The Medici

  • by Paul Strathern
  • Narrated by Derek Perkins
  • 16 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A dazzling history of the modest family that rose to become one of the most powerful in Europe, The Medici is a remarkably modern story of power, money, and ambition.
Against the background of an age that saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning, Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence as well as the Italian Renaissance, which they did so much to sponsor and encourage. Interwoven into the narrative are the lives of many of the great Renaissance artists with whom the Medici had dealings, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello as well as scientists like Galileo and Pico della Mirandola.
In his enthralling study, Strathern also follows the fortunes of those members of the Medici family who achieved success away from Florence, including the two Medici popes and Catherine de' Medici, who became queen of France and played a major role in that country through three turbulent reigns.


What the Critics Say

"A fantastically comprehensive history covering the breadth of the great learning, art, politics, and religion of the period." (Kirkus)


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Customer Reviews

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What disappointed you about The Medici?

This author has little to no basis in the actual history of the period. While the overall story may be *mostly* accurate he has little understanding of the surrounding times. As an example, he makes repeated references to the vast difference between the ignorant, religious Medieval period and the enlightened Renaissance. The view of the ignorant and backward Middle Ages has been out of favor for a long time. To the extent it is true, it stopped being true in the 13th century, a time of great scholarship and learning. That's not to say there were no great rediscoveries and achievements in the Italian Renaissance there obviously was. But there is no need to hang onto outdated and discredited dichotomies.

Holding onto outdated concepts is the norm. He states what a monster and brute Pope Alexander VI was without giving any reason or cause for thinking that (Alexander VI was subject to a lot of propaganda after his death and separating fact from fiction has been a huge task). He suggests Leo X was poisoned and says King Francis I did it based on absolutely nothing. Casually suggesting poison is common through out.

And some of his comments are just bizarre. He suggest Leonardo DiVinci's homosexuality might be due to the fact that he was doted on by women in his early life. What? I'm not offended just so confused. What out of date Freud knock offs is he reading? That doesn't even make sense. After discussing the homosexuality of some artists he goes onto assure as that one scholar's sexuality was entirely normal (i.e. straight).

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- Elizabeth Barrett "betsyb2"

An Intriguing Lens on the Renaissance

The Medici are used in this book as an intriguing lens into Renaissance life and norms. Not only are the characteristics and personalities of the Medici family and their many relationships made the forefront of this book, but we also learn a great deal about the cultural origins Renaissance thought - and therefore in many ways of our own. The author seems generally fair, neither painting the Medici as total saints or total sinners (though he perhaps leans toward the latter viewpoint), although some of his personal feelings about the relative value of science and religion regularly seep into the book. Overall, I feel that I'm much better acquainted with Renaissance Europe because of this book, and the fact that it was an enjoyable and interesting read full of drama and intrigue makes it accessible outside of more academic circles - though it might be difficult to keep up with some elements of the book without a decent acquaintance with European history and geography.
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- Matt Turner

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-15-2016
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio