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Isabella De'Medici (eBook): The Glorious Life and Tragic End of a Renaissance Princess

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Isabella de' Medici was the hostess of a glittering circle in Renaissance Florence. Beautiful and liberated, she not only matched the intellectual accomplishments of her male contemporaries, but sought sexual parity also, engaging in an adulterous affair with her husband's cousin. It was this affair - and her very success as First Lady of Florence - that led to her death a Isabella de' Medici was the hostess of a glittering circle in Renaissance Florence. Beautiful and liberated, she not only matched the intellectual accomplishments of her male contemporaries, but sought sexual parity also, engaging in an adulterous affair with her husband's cousin. It was this affair - and her very success as First Lady of Florence - that led to her death at the hands of her husband at the age of just thirty-four. She left behind a remarkable story, and as her legacy a son who became the best of the Orsini Dukes, immortalised by Shakespeare as Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night. Caroline P. Murphy illuminates this often misunderstood figure, and in the process brings to life the home of creativity, the city of Florence itself.


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Isabella de' Medici was the hostess of a glittering circle in Renaissance Florence. Beautiful and liberated, she not only matched the intellectual accomplishments of her male contemporaries, but sought sexual parity also, engaging in an adulterous affair with her husband's cousin. It was this affair - and her very success as First Lady of Florence - that led to her death a Isabella de' Medici was the hostess of a glittering circle in Renaissance Florence. Beautiful and liberated, she not only matched the intellectual accomplishments of her male contemporaries, but sought sexual parity also, engaging in an adulterous affair with her husband's cousin. It was this affair - and her very success as First Lady of Florence - that led to her death at the hands of her husband at the age of just thirty-four. She left behind a remarkable story, and as her legacy a son who became the best of the Orsini Dukes, immortalised by Shakespeare as Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night. Caroline P. Murphy illuminates this often misunderstood figure, and in the process brings to life the home of creativity, the city of Florence itself.

30 review for Isabella De'Medici (eBook): The Glorious Life and Tragic End of a Renaissance Princess

