Guicciardini, Francesco

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Guicciardini, Francesco

Francesco Guicciardini (fränchās´kō gwēt-chärdē´nē), 1483–1540, Italian historian and statesman. He represented (1512–14) his native Florence at the court of Spain, held offices in the Florentine government, and in 1516 entered the service of Pope Leo X. An able administrator, he was appointed governor of Modena (1516), commissary of the papal army (1521), and president of the Romagna (1524). After 1527, when he lost his high office as a result of the invasion of the papal states by the army of Emperor Charles V, Guicciardini devoted himself chiefly to writing. Breaking with medieval tradition, he removed history from the realm of literature and related it to the development of states. His history of Italy, written in his maturity and covering the period 1492–1534 (the period of the Italian Wars), is the masterwork of Italian historical literature of the Renaissance. It is distinguished by its clear-eyed analysis of motives, events, and persons. A follower of Machiavelli, Guicciardini has been accused of cynical realism. His history of Florence from 1378 to 1509, written in his youth, was published in 1859. It is marked by extreme simplicity and directness of style. Guicciardini also wrote a collection of maxims, translated as Counsels and Reflections (1890).

See studies by F. Gilbert (1965) and R. Ridolfi (1968).

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