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7 - Sublunar writing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Mikael Hörnqvist
Affiliation:
Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
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Summary

For all their boasting, practical men do not know either men or the world; they do not even know the reality of their own works. [If they could return to life], the geniuses of pure politics, the fatalia monstra recorded in histories, would be astounded to learn what they have done without being aware of it, and they would read of their own past deeds as in a hieroglyph to which they had been offered the keys.

Benedetto Croce

For many contemporary historians and political commentators, the French invasion of 1494 marked a turning point in Italian history. Taking this year as the starting point of his History of Italy, Francesco Guicciardini claimed that the French invasion had given rise to “innumerable calamities, horrible accidents, and variations of almost all things.” Like “a sudden tempest,” impossible to contain, it had upset Italy's peace and balance of power, and “turned everything upside down.” Not only had the war caused the downfall of republics and principalities, forced people to leave the cities, and destroyed the countryside, it had also brought to Italy new fashions, new customs, new diseases, and new and crueler ways of waging war. Contemporaries like Machiavelli and Vettori were of the same opinion. The vocabulary they used to describe the effects of the invasion bespeaks its rupturing influence and the velocity of cultural change they experienced: movimento, perturbazione, varietà, accidenti, casi, instabiltà, variazioni, rinovazione, rovina, distruzione, and mutazione.

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Machiavelli and Empire , pp. 228 - 263
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • Sublunar writing
  • Mikael Hörnqvist, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
  • Book: Machiavelli and Empire
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511490576.008
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  • Sublunar writing
  • Mikael Hörnqvist, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
  • Book: Machiavelli and Empire
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511490576.008
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send 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 sending content to Google Drive.

  • Sublunar writing
  • Mikael Hörnqvist, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
  • Book: Machiavelli and Empire
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511490576.008
Available formats
×