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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2010

John M. Najemy
Affiliation:
Cornell University, New York
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Summary

Machiavelli introduces himself nowhere better than in his correspondence, particularly with challenging interlocutors like Francesco Guicciardini, his younger contemporary who, when they exchanged a memorable set of letters in 1521, had already risen to political prominence and written a lively history of Florence as well as several memoranda on Florentine government. Their friendship was made possible by a shift in Machiavelli's political fortunes. After eight years in which the Medici had shunned Machiavelli following the 1512 coup d'état that restored them to power in Florence, their antagonism finally softened. Friends intervened to win the assent of Pope Leo X (Giovanni de' Medici) for a Roman performance of Machiavelli's play, Mandragola, and smoothed the way for Cardinal Giulio de' Medici's approval of Machiavelli's commission from the university (the Studio) to write a history of Florence. In May 1521, the Florentine government, again with Cardinal Giulio in the background, sent Machiavelli, who had once negotiated with kings, emperors, and popes, as its representative to the chapter general of the Franciscans in Carpi, near Modena, with instructions to promote a plan for the separate administration of Franciscan convents in Florentine territory. When the consuls of Florence's guild of manufacturers of woolen cloth learned of Machiavelli's assignment, they gave him the additional task of finding a Lenten preacher for the cathedral, whose administration was the guild's responsibility. Machiavelli, formerly an influential chancery official, adviser, military organizer, and diplomatic envoy for the republican government displaced by the Medici, was now on a mission of almost comical modesty.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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  • Introduction
  • Edited by John M. Najemy, Cornell University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli
  • Online publication: 28 September 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521861250.001
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  • Introduction
  • Edited by John M. Najemy, Cornell University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli
  • Online publication: 28 September 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521861250.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by John M. Najemy, Cornell University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli
  • Online publication: 28 September 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521861250.001
Available formats
×