The History of the (Whole) World

my progress as I write, revise, send to my editor, re-revise, fact-check, galley-read, and promote my books, including (but not limited to) a multi-volume history of the world. While living on a farm, educating my kids, and teaching. And doing a few other things too.

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Cover ideas for the History of the Renaissance World

July 6th, 2012 by Susan

My editor at Norton has just asked me whether I have any suggestions for the cover of the History of the Renaissance World. I suggested the covers for the first two books in the series (that’s Constantine taking Rome “for Christ” on the History of the Ancient World, and Charlemagne’s coronation on the History of the Medieval World) based on what I thought were overarching themes for the books.

So what I think is an overarching theme for this book probably isn’t going to make it onto the cover. It’s death. Yes, I know, “renaissance” is rebirth, but the centuries of the Renaissance were even fuller than usual of plague, revolt, rebellion, crusade, campaign, war, war, and war. So my first suggestion to Norton is to use part of Pieter Brughel’s “The Triumph of Death.”

Here are a couple of details:

I think this would be a fantastic cover, combining those images with the word “renaissance.” I seriously doubt Norton’s going to go for it, though.

So here were my other suggestions–the conquest of Constantinople, either by the Crusaders in 1204 or by the Turks in 1453,


(the 1453 conquest, by Palma il Giovane)

(the 1204 conquest, by Domenico Tintoretto)

one of the illustrations from Renaissance manuscripts of Aristotle teaching Arab scientists, like this one from an early 13th century Saljuq text,

or, for a completely different look, some of the thumbnail scenes from the fourteenth-century Catalan Atlas designed by Abraham Cresques, one of the first world atlases.

The oil-painting conquest scenes have the most continuity with the look of the first two books, but I also think they’re the most predictable (and kind of dull).

Which ones do you like? (I’ll keep you posted about what the cover designers come with.)

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