Monday, June 1, 2015

THE SON OF LA TIGRE, CATERINA SFORZA,
BRINGS A TITLE OF NOBILITY TO THE MEDICI

His parents were wed in secret, many thought of him as a bastard; he was baptized with the name Ludovico (named for a Sforza uncle); he was the son of one of the most famous and powerful woman of the Renaissance…and he became the first titled Medici.

Bianca Riario and her
half brother Giovanni
Caterina Sforza’s son, Ludovico, was born in April of 1498; his father, Giovanni de’ Medici, died just five months later. When Ludovico, now renamed Giovanni for his deceased father, was still a baby, his mother was captured by Cesare Borgia and imprisoned in Rome, first in the Belvedere Castle then—after a failed escape attempt—in the Castel Sant’Angelo. During the years of his mother’s imprisonment, the care of Giovanni was entrusted to his eldest sister, Bianca Riario—twenty years his elder. Together, they sought refuge in a convent until the release of their mother.

Once more under the tutelage of his mother, in possession of her fiery, aggressive temperament, Caterina brought out the best and the worst in her youngest son. From an early age, Giovanni’s interests lay in physical activities and his training in military arts began in his youth. Caterina devoted herself to his education, attempting to instill in him the values of the Italian nobility of her family. The combination was deadly, but not for Giovanni.

At the death of his mother in 1509, Giovanni came under the protection of the Canon Francesco Fortunati and the wealthy Jacopo Salviati of Florence. Salviati did his best to keep the recalcitrant youth under control. It was a battle waged and lost. Salviati returned to Florence without Giovanni, who, though only 11, was left to run wild. Stories abound of his mischievous behavior in the Tuscany region…in Florence, in the Mugello Valley. His companions were the low, the peasants and the gangs of the area. Giovanni committed his first murder—most likely a gang killing—at the age of 12.

The act was too egregious for Salviati to remain impassive. He called Giovanni to Florence and soon brought the youth to Rome when Salviati was appointed ambassador to that city. But the change of location did nothing to curb Giovanni’s violent proclivities. Salviati sent him back to Florence and enrolled him in military academy, hoping to put Giovanni’s aggressive tendencies to good use. It was a wise choice.

Called to Rome by the pope, Leo X, Giovanni’s cousin—the son of Lorenzo Il Magnifico de’ Medici and Clarice Orsini—Giovanni first became a politiziotto, a policeman, in Vatican City. But it was not long before Giovanni’s military prowess found him greater position and power. In March of 1516, Giovanni became a military captain of a cavalry with no less than one hundred men under his control. His captaincy began with a trial by fire. During the War of Urbino, the pope commissioned Giovanni and his men to strip the Duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria della Rovere, of his title and his lands. So great was the might of this cavalry, they defeated the duke in a mere twenty-two days.

Perhaps his resounding victory did much to raise Giovanni in the eyes of his one-time protector, Jacopo Salviati. In 1517, Giovanni married Salviati’s daughter, Maria. But married life and the birth of a child did little to slow Giovanni down.

Now renowned as a great condottiero, Giovanni became a master at the new form of battle, creating masters of the men in his company. He instituted new methods of training, aiming for a compact, disciplined structure of offensive. Giovanni mounted his company on lighter, faster, quieter horses, making them lethal with stealthy ambushes. Even in regards to uniforms, Giovanni used thinner, lighter armor padded with black leather.

Giovanni’s training techniques were as intense as they were novel. Any man desiring entrée into his forces must already be adept at the use of weapons and combat on horseback. But that wasn’t nearly good enough for Giovanni. He pushed his men harder, made them deadlier. Those who excelled on the training field were rewarded; those who didn’t, those Giovanni called cowards and traitors were banished from camp, or worse, sentenced to death. His efforts did not go unnoticed or underutilized.

Giovanni and his men fought for Pope Leo against the French in 1521. In the same year, Pope Leo X died, a death that touched Giovanni deeply. In mourning and constant reverence, Giovanni added black stripes to his insignia, naming himself forever as Giovanni della Bande Nere (John of the Black Stripes). In 1522, he turned his weapons and fought on the side of the French. He then switched to the Emperor’s side in 1523 and defeated the Imperial and Swiss forces at Caprino Bergamasco in 1524.

