Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age


Rating: 1 Star - Did Not Finish


What in the ever-loving hell?!

My first clue should have, again, been the stupidly long title. If you have read my other reviews you know how I feel about stupidly long and unnecessary titles. This whole-heartedly falls into that category.

The fact that ' National Bestseller' is scrawled across the cover is disheartening and a little scary. Mostly because it makes me think that everyone who has read this and made it a bestseller thinks that all the rubbish in this book is true. It is almost certainly NOT, and I hope people who read this can recognize that and seek out books that are far more factual and far less stupidly gossipy and gross.

My first clue that this was going to be a book to toss aside came very early on. The author wrote, "The papal palace itself was often home to killers and their accomplices. Popes and Cardinals hired assassins, sanctioned torture, and frequently enjoyed the sight of blood" (page 37). The other stuff I buy (helloooo Borgias, anyone?!) but stating that they all enjoyed the sight of blood? I mean seriously, what does that even really mean and what kind of nonsense is this? But still I trudged on because it was one silly thing.

Then more silliness came. Oh, did it ever.

Speaking of Marguerite of Angouleme's, (France's Francis I's sister) court, Manchester says of the ladies there: "...Extramarital sex was considered almost obligatory. Those wives in the noblesse d'epee who remained faithful to their husbands were mocked by others. To abstain from the pleasure of adultery was almost a breach of etiquette, like failing to curtsy for royalty" (page 69). By this point reading this nonsense, I knew that it would not take long for me to chuck this and move on to something that is not so absurd. It took a mere 15 more pages before that point came.

So, anyone who knows much about the Borgias knows that the family was pretty notorious. Lucretia and her siblings were schemers, manipulative, violent, power-hungry, and so on (all had some of these qualities, some had all, I believe). The family is very interesting, and remain infamous as a result. However, it is generally accepted now that the nastier rumors (such as the incest) were nothing more than slander by enemies - notably Lucrezia's first husband from whom her marriage was annulled, in order to Lucrezia's father Pope Alexander VI to secure a better marriage (that would of course benefit HIM more than Lucrezia of course). Yet here we have the author stating as fact that despite her father's plan, she was unavailable for marriage because she was involved in TWO different relationships - with her brothers (Cesare and Juan). According to this author's truth, the brothers were insanely jealous, each wanted her for himself, (while her father also was sleeping with her as well!) and eventually Juan was found murdered - naturally suspicion was on Cesare. This was the breaking point for me.

When authors recklessly present lurid gossip as fact and pass it off to the masses as such, this I can not abide. I read no further, nor do I care to. You should not either.

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