The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro De' Medici

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro De' Medici☂ [PDF / Epub] ☁ The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro De' Medici By Catherine Fletcher ✐ – Oaklandjobs.co.uk Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, to , Alessandro de Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world Born out of wedlock to a dark skinned maid Prince of Kindle Ï Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years,to , Alessandro de Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world Born out of wedlock to a dark skinned maid and Lorenzo de Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent When Alessandro s noble father died of syphilis, The Black PDF/EPUB or the family looked to him Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian RenaissanceAlessandro faced down family rivalry and enormous resistance from Florence s Black Prince of PDF/EPUB » oligarchs, who called him a womanizer which he undoubtedly was and a tyrant Yet this real life counterpart to Machiavelli s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated at the age ofduring a late night tryst arranged by his scheming cousins After his death, his brief but colorful reign was criticized by those who had murdered him in a failed attempt to restore the Florentine republic For the first time, the true story is told in The Black Prince of FlorenceCatherine Fletcher tells the riveting tale of Alessandro s unexpected rise and spectacular fall, unraveling centuries old mysteries, exposing forgeries, and bringing to life the epic personalities of the Medicis, Borgias, and others as they waged sordid campaigns to rise to the top Drawing on new research and first hand sources, this biography of a most intriguing Renaissance figure combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today. Alessandro s story reminds us that Renaissance men may not always have been white While Fletcher s intention of writing racial diversity back into our understanding of Renaissance history and culture is admirable, in actuality this book does littlethan re tell the story of the Medici in Florence from a slightly different angle This isn t necessarily Fletcher s fault given the sources that are available, but it does make this bookfamiliar, less revelatory than we might expect TheAlessandro s story reminds us that Renaissance men may not always have been white While Fletcher s intention of writing racial diversity back into our understanding of Renaissance history and culture is admirable, in actuality this book does littlethan re tell the story of the Medici in Florence from a slightly different angle This isn t necessarily Fletcher s fault given the sources that are available, but it does make this bookfamiliar, less revelatory than we might expect The most interesting section is actually the afterword where Fletcher briefly discusses the ways in which Alessandro de Medici, the illegitimate son of Lorenzo and a slave or servant woman of African origin or descent, is portrayed in the sources and the way historicised modes of representing, constructing and mediating race affect his portrayal A book exploring the receptions of Alessandro in this manner would have beenoriginal andilluminating Author Catherine Fletcher sifted through what must be every primary and early interpretive source to relate what could be all we ll ever know about the short life and reign of Alessandro de Medici He came to be the Duke of Florence by being the one of the last two male heirs of the Medici s main line despite his illegitimate birth and his race.Fletcher shows the political changes of 1500 s where Florence, once a local republic, could now be controlled by outside powers Alessandro came to be Du Author Catherine Fletcher sifted through what must be every primary and early interpretive source to relate what could be all we ll ever know about the short life and reign of Alessandro de Medici He came to be the Duke of Florence by being the one of the last two male heirs of the Medici s main line despite his illegitimate birth and his race.Fletcher shows the political changes of 1500 s where Florence, once a local republic, could now be controlled by outside powers Alessandro came to be Duke through the influence Rome, his connected uncle, later Pope, who may actually have been his father and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V It was not smooth sailing As was the custom of the times, a royal marriage was needed to help stem opposition which came from the many enemies of the Medici, supporters of the republic and those who objected to Alessandro s illegitimacy and or race There was a jealous cousin, also illegitimate, who rebelled against his placement in the clergy for which he was most unsuited Alessandro seems to have the role of the Duke down He knew to make the appearances, hunt, appear generous and provide entertainments There is a lot on the pomp related to his betrothal and wedding to Charles V s daughter, Margaret of Austria While he took a strong role against opponents, this was expected of a prince But for the scheming aristocrats and exiles, Florence seemed to be at peace during his reign.In essence, this is a story of palace intrigue This particular palace intrigue is significant for what is says and implies about race in Renaissance Italy.The publisher is generous with color photographs The index worked when I needed it Not a lot of information on this one , it mostly focuses on the political aspects of medieval city state in Italy a tall order indeed Alessandro life is seem through all the political changes but there is not a focus on his personal life, it migth be that there are not many sources about his life or that the author wanted to focus on historical progression The Medici history is always a complex one and this one is no different I would like