Another cousin now sat on the papal throne, Clement VII, the once Giulio di Giuliano. Clement, still supporting his military cousin financially, ordered Giovanni to return his arms to those of the French. Giovanni did so in 1525.

For this powerful, fearless man who made violence and war his life’s purpose, it was no great war or battle that brought about his demise, but a skirmish.

The War of the League of Cognac broke out in 1526. During an early scuffle, Giovanni was wounded in the thigh by a harquebus. Seemingly superficial at first, the wound refused to mend. With a few of his Black Band, Giovanni made for Venice and their superior physicians. Though he missed the famous Battle of Pavia, he re-entered the never-ending wars on Italian soil, appointed as Captain General of the Army Infantry Italian League.

On November 21, 1526, 12,000 German Landsknechts under the command of Georg von Frundsberg, marched on Venice, a force that had already overcome Venice’s Alpine defenses. Giovanni worked together with Francesco Maria della Rovere, Captain General of the League in Italy. Giovanni devised the plan…leave the French and the Swiss troops in front position while Giovanni and his Black Band, along with Rovere’s troops, rounded on the Germans, to attack from a different vantage point.

Rovere withdrew his troops under the onslaught of the Landsknechts in Milan. Giovanni and his band remained, attacking from the rear at the confluence of the Mincio and Po Rivers. His troops reigned triumphant, but not unscatched.

At the very end of the battle, Giovanni was shot by a falconet, a wound that was thought to have
shattered the femur in his right leg. Too much time passed as they transported Giovanni to Mantua and the home of his friend and fellow soldier Luigi Gonzaga. The delay rendered useless the expert treatment and eventual amputation of the limb by the renowned healer, Mastro Abramo.

His recovery is a moment captured in a letter from an eyewitness to the event, Pietro Aretino, who wrote to Francesco Albizi:

“Not even twenty,” Giovanni said smiling, “could hold me,” and he took a candle in his hand, so that he could make light onto himself, I ran away, and shutting my ears I heard only two voices, and then calling, and when I reached him he told me: “I am healed,” and turning all around he greatly rejoiced.

Giovanni did, indeed, stand again. But the gangrene—or septicemia—was unstoppable. Giovanni knew his end was near, but he would not leave this world in bandages. Pulling them from his leg, he broke free and laid upon a camp bed. There he died on November 30, 1526.

In 2012, Giovanni della Bande Nere was exhumed, along with his wife, in an effort to preserve his remains. The exhumation showed no breakage of his right thigh, where the fatal wound was supposedly located. The bones of the lower leg were removed, but the femur itself showed no damage. The most convincing theory is that the wound itself was not fatal, but its infection was.

Not long after Giovanni’s death, his mode of battle was rendered obsolete by the introduction of the mobile canon. For this reason, Giovanni’s death is the metaphorical end of the great condottieri of Italy.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

IT'S YOUR TURN, DEAR READERS!
ANNOUNCING THE 2015 READER SURVEY

Writers and readers – a symbiotic relationship. Ideas spark writers to create stories and build worlds and characters for readers’ consumption. Readers add imagination and thought along with their backgrounds and attitudes to interpret those stories, deriving meaning and enjoyment in the process. A story is incomplete without both writer and reader.

What then do readers want? What constitutes a compelling story? How do men and women differ in their preferences? Where do readers find recommendations? What are their attitudes to pricing or their favourite reading blogs? These and other questions have been the subject of two previous reader surveys.

ANNOUNCING A 2015 READER SURVEY, conducted by the talented M. K. Tod (see more on Tod below) designed to solicit further input on reading habits, historical fiction preferences, favourite authors and, for the first time, favourite historical fiction. THE SURVEY WILL BE OPEN UNTIL MAY 14.

If you are a reader or a writer, please take the survey and share the link [https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GXRD9B7] with friends and family and on your favourite social media. Robust participation across age groups, countries, and other demographics will make this year’s survey even more significant. Those who take the survey will be able to sign up to receive a summary report when it becomes available.



