Reviews

  • Terrifying and fascinating ... If you thought the Renaissance was all about beautiful pictures and the ‘rediscovery’ of Classical writing, you are quite wrong … The Beauty and the Terror dismantles our assumptions about the Renaissance with the precision of a wheellock arquebus … an ambitious, multifocal book, encompassing more than 150 years [that] shine[s] a light on figures often forgotten in conventional histories

    Mary Wellesley, Sunday Times
  • Impressive and lucid … Fletcher’s narration excels in such colourful details … a scholarly, but vivid history that shows the impact that the machinations of the great, good and not so good had on the insignificant … a persuasive account of how Italy was brought low even as the culture floated high

    Michael Prodger, The Times
  • Richly well-informed and admirably well-written, containing material of real interest on every page ... has added a wealth of information that will be new to most of us

    Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph
  • A story of alliances, betrayals, sacks, sieges, famines, assassinations and gruesomely ingenious tortures … Fletcher navigates this difficult terrain with great skill. She creates atmosphere and drama without any surrendering of clarity... A powerful book

    Charles Nicholl, Guardian
  • Fletcher’s expertise is enviable … she knows better than anyone else just how treacherous a time and place it was. At its best, The Beauty and the Terror is as enlightening as you might hope: a chapter tracing early modern ambivalence about the rise of handguns … is exactly the alternative history you might wish for, as are the sections on slavery, sexual mores and pornography

    Tim Smith-Laing, Daily Telegraph
  • [A] magnificent introduction to the history of the era … Fletcher’s book covers not just the wars and Renaissance art but also Italy’s political systems, courtly ceremonies, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic renewal, anti-Semitism, European colonialism, slavery, military techno­logies, early efforts at gun control, women’s poetry and even pornography … Fletcher shows how digging below the artistic and commercial riches of Renaissance Italy can reveal strong connections between culture, business, religion and violence

    Financial Times
  • Brilliant and gripping, here is the full true Renaissance in a history of compelling originality and freshness, revealing the filth and thuggery, slavery, sex, slaughter and skulduggery behind the exquisite art of Leonardo and Michelangelo

    SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE, author of Jerusalem and The Romanovs
  • Leading us into the world of the high Italian Renaissance in all its rich, blood-soaked glory, Catherine Fletcher shows us how the violent energies of war gave birth to some of the greatest art ever seen. Devastating in its detail, The Beauty and the Terror is a powerful, intimate and deeply humane portrait of this age of extreme destruction and exceptional creativity

    THOMAS PENN, author of Winter King and Brothers York
  • A wonderfully dark, gritty, hard-edged tour behind the scenes of the Italian Renaissance. Catherine Fletcher is an expert and eloquent guide through the fire, blood and steel that inspired some of the greatest art in the world

    JESSIE CHILDS, author of God’s Traitors
  • Catherine Fletcher’s eye for the skewering detail makes the citizens of renaissance Florence live again

    Hilary Mantel, on The Black Prince of Florence

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