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    I do not exaggerate when I say Murder of a Medici Princess is one of the best biographies I've ever read. Caroline P. Murphy brings to life not only a remarkable woman, but also the intrigue, the splendour and the violence of the Medici court during the reigns of Cosimo I and Francesco I. Isabella de' Medici was the favourite daughter of Cosimo I, ruler of Florence and Tuscany. Dazzling, cultured, spirited and vivacious, she was a very modern woman. In a world where close relationships between relatives I do not exaggerate when I say Murder of a Medici Princess is one of the best biographies I've ever read. Caroline P. Murphy brings to life not only a remarkable woman, but also the intrigue, the splendour and the violence of the Medici court during the reigns of Cosimo I and Francesco I. Isabella de' Medici was the favourite daughter of Cosimo I, ruler of Florence and Tuscany. Dazzling, cultured, spirited and vivacious, she was a very modern woman. In a world where close relationships between relatives were infrequent, she enjoyed a deep and loving bond with her brother Giovanni, who tragically died still young, and with her father. Cosimo sincerely loved his daughter and, as long as he was alive, he granted her every wish and gave her a freedom which was unusual for women of her time: he permitted her to live separated from her despised husband, Paolo Orsini. Isabella had her own court and enjoyed life as the first lady in Florence, admired by all. She also found the love and passion she lacked in her marriage with handsome Troilo Orsini. When Cosimo died, however, her brother Francesco did not show similar sympathy towards her. Things deteriorated quickly for Isabella, and in the end she was murdered by Paolo, with the approval and probably instigation of Francesco. This biography is comprehensive and well researched, and as absorbing as a novel. I was captivated from the first page and Murphy kept my interest for the whole book. She successfully paints not only Isabella, but also every other member of the Medici family. It is a pity they are not more featured in historical novels, because they would be fantastically intriguing characters (if you are interested in them, check out The Red Lily Crown ). The traditions, culture and entertainments of the time is also explored, as well as the political machinations and wars. Lastly, I loved the format of the book as well: every chapter opens with an evocative drawing, and the portraits of the main players are included - and, in my edition, with colours. Warmly recommended for lovers of biographies, and for fans of Renaissance Italy especially. She not only played and partied; she had the opportunity to think and create, to love and be loved at a time when many women were valued as little more than dowry-bearing vessels. It seems important to celebrate the laughing, high-spirited, liberal Isabella, as much as one might lament her fate. There was never another Medici woman like her.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Description: In Murder of the Medici Princess, Caroline Murphy illuminates the brilliant life and tragic death of Isabella de Medici, one of the brightest stars in the dazzling world of Renaissance Italy, the daughter of Duke Cosimo I, ruler of Florence and Tuscany. Murphy is a superb storyteller, and her fast-paced narrative captures the intrigue, the scandal, the romantic affairs, and the violence that were commonplace in the Florentine court. She brings to life an extraordinary woman, fluent Description: In Murder of the Medici Princess, Caroline Murphy illuminates the brilliant life and tragic death of Isabella de Medici, one of the brightest stars in the dazzling world of Renaissance Italy, the daughter of Duke Cosimo I, ruler of Florence and Tuscany. Murphy is a superb storyteller, and her fast-paced narrative captures the intrigue, the scandal, the romantic affairs, and the violence that were commonplace in the Florentine court. She brings to life an extraordinary woman, fluent in five languages, a free-spirited patron of the arts, a daredevil, a practical joker, and a passionate lover. Isabella, in fact, conducted numerous affairs, including a ten-year relationship with the cousin of her violent and possessive husband. Her permissive lifestyle, however, came to an end upon the death of her father, who was succeeded by her disapproving older brother Francesco. Considering Isabella's ways to be licentious and a disgrace upon the family, he permitted her increasingly enraged husband to murder her in a remote Medici villa. To tell this dramatic story, Murphy draws on a vast trove of newly discovered and unpublished documents, ranging from Isabella's own letters, to the loose-tongued dispatches of ambassadors to Florence, to contemporary descriptions of the opulent parties and balls, salons and hunts in which Isabella and her associates participated. Murphy resurrects the exciting atmosphere of Renaissance Florence, weaving Isabella's beloved city into her story, evoking the intellectual and artistic community that thrived during her time. Palaces and gardens in the city become places of creativity and intrigue, sites of seduction, and grounds for betrayal. Herethen is a narrative of compelling and epic proportions, magnificent and alluring, decadent and ultimately tragic. Opening: On 10 January 1542, [..]the Florentine cleric Ugolino Grifoni, who served the Medici family as one of their court secretaries, was busy presenting letters to the reigning duke, Cosimo d'Medici, in his chambers. The Duke's wife, Eleonora di Toledo, was also in attendence. Further description: Isabella de' Medici was the hostess of a glittering circle in Renaissance Florence. Beautiful and liberated, she not only matched the intellectual accomplishments of her male contemporaries, but sought sexual parity also, engaging in an adulterous affair with her husband's cousin. It was this affair - and her very success as First Lady of Florence - that led to her death at the hands of her husband at the age of just thirty-four. She left behind a remarkable story, and as her legacy a son who became the best of the Orsini Dukes, immortalised by Shakespeare as Duke Orsino in "Twelfth Night". Caroline P. Murphy illuminates this often misunderstood figure, and in the process brings to life the home of creativity, the city of Florence itself.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    This was a fun book to read. I suppose that sounds a little strange for a biography of a Medici and one supposedly murdered at that, but it was. Isabella de Medici was a member of the second famous round of Medicis. The first bunch, Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent, well known in the 15th century as the famous banking family and patron of Michaelangelo, are familiar to almost everyone as leaders of Florence. Lorenzo the Magnificent was said to be a true "Renaissance" man. Isabella's This was a fun book to read. I suppose that sounds a little strange for a biography of a Medici and one supposedly murdered at that, but it was. Isabella de Medici was a member of the second famous round of Medicis. The first bunch, Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent, well known in the 15th century as the famous banking family and patron of Michaelangelo, are familiar to almost everyone as leaders of Florence. Lorenzo the Magnificent was said to be a true "Renaissance" man. Isabella's line, also from a famous Cosimo, who became the first Duke of Florence, came later, in the 16th century. She was the daughter of Cosimo and Elanora of Toledo and was considered to be a great beauty, fashion leader, writer of music, and horsewoman and Huntress. In short, the perfect Florentine Princess, her father's favorite daughter. He married her to a Roman aristocrat, a spendthrift, a glutton, and a womanizer. Cosimo also kept Isabella in Florence with him instead of sending her to Rome with her husband. By the time her father died, her brother, the new Duke, was wildly jealous of her, her husband felt demeaned by her, and her lover had been driven out of the country. She was alone and vulnerable and shortly she, "died unexpectedly while on a hunting trip with her husband". Does any of this sound familiar? It sure did to me! I felt like I had dropped into some 16th-century reality show. You know the one. The Real Housewives of Florence. What fun!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sara Poole

