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I’ve been too busy with work for the last few days to work further on Starhaven/the trailer, so… have something completely off topic.
THE MEDICI, by Ferdinand Schievill! (c 1949)
It’s actually a pretty good read, despite being a very academic take on a 500-year-gone merchant dynasty/dictatorship. Some of the time, it’s intentionally entertaining: Ferdy has a pretty good grasp of how to make the characters of the time interesting and relevant, even hundreds of years later! Other times, it’s… less intentionally entertaining:
The castle of Poppi, which devouring time has fortunately spared, still overwhelms every sensitive visitor with its feudal grandeur. If the visitor happens also to be history-minded, he will not fail to be touched with the melancholy that envelops every completed human destiny as he recalls that the counts of Poppi were the last offshoot of the Guidi, a family which, back in the 12th and 13th centuries, was said to command as many castles was there were days in the year and for whose support even emperors did not feel too proud to sue.
(The grand Poppi Castle, and the Poppi family in general, has almost no connection to the Medicis.)
At the beginning of the book, Ferdinand makes the standard Historian Claim that he’s going to be Impartial and Dispassionate. So far, so usual, though of course being Ferdinand he does it like this:
One group of writers, generally speaking native Florentines, have regarded the Medicis and their rule with outspoken aversion;
another group… have… taken a favorable view of their conduct of office… Although such unqualified encomiasts belong
largely to a past period, their attitude has not been abandoned…
The present writer is of the opinion that a work on the Medici which, avoiding both enimity and partisanship, follows a middle
course, may render a useful service to the perhaps dwindling but still sizable body of readers who resort to history for the
double purpose of cultural enrichment and such light on the unfathomed nature of man as his story, whenever sampled, may yield.
(You can see I trimmed a lot out of those first two sentences, but I honestly couldn’t leave them out; who the hell drops “encomiasts” on thefirst page of the book?)
The part where this becomes truly ridiculous, though, is once Ferdy finally gets around to the Medicis. The first ~75 pages of the book are prologue (including a 15-page long, bone-dry listing of “pre-Medici Florentine art”), but once we get to the Medicis, Ferdinand discovers his true passion:
But [the anti-Medici conspirators] had now had enough and more than enough… and eagerly ran to Cosimo Medici to implore him to [reverse the results of their plot]. We can imagine the slow, inscrutable smile with which the now ageing master of politics received their importunities. To impress the moral of the episode as deeply as possible on his slippery friends he kept them whining at his door-step for several months. Then only did he give permission to have the parliament summoned…
When I picked up this book, I did not expect to be reading Medici fanfic.
I haven’t actually gotten far past this, and 2/3rds of the book are yet to come. What fresh wonders of Medici fanboy-ing await?
All I can really say is: shine on, Ferdinand, you crazy diamond.