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season two

Episode 14: Renaissance, The New

This first century BCE Roman fresco from the villa of Publius Fannius Synistor in Boscoreale in modern-day Naples, which demonstrates a partial use of vanishing point, a technique that would not be perfected until the Renaissance. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Giotto’s Crucifix (c. 1290-1300). Note the realistic details such as Jesus’ facial expression and the wound in his side. Source: The Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini, Italy.
Masaccio, The Expulsion (c. 1426-1428). Note the fig leaves added to the version on the left, before they were removed with the 20th century restoration shown on the right. Source: Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.
Donatello’s David (c. 1440s?), the first freestanding nude sculpture made in Europe since antiquity. Source: Patrick A. Rodgers, the Bargello, Florence.
The Monastery of Batalha in the Central Region of Portugal. Source: Waugsberg.
The dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, erected by Filippo Brunelleschi. It remains the largest brick dome in the world.
An image from I Modi (1524).

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season two

Episode 13: Renaissance, The Old

Raphael, The School of Athens, ca. 1510. It is a fresco that lies in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
A representation of the standard medieval western European representation of Perseus, from an astrological and occult guidebook, the Heidelberger Schicksalsbuch (1491), currently kept in the rare books collection of the University of Heidelberg. Note how Perseus is wielding an Arabic-style scimitar.
Altichiero de Zevio’s sketch portrait of Petrarch, c. 1375.
Anonymous portrait of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.
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Tangent Episodes

Tangent Episode #3: The Life and Times of Dante

Domenico Peterlini, Dante in Exile, ca. 1860, at the Gallery of Modern Arts in Florence.

He was a political exile who sided with the wrong people at the wrong time and lost the love of his life. Also he was one of the greatest writers in history and got to shape the modern Italian language. 

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season one

Episode 11: Sin and Profit

A portrait of bankers at a traditional banking table. Source unknown.

We take a step back from the life of Giovanni di Bicci dei Medici to look at banking, commerce, and religious and legal attitudes about usury and luxury in Renaissance Florence. How did the Medici and other Florentine dynasties prosper in banking when loans with interest were considered a grave sin and a form of theft? 

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season zero

Episode 4: Republic of Guilds

With Florence free of foreign interference (for once), a medieval “class traitor” spearheaded reforms that severely weakened the nobility’s grip on the government and gave a lot of formal power to the city’s merchant and artisan guilds. In this episode, I delve into the nuts and bolts of how this guild regime operated. Also, I talk about whether or not we can talk about Florence as part of an “Italian nation”, even though a unified Italian nation state was still about 600 years from being born. 

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season zero

Episode 3: Gang War

Starting out as an ill-advised prank at a party, the feud between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines in Florence forever changed the city’s history. It would wrap Florence up in the struggle between the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, eventually toppling the city’s aristocratic republic and creating something rather new in its place, the Primo Popolo.

A map of Italy around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Source: Muir’s Historical Atlas via Fordham University’s Medieval History Sourcebook.
The Florentine Guelf flag, which became the official flag of the City of Florence.
The Bargello, formerly the Palazzo del Popolo. Source: VisitFlorence.com.

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Categories
Tangent Episodes

Tangent Episode #1: The Further Adventures of Liutprand of Cremona

In our first tangent episode, we spend some time with Liutprand of Cremona, everyone’s favorite caustic bishop from the Early Middle Ages. Join us for his account of Queen Willa’s disastrous love affair with a well-endowed priest and his ill-fated visit to Constantinople in the time of the Macedonian dynasty. 

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Categories
season zero

Episode 1: A Shattered Kingdom

In our inaugural episode and the first part of our prelude season, we look at how northern Italy went from being a single kingdom to a region full of small, rival states, a cutthroat environment in which families like the Medici would nonetheless thrive in. Join us as we look at how urban prosperity, a series of invasions, and a scandalous teenage pope all played a part in making northern Italy a shattered and divided kingdom under the weak sovereignty of a faraway emperor.  

King Totila of the Ostrogoths besieging Florence during the sixth-century Gothic War. From Giovanni Villani’s Nuova Cronica (early 1300s).
Emperor Otto I accepting the submission of the just deposed King Berengar II of Italy. From The Chronicle of Bishop Otto of Freising (c. 1200)
A map of Italy circa 1154, more or less after most of the political changes discussed in this episode. Courtesy of undevicesimus whose work can be seen here.

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