to read athorough book about Alessandro Medi Not a lot of information on this one , it mostly focuses on the political aspects of medieval city state in Italy a tall order indeed Alessandro life is seem through all the political changes but there is not a focus on his personal life, it migth be that there are not many sources about his life or that the author wanted to focus on historical progression The Medici history is always a complex one and this one is no different I would like to read athorough book about Alessandro Medici in the future The story of Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence r.1532 1537.Having read much about the de Medici, I was instinctively drawn to this tome about one of theobtuse characters and another case of where fact far outstrips fiction.Born on the wrong side of the blanket, Alessandro emerged on the tempestuous political scene of Renaissance Florence at the same time as another incorragable character his kinsman and bitter rival, Ippolito.Florentine politics was dominated by family, money an The story of Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence r.1532 1537.Having read much about the de Medici, I was instinctively drawn to this tome about one of theobtuse characters and another case of where fact far outstrips fiction.Born on the wrong side of the blanket, Alessandro emerged on the tempestuous political scene of Renaissance Florence at the same time as another incorragable character his kinsman and bitter rival, Ippolito.Florentine politics was dominated by family, money and the Church these were the main avenues of power, and the de Medici had all three in spades And it was against this backdrop that bitter and bloody family rivalries were played out along side the scheming intrigues of the city s oligarchs, who strove to keep power out of the hands of the de Medici.The de Medici, however, were favoured by the Church the illegitimate Guilio de Medici sat upon the papal throne as Pope Clement VII he was able to obtain a cardinal s hat for Ippolito much to his chagrin for he also wanted to rule Florence Add to this, Alessandro s marriage to the all power Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and what we have is a powerful ruler, whose illegitimacy in no way proved a barrier.From extensive research, Fletcher successfully debunks many of the myths surrounding this engmatic man We find that Alessandro, far from being a fool, a cruel tyrant, a murderer as his was often portrayed , was scholarly, engrossing, charming, and a patron of the arts We also find that the colour of his skin was in no way an issue during his own lifetime for his friend and foes alike that came much later His life was indeed full of feuds, assassinations, duplicity, jealousy and betrayal that merely was the norm of the day, and was no different from other parts of Renaissance Europe.Fletcher provides a sympathetic work of a forgotten and much maligned prince The writing is dramatic, yet entertaining, dramatic, suspenseful, and accessible A worthy addition to anyone s personal library Average given the content the author had to work with Feltlike an academic work at times That said, Florentian politics is always fascinating, must find books on others from the Medici family, especially on Lorenzo. Catherine Fletcher did an admirable job presenting a brief but important period of Renaissance history This 260 page book primarily covers the period 1523 to 1537 with quick look backs into the Medici history.In 1523 when Giulio de Medici obtains the papacy and becomes Clement VII he finds himself needing to solidify the family hold on Florence and to bring some balance with the world powers jockeying to control Italy For all the faults and oh there are so so many of this second Medici Pope Catherine Fletcher did an admirable job presenting a brief but important period of Renaissance history This 260 page book primarily covers the period 1523 to 1537 with quick look backs into the Medici history.In 1523 when Giulio de Medici obtains the papacy and becomes Clement VII he finds himself needing to solidify the family hold on Florence and to bring some balance with the world powers jockeying to control Italy For all the faults and oh there are so so many of this second Medici Pope, he did play a masterful game of diplomacy when it came to his family Clement was the nephew of Lorenzo the Magnificent and the head of the Medici family and the family s lead voice in Florence while Cardinal He had two options when looking for a successor to run Florence while he ran the Roman Catholic Church both grandson s of The Magnificent Ippolito was made a Cardinal and secured all the spoils of nepotism that entailed For Alessandro he engineered muchmarriage to the daughter of Charles V the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor and the position as the first Duke of Florence Oh, and Clement also married off his niece Catherine to the duke of Orleans thus leading to the first Medici Queen of France Quite a maneuverer that Clement.The story is all theinteresting given what Alessandro himself had to engineer to obtain the duchy As a bastard son of Medici he was disadvantaged As the son of a peasant woman of color he was twice downsized Then of course he had to rule with a host of adversaries not least Cardinal Ippolito wanting him dead The enemies of Alessandro got what they wanted when he was murdered in early 1537 He was the last of his branch of the Medici to rule dying without a legitimate heir or the strength of family to place his illegitimate son in power through a regency What Alessandro s enemies had thought of was how to take power when he was killed Alessandro was followed by Cosimo I of the cadet branch of the family who would gain the title Grand Duke of Tuscany and rule for decades I am very surprised that there isn t a biography of Cosimo I and his wife Eleanora di Toledo.Fletcher