A Great and Wretched City: Promise and Failure in by Mark Jurdjevic

By Mark Jurdjevic

Like many population of booming metropolises, Machiavelli alternated among love and hate for his local urban. He usually wrote scathing feedback approximately Florentine political myopia, corruption, and servitude, but in addition wrote approximately Florence with satisfaction, patriotism, and assured wish of higher occasions. regardless of the alternating tones of sarcasm and melancholy he used to explain Florentine affairs, Machiavelli supplied a stubbornly chronic feel that his urban had the entire fabrics and capability priceless for a wholesale, successful, and epochal political renewal. As he memorably placed it, Florence used to be "truly an exceptional and wretched city."

Mark Jurdjevic specializes in the Florentine measurement of Machiavelli's political notion, revealing new elements of his republican convictions. via The Prince, Discourses, correspondence, and, so much considerably, Florentine Histories, Jurdjevic examines Machiavelli's political profession and relationships to the republic and the Medici. He exhibits that major and as but unrecognized facets of Machiavelli's political notion have been fairly Florentine in suggestion, content material, and function. From a brand new point of view and armed with new arguments, a very good and Wretched City reengages the venerable debate approximately Machiavelli's courting to Renaissance republicanism. Dispelling the parable that Florentine politics provided Machiavelli purely unfavorable classes, Jurdjevic argues that his contempt for the city's shortcomings used to be an immediate functionality of his substantial estimation of its unrealized political potential.

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Extra resources for A Great and Wretched City: Promise and Failure in Machiavelli’s Florentine Political Thought (I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History)

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Machiavelli focused on Savonarola’s understanding of prudence as alternating between cautious retreat and outright confrontation. In the Becchi letter, Machiavelli quoted Savonarola: “we ought to preserve His honor with the utmost prudence and regard for the times; and whenever the times call upon us to imperil our lives for Him, to do so; and whenever it is time for a man to go into hiding, to do so. . 23 She has not discussed the Becchi letter, though it reveals that Machiavelli was alert to this dimension of the Savonarolan phenomenon well before he began writing about Moses, Numa, and the political significance of religion.

The Savonarolan Lens reply—his most sustained commentary on the friar—that focused on Savonarola’s tactics as a political figure, particularly the way the tone and implications of his sermons adapted to the rapidly shifting political landscape in Florence and Rome. The letter is a fi ne example of Machiavelli’s dry humor, irony, and simultaneous dense immersion in and objective detachment from Florentine politics, all factors making it, like so much of his writing, difficult to interpret. Most scholars view it as a thorough and unequivocal indictment of Savonarola’s character and methods.

For example, in 1495, the Dieci asked Becchi—presumably because of his court contacts, since he was not yet an ambassador—to persuade Alexander VI to allow the taxation of Florentine ecclesiastical assets. 14 Becchi faced an inherently difficult task since neither of the principal antagonists, Savonarola and Alexander, were diplomatically inclined by nature. But it seems that Becchi’s difficulties were increased by his reluctance to compromise hard-won alliances at the Roman court by persistent lobbying on behalf of a person for whom he had little sympathy.

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