I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of PBS but I was surprised to really like the Medici, Godfather's of Renaissance four part series. Maybe you hate the history channel but I find history to be far more interesting than fiction at times.
Here's a small taste.. part 1 of 24 here
The Medici Family
The equivalent would probably be a mix of the Kennedys, Vanderbilts and Sopranos, all rolled in one. Their prominence began during the late 14th century under Cosimo de Medici when they founded the Medici Bank. In a time when the power of the church was absolute, providing banking for the Vatican was the ultimate coo. The house of Medici's political and banking dynasty would soon lead to royal connections, firming stamping their name in history. Along their family line they boast a line of dukes, a pope, a few cardinals, and Queen consort of King Henry II of France, Catherine de Medici.
Why are they important?
Their greatest accomplishments were their continual sponsorship of art, architecture (Basilica of San Lorenzo), and science. Patrons to great creators such as Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, architect Brunelleschi, Raphael, and even one of the most reknown scientists Galileo Galilei.
The fascinating story line as the generations struggle with their own greed, conscience, corruption, danger, and the ability to recognize brilliance from individuals of their time and cultivate it.