Florentine History

Florentine History

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Florentine History

Florentine History

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Excerpt

Nicolo Machiavelli, who was born in 1469 and died in 1527, received a commission in 1520, at the instance of Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, to write the history of Florence. By the year 1525 the Istorie Fiorentine was completed, so far as we have it, and presented to the Cardinal, who in the meantime had become Pope under the title of Clement VII. Whatever benefits the choice or acceptance of a Medici as a patron may have brought Machiavelli in his lifetime it secured a publisher for his writings, because in 1531 Clement granted to Antonio Blado the privilege of printing the Istorie Fiorentine, Il Principe, Discorsi, and a few other works. But by this time death, to which Machiavelli had often referred as the enemy to the accomplishment of so many great objects, had stepped in and the "golden pen" was laid aside for ever. Thus the promise which the author had made to his patron of continuing the history of Florence was never fulfilled.

By a singular coincidence, Antonio Blado was employed in 1559 to print the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and among those whose writings were to be utterly suppressed the name of Machiavelli appears. However, the repentance of the Vatican for its previous patronage came too late, because by 1559 the fame of Machiavelli had spread through Europe, and even by that time his name had obtained in some degree the sinister connotation, to which reference has often been made.

The years occupied by Machiavelli in writing the Istorie Fiorentine were full of trouble to Italy, and although he was asked to resume an active part in affairs, he refused to listen to the request. We can, however, easily see in the Florentine History that he was deeply moved by those terrible events, and they may possibly have hurried him into presenting the pope with so much of the history as he had completed in 1525 . . .

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