Author(s): Anton Gill
At the start of the 16th century, Italy was a turbulent territory made up of independent states, each at war with or intriguing against its neighbour. In the midst of this turmoil, there existed the greatest concentration of artists that Europe has ever known. Influenced by the rediscovery of the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, artists and thinkers threw off the shackles of the Middle Ages to produce one of the most creative periods in history - the Renaissance. This is the story of twelve years when war, plague, famine and chaos made their mark on volatile Italy, and when a young, erratic genius, Michelangelo Buonarroti, made his great statue - the David. It was to become a symbol not only of the independence and defiance of the city of Florence but also of the tortured soul who created it.