The Medici by Mary Hollingsworth - review by Edward Chaney

Edward Chaney

The Art of Politics

The Medici


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In 1605, Robert Dallington published his Survey of … Tuscany, which was based on an early grand tour undertaken in 1596. Dallington’s account concludes with a critical pun: Qui sub Medicis vivit, misere vivit (‘Who lives under the Medici [or doctors], lives wretchedly’). In her beautifully illustrated and scholarly survey of five centuries of the Medici family and its increasingly regal role in running the once-republican city-state of Florence, Mary Hollingsworth tends to be as critical of the Medici as Dallington was. The press release for her book claims that it counters the ‘received view’ of the Medici as ‘wise rulers and enlightened fathers of the Renaissance’. This, we are told, ‘is a fiction that has acquired the status of historical fact’. They were ‘in truth … as devious and immoral as

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