         HISTORICAL FICTION IS MAINSTREAM: Less than 2% of participants said they rarely or never read historical fiction.

         GENDER MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Women and men differ significantly in their reading habits and preferences and their views of historical fiction.

         AGE MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Those under 30 have different preferences for genre and time period 
and have different patterns of consumption and acquisition.

         SOCIAL MEDIA IS HAVING A BIG IMPACT ON READING: Social media and online sites play an increasingly significant role for those choosing, purchasing, and talking about fiction.

         BOOK BLOGS ARE VERY POPULAR: 1,473 participants listed one, two or three favourite blogs.

         GEOGRAPHY: Responses to questions such as the use of online tools for recommendations and purchasing and preferred setting for historical fiction varied by geography.

         PRICING: Sadly, readers are pushing for low prices. For example, 60% want e-books at $5.99 or less and 66% want paperbacks at $10.99 or less.

         ONLINE BOOK CLUBS ARE GAINING POPULARITY: 21% belong to online clubs while 15% belong to clubs meeting in a physical location

         VOLUME OF BOOKS READ MAKES A DIFFERENCE: for example, high volume readers have different expectations for book reviews, a higher interest in tracking their books, and higher usage of online tools and social media to augment their reading experience.

Participate in this year’s survey by clicking the link and please share the URL with others https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GXRD9B7.

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.
Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

FROM BASTARD TO POPE TO THE BANE OF HENRY VIII:
GIULIO DE’ MEDICI,
THE NEXT MEDICI TO DISTINGUISH HIMSELF

He couldn’t have known, at the time of his birth, that his father had been brutally slain exactly one month to the day before he was birthed into the world. And yet Giulio, the child of Giuliano de’ Medici and Fioretta Gorini, must have found out, must have learned the truth of his father.

Though most call him Giuliano’s bastard, further research leaves one to believe that, through the power of Lorenzo de’ Medici—the strength of Il Magnifico—he was legitimized in the eyes of the law and the eyes of the church. It was contended that Giuliano and Fioretta were married in secret, per sponsalia de presenti, and that, somehow, proof of this was ‘discovered.’ By virtue of a well-known principle of canon law, Giulio was a bastard no more.

He was raised in his uncle’s house, raised as one of Lorenzo’s own children, with an intensive, all-encompassing, and Humanistic education. He was cared for by the very nurturing Clarice. And yet, when he learned, when Giulio found out the details of his father’s horrific assassination, what must it have done to his young mind? Would the machinations of the Medicis and the Pazzis, which led to his father death, blight him against such a way of life?

It would appear to be so.

Little is written of Giulio’s childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood. Knowing the tight bonds and the dominance of the Medici clan, it is safe to assume these years were spent in deep study and in learning the ways of politics and despotic ruling by Lorenzo’s side. After the death of Lorenzo, incurring the misguidance by Piero, Giulio, like most of his family, went into exile in 1494. Traveling the Italian countryside brought him honors nonetheless; he became a Knight of Rhodes, a military association, and a Grand Prior of Capua. Like his cousin, his obeisance to the Roman Catholic Church would deliver his freedom to him once more.  

Giulio comes into his own in 1513 when is cousin, Lorenzo’s son, now Pope Leo X, conferred on Giulio the title of Cardinal and made him legate at Bologna. Leo X’s propensity for a pleasure-loving lifestyle, left much, if not all, of the papal governing fell to Cardinal Giulio, where he proved himself to be a more than capable administrator.

zucchetto then and now
The zucchetto, the papal cap, changed heads quickly. Upon Leo X’s death in 1521, Adrian VI was quickly elected to the position by the College of Cardinals, Giulio doing much to push his victory. But Adrian’s reign was short lived. He took the papal throne in January of 1522, then left it, by his death, in September of 1523. In November of 1523, Cardinal Giulio became Pope Clement VII.

Young Pope Clement VII
Clement brought great diplomacy and economic stability to the papal states. However, there is much greater evidence concerning the areas in which he failed. Most prominent was his failure to either see the threat of the Protestant Reformation or his timidity to do anything about it. For this, he was often criticized not only by members of the Catholic church but by the people themselves. It appeared to many that he was, though ordained as the pope, more ingrained as a Medici and a Italian prince.

