Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy

By J. R. Hale | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
The Oricellari Gardens. The Discourses and Literary Works: 1515-1519

DURING the six years from 1515 to 1520, Machiavelli wrote the greater part, some two-thirds, of his literary works, the Discourses,1 The Golden Ass, the Dialogue on our Language, Mandragola, The Art of War, and The Life of Castruccio Castracani. He also produced other poems beside The Golden Ass, and it was probably during this period that he wrote his short story, Belfagor. It was a period of international tension, but not, from the autumn of 1515, of open war. In September the French defeated the Swiss defenders of Lombardy at Marignano and occupied Milan and Genoa. Leo came to an agreement with the new French king, Francis I, whereby in return for ceding Parma and Piacenza the Pope was allowed a free hand throughout the rest of the Papal States. He took advantage of this in May of the next year when Lorenzo dei Medici expelled Duke Francesco Maria della Rovere from Urbino and was appointed Gonfalonier of

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1
This accepts the thesis that the Discourses were not begun in 1513, as an older generation of Machiavelli students accepted -- and, it should be noted, still assert ( Ridolfi, op. cit. in bibliography p. 480; Chabod, op. cit. pp. 31-2). It was first suggested by Baron Hans in Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, 1956, after a reconstruction of the genesis of the Discourses by Felix Gilbert in the Journal of the History of Ideas, 1953. Dr. Baron has convincingly elaborated his views in an article he was kind enough to show me, and which is to appear in 1961 in the English Historical Review.

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