Download An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli by Niccolo Capponi PDF

By Niccolo Capponi

In this compelling new biography, historian Niccolò Capponi frees Machiavelli (1469–1527) from centuries of misinterpretation. Exploring the Renaissance urban of Florence, the place Machiavelli lived, Capponi unearths the guy at the back of the legend. a fancy portrait of Machiavelli emerges—at as soon as a brilliantly skillful diplomat and a woefully inept liar; a pointy philosopher and an impractical dreamer; a hardnosed powerbroker and a risk-taking gambler; a calculating propagandist and an imprudent jokester.

Capponi’s intimate portrait of Machiavelli unearths his habit as totally un-Machiavellian, his imaginative and prescient of the area as constrained by way of his very provincial outlook. after all, Machiavelli used to be annoyed by means of his personal political mess ups and completely baffled by way of the good fortune of his booklet The Prince.

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Charles VIII had initially declined to hand Pisa back, and when eventually he changed his mind his restitution orders were disobeyed. Now, Florence’s refusal to join the League of Venice provided some of its members with a chance to pose as defenders of Pisa’s freedom. Venice and Milan withdrew their military support for the Pisans in 1498, but Florence’s incompetence in the field would mean another eleven years of war before the city could be recaptured—in the course of which Machiavelli would come very much into his own.

However, since the end of the fourteenth century six of the eight priors, and always the gonfaloniere di giustizia, had stemmed from one of Florence’s seven major guilds, the fourteen minor guilds providing but two. In addition, there had been families who in the course of the fifteenth century had constantly enjoyed the city’s highest offices, while others not belonging to Florence’s inner circle—even those whose members belonged to a major guild—had been chosen but occasionally. Now people of middling rank found themselves on a more equal footing with their political betters, the establishment of the Great Council effectively creating a broad-based aristocracy.

In addition, there existed the divieti, debarring from any particular position anyone who may have filled it in recent times, the nearest kin of such a person, and citizens who were in debt, bankrupt, or in arrears with their taxes. In any case, tenure of any office was purposely short, between two and six months, not only to allow a quick turnover but also to prevent people from gaining too much power. To compensate for this lack of political continuity, semipermanent advisory boards—the consulte e pratiche—were created from time to time, and the names of those staffing them give us an idea about who really held power in Florence.

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