Politically he wavered, switching his allegiance between France and Spain as easily as the wind changes direction. Such ambiguity led to one of the two major events in the life of Pope Clement VII. 

His wavering support of the Emperor Charles of Spain brought about the Sack of Rome in 1527. In truth, the marauding of the Holy City was an act of mutiny on the part of Charles’ overworked, under-paid military, it nevertheless brought Charles a crucial victory over the League of Cognac, the alliance of France, Milan, Florence, Venice, and the Papal States.

As for Rome itself, it was laid to waste; the pillaging—and starving troops—left leaderless by the death of Charles of Bourbon at the very inception of the siege, proceeded to defile the city, raping, murdering, and vandalizing to their hearts content. Clement VII himself barely made it to the safe haven of the Castel Sant’Angelo. Although he agreed to pay a ransome of 40,000 ducats and cede many territories to the Emperor, he was held prisoner in the castle for six months. He found his escape through bribing Imperial Guards who disguised the pope as a peddler. Once free, Clement took shelter in Orvieto and later Viterbo. He did not return to Rome until October of 1528, where he found the city nearly abandoned and wholly ravaged. To add insult to his downtrodden life, back in his home city of Florence, those who always longed to see the mighty Medici fall, took the opportunity to once more exile the family from the city walls.

In June of 1529, much of his papal power was returned with the Peace of Bologna, bringing accord between the warring parties. The Papal States regained some of their lost cities and the Medicis were returned to power in Florence by the benevolence of Charles V. But drama was not yet done with Clement VII.

Catherine of Aragon
In the same year that Clement endured the sacking of his great city, he was being pestered on yet another front. A hedonistic, egotistic king who wanted a divorce from his wife, a divorce only the pope could grant. Through Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s demands on Clement were ceaseless. Demands Clement continually denied. While on the surface it may appear that Clement did so in keeping with the dictates of the Catholic religion, in truth, his actions were motivated by his keenness to keep his relationship with Spain, Henry VIII’s wife Catherine of Aragon being the aunt of the Emperor Charles, in tact. The act severed the relationship between Rome and England, indeed, between England and the Roman Catholic Church, a relationship never to be healed.

Clement had pacified Spain, broken with England. But what of France? In an effort to repair this alliance, Clement (or rather, in truth Giulio de’ Medici) betrothed his cousin’s daughter, Catherine, to Henri of Orleans in 1533. This young man, a man already in love with another woman, would become, due to the early death of his eldest brother, King Henri II.

An aged Pope Clement VII
Clement died, at the age of 56, in September of 1534. Rumors abounded that he was murdered, poisoned by mushrooms. It was a strange fashion of the age to give such salaciousness to deaths at the time, so such a theory cannot be given any great credence. For the most part, Giulio/Clement’s historical imprint is one of confliction and confusion; he is remembered as a Medici first, a man of the church second. His intelligence was remarkable while his diplomacy was deplorable. His personal life was beyond reproach yet despite good intention, the labels of heroism and greatness are denied him. And yet there is one lasting legacy of such magnificence, perhaps all else may be forgiven.

Just a few days before his death, Pope Clement VII commissioned a young sculptor and painter by the name of Michelangelo to render The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, an act that gave birth to a true wonder of the world.

The Last Judgment
Michelangelo





Thursday, March 19, 2015

HOW ST. JOSEPH CAME TO BE ITALY'S PATRON SAINT

It began in the Middle Ages, when a severe drought blighted the peninsula. No rain fell for days—weeks, months—on end. People died of famine, countless numbers, families were torn asunder. What could they do?

Joseph by Guido Reni
They prayed. Italians from all ranks of society prayed. They prayed to God for rain; they prayed to St. Joseph to intercede with God on their behalf. In return, they vowed that, if God blessed them with rain, they would honor God and St. Joseph with a special feast.

It was only a matter of days, when—by miracle?—the skies opened, the rains came and fed the earth. The earth flourished and crops were planted. More rain came. The crops blossomed and thrived. The people were fed. With the harvest, the people made a magnificent feast. The moment became known as the Tavola di San Giuseppe, the Table of St. Joseph.

