Bijan Omrani

Good Rule Hunting

Virtue Politics: Soulcraft and Statecraft in Renaissance Italy


Belknap Press 784pp £36.95 order from our bookshop

If anyone thinks that we live in a uniquely degraded political age, let them spare a thought for late medieval Italy. Consider, for example, Galeazzo II Visconti, who secured his rule over Milan in the 1350s by inventing the Quaresima torture protocol, a carefully designed forty-day programme of public torture – including eye-gouging, stretching on the rack, flaying and multiple amputation – to intimidate opponents of his rule; or his later successor Gian Maria Visconti, whose preferred means of executing criminals was to feed them alive to his hunting dogs.

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