February 18, 2015
September 30, 2014
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Italy and Its Monarchy by Denis Mack Smith. A study of the Italian monarchy and its impact on Italy's history, from unification in 1861 to the foundation of the Italian republic after World War II. This book was nominated for a 1990 Los Angeles Times book prize in the history category.
The Fall of the House of Savoy by Robert Katz. An in-depth look at the inglorious fall of one of the oldest ruling houses in Europe.
History of Italy
Italian Dynasties by Edward Burman. The great families of Italy from the Renaissance to the present day.
Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes' Secret Plot to Capture Rome From the New Italian State by David I. Kertzer. On September 20, 1870, King Victor Emmanuel's battle to unite the Italian states came to a head when his troops broke through the walls of Rome, which the pope had ruled for centuries. A struggle unfolded over the next two decades, pitting church against state.
A Concise History of Italy by Christopher Duggan. Covers Italian history from the fall of the Roman Empire in the west to the 20th century.
The History of Italy by Francesco Guicciardini, translated by Sidney Alexander. In 1537, the author -- adviser to three popes, and governor of several central Italian states -- retired to his villa to write this classic history of his times.
Risorgimento: The History of Italy From Napoleon to Nation State by Lucy Riall. Examination of Italy's Risorgimento (revival) and unification in the 19th century, incorporating the latest research.
Roman Monarchy and the Renaissance Prince by Peter Stacey. Traces the impact of ancient Roman political philosophy upon medieval and Renaissance thinking about princely government on the Italian peninsula.
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. Classic 16th century political treatise, written during the heyday of the Italian city-states. In writing this book, the exiled Machiavelli hoped to flatter Lorenzo de'Medici into letting him return to Florence (it didn't work).
Theodahad: A Platonic King at the Collapse of Ostrogothic Italy by Massimiliano Vitiello. Theodahad's unexpected nomination as co-regent by his cousin Queen Amalasuintha plunged him into the intrigues of the Gothic court, and Theodahad soon conspired to assassinate the queen. But, once alone on the throne, his lack of experience made him dangerously incompetent.
War, Diplomacy and the Rise of Savoy, 1690-1720 by Christopher Storrs deals with the career of Victor Amadeus II, duke of Savoy and king of Sicily and Sardinia.
The Kingdom of Sicily, 1130-1860 by Louis Mendola. The history of Sicily from its foundation as a multicultural kingdom under the Normans to the end of its baroque monarchy in the 19th century. Includes maps, pedigree charts, chronology, a list of the kings of Sicily, and more.
Women of Sicily: Saints, Queens and Rebels by Jacqueline Alio. Examines the lives of 17 women of varied backgrounds, including Queen Maria Sophia of the Two Sicilies (born Maria Sophie of Bavaria), who died in 1925.
Roger II and the Creation of the Kingdom of Sicily by Graham Loud. English translations of the main narrative sources and other relevant documents for the reign of King Roger, founder of the kingdom of Sicily.
Roger II of Sicily: A Ruler Between East and West by Hubert Houben. Roger II was king of Sicily in the 12th century.
The Cultures of His Kingdom: Roger II and the Cappella Palatina in Palermo by William Tronzo is about a 12th century king of Sicily and a royal chapel constructed during his reign which survives to this day.
The Norman Kingdom of Sicily by Donald Matthew explains the early history of this medieval kingdom and the kings who ruled it.
Arabic Administration in Norman Sicily: The Royal Diwan by Jeremy Johns. In the late 11th century, Sicily -- originally part of the Islamic world -- was captured by Norman, French, and Italian adventurers, led by Roger de Hauteville. This book suggests the Norman kings of Sicily restructured their administration on the model of Fatimid Egypt.
The Normans in Sicily by John Julius Norwich. This volume is made up of two works, The Normans in the South 1016-1130 and The Kingdom in the Sun 1130-1194.
In the Shadow of Vesuvius by Jordan Lancaster. Cultural history of Naples from ancient to modern times.
The New Solomon: Robert of Naples (1309-1343) and Fourteenth-Century Kingship by Samantha Kelly. Analyzes Robert of Naples' policies and image in the context of larger shifts in rulership from the Middle Ages to the early modern period.
From She-Wolf to Martyr: The Reign and Disputed Reputation of Johanna I of Naples by Elizabeth Casteen. In 1343 a 17-year-old girl named Johanna ascended the Neapolitan throne. She reigned for nearly 40 years, becoming the most notorious woman in Europe.
