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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb historical account
A superb account of one of the most famous and influential dynasties in European history.
Beginning with an overview of Medieval Florece, Christopher Hibbert takes us back to a sumptuous world of arts, merchants and an advanced democratic civilization. It begins with the story of Cosimo, the brilliant banker, who through his connections to the Papacy, becomes a major...
Published on 1 Oct. 2008 by A. J. Smith

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Florence in the Days Before the Tourist Invasion
It is almost impossible for the modern visitor to Florence, with its churches, buildings, museums and art galleries located alongside the river Arno in the Tuscan countryside, to imagine the bloody scenes it has witnessed over the centuries. The streets and squares now invaded by tourists were previously invaded by Venetians, Lombards, Neapolitans, Romans, French,...
Published on 9 July 2010 by John Fitzpatrick


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb historical account, 1 Oct. 2008
By 
A. J. Smith (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici (Paperback)
A superb account of one of the most famous and influential dynasties in European history.
Beginning with an overview of Medieval Florece, Christopher Hibbert takes us back to a sumptuous world of arts, merchants and an advanced democratic civilization. It begins with the story of Cosimo, the brilliant banker, who through his connections to the Papacy, becomes a major powerbroker in Italian affairs, much to the annoyance of Florences ruling Signoria, who unable to decide on his fate, place his life or death to a plebescite, which results in temporary banishment, only to return and establish a wealthy and cultured dynasty.
Lorenzo il Manifico is the definite star, the patro of the arts who oversaw Florence's golden age. However, the most interesting part of the account is the rise of the Dominican Monk Savaronola and Florence's descent into a deranged theocracy.
By the time the book speaks of the passing of Anna Maria, one has a sense of sadness that such a great dynasty has reached its end, and such a sadness was felt in Florence at the time.
On the whole a superb book, one of the best historical accounts I have read this year.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Florence in the Days Before the Tourist Invasion, 9 July 2010
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici (Paperback)
It is almost impossible for the modern visitor to Florence, with its churches, buildings, museums and art galleries located alongside the river Arno in the Tuscan countryside, to imagine the bloody scenes it has witnessed over the centuries. The streets and squares now invaded by tourists were previously invaded by Venetians, Lombards, Neapolitans, Romans, French, Austrians, Germans, Swiss and Turks and have been awash with oceans of blood as the Florentines fought off the foreigners or slaughtered each other in civil conflicts or public executions.

Renaissance Italy was a constant battleground yet literature and the arts flourished and capitalism and banking developed amidst the chaos and carnage. The debt modern Europe owes to Italy is incalculable.

What is now a major tourist attraction was once one of the wealthiest and most powerful of the states which ruled Italy before unification. The Medici family was one of the mercantile dynasties which shaped the state's history for 300 years from the 1430 to 1737 when the last of the line died out.

Christopher Hibbert was once aptly described as "perhaps the most gifted popular historian we have" and this is the kind of book one expects. Hibbert's history is never dry - boring dates and dusty old treaties are cast aside in favour of colour, characters, love affairs, treachery, intrigue and adventure.

The story of the Medici family provides ample ammunition for his pen. However, enjoyable as the book is, Hibbert might have been better concentrating on one or two of the more prominent members of the family, such as Cosimo or Lorenzo.

His comprehensive coverage asks too much of the reader who can become a bit confused and tired as chapter after chapter repeats the same formula of a new head of the Medici appears, his (successful or failed) marriage and how he ran his administration.

