Justiniano Visconti, the most beautiful bastard in Rome, is given a task - find the mad painter M (Michaelangel Merisi da Caravaggio) before the Papal Death Warrant is executed and in time for the countering pardon to be broadcast through the Papal States. Things moved very slowly. So begins an adventure of hot sensuality, swordplay, betrayal and pleasure, to say nothing of horseshoes, galleasses, brothels and forbidden paintings.
All of this in the world as it was in 1610 with Elizabeth I only recently dead, James, rules, Shakespeare writes, the battle of Lepanto is in living memory, the Armada adventure too. And for those living then, soon to be wiped by the plague, all was modern, and their 'today'.
The Papal States have a political identity beyond the Vatican. The princes of the church in the form and style of cardinal are appointed to court responsibilities beyond those of tending their flocks. Corruption is inevitable. Sins of the flesh lurk. Beyond the church are the groundlings, the ordinary folk, warriors, brigands and businessmen. And there are the artists too, the sculptors and their models. And there are the ladies and boys of the night.