The miracle was never forgotten. In the many centuries since, people continue to pray to St. Joseph for ‘favors.’ Such favors can not be for personal gain or benefit. They need to be for another…the cure of ill loved, the return of a loved one from war. On this day, St. Joseph’s day being March 19, those whose favor has been granted, use this day—in Italy celebrated by festivals and feasts in every corner of the country and many parts of the world—to give thanks.

Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, was a benevolent, generous man. Matthew’s gospel describes Joseph as ‘a just man.’ In Biblical times, the greatest compliment one man could bestow on another was to call him or her a tsaddik, a person of justice and virtue. Joseph was just such a man. He is known as the foster father of Jesus. Though there are differing theories of Joseph’s genealogy, it is most often supposed that he came from Nazareth and later made his way to Bethlehem for an unspecified time, two years being the best guess. There he obeys the direction of an angel to marry Mary.

Galilee

After the birth of Jesus, the angel comes once more, telling Joseph of the peril the child is in, to take him to Galilee. His love and care of the baby Jesus could not have been more tender, more 'fatherly.'  In Galilee they settled. And there Joseph died on July 20, in the AD 18, at the age of 28. As Jesus had reached the age of 18, there is no doubt Joseph had been witness to the growing prophet that was ‘his son.’

Thursday, March 12, 2015

THE FIRST MEDICI TO BECOME POPE
GIOVANNI DE' MEDICI

Leo X
The fifth surviving child of Lorenzo de’ Medici and Clarice Orsini was to bring the family notoriety and power of a sort they had not yet experienced. Unfortunately, much of his fame was, in fact, infamy.

example of Tonsure
As the second son, born December 11, 1475, Giovanni’s life would follow a familiar path for such a family position, in such an era. His life was marked for the church at a young age, whether he conceded or not. At eight-years-old, Giovanni received his tonsure—a ceremony that would, physically and spiritually, mark his change of status. Tonsure is the practice of cutting or shaving of the hair from the scalp, leaving a circle of hair from temple to temple. One can only speculate on the impact of such physical alteration at such a young age.

During the next few years, he received his education at the court of his father, an education that could, decidedly, be argued as one of the best to have in all of Italy, if not all of Europe itself. One of several tutors was Pico della Mirandola, a Humanist and a Platonist philosopher, Pico was widely known for his use of the Kabbala in support of Christian theology, a very unpopular theses.

University of Pisa
At the age of thirteen—with the help of his father and his father’s connection to a distant cousin, Pope Innocent VIII—Giovanni became the cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria in Dominica. From 1489 to 1491, he went on to study theology and canon law at the University of Pisa. When he became a member of the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1492, he planned to make his move to Rome. The death of his father in the same year, brought him back to Florence, to the home of his brother Piero.

Though Giovanni had a small respite in Rome, for the conclave that elevated Rodrigo Borgia to Pope Alexander VI, he suffered the same exile,
Rodrigo Borgia
brought about by his brother’s mishandling of family matters (see previous Medici post) that befell other members of his family. But unlike his family, he would remain in constant motion, traveling throughout most of northern Europe for more than six years. In 1500, he made his way to Rome, and stayed, taking part in two more conclaves, those elected Pope Pius III in September of 1503, and Pope Julius II in October of the same year.

It was to be a momentous year, as it brought, as well, the death of his brother, Piero. While his younger brother Giuliano held the first place in the republic of Florence, it was Cardinal Giovanni who ruled from his place in Rome, doing so for the next eight years. Named papal legate—a personal aid to the pope himself—in 1511, Giovanni’s ecclesiastical star was on the rise. With the death of Julius II in 1513, the cardinal conclave, longing for a peaceful successor to Julius’ war prone reign—elected Cardinal de’ Medici pope on March 11. Giovanni took his name of Leo X.

More refined and sophisticated than his predecessor, Leo was, at first, considered the personification of the Renaissance ideals. Once again, Rome became the cultural center of Europe. The construction of St. Peter’s Basilica begun by Julius was accelerated, the Vatican Library holdings were expanding, arts flourished. Spending money, both the church’s and his own, came easy to Leo, far too easy.

