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The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall Paperback – May 19, 1999

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About the Author

Christopher Hibbert, an Oxford graduate, has written more than fifty books, including Wellington: A Personal History, London: The Biography of a City, Redcoats and Rebels, and The Destruction of Lord Raglan. He lives with his family in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688053394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688053390
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

124 of 126 people found the following review helpful By B on December 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I recently visited Florence and was so charmed by the historical city that I picked up Hibbert's book upon my return. How I wished I had it while I was actually in Florence!

Hibbert's account of the Medici - from Cosimo, Pater Patriae, to Anna Maria - the last of the Medici - was at times matter-of-fact, at times, greatly moving. One needs to look within the descriptive lines in order to feel the emotional part of this great family's history, whose decadence, indulgence, and duty made them one of the most famous familes in history.

I enjoyed this book so much that I even read all of the footnotes; most of the information regarding the more famous works of art commissioned by the Medici is hidden in these footnotes. Take the time to read them; you will not be disappointed!

Novice art historians should take a copy of this book along on their next trip to Florence -an index in the back tells the reader where to find many of the surviving art pieces that still reside in Florence -whether they are at the Uffizi Gallery, in the Bargello, or in the Pitti Palace, etc. In addition, the author tells you the addresses where some of the major Florentine families once took residence - if only I had the book - I might have wandered around Florence and looked for everything!

This is definitely a great read for someone who wants to view history through the eyes of a most infamous family; anyone who has taken a liking to Florence and who wishes to learn more history about this beautiful city will likely find this to be a good book!
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269 of 282 people found the following review helpful By wiseprof on December 26, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hibbert does a very good job in providing a really antiseptic, dispassionate, unbiased view of the life and times of the Medici largely from the perspective of empire building and the power struggles it brought. Unfortunately I found the book rather lifeless in that it did not present a moving account of the great Medici family, their trials and tribulations and most importatnly, their interest in the arts. I primarily wanted to read more about the connections between the great renaissance artists and the Medici family since theirs is perhaps one of the most important families to have influenced art and culture in those times. In that respect this book was a serious let down. There are but passing references to the association between the Medicis and Michaelangelo, Ghirlandaio and a few others - not a long drawn examination as was expected.
What the book does offer is a fairly detailed description of the machinations of the Medici family - escpecially the accounts about Cossimo Sr. at the founding of the family and Cossimo II toward the end of the dynasty. The description of war and political strategies are noteworthy. The value of the book depends on what you are looking for. IF you want to know more about the art and culture angles, you are better advised to look elsewhere.
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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schiefelbein VINE VOICE on May 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Christopher Hibbert's "The House of Medici" is an excellent history of the Medici family, but only as far as it goes. For many readers who aren't as familiar with the details of the Renaissance or of Florence, the tight focus of the book will lead to numerous questions and open issues.
Focusing primarily on the personalities who built the House of Medici into the juggernaut it became (particularly Cosimo and Lorenzo the Magnificent), Hibbert unquestionably brings certain aspects of the period to life. In particular, one gets an appreciation for the delicate balancing act Cosimo managed to pull off -- at times ruthless, yet willing to share power and refrain from putting himself too far forward in the perpetual contest among the leading families. This trait was lacking in the firebrand Lorenzo, whose refusal to at least allow the other noble families the appearance of being major players generated the massive resentment that culminated in the assassination attempt that wounded Lorenzo and killed his beloved brother.
At the apex of their power and influence, the Medici were the prime movers and shakers of the age. While describing Cosimo and Lorenzo, the pillars of the family, Hibbert's tale is almost inspirational. When describing the lesser lights that through sheer accident of birth came to rule this mighty house (and guided its decline), "House of Medici" becomes less inspiring but no less entertaining -- several of Hibbert's descriptions of the nincompoops are hilarious.
Again, the book would have benefited from providing a bit more analysis beyond the personalities of the Medici family.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
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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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Algernon D'Ammassa on June 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Hibbert offers a fast-paced and entertaining history of the Medici dynasty that ruled Florence - officially and unofficially - for a few centuries, and are often given credit for the emergence of the renaissance in Italy.
The Medici family is full of fascinating characters: from the savvy patriarch Cosimo de Giovanni to the charismatic Lorenzo il Magnifico to Pope Leo X ("God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it!") or the bloodthirsty Gian Carlo or the spitfire bride of Grand Duke Ferdinando II, to the sad, heirless Gian Gastone, survived solemnly by the stoic Anna Maria, the last of the Medici.
A history of the Medici is also a history of Florence, but Hibbert does not delve into historical detail, instead taking an anecdotal approach that whips the readers through complicated alliances, wars, and economic conditions without much context. The book focuses more on the forces of personality in the family and the internal intrigues of the Signoria, the Vatican, and the Duchy, than on the changing conditions of europe or italia in general.
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