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Medici Money: Banking, metaphysics and art in fifteenth-century Florence Paperback – 6 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; Reprint edition (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861977573
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861977571
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Lucky for Italy that Tim Parks decided to live there and write about his new home. His books instruct and entertain. His acute sense of people and history now comes to grand fruition in his tome on the Medici, a gift to anyone who has been dazzled by Florence. Splendid reading (Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun)

An erudite and profound examination of the Renaissance banking family. (BBC History Magazine)

The fabulous banking boys...fascinating and intricate. (The Guardian)

Tim Parks proves a delightful guide to both the Florentine Renaissance and the family history of one of Europe's greatest dynasties. In Medici Money he wears his considerable learning with refreshing lightness, giving us a wise and witty meditation on money, art and power, Renaissance-style (Ross King - author of Brunelleschi’s Dome)

Parks brings a novelist's flair to his task and comes out as a hip and snappy narrator. (Independent on Sunday)

A straightforward, readable, interesting and witty account of the rise and fall of one of the world's first banks ... A fasinating tale. (Glasgow Evening Times)

Successfully captures the spirit of the age and brings alive the characters of Cosimo and Lorenzo, two men whose story remains as fascinating now as it was to their comtemporary friends and enemies. (Tony Barber Financial Times)

Tim Parks retells the story with a hugely readable breadth and insight. (Mark Archer Spectator)

Straight-forward, readable, interesting and witty account of the rise and fall of one of the world's first banks ... A fascinating tale. (Birmingham Post)

Highlights the excesses and successes of the Florentine Renaissance and charts the glittering ascendancy of one entrepreneurial family against the backdrop of a unique Italian bank. (Good Book Guide)

Successfully captures the spirit of the age, and brings alive the characters of Cosimo and Lorenzo, two men whose story remains as fascinating now as it was to their contemporary friends and enemies. (Financial Times)

Parks, who is sceptical about bankers, writes about them with pace, wit and some passion. (Economist)

A book which is as lively as it is learned. (Scotsman)

Witty and penetrating ... Parks deftly unravels these complexities, illustrating both their benefits and the pitfalls with illuminating detail ... Tim Parks recounts the Medicis' story with an infectious enthusiasm. His own conjuring trick is to tell this grand saga, with all its chicanery, in a clear and lucid style. (Sunday Telegraph)

About the Author

Tim Parks has lived in Italy since 1981. He is the author of eleven novels, three accounts of life in Italy, two collections of essays and many translations of Italian writers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Feb. 2006
Format: Hardcover
If your knowledge of the Medici family begins and ends with their patronage of Renaissance artists, sharp-penned writer Tim Parks has some revelations to share. True, the Medicis used the wealth they amassed from their bank to turn Florence, Italy, into the Mecca of fifteenth-century culture. Yet, the Medici clan also perfected the arts of vanquishing foes and allying with the rich and powerful to gain a stranglehold on political power - all in bold-faced defiance of Catholic Church doctrine. The Vatican held that paying or collecting so much as a penny of interest was a mortal sin. Parks’ book shows you what the Medici made of that, and his arch, witty style is a joy to read. Perhaps the only caution is that this history is more a study of the spiritual and social history of Florence than a guide to the Medicis’ business successes and failures. We recommend this history to anyone interested in the intersection of money, politics and religion.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gs-trentham VINE VOICE on 2 July 2009
Format: Paperback
Medici Money is, in the author's words, "a brief reflection on the Medici of the fifteenth century - their bank; their politics; their marriages, slaves and mistresses; the conspiracies they survived; the houses they built and the artists they patronized." And so indeed it is, 250 smoothly readable pages, informed by a mind that might seem cynical were it not expressed with an acerbic wit.

Take, for example, Tim Parks on an occasion when the public debt was running out of control. "The government announces that from now on, interest returns on tax loans will only be paid when and to the extent possible. As a result, disappointed lenders in need of ready cash start selling their debt bonds to those speculators who can wait. The Domicans says this is usury and the Franciscans say it is not. What do we have different religious orders for, if not for a second opinion?"

If the Medici didn't quite invent banking they worked hard to develop it. Not an easy task when the Roman church condemned lending money at interest as usury. Then there was the problem of moving money between branches established in other Italian cities and soon throughout Europe. To move money physically was too dangerous. The bankers became merchants, investing the money they held in commodities they could sell - they hoped - at a profit. The Letter of Credit was introduced, with cunning caveats to placate Rome - but nothing eased relations with the Pope more effectively than lending him money. The Medici were of necessity politicians, too, adept at manipulating power over Florence and relationships elsewhere.

Five generations of the Medici family ran the bank from inception to collapse over a period that is neatly bounded by the fifteenth century.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Pat Gibson on 21 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
I bought this book in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence to read up on the family whose portraits form a centre piece of many of the rooms. I found it a fascinating and easy to read book on the early years of the Medici family. I wish I had read it before my trip to Florence as it would have given me more insight into the city. It is an 'easy' book but has led me to read further into the history of this family, in particular it only looks at the 100 years when the family ruled Florence and does not consider the later years of the dynasty. But it's a good holiday read for a trip to Florence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tyrone phillips on 28 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
great book, interesting, lots of info,if you like this period in time you will love this book,love florence and the medici
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