Renowned as an age of artistic rebirth, the Renaissance is cloaked with an aura of beauty and brilliance. But behind the Mona Lisa's smile lurked a seamy, vicious world of power politics, perversity and corruption that has more in common with the present day than anyone dares to admit. Enter a world of corrupt bankers, greedy politicians, sex-crazed priests, rampant disease, and lives of extravagance and excess. Enter the world of the ugly Renaissance. Uncovering the hidden realities beneath the surface of the period's best-known artworks, historian Alexander Lee takes the reader on a breathtaking and unexpected journey through the Italian past and shows that, far from being the product of high-minded ideals, the sublime monuments of the Renaissance were created by flawed and tormented artists who lived in an ever-expanding world of bigotry and hatred. The only question is: will you ever see the Renaissance in quite the same way again?