tells the story well and gives the reader wonderful insight into a microcosm of Florentine and Medici history My only criticism is that she spends too much effort on detailing fashion and textiles and not any describing what Cosimo was doing during his relative s rule.All in all this is a good read The politics of Renaissance Italy are one of those stretches where history really is just one damn thing after another a gaggle of basically interchangeable dynasties of rich bastards jockeying for power both between each other and within themselves As with the bickering between Charlemagne s descendants, it can be very hard to keep clear, just as today s struggles between our corporate overlords will doubtless test the patience and memory of scholars centuries hence the level of inequality The politics of Renaissance Italy are one of those stretches where history really is just one damn thing after another a gaggle of basically interchangeable dynasties of rich bastards jockeying for power both between each other and within themselves As with the bickering between Charlemagne s descendants, it can be very hard to keep clear, just as today s struggles between our corporate overlords will doubtless test the patience and memory of scholars centuries hence the level of inequality between the princes and serfs is comparable, too The fault is not with Fletcher s telling it s simply the sort of information that slides off my brain But oh, the atmosphere That heady mix of poison, treachery, licentiousness, slighted honourit s no wonder Shakespeare loved it as a setting And here s a story with which he or Fletcher, or whoever wrote The Revenger s Tragedy could have had a ball Indeed, perhaps he did touch on it, given Alessandro de Medici s mother was sometimes said to be Moorish and his life was dogged by the murderous envy of someone passed over for promotion No mere subordinate, either, but a cousin and fellow bastard, Ippolito, who was older and thus had a better claim to Florence But their papal uncle had made Ippolito a cardinal which, as getting screwed over goes, was not really that harsh remember, this was an era when it was still fine for Catholic clergy to fuck women of legal age and generally roister doister with the best of em , and so the vendetta begins A vendetta generally characterised by ineptitude as much as malignity on Ippolito s part he wasDon John than Iago and which sees him replaced in the final act by a different jealous cousin in much the same way as Gaveston suffers a late substitution in Marlowe s Edward II Fletcher was an adviser on the BBC s dreary, rushed and historically compromised Wolf Hall, but we shouldn t hold that against her she s keenly aware of the significance of clothing in the era, so was doubtless overruled by execs bent on the misguided pursuit of pseudo authentic drabness She s equally alert to the significance of race back then while also making sure to remind us that modern categories don t map back exactly to a time before the triangular trade and scientific racism And in the duke who, if only fleetingly, united the Habsburgs and admittedly past their peak Medicis she has a fruitful subject if one who necessarily remains a somewhat shadowy presence when so little reliable evidence survives and she s constrained by being a conscientious modern historian rather than a freewheeling Jacobean hack Though once again, I ve ended up reading a press copy with no pictures or maps, or family tree which may have contributed a little to that sense of absence About whom, by sheer chance, the author of the next book on my To Read pile wrote a play Catherine Fletcher, in The Black Prince of Florence, brings sixteenth century Italy to life, while at the same time raising pertinent questions for the twenty first century on the immutability of race.Alessandro di Medici was the illegitimate son of the last of the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent When his father died of syphilis at the age of twenty six, Alessandro and a cousin from a cadet branch of the family were raised out of obscurity by powerful relatives two of them Popes to be groom Catherine Fletcher, in The Black Prince of Florence, brings sixteenth century Italy to life, while at the same time raising pertinent questions for the twenty first century on the immutability of race.Alessandro di Medici was the illegitimate son of the last of the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent When his father died of syphilis at the age of twenty six, Alessandro and a cousin from a cadet branch of the family were raised out of obscurity by powerful relatives two of them Popes to be groomed to take over the family s leading role in the Florentine Republic Alessandro, being the younger, was destined for the Church, but his cousin was made a cardinal in his place, and the task of governing Florence fell to Alessandro.Alessandro s life was short, like his father he died at twenty six although in his case Alessandro was murdered by a jealous cousin, but magnificent He became the Duke of Florence, married the daughter of Charles V, the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor, and enjoyed wealth and power, plus a close connection to the Holy See Looked at through the lens of the twenty first century it seems incredible that a black man, reportedly the child of a slave or servant, could have risen so high in Renaissance society.One of the most intriguing things about this book is Fletcher s discussion of Alessandro s heritage In Renaissance Italy race did not have the same impact which we know Alessandro s low birth was muchimportant, and in the scheme of things not that important once his family decided to back him, than his race It seems that race, although noticed, had not yet become the significant marker which it carries in our own day Fletcher s insightful musings on this topic make for one of the most interesting