A Renaissance Tapestry: The Gonzaga of Mantua

Kate Simon, Author, Kate Simon, Introduction by HarperCollins Publishers $22.5 (309p) ISBN 978-0-06-015847-7
The Gonzaga dynasty, which held the dukedom of Mantua in its iron grip for centuries, was as pleasure-loving and internecine as any leading family of Renaissance Italy. Simon nicely captures the excesses and contradictory passions that swept the ducal palace as she chronicles fraternal rivalries, poisonings, bribes of popes, seesaw alignments of warring states. With an eye for telling detail, the well-known travel writer (Kate Simon's Paris) reminds us that the Renaissance was a time when astrologers and alchemists were widely consulted, when the sexual use of little boys at court was common, and when processions carrying saints' images, believed to be the best cure against the plague, only furthered its spread. While the antics of the Gonzagas hold this tapestry together, the spotlight is stolen by culture-heroes such as humanist rebel-scholar Pico della Mirandola, whose death at age 31 foreshadowed Shelley. (March)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-06-091558-2
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