The birth of the golden age of British television was heralded by series such as Sword of Freedom, one of ITC early successes (Lew Grade company went on to make many glamorous ITV programmes such as The Prisoner and The Saint). Its a swashbuckling show following the adventures of a small band of Republican rebels living in Renaissance Italy. Its hard to believe over half a century has passed since it was made (in 1957), not just because the films survive in astonishingly good condition, but also because of the sheer number of household-name actors who pop up. Its stylish and lavish, with spacious sets, detailed dressings and gorgeous Sixteenth Century costumes. Overall, it looks more feature film than TV. Marco del Monte (Edmund Purdom) is a handsome, impetuous and good-natured painter living in Florence at a time of burgeoning artistic and scientific discovery. However, there is a snake in paradise in the form of the terrible duo Machiavelli (Kenneth Hyde) and the Duke de Medici (Martin Benson, a talented, recently deceased actor who had a highly successful career playing sinister parts). When not painting, Marco spends his time standing up for his decent liberal beliefs and opposing the despotic tendencies of Machiavelli and Medici, whose plots for complete power over the lives of ordinary Florentines come thick and fast in each twenty-five-minute instalment;
Season 1, Episode 1: FrancescaOriginal Air Date—25 January 1958 In order to ally himself with a Spanish duchy, Duke de Medici agrees to marry his sister to a Marco del Monte, a Spanish nobleman. The principals in the forced wedding have other ideas,
Season 1, Episode 2: The Sicillian Original Air Date1957 A card sharp fleeces Sandro of his own money as well as a large sum he is carrying to support the Republicans. Marco devises a way for Sandro to fight fire with fire and win back the money he lost.
Season 1, Episode 3: A Choice of WeaponsOriginal Air Date1957 De Medici challenges Marco to a duel, but substitutes de Foix, the best swordsman in Europe, on a flimsy pretext. Marco turns the tables on the swordfighter and the Duke.
Season 1, Episode 4: Caterina Original Air Date1957 The commander of de Medici's guard insults the painters of Florence by commissioning a Venician to make a portrait of his beautiful daughter.
Season 1, Episode 5: The Hero Original Air Date1957 General Ferrucci, an exiled enemy of the Duke de Medici, accepts an amnesty from the Florence tyrant and returns to the city. Marco is outraged because his old mentor has apparently turned his back on the Republican cause.
Season 1, Episode 6: A Portrait in Emerald Green Original Air date 1957 When a butcher refuses to pay a tax, de Medici orders Rodrigo to kill him. The officer plots to have Marco do the deed for him by starting a rumor that the portrait painter has taken liberties with the butcher's beautiful daughter, thereby causing a duel that the older man will lose.
Season 1, Episode 7: The Duke Original Air Date1957 Fearing a revolt because of his high taxes, de Medici hires Spanish mercenaries to keep the peace. The peacekeepers methods include a large amount of violence, however, and de Medici hopes that one of the victims is Marco. Season 1, Episode 8: The Eye of the Artist Original Air Date1957 A Republican courier is ambushed and his message to a man only known as "Orsini" is stolen by de Medici's agents. A man is sent to spy on Marco hoping that he will unwittingly reveal Orsini's true identity.
Season 1, Episode 9: The TowerOriginal Air Date1957 In order to impress a visiting nobleman, the Duke de Medici commissions elaborate decorations and then refuses to pay for them. The artisans plot to force the Duke to compensate them for their efforts.
Season 1, Episode 10: Alessandro Original Air Date1957 Marco agrees to help a young butcher who dreams of becoming an artist, but the young man's uncle does not approve of the boy's career choice.
Season 1, Episode 11: The Ship Original Air Date1957 Stephano tries to get the Duke of Urbino to invest in a ship for Far East trade, but the Duke de Medici needs to borrow money from the same man. Marco plots to help Stephano get his ship and tweak the noses of the two Dukes in the process.
Season 1, Episode 12: The Bracelet Original Air Date1957 After helping Francesca when she is thrown from her horse, Marco discovers the lady's bracelet entangled in his cloak. When he tries to return it, his is beaten and robbed.
Season 1, Episode 13: The Princess and the Slave Original Air Date;1957 A staunch abolitionist, Marco meets a Turkish princess about to be sold into slavery and, over the objections of Sandro and Angelica, decides to help her escape.
Season 1, Episode 14: The Bell Original Air Date1957 The Duke de Medici plots to prevent the annual ceremony of the striking of Florence's Liberty Bell, but Marco and Sandro have other plans.
Season 1, Episode 15: The Suspects Original Air Date1957 Sandro overhears a conversation among the Duke's men where he learns that one of Marco's confidants is a traitor.
Season 1, Episode 16: A Serenade in Red Original Air Date1957 Marco tries to assist two lovers, one the nephew of Florence's despot and the other the daughter of a leading Republican, find happiness.
Season 1, Episode 17: A Marriage of Convenience Original Air Date1957 Two powerful Italian families are to be united by a marriage of convenience. The principals in the wedding have never seen each other and Marco is hired to paint a portrait of the bride to be - a beautiful woman who, unfortunately has a nasty scar on her face. Marco can't decide whether to include the disfiguring mark in his portrait.
Season 1, Episode 18: The Value of Paper Original Air Date1957 A parchment maker will not allow his daughter to marry a paper maker. Marco is friends with both men and feels he must resolve the situation. Season 1, Episode 19: The Pagan VenusOriginal Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 20: A Forgery in Red ChalkOriginal Air Date1957 Season 1, Episode 21: Vespucci Original Air Date1957 When an Italian explorer seeks funding for another trip to the New World, his wild stories are scorned until her produces Little Fawn, a Native American, to back them up.
Season 1, Episode 22: The School Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 23: The Chart of Gold Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 24: The Ambassador Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 25: The Lion and the Mouse Original Air Date1957 Season 1, Episode 26: Angelica's Past Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 27: The Beseiged Duchess Original Air Date1957 The Duke de Medici orders his men to purchase the ruined castle of a local noblewomen so he can incorporate into Florence's defenses.
Season 1, Episode 28: Cristina Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 29: The Strange Intruder Original Air Date1957 Season 1, Episode 30: The Primavera Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 31: A Game of Chance Original Air Date1957 A badly wounded Republican courier manages to elude his pursuers and find Marco's studio.
Season 1, Episode 32: The Marionettes Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 33: The Reluctant Duke Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 34: The Vendetta Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 35: Who Is Felicia? Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 36: Violetta Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 37: Adrianna Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 38: The Assassin Original Air Date1957
Season 1, Episode 39: The Woman in the Picture Original Air Date1957 Leonardo da Vinci refuses to sell his famous painting, "Mona Lisa" to a friend of the Duke de Medici, but the Florence tyrant won't take "no" for an answer.
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