parts of this history The Black Prince of Florence is well worth reading, you won t look at Renaissance Italy in quite the same way as you did before.I received an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley for my honest opinion Thanks to Charles V and the Imperial Army, the weakest moment of the Medici transformed into their elevation to enduring monarchical power in Florence In the wake of Lorenzo the Magnificent s death, leaving a legitimate daughter soon to be Queen of France , power devolved to two bastards cousins Alessandro and Ippolito While the Medici pope Clement VII knocked Ippolito out of the way by making him a cardinal, and oligarchs seethed at the return of a Medici dynasty, Alessandro managed to marr Thanks to Charles V and the Imperial Army, the weakest moment of the Medici transformed into their elevation to enduring monarchical power in Florence In the wake of Lorenzo the Magnificent s death, leaving a legitimate daughter soon to be Queen of France , power devolved to two bastards cousins Alessandro and Ippolito While the Medici pope Clement VII knocked Ippolito out of the way by making him a cardinal, and oligarchs seethed at the return of a Medici dynasty, Alessandro managed to marry Charles V s illegitimate daughter As their young lives turned into a race to see which cousin could kill the other first by poison or stabbing or death by malaria, who knows , and exiled anti Medicis were happy to both fuel the feud and give murder a try themselves, the larger politics of 1530s Europe made Florence a rich and glittering sideshow to the religious, centralizing and increasingly global conflicts Fletcher meticulously reconstructs Alessandro s world, with extensive notes examining the biases and purposes of the primary sources available, as well as takes apart the 19th century social Darwinist assumptions that Alessandro s likely North African mother naturally made him a tyrannical savage Also notable is the care taken to document the activities of the Renaissance women Catherine d Medici, Eleonora of Toledo, the elder Medici matrons married to allies and rivals and Margaret of Austria later Parma , the teenaged bride who parlayed her widowhood into critical regencies for the Hapsburgs in the Netherlands A densely researched biography of the first Duke of Florence, but the last of the senior line of the Medici family He may have been and probably was, to judge by his very consistent portraiture , a man of mixed race he was certainly illegitimate A paucity of legitimate Medici heirs in the early decades of the 16th century, led to a state of constant rivalry between Alessandro and his equally illegitimate cousin Ippolito de Medici for the leadership of Florence Alexander, who won the favo A densely researched biography of the first Duke of Florence, but the last of the senior line of the Medici family He may have been and probably was, to judge by his very consistent portraiture , a man of mixed race he was certainly illegitimate A paucity of legitimate Medici heirs in the early decades of the 16th century, led to a state of constant rivalry between Alessandro and his equally illegitimate cousin Ippolito de Medici for the leadership of Florence Alexander, who won the favor of his illegitimate cousin Pope Clement VII and the hand of Margaret of Austria, the illegitimate daughter of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, won the dukedom, but he did not live to enjoy it long He was assassinated at the age of 26, less than a year after his marriage His assassin, a cousin named Lorenzino was in turn assassinated by Charles V If you are getting the idea that race and illegitimacy were regarded somewhat differently in early 16th century Italy than they were even a few decades later, you are right Catherine Fletcher discusses these issues early in the book, and then atlength in the Afterword that follows Though race and illegitimacy were issues that led to disparagement and criticism, they were not the complete bar to public success they later became The paucity of information about Alessandro s early years makes it very difficult to say exactly what his background was, or whether his mother was slave or servant.Violence and intrigue were the order of the day, and Alessandro was not immune to its effects, nor was he guiltless of participation himself He almost certainly was behind the poisoning of his cousin Ippolito, his lifetime rival, and may well have poisoned his mother However, Fletcher is extremely evenhanded in her treatment of her subject and marshals all the evidence she can find on either side Alessandro was the victim of a post mortem attack on his reputation which has persisted to this day, and the author assesses carefully how many of the tales about the black prince might have been false There is a lot of information here, and you certainly finish the book with acomplete understanding of what life was like in Italy and elsewhere in Europe It definitely helped me connect several strains of European history, art, and culture Giorgio Vasari, Benvenuto Cellini, and many other artists of note make frequent appearances the papacy held by two Medici in Alessandro s lifetime and the structure and nature of the church is of great importance in the story and the growth and development of the Holy Roman Empire and its combat with the Turks are integral to Alessandro s story That said, it is hard, perhaps not unnaturally, to get an idea of Alessandro was really like We hear his voice occasionally in letters he was a man of great charm and suavity But somehow he seems to elude us Perhaps this is a fault of mine, and history s, and not the author s, though sometimes I did feel that she has occluded her protagonist with details of the magnificence of his life The writing is occasionally clunky, but Ms Fletcher writes serviceably enough I think anyone who has an interest in the Italian city states of the time, the Medici family, the history of the papacy, or the high Renaissance will find this book satisfying.P.S Here is an really excellent review of this book, even better than mine

