The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici

The Black Prince of Florence The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de Medici Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years to Alessandro de Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world Born out of wedlock to a dark skinn

  • Title: The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici
  • Author: Catherine Fletcher
  • ISBN: 9780190612726
  • Page: 222
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537, Alessandro de Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world Born out of wedlock to a dark skinned maid and Lorenzo de Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent When Alessandro s noble father died of syphilis, the family looked toRuler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537, Alessandro de Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world Born out of wedlock to a dark skinned maid and Lorenzo de Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent When Alessandro s noble father died of syphilis, the family looked to him Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian Renaissance.Alessandro faced down family rivalry and enormous resistance from Florence s oligarchs, who called him a womanizer which he undoubtedly was and a tyrant Yet this real life counterpart to Machiavelli s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated at the age of 26 during a late night tryst arranged by his scheming cousins After his death, his brief but colorful reign was criticized by those who had murdered him in a failed attempt to restore the Florentine republic For the first time, the true story is told in The Black Prince of Florence.Catherine Fletcher tells the riveting tale of Alessandro s unexpected rise and spectacular fall, unraveling centuries old mysteries, exposing forgeries, and bringing to life the epic personalities of the Medicis, Borgias, and others as they waged sordid campaigns to rise to the top Drawing on new research and first hand sources, this biography of a most intriguing Renaissance figure combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today.

    One thought on “The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici”

    1. The politics of Renaissance Italy are one of those stretches where history really is just one damn thing after another - a gaggle of basically interchangeable dynasties of rich bastards jockeying for power both between each other and within themselves. As with the bickering between Charlemagne's descendants, it can be very hard to keep clear, just as today's struggles between our corporate overlords will doubtless test the patience and memory of scholars centuries hence (the level of inequality [...]

    2. Catherine Fletcher, in "The Black Prince of Florence," brings sixteenth-century Italy to life, while at the same time raising pertinent questions for the twenty-first century on the immutability of race.Alessandro di Medici was the illegitimate son of the last of the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent. When his father died of syphilis at the age of twenty-six, Alessandro and a cousin from a cadet branch of the family were raised out of obscurity by powerful relatives (two of them Popes) to be groom [...]

    3. Average given the content the author had to work with. Felt more like an academic work at times. That said, Florentian politics is always fascinating, must find books on others from the Medici family, especially on Lorenzo.

    4. Catherine Fletcher did an admirable job presenting a brief but important period of Renaissance history. This 260 page book primarily covers the period 1523 to 1537 with quick look-backs into the Medici history.In 1523 when Giulio de Medici obtains the papacy and becomes Clement VII he finds himself needing to solidify the family hold on Florence and to bring some balance with the world powers jockeying to control Italy. For all the faults ( and oh there are so-so many) of this second Medici Pope [...]

    5. A densely researched biography of the first Duke of Florence, but the last of the senior line of the Medici family. He may have been (and probably was, to judge by his very consistent portraiture), a man of mixed race--he was certainly illegitimate. A paucity of legitimate Medici heirs in the early decades of the 16th century, led to a state of constant rivalry between Alessandro and his (equally illegitimate) cousin Ippolito de' Medici for the leadership of Florence. Alexander, who won the favo [...]

    6. I previously read Catherine Fletcher's The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican, which was, while not what I expected, meticulously researched, fathoms deep, and managed to carve out a relatively un-familiar niche of Henry VIII's otherwise very cause célèbre divorce. That, in the wake of so very, very, very many Tudor books we've been flooded with over the last few years, is in and of itself a force to be reckoned with. While it was firmly rooted Henry's divorce, the [...]

    7. Thanks to Charles V and the Imperial Army, the weakest moment of the Medici transformed into their elevation to enduring monarchical power in Florence. In the wake of Lorenzo the Magnificent's death, leaving a legitimate daughter (soon to be Queen of France), power devolved to two bastards--cousins Alessandro and Ippolito. While the Medici pope Clement VII knocked Ippolito out of the way by making him a cardinal, and oligarchs seethed at the return of a Medici dynasty, Alessandro managed to marr [...]

