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The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy's Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de' Medici (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 18. Oktober 2011


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"A rich account of a dramatic and tragic life: a tale of murder, childhood marriage, revenge, rape, accession to power by a Florentine woman, and a violent downfall. Lev offers a rich, nuanced portrait of a highly controversial beauty and military leader and her violent albeit glittering Italian Renaissance milieu." — Publishers Weekly

"An engrossing biography of one of Renaissance Italy’s most accomplished powerbrokers. The author writes with a light touch and an eye for the pageantry and drama of the time—her subject was known as one of the best-dressed women in Italy—while colorfully recounting weighty affairs of state. An inspiring tale of the courage and fortitude of an enigmatic and indomitable woman."—Kirkus

"Lev continues the recent biographical trend of unearthing extraordinary women from the historical dustpile. The Renaissance is hot right now, and this well-researched biography is a welcome addition to the reexamination of the era." —Booklist

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Elizabeth Lev is an art historian living in Rome, where she teaches Baroque and Renaissance Art. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

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Amazon.com: 108 Rezensionen
72 von 76 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
If anyone can bring back the positive meaning of virago, Caterina can 11. September 2011
Von Laura Probst - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
How is it possible that most of the world has forgotten such a dynamic, complex, amazing woman? A woman who, at seventh months pregnant, took control of the papal fort of Castel Sant'Angelo and held it, with some skillfully smuggled-in soldiers, for eleven days in order to defend her family's rights. A woman who went toe to toe, figuratively speaking, with one of the most brilliant wits of the Renaissance, Niccolo Machiavelli, and not only won but made Machiavelli look like an incompetent fool. A woman who, when the walls of her beloved castle Ravaldino were finally breached by the artillery of Cesare Borgia's army, took up a sword and waded into that breach and for two hours was the equal of any man, wielding her sword against the enemy as she fought side by side with her men. And when one of those men betrayed her and sold her out to the enemy; when she's captured by Cesare, held prisoner by him for months as he brutally rapes, torments, and terrorizes her; when she's taken back to Rome and thrown into a deep, dank cell in the same Castel Sant'Angelo she'd so bravely commandeered sixteen years earlier, her spirit could not be broken and she still managed to be defiant, even down to planning a daring escape from the inescapable papal fort. The story of Caterina Riario Sforza Medici, larger-than-life, full of colorful characters and daring exploits, should be as well known to any schoolchild as that of Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I of England and Catherine the Great of Russia and fully belongs in the pantheon of fabulous warrior women.

Elizabeth Lev does a wonderful job of taking some of the tarnish off Caterina's reputation, who during her lifetime and beyond has been vilified, judged as a witch, a whore, a virago (which, initially, was a good thing, meaning a woman of masculine spirit, from the Latin vir, man; eventually virago began to take on shadings of a negative nature, until it's become the word we know now, for an abusive and hostile woman, a woman with no shame). So much of the contemporary writings were lost, so it's hard to know exactly what took place when, but it's also easy to read between the lines of contemporary history-takers (all of them men and all of them at one time either infatuated with Caterina or repelled by her, thus coloring every word they wrote about her) and find a happy medium of truth to the most harsh of rumors and tales spread about concerning Caterina's actions. Like many other powerful, fierce and willful women in an era when women, even those in positions of power (especially those in positions of power) were supposed to be meek, mild and led by the nose by the nearest and most powerful male, Caterina's actions inspired a sort of horrified fascination in the populace and, when her actions finally exceeded the bounds of propriety, they inspired condemnation and fear. There's no way of clearing up every rumor concerning Caterina's actions, especially the more heinous ones ascribed to her (although Lev does a great job of presenting fair arguments as to why or why not Caterina couldn't/wouldn't have taken such an action), but Elizabeth Lev manages to open the curtain and shed quite a bit of light onto this extraordinary life.

As for the book itself, this is no dry dissertation concerning only names and dates, but neither is it history-lite. It strikes the right balance between information and information-overload. The narration moves along at a brisk clip and the situations are well-drawn, fully placing you, the reader, into the midst of the action on the page. There is a map provided at the beginning of the book, which helps you navigate the many Italian city-states, provinces and shifting allegiances which populate the book. Seeing as my copy is an ARC, I don't know what the publisher has in store for final publication, but I'd guess, or at least I'm hoping, they'll place some photo inserts of some of the places mentioned in the book, as well as perhaps a facsimile of some of the artwork the author describes. Such an insert would be a welcome visual aid; however, even without such an aid, the reader still gets a sense of time and place from the descriptions provided by the author. Photos would only be a bonus.

Caterina Sforza managed to straddle the quicksands which are Italian politics and not only survive but thrive, navigating political morasses with a sharp wit and a savvy mind. She endured a tedious first marriage to a corrupt and inept buffoon who only brought shame to the family name; entered into a secret, second marriage for love, which shocked the Renaissance world, and once again chose her own husband for her third, brief and sadly tragic, marriage. During her short, but ultimately brilliant life, Caterina showed herself to be a fearless ruler, a woman with an iron will and a fierce devotion to her children, an ingenious tactician and an inspiration to an entire continent. She truly was the Tigress of Forli.
21 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A great bio of Caterina Sforza and an excellent addition to the history of the renaissance 24. September 2011
Von Brian Hawkinson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I had only a passing knowledge of Caterina and the Sforzas, most from reading about the Medicis and the Borgias, but they were always peripheral figures not going in to too much detail. After having read The Tigress of Forli I can happily say that I will be reading as much as I can of the Sforzas and rank them right up there with the Medici and Borgia as the important families that I want to learn more about.