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and
    This guide aims to show you how to download the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent When Alessandro s noble father died of syphilis, The Black PDF/EPUB or the family looked to him Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian RenaissanceAlessandro faced down family rivalry and enormous resistance from Florence s Black Prince of PDF/EPUB » oligarchs, who called him a womanizer which he undoubtedly was and a tyrant Yet this real life counterpart to Machiavelli s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated at the age ofduring a late night tryst arranged by his scheming cousins After his death, his brief but colorful reign was criticized by those who had murdered him in a failed attempt to restore the Florentine republic For the first time, the true story is told in The Black Prince of FlorenceCatherine Fletcher tells the riveting tale of Alessandro s unexpected rise and spectacular fall, unraveling centuries old mysteries, exposing forgeries, and bringing to life the epic personalities of the Medicis, Borgias, and others as they waged sordid campaigns to rise to the top Drawing on new research and first hand sources, this biography of a most intriguing Renaissance figure combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today. Alessandro s story reminds us that Renaissance men may not always have been white While Fletcher s intention of writing racial diversity back into our understanding of Renaissance history and culture is admirable, in actuality this book does littlethan re tell the story of the Medici in Florence from a slightly different angle This isn t necessarily Fletcher s fault given the sources that are available, but it does make this bookfamiliar, less revelatory than we might expect TheAlessandro s story reminds us that Renaissance men may not always have been white While Fletcher s intention of writing racial diversity back into our understanding of Renaissance history and culture is admirable, in actuality this book does littlethan re tell the story of the Medici in Florence from a slightly different angle This isn t necessarily Fletcher s fault given the sources that are available, but it does make this bookfamiliar, less revelatory than we might expect The most interesting section is actually the afterword where Fletcher briefly discusses the ways in which Alessandro de Medici, the illegitimate son of Lorenzo and a slave or servant woman of African origin or descent, is portrayed in the sources and the way historicised modes of representing, constructing and mediating race affect his portrayal A book exploring the receptions of Alessandro in this manner would have beenoriginal andilluminating Author Catherine Fletcher sifted through what must be every primary and early interpretive source to relate what could be all we ll ever know about the short life and reign of Alessandro de Medici He came to be the Duke of Florence by being the one of the last two male heirs of the Medici s main line despite his illegitimate birth and his race.Fletcher shows the political changes of 1500 s where Florence, once a local republic, could now be controlled by outside powers Alessandro came to be Du Author Catherine Fletcher sifted through what must be every primary and early interpretive source to relate what could be all we ll ever know about the short life and reign of Alessandro de Medici He came to be the Duke of Florence by being the one of the last two male heirs of the Medici s main line despite his illegitimate birth and his race.Fletcher shows the political changes of 1500 s where Florence, once a local republic, could now be controlled by outside powers Alessandro came to be Duke through the influence Rome, his connected uncle, later Pope, who may actually have been his father and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V It was not smooth sailing As was the custom of the times, a royal marriage was needed to help stem opposition which came from the many enemies of the Medici, supporters of the republic and those who objected to Alessandro s illegitimacy and or race There was a jealous cousin, also illegitimate, who rebelled against his placement in the clergy for which he was most unsuited Alessandro seems to have the role of the Duke down He knew to make the appearances, hunt, appear generous and provide entertainments There is a lot on the pomp related to his betrothal and wedding to Charles V s daughter, Margaret of Austria While he took a strong role against opponents, this was expected of a prince But for the scheming aristocrats and exiles, Florence seemed to be at peace during his reign.In essence, this is a story of palace intrigue This particular palace intrigue is significant for what is says and implies about race in Renaissance Italy.The publisher is generous with color photographs The index worked when I needed it Not a lot of information on this one , it mostly focuses on the political aspects of medieval city state in Italy a tall order indeed Alessandro life is seem through all the political changes but there is not a focus on his personal life, it migth be that there are not many sources about his life or that the author wanted to focus on historical progression The Medici history is always a complex one and this one is no different I would like to read athorough book about Alessandro Medi Not a lot of information on this one , it mostly focuses on the political aspects of medieval city state in Italy a tall order indeed Alessandro life is seem through all the political changes but there is not a focus on his personal life, it migth be that there are not many sources about his life or that