Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy

By J. R. Hale | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Four Formative Years: 1500-1503

IF Machiavelli's military ideas were influenced by his Pisan experience in 1498 and 1499, his political ideas were affected even more strongly by his diplomatic experience from 1500 to 1503, when he went to the courts of Louis XII, Cesare Borgia, and Julius II. Of all his life, these were the most formative years.

We have seen that chancery employees were used for minor diplomatic tasks or as subordinates in major ones. As mandatories they were not used to negotiate peace or war or marriage, but to explain, report, act as ambassadorial stop-gaps, and generally fill the blank spaces on a board where the chief pieces moved with magnificent deliberation. Ambassadors proper were wealthy men like Pierfilippo Pandolfini, who had entertained Charles VIII in his villa outside Florence in 1494, or Alessandro Nasi, round whose neck Louis XII himself placed a jewelled collar when the time came for him to leave the French court in 1508. Machiavelli's colleague, Francesco della Casa, was not of this standing, but he was experienced -- he had already been to France on a mission for Piero in 1493 -- and came of a moderately influential family. As Machiavelli's senior in age and experience, he was in charge of the mission, but both men received similar pay.

In their commission of July 18th 1500, they were

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