He was not very disposed to institute the major reforms the church needed in the face of the growing Protestant Reformation. It would prove to be his undoing. Instead of looking over his shoulder to the looming presence of Martin Luther, Leo X was far too busy cementing positions of power for his relatives, naming his younger brother Giuliano and his nephew Lorenzo to be Roman patricians. His cousin, Giulio, son of his slain uncle, Leo X appointed to the influential archbishopric of Florence.

Giovanni/Leo X, as a person, was a complex individual, while steeped in the need for power that seemed inherent in the Medici’s, Giovanni was, at heart, a calm man. Marino Giorgi, the Venetian ambassador, described him thus, ‘The pope is a good-natured and extremely free-hearted man, who avoids every difficult situation and above all wants peace; he would not undertake a war himself unless forced into it by his advisors; he loves learning; of canon law and literature he possesses remarkable knowledge; he is, moreover, a very excellent musician.’ In addition to music, Leo loved all forms of art and literature. He also loved men.

Marcantonio Flaminio
Though biographers debate Leo’s homosexual, there seems to be more evidence for it than against it. Francesco Guicciardini, Leo’s governor, wrote, “At the beginning of his pontificate most people deemed him very chaste; however, he was afterwards discovered to be exceedingly devoted—and every day with less and less shame—to that kind of pleasure that for honour’s sake may not be named." Further, Paolo Giovio, a bishop and historian, claimed that "the pope did not escape the accusation of infamy, for the love he showed several of his chamberlains smacked of scandal in its playful liberality." There are several suggestions the Count Ludovico Rangone and Galeotto Malatesta were among Leo’s lovers. But it seems to be a young Venetian nobleman, Marcantonio Flaminio, whom Leo preferred, arranging for Marcantonio the best education offered at the time.

Cardinal Wolsey
Politics and foreign affairs took up much time of his first years as pope. He joined his forces with those of Venice and and Louis XII of France in the league of Mechlin to regain duchy of Milan. They failed. When the new king of France, Francois I took the throne, he was obsessed with recovering Milan. Leo formed a new league with the emperor and king of Spain, and, to cement English support, appointed one Thomas Wolsey as Cardinal. Francis entered Italy in August of 1515 and by September had won the decisive Battle of Marignano. Leo turned from the league he himself had formed, signing a treaty with Francis, earning him the derision of many as two-faced and not to be trusted.

And yet, they would align themselves with Leo once more. Obtaining 150,000 ducats from Henry VIII, Leo entered the Imperial league of Spain and England against France. From February to September of 1517 war ensued, this one ending in success, and Leo’s cousin was Lorenzo confirmed as the new duke of Urbino.

But this war only widened the divisiveness between the pope and the cardinals. Surviving a plot colluded by several members of the College of Cardinals, Leo used the opportunity to imprison his enemies—whether involved or not—and executing one. He also used the moment to radically change the composition of the college.

Martin Luther
As Luther and the reformation gained control in Germany and Scandinavia, complicating his political situation, Leo’s dithering carried over to other areas. With the death of Emperor Maximillian, Leo vacillated between candidates, revealing his indecisiveness, his weakness. He joined in alliance with the new emperor, Charles of Spain, and once more went to war for the control of Milan, and now Genoa, against French control.  At last Leo was to know victory; the capture of Milan came in November of 1521. But the taste of victory would not last long. Suffering from bronchopneumonia, Pope Leo X died on December 1, 1521.


Perhaps it is none other than Alexandre Dumas, he of Three Musketeers authorship, who summed up Leo’s reign best: "Under his pontificate, Latin Christianity assumed a pagan, Greco-Roman character, which, passing from art into manners, gives to this epoch a strange complexion. Crimes for the moment disappeared, to give place to vices; but to charming vices, vices in good taste, such as those indulged in by Alcibiades and sung by Catullus."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mein zweites Buch verfügbar 17. März
in deutscher Übersetzung

