The Pope's elephant

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Penguin Books, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 302 pages
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In 1514, Rome, the Eternal City, was the center of the Christian world and home and workshop to Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo. It was also the city of Pope Leo X, the pleasure-loving pontiff whose court was infamous for its excess, frivolity and impropriety, as well as for its newly-arrived white elephant Hanno. Hanno became a star feature in processions and festivals, and the subject of countless paintings, sculptures and fountains. In this fascinating glimpse at a forgotten sidenote to history, Silvio A. Bedini gives us an elephant's-back view of early modern Europe and the inner workings of the Vatican at the height of its influence. Charmingly written with dozens of accompanying photographs and illustrations, The Pope's Elephant will delight readers just as Hanno delighted the people of Rome five centuries ago.

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In 1514, King Manuel I of Portugal sent a menagerie of animals and presents in an effort to please and gain favor with the newly-crowned pope Leo X. Among the animals was a white Indian elephant. It ... Read full review

The Pope's Elephant

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Deep within this mountain of meticulous research lies the story of a Medici pope's fondness for a small albino elephant, gift of Portugal's King Manuel I to the papal court. Son of Lorenzo the ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Historian Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, Silvio A. Bedini has written extensively on the history of science and technology. Well known for his classic "Thomas Jefferson: Statesman of Science", he also organized the 1981 exhibition "Thomas Jefferson and Science" at the National Museum of American History.