Bartolomeo Scala: Humanistic and Political Writings

Bartolomeo Scala: Humanistic and Political Writings

Bartolomeo Scala: Humanistic and Political Writings

Bartolomeo Scala: Humanistic and Political Writings

Excerpt

Bartolomeo Scala was born on 17 May 1430. He was the son of a miller who lived near Colle Val d’Elsa, a subject town in the Florentine territory. After early schooling in Colle, he attended the university of Florence, where he qualified as a lawyer. After a year in the Borromeo household in Milan in 1454–55, he returned to Florence to become secretary to Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, Cosimo’s nephew, and in 1459 chancellor of the Guelf Party. By now an intimate of the Medici family, he was appointed first chancellor of Florence a year after Cosimo’s death in 1464, supported not only by Cosimo’s son Piero but also by his university companions. In this position, he rapidly won social and political honours that ensured a position of importance for him in Florence. He was granted citizenship in September 1471 and was elected a prior of the Signoria in 1473. Five years earlier he had married into the prosperous merchant family, the Benci, and just before his election as prior he began to acquire the estate in Borgo Pinti where Giuliano da San Gallo built him an elegant town house all’antica. It was there, as he put it, that ‘I have built and spent my money’ —his expenses, as we know from a recently-discovered account-book, including not only the cost of the house itself but also a parrot-cage and arsenic ‘to poison the mice’, as well as many clothes, trimmings and dolls for Maddalena his wife. He was knighted by the pope in Rome in 1484 and received the top political honour in Florence when he was elected Gonfalonier of Justice in 1486, subsequently becoming a member of the all-important Council of Seventy. Although dismissed from office on 28 December 1494, seven weeks after the fall of the Medici, he was appointed co-chancellor of the new republican regime only three days later and died in office on 24 July 1497.

Archivio Frescobaldi, Poggio a Remole, fondo Albizzi, Libro Debitori Creditori di Francesco d’Albizo di Lucha di ser Albizi (to be published by V. Arrighi).

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