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The Pope's Elephant
Synopses & Reviews
The court of Pope Leo X was famous for its excess, frivolity and impropriety. The pleasure-loving pontiff is known to have kept a menagerie of wild birds and beasts, his favorite of which was Hanno, a young white elephant from India, brought to Rome as a gift from the King of Portugal. In this ingenious tour de force of original scholarship, Silvo Bedini gives us an elephant's-back view of early modern Europe, and in so doing leaves us with the tantalizing suggestion that something so frivolous as a pet elephant might--by fueling the flames of the Protestent Reformation--have changed the course of world history.
Book News Annotation:
The most powerful symbol of Leo X's excess, frivolity, and impropriety among his 16th-century contemporaries was his white elephant Hanno. Bedini, a historian connected with the Smithsonian Institution, uses it as a vehicle for surveying early modern Europe, primarily in Italy. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In 1514, Rome, the Eternal City, was the center of the Christian world and home and workshop to Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo. It was also the city of Pope Leo X, the pleasure-loving pontiff whose court was infamous for its excess, frivolity and impropriety, as well as for its newly-arrived white elephant Hanno. Hanno became a star feature in processions and festivals, and the subject of countless paintings, sculptures and fountains. In this fascinating glimpse at a forgotten sidenote to history, Silvio A. Bedini gives us an elephant's-back view of early modern Europe and the inner workings of the Vatican at the height of its influence. Charmingly written with dozens of accompanying photographs and illustrations, The Pope's Elephant will delight readers just as Hanno delighted the people of Rome five centuries ago.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 261-286) and index.
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