Pietro Bembo
A Life in Laurels and Scarlet

Marco Faini

Legenda (General Series)


15 May 2017  •  140pp

ISBN: 978-1-781884-41-6 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-781884-42-3 (paperback, 30 September 2018)  •  RRP £9.99, $12.50, €12.50


In addition to its original library hardback edition, this title is now on sale in the new student-priced Legenda paperback range.

Pietro Bembo was both witness and participant at the centre of the Italian Renaissance. A celebrated writer, an antiquarian, a man of exquisite taste, and a lover of women and beauty, he was to win both the laurels of a poet and the scarlet robes of a Cardinal. Born in Venice, he travelled to and resided in nearly all the Italian courts, from Lorenzo il Magnifico’s Florence to Ferrara, Urbino and Rome. As Latin secretary to Pope Leo X and a lover of Lucrezia Borgia, with whom he exchanged passionate letters in great secrecy, he was an intimate of both the Medicis and the Borgias. His public writing set the style of Italian literary language, and his appreciations of Dante and Petrarch were influential across the whole of Europe. A patron and friend of many of the most refined artists of the Renaissance, from Raphael to Cellini, Bembo also lived through an age of scientific enquiry — as a boy, he was fascinated with the volcanic processes of Mount Etna — and the dawn of print culture, in which he also played a role as one of the first contemporary writers to be printed in movable type.

Faini’s new biography, commissioned by the Fondation Barbier-Mueller pour l’étude de la poésie italienne de la Renaissance, aims to recapture, for a general readership, Bembo’s unique experience during the most glorious and tormented years of the Italian Renaissance.


  • ‘Faini has managed very effectively the task of providing an introduction to Bembo’s life and work that is insightful yet relatively succinct and accessible. He gives a good sense of the complexity of underlying issues without overwhelming readers with detail. His writing is engaging and attentive to descriptive effect... Helpfully and attractively illustrated.’ — Brian Richardson, Modern Language Review 113.4, October 2018, 884-86 (full text online)
  • ‘As this slim but elegant volume highlights, the life of Pietro Bembo (1470-1547) bridges the transition in Italy from the height of the Renaissance into the early stages of the Catholic Reformation, not simply in terms of chronology but also in his career trajectory... This is a beautifully illustrated work, with more than 30 images, many of which are in colour. It is an engaging treatment and an excellent introduction to this significant figure.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 54.2, July 2019, 266 (full text online)

Bibliography entry:

Faini, Marco, Pietro Bembo: A Life in Laurels and Scarlet (Cambridge: Legenda, 2017)

First footnote reference: 35 Pietro Bembo: A Life in Laurels and Scarlet, marco Faini (Cambridge: Legenda, 2017), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Faini, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Faini, Marco. 2017. Pietro Bembo: A Life in Laurels and Scarlet (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Faini 2017: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Faini 2017: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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