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By William Manchester

From stories of chivalrous knights to the barbarity of trial by means of ordeal, no period has been a better resource of awe, horror, and sweetness than the center a long time. In handsomely crafted prose, and with the grace and authority of his notable present for narrative historical past, William Manchester leads us from a civilization tottering close to cave in to the grandeur of its rebirth--the dense explosion of power that spawned a few of history's maximum poets, philosophers, painters, adventurers, and reformers, in addition to a few of its so much unbelievable villains--the Renaissance.

Using purely secondary assets, Manchester plunges readers into the medieval state of mind in a charming, marvelously brilliant well known heritage that humanizes the tumultuous span from the darkish a long time to the sunrise of the Renaissance. He delineates an age while invisible spirits infested the air, while tolerance used to be visible as treachery and "a mafia of profane popes desecrated Christianity." in addition to re-creating the laborious lives of standard humans, the Wesleyan professor of heritage peoples his tapestry with such figures as Leonardo, Machiavelli, Lucrezia Borgia, Erasmus, Luther, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Manchester ( The palms of Krupp ) devotes a lot awareness to Magellan, whose globe-straddling voyage shattered Christendom's implicit trust in Europe because the middle of the universe. His portrayal of the center a long time as a time whilst the robust and the clever flourished, whereas the imaginitive, the cerebral and the unlucky suffered, jewelry precise.

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Extra resources for A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance - Portrait of an Age

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Page 52 King Francis I of France. Painting by Jean Clouet. Alinari/Art Resource, NY. Page 72 Pope Julius II. Detail from fresco The Mass of Bolsena, by Raphael. Alinari/Art Resource, NY. Page 75 Alexander VI, the Borgia pope. Detail from mural The Resurrection, by Pinturicchio. Alinari/Art Resource, NY. Page 77 Giulia Farnese. Detail from painting The Transfiguration, by Raphael. Alinari/Art Resource, NY. Page 78 Lucrezia Borgia. Detail from mural La Disputa de Santa Caterina, by Pinturicchio. Alinari/Art Resource, NY.

There it remained for seven pontificates, despite appeals from such figures as Petrarch and Saint Catherine of Siena. By 1377, when Pope Gregory XI returned the Holy See to Rome, the College of Cardinals was dominated by Frenchmen. After Gregory’s death the following year the sacred college was hopelessly split. A majority wanted a French pontiff; a minority, backed by the Roman mob, demanded an Italian. Intimidated, the college capitulated to the rabble and elected Bartolomeo Prignano of Naples.

Now, moving back nearly five centuries, I was entering an entirely different world, where there were no clocks, no police, virtually no communications; a time when men believed in magic and sorcery and slew those whose superstitions were different from, and therefore an affront to, their own. The early sixteenth century was not entirely new to me. Its major figures, their wars, the Renaissance, the religious revolution, the voyages of exploration—with all these I had the general familiarity of an educated man.

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