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Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 - 1527) were Florentinecontemporaries who worked for the government of Florence and who wrote about the histories oftheir city and country as well as about the politics of their time. Their philosophies toward politicalscience and the value of history were formed in the crucible of Florentine politics, especially in theafter math of the 1494 invasion by France and Charles VIII in the Italian Wars. Although friends and admirers of each other, their social classes and alliances brought them to different ends. A brief overview of their works will help orient us.
1503 - On the Way to Deal with the Rebel Subjects of the Valdichiana
1503 - On the Manner Adopted by the Duke Valentino [Cesare Borgia ] to Kill Vitellozzo
1508 - Began History of Florence: 1378 - 1509
1510 - Ritratto di cose di Francia
1512 - Portrait on the State of German y
1513-The Prince and Discourses on the First Ten Books of Life
1513 - 1518 - "Commedia di Callimaco e di Lucrezia " and "The Mandrake"
1520? - Discors o
1521 - 1525: Dialogue on the Government of Florence 1521 - The Art of War
1525 - History of Florence
1530: Ricordi Also worked on his 2nd history of Florence
1530 - Considerations on the 'Discourses' of Machiavelli"
1536 - Began History of Italy: 1494 - 1534
What Francesco Guicciardini and Niccolo Machiavelli had in common was a true and abiding love
of Florence and an absolutely incorruptible sense of service to those ruling it. They hoped to make it
great, powerful, and lasting - - another Rome, as Machiavelli wrote. Moreover, they were political
animals who enjoyed the game and who had the intelligence and eloquence to be successful. They
understood the interplay of subterfuge, diplomacy, and power, which could forestall foes and garner
useful friendships for Florence. Before they were historians, they were politicians, and this is an
experience that shaped how they interpreted and used history.
Guicciardini, "judged by some as the greatest historian between Tacitus and Gibbon",
came from an important aristocratic Florentine family and "had the pride of the Florentine aristocrat"
His family supported the Medicis and worked under Lorenzo. By supporting the
Medicis, Francesco Guicciardi became "shamelessly" wealthy, even though "he disliked the Medici
rulers in Florence and ... wanted to see a republican form of government established ...a republic in
which the aristocrats would rule ..." - that is, his class. Guicciardini studied law with famous
and respected teachers and set up a law practice in Florence in 1505. From this base, between
1511 and 1514, he was an ambassador to Spain and returned to head internal security in Spain as a
member of the Otto di Balža. In 1516, Pope Leo X, a Medici, appointed Guicciardini governor of
Modena and later of Reggio. Until 1534, Guicciardini worked for the papacy in some fashion and
enjoyed the opulent life it brought. He had an innate "sense of superiority," but he used "the courtly
splendor ... to maintain his authority.... The reality behind this magnificent facade had been constant
work and endless worries throughout days and nights". In 1529, Guicciardini had to
leave Florence for the papal court when the Medici were ousted by the republicans. There he
supported the Medici return. Between 1528 - 1530, he wrote The Ricordi and Considerations
...on ...Machiavelli. After Florence surrendered in 1530, Guicciardini was a legal adviser to
Allesandro de'Medici and ultimately retired after his assassination.
Machiavelli's background was different. His father, a lawyer and the poorest member of a wealthy
Florentine family was barred from public office as a debtor. Machiavelli, therefore, was educated
with "obscure" teachers. In his home, however, were books, and his readings,
more than formal schooling, educated him. Probably because of this background, Machiavelli was
always of a republican disposition and never for the aristocrats, but he was also a team ...
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