Florence's Embassy to the Sultan of Egypt

An English Translation of Felice Brancacci's Diary

  • Mahnaz Yousefzadeh

Table of contents

About this book


“This brief but rich and speculative book will be of particular interest to art historians who have often pondered the Brancacci Chapel, painted by Masaccio and Masolino, in relation to the life of its owner, Felice Brancacci, Florentine ambassador to Cairo. Felice comes alive in his important chronicle which is carefully glossed by the author, who also offers the reader a bold, new interpretation of Masaccio’s Tribute Money.”

- Paul Barolsky, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, USA


This book is the first English translation of Felice di Michele Brancacci’s diary of his 1422 mission to the court of Sultan Al-Ashraf Seyf-ad-Din Barsbay of Egypt. Following the purchase of Port of Pisa in 1421, and the building of a galley system, Florence went on to assume a more active role in Levant trade, and this rich text recounts the maiden voyage of the Florentine galleys to Egypt. The text portrays the transnational experiences of Brancacci including those between the East and West, Christians and Muslims, and the ancient and modern worlds.  The accompanying critical introduction discusses the unexpected motifs in Brancacci’s voyage, as well as tracing the aftershocks of what was a traumatic Egyptian experience for him.  It shows that this aftershock was then measured, captured, and memorialized in the iconic image of Tribute Money, the fresco he commissioned from Masaccio, on his return to his own world in Florence. 


Carlo Federighi Masaccio’s Tribute Money Sultan Barsbay Florence Pagnini Cairo Medieval Diaries Brancacci Chapel Medieval Finance Travel Writing

Authors and affiliations

  • Mahnaz Yousefzadeh
    • 1
  1. 1.Liberal StudiesNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Pivot, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-01463-6
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-01464-3
  • Buy this book on publisher's site