Otherwise, this book is highly recommended.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History comes to life of city-state Italy & the papacy, 15 Aug. 1998
By A Customer
Seeing Lorenzo il magnifico's mean face around Florence, I thought he would be one of the bad guys in the Medici family. He was not. Hibbert makes the history and politics behind the busts and paintings of cinquecento Florence come to life. His story about the House of Medici explains this ruling family's extinction along with the odd fact that their name is still plastered all over Florence, and Fiesole, too, centuries later. The great storyteller, Hibbert portrays the survivalist instinct of a few individuals that did not allow the Medici name to become extinct along with its people.
Hibbert describes another time and another Italy, before, during and after the Renaissance (cinquecento). People die suddenly. Florence is a seat of world power. Members of an early merchant family, the Medici personages from numerous generations take key actions. Hibbert gives us the context of their cirsumstances. They almost all get gout, too. Wealth was a sin. The Vatican had an army. At this time, new thinkers were put before the inquisition. However, the Medicis had a hand in protecting and promoting the discussion and dissemination of new ideas. The Medicis, and Florence, deserve to be remembered for their shelter of the people with the new ideas that became known as the Renaissance.
Good novel quality.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable history, 10 May 1999
By A Customer
I read this book when I was writing my dissertation around the subject. It was a pleasant surprise after absorbing so many dry text books - it reads like a story. The carnivals, artists and daily trials of life in Renaissance Florence are vividly described in this book. A detailed history and a fascinating insight into one of the richest areas of Italian history.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! One of the best books I've ever read., 6 Jun. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici (Paperback)
Why has it taken me over 20 years to discover this book? Erudite, factual, witty, entertaining, this is a must for anyone with the slightest interest in Florence, the Renaissance, art, history. Better than any guidebook, Chapter 10 should be read by every tourist who wants to understand the very convoluted history of Florence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed account of the Medicis, 7 May 2013
By 
M. V. Quinn "vivienneq" (Dungannon UK) - See all my reviews
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I bought this on my Kindle while visiting Florence and there is no doubt that the book was enhanced by having visited the churches and palaces built during the heyday of the Medicis. Any history of the Italian states in the 13th-16th centuries is complex, as is any history of the Papacy and this history was no exception. At times the details of all the factions within Florence and relations with the other Italian states, France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire could be overwhelming and I have to admit a bit of fast forwarding to get to bits that I found more interesting. However Christopher Hibbert's great ability to tell a story shone through and made the book enjoyable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction, 27 April 2014
This popular history was first published in 1974. It remains a readable guide to more than 400 years of the history of Florence. It is ideal for the visitor to this lovely city.

The family first makes a low-key appearance in the public record in the late 13th century with Ardingo de Medici. It is not until the 15th century we meet Cosimo, the genius of Medici banking and the founder of the dynasty’s power. He is followed, after a brief interlude, by Lorenzo, who builds magnificently on the achievements of his grandfather, and creates the cultural diamond of the Renaissance. A substantial part of the book is devoted to Cosimo and Lorenzo.

Medici power soon reaches out beyond Florence and Tuscany to penetrate all corners of Europe. The family “buy” the papacy – but it is Giulio de Medici as Clement VII who presides over the sacking of Rome in 1527.

Thereafter power slips away from Florence. The artists move north, too. The family dispense completely with democratic forms to rule as Dukes of Tuscany. The book follows the line of dukes, from Cosimo I through to Gian, as they diminish in competence, energy and influence. Christopher Hibbert pens a short chapter about each. The light goes out in 1737 with the passing of Gian, a chronic alcoholic without an heir. Sic transit Gloria.

As a tourist I found this book very helpful. It is informative rather than analytical, but the reader will learn what happened to the magnificence of the quattrocento.
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4.0 out of 5 stars first half was a good read, 21 Oct. 2013
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The first half of this book was a good read and I would give this 4 out of 5 stars. The reason being is that the early Medici's, especially the first 3 or 4 were the most interesting and really put the Medici's on the map. The second half of the book about the later Medicis was not very interesting because these Medicis were really just resting on the achievements of their more Illustrious predecessors and did not really achieve much in their own right. I would give the second half of the book 3 out of 5 stars.

I was also disappointed that although Catherine Medici was mentioned and her marriage into the French Royal family, nothing more was mentioned. She led a very interesting life and had to deal with a cut throat French Court during the reigns of her various sons.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars strong, readable treatment of the Medici, 27 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
Hibbert's treatment of the Medici is superb. He brings individual figures to life with well-chosen detail without losing sight of the "big picture" of social change in Medici Florence.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting facts but little flavor and no depth, 26 Aug. 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
THis is a travel book and not really an historical book. I enjoyed reading it and it went very swiftly, but I was left unsatisfied with both the level of detail and the author's lack of interest in delving below the surface. Indeed, I would have wanted a book at least twice as dense.

That being said, the facts of the Medici family are competently covered, from their rise with Cosimo the great banker to their dying out several centuries later in the most squalid and humorous decadence. From rich behind the scenes wielders of power, we watch their fortunes rise and fall until they become petty autocrats in the time of Louis XIV. THese facts were interesting and the writing is competent if unoriginal.

Alas, the author does not ask any probing questions and shows little ability to stimulate further inquiry. He barely mentions what constituted the Renaissance, let alone asked what might have caused it, etc. We also get no real insight into why the Medicis behaved in the manner that they did - what their characters and motivations were - and the historical forces they reflected. THis is appalingly superficial.

Take this book with you if you are going to Florence and want to know who those Medici people are in the paintings, but go for something else if you want to understand one of the greatest flowerings of human knowledge and artistic creativity since the fall of the ROman Empire.
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The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici
The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici by Christopher Hibbert (Paperback - 27 Sept. 1979)
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