The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Goldstone. On March 15, 1348, Joanna I stood trial for her life before the Pope. Her husband, Prince Andrew of Hungary, had recently been murdered, and Joanna was the chief suspect. More than 30 years later, she was herself murdered. The only female monarch in her time to rule in her own name, she was notorious but also widely admired.
The Anjou Bible: A Royal Manuscript Revealed. Naples 1340 edited by J Van der Stock and L. Watteeuw. After Joanna of Anjou became heir to the kings of Naples and Sicily, her grandfather, Robert I, gave her a precious gift: the Anjou Bible. In addition to Bible texts, it contains a wealth of historical information about the Kingdom of Anjou. This illustrated book book contains all the illuminated folios of the Anjou Bible, along with essays in English about the bible and how the arts were promoted at the court of Robert I.
The Good King: Rene of Anjou and 15th Century Europe by Margaret L. Kekewich. The first serious political biography of René I of Anjou in English. His court rivalled Burgundy in rich artistic culture, and his claim to the kingdom of Naples led to enormous changes in Southern Europe. Includes rare illustrations and an Anjou family tree.
The Stones of Naples: Church Building in the Angevin Kingdom, 1266-1343 by Caroline Bruzelius. The architectural legacy of the Angevins, three generations of French kings who reigned in southern Italy from 1266 to 1343, is little known today. This book examines Angevin religious architecture.
16th Century - 19th Century
The Cost of Empire: The Finances of the Kingdom of Naples in the Time of Spanish Rule by Antonio Calabria. Focuses on the period from the mid-16th century to the time of the Thirty Years' War.
Representing the King's Splendour by Gabriel Guarino. Communication and reception of symbolic forms of power in viceregal Naples in the 17th century.
The Diary of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, 1781-1785: New Evidence of Queenship at Court by Cinzia Recca. This book focuses on the political influence that Queen Maria Carolina wielded beside her husband, King Ferdinand IV.
Naples in the Eighteenth Century: The Birth of and Death of a Nation edited by Girolamo Imbruglia. In 1734 the kingdom of Naples became an independent monarchy, but in 1799 a Jacobin revolution transformed it briefly into a republic. This collection of essays addresses a range of issues in the city's history.
The History of the Kingdom of Naples: From the Accession of Charles of Bourbon to the Death of Ferdinand I by Pietro Colletta. History of Naples from 1734 to 1825. The author, a Neapolitan by birth, was involved in many of the most important events of the time. Two-volume set. (Very expensive.)
The Bourbons of Naples: 1734-1825 by Harold Acton. Before the unification of Italy in 1870, Naples was the capital of the largest of the separate Italian kingdoms. This book discusses the ruling European dynasty, the Bourbons of Naples, founded by Charles, son of King Philip V of Spain.
Naples and Napoleon: Southern Italy and the European Revolutions, 1780-1860 by John. A. Davis. Takes the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as the vantage point for a sweeping reconsideration of Italy's history in the age of Napoleon.
Land and Power in Late Medieval Ferrara: The Rule of the Este, 1350-1450 by Trevor Dean. Examines political feudalism in the relations between the Este family and their supporters, the place of the court in Ferrarese noble society, and the violent imposition of Este authority over the powerful nobles of the Apennine hills.
Herculean Ferrara: Ercole d'Este and the Invention of a Ducal Capital by Thomas Tuohy. Ercole D'Este (Ercole I) was duke of Ferrara from 1471 to 1505.
The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hibbert. Delves into the lives of the Medici family, whose self-indulgence and dalliances led to self-destruction.
Florence and the Medici by J.R. Hale. Study of the causes and nature of Medici power of patronage in the periods of Cosimo and Lorenzo, and the period of the Grand Dukes.
Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici by Miles J. Unger. Biography of Lorenzo de' Medici, uncrowned ruler of Florence during its golden age. He was the foremost patron of his day, a renowned poet, and the leading statesman of the age.
The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici by Catherine Fletcher. Born out of wedlock to a maid and Lorenzo de' Medici, Alessandro was ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537.
Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence by Tim Parks. Uncovers the intrigues that gave the Medicis their edge, evoking the richness of the Florentine Renaissance and the Medicis' glittering circle.
April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici by Lauro Martines. In April 1478, assassins attacked Lorenzo de' Medici and his brother as they attended Mass. This book unfolds the story of the conspiracy that spread through all of Italy.
Art, Marriage, and Family in the Florentine Renaissance Palace by Jacqueline Marie Musacchio. This lavishly illustrated book discusses the paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewelry, clothing, and household items associated with marriage and family life.
Cosimo de' Medici
Cosimo De' Medici and the Florentine Renaissance by Dale Kent looks at Cosimo De' Medici as a patron of the arts.
