Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, was the archetypal 'Renaissance man': a brilliant soldier, scholar and ally of the pope, he spent much of the vast wealth earned through his military adventures on commissioning artists such as Raphael and Bramante to decorate the churches and palaces of the city. Sigismondo Malatesta, lord of the neighbouring city of Rimini, was also a brilliant soldier and generous patron of the arts. Over the course of his life, he and Federigo were locked in an epic feud which saw them fight as mercenaries for and against just about every Italian ruler of note, so long as the other was on the opposite side. Together they epitomised the spirit of the condottieri - the contract army leaders who drove the explosion of new political, commercial and artistic ideas that has since become known as the Renaissance. Using the rivalry between the two as a focus, the author explores the much-neglected story of the military Renaissance - a time of almost constant warfare between the Italian states.
Written by the critically-acclaimed and bestselling author Hugh Bicheno, it is a description of how military adventurers fought, poisoned, betrayed and cheated their way through fifteenth century Italy, and also produced some of the most enduringly beautiful works of art ever seen.
Hugh Bicheno is himself a Renaissance man. He has had careers as an academic, an intelligence officer and a freelance kidnap and ransom negotiator in South America. He now devotes himself to writing about men at war and co-authored the bestselling Rebels and Redcoats, written in conjunction with Richard Holmes. He lives in Cambridge.
Rebels and Redcoats (HarperCollins 2003);
Crescent and Cross;