the author wanted to focus on historical progression The Medici history is always a complex one and this one is no different I would like to read athorough book about Alessandro Medici in the future The story of Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence r.1532 1537.Having read much about the de Medici, I was instinctively drawn to this tome about one of theobtuse characters and another case of where fact far outstrips fiction.Born on the wrong side of the blanket, Alessandro emerged on the tempestuous political scene of Renaissance Florence at the same time as another incorragable character his kinsman and bitter rival, Ippolito.Florentine politics was dominated by family, money an The story of Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence r.1532 1537.Having read much about the de Medici, I was instinctively drawn to this tome about one of theobtuse characters and another case of where fact far outstrips fiction.Born on the wrong side of the blanket, Alessandro emerged on the tempestuous political scene of Renaissance Florence at the same time as another incorragable character his kinsman and bitter rival, Ippolito.Florentine politics was dominated by family, money and the Church these were the main avenues of power, and the de Medici had all three in spades And it was against this backdrop that bitter and bloody family rivalries were played out along side the scheming intrigues of the city s oligarchs, who strove to keep power out of the hands of the de Medici.The de Medici, however, were favoured by the Church the illegitimate Guilio de Medici sat upon the papal throne as Pope Clement VII he was able to obtain a cardinal s hat for Ippolito much to his chagrin for he also wanted to rule Florence Add to this, Alessandro s marriage to the all power Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and what we have is a powerful ruler, whose illegitimacy in no way proved a barrier.From extensive research, Fletcher successfully debunks many of the myths surrounding this engmatic man We find that Alessandro, far from being a fool, a cruel tyrant, a murderer as his was often portrayed , was scholarly, engrossing, charming, and a patron of the arts We also find that the colour of his skin was in no way an issue during his own lifetime for his friend and foes alike that came much later His life was indeed full of feuds, assassinations, duplicity, jealousy and betrayal that merely was the norm of the day, and was no different from other parts of Renaissance Europe.Fletcher provides a sympathetic work of a forgotten and much maligned prince The writing is dramatic, yet entertaining, dramatic, suspenseful, and accessible A worthy addition to anyone s personal library Average given the content the author had to work with Feltlike an academic work at times That said, Florentian politics is always fascinating, must find books on others from the Medici family, especially on Lorenzo. Catherine Fletcher did an admirable job presenting a brief but important period of Renaissance history This 260 page book primarily covers the period 1523 to 1537 with quick look backs into the Medici history.In 1523 when Giulio de Medici obtains the papacy and becomes Clement VII he finds himself needing to solidify the family hold on Florence and to bring some balance with the world powers jockeying to control Italy For all the faults and oh there are so so many of this second Medici Pope Catherine Fletcher did an admirable job presenting a brief but important period of Renaissance history This 260 page book primarily covers the period 1523 to 1537 with quick look backs into the Medici history.In 1523 when Giulio de Medici obtains the papacy and becomes Clement VII he finds himself needing to solidify the family hold on Florence and to bring some balance with the world powers jockeying to control Italy For all the faults and oh there are so so many of this second Medici Pope, he did play a masterful game of diplomacy when it came to his family Clement was the nephew of Lorenzo the Magnificent and the head of the Medici family and the family s lead voice in Florence while Cardinal He had two options when looking for a successor to run Florence while he ran the Roman Catholic Church both grandson s of The Magnificent Ippolito was made a Cardinal and secured all the spoils of nepotism that entailed For Alessandro he engineered muchmarriage to the daughter of Charles V the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor and the position as the first Duke of Florence Oh, and Clement also married off his niece Catherine to the duke of Orleans thus leading to the first Medici Queen of France Quite a maneuverer that Clement.The story is all theinteresting given what Alessandro himself had to engineer to obtain the duchy As a bastard son of Medici he was disadvantaged As the son of a peasant woman of color he was twice downsized Then of course he had to rule with a host of adversaries not least Cardinal Ippolito wanting him dead The enemies of Alessandro got what they wanted when he was murdered in early 1537 He was the last of his branch of the Medici to rule dying without a legitimate heir or the strength of family to place his illegitimate son in power through a regency What Alessandro s enemies had thought of was how to take power when he was killed Alessandro was followed by Cosimo I of the cadet branch of the family who would gain the title Grand Duke of Tuscany and rule for decades I am very surprised that there isn t a biography of Cosimo I and his wife Eleanora di Toledo.Fletcher tells the story well and gives the reader wonderful insight into a microcosm of Florentine and Medici history My only criticism is that she spends too much effort on detailing fashion and textiles and not any describing what Cosimo was doing during his relative s rule.All in all this is a good read The politics of Renaissance Italy are one of those