Formerly Master Armourer to the Royal Armouries

The Theatre of Magnificence

Jousts and Chivalric Display in Medici Florence

The Theatre of Magnificence.  Jousts and Martial Display in Medici Florence

The Theatre of Magnificence
Jousts and Chivalric Display in Medici Florence


A4 Format PDF, approx 100 illustrations
This PDF format eBook is available exclusively from this website

Price: €21.95

New release date end July 2020*

*Update 30th June. The delay over sourcing images during the Covid crisis is now almost completely resolved. Publication is now confirmed for the end of July 2020. During the lockdown delay, I took advantage of the situation to research further 14th century documents from Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna for inclusion in the book, along with additional images from my photographic archive. This has meant a partial rewrite and expansion of the text and re-formatting, but the expanded book is much improved for the inclusion of this extra material: happily, something positive has come out of the delay.

This book brings to life a vanished world of amazing opulence. Renaissance Florence was a city which discouraged ties to the old Nobility in public life, and being condemned as one of the grandi could get you disbarred from political office and power. In this feudal vacuum, the riches generated by banking and trade were used to arm the young men of the wealthy merchant class, who took part not only in spectacular jousts, but also torch-lit shows of horsemanship and courtly elegance which combined martial skill, romance and eroticism. Naturally, in the city that was the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’, these extraordinary events were rich in Neo-Classical allegory and symbolism.

In this book Chris Dobson looks at detailed eyewitness accounts of these events, combined with the arms and armour listed in the Medici inventories, and the book is illustrated with many photos of wonderful Florentine art and surviving examples of the arms and armour described. Bringing these threads together, he builds up an accurate picture of the arms, armour and clothing of the participants, not only for the main protagonists, like Lorenzo Il Magnifico de’ Medici, but also their groups of retainers, the brigate, both mounted and on foot.

Bust of Lorenzo de’ Medici after Verocchio
Milanese armour for the Italian joust of peace of Gaspare Sanseverino d’Aragona
Bust of Giuliano de’ Medici by Verocchio
A decorated Florentine jousting shield from the 15th century in the Museo bardini
Pallas and the Centaur by Sandro Botticelli
Fresco of the Journey of the Magi by Benozzo Gozzoli
A Florentine cassone panel with scenes of the Story of Esther by Marco del Buono Giamberti
Jousting armour illustrated in the Inventario Illuminardo, Real Armeria, Madrid
Painting of Pallas and the Centaur by Sandro Botticelli
Photos from the book, credits from left to right/top to bottom: National Gallery of Art, Washington; © Chris Dobson; National Gallery of Art, Washington; © Chris Dobson; Sailko (CC-BY-SA 3.0); Sailko (CC-BY-SA 3.0); MET, New York (CC0 1.0); Bruce White, Copyright © the MET New York, and by kind permission Real Armeria, Madrid; The Yorck Project.
© Chris Dobson 2020. All rights reserved | P.IVA 03799630045