The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494)

The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494)

The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494)

The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494)

Synopsis

The Government of Florence Under the Medici 1434-1494 investigates the ways in which the Medici established and exercised their authority. Although de facto rulers of Florence, they wielded their power within the structure of the Florentine constitution and enjoyed no political rights and privileges denied to other prominent citizens. Nicolai Rubinstein examines the complex system of controls which the Medici gradually created to secure and increase their ascendancy, and throws fresh light on the personalities and groups supporting the Medici regime, as well as on the surviving republican opposition. In this second edition, Professor Rubinstein has taken account of the many important studies on fifteenth-century Florence, in particular on Lorenzo and his age, that have appeared since the publication of the first edition over thirty years ago. He has added an essay on the techniques by which a number of important administrative offices were subjected to electoral controls before and after the establishment of the Medici regime, and also added a brief account of the procedures of the council of Seventy of 1480, as well as a list of its members in 1489. The reorganization of the Archivio delle Tratte has necessitated the revision of every single reference to what is by far the largest group of sources on which this book is based. Reviews of the first edition: `The importance of the theme need not be laboured. Florence is the most interesting of all proto-democracies, the Medici among the most intriguing of all dynasties (especially before they became dynasts).' Times Literary Supplement `a fundamental contribution to Florentine history, which will be used as a source by historians for many years to come.' British Book News `an extremely important and useful book.' Philosophical Studies

Excerpt

The political régime which was founded by Cosimo de' Medici and perfected by his grandson Lorenzo differed from the despotic states of fifteenth-century Italy in the preservation of republican institutions. Described as a tyranny by its enemies, its critics had to admit that the Medici acted within the framework of the constitution. Whether or not this framework remained a solid structure, and by what means the Medici adapted it to their purposes, are questions that are essential for an understanding of the nature of the position of the Medici in Florence. Yet no contemporary source describes in detail the methods by which they exercised their authority, nor the ways in which they strengthened it; and no modern study exists to give a satisfactory account of either. Historians of the Medici have gathered their information on this subject primarily from Florentine authors who wrote after the fall of the régime in 1494, and especially from Guicciardini Storie fiorentine. But even in the early sixteenth century, Florentines were no longer fully conversant with the way in which the Medicean system had developed after 1434; and their judgements were liable to be biased for or against it. The rich archive materials preserved at Florence have hardly been tapped by modern historians for a study of Medicean government. Even special studies are few and far between: on the early period there is a review article by Pellegrini; on the period of Lorenzo, Ricchioni's valuable book on La costituzione politica di Firenze ai tempi di Lorenzo il Magnifico, published in 1913, which deals primarily with the major constitutional reform of those years, the creation of the Council of Seventy. The present work is an attempt to fill this gap.

One of the difficulties facing the student of Florentine politics in the fifteenth century, and one that has affected all works dealing with the Medici régime, is the absence of a constitutional history of Florence during that period. Once again, the sources for such a history are plentiful, but no systematic attempt has ever been made to use them. The Statutes of 1415 provide an ideal starting-point; yet they do not give a full picture of Florentine institutions at the time . . .

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