The Medicean Succession by Gregory Murry. Monarchy and sacral politics in Duke Cosimo dei Medici's Florence.
Medici Women: Portraits of Power, Love, and Betrayal in the Court of Duke Cosimo I by Gabrielle Langdon. Analyses selected portraits as works of art, dynastic declarations, and encoded documents of court culture and propaganda. Stories from letters, diaries, and chronicles open up a world of rumour, intrigue, and tragedy.
The Cultural World of Eleonora Di Toledo: Duchess of Florence and Siena edited by Konrad Eisenbichler. Essays about the 16th century duchess, who provided the House of Medici with children to re-invigorate the failing family line and establish marriage connections with noble and ruling houses in Italy.
The Medicis: A Ruling Dynasty by Heather Lehr Wagner. For children ages 9 to 12.
The Cultural Politics of Duke Cosimo I De'Medici edited by Konrad Eisenbichler.
Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy. The brilliant life and tragic death of Isabella de' Medici (1542-1576), daughter of Duke Cosimo I, ruler of Florence and Tuscany.
The Medici Wedding of 1589 by James M. Saslow. About the marriage of Grand Duke Ferdinando de' Medici to French princess Christine of Lorraine.
Florentine Tuscany: Structures and Practices of Power edited by William J. Connell and Andrea Zorzi.
A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich. Covers Venice from its beginnings (before the 8th century) to its fall in the late 18th century. The highest official in the Venetian republic was the doge (duke), who was elected for life.
Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta in Renaissance Italy by Edward Muir. In 1511, during a carnival in Udine (controlled by Venice), nobles were slaughtered, their castles destroyed. This book gives an account of the Udine carnival massacre, and the role of vendetta in city and family politics.
The Borgias and Their Enemies: 1431-1519 by Christopher Hibbert. The story of the family's dramatic rise from its Spanish roots to the highest position in Italian society.
The Borgias by Marion Johnson plots the dynasty's dramatic rise from its beginnings in Spain to its occupation of the highest position in Renaissance society, examining how far the myth of the Borgias is borne out by historical facts.
The Borgias: The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Dynasty by Michael Edward Mallet. Describes the incredible rise of the Borgias from obscurity to the very center of the Renaissance.
The Borgias: The Hidden History by G. J. Meyer. Their name has long been synonymous with unspeakable evil. But did the Borgias of legend actually exist? This book brings new insight to the real people within the dark myth.
The Life of Cesare Borgia by Rafael Sabatini. Biography by a well-known novelist.
Cesare Borgia by Sarah Bradford. Biography of Pope Alexander VI's infamous son. He stands accused of treachery, cruelty, rape, incest, and murder. Yet the real Cesare Borgia was a fascinating figure in the mould of the great Shakespearean hero.
Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy by Sarah Bradford. Biography. Neither a monster nor a pawn, Lucrezia Borgia was a shrewd woman who used her beauty and intelligence to secure a key role.
Lucrezia Borgia by Maria Bellonci. This award-winning biography depicts Lucrezia as a passionate woman moving uncertainly through the Papal court and the intrigues that swirled about her.
The Prettiest Love Letters in the World by Lucrezia Borgia and Pietro Bembo. Letters between Lucrezia Borgia and poet Pietro Bembo (her rumored lover), 1503-1519.
The Cardinal's Hat: Money, Ambition, and Everyday Life in the Court of a Borgia Prince by Mary Hollingsworth. How Ippolito d'Este, the second son of Lucretia Borgia, acquired the coveted cardinal's hat and became the Archbishop of Milan.
Fiction About the Borgias
The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis. Tells the story of beautiful, headstrong Princess Sancha of Aragon, a member of the royal family of Naples, whose life becomes dangerous when she marries into the infamous Borgia family. I found this book interesting and entertaining.
Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower. Novel about a lady-in-waiting who learns the secrets of Lucrezia Borgia and her brother Cesare.
Blood & Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant. Literary fiction. Pope Alexander VI uses his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia as tools in his quest for power.
Fiction About Cesare
Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole. Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano becomes the confidante of Lucrezia Borgia and the lover of Cesare Borgia. First book in a trilogy.
The Borgia Betrayal: A Novel by Sara Poole. Borgia court poisoner Francesca Giordano unravels a plot to destroy the Borgias and plunge the world into eternal darkness. (This historical thriller is the second book in Poole's Borgia trilogy.)
The Borgia Mistress by Sara Poole. As the enemies of Pope Alexander VI close in and the papal court is forced to flee from Rome, Francesca joins forces with ruthless Cesare Borgia to unravel a conspiracy.
