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Head of Zeus
Princes of the Renaissance
Princes of the Renaissance by Mary Hollingsworth

'Exceptionally sumptuous ... This vivid history brings to life the vices and virtues of the feuding ruling families of Italy' Michael Prodger, The Times, Book of the Week

A beautifully illustrated history of the Renaissance told through the lives of its most important and influential patrons – the princely rulers of Italy's dynastic states and their families.

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 fifteenth- and sixteenth-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 these 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 defined as much by the waging of war as the nurturing of artistic talent. Mary Hollingsworth charts these developments in a sequence of chronological chapters, each centred on two or three main characters with a cast of minor ones – from Ludovico Sforza of Milan to Isabella d'Este of Mantua, from Pope Paul III to Emperor Charles V, and from the painters Mantegna and Titian to the architect Sansovino and the polymath Leonardo da Vinci.

Princes of the Renaissance is a vivid depiction of the lives and times of the élite whose power and patronage created the art and architecture of the Renaissance. In a narrative that is as rigorous and closely researched as it is accessible and informative, Mary Hollingsworth sets their aesthetic achievements in the context of the volatile, ever-shifting politics of a tumultuous period of history.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Modern History
04 Feb 2021 * 512pp * £5.99 * 9781788547826
REVIEWS
'Exceptionally sumptuous ... This vivid history brings to life the vices and virtues of the feuding ruling families of Italy'
Michael Prodger, The Times
'Full of treasures to be uncovered ... A glittering, at times rather gory, world that is different and yet dreamily familiar to our own'
BBC History Revealed
'Dense politics relieved by dazzling art'
Kirkus
'An accessible and entertaining introduction to a groundbreaking period in world and art history'
Publishers Weekly
'A significant addition to Renaissance studies, and a delicious deep dive for those fascinated by the era'
Foreword Reviews
'[A] sweeping tour of Renaissance century Italy ... Princes of the Renaissance [is] a celebration of this fascinating moment in Italian history that is both beautifully designed and bursting with incredible colour images'
Travels Through Time Podcast
'This beautifully illustrated history tries to make sense of the many rulers and governing dynasties of Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries, a squabbling, treacherous bunch who through their patronage and hunger for grandeur powered the artistic efflorescence of the Renaissance'
The Times
'A head-scrambling epoch that Mary Hollingsworth, the author of books on the Medici and the Borgias, has done wonders to make comprehensible'
The Times
Author
Mary Hollingsworth
Mary Hollingsworth
Mary Hollingsworth is a scholar of the Italian Renaissance and the author of The Medici, which was widely praised on its publication by Head of Zeus in 2017, and Princes of the Renaissance, published in 2021. Her other books include The Cardinal's Hat, The Borgias: History's Most Notorious Dynasty and Patronage in Renaissance Italy: From 1400 to the Early Sixteenth Century.
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