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Peter Burke, 15 October 1987

Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy 
edited by F.W. Kent and Patricia Simons.
Oxford/Humanities Research Centre, 331 pp., £35, June 1987, 0 19 821978 4
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Pienza: The Creation of a Renaissance City 
by Charles Mack.
Cornell, 250 pp., $43.95, June 1987, 9780801416996
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Piety and Patronage in Renaissance Venice: Bellini, Titian and the Franciscans 
by Rona Goffen.
Yale, 285 pp., £30, July 1986, 0 300 03455 5
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Venetian Humanism in an Age of Patrician Dominance 
by Margaret King.
Princeton, 524 pp., £42.90, April 1986, 0 691 05465 7
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The Venetian Patriciate: Reality versus Myth 
by Donald Queller.
Illinois, 386 pp., $29.95, September 1986, 0 252 01144 9
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Tradesman and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c.1250-c.1650 
by Richard MacKenney.
Croom Helm, 289 pp., £35, January 1987, 0 7099 1763 5
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Florence, Rome and the Origins of the Renaissance 
by George Holmes.
Oxford, 273 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 19 822576 8
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From Humanism to the Humanities: Education and the Liberal Arts in 15th and 6th-Century Europe 
by Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine.
Duckworth, 224 pp., £29.95, January 1987, 0 7156 2100 9
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Renaissance and Revolt: Essays in the Intellectual and Social History of Early Modern France 
by J.H.M. Salmon.
Cambridge, 306 pp., £30, June 1987, 0 521 32769 5
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... however, the obvious refuge is not Pienza but Venice. Two recent studies, by Rona Goffen and Margaret King, reveal some of the distinctive forms of cultural patronage in that city. Goffen’s Piety and Patronage concentrates on three works painted for the Franciscan church of the Frari: Giovanni Bellini’s triptych, Titian’s Assumption of the ...

Watch your tongue

Marina Warner, 20 August 1992

Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love 
by Howard Bloch.
Chicago, 308 pp., £14.95, February 1992, 0 226 05973 1
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Women of the Renaissance 
by Margaret King.
Chicago, 328 pp., £13.50, December 1991, 0 226 43618 7
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The Lady as Saint: A Collection of French Hagiographical Romances of the 13th Century 
by Brigitte Cazelles.
Pennsylvania, 320 pp., £35, November 1991, 9780812230994
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Heavenly Supper: The Story of Maria Janis 
by Fulvio Tomizza, translated by Anne Jacobson Shutte.
Chicago, 184 pp., £19.95, December 1991, 0 226 80789 4
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Oppositional Voices: Women as Writers and Translators of Literature in the English Renaissance 
by Tina Krontiris.
Routledge, 192 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 415 06329 9
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... studies, which is bringing back the sound of different, personal voices and particular tales. Margaret King’s richly researched Women of the Renaissance explores the lives and works of foundlings and drudges, poets and princesses in a painstaking mesh of social, financial and legal detail. But it has to be said that the discourse of ...

How do we know her?

Hilary Mantel: The Secrets of Margaret Pole, 2 February 2017

Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower 
by Susan Higginbotham.
Amberley, 214 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 4456 3594 1
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... offers a grey-white face, long, guarded, medieval, remote: ‘unknown woman, formerly known as Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury’. It is painted on a dateable oak panel, and the dates suit the presumed subject, but the artist is anonymous. Where is Hans Holbein when you need him? The sitter might as well be carved, for all she suggests flesh or ...

The Trouble with HRH

Christopher Hitchens, 5 June 1997

Princess MargaretA Biography 
by Theo Aronson.
O’Mara, 336 pp., £16.99, February 1997, 1 85479 248 2
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... in ‘daylight upon magic’. But the damn phrase is inescapable. The fascination of Princess Margaret, I suspect, is that she was the forerunner of the public, vulgar Windsor style: now such a drag but then such a sensation. If you were a commoner of average social mobility in London in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, there was a better than average ...

Crowing

Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... paused only at the three sacred sites that anchor Atlanta’s claim to world fame – the homes of Margaret Mitchell, Martin Luther King Jr and Coca-Cola. Seen through Rutheiser’s ironic, cold eye these nodes mark the fault lines of a disintegrative urban history. Margaret Mitchell’s ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett, 30 January 1992

... illness. He had an equerry, Colonel Manners, who, bringing him his dinner one day, discovered the King had hidden under the sofa. A Jeeves before his time, Manners imperturbably laid a place for His Majesty on the carpet and put down the plate. He was retiring discreetly when the King said (still sous bergère), ‘That was ...