    Part of my fascination with the Renaissance stems from the extraordinary alignment of beauty and corruption that characterizes the period. Just as some of the most magnificent prose in the English language was written in the highly repressive “police state” environment of Elizabethan England, art and culture flowered amid the endemic greed, violence, brutality, and repression of Medici Florence. Murphy’s insightful foray into the life and times of Isabella de Medici goes a long way toward illumi Part of my fascination with the Renaissance stems from the extraordinary alignment of beauty and corruption that characterizes the period. Just as some of the most magnificent prose in the English language was written in the highly repressive “police state” environment of Elizabethan England, art and culture flowered amid the endemic greed, violence, brutality, and repression of Medici Florence. Murphy’s insightful foray into the life and times of Isabella de Medici goes a long way toward illuminating how this came to be. Born at once to privilege and repression in a relentlessly male-dominated society, Isabella was a brilliant woman, fluent in five languages, devoted to the arts, high-spirited and daring. While her father lived, her life was her own as much as any woman of the time could hope. But with his death, her brother and husband conspired to kill her in circumstances that have haunting echoes in today’s “honor killings”. Murphy’s research is impeccable, as is her ability to bring a distant time to life. Isabella emerges as a living, breathing woman who blazed a dazzling path across the Renaissance sky and whose fall to earth casts light into the darkest corners of that complex time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    This book is more than a story of Isabella's murder, in fact, very few pages are devoted to the actual murder. The murder is the culmination of the family relationships that brew from page one. Through this story we learn of the people and their times. We come to appreciate Cosimo Medici, who rebuilt his family dynasty through politics and strategic marriages. We come to appreciate even more his extraordinary daughter. Not being steeped in the history of Italy at this time, This book is more than a story of Isabella's murder, in fact, very few pages are devoted to the actual murder. The murder is the culmination of the family relationships that brew from page one. Through this story we learn of the people and their times. We come to appreciate Cosimo Medici, who rebuilt his family dynasty through politics and strategic marriages. We come to appreciate even more his extraordinary daughter. Not being steeped in the history of Italy at this time, I found the first few chapters hard going. The genealogies of Medicis and the other European monarchs are complex and difficult to follow. After this, as the personalities get drawn and the story unfolds it becomes a page turner building to the actual murder. The book built my interest Italian history. I will be reading more Italian history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I had never heard of this book, but it caught my eye on a book display--and what a fun surprise! I loved it. I really love well done biographies, and this was so well researched and written in short, very readable chapters. It is about Cosimo's favorite daughter (Isabella), but really it is a history of one generation of the whole Medici family. Fascinating family. Huge fan of the author now--she's also written a well known book called "The Pope's Daughter"--can't wait to read it now too. < I had never heard of this book, but it caught my eye on a book display--and what a fun surprise! I loved it. I really love well done biographies, and this was so well researched and written in short, very readable chapters. It is about Cosimo's favorite daughter (Isabella), but really it is a history of one generation of the whole Medici family. Fascinating family. Huge fan of the author now--she's also written a well known book called "The Pope's Daughter"--can't wait to read it now too.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Izzy Medici

    It's a fair account. I don't look perfect. But my brother, Francesco I, looks like a monster, so it seems fair. Now that it's 2014 I'm trying to understand how much of any of this is in some fundamental way really about "me" or "Francisco" or the many sad Medici women, and how much of these details are really more about the time and place more than the people in some fundamental way? If you live in the world you are dealt, is that life about you? Or about your world? In the case of Fr It's a fair account. I don't look perfect. But my brother, Francesco I, looks like a monster, so it seems fair. Now that it's 2014 I'm trying to understand how much of any of this is in some fundamental way really about "me" or "Francisco" or the many sad Medici women, and how much of these details are really more about the time and place more than the people in some fundamental way? If you live in the world you are dealt, is that life about you? Or about your world? In the case of Francesco, I guess you can compare him to his predecessor, our dad, Cosimo I. In fact, dad committed many brutal acts, beheadings, all of it. But you could say that everything dad did served a purpose. Francesco seemed to simply enjoy violence as sport. I honestly don't think dad ever did that. As for myself and my cousin Lenora, some people like to think of us as the Paris & Nicky Hilton, or the Kardashians of our age. Honestly, I don't think that's fair. I see us more like Kennedys. The Kennedys were rich and affluent and privileged and powerful and hedonistic. But they were also deeply aware of and engaged in their culture and their world. They served themselves, but they also served a larger world. Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis certainly wouldn't have married the men she did if she were "just" Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. As for the book itself, Caroline P. Murphy has done a beautiful job. Honestly, after 4-1/2 centuries I'm amazed how she was able to piece our lives together. Who knew so many letters and correspondences would still exist!? I can't imagine how many hours and months she spent uncovering and organizing all this information. In the end she's presented it as an easy and compelling read. In the end she rekindles both my passion for life, and my hatred of my misanthrope brother. Feelings in a way I would rather not revisit. Still, for you, the 21st century reader, I do think the book provides both historical context and contemporary insight. Whether it's Florence under the misogynistic hand of Francesco I in the 16th century, or Italy under the misogynistic hand of Silvio Berlusconi in the 21st century, you do have to ask how much has really changed and why my beloved country refuses to break this cycle of misogyny. One of my distant progeny has summoned me to participate in an upcoming event #1850charla: http://practicebased.re/act/category/... Since I'm back, I'd like to take the opportunity to rethink the way Lenora and I fit in this world. I think we did the best that was possible in the context of what the 16th century had to offer to people of my gender. The 21st century seems far from perfect, yet it also seems filled with far more possibilities than the world I knew. Murphy's elegantly detailed book reminds me of the life I once lived. It's a beautiful book in that it gives both the details of that life and also the perspective that perhaps I didn't always have. It was a joy to read. It was painful to read. I think her book offers a wonderful opportunity to understand my own past. And how can you build any better future without first understanding the past.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robin Sencenbach Ferguson