Lev's style of writing is fluid and succinct, easily conveying the information. I could easily picture her childhood, her marriage at such a young age, moving to Rome, being cast aside when the pope passed away to become a noblewoman of a minor state in Forli. Even after all that Caterina still lived a fascinating life as she maintained her hold on Forli from her enemies from both within and without. What was especially fascinating was Lev's depiction of Caterina's interaction with Cesare Borgia at the Siege of Forli. Two strong willed people going head to head, two important people in Italian history fighting each other for Forli.

In the end we have a great account of such an important figure in history. Women oftentimes are not depicted too well in history because they were always looked down upon or seen as inferior so they typically weren't written about or referenced. Caterina seemed to not fall victim to this simply because she was too involved in everything, from her stand in Rome defying the College of Cardinals to the Siege of Forli. This is someone that you want to read about and Lev does her justice. A recommend.

4.5 stars.
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Amazing subject-perfect author! 3. November 2011
Von lit-in-the-last-frontier - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
What better match-up could one hope for than author/art historian Elizabeth Lev and the venerable Renaissance countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici? Under Lev's artistic eye, the countess herself and the age in which she lived, late fifteenth and early sixteenth century Italy, pulse with life.

Caterina is, without any doubt, one of history's most amazing women. In a time and place where alliance with the ruling party of the moment was a matter not just of prosperity, but of survival, and the pyramid of power held all the stability of an edifice built on quicksand, Caterina thrived. As a woman, her task was much more difficult; time and again she was subjected to the poor decisions of the men in her life. Other times she took the reins in her own hands and rode for the battlements. Literally. Widowed Renaissance women were recycled by their fathers or brothers into further marriage alliances, often marrying several times under these circumstances. Not Caterina-she made one such marriage and then married twice for love, once into a very advantageous joining with the de Medici clan. Born a Sforza, with all the warrior spirit of her father, Caterina was forced to watch in powerless frustration as her children and those given guardianship over them exhibited their spineless Riario tendencies in the face of she who burned to fight.

Elizabeth Lev's portrayal of Caterina is very balanced. It is clear that she greatly admires her subject, but she realizes that there were times in her life when Caterina made some serious errors in judgement and when she let her passionate nature, both for love and vengeance, get the better of her. Due to the author's background, extensive coverage is given to the art, architecture and fashion of the times. It is a marvelous eye to have cast on the era-I especially love the descriptions of the extravagant gowns worn by the countess.

Overall, this is a well-written, easily digested biography. There were a couple of things which kept it from being a five star book, but by a very narrow margin (I would give the book four and a half stars if I could). First, the cast of players is huge and many of the characters are interrelated by marriage and blood. A list of characters and some genealogical charts would have been most appreciated, as there were many instances where I lost the thread of things. As mine was a review copy, this issue might very well be resolved in the final printing. My copy only had a very basic map of the Italian states, which was not near as useful as these other aids would have been. Do not let this one element deter you from picking up this page-turner of a narrative history, however. Caterina was an incredible woman, and Elizabeth Lev is an author I hope to see more from in the future.
20 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Captivating Account of Cunning Countess 9. September 2011
Von Sharon Beverly - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
A SPOILER ALERT IS NOT NEEDED. THIS IS A REVIEW, NOT A SYNOPSIS

Even if you don't devour non-fiction books of history, you will enjoy this one. The author's use of first-hand accounts, art history, and documents from the Renaissance period makes history come alive. Elizabeth Lev's descriptions are vivid. Whether she is depicting characters, landscape, or political machinations, we are skillfully swept back to the Italy of 500 years ago.

Through Caterina, we get a better understanding of the politics of the times. Marriages secured power. Truly, the phrase, `what's love got to do with it', is apropos here. This book focuses on just that. Married off at the tender age of 10, Caterina already understands the burden of defending and building the family name and fortune. He (in this case, `she') who wields power controls the purse strings.

The author's critical eye as an art historian is not limited to the craft and its techniques. Lev's portrayal of each individual, family relationships, and friendships fleshes out her characters. Think of it as tapestries coming to life. If you have visited Italy, this will help you recall its landscapes, art, and aromas.

If only all history books were written as this one.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Surviving a Turbulent Life 10. September 2011
Von Patricia H. Parker - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
This book is semi non-fiction in that it is a history book, but there is a lot of supposition and guesses in it. The author imagines what might have happened where there is no absolute proof. It is her first published work, and it is well researched. However, I would hope she would keep to the information which can be checked so that her future work will be accounted among the truly academic. It is still a very interesting book. As noted, it has its slow places and, with a myriad collection of characters, each of whom has family names, family connections and titles of one sort or the other, it can get confusing at times. However, it is well worth the effort. Besides the story of a very brave and complicated woman, the world of the High Rennaissance is covered fully.

Caterina Riario Sforza De Medici was a member of the nobility of Italy, and a woman who laid down goals for other women who came after her. In a time when women were pawns in marriage and had very little to say about their own iives, Caterina was married, the first time, to an insecure but ambitious man who continually tried to promote himself and his family, but somehow always ended up not quite succeeding. He angered the wrong people and lost much of his money as well as the land which generated it. Then, during a fight with a family of his rivals, he was killed, leaving Caterina a good deal poorer with a family of six children. The story of how she went forward with her life, breaking down barriers, and being victorious over some of the most powerful and violent men in Italian history is covered in this book, and it is an amazing story.

Caterina Sforza died at the age of 46, and, considering the things which happened during her lifetime, she is lucky to have lived that long. The story of this lifetime makes for a enlightening reading experience.
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