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The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  6,331 ratings  ·  266 reviews
At its height, Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power, and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the family's huge influence on the political, economic and cultural history of Flore ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 19th 1999 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1975)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  6,331 ratings  ·  266 reviews


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Kalliope



This has been a highly enjoyable read. Hibbert has written this book with great clarity and with more fluency and less dryness than I remembered in his George III: A Personal History. I have also enjoyed learning a fair amount about a family with whose name one is greatly familiar but about whom one really knows very little. That is the problem with fame. The glitz precludes us seeing its source.

The Medici were formidable, but as so often happens with these powerful clans, the source of excellen
...more
Jonathan
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
I'm somewhat torn about this book. The writing is well done and the subject matter, the Medici, SHOULD be interesting. But the author seems to focus on the more trivial details of this family's life and times. So much detail goes in to describing what the Medici liked to eat, what they liked to wear, what they did for fun, it sometimes seems like this is the special Medici issue of USWeekly. The title of the book would seem indicate the focus of the book is HOW the Medici came to power and HOW t ...more
Faith
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
Gossipy, broad overview of Italian history. Not much political analysis but a lot of description and colorful anecdotes. It's a good introduction. I'll look at more narrowly-focused histories to learn about areas that interested me.
·Karen·
Oct 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This was an ideal companion to Tim Parks’ Medici Money: Parks is good at explaining the workings of fifteenth century banking, but Hibbert is better at bringing the people to life. His approach is traditional: the biographies of the powerful, the concerns of those who have the say and little concern for lesser mortals. It’s lively and readable, takes the story right through to the Grand Dukes of the seventeenth century and is excellent on the shifting of loyalties and European coalitions. There ...more
The Captain
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Ahoy there mateys! So ever since I had to do a project on Catherine de Medici back in me school days, I have had a fascination with the Medici family. This book is an in depth look at this Florentine family beginning with Cosimo de Medici in the 1430s and ending with the death of Medici family line in 1737. The Medici family was influential in art, politics, and especially economics. This book takes a look at all the main players in Florence. It does not get into the Medici members, like Catheri ...more
Sesana
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I probably wouldn't have read this book at all if it weren't for a video game. I'm a big fan of the Assassin's Creed series, and the second game introduced me to the Medici and features both the Pazzi conspiracy and Savonarola's bonfires of vanities as major plot points. In some ways, this was actually helpful, at least for part of the book. Running over the rooftops of Florence helped me visualize the world of Cosimo and Lorenzo Medici better tha ...more
Michael Huang
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it

The house of Medici rose from a rich merchant family to becoming Grand Duke of Tuscany, producing four Popes and two queens of France along the way. But the real draw (for me at least) is their patronage of art and artists, leaving us a wonderful legacy. Read Michelangelo's fictionalized biography "The agony and ecstasy", you can't escape the impression that Lorenzo the magnificent (il magnifico) helped make Michelangelo one of the greatest artists that he was.

Back in the 15th century, Florence
...more
Tisha
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Art History/Renaissance fans
I've always been intrigued by the Medici family primarily due to their large role as patrons of the arts in the Renaissance Era. Also, being such a wealthy and powerful family they played many roles throughout that whole range of history. I finally picked up this book, which had been on my shelf for a while, in preparation for my upcoming trip to Italy. It was a great book to get a grasp on the chronological history of the entire Medici family. I was pleased to see this non-fiction book was not ...more
Lois
This is extremely dated. Other than very basic info on the dynasty I can not reccomend this.
Needs to be updated.
Edoardo Albert
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever gone into a second-hand bookshop? Have you glanced over the shelves of books, dusty and overlooked, their authors fading into forgetting? Writing a book is a tilt against futility, a challenge to eternity and entropy – but the shelves of second-hand bookshops tell us that almost all such challenges end in failure. Run your finger along the spines, reading off the names of the authors. Have you heard of any of them?

Unless it’s the inevitable row of Dickens, then probably not. They are being
...more
Zoe Radley
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really good introduction to understanding Florence and its long relationship (Love/hate/love/hate/love) with the Medici Dynasty. A real fascinating look into their life and how they gave Florence a name for art and culture and philosophy. I do feel that I need to read a bit more into this family. Cannot get enough of them.
Kelly
Apr 15, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a pretty great all-purpose history of the Medici family as well as of Florence during (and immediately following) the Italian Renaissance. It’s a popular history, so it’s a quick and easy read – free from the pedantic ramblings of more scholarly books. It’s not, however, a particularly good source for art history (a general knowledge of the artistic achievements of the Renaissance might be a good prerequisite). There are fine anecdotes told in a quick, lively style. I recommend it highly ...more
Emily Ross
DNF at 14%.

I’m only on chapter 5 and I’m already so confused. The author talks about various people, starting chapters 1 and 5 about Cosimo de’ Medici, whole chapters 2-4 didn’t really have anything to do with him, and mostly talked about the state of female slavery.

I’ve been interested in this topic for a while, but this book was dry, confusing and boring. Which should be quite hard to achieve, all things considered about the Medici.
David
Apr 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
Lots of facts and information but very little of it integral to understand the reasons for the families rise and fall.
Erica
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, italy
I started reading this book while anticipating a trip to Italy, and more specifically Florence. I have had an interest in the Medici's and how they became such a prominent family in Italy. It's a large book, and while the writing was engaging and entertaining, I felt like I didn't have enough time to finish the book before my trip. So I renewed the book from my library and read it when I came back from Florence. Half-way through I did purchase the audiobook, which is really great.