    I'm wavering between 3 and 4 stars, I admit. "Murder of a Medici Princess," despite its teasing title, is not a murder mystery, but is an excellent biography of Isabella de Medici, the much adored daughter of Grand Duke Cosimo de Medici, the most powerful Medici ruler in that family's long history. However, Caroline Murphy skillfully integrates a mystery within her biography. How does this powerful, favored princess meet the brutal end spoken of in the title? Murphy doesn't give away the answer I'm wavering between 3 and 4 stars, I admit. "Murder of a Medici Princess," despite its teasing title, is not a murder mystery, but is an excellent biography of Isabella de Medici, the much adored daughter of Grand Duke Cosimo de Medici, the most powerful Medici ruler in that family's long history. However, Caroline Murphy skillfully integrates a mystery within her biography. How does this powerful, favored princess meet the brutal end spoken of in the title? Murphy doesn't give away the answer easily and instead skillfully unravels the Medici family cloak-and-dagger ways to explain the mystery. It is a highly enjoyable biography. Isabella lived a charmed life, not only as the child of nobility, but as a woman in 1500s Florence. Cosimo was an unusual man who valued his daughters and sons equally and treated and educated his daughter accordingly. Her freedom continued even after her marriage, as Isabella lived independently from her well-connected but generally useless, spend-thrift husband Paolo Orsini, to whom she writes many, many letters full of (increasingly amusing) ailments and excuses to explain her absence from him. But the Medici court is a dangerous place, and Isabella must fight to retain her place as the first lady of Florence. Murphy is at her best when depicting the Medici family squabbles, plots, and in-fighting. The most engaging parts of the biography are the back and forth issues between Cosimo, saturnine heir Francesco, cunning Ferdinando, and their various mistresses. Most of what we know about Isabella is based on what is going on in the whole of the Medici family--which accurately demonstrates the dynamics of the family--oddly tight-knit yet complicated. Still, I'd rather the whole of the Medici family had been the focus of the book and not Isabella herself. Yes, she was intelligent and cultured, but Isabella was also a spoiled, self-absorbed, hard-partying hypochondriac who was complicit if not an active participant to a brutal murder herself. Murphy often tries to apologize for her subject. "This may make her seem spoiled..." Why, yes, it does. Because she is. Murphy tries too hard to make Isabella a victim we should mourn for, which she was surely not. It was disappointing in a book that otherwise doesn't pull punches in discussing court intrigue and shady characters. This was an enjoyable biography that introduced me to historical figures I hadn't read about before. While Isabella wasn't the heroine Murphy may wish her to be, "Murder of a Medici Princess" was an excellent piece of historical writing that is as page turning as any modern thriller.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alison C

