Castles of Italy - Medieval Life of Noble Families

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Noble knights, haughty chatelaines and their castles are something we encounter in our earliest readings of fairy tales. The picture they give of the Middle Ages is glamorous but rather short on realism. This book brings to life the genuine everyday life and machinations of the Italian nobility and clergy. The names of ruling families such as the Medicis, Sforzas and d'Estes are closely linked with Italian history. Of very diverse origin and by no means always noble, they were condottieri, merchants and bankers. Their dangerous power games, alliances and intrigues were not infrequently resolved by mysterious poisonings. Splendid marriages and celebrations were part of their more public front, while princes, kings and popes were discriminating patrons of outstanding artists and poets. Their fortresses have survived the centuries, if not always unscathed, to tell their stories.

Featured topics include:
Castel Sant' Angelo: Symbol of papal power
Lucca: A wall against fear
lmola: Caterina Sforza's dowry
Noble knights, rabble-rousers and bankers: A mixed society
Gavi: A fortified vineyard
The castle as a place of refuge from the plague

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