SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance

Pegasus. Mar. 2016. 464p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781605989662. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681771137. HIST
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As bankers and statesmen, cardinals and scholars, reprobates and royalty, the Medici family left an indelible mark on European history and culture. With financial power deriving from a vast banking empire, Medici descendants at various times were among the richest people in the Western world. It is a lineage that produced two popes and two queens of France, along with a fair share of degenerates and schemers. Whether in power or in exile, the Medicis were at the heart of the golden age of Florence and the Italian Renaissance, as well as the regional squabbles, maneuvering, and political instability that characterized the period. Strathern (Death in Florence) succeeds in tracing the history of this intriguing clan from its unexceptional beginnings to an ignoble end in a compelling and readable style.
VERDICT What might have been a bewildering string of names, places, and dates is instead a page-turning popular history of an ambitious and influential family. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in history.

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