    Murder of a Medici Princess, by Caroline P. Murphy, details the remarkable life of Isabella de Medici, the 16th-Century "princess" daughter of Duke Cosimo I of Florence. Unlike virtually all other women of her place and time, Isabella was able to lead a relatively independent existence, constantly fobbing off the requests of her husband, the Duke Paolo Giordano Orsini, to move from her villas in Florence to his home in Rome. Duke Paolo was a typical man of his time, prone to visiting prostitutes Murder of a Medici Princess, by Caroline P. Murphy, details the remarkable life of Isabella de Medici, the 16th-Century "princess" daughter of Duke Cosimo I of Florence. Unlike virtually all other women of her place and time, Isabella was able to lead a relatively independent existence, constantly fobbing off the requests of her husband, the Duke Paolo Giordano Orsini, to move from her villas in Florence to his home in Rome. Duke Paolo was a typical man of his time, prone to visiting prostitutes and to engage in violence against women, and Isabella wanted nothing to do with him (the marriage had been made for political reasons on the part of her father, after all), but the fact that Isabella was able for the most part to live her life away from her husband was quite unusual. Unfortunately, her degree of freedom was due largely to her father's indulgence of her, and when he died, her life changed rapidly, ending with her death at the hands of her husband and with the consent of her elder brother Francesco, the new Duke of Florence.... Well-written and rooted in contemporary sources, including letters by the main characters and by court observers, this biography is quite fascinating. I know almost nothing about the region of Europe that became Italy during this historical period, so some of the political maneuvering was somewhat opaque to me, but Murphy does a good job of clarifying what can seem to be an endless web of intrigue and one-upmanship. Well worth reading if you're interested in this period of time or in biographies of remarkable women.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Non fiction. An interesting read, though not my favorite of the many historical books I've read. I found this book more confusing than the Alison Weir books you see in my 'read' shelf. Perhaps that is because I'm less familiar with Italian history than I am with English or French history. I also think it has something to do with the fact that so many of the characters in this story have the same name. However, the author's writing, while in general pretty good, is also a bit less lucid. The Non fiction. An interesting read, though not my favorite of the many historical books I've read. I found this book more confusing than the Alison Weir books you see in my 'read' shelf. Perhaps that is because I'm less familiar with Italian history than I am with English or French history. I also think it has something to do with the fact that so many of the characters in this story have the same name. However, the author's writing, while in general pretty good, is also a bit less lucid. The story the book tells is, of course, very interesting, and is a good portrayal of a unique woman who bucked the conventions of her time. I thought it was very interesting that she was able to do so because her father was unique as well. Renaissance Italy was a fascinating place, and the status of women portrayed in this book is a lovely way to look at it. Isabella, the main Medici princess of the title, tries to live her own way and suffers for it. Giovanna of Austria, wife of Isabella's brother, tries to be a virtuous wife, and is scorned by her husband. Bianca, loved by Isabella's brother, is able to do pretty much whatever she wants, in spite of a lower status, simply because she is loved. The men in this book mostly end up looking like villians, especially Francesco the brother and Isabella's weak husband Paolo Giordano. Cosimo, Isabella's father, is much more sympathetic. A good look at Renaissance Italy through the eyes and actions of upper class women.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Detail in his biography puts you smack dab in the middle of 16th Century Florence. Isabella's life as a Medici Princess was exceptional for the level of power and the amount of autonomy she experienced as a female in an era in which that was rare. Nobel females leaving their birth families and towns extremely young, and often raised within their future spouse's extended household- was absolutely the norm. Not Isabella. She was cosseted by Cosimo. I especially enjoyed reading about the children's Detail in his biography puts you smack dab in the middle of 16th Century Florence. Isabella's life as a Medici Princess was exceptional for the level of power and the amount of autonomy she experienced as a female in an era in which that was rare. Nobel females leaving their birth families and towns extremely young, and often raised within their future spouse's extended household- was absolutely the norm. Not Isabella. She was cosseted by Cosimo. I especially enjoyed reading about the children's wardrobes and shoe requests. But regardless, her strategy and luck ran out. The book itself, its form? Regardless of the excellent factual context record, clear writing style, and massive research- I never did grasp the real personality that made Isabella. For instance, her two live births are at 30 and 31 years of age? When she was married from 16-17? Despite her losing some pregnancies, I felt that there was most probably more to her core than you got from the facts of history. Her Father came alive to me, as did her Mother. Isabella- she had a mysterious quality. I believe she could keep her secrets. What always amazes me after reading these histories are the numbers of deaths of siblings, and generally of very young people or children. IMHO, that alone kept emotional distance by adulthood nearly assured.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robotbee

    I read a lot of Caroline Murphy's work on Lavinia Fontana for a term project I did for my art history class, so when I was absently flipping around on amazon.com and it recommended this book for me (based on my having purchased the True Memoirs of Little K, a fictional but historically accurate retelling of the mistress of the last Romanov czar's Imperial ballerina mistress Mathilde Kschessinska), I took one look at the author's name and dropped it right in my cart. I generally don't I read a lot of Caroline Murphy's work on Lavinia Fontana for a term project I did for my art history class, so when I was absently flipping around on amazon.com and it recommended this book for me (based on my having purchased the True Memoirs of Little K, a fictional but historically accurate retelling of the mistress of the last Romanov czar's Imperial ballerina mistress Mathilde Kschessinska), I took one look at the author's name and dropped it right in my cart. I generally don't go for the non-fiction, but Murphy tells the story of Isabella de' Medici like a fiction writer would. She was the beloved star of Florence and the darling of her father, whose clout protected her from her well-connected but brutal and oafish husband. During her father's lifetime she flouted convention in many ways, including making herself happy with a handsome lover. Many modern critics agree that Isabella was in some ways a feminist, although others view her as a spoiled party girl, despite her high level of education and her charitable activities. She meets her end, as the title suggests, in a violent way, and although his involvement is never seriously disputed, her husband never pays for his crime. If you like historical fiction, or princesses, or the Renaissance, you should read this book. The copy I have includes several plates of portraits that I found extremely compelling.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    The third of eight surviving children, Isabella de Medici (1542–1576) was unusually close to her father, Cosimo, the powerful grand duke of Tuscany who built most of what we know of Renaissance Florence, and whose protection allowed her to live a glittering Florentine life apart from her debt-ridden, abusive husband in Rome. After Cosimo's death in 1574, her spiteful older brother, Francesco, reneged on her inheritance and ultimately Isabella pays with her life for flouting her era's traditional The third of eight surviving children, Isabella de Medici (1542–1576) was unusually close to her father, Cosimo, the powerful grand duke of Tuscany who built most of what we know of Renaissance Florence, and whose protection allowed her to live a glittering Florentine life apart from her debt-ridden, abusive husband in Rome. After Cosimo's death in 1574, her spiteful older brother, Francesco, reneged on her inheritance and ultimately Isabella pays with her life for flouting her era's traditional gender roles.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Protected by an indulgent father, Isabella d'Medici dazzled Renaissance Florence with her wit, patronage and flamboyant behavior. Few women could get away with her degree of independence, financial clout and flaunting of convention, and Isabella's time ran out when her father died and her far less tolerant brother encouraged her angry husband to beat her to death in what is essentially a 16th century Italian honor killing

