The full title is: A World Lit Only by Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: A Portrait of an Age, and it was published in 1990. It is William Manchester's almost perfect 322 page account of all the (arguably, OF COURSE) major figures of the Renaissance, leading up to and including Ferdinand Magellan, who the book was originally supposed to be about. The author explains that there was no way to record the life of simply one man during the Renaissance; everyone was too deeply influenced by the dramatic social change taking place around him or her to be explained without exposition. On the way to explaining Magellan, Manchester details briefly the affects of the Black Death, the Reformation, Henry VIII, the various sins of the Church and especially the popes (Lucrezia Borgia and the Borgia family are particularly... interesting to read about), the various warring factions during the Renaissance (especially the various political movements and machinations of the Holy Roman Empire), the Medicis, and the Spanish court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The final fourth of the book in devoted to Magellan's journey and is an excellent character portrait. For a brief overview of important figures during the Renaissance, this book is easy to read and full of general knowledge.