Monday, November 9, 2020

Review of The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hibbert

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History

Elaborate Description

One of the best examples of how a history book should be written. In every chapter, at every page, the Medici’s future remained uncertain. No deterministic ascent or failure of the Medici was provided, only a complicated history of one of Florence’s influential families. Although the book follows the Medici, the book is more about the history of Italy. Those who aided or were enemies of the Medici were prominent figures in the book. How the cities differed in culture and political regimes showed a history of a people rather than just the Medici.

The initial family members were trained at an early age to mange the bank and influence politics. To be an influence while away from the public eye. Courting favor with the people and other influential families through celebrations and private parties. With their wealth, the Medici were patrons of the arts. Providing employment to many famous thinkers and artists, while protecting them from the church as well. Collecting books was a major theme of the Medici, while other luxuries came later. Medici buildings initially were meant to be plain, to prevent envy in others. Some of the later Medici were sent to become Cardinals, one of which became the pope at an early age.

The Medici were heavily embedded in Florence, but the Medici enemies exiled the Medici’s from Florence twice. Florence, ironically, was glad to have the Medici back each time. The problems with Medici became more evident as their decision makers were not appropriately trained. From poor characteristics to becoming more authoritarian. Health and marital problems plagued the later Medici.

The major problem with the book is the little coverage on specific Medici affairs. The Medici bank and name grew from relations with the pope, but the author failed to explain how it is that the Medici have formed this relation and their initial large income to support the pope. The bank was generically spoken of such as having branches in multiple cities but was then mishandled causing each branch to suffer. No explanation was provided as to the difference in management style. Other missing information has more to do with the author following mostly the main family, while the branch family was briefly mentioned. Many Medici members who were important in other cities or countries were briefly reference.

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780688053390
Pages to read:   301
Publication:     2003
1st Edition:      1974
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          3
Overall           4