I enjoyed this
...more
Sarah
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finishing this book was a labor of love. It took me a while because it’s so dense, I had to take a break for a couple of months. I started reading this after I returned from a visit to Florence without knowing as much as I should have about the Medici’s impact on the city. I enjoyed connecting the information in the book with the buildings and art that I saw on my visit. I also personally enjoyed the mix of the political, social and personal aspects of the book. I saw a reviewer on here complain ...more
Kevin Vejrup
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eileen Iciek
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have spent many years in the finance field and there is one opinion many of us share - that family businesses usually fail by the third generation. This feeling is one I'm sure the founders of the great Medici banking house would agree with, although the family lasted quite a bit longer than 3 generations - at least 11 from what I could tell from the family trees included in the book. Even so, the last few generations had clearly gone to seed and presented a grim contrast to their illustrious ...more
GoldGato
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, spring, royalty
The family that greeds together, stays together. The Medici were such an amazing clan, a group that did much to influence history. Though Italians, they also changed the culture of France, when Caterina de Medici became the Queen of France and brought Italian epicurean standards to the still-Gothic French.

If this family existed today, they would be all over the tabloids and probably have their own sitcom, but they were THE standard bearers for the Renaissance, so their successes and challenges c
...more
J.M. Briggs
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A great history of the Medici family that provides a lot of information, but isn't as dry as your usual history book. Hibbert does a great job of providing a lot information on the different family members, the events that they influenced as well as exploring their impact on the Renaissance. If you are interested in learning more about the Medici family then this is a good source to turn to. There are a lot of extra details provided about different people that most authors wouldn't usually explo ...more
Sheida
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
I made it through 200 pages in almost two months and now I'm just giving up tbh (which is something I almost never do). This was probably the most mindnumbingly boring book I've ever attempted to read. It read like a text book; actually, no, scratch that, I've read textbooks that were more fascinating than this. It takes a special kind of talent to make a tale about politics and murder and scandal so incredibly boring so ... good job I suppose. Just ... stay away from this book, read the wikiped ...more
Richard
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book as preparation for a trip to Florence, and I found it as helpful to understanding that great city as the numerous tour books we had perused. A very helpful introduction to renaissance Florence. The author is especially good in recounting the lives and influence of Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent. He also does well in recounting the time of Savonarola and the Medici popes. It does seem to loose steam when he discusses the Grand Dukes after Cosimo I. Still, a good rea ...more
Alex
Aug 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Good overview of the Medici family's history, which makes it a good overview of the Italian Renaissance - at least from a political and social perspective. Not a ton of detail on the art and science of the time, unfortunately; I'll have to get that elsewhere. But I knew that going in.
Isobel
Jun 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Dry as dust and boring as hell - which should be impossible considering the subject matter.
Trisha
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this in preparation for a class on the Italian Renaissance and found it to be a surprisingly engaging survey of what might have been a rather dry subject in the hands of a less accessible historian. But Hibbert brought this amazing family vividly to life in all their splendor and opulence as well as their duplicity and corruption.

The book is filled with details about the lives of the Medici family from 1434 to 1737 when the last of them died without a male heir. Their
name was synonymous
...more
Lorina Stephens
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Christopher Hibbert has written a comprehensive history of the Medici dynasty, painstakingly researched. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in this illustrious and often infamous family who influenced princes and kings, religious leaders, artists, scientists and political theorists. They were the patrons of the Illuminati of centuries, and left a legacy which remains to this day.

My only complaint is Hibbert's often ponderous prose, and the lack of a proofreader of his prodigious wor
...more
Jaksone Wallbank
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it
This book does a decent job of breaking down the history of the Medici from their initial rise to their collapse halfway through the 18th century. It's a decent book, I enjoyed it as a whole. I suspect my problems with it arose because of how long it took me to finish.

I think that it's worth a read, but I agree with many other reviewers that it often takes long, circuitous side routes to get to where it's going. While I enjoyed the exploration of famous renaissance artists and inventors connect
...more
Kate Schwarz
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, audiobooks, italy
I'm deeply impressed with the level of research Hibbert must have done for this sweeping history of the Medici family of Florence. He synthesizes all of that research into a readable guide to not just this one, important family, but also the tale of Florence itself and of once-fighting, now-united regions of Italy. I gained a better understanding of Italy's origins, though many details definitely went in one ear and out the other. Still, a good read for those traveling to Florence who want a bet ...more
Blake Charlton
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
solid, interesting history of a fascinating family
Misael Molina
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Medici Family has been revealed as one of the most sinister, pungent, and horrific family in the history of Europe, but they have their own back stories of happy, joyful, exotic ways of living or developing their own social background in the historical past in Europe. This book not only gives an entitled view of The Medici Family and how their family ruined their many affairs,but as well as a notable man who takes you threw this marvelous adventure of European aristocrats.The grade level sh ...more
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Christopher Hibbert, MC, FRSL, FRGS (5 March 1924 - 21 December 2008) was an English writer, historian and biographer. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the author of many books, including Disraeli, Edward VII, George IV, The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici, and Cavaliers and Roundheads.

Described by Professor Sir John Plumb as "a writer of the highest ability and in the N
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