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season three

Episode 40: New World Order

We look at Pope Leo X’s reign, from how he got an edition of a pivotal Jewish text dedicated to him to the elaborate practical joke he engineered involving his pet elephant and an old-fashioned Roman triumph. But Leo also has to face the fact that  the fate of Europe now lays in the hands of three young, ambitious, and powerful monarchs. 

A portrait of Giuliano de’ Medici, duc de Nemours, who was Lorenzo the Magnificent’s youngest son (c. 1515) by Raphael’s workshop. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
King Henry VIII as a young man. Date and artist unknown. Source: National Portrait Gallery, London.
King Fran├žois I of France (c. 1530) from the workshop of Joos van Cleve. Source: Private collection.
Portrait of Emperor Charles V as a young man by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen (1535). Source: Private collection.

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season three

Episode 38: Mother Church

The Catholic Church was once the most important, omnipresent institution in Europe. Before we meet the Medici Popes, we’ll delve into what exactly the Church did for the people, from providing early nursing homes to giving people one of the few shots at social mobility, and how powerful the Popes really were.

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season two

Episode 29: After Me, The Deluge

We step back from the Medici to look at Europe as a whole circa 1492. The balance of power is shifting and that means, for the Medici and Italy as a whole, the flood is coming. 

A map of Europe circa 1500 (although it should be noted modern Spain was still administratively divided between the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile). Source: The University of Oregon.

A map of Italy in 1494. Source: Shadowxfox.

A medal depicting the future King Alfonso II of Naples by Andrea Guazzalotti. Date: 1481. Source: Sailko.
A 19th century painting depicting the surrender of Emir Muhammad XII of Granada to Queen Isabel I of Castile and Fernando II of Aragon, by Francisco Pradillo y Ortiz. Date: 1882. Source: Senate of Spain Collection, Madrid.
An anonymous portrait of Mary of Burgundy, painted sometime during her life. Her decision to marry Maximilian von Hapsburg would change the course of European history and arguably set the stage for a long series of conflicts up to World War II. Artist and exact date unknown. Source: Private collection.
A portrait of King Louis XI of France, nicknamed “The Universal Spider” because his cunning and ruthless foreign policy helped make France a great power again, free of the threats once posed by the English and the Burgundians. The artist is Jacob de Littemont. Date: 1469. Source: Private collection.
A portrait of Maximilian von Hapsburg, Holy Roman Emperor, Duke of Austria, and co-duke of Burgundy through his wife Mary of Burgundy. The artist is Bernhard Strigel. Date: ca. 1500. Source: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

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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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