One of my favorite authors of historical fiction is Jeanne Kalogridis, who has made Renaissance Italy her specialty. I recently finished her latest novel, The Scarlet Contessa, about Caterina Sforza from 15th century Milan.
My Goodreads review:
So many historical figures dominate 15th century Italy - the Borgias, the della Roveres, the Medici, Machiavelli, da Vinci - that it's easy to forget that powerful family in Milan, the Sforzas. Before reading this novel, I knew very little about Caterina Sforza, which is unbelievable!
At the start of Kalogridis' portrayal, Caterina is easy to dislike. We come to know her through a fictional character, her half-sister and lady-in-waiting, Dea. Caterina is spoiled and foolish in her youth, but then she must grow up early, as all women had to in the Middle Ages. She was a mother at 15 and by 25, she was a military commander. For a woman to go up against the Borgias is remarkable and her tale is a grand one filled with scandal, religion, mysticism, and love.
I very much enjoyed reading this portrayal of such a remarkable woman.