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The thing that stands out most about this book for me is how much more engaging the second half is than the first. I kind of read 20 pages here and there, but then read the last 150 in a single go. I won't give it away, but it's such a sad book, and the last few chapters bring this to life so well.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Teri Peterson

    This book looks on the outside (and on the jacket cover) like a novel, but it isn't. It's a history. It's well researched and interestingly presented, but it wasn't what I was hoping for....

  17. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    See my review on my book blog: http://quirkyreader.livejournal.com/2...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathee

    Isabella de’ Medici was a fascinating figure. Due to her close relationship with her father and the force of her own personality, she was able to carve out an independent life as a married woman living during The Renaissance in Florence and Tuscany. This work of non-fiction is well-referenced and researched, and Caroline P. Murphy did an excellent job of providing the reader with a glimpse into the distinct personalities of the Medici Family. I found myself rooting for Isabella, despising Franci Isabella de’ Medici was a fascinating figure. Due to her close relationship with her father and the force of her own personality, she was able to carve out an independent life as a married woman living during The Renaissance in Florence and Tuscany. This work of non-fiction is well-referenced and researched, and Caroline P. Murphy did an excellent job of providing the reader with a glimpse into the distinct personalities of the Medici Family. I found myself rooting for Isabella, despising Francisco I and Paolo Orsini, and mourning the death of Cosimo. Although the title is misleading (only a small portion of the book addresses the murder of Isabella) and some reviewers found this book dry, I felt that it read like a novel. I always keep one book that I am reading by my elliptical and only allow myself to read it if I exercise; I purposely choose the most engaging book in my current pile for this purpose. Thus, even though it took me awhile to finish this book, I loved it. I recommend it to lovers of biographies, especially those of females who lived during periods of history when the vast majority were powerless, invisible, and solely defined by their relationship to others. I look forward to reading other works by this author.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    Like: - I've always been interested in the Medici's and I loved learning about the family. - I didn't expect for Catherine de Medici to appear in this, but she did. Since I love the French court from that time period, I was pleasantly surprised. - The whole customs from that time and the recurring names people had in that time made me laugh quite a bit. Apparently everyone was called Giovanni or Eleonora. - There were little illustrations in this book of the palazzo's the family were living Like: - I've always been interested in the Medici's and I loved learning about the family. - I didn't expect for Catherine de Medici to appear in this, but she did. Since I love the French court from that time period, I was pleasantly surprised. - The whole customs from that time and the recurring names people had in that time made me laugh quite a bit. Apparently everyone was called Giovanni or Eleonora. - There were little illustrations in this book of the palazzo's the family were living in. I definitely want to go to Florence one day. - My curiosity about this family has been satisfied for a while. Dislike: - It's quite dry. It's obviously a full-on biography and it was hard sometimes to keep being focused.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Xole

    I've become fascinated by Italian Renaissance ladies, and so I added this to my collection. This is the second book I've read by this author - her biography of Felicia della Rovere was the other. It was a lively, although ultimately very sobering, book - I kept pausing with a distinct sense of foreboding, only to remind myself that given the book's title I shouldn't be surprised about whatever outcome was looming. It would be wrong to say I enjoyed the book, because Isabella's ending is so very I've become fascinated by Italian Renaissance ladies, and so I added this to my collection. This is the second book I've read by this author - her biography of Felicia della Rovere was the other. It was a lively, although ultimately very sobering, book - I kept pausing with a distinct sense of foreboding, only to remind myself that given the book's title I shouldn't be surprised about whatever outcome was looming. It would be wrong to say I enjoyed the book, because Isabella's ending is so very sad and unnecessary, but it was a good read nonetheless. Anybody who claims honour killings only happen in Muslim countries should read this.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Burstein

    Don't miss the color plates at the end of the book I really enjoyed this book, which gives new life to the term "dysfunctional family". Make sure you don't miss the color pictures at the end; you'll wish they were distributed throughout the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Craig Monson

    A notorious and fascinating story, told in a way that should gladden the hearts of early modern historians, thanks to its wealth of scholarly detail. Readers more attuned to historical novels or bodice rippers may fret a bit.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Well written, but in my opinion it gets too bogged down in unnecessary detail. Getting through this book was like trying to walk in quicksand. I think that the same story could have been told in 250 pages without losing much.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Jackson-Beverly

