I’m listening to a very interesting set of lectures on CD about the Italian Renaissance. The lecturer is taking a topical approach — one lecture is about the perfidy of Cesare Borgia (and the inevitable apology for his much-maligned sister Lucrezia), the next is about the government and economic structure of the Republic of Venice, then there’s a discussion of Imperial and French dynastic ambitions to Milan and Naples, and so on. The topical approach, however, sacrifices chronological continuity for focus on the various subjects. This is overall a good approach, because the politics, military activities, exchange and development of ideas, and economic developments of the era were so very complex.
But with that said, I would be interested in seeing a comprehensive, maybe year-by-year approach to the subject. Does anyone know of a book or other resource that tackles the Renaissance on a faithfully chronological era — so I’m not learning about the exploits of Lorenzo de’ Medici and then having to leap back in time a generation to learn about Francesco Sforza? It’s important, I think, to realize that Francesco was a contemporary of Lorenzo’s accomplished grandfather Cosimo, and therefore that Lorenzo and Francesco were not contemporaries, but it can be a bit confusing because both have similar kinds of heroic stories to tell.