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

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 finds the fellow in 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 realm as restricted via his very provincial outlook. after all, Machiavelli used to be pissed off through his personal political disasters and totally baffled by means of the good fortune of his ebook The Prince.

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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. Florence’s lack of military success weakened Savonarola’s position and increased the disaffection that many had started to express toward the political settlement he so strongly supported. The creation of the Great Council had displeased many of those who saw their political predominance threatened, and opposition to the institution would characterize many old and important families—who more and more were described as ottimati, aristocrats, as opposed to popolani, middle classes.

Indeed, Niccolò always considered himself first and foremost a man of letters rather than a political theorist. ” In addition, the sums Ser Bernardo spent for the marriage of his daughter Primavera in 1483 to Giovanni di Francesco Vernacci were modest in comparison to what other people would fork out for a daughter’s nuptials. Be that as it may, it was quite a financial burden for the elder Machiavelli. It is possible that Niccolò resented the elder Machiavelli’s preference for engaging in erudite discussion instead of seeking greater affluence for his family.

The inspiring sources of the new constitution were Venice and Girolamo Savonarola. In the course of the fifteenth century, Venice had become the model of a functioning republic, and not just for Florence. Humanists such as Poggio Bracciolini saw it as the perfect example of an aristocratic regime, yet this very thing made it suspect to those Florentines who had an ingrained distrust of anything that smacked of patricianism. And yet, the way the Medici had managed to manipulate the city’s politics had clearly shown the old constitution’s limits.

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