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The Beauty and the Terror


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A thrilling history of the unseen dark side of the Italian Renaissance

About the Author

Catherine Fletcher is a historian of Renaissance and early modern Europe. Her previous books include The Black Prince of Florence- The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici and The Divorce of Henry VIII- The Untold Story. Catherine is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University and broadcasts regularly for the BBC.


Terrifying and fascinating ... If you thought the Renaissance was all about beautiful pictures and the 'rediscovery' of Classical writing, you are quite wrong ... The Beauty and the Terror dismantles our assumptions about the Renaissance with the precision of a wheellock arquebus ... an ambitious, multifocal book, encompassing more than 150 years [that] shine[s] a light on figures often forgotten in conventional histories -- Mary Wellesley * Sunday Times *
Impressive and lucid ... Fletcher's narration excels in such colourful details ... a scholarly, but vivid history that shows the impact that the machinations of the great, good and not so good had on the insignificant ... a persuasive account of how Italy was brought low even as the culture floated high -- Michael Prodger * The Times *
Richly well-informed and admirably well-written, containing material of real interest on every page ... has added a wealth of information that will be new to most of us -- Noel Malcolm * Sunday Telegraph *
A story of alliances, betrayals, sacks, sieges, famines, assassinations and gruesomely ingenious tortures ... Fletcher navigates this difficult terrain with great skill. She creates atmosphere and drama without any surrendering of clarity... A powerful book -- Charles Nicholl * Guardian *
Fletcher's expertise is enviable ... she knows better than anyone else just how treacherous a time and place it was. At its best, The Beauty and the Terror is as enlightening as you might hope: a chapter tracing early modern ambivalence about the rise of handguns ... is exactly the alternative history you might wish for, as are the sections on slavery, sexual mores and pornography -- Tim Smith-Laing * Daily Telegraph *

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