    8. A fascinating read. The Afterword and Bibliography alone were worth the price of the book. Two minor caveats: The plethora of names can be overwhelming, and the detailed lists of clothing and artwork sometimes get in the way of the story. But overall, a fine biography of a much-maligned prince, one of the important figures in Renaissance Italy.

    9. From the Historical Novel Society: my feature article (rather than a review) on "The Black Prince." British author Catherine Fletcher has said that while she is an historian specializing in Renaissance and early modern Europe—the world of the Tudors, the Medici and the Borgias—she is not “exclusively interested in the glitzy people at the top.” Her first nonfiction book, The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican, explored the diplomacy behind Henry’s divorce f [...]

    10. Historian Catherine Fletcher tells the fascinating story of Alessandro de' Medici (1511 or 1512-1537), the first Duke of Florence and arguably the first person of African descent to rule a European state. Alessandro was the illegitimate son of Lorenzo II de' Medici, grandson of the more famous Lorenzo, and a servant woman, possibly an African slave, named Simunetta. The identity, and ethnicity, of his mother has been debated, and even his paternity has been questioned. Fletcher favors the most c [...]

    11. Felt bogged down by the number of characters that were part of Alessandro de' Medici's life, as well as the level of detail that was explored. But this book was a great insight into the Principality of Florence and the politics that pitted families against each other, leading to death, more often than not. The author also pays particular attention to the perception of Alessandro's race throughout history and during his reign as the Prince of Florence. Good read for those who are interested in It [...]

    12. I really love books about about the Italian Renaissance and this is one person I knew very little about. I enjoyed learning about this young man who overcame his illegitimacy to become a leader of the Medici only to be assassinated due to the politics of the time. Florence at the time of the Renaissance would have been an exciting but dangerous time to live.

    13. Read this in Florence: amazing descriptions of the life then, the anxiety, the treaturous world, the mischief.And the role of the popes, cardinals being elected at age 15! Brothers kiling themselves.And all is politics and all is communciation.A fascinating read for anyone being in Florence.For everybody else all the names and places may be a bit too dazzling.

    14. boooooooooooooring. i got about 39 pages in before i gave up. the story is probably interesting but it bounces around so much and i just can't bring myself to care.

    15. Duke AlessandroWas maybe a scoundrel,But he shouldn't have lost his lifeStabbed young, by his cousin's knife.

    16. An absolutely fascinating read that goes in depth to a side of Renaissance Italy few really know about. Alessandro himself is a very interesting man, and the world he lived in shaped much about him.

    17. When I found a copy of Catherine Fletcher’s “The Black Prince of Florence” under the tree on Christmas morning, I have to admit that I may have squealed a bit. I’d wanted a copy of this book since I’d heard that it was coming out – my poor other half often has to put up with my quite frankly over zealous enthusiasm about the Italian Renaissance, so I’m sure he was probably prepared for my excitement over this book. The later Medici aren’t something I have read into all that much, [...]

    18. Years ago, while visiting Florence, I bought a colorful book aimed at tourists about the Medici.Besides the portraits of the stunningly attired Eleanor of Toledo I was most intrigued by the portraits of Alessandro de Medici with his African features and of his cousin Ippolito de Medici dressed intriguingly in Hungarian costume. What was going on with these two? Luckily we have Catherine Fletcher's new biography of Alessandro, The Black Prince of Florence which brings to life who they were, where [...]

    19. Alessandro de’ Medici, a lesser known member of the notorious Medici clan, had a short life and a short reign, but it was one filled with intrigue, assassination, betrayal, rivalries and vendettas. Expert historian Fletcher has woven together all the strands of his complex story to present a fascinating account of Renaissance Florence, with a measured mix of fact and speculation. Drawing heavily on the archives, her detective work demonstrates her deep knowledge of Alessandro’s life and time [...]

    20. Fletcher has a knack for narrative history, but suffocates the story with cumbersome writing. The issues of race and ethnicity deserve more treatment than they receive in the Afterword. The author's reliance on the wardrobe archive is at times interesting, but a bit much.

    21. Worth the read. Not at all sensational, well researched and chock-full of great knowledge. And very careful to discern between truth and speculation.

    22. I wasn't impressed with this book. It started off really well and it held my interest at first but it quickly began to read like a factual research paper.

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