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HI 315 - The Renaissance


This guide ties in with the class assignment to write short biographical essays on historical figures referenced in Machiavelli's The Prince. The reference resources and books listed on this guide should provide sufficient information on major figures such as popes and monarchs. For more obscure figures, you may need to consult multiple books to piece together your profiles, or ask your instructor for assistance. For further help, please visit the Reference Desk or contact the History liaison librarian.


Reference Resources

These reference materials include profiles of many of the historical figures and places mentioned by Machiavelli. Consult the indexes at the back of each volume (or in the last volume of a multi-volume set) to find the page numbers on which a particular person is discussed. Some reference resources provide bibliographies at the ends of each entry, which may point you to additional books worth exploring.

Concise Encyclopedia of the Italian Renaissance
     Ref DG445 .C66

Encyclopaedia Britannica
     Online version of the Britannica

Encyclopedia of the Renaissance
     Ref CB361 .B43 (6 volumes)

Europe - 1450 to 1789:  An Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World
      In Gale Virtual Reference Library

Great Popes Through History: An Encyclopedia
     Ref BX955.3 .G74 (2 volumes)

The Papacy: An Encyclopedia
     Ref BX955.2 .D53 (3 volumes)

Renaissance and Reformation, 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary
     Ref CT759 .R46

Women in World History:  A Biographical Encyclopedia
      In Gale Virtual Reference Library


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Geisel Library catalog
To find biographical information on a particular person, start by conducting a Keyword search on his or her name in the library catalog.

However, this strategy will only retrieve books for which the person's name appears in the title, the subject headings, or (possibly) the chapter titles. You will also need to examine more general books about Renaissance France, Italy, Florence, or other regions of Italy. One approach is to browse the bookshelves in the following call number sections. Check the indexes of books to look for information about your person of interest.

DC33.3                      Renaissance France

DC108 - DC111      Renaissance France

DG445                       Renaissance Italy

DG533 - DG537      Renaissance Italy

DG737 - DG738      Renaissance Florence 

You may locate additional books by searching the following subjects as Subject Headings.

  • Florence (Italy) — History
  • Florence (Italy) — History — 1421–1737
  • France - History — 16th Century
  • Italy - History — 1268–1492
  • Italy - History — 1492–1559
  • Renaissance — France
  • Renaissance — Italy

The following books represent a sampling of titles that may be useful to your research. All contain good biographical material on several of the people mentioned in The Prince.

The Borgias: The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Dynasty
     General Collection DG463.8 .B7M3

Condottieri, Soldiers of Fortune
     Reserve Desk DG533 .T7

The French Monarchy (1483-1789)
     General Collection DC110 .G7 (2 vols.)

The History of Florence
     General Collection DG737.5 .G813

The History of France from the Earliest Times to 1848 (Guizot)
     General Collection DC38 .G975 (8 vols.)

The History of Italy
     General Collection DG539 .G8l3

The Italian Renaissance: A Concise Survey of its History and Culture
     General Collection DG445 .P6

John Hawkwood: An English Mercenary in Fourteenth-Century Italy
     Reserve Desk DG536.H4 C34

Mercenaries and their Masters; Warfare in Renaissance Italy
     General Collection DG537 .M34

The Most Illustrious Ladies of the Italian Renaissance
     General Collection DG533 .A5

The Renaissance [in France]
     General Collection DC111 .F83

The World of the Italian Renaissance
     General Collection DG445 .C46

If you fail to locate sufficient information, you may wish to try searching the person's name as a keyword in WorldCat (an online catalog encompassing the holdings of thousands of libraries worldwide). To request a book, open the book's WorldCat record, click the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link, and follow the on-screen instructions. Allow 7-10 days for delivery. You will be emailed when your book arrives.


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Selected Websites

In addition to checking the websites below, you may also want to conduct keyword searching on your historical figures in a search engine such as Google. But be sure to look for indications that the site's information is authoritative, objective and reliable. For help with this, please see the library's guide about Evaluating Web Resources.

Biographies of Popes (Catholic Encyclopedia)
This online version of the venerable encyclopedia includes lengthy profiles of every pope.

Guide to The Prince
This website, compiled by an Italian history scholar named Gino Casagrande, includes the full text of Machiavelli's The Prince along with Casagrande's own biographical profiles of many of the people mentioned in the work.

A searchable database of over a million digital images, including portraits, illustrations, and busts of historical figures from the Renaissance.  You will also find pictures of many of these individuals in the books listed above, or through the Google Image Search.


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Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


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Book cover image for Encyclopedia of the Renaissance

Silvia Shannon

Library Liaison
Jeff Waller

Reference Resources
Selected Websites
Citing Sources

Subject Guide