Catherine Fletcher is the author of The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici.
From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: Why did you decide to write a book about Alessandro de' Medici?Visit Catherine Fletcher's website.
A: I came across Alessandro’s story when I was writing my first book, about Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon. The pope who turned down Henry’s divorce was Clement VII, head of the Medici family, and he refused Henry in part because he wanted the support of Catherine’s relatives to get Alessandro into power in Florence.
A few years later, thinking about what to write next, I came back to it. It’s a fascinating piece of history, and the stories about Alessandro’s race (he was illegitimate, said to be the son of a Medici duke and a “half-Negro” woman) help lead into a different perspective on the Italian Renaissance from the traditional image of “dead white men.”
Q: You write, "For centuries after Alessandro's assassination, it suited both former allies and enemies to make a villain of him." Why was this, and what are some of the most common perceptions and misperceptions about him?
A: Alessandro was the first of the Medici family to rule the city of Florence as its duke rather than as “first among equals” in a republican government.
That was a controversial change of regime, achieved with the support of foreign troops, and not surprisingly it made him enemies. Some of them made very personalized accusations about Alessandro’s own behavior – that he was...[read on]