Die Tochter des Glasbläsers
Venedig, 1606. Wenn Sophia Kunstwerke aus flüssigem Glas formt, vergisst sie alles um sich herum: den kranken Vater, die drohende Zwangsheirat – und die tödliche Gefahr, in der sie schwebt. Keiner darf erfahren, dass die schöne junge Frau das allein Männern vorbehaltene Geheimnis der Glasherstellung kennt. Doch mit jedem Auftrag, den sie heimlich erledigt, steigt das Risiko, entdeckt zu werden. In ihrer Not vertraut sie sich dem charmanten Adeligen Teodoro an. Seine heißen Küsse haben ihr Herz erobert, aber Sophia weiß nicht, ob er ihr Retter sein wird – oder ihr Verräter …
"Eine der besten Romane geschrieben von Venedig ich je gelesen habe."
-Historische Roman schreiben

Die Murano Glasmacher in Venedig gefeiert und verehrt. Aber jetzt drei tot sind, um zu versuchen, die Stadt, die sowohl ihre Arbeit geschätzt und hielt sie gefangen verlassen getötet. Denn in diesem, dem 17. Jahrhundert, das Geheimnis ihres Handwerks sind, per Gesetz, nie verlassen venezianischen Küste. Doch es gibt jemanden, der das Geheimnis hält, während trotzt Tradition. Sie ist Sophia Fiolario, und sie ist auch ein Glasmacher. Ihr Verbrechen ist, eine Frau zu ...

Sophia ist sich bewusst, dass ihre Familie würde durch Skandal zerkleinert, wenn die Wahrheit über ihre Kenntnisse und Fähigkeiten mit Glas aufgedeckt werden. Aber es hat nie eine Bedrohung ... bis jetzt. Ein wohlhabender Adliger mit starken Verbindungen zu den Mächtigen Doge hat ihre Hand gebeten, und ihre Weigerung könnte gefährlich aufmerksam zu machen. Doch mit zu akzeptieren und aufhören, ihre Kunst würde sie zerstören. Wenn es eine Flucht, Sophia beabsichtigt, es zu finden.

Jetzt, zwischen dem Erstellen kostbaren Glasteile für einen Professor Galileo Galilei erstaunlichen Erfindungen und die Teilnahme an rauschende Feste auf den Dogenpalast, Sophia ist über den Weg sehr einflussreiche Leute - darunter einer, der ihr Leben für immer verändern könnte. Aber jedes Geheimnis hat ihren Preis. Und Sophia muss entscheiden, wie viel sie bereit sind zu zahlen, um sich selbst, ihre Familie und das Geheimnis des Glases zu schützen.

BEWERTUNGEN:
5 Sternen! Hervorragende Wahl für 2010 Absolutely superb. Russo Morin hat einen spektakulären Job. DAS GEHEIMNIS DER GLAS ist eine phänomenale historische Fiktion Geschichte über eine oft stören Zeitraum.
--book Illuminations
5 Sternen! Eine schöne Geschichte von meisterhafter Erzähler Donna Russo Morin; DAS GEHEIMNIS DER GLAS sollte nicht verpasst werden.
--single Titel
4 Sterne! Geschichte lebendig. Wie brillante Glas, wirbelt ihre Geschichte zusammen Farben der politischen und religiösen Intrigen, Mord und Romantik. Der Leser wird in das Leben ihrer faszinierenden Charaktere verstrickt werden. -
-RT Bewertungen
Die neueste inspirierenden historischen von Morin feiert die ewigen Charme von Venedig, Murano-Glas und Galileo, mit der Geschichte einer mutigen Frau, 17. Jahrhundert Glasmacher. Morin zaubert eine ungewöhnliche optimistische Schicksal ... was für eine ausgesprochen dulce Ende. "
-Publishers Weekly

Das Geheimnis der Glas ist ... gefüllt mit Figuren, die einfach zu gern sind und einem Grundstück, die Drehungen und durch die Geschichte zu einem zufriedenstellenden Abschluss macht. Wonderful 5-Sterne-historische Fiktion.
--Armchair Bewertungen
4.5 Sternen! Mit eleganten Prosa und verführerischen Stil, Donna Russo Morin bringt aus dem 17. Jahrhundert in Venedig herrlich zum Leben. "
-Historische Fiction.com
4 Sterne! Sehr empfehlenswert!
-Historically Obsessed

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

PIERO DE' MEDICI,
AND WHY THEY CALL HIM
'THE UNFORTUNATE'

He was the eldest son of Lorenzo de’ Medici, called Il Magnifico; he was the grandchild of his namesake, Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici, known as Piero the Gouty. And like that namesake, his reign as de facto ruler of Florence was not as esteemed as is father’s or his great-grandfather’s, Cosimo, Pater Patriae (father of the fatherland). This Piero’s life would be haunted be a series of truly unfortunate events.

