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About the Author: Catherine Fletcher

Catherine Fletcher holds a PhD in history from the University of London. She is the recipient of many awards and fellowships at the British School at Rome and the European University Institute in Florence and takes up a position as a Teaching Fellow in History at the University of London in the Fall. Divorce of Henry VIII is her first book.


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The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici by

Goodreads rating: 3.81

Hardcover, Published in Apr 2016 by Bodley Head

ISBN10: 1847922694 | ISBN13: 9781847922694

Page count: 336

Alessandro de’ Medici is thought to be the first black head of state in the modern West. This is the first biography in two hundred years to tell the story of his spectacular life.

Between 1531 and 1537, Alessandro’s reign as prince of Florence was as magnificently colourful as it was short. The bastard son of a Medici duke and a ‘half-Negro’ maidservant, he was propelled to power at the age of only nineteen after the grandest dynasty of the Italian Renaissance lost its last legitimate heir. Betrothed to the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, he faced down bloody family rivalry and enormous hostility from Florence’s oligarchs, who called him a womaniser and tyrant. Yet this real-life counterpart to Machiavelli’s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated during a late-night assignation by his scheming cousin.

From dazzling palaces and Tuscan villas to the treacherous backstreets of Florence and the corridors of papal power, this dramatic biography draws on extensive archival research to overturn our perceptions both of the history of race and of the Italian Renaissance.

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