    A brilliant account of an extraordinary princess!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Contrary to the title, this book is actually more of a biography of Isabella de Medici than it is a true crime book about her murder. Which is fine, as I'm interested in historical life and times as well as true crime. Anyway, there's not much mystery about it. Her husband murdered her, probably by himself, shortly after the death of her father. But Isabella de Medici was so much more than a murder victim. The book goes into her life, her pastimes, her relationship with her parents and siblings Contrary to the title, this book is actually more of a biography of Isabella de Medici than it is a true crime book about her murder. Which is fine, as I'm interested in historical life and times as well as true crime. Anyway, there's not much mystery about it. Her husband murdered her, probably by himself, shortly after the death of her father. But Isabella de Medici was so much more than a murder victim. The book goes into her life, her pastimes, her relationship with her parents and siblings (especially her father; she was very much daddy's little girl), and the city of Florence as it grew and changed around her. It also goes into her character flaws, of which there are many. Isabella was not really a good person, and it's a testament to Murphy's craft that you like her anyway, and want to see her at least survive. I enjoyed this book, the more so because it went so deeply into Italian politics at the time. I'd definitely recommend it for all you historical folks out there, and maybe even a few of you true crime folks as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amy Bruno

    Italy, 1542. Isabella de Medici was born very shortly after the death of her father, Cosimo's, first daughter Bia. And subsequently was most cherished, cosseted and spoiled by her father . Her mother, Eleanora bore Cosimo seven sons and four daughters, with eight surviving til adulthood. They were all housed at the Palazzo Vecchio with the children's special apartments taking up several floors above Cosimo and Eleanora's chambers, which had private access to the children's rooms above.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Your interest in buying this book is really based on whether you are looking for a novelization of a real historical character or a well written biography. This book falls into the latter category - it's an exhaustively and thoroughly researched book that never leaves you asking questions about life in the Medici era. It's not an entertaining biography of a compelling figure. But this full recommendation has a caveat: if you want an easy afternoon read of a compel More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Your interest in buying this book is really based on whether you are looking for a novelization of a real historical character or a well written biography. This book falls into the latter category - it's an exhaustively and thoroughly researched book that never leaves you asking questions about life in the Medici era. It's not an entertaining biography of a compelling figure. But this full recommendation has a caveat: if you want an easy afternoon read of a compelling historical figure (such as Cleopatra or Anne Boleyn), you may not find this book rewarding. Few of the characters are sympathetic or even really compelling. And it is told in a very detached and straightforward manner - which makes it hard to really invest in the characters. But what makes the book worth the read is the amazing amount of detail you will learn about life in that period - what they ate, their ilnesses, their quirks, social mores, etc. It is one of the few historicals that won't leave you guessing or wishing that more information had been presented. But at the same time, learning the exact contents of her meals down to an olive might be more than a bit distracting if the book is read withYour interest in buying this book is really based on whether you are looking for a novelization of a real historical character or a well written biography. This book falls into the latter category - it's an exhaustively and thoroughly researched book that never leaves you asking questions about life in the Medici era. It's not an entertaining biography of a compelling figure. But this full recommendation has a caveat: if you want an easy afternoon read of a compelling historical figure (such as Cleopatra or Anne Boleyn), you may not find this book rewarding. Few of the characters are sympathetic or even really compelling. And it is told in a very detached and straightforward manner - which makes it hard to really invest in the characters. But what makes the book worth the read is the amazing amount of detail you will learn about life in that period - what they ate, their ilnesses, their quirks, social mores, etc. It is one of the few historicals that won't leave you guessing or wishing that more information had been presented. But at the same time, learning the exact contents of her meals down to an olive might be more than a bit distracting if the book is read with an interest of pleasure and escapism. This is a great book if you view it as if you were at a university lecture and started talking to a historian who had thoroughly researched the world of Isabella De'Medici. Because honestly it can get dry after awhile. This wouldn't be a good choice if you like a dramatic, engrossing, novelization of an important historical figure. Definitely one for the history buffs more than the historical novel buffs. But well written and with all the questions you could ever have asked about the period answered - and even ones you never knew you'd want to ask. If you go into the book with the right perspective on what it is, you'll love it for the sheer amount of amazing knowledge and history of the Medici era. an interest of pleasure and escapism. This is a great book if you view it as if you were at a university lecture and started talking to a historian who had thoroughly researched the world of Isabella De'Medici. Because honestly it can get dry after awhile. This wouldn't be a good choice if you like a dramatic, engrossing, novelization of an important historical figure. Definitely one for the history buffs more than the historical novel buffs. But well written and with all the questions you could ever have asked about the period answered - and even ones you never knew you'd want to ask. If you go into the book with the right perspective on what it is, you'll love it for the sheer amount of amazing knowledge a

