A Renaissance Tapestry (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
The Gonzaga family ruled Mantua from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Their rise to power in Mantua and their reputation as warriors, diplomats, patrons, and indulgers has been chronicled by Kate Simon. A Renaissance Tapestry: The Gonzaga of Mantua is a rich feast of Renaissance princes, painters, poxes, and passions. Between each course of Gonzaga family history, Simon serves up dollops of cultural background, which she entitles “Interludes.” The result is perhaps less a formal banquet than a smorgasbord of Renaissance history—but it is nevertheless fascinating.
Mantua takes its name from Manto, the prophetess-daughter of Teiresias, who settled there with her followers in the mists of legendary time. Mantuan history begins with an Etruscan city on whose ruins a town flourished despite invasions by Gauls, Goths, Huns, Lombards, Holy Roman Emperors, and after the Gonzaga, French, Spanish, Austrians, and Germans. The city developed during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance as many northern Italian cities did—growing from a trading commune into a flourishing municipality dominated by the strength of one family.
In the early fourteenth century, aided by clever diplomacy, the force of great wealth, and luck, the Gonzaga family, led by Luigi, the first capitano, wrested the rule of Mantua away from the Bonacolsi, who had controlled the city throughout the thirteenth century. The early Gonzagas pioneered the fine...
(The entire section is 1899 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Booklist. LXXXIV, January 1, 1988, p. 746.
Kirkus Reviews. LVI, January 15, 1988, p. 113.
Library Journal. CXIII, February 15, 1988, p. 167.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, April 10, 1988, p. 16.
The New Yorker. LXIV, April 11, 1988, p. 127.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIII, January 8, 1988, p. 70.
Time. CXXXI, March 14, 1988, p. 88.
(The entire section is 38 words.)