Having founded the bank that became the most powerful in Europe in the fifteenth century, the Medici gained massive political power in Florence, raising the city to a peak of cultural achievement and becoming its hereditary dukes. Among their number were no fewer than three popes and a powerful and influential queen of France. Their influence brought about an explosion of Florentine art and architecture. Michelangelo, Donatello, Fra Angelico, and Leonardo were among the artists with whom they were socialized and patronized.
Thus runs the "accepted view" of the Medici. However, Mary Hollingsworth argues that the idea that the Medici were enlightened rulers of the Renaissance is a fiction that has now acquired the status of historical fact. In truth, the Medici were as devious and immoral as the Borgias-tyrants loathed in the city they illegally made their own. In this dynamic new history, Hollingsworth argues that past narratives have focused on a sanitized and fictitious view of the Medici-wise rulers, enlightened patrons of the arts, and fathers of the Renaissance-but that in fact their past was reinvented in the sixteenth century, mythologized by later generations of Medici who used this as a central prop for their legacy.
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"Many worthwhile histories on audio, this one included, suffer from a profusion of names, dates, places, and events coming too quickly to be absorbed. Anne Flosnik's narration is well paced, but it's possible to miss details as the author takes the Florentine family from its moneylending beginnings in the twelfth century through its members becoming popes, queens, and dukes and to its eventual decline. Flosnik's voice is breathy and slightly strained, but she is articulate, clear, and, despite occasional singsong, expressive. Her Italian pronunciation is mostly literally correct, but, perhaps from an effort to be precise, she consistently accents vowels that should be unaccented, making the light language ponderous. Still, it's a competent reading, if not a greatly pleasurable one, and conveys the sense of the text well. W.M. © AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine"
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