The Memoir of Marco Parenti

The Memoir of Marco Parenti: A Life in Medici Florence

Mark Phillips
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 283
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttg1d
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  • Book Info
    The Memoir of Marco Parenti
    Book Description:

    "Phillips has enriched our understanding of Renaissance Florence by extensively presenting contemporary evidence from the diaries, letters, and memoir" -The Sunday Times

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0274-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. NOTE ON ABBREVIATIONS AND SOURCES
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION AUGUST 1, 1464: THE DEATH OF COSIMO DE’ MEDICI
    (pp. 3-20)

    This is the voice of Marco Parenti, sometime silk merchant, ordinary citizen, and would-be historian. His apology conies after seventy pages of manuscript in which, as he says, he had attempted to narrate the course of events in Florence after the death of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1464. Another forty pages completed the text as we have it in the anonymous copy through which some later Florentine gave a second, though obscure, life to Marco Parenti’s observations. In all, theMemoirfollows the events of only three or four years in detail; it begins in the late summer of 1464...

  6. PART I FAMILY:: MARCO PARENTI AND THE STROZZI

    • CHAPTER 1 HOUSEHOLD
      (pp. 23-53)

      In a letter of August 24, 1447—almost two decades before the events we have been discussing—we find our first description of Marco Parenti, already a young man of twenty-five. The letter announces the betrothal of Caterina Strozzi to the son of Parente Parenti. It was written by the young girl’s mother, Alessandra Strozzi, the widow of a man exiled in 1434 by the Medici, and was addressed to her eldest son, Filippo, living in Naples. Eventually Filippo would become one of the richest men in Florence and the builder of the grandest private Florentinepalazzoof his century....

    • CHAPTER 2 EDUCATION AND POLITICS
      (pp. 54-70)

      Marco parenti’s practical training in business is not likely to have been all the education he received. Scattered references in his own records and in the writings of a number of Florentine intellectuals point to his familiarity with some of the leading intellectuals of his day. It is fair to assume that Marco must have been conversant with their ideas and interests as well, and for this reason he has sometimes been included in the ranks of Florentine humanists. It remains difficult, however, to draw these fragments of evidence together into any clear picture of his formal education or intellectual...

    • CHAPTER 3 THE STROZZI
      (pp. 71-96)

      A man who marries a woman “above himself,” a prominent Florentine preacher once warned, “can be said to have been sold to a woman and to her family.”¹ Looking at Marco Parenti’s life from the outside, a cynical observer might well take this view of his marriage to Caterina Strozzi. He had certainly married a woman “maggior di se,” and the result was his long absorption in her family’s struggles. In a sense, Marco seems to have become a Strozzi more than Caterina a Parenti.

      Flattered by the social advantages of the marriage, Marco took on the burdens of a...

  7. PART II POLITICS:: REPATRIATION AND REFORM, 1465-1466

    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 97-103)

      Despite her emotional promise at the time of Matteo’s death to join Filippo in Naples, Alessandra did not leave Florence. Her longing to reunite the family came to focus instead on the possibility of winning permission for her sons to return to the city. This campaign only became intense after Cosimo’s death in 1464, and it was both aided and immensely complicated by the reawakening of factional tensions. Behind the repatriation effort was the growing mercantile success of the Strozzi brothers, now trading independently in both Naples and Rome. Large loans to King Ferrante of Naples gave Filippo considerable influence...

    • CHAPTER 4 WINTER AND SPRING: DON FEDERIGO’S VISIT
      (pp. 104-117)

      Early in hisMemoir,Parenti presents a useful synopsis of the diplomatic exchanges between Florence and Naples in the late winter and spring of 1465:

      On the 4th of February 1465 three ambassadors were elected: for Naples Messer Luigi Guicciardini and Pandolfo di Messer Giannozzo Pandolfini, and one for Milan, Dietisalvi di Nerone. This was done because of current events, both the death of Cosimo and the new marriage alliance made between King Ferdinand of Naples and Duke Francesco of Milan, whose daughter Madonna Ippolita was betrothed to Don Alfonso, duke of Calabria and son of the said king. Therefore...

    • CHAPTER 5 SPRING: BETWEEN MEDICI AND PITTI
      (pp. 118-126)

      For all his natural optimism, Parenti understood that Medici power remained the central fact of Florentine politics. Though the atmosphere of negotiation and intrigue must have been heady, the fortunes of the Strozzi still depended on Piero’s benevolence. As one who, by his own admission, was “led by his will,” Marco may have found this dependence hