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Lords of the Sky

Falconry in Mantua at the time of Gonzagas

The Renaissance period represent the golden age of the Mantuan court. Isabella d’Este, Francesco II and Federico II wrote and received a voluminous amount of letters from their falconers. Giancarlo Malacarne has skilfully and systematically analysed this correspondence and having identified the fundamental aspects of the art of falconry in the age of the Gonzaga, he organises this fascinating documentation into a unique book, enlivened with humour and perception. Page after page, the readers could join the world of falconry at the Gonzaga court directly through the vivid and real words of their key players and discover what were the most desired hawks, the number of falcons exchanges as gifts, the health and disease that affected these magnificent birds of prey and the incredible hunts that were organized.

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Giancarlo Malacarne

Historian and Director of "Civiltà Mantovana"

Giancarlo Malacarne, historian and journalist, is the Director of “Civiltà Mantovana” an periodical of art, history and culture for which he has written numerous essays. He collaborates with newspapers, magazines and publications of historical character.
In 2004 he was awarded the National Prize “Orio Vergani” of the Italian Academy of Cooking for the book “The Prince’s table”.

Giancarlo Malacarne has studied and written several books about heraldry and is the author of many historical essays. His innovative contributions on the political, social and cultural relations of the Medieval and Renaissance periods are informed by fifteen years of studying the Gonzaga Archives in Mantua and other important documentary sources.

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The Gonzaga

The reigning dynasty of the Mantuan territory

The Gonzagas were the reigning dynasty of the Mantuan territory from 1328 to 1707. This region comprised placid lakes and rivers that meandered between green banks, forests, sunny valleys, swampy plains and a fertile countryside, populated by an extensive number of birds and animals of every size. At the Gonzaga court falconry was practiced according to ancient traditions: in the historical archives of the family (now preserved at the State Archives of Mantua and patiently transcribed and studied by Giancarlo Malacarne) abound testimonies about the complex and costly exercise to which the Marquis of Mantua, Federico and his son Francesco II, were dedicated with great personal commitment, profusion of resources and consequent “return of image”.

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Documents at the State Archive of Mantua

State Archive, Mantua

The State Archive preserves documents of Mantua from the eleventh century

The State Archive of Mantua occupies approximately 25,000 linear feet of shelving for a total of more than 250,000 paper pieces (envelopes, records, books, pamphlets), more than 6,000 parchments, about 14,000 maps and drawings, as well as seals, coins, prints, most of them of the Gonzagas which have governed the destiny of the city for almost four centuries (1328-1707), making Mantua the capital of a small but refined cultural court, vital crossroads of civilization of the Renaissance where arts, music, theater and literature have found high form of expression. The archive Gonzaga in particular is one of the most complete and homogeneous archives of families who have ruled during the great period of the Renaissance.

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How to buy

Buy the book safely and securely online

The book “Lords of the Sky” was been launched during the Second Falconry Festival, held at Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates from 10 to 18 December 2011 to celebrate the recognition of falconry as part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
To spread the knowledge of the History of the Italian Falconry, through the milestone of Gonzagas' era, we offer a special price of 55 euro instead 65 euro (plus shipping cost) for a limited period of time. On request by email, extra discount will be availabe for order of 10 copies or more.

Hardcover, 288 pages, more than 130 images, extra contents and download online, 22 x 30 x 2,7 cm

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Latest News

Second Falconry Festival

Al Ain, from 10 to 18 December 2011

The book “Lords of the Sky” was been launched during the Second Falconry Festival, held at Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates from 10 to 18 December 2011 to celebrate the recognition of falconry as part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

Web site online!

3 January 2012

Lords of the Sky web site is online. Visit also our Facebook page.

Lords of the Sky available online

From 10 January 2012

From 10 January 2012 it will be possible to buy online the book "Lords of the Sky". For a limited time it will available at the special price of 55 euro. PRE-ORDER NOW!



I believe in the magic of the meetings. I met Giancarlo Malacarne on a cold and foggy morning in December 2009 at Palazzo Te in Mantua. He led me through the rooms of the Palace, telling me with great love and obvious passion of the Gonzagas. Among the many projects that we talked about was that of an English version of the book “I Signori del Cielo”, then unavailable, that would allow an even greater number of people and an international audience to know of the indisputable importance and symbolic value of falconry in the Renaissance. Thanks to the efforts of many people, “Lords of the Sky” has taken shape and is now available to anyone wishing to approach the world of falconry while discovering the history of the Gonzaga era.

Patrizia Cimberio

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