The Ground Is Burning by Samuel Black. Novel about Cesare Borgia, Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci.
Fiction About Lucrezia
Lucrezia Borgia by John Faunce. Novel in which Lucrezia tells her own life story.
The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C. W. Gortner. Fictional account of Pope Alexander VI's daughter, Lucrezia, who is trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival.
Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons by Roberta Gellis. Lucrezia tries to retrieve her reputation by exposing a murderer.
Lucrezia: The Triumph of Love by John Graham. Lucrezia Borgia, illegitimate daughter of a Pope and member of a notorious Renaissance dynasty, gives her own account of her life's scandal, tragedies and triumphs.
Poison in the Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia by M. G. Scarsbrook. 1497, Rome. The teenage daughter of Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia Borgia, learns that a dark truth lies beneath the surface of the Papal court.
Palaces of Florence by Patricia Fabbri. Hundreds of full-color photographs combined with informative text.
Palaces of Naples by Donatella Mazzoleni, photographs by Mark E. Smith. With stunning color photography and engaging text, this book brings readers to 30 of the most beautiful estates and palaces of Naples.
Palaces of Sicily by Gioacchimo Lanza Tomasi and Angheli Zalapi, photos by Melo Minnella. From the ancient Roman villa of Piazza Armerina through Arab castles, baroque masterpieces, and art-nouveau, this book reveals 30 dwellings built and furnished by Italy's greatest architects and artists.
Palaces of Venice by Andrea Fasolo, photos by Mark E. Smith. Photographic survey of Venetian palaces from the Byzantine to the Baroque periods.
Italian Splendor: Great Castles, Palaces, and Villas by Jack Basehart and Ralph Toledano, photographs by Roberto Schezen. A lavishly illustrated tour of 50 villas and palaces built by the Italian aristocracy, from country retreats in Tuscany and the Veneto and urban residences in Rome and Siena to castles and grand villas in Trieste and Sicily.
The Royal Palace of Palermo by Maria Andaloro, Cinzia Cigni, Piero Longo, Ruggero Longo, Gianni Riotta, photos by Ghigo Roli. Essays and photos of the Palazzo Reale in Palermo, Italy, a treasure trove of art treasures such as the Palatine Chapel, built by Roger II. The current palace dates from the 12th century, but the site's history goes back to the 8th century BC.
The Italian Renaissance Palace Facade: Structures of Authority, Surfaces of Sense by Charles Burroughs. Tracks the emergence of the facade in late-medieval Florence and follows the sharply diverging reactions of Renaissance architects to new possibilities for residential and government buildings.
The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev. Illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Milan, Caterina ruled the Italian city of Forlì as regent for her son and was a true Renaissance celebrity.
A Renaissance Court by Gregory Lubkin is about Milan under Galeazzo Maria Sforza, who inherited the throne in 1466.
The Defense of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Northern Italy, 1813-1814 by George F. Nafziger and Marco Gioannini. The French commander responsible for the defense was Eugene Beauharnais, stepson of Napoleon.
Roman Monarchy and the Renaissance Prince by Peter Stacey. Traces the formative impact of ancient Roman political philosophy upon medieval and Renaissance thinking about princely government on the Italian peninsula from the time of Frederick II to the early modern period.
Padua Under the Carrara by Benjamin G. Kohl. The Carrara family ruled the city of Padua in the 14th century.
His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm. Novel about Lucrezia de Medici, wife of Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Modena and Ferrara. Their dramatic marriage threatens to destroy the duke's entire inheritance -- and Lucrezia's future.
Books About Italian Royal Jewels
These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.
Lucrezia Borgia: Pretty Poison. She has been called the most depraved woman in history, yet the charges of murder and incest against her have never been proven.
Ancient Mysteries: The Curse of the Borgias. Poisoning, incest, corruption and intrigue -- this is the legacy of the House of Borgia. But how much is fact and how much is legend?
The Borgias: Season 1. Jeremy Irons plays Pope Alexander VI in this Showtime series about the sexy, scandalous dynasty.
Donizetti - Lucrezia Borgia. Dame Joan Sutherland and tenor Alfredo Kraus star in this 1977 performance of Donizetti's opera about 16th century opulence and decadence. In Italian with English subtitles. The opera is also available on CD.
The Kings of Early Rome
Caltrap's Italian Corner
Wikipedia - History of Italy
Clotilde Courau (official site)
Alfonso D'Este, Duke of Ferrara
Rulers of Naples
Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies
Princess Demidoff of San Donato portrait
Monarchist Sites (in Italian)
Unione Monarchica Italiana