Born in 1472, Piero received an encompassing and Humanist education, one of the best possible for the time. As a child, he played at the feet of such luminaries as Sandro Botticelli, Marsilio Ficino, Poliziano, Domenic Ghirlandaio, Verrocchio, and Leonardo da Vinci. When his father died in 1492, Piero was old enough to take his place at the head of the society and the ruling of Florence, the leaders of Florence gave him the power without question. He was old enough, but clearly not wise enough.
 
Piero was born with beauty, an attractive combination of the steely eyes of his father and the bone structure of his mother, Lucrezia Tornabuoni. Whether it was the consequence of being the son of one of the most powerful men in all of Italy’s history—with the wealth to match—or just his natural bearing, Piero was arrogant, undisciplined, and, unfortunately, when it came time to rule…feeble.

For two years, Piero ruled under a world swaddled in calm and peace; the efforts of his father to bring equilibrium between the Italian states seemed to be withstanding the test of time. But it was a time quickly running out. 

With a powerful army at his side, King Charles VII of France crossed the Alps in 1494, determined to take control, by virtue of heredity rights, of the Kingdom of Naples. In truth, it was a vengeful Ludovico Sforza, the ex-regent of Milan, who persuaded, as the devil would, King Charles to make such a maneuver. Fearful of the new king of Naples, Alfonso, Ludovico ‘allowed’ King Charles passage through Milan. However, in order for Charles to reach his ultimate destination of Naples, he was required to pass through Tuscany. 

With King Charles breathing heavily down his neck, Piero, pitifully lacking in political sense, was dealing with another challenger in his own city. Girolamo Savonarola. The enthralling and persuasive Savonarola called for reforms, away from the decadent lifestyle of the wealthy Florentines, denouncing the replete clerical corruption of the age, and degrading the despotic rule that had held sway over Florence for many generations. The only way of life Piero had ever known was being threatened, ever more so as the younger branch of the Medici family began their own intrigues against him.

Piero’s subsequent actions, unfortunately, proved foolhardy and ineffective. At first, he attempted to stay neutral; Charles wouldn’t have it. Piero then gave up the old alliance with France in favor of one with Naples. But as Charles charged downward from the Alps, Piero knew he had acted imprudently, especially when the Florentine elite—more and more under the influence of Savonarola—failed to support his decision. Thinking to imitate his father, who had hastened to Naples to avoid war, Piero rushed to meet the invader and his mighty forces. 

His capitulation was humiliatingly quick and meek. Piero surrendered the major Tuscan fortresses to Charles, agreeing to whatever the King of France wanted. His futile and fruitless actions roused an uproar in Florence, leaving the Medici only once choice…to flee.

Leaving the magnificent family palazzo to the looters of his own populace, Piero and his family fled to Venice, aided by Philippe de Commines. But it was a temporary haven. They led the restless lives of exiles, never again to see Florence. One must surely give him some respect, for he did try for reinstatement, upon three occasions, in 1496, ’97, and ’98. Unfortunately, they were all unsuccessful. 

In 1503, he made one last attempt. Still with a personal alliance with France, he traveled to southern Italy with the French forces of Louis XII who entered battle with Spain over control of Naples. Unfortunately, the battle turned against the French—against Piero—and in his attempt to escape, he was drowned in the Garigliano River. He was buried in the cloister of Monte Cassino, located between Naples and Rome. 

Having ruled Florence for over a half a century, it wasn’t long before the Medici family, with the help of the Holy League, once more regained control. Unfortunately, Piero would never know the success and astounding notoriety so many of his kinsmen enjoyed.