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Review: Murder of a Medici Princess

Setting: Florence
Period: 1542 A.D. to ~1612A.D.
If you have any interest at all in the Medicis, this thoroughly researched account of the life and loves of Isabella de Medici is a must-read. Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy, takes a wide view of the life and times of Isabella, daughter of Cosimo I, and his son, Francesco, to give full context to the scandal of how Isabella and her young cousin, Eleonora di Garzia di Toledo (aka Dianora) were both murdered by their husbands within a week of each other.

Heavily documented with original sources, including excerpts from letters in the Medici archives, the author relies on life being stranger than fiction. She is quick to clarify where the surviving evidence is shaky and uses careful language to suppose what might or could have happened, and why. The breadth and depth of her research are such that it leaves the reader with little doubt about the real fate and perpetrators.