modern history: c 1450 to c 1700; Church history; Abbey's Double Rewards
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'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 revere Leonardo da Vinci for his art but few now appreciate his ingenious designs for weaponry. We know the Mona Lisa for her smile but not that she was married to a slave-trader. We visit Florence to see Michelangelo's David but hear nothing of the massacre that forced the republic's surrender. In focusing on the Medici in Florence and the Borgias in Rome, we miss the vital importance of the Genoese and Neapolitans, the courts of Urbino and Mantua. Rarely do we hear of the women writers, Jewish merchants, the mercenaries, engineers, prostitutes, farmers and citizens who lived the Renaissance every day.

In fact, many of the most celebrated artists and thinkers that have come to define the Renaissance - Leonardo and Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, Machiavelli and Castiglione - emerged not during the celebrated 'rebirth' of the fifteenth century but amidst the death and destruction of the sixteenth century. For decades, a series of savage wars dominated Italy's political, economic and daily life, generating fortunes and new technologies, but also ravaging populations with famine, disease and slaughter. In this same short time, the birth of Protestantism, Spain's colonisation of the Americas and the rise of the Ottoman Empire all posed grave threats to Italian power, while sparking debates about the ethics of government and enslavement, religious belief and sexual morality.

In The Beauty and the Terror, Catherine Fletcher provides an enrapturing narrative history that brings all of this and more into view. Brimming with life, it takes us closer than ever before to the lived reality of this astonishing era and its meaning for today.
By:   Catherine Fletcher
Imprint:   Bodley Head
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 32mm
Weight:   670g
ISBN:   9781847925107
ISBN 10:   1847925103
Pages:   496
Publication Date:   05 March 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Catherine Fletcher is a historian of Renaissance and early modern Europe. She is the author of two previous books, The Black Prince of Florence, 'a spectacular, elegant, brilliant portrait of skulduggery, murder and sex in Renaissance Florence' (Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard Books of the Year), and The Divorce of Henry VIII- The Untold Story. Catherine is Associate Professor in History and Heritage at Swansea University and broadcasts regularly for the BBC.

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

A spectacular, elegant, brilliant portrait of skulduggery, murder and sex in Renaissance Florence -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * Evening Standard, Books of the Year on The Black Prince of Florence * Catherine Fletcher's eye for the skewering detail makes the citizens of renaissance Florence live again -- Hilary Mantel * on The Black Prince of Florence * Astonishing ... gripping and original ... a compelling portrait * Financial Times on The Black Prince of Florence * Packed with intrigue ... Fletcher describes with cool menace the plotting and politicking ... rought splendidly to life in this excellent book -- Dan Jones * Sunday Times on The Black Prince of Florence *


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