A beautifully illustrated history of the Renaissance told through the lives of its most important and influential patrons. 'Exceptionally sumptuous... This vivid history brings to life the vices and virtues of the feuding ruling families of Italy.' Michael Prodger, The Times 'Full of treasures to be uncovered... A chance to visit a glittering, at times rather gory, world that is different and yet dreamily familiar to our own.' BBC History Revealed From the late Middle Ages, the independent Italian city-states were taken over by powerful families who installed themselves as dynastic rulers. Inspired by the humanists, the princes of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy immersed themselves in the culture of antiquity, commissioning palaces, villas and churches inspired by the architecture of ancient Rome, and offering patronage to artists and writers. Many of these princes were related by blood or marriage, creating a web of alliances that held society together but whose tensions sometimes threatened to tear it apart; thus were their lives dominated as much by the waging of war as the nurture of artistic talent. In a narrative that is as rigorous and closely researched as it is accessible and informative, Mary Hollingsworth sets the princes' aesthetic achievements in the context of the volatile, ever-shifting politics of a tumultuous period of history.