stretches where history really is just one damn thing after another a gaggle of basically interchangeable dynasties of rich bastards jockeying for power both between each other and within themselves As with the bickering between Charlemagne s descendants, it can be very hard to keep clear, just as today s struggles between our corporate overlords will doubtless test the patience and memory of scholars centuries hence the level of inequality The politics of Renaissance Italy are one of those stretches where history really is just one damn thing after another a gaggle of basically interchangeable dynasties of rich bastards jockeying for power both between each other and within themselves As with the bickering between Charlemagne s descendants, it can be very hard to keep clear, just as today s struggles between our corporate overlords will doubtless test the patience and memory of scholars centuries hence the level of inequality between the princes and serfs is comparable, too The fault is not with Fletcher s telling it s simply the sort of information that slides off my brain But oh, the atmosphere That heady mix of poison, treachery, licentiousness, slighted honourit s no wonder Shakespeare loved it as a setting And here s a story with which he or Fletcher, or whoever wrote The Revenger s Tragedy could have had a ball Indeed, perhaps he did touch on it, given Alessandro de Medici s mother was sometimes said to be Moorish and his life was dogged by the murderous envy of someone passed over for promotion No mere subordinate, either, but a cousin and fellow bastard, Ippolito, who was older and thus had a better claim to Florence But their papal uncle had made Ippolito a cardinal which, as getting screwed over goes, was not really that harsh remember, this was an era when it was still fine for Catholic clergy to fuck women of legal age and generally roister doister with the best of em , and so the vendetta begins A vendetta generally characterised by ineptitude as much as malignity on Ippolito s part he wasDon John than Iago and which sees him replaced in the final act by a different jealous cousin in much the same way as Gaveston suffers a late substitution in Marlowe s Edward II Fletcher was an adviser on the BBC s dreary, rushed and historically compromised Wolf Hall, but we shouldn t hold that against her she s keenly aware of the significance of clothing in the era, so was doubtless overruled by execs bent on the misguided pursuit of pseudo authentic drabness She s equally alert to the significance of race back then while also making sure to remind us that modern categories don t map back exactly to a time before the triangular trade and scientific racism And in the duke who, if only fleetingly, united the Habsburgs and admittedly past their peak Medicis she has a fruitful subject if one who necessarily remains a somewhat shadowy presence when so little reliable evidence survives and she s constrained by being a conscientious modern historian rather than a freewheeling Jacobean hack Though once again, I ve ended up reading a press copy with no pictures or maps, or family tree which may have contributed a little to that sense of absence About whom, by sheer chance, the author of the next book on my To Read pile wrote a play Catherine Fletcher, in The Black Prince of Florence, brings sixteenth century Italy to life, while at the same time raising pertinent questions for the twenty first century on the immutability of race.Alessandro di Medici was the illegitimate son of the last of the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent When his father died of syphilis at the age of twenty six, Alessandro and a cousin from a cadet branch of the family were raised out of obscurity by powerful relatives two of them Popes to be groom Catherine Fletcher, in The Black Prince of Florence, brings sixteenth century Italy to life, while at the same time raising pertinent questions for the twenty first century on the immutability of race.Alessandro di Medici was the illegitimate son of the last of the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent When his father died of syphilis at the age of twenty six, Alessandro and a cousin from a cadet branch of the family were raised out of obscurity by powerful relatives two of them Popes to be groomed to take over the family s leading role in the Florentine Republic Alessandro, being the younger, was destined for the Church, but his cousin was made a cardinal in his place, and the task of governing Florence fell to Alessandro.Alessandro s life was short, like his father he died at twenty six although in his case Alessandro was murdered by a jealous cousin, but magnificent He became the Duke of Florence, married the daughter of Charles V, the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor, and enjoyed wealth and power, plus a close connection to the Holy See Looked at through the lens of the twenty first century it seems incredible that a black man, reportedly the child of a slave or servant, could have risen so high in Renaissance society.One of the most intriguing things about this book is Fletcher s discussion of Alessandro s heritage In Renaissance Italy race did not have the same impact which we know Alessandro s low birth was muchimportant, and in the scheme of things not that important once his family decided to back him, than his race It seems that race, although noticed, had not yet become the significant marker which it carries in our own day Fletcher s insightful musings on this topic make for one of the most interesting parts of this history The Black Prince of Florence is well worth reading, you won t look at Renaissance Italy in quite the same way as you did before.I received an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley for my honest opinion Thanks to Charles V and the Imperial Army, the weakest moment of the Medici transformed into their elevation to