Carpe Diem! is the story of an orphan, Nicolo, who is adopted into the Contarini family of Florence. The head of the family, Carlo, is in banking and trade and a friend of Lorenzo de Medici. He comes upon Nicolo by accident and is impressed with his artistic potential and suspects that he might know the orphan’s real parentage. Carlo has four sons who are engaged in running the family’s estate, sailing with explorers, converting to Protestantism in Wittenberg, or conducting trade for the family in Antwerp. One of his daughters becomes a nun while the youngest becomes a sculptor. The mystery of Nicolo’s real parentage is resolved. Major artists and their work are discussed as are the intellectual developments by Ficino, Mirandola, Erasmus, and More.The causes and results of Luther’s break with Rome are emphasized as well as the political aspirations of the Valois, Habsburg, and Tudor dynasties. The rise of the Ottomans and its effect on Europe is integrated into the story as are developments in the Yuan and early Ming dynasties in China. Piero Contarini’s voyages with Columbus and Magellan emphasize the growing desire for conquest and wealth as well as the growing importance of Spain. The further enrichment of Spain through Pizarro’s conquest of Peru is shared through the historian of the era, Francesco Guicciardini.
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