I'm an artist with an interest in artists of the Italian Renaissance. After reading several biographies it's clear that in order to really understand their lives I need to know more about their world.

I know Italy during that time was wracked by wars, intrigue from other European powers, plagues, and many other geopolitical, religious, economic and other factors. I'm seeking a thorough, well-researched and well written book on the history of the Italian Peninsula roughly 1400-1600, especially with an emphasis on politics and geopolitics. When I do Google and Amazon searches most of the books I see seem focused either on specific topics, like art or architecture,or specific locales such as Florence or Naples.

And just to be clear, I'm looking for a book by a contemporary (-to us) historian based on modern research methods. I say this because I've had many suggestions for books like Machiavelli's The Prince.

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    It is highly likely that this question does not have an authoritative answer, and it may be closed for that reason, or because reference requests don't work so well here. What is a "good" general history book depends on your politics; labor historians are going to give different answers than feminist historians, than whig historians, etc. You might consider searching for a couple of Italian history books and then asking about the books in specific.
    – MCW
    Oct 17 '21 at 21:44
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    There was no Italian state in this period, "Italy was the name of the peninsula. They usually write histories of states not of geographic regions. So you can read histories of Venice, Florence, etc. but not a history of Italy.
    – Alex
    Oct 17 '21 at 23:02
  • Starting with the fourth crusade (~1200) and the fall of Constantinople (~1450), due to the rise of the Ottoman empire (~1300), the Italian peninsula saw a significant influx of Greeks, including members of the Byzantine intelligentsia; see also Macedonian Renaissance.
    – Lucian
    Oct 18 '21 at 0:53
  • Simultaneously, bubonic plague ravaged much of Europe around 1350; following the mass destruction, it was only natural for those left to begin rebuilding the severely wounded world.
    – Lucian
    Oct 18 '21 at 1:11
  • Commenting because it's not an answer, but for a book written at the time rather than Machiavelli's (which is a treatise in political philosophy) I would recommend Guicciardini's Storia d'Italia (which, incidentally, gives lie to the fact that at the time people did not think of Italy as a single cultural area, even if it was not a single state) Oct 18 '21 at 9:25

A classic in the field would be Fernand Braudel's Out of Italy, 1450–1650, though if you are primarily interested in the Renaissance, I would likely pick an earlier start date to properly include the likes of Dante and Petrarca.

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