Duchess of Milan by Michael Ennis

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Word PressThis was about the rivalry between Isabella of Aragon (the Neapolitan branch), wife of the ineffective Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan, and her cousin Beatrice d’Este, wife of Gian Galeaazo’s uncle, Ludovico Sforza, the de facto ruler during Gian Galeazzo’s lifetime and later the next Duke of Milan. It was an original take on this fascinating period in Italian history, the age of the Renaissance and the Italian Wars, and it also made good use of the important cultural concept of “Fortuna”/fate. There was a lot of action and a lot of description, and many important historical characters were featured.

However … well, it was all rather depressing, really. There was always the feeling that everything was doomed to end in tears, that happiness wasn’t really attainable, and that the world was generally a rather cruel and miserable place. The author seemed very keen on pain and suffering, some of it verging on the sado-masochistic, and also seemed to have an obsession with using as many Italian swear words, the cruder the better, as possible.

If the makers of the TV series about the Borgias ever decide to make a similar series about the Sforzas, it will probably be exactly like this!  Good points and bad points!

And I’m now on the lookout for a book about Bona Sforza, Isabella and Gian Galeazzo’s daughter, who became Queen of Poland. All I’ve found so far is a recent reprint of a 1904 book, only available at extortionate prices, and one other book which only appears to be available in Polish, but I shall keep looking …

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