The story of 100 years of power of the Visconti family in and about Milan in pre-Renaissance Italy...Generations of Visconti were bred to federate the many city-states in Lombardy, which they did successfully until they locked horns with the Tuscans of Florence. At that time Giangaleazzo Visconti, the greatest Visconti of all, was struck down by the hand of God and a fever, and the North Italian federation collapsed. Five centuries of invasion followed. A constitutional defect of the Visconti character was intemperate ferocity accompanied by satyriasis. Despite that--and despite the occasional appearance of Petrarch, Chaucer and Dante herein-- this is not a fervid recital; its style is closer to Caesar than to Boccaccio. Giangaleazzo received his title by marrying Isabella of France, whose dowry included the county of Vertus; he became Conte di Virtu until later assuming the mantle of Duke of Milan. The history is based both on his humane but forceful character and upon military successes, morganatic marriages, fratricidal double- dealing and simple Italian deception-counter deception: bribes, frauds, deceits, daggers and poisons. Unlike its subject, it is virtuous but pedantic.