Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Edition: Egalley, 320 pages
Genre: Nonfiction, Historical Biography
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
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The astonishing life of a long-misunderstood Renaissance virago. Wife, mother, leader, warrior. Caterina Riario Sforza was one of the most prominent women in Renaissance Italy—and one of the most vilified. In this glittering biography, Elizabeth Lev reexamines her extraordinary life and accomplishments. Raised in the court of Milan and wed at age ten to the pope’s corrupt nephew, Caterina was ensnared in Italy’s political intrigues early in life. After turbulent years in Rome’s papal court, she moved to the Romagnol province of Forlì. Following her husband’s assassination, she ruled Italy’s crossroads with iron will, martial strength, political savvy—and an icon’s fashion sense. In finally losing her lands to the Borgia family, she put up a resistance that inspired all of Europe and set the stage for her progeny—including Cosimo de’ Medici—to follow her example to greatness. A rich evocation the Renaissance, The Tigress of Forlì reveals Caterina Riario Sforza as a brilliant and fearless ruler, and a tragic but unbowed figure.
I have always found the Renaissance to be a wonderful time period for the arts but I’m just recently discovering the more prominent characters of the time. I decided to read this because I haven’t had the chance to do any sort of research on Caterina Sforza, and all I know of her comes from a video game which while it is accurate in many historical details it does take some liberties.
I found this to be a extremely well researched and highly enjoyable read. The author clearly has a way with words and though she uses only documented instances she manages to make them feel more fleshed out and detailed. It does read similar to a history text book that you’d find in a college class but in my experience with college texts this has been considerable more enjoyable overall then I’ve ever had with a mere text book. The events that occur throughout are not merely mentioned but also explained and the reader is given some sight as to the Renaissance mindset of both the political figures as well as the citizens. There are also a great amount of quotes from both Caterina and others. You can get a sense of what Caterina may have been thinking and why she reacted the way she did. While book is mainly about her it also allows you to glimpse how the rest of continental Europe was fairing, and mentions quite a few names that help you get a since of when things happened. Her husbands and children are explained as much as possible and her recorded interactions with them gives a glimpse at how the enigmatic woman lived.
Having very little information on the powerful Italian woman I was quite surprised throughout the book. The amount of tribulation that this woman dealt with is staggering and all before the age of 46. I found her personality to be one that is worth idolizing, she was truly a strong and independent woman in a time where she was suppose to be a quiet shadow. Her strength during the many political and military encounters is admirable and I can honestly say I wish I was half the woman she was.
If you enjoy historical biographies then I was suggest this book to you, I found it to be both informative and enjoyable.