A student of the Renaissance, Tarp Jones spent a decade researching the labyrinth of Italian history in the early 1500s.
Title by Tarpley Jones
The Pope’s Man
Released: February 2022
The first decade of the sixteenth century was a violent time in Italy. The pope and his lackeys were preoccupied less with spiritual salvation than with the accumulation of wealth. But even as they destroyed the church and set a course that would lead to the Reformation, the most powerful men in Rome were generous patrons of the arts.
At the apogee of the High Renaissance, a disgruntled Michelangelo, offended by the brusque treatment he has received at the hands of the pope, decides to flee the Eternal City. But the mercurial Julius II has great plans for the rebuilding of St. Peter’s and the beautification of the Sistine Chapel. He sends his most trusted legate, the Franciscan friar Francesco della Rovere, to retrieve Michelangelo. Though only twenty-nine years of age, the devoted Rovere has traveled the Christian world to serve the papacy, but he has never encountered anyone quite like Michelangelo.
Michelangelo, whose reputation rests on his skill as a sculptor and not a painter, returns to Rome and reluctantly begins to fresco the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Only a stone’s throw away, the elegant and urbane Raphael Santi starts to decorate the four walls of Julius’s private library. And Julius’s daughter, Felice, a high-spirited girl who has been carefully guarded by her protective father, suddenly finds freedom when the pope entrusts her care, along with the oversight of his magnificent project, to Rovere.
The Pope’s Man, part mystery, part thriller, and part a primer on the glory of Renaissance art, unfolds in the sumptuous rooms of the Vatican and the subterranean passageways of mysterious origin that lie beneath. Rovere, caught between feuding families and his duties to the pope, will only survive if he is resourceful enough to outsmart his enemies.