Saturday, August 1, 2009

Murder most foul in Renaissance Florence...

By Carolyn P. Murphy

Intelligent, gifted, cultured and independent - all traits that were not encouraged in a young woman of Renaissance Florence. Isabella de Medici was the beautiful daughter of a doting father who supported her artistic independence...he didn't even allow marriage to hinder this freedom!

But all was to come to an end with the death of Grand Duke Cosimo I- who was succeeded by Francesco. Isabella's older brother didn't approve of his sister's behavior and sent her to the home of her abusive husband. Intrigue, mystery, love affairs...this book has everything you expect and hope for in the telling of a Royal story.

Carolyn Murphy is a master storyteller, drawing from the "vast trove of newly discovered and unpublished documents, ranging from Isabella's own letters, to the loose-tongued dispatches of ambassadors to Florence, to contemporary descriptions of the opulent parties and balls, salons and hunts in which Isabella and her associates participated. Murphy resurrects the exciting atmosphere of Renaissance Florence, weaving Isabella's beloved city into her story, evoking the intellectual and artistic community that thrived during her time."

In a genre that is filled with book after book written about the British and French Royal Houses - it is my hope that these newly discovered manuscripts provide the history necessary for more stories of the Italian Royals.

From Publishers Weekly
The third of eight surviving children, Isabella de' Medici (1542–1576) was unusually close to her father, Cosimo, the powerful grand duke of Tuscany who built the Uffizi, and whose protection allowed her to live an autonomous, glittering Florentine life apart from her debt-ridden, abusive, playboy husband in Rome. After Cosimo's death in 1574, his spiteful eldest son and heir, Francesco, eager to make his mistress, the first lady of Florence, reneged on the inheritance Cosimo left Isabella and her children and effectively banished her lover from Florence by branding him a murderer. When the treasonous behavior and extramarital affairs of Isabella's sister-in-law Leonora became a symbol for the anarchy of Francesco's court, Francesco sanctioned Leonora's murder at her husband's hands and, soon after, Isabella's murder by her husband as well. Like the Kennedys or Windsors, the Medicis are a dynasty brimming with biographical gold, and this supple, smart account of a lesser-known daughter will engage modern readers as it vivifies both Renaissance Florence and an extraordinary woman who paid the ultimate price for flouting her era's traditional gender roles. Murphy (The Pope's Daughter) is an art history professor at UC-Riverside. A Medici family tree, map of Florence and b&w illustrations of Renaissance Florence are welcome embellishments. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the
Hardcover edition.

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