Dr. Alexander Lee is a research fellow at the University of Warwick. A specialist in the history of the Italian Renaissance, he completed his first two degrees at Trinity College, University of Cambridge – where he was a senior scholar and winner of the Earl of Derby Prize for Outstanding Performance in the Tripos Examinations, the James Webb Prize for the History of Ideas, and the Bowen Prize for History – before undertaking his doctoral research at the University of Edinburgh. He has previously held posts at the University of Oxford, the Université du Luxembourg and the Università degli studi di Bergamo, and has also taught at the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Lyon 2.
His latest book, Machiavelli: His Life and Times was published by Macmillan in March 2020. This is a definitive and highly original portrait of one of history’s most unjustly maligned characters that casts its subject not as the sinister genius he is commonly thought to be, but as an infinitely sympathetic figure prone to political missteps, professional failures, and wickedly amusing personal dramas.
Alexander’s book Humanism and Empire was published by Oxford University Press in May 2018. This ground-breaking study offers a striking challenge to existing interpretations of early Renaissance political thought, and brings to light the hidden harmonies between the ‘republicanism’ of the Italian communes and the imperial ideal in the thought of fourteenth-humanists.
His book The Ugly Renaissance (London: Hutchinson, 2013; New York: Doubleday, 2014) – a Times Literary Supplement “Book of the Year 2013” – is a fast-paced and counter-intuitive portrait of the seedy social world behind the art of the Renaissance that challenges fondly-held preconceptions of the period as an age of rarefied culture and beauty.
Alexander is also the author of Petrarch and St. Augustine: Classical Scholarship, Christian Theology, and the Origins of the Renaissance in Italy (Leiden: Brill, 2012), the editor of Renaissance? Perceptions of Continuity and Discontinuity, c.1300-c.1550 (Leiden: Brill, 2010) and Libertés et citoyenneté urbaines du moyen âge à nos jours (Trier and Luxembourg: CLUDEM, 2015), and the co-author of The End of Politics: Triangulation, Realignment and the Battle for the Centre Ground (London: Politico’s, 2006).
Passionate about bringing high-quality history to a wide audience, he writes a regular column for History Today, and has contributed pieces on a variety of topics to the New Statesman, the Sunday Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Atlantic, the Times Literary Supplement, and Dissent.