  28. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Turner

    Reviewed for www..luxuryreading.com On August 31st, 1542, Isabella de Medici was born to Cosimo de Medici and Eleonora di Toledo, the Duke and Duchess of Florence, Italy. Born the third of eleven children to this power couple she would be the undisputed apple of her father’s eye. For while he was a brutal and vicious politician he was also a devoted and loving husband and father. He would stop at nothing to ensure the relative happiness and advancement of his children and the Medici name. As happens wit Reviewed for www..luxuryreading.com On August 31st, 1542, Isabella de Medici was born to Cosimo de Medici and Eleonora di Toledo, the Duke and Duchess of Florence, Italy. Born the third of eleven children to this power couple she would be the undisputed apple of her father’s eye. For while he was a brutal and vicious politician he was also a devoted and loving husband and father. He would stop at nothing to ensure the relative happiness and advancement of his children and the Medici name. As happens with all high ranking women of the time, she was married off to Paulo Giordano Orsini on September 3rd, 1558, a political move that would link the powerful, relatively new Medici to the old and established Orsini clan. Paulo was a spendthrift with cruel undertones and was more than happy to have the rich and powerful Duke Cosimo as his father-in-law. On Isabella’s part, she used her father’s control over Paulo to spend as much time away from her husband, ensconced in Rome, and with her beloved father and favored brother, Giovanni, in Florence. Paulo was left with little room to complain about the fact that he was not the ruler of his own wife. As long as he wished to receive benefits from Cosimo, he would have to deal with this stab at his manhood. This was, however, the seed of undoing for Isabella. In 1562 Isabella’s mother and two of her brothers, Giovanni included, died in close succession. Devastated by her loss and without her constant companion to keep her wildness better contained, Isabella sought out the entertainments and intimacy she had had with Giovanni in other outlets. While she became the first lady of Florence upon the death of her mother, she also established herself as quite the party girl. She began an affair with Troilo Orsini, Paulo’s cousin, a brave, handsome cavalier much like the men from the tales she grew up loving. He was as different from the corpulent and cruel Paulo as can be, and they continued on as semi-secret lovers until her death. Duke Cosimo de Medici died in 1574, leaving Isabella defenseless from the new Duke of Florence, her brother Francesco, and her own husband. With little love lost between the siblings, she could not count on her brother to support her wishes as her father had done. As she was raised to love life and pleasure and not to calculate for survival, she did not see how set her brother was on ending the scandal he believed she, and other female family members, brought to the Medici name. She did not see, when her husband convinced her to go on a hunting trip to the Tuscan countryside, the demise that awaited her. For the Duke had opened the door for Paulo to finally take his vengeance on Isabella, the woman he believed had made him look like a fool. He took her life on July 16th, 1576, by most accounts strangling her while her retinue was barred from the room. Murder of a Medici Princess, while interesting, had some of the same downsides I have found in numerous works of nonfiction. It included information that I found unnecessary to the plot (such as the monetary amount of items, the distance between places, etc.) as well as a lot of information about the Medici that didn’t have anything to do with Isabella’s story. The political and historical accounts of Italy and its many families was, while intriguing in its own right, distracting from the main point of the story: Isabella and her eventual murder. The actual moment of climax was quite disappointing as well, with the discovery of her murder being announced through a letter sent from Francesco to Paulo. All that being said the author’s style of writing was enjoyable and easy to follow which can be difficult with the onslaught of names, dates and locations inherent in nonfiction. If you like historical nonfiction, Murder of a Medici Princess is definitely worth reading. If you prefer the embellishment of fiction, you might skip this for a novel counterpart.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    I really enjoyed this. It's well balanced, clearly well researched and an easy read. During these dark, cold, winter nights, there's been nothing better than coupling this book with episodes of 'Monty Don's Italian Gardens' on Netflix, to be immediately transported back in time to the warmth and sunshine of Renaissance Italy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Muldoon

    I thoroughly enjoyed Caroline Murphy's biography of Isabella de' Medici. Wonderful view into the life and times of the Medici Family, the sons and daughters of Eleonora and Cosimo de' Medici. It is a biography, not a novel. Very interesting historical account of what life was life in the Medici court - love, hate, death...so many deaths due to personal intrigue and sickness. Living in 15thc Firenze was a precarious time to be alive. Everyone's future was either threatened by the hand of man (eve I thoroughly enjoyed Caroline Murphy's biography of Isabella de' Medici. Wonderful view into the life and times of the Medici Family, the sons and daughters of Eleonora and Cosimo de' Medici. It is a biography, not a novel. Very interesting historical account of what life was life in the Medici court - love, hate, death...so many deaths due to personal intrigue and sickness. Living in 15thc Firenze was a precarious time to be alive. Everyone's future was either threatened by the hand of man (even a brother) or by natural causes. Highlights the many enhancements that Cosimo contributed to Florence with aid of his master artist Vasari.

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