How to be a queen

David Carpenter: She-Wolves, 15 December 2011

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England before Elizabeth 
by Helen Castor.
Faber, 474 pp., £9.99, July 2011, 978 0 571 23706 7
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... four women who ‘ruled England before Elizabeth’. The first of them, Matilda, the daughter of King Henry I, fought for the throne against King Stephen, aspiring to make herself queen-regnant. The other three were all queen-consorts: Eleanor of Aquitaine, who rebelled against her husband, Henry II; Isabella of ...

Earls’ Sons

E.S. Turner, 20 October 1983

The Man who was Greenmantle: A Biography of Aubrey Herbert 
by Margaret FitzHerbert.
Murray, 250 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 7195 4067 4
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A Classic Connection 
by Michael Seth-Smith.
Secker, 184 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 436 44705 3
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... be with you, Balliol men!’ Was Aubrey Herbert, this human plum, ever ripe enough to be king of Albania, a country which twice offered him the throne? After finishing Margaret FitzHerbert’s excellent book the reader may be in two minds; at least King Aubrey would have wielded ...

Charm with Menaces

Colin Burrow: ‘The Mirror and the Light’, 19 March 2020

The Mirror and the Light 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 883 pp., £25, March, 978 0 00 748099 9
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... and turns against the architect of the match, Thomas Cromwell, who is beheaded on the very day his king marries Katherine Howard, niece of Cromwell’s arch-enemy the reactionary Duke of Norfolk (who in Mantel’s version resembles an ungenial version of Sir Ector in T.H. White’s Sword in the Stone). As Thomas Boleyn, Anne’s father, puts it in The Mirror ...

Into Your Enemy’s Stomach

Alexander Murray: Louis IX, 8 April 2010

Saint Louis 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Gareth Evan Gollrad.
Notre Dame, 947 pp., £61.95, February 2009, 978 0 268 03381 1
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... forebears answered it by simply declaring some people to be ‘saints’. An early medieval king remembered as a saint was nearly always one who had either opted out of active kingship to lead a private life of exemplary piety while others did the dirty work, or one who had been killed in a Christian cause. An example of the first kind is Edward the ...

It’s Mummie

Jenny Diski, 16 December 1993

TheLittle Princesses 
by Marion Crawford, introduced by A.N. Wilson.
Duckworth, 128 pp., £14.99, November 1993, 0 7156 2497 0
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... the readers of the popular (as in lower orders) press. Marion Crawford, governess to Lilibet and Margaret Rose, started the rot by ratting on her employers in 1950. Which means that, like liberated and consequence-free sex, the period of royal mystery was brief, helped by the fact that a large war was going on for much of the time, when the intimate doings ...

Done for the State

John Guy: The House of York, 2 April 2020

The Brothers York: An English Tragedy 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 688 pp., £12.99, April, 978 0 7181 9728 5
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Richard III: The Self-Made King 
by Michael Hicks.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21429 1
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... a blizzard on Palm Sunday, he took the throne from the weak, ineffectual Henry VI and was crowned King Edward IV.Usurpers were plentiful in the 15th century. Edward’s claim was by lineal descent from Edward III, and was a strong one if you ignored the deposition of Richard II in 1399. In the mid-1450s, Richard, Duke of York, Edward’s father and ...

Still Defending the Scots

Katie Stevenson: Robert the Bruce, 10 September 2014

Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots 
by Michael Penman.
Yale, 443 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 300 14872 5
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... III in 1286 without surviving issue and the subsequent death in 1290 of his young granddaughter, Margaret, Maid of Norway, while she was being brought to Scotland, left no clear heir and the kingdom plummeted into political turmoil. The main competitors for the throne in the ensuing Great Cause (overseen by Edward I of England) were soon established as ...

All hail, sage lady

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Crown’, 15 December 2016

... Before we come to Philip’s internal strife, we have to contend with the randy bonhomie of old King George. It is said that American viewers are distressed to find the word ‘cunt’ used in the first episode, spoken by George VI (Jared Harris) to his valet, but perhaps this is merely the latest in a long line of gifts from Britain to the former ...

A Question of Breathing

John Bayley, 4 August 1988

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... Byron is the prototype of the first, Wordsworth of the second. The great Goethe was, in his time, king and emperor of both, and highly revered for it. In love with their fates, condemned by these to some suitable agony, the dramatisers had a more spectacular but more painful time of it than those whom Keats rather unfairly refers to as ‘large ...

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