enduring monarchical power in Florence In the wake of Lorenzo the Magnificent s death, leaving a legitimate daughter soon to be Queen of France , power devolved to two bastards cousins Alessandro and Ippolito While the Medici pope Clement VII knocked Ippolito out of the way by making him a cardinal, and oligarchs seethed at the return of a Medici dynasty, Alessandro managed to marr Thanks to Charles V and the Imperial Army, the weakest moment of the Medici transformed into their elevation to enduring monarchical power in Florence In the wake of Lorenzo the Magnificent s death, leaving a legitimate daughter soon to be Queen of France , power devolved to two bastards cousins Alessandro and Ippolito While the Medici pope Clement VII knocked Ippolito out of the way by making him a cardinal, and oligarchs seethed at the return of a Medici dynasty, Alessandro managed to marry Charles V s illegitimate daughter As their young lives turned into a race to see which cousin could kill the other first by poison or stabbing or death by malaria, who knows , and exiled anti Medicis were happy to both fuel the feud and give murder a try themselves, the larger politics of 1530s Europe made Florence a rich and glittering sideshow to the religious, centralizing and increasingly global conflicts Fletcher meticulously reconstructs Alessandro s world, with extensive notes examining the biases and purposes of the primary sources available, as well as takes apart the 19th century social Darwinist assumptions that Alessandro s likely North African mother naturally made him a tyrannical savage Also notable is the care taken to document the activities of the Renaissance women Catherine d Medici, Eleonora of Toledo, the elder Medici matrons married to allies and rivals and Margaret of Austria later Parma , the teenaged bride who parlayed her widowhood into critical regencies for the Hapsburgs in the Netherlands A densely researched biography of the first Duke of Florence, but the last of the senior line of the Medici family He may have been and probably was, to judge by his very consistent portraiture , a man of mixed race he was certainly illegitimate A paucity of legitimate Medici heirs in the early decades of the 16th century, led to a state of constant rivalry between Alessandro and his equally illegitimate cousin Ippolito de Medici for the leadership of Florence Alexander, who won the favo A densely researched biography of the first Duke of Florence, but the last of the senior line of the Medici family He may have been and probably was, to judge by his very consistent portraiture , a man of mixed race he was certainly illegitimate A paucity of legitimate Medici heirs in the early decades of the 16th century, led to a state of constant rivalry between Alessandro and his equally illegitimate cousin Ippolito de Medici for the leadership of Florence Alexander, who won the favor of his illegitimate cousin Pope Clement VII and the hand of Margaret of Austria, the illegitimate daughter of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, won the dukedom, but he did not live to enjoy it long He was assassinated at the age of 26, less than a year after his marriage His assassin, a cousin named Lorenzino was in turn assassinated by Charles V If you are getting the idea that race and illegitimacy were regarded somewhat differently in early 16th century Italy than they were even a few decades later, you are right Catherine Fletcher discusses these issues early in the book, and then atlength in the Afterword that follows Though race and illegitimacy were issues that led to disparagement and criticism, they were not the complete bar to public success they later became The paucity of information about Alessandro s early years makes it very difficult to say exactly what his background was, or whether his mother was slave or servant.Violence and intrigue were the order of the day, and Alessandro was not immune to its effects, nor was he guiltless of participation himself He almost certainly was behind the poisoning of his cousin Ippolito, his lifetime rival, and may well have poisoned his mother However, Fletcher is extremely evenhanded in her treatment of her subject and marshals all the evidence she can find on either side Alessandro was the victim of a post mortem attack on his reputation which has persisted to this day, and the author assesses carefully how many of the tales about the black prince might have been false There is a lot of information here, and you certainly finish the book with acomplete understanding of what life was like in Italy and elsewhere in Europe It definitely helped me connect several strains of European history, art, and culture Giorgio Vasari, Benvenuto Cellini, and many other artists of note make frequent appearances the papacy held by two Medici in Alessandro s lifetime and the structure and nature of the church is of great importance in the story and the growth and development of the Holy Roman Empire and its combat with the Turks are integral to Alessandro s story That said, it is hard, perhaps not unnaturally, to get an idea of Alessandro was really like We hear his voice occasionally in letters he was a man of great charm and suavity But somehow he seems to elude us Perhaps this is a fault of mine, and history s, and not the author s, though sometimes I did feel that she has occluded her protagonist with details of the magnificence of his life The writing is occasionally clunky, but Ms Fletcher writes serviceably enough I think anyone who has an interest in the Italian city states of the time, the Medici family, the history of the papacy, or the high Renaissance will find this book satisfying.P.S Here is an really excellent review of this book, even better than mine "/>
  • Hardcover
  • 336 pages
  • The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro De' Medici
  • Catherine Fletcher
  • 01 January 2017
  • 019061272X