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Vendetta: High Art and Low Cunning at the Birth of the Renaissance (Anglais) Broché – 5 février 2009

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Vendetta The lives and loves of the great condottieri Full description

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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5 7 commentaires
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A prickly narrative in more ways than one . . . 5 avril 2009
Par Wayne Dawson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Hugh Bicheno's claim of intending this book for the general reader is some what amusing. Relishing another one of those slick stories of the renaissance that shows in bold relief the dynamic but unstable character of man, I was abruptly unhorsed by a barrage of family and place names that threatened to choke off the narrative before it had even begun. The obsessive detail intensified with the passing of each brief chapter until finally, reaching the chapters on the main protagonists Sigismondo and Federico, the narrative was at last pruned back enabling me to dust myself down and enjoy the scenery.

So why the five star rating?

The story became enjoyable once all the clans had been exorcised and the aperture came to focus on Sigismondo Malatesta and Federico Montefeltro. Hugh is also generous with the sweeteners: Two sections of coloured plates, a brief timeline on the development of Italian armour and fortifications, plenty of maps and, just like the bible, I'm sure you too can trace your family through the maze of genealogical information. There are appendices, a list of main players and a collection of black and white photographs grouped together at the back of the book showing many strongholds and castles (although strangely, no notes).

Finally and most importantly, Hugh's appraisal of Sigismondo shows him in a more favourable and convincing light than `canonical' tradition has allowed. Indeed, Hugh's direction reveals Federico to be more villain than `Good Duke' as Orville Prescott referred to him in his `Princes of the Renaissance' and Geoffrey Trease, in his sumptuous and magnificent `The Condottieri', kept Federico's halo in place also (it is well to be reminded that Federico Montefeltro had a shadowy but crucial influence in the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici). Even the inside flap of this very book reinforces the 'bad head' villainous view of Sigismondo, a perception heavily doctored by a string of enemies, foremost amongst them Federico, and a certain number of Popes.

Vendetta explores in short, detailed chapters an often overlooked niche of Italian renaissance history that makes for a greater appreciation of the more familiar Lorenzo de Medici and Cesare Borgias episodes that were to follow. Once the genealogical haze had lifted, the narrative became more cohesive giving us an enjoyable read to the finishing line. In the end Sigismondo glows with military prowess (one wonders if Cesare Borgias took a page out of his book) while Federico proved to be the cannier negotiator and more adept politician.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The dark side of the Renaissance 1 janvier 2012
Par A reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
After reading this book you may ask yourself how modern Italy--united, peaceful and prosperous--ever could have come into existence. Why isn't the peninsula a wasteland of burnt-out villages, shattered cities and tangled heaps of human skeletons? Some parts of Italy really did resemble that grim picture during the 1400s, a century more often presented as the golden age of the Italian Renaissance. But in the lawless region known as the Romagna, an ill-defined area south of Bologna that runs along the eastern coast and inland from there, every city had its petty tyrant, intent not only on holding onto his own domain, but also on expanding it at the expense of others. The extent of the treachery and double-dealing, broken treaties, betrayals, senseless slaughters, rapes, assassinations, murders, poisonings, pillages and general mayhem that went on in this territory in the 15th century is mind-boggling, but the author leads his readers through the mazes with an astounding command of extremely complex material.

The cast of characters is large and the author doesn't assume his readers will recognize their names, so the book includes a list that introduces the major players, as well as detailed maps and genealogies. Holding together the narrative is the lifelong power struggle between the two most prominent men involved in those endless conflicts: Sigismondo Malatesta (1417-68), lord of Rimini, and Federico da Montefeltro (1422-82), Duke of Urbino. Both were noted "condottieri," or mercenary generals, who hired themselves out to whatever power paid them the most. The degree of "furbizia"--the low cunning noted in the book's title--displayed by these two rivals tops anything you'll find in the most convoluted modern espionage novels.

This may sound like it's of interest mostly to fans of military history, but the book's scope is broader than that. Both Sigismondo and Federico were notable patrons of the arts, and Bicheno devotes several chapters to the works they commissioned. The author further notes that history has treated Federico better than Sigismondo, as the latter's reputation was darkened by a vicious war of words conducted against him by Pope Pius II, who loathed Sigismondo so much that he condemned the ruler of Rimini to Hell while he was still alive! Bicheno suggests the pope's hysterical hatred of Sigismondo may have its roots in an incident in which a nephew of the pope brought the lord of Rimini an unwelcome papal message. In full view of his cheering troops, Sigismondo responded by sodomizing the messenger.

In an attempt to rehabilitate Sigismondo, the author points out that, despite a nature bristling with violence and out-of-control lust, he had one endearing quality: he was capable of deep and lasting love. He adored Isotta degli Atti, who became his mistress when she was 12, and whom he eventually married. The famous church he built in Rimini, dedicated to St. Francis but known more accurately as the Tempio Malatestiano, is in many ways a monument to their love.

The final chapter offers a travel itinerary of the many ruined castles and fortresses that dot the now tranquil countryside where the violence the author so ably depicts long ago took place.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Outstanding treatment of a complex subject 11 septembre 2013
Par Matthew Baumgartner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I wish Hugh Bicheno would tackle more stories of late medieval Italy. He takes the story of the rivalry between the Malatesta of Rimini and the Montefeltro of Urbino and, while not making it simple (no one can), he presents it in a fairly digestible and very complete narrative which should satisfy both scholars of the period, and the casual reader of history. It is NOT a simple book, but a fascinating, thorough, and enjoyable study of brutal, cunning, men in a brutal era.
3.0 étoiles sur 5 WELL RESEARCHED. 21 janvier 2015
Par B. GOOD - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
A great book for the scholars among us. Much too much information for my needs, although I appreciated the depth of the research done by the author. I was looking for a book more focused on the characters of Montefeltro and Malatesta, especially and most particularly, their patronage of the Fine Arts and how it played into the rest of their bellicose lives. The book goes into finite detail of all of the land battles in their histories with many, many characters over many, many years which would be very interesting for those seeking that knowledge. With that in mind, it would be a very worthwhile read.
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Written like an intelligence report 19 mars 2014
Par Pete Flynn - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Hugh Bicheno is a former intelligence officer and this book reads much like a report. It's rough going with a level of detail that is excruciating. I am very interested in this subject but could not spend more than an hour at a time with the book. If you want to create an itinerary for a tour of Italian battle sites, it's ideal. The country is marvelous and the people are friendly. But I intend to pass this book on to a friend, and keep on looking for similar works.
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