I am fascinated by the complex history and politics of the medieval Italian city states. Their energy, enthusiasm, violence, political and economic chicanery all add up to a glorious resource on which to draw. They were a melting pot of religious fervour, economic, artistic and intellectual ingenuity at the crossroads of the Mediterranean and northern Europe.
Very different forms of government flourished in the medieval and early renaissance period; from proto-democracies through military tyrants and hereditary Dukedoms all the way to the Kings of Sicily. The relatively small size of the Italian states also adds a personal and intimate dimension to the political world that I wanted to emulate. The politicians’ constant need for prestige and cultural influence, the ‘soft power’ of its day, gave the world some of its greatest art. The culture that produced the Renaissance has offered me plenty of plot devices and back-story ideas to play with.
The Italian Middle Ages are very human, both the good and the bad and would, I think, make it a style of being that might re-emerge in a post chaos world as people reinvent how they live and try to extract as much as they can from the experience of life in a more precarious world.