Italy in the 1400s • Era of bankers, particularly Medici family of Florence. • Made their money by control of papal banking and by currency conversion • Rise of city states • Five main powers dominated the Italian peninsula: Venice, Milan, Florence, the Papal States and kingdom of Naples
Politics • Political power started to shift from feudal nobles to urban areas. • The competing cities/states tried to maintain a “balance of power” –no one state allowed to get too powerful • In the midst of shifting alliances, formed mechanisms of modern diplomacy, including resident ambassadors • Some city-states were called “republics” but were in reality dominated by a small, wealthy elite. In Florence, the Medici family held power from 1434-1494
The Medicis • Bankers • Patrons of the arts • Ruled informally in Florence • Produced Popes, queens and dukes
Niccoló Machiavelli: 1469-1527 • Historian • Writer of discourses, plays, poems • Philosopher • The Prince, 1513, dedicated to Lorenzo de'Medici
The Prince, 1513, dedicated to Lorenzo de'Medici • “Everyone sees what you seem to be, few know what you really are; and those few do not dare take a stand against the general opinion.” • “…the ends justify the means”* • *”One must consider the final result” • “it is much safer to be feared than loved because ...love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”
Please discuss these question with your partners • How does Machiavelli approach his subject and what assumptions does he make? • Do you agree with his analysis of human nature? • How do Machiavelli’s writings reflect humanism? • How does what Machiavelli is saying reflect the politics of the Italy at the time? • “Machiavellian” has made its way into the English language as an adjective that means: characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty: He resorted to Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead. Do you think this is deserved or consistent with what Machiavelli is saying in this excerpt?