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Isabella de'Medici: The Glorious Life and Tragic End of a Renaissance Princess Paperback – 7 May 2009


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Isabella de'Medici: The Glorious Life and Tragic End of a Renaissance Princess + Catherine de Medici: A Biography + The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; paperback / softcover edition (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571230318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571230310
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 432,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Isabella de'Medici: The Glorious Life and Tragic End of a Renaissance Princess, by Caroline P. Murphy, tells the magnificent, alluring and ultimately tragic life of Isabella, the most brilliant woman of the Medici.

About the Author

Caroline P. Murphy is a cultural historian and biographer. She is the author of Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-century Bologna, praised by Sarah Bradford in the Literary Review for 'shed[ding] new light on the ground-breaking career of a brave and talented woman.'Her second book, The Pope's Daughter, was described as a "remarkable biography" by the Daily Telegraph. She grew up in Reading, studied art history at University College London, and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By bookelephant on 3 July 2010
Format: Paperback
This book was a gift from a friend and I was uncertain about it - I knew nothing about Isabella before I began it, and would probably not have chosen it myself. However I enjoyed it greatly and it is really well worth a read - one of a number of recent books about educated women in Renaissance Italy which show what fascinating and difficult lives they had. In particular in these days of regarding feminism as "over", it is useful to be reminded of how little real equality women once had - and how much we should value what we have gained!
Isabella (a kind of distant cousin of Catherine de Medici) descended from a slightly less well regarded branch of this distinguished family. Yet through various accidents of mortality her father Cosimo and her brother Francesco each in their turn became the Medici Grand Duke. Isabella and her brothers were brought up with this greatness (and that of her mother Eleanora of Toledo) very much in their minds; and educated for destinies of utility to the family. Thus Isabella, despite her father's considerable love for her, found herself bound to marry Piero Orsini (a thoroughly weak and bad man, judging by Murphy's account of him) and thus to an unhappy home life. Intelligent, educated and lively she appears to have seen no reason why she should not seek for happiness in distinction as a Duchess (her job, after all) and later in love (since no-one was expecting her husband to be faithful to her). The result in the end was tragic. Once her brother Franceso was in power and trying to maintain the dignity of his role he withdrew his protection from her, leaving her beastly husband, jealous of her success, popularity and her love affiar (OK maybe chosing to flaunt his own cousin as her lover was a little imprudent!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By EleanorB TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased on a whim, this has proved to be an absolutely excellent book and I am so glad I bought it. The lives of the Medici family and their centuries long relationship with their home town and fief, Florence, is fascinating stuff. This Tuscan city and its beautiful buildings almost become another character in the book as we trace the life of Isabella, beloved daughter of Cosimo de Medici, who had greatly increased the power and importance of the Medicis by becoming the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his Spanish wife Eleanora di Toledo, in the mid 16th century. One of 11 siblings, not all of whom lived long, Isabella was the absolute apple of her "Babbo's" eye from infancy onwards. She, in turn, adored him. This did not, however, stop him from marrying her strategically to the deeply unpleasant Paulo of the Orsini family in Rome. Thanks to their special relationship, however, her father left it to the husband to make the necessary trips back and forth to see his wife and she basked in the freedom both financial and (dangerously) romantic that such an arrangement permitted. After her mother's death, she became for a time the first lady of Florence with immense privilege and influence.

Such a charmed existence, full of the parties and hunting trips that she adored, could not be sustained after the death of her father, which occurred when she was in her early 30s and the fond mother of two children. The new Grand Duke was one of her more unpleasant brothers and as she came under increasing pressure to leave Florence and join the by now obese and debauched Paulo in Rome, she began to be a serious and expensive thorn in his side.
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