By Mark Jurdjevic
Like many population of booming metropolises, Machiavelli alternated among love and hate for his local urban. He usually wrote scathing comments approximately Florentine political myopia, corruption, and servitude, but additionally wrote approximately Florence with satisfaction, patriotism, and assured wish of higher occasions. regardless of the alternating tones of sarcasm and depression he used to explain Florentine affairs, Machiavelli supplied a stubbornly power experience that his urban had the entire fabrics and strength worthwhile for a wholesale, successful, and epochal political renewal. As he memorably placed it, Florence used to be "truly a very good and wretched city."
Mark Jurdjevic makes a speciality of the Florentine size of Machiavelli's political inspiration, revealing new points 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 indicates that major and as but unrecognized elements of Machiavelli's political idea have been fairly Florentine in concept, content material, and function. From a brand new standpoint and armed with new arguments, a good and Wretched City reengages the venerable debate approximately Machiavelli's dating to Renaissance republicanism. Dispelling the parable that Florentine politics provided Machiavelli purely destructive classes, Jurdjevic argues that his contempt for the city's shortcomings was once an instantaneous functionality of his huge 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
41 Weinstein is correct that Machiavelli was thinking about the Savonarolan example when he wrote that chapter and intended his audience to see that connection, but Weinstein’s sense of Machiavelli’s intention requires reinterpretation. Machiavelli was certainly convinced of the need for a new political order and abhorred the de facto enslavement of the Italian states by foreign powers. Writing in the wake of the republic’s collapse and his own arrest and torture, he must have been, as Weinstein suggests, possessed of a passionate desire for political renewal broadly conceived, not only for him[ 30 ] The Savonarolan Lens self but also for Florence, the Medici, and Italy.
His statements about Savonarola in the Becchi letter should therefore be interpreted in terms at least as much of a crafted self-image he wished to convey to a par ticu lar audience as of a transparent reflection of his thoughts on the friar. The Becchi letter can be read as a literary reflection of Machiavelli’s desire to enter the republican government, just as the Prince and the Memorandum to the Mediceans are always read as part of his efforts to join the Medicean regime that followed it. If we read Machiavelli’s analysis of Savonarola as an audition for a diplomatic post, as a way of showing Becchi his talent for breaking down skillful rhetoric— and Savonarola was as skilled an orator, if not superior, to any of [ 22 ] The Savonarolan Lens the city’s diplomats—into basic political functions, even the most apparently anti-Savonarolan sentiments become considerably more nuanced.
In particu lar, Machiavelli’s discussion of the generative effects of Numa’s deceit suggests that we should reevaluate the valence of Savonarola’s use of bugie. As Machiavelli saw it, Savonarola lied in his sermons to marshal support and to deploy his followers against his enemies, but it is not clear that Machiavelli criticized him for that weakness. Machiavelli may well have been stressing Savonarola’s skillful compensation for his political weakness— his status as a friar and religious excluded him from posts in the city’s government and he did not command a private army of bravi, the primary [ 27 ] The Savonarolan Lens source of power for earlier factional leaders like Corso Donati.
A Great and Wretched City: Promise and Failure in Machiavelli's Florentine Political Thought by Mark Jurdjevic