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  • Published: 1 July 2013
  • ISBN: 9781845951924
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $38.99

The Spirit of Venice

From Marco Polo to Casanova



From the author of The Medici comes a new history of Venice, which looks at the lives of the famous individuals of the Republic to try to define its character.

The Republic of Venice was the first great economic and naval power of the modern Western world. After winning the struggle for ascendency against its bitter Genoese rivals in the late 13th century, the Republic enjoyed centuries of unprecedented glory and a trading empire which at its apogee reached as far afield as China, Syria and West Africa. This golden period was only to draw to the end with the slow decline of Venetian power in the 18th century and the Republic's eventual surrender to Napoleon. The Spirit of Venice aims to define the character of the Republic during these illustrious years. Whilst investigating the vital events of the period, Paul Strathern pays particular attention to the lives of individuals who embodied thespirit of the Republic, or on occasions helped to even redefine it, be they Venetians, visitors or those who were helplessly bound up in the history of the Republic. This cast includes some of the most celebrated figures of European history - Petrarch, Marco Polo, Galileo, Titian, Vivaldi, Casanova - alongside less famous but equally extraordinary characters, such as Caterina, 'the Tragic Queen of Cyprus', and John Law, the Scots gambler who in the 18th century invented paper money and bankrupted France in the process.

Frequently, though, these emblems of the city found themselves at odds with the Venetian authorities. The oligarchy of wealthy merchant families who dominated the Republic prized stability above all else, and were notoriously suspicious of any 'cult of personality'. Was this very tension perhaps the engine for the Republic's unprecedented rise?

Rich with biographies of some of the most exalted characters to have ever lived, The Spirit of Venice constitutes a refreshing and authoritative new way into the history of the most evocative of city states.

  • Published: 1 July 2013
  • ISBN: 9781845951924
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $38.99

About the author

Paul Strathern

Paul Strathern studied philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin. He has lectured in philosophy and mathematics. He is a Somerset Maugham Prize-winning novelist; author of two series of books - Philosophers in 90 Minutes and The Big Idea: Scientists who Changed the World; Mendeleyev's Dream (shortlisted for the Aventis Science Book Prize); Dr. Strangelove's Game: A History of Economic Genius;The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance; The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior and Death in Florence: The Medici, Savonarola and the Battle for the Soul of the Renaissance City.

Also by Paul Strathern

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Praise for The Spirit of Venice

Fascinating. A readable and delightful book.

Harry Reid, Herald

Strathern sketches out fascinating aspects of the social life of Venice... Vivid.

BBC History Magazine

Colourful.

Sunday Times

The rise and fall of La Serenissima is vividly depicted.

Christopher Hirst, Independent

Perfect holiday companion

The Lady

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