Renaissance Florence is an old textbook from a Renaissance History class I took in college back in the 1990s. Why have I kept moving it all these years? Who knows. But it came in handy when, after watching a few episodes of Medici on Netflix, I found myself thinking “I don’t think that actually happened, but I don’t really remember.” I was pretty sure that Cosimo de Medici wasn’t an artist at heart, but did he pay to fund the completion of the Duomo? I couldn’t remember. (No, no he did not. His father did.) And Savonarola is a character in the latest season. Were Savonarola and Lorenzo the Magnificent around at the same time as the Netflix series would have you believe? Not really, but I also haven’t watched the last season yet, and I don’t know what claims the series makes.
In short: Renaissance Florence is an academic history of Florence that I revisited so I could understand what liberties the very entertaining show was taking, as well as put some context around who the various families are and what was driving the economic and artistic growth in Florence at the time. I enjoyed it; however, it was also written in the late 1960s, and, not being a scholar of Italian history, I’ve no idea what updates it might need. Not to mention that I wasn’t reading it critically – I was reading lightly. It’s not a book I’d recommend reading for fun, unless you’re into that kind of thing, but it was helpful for my purposes.