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The Venetians: A New History: From Marco Polo to Casanovaby Paul Strathern
Synopses & Reviews
The Republic of Venice was the first great economic, cultural, and naval power of the modern Western world. After winning the struggle for ascendency in the late 13th century, the Republic enjoyed centuries of unprecedented glory and built a trading empire which at its apogee reached as far afield as China, Syria and West Africa. This golden period only drew to an end with the Republic’s eventual surrender to Napoleon.
The Venetians illuminates the character of the Republic during these illustrious years by shining a light on some of the most celebrated personalities of European history—Petrarch, Marco Polo, Galileo, Titian, Vivaldi, Casanova. Frequently, though, these emblems of the city found themselves at odds with the Venetian authorities who prized stability above all else, and were notoriously suspicious of any "cult of personality." Was this very tension perhaps the engine for the Republic’s unprecedented rise?
Rich with biographies of some of the most exalted characters who have ever lived, The Venetians is a refreshing and authoritative new look at the history of the most evocative of city states.
"The names imparted by his subtitle may be notable, but they're not the most intriguing characters in this study, as Strathern (Napoleon in Egypt) grasps the opportunity to introduce readers to figures mostly lost to history. Thus he offers the stories of Queen Caterina, ruler of Cyprus for a few short years and prisoner for many more; and the minor trade consul, Francesco Lupazzoli, who lived to be 115 years old and is said to have fathered 24 children through his five marriages — plus potentially another 105 illegitimate offspring. Strathern also profiles generals like Lamba Doria and NiccolÃ² Pisani who led epic naval battles of varying outcomes; and a repressive ruling body that eventually made such bad decisions that it caused the downfall of a 'most serene' republic that had existed for a 1,000 years. With Venice shining brightly in the background as a pleasure site, where the idea of the casino originated and as many as 15,000 prostitutes may have been working during the 16th century, the story is less about Venice than of those who populated it and brought much renown: artists, mathematicians, holy men, and beautiful women. Strathern weaves an engrossing tale replete with intriguing sub-plots, emphasizing the human aspect with great feeling." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A colorful new history of Venice that illuminates the character of the great city-state by shining a light on some of the most celebrated personalities of European history—Petrarch, Marco Polo, Galileo, Titian, Vivaldi, and Casanova.
About the Author
Paul Strathern is a Somerset Maugham prize-winning novelist, and his nonfiction works include The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped (Bantam), Napoleon in Egypt (Bantam) and Mendeleyev’s Dream: The Quest for the Elements (Thomas Dunne). He lives in England.
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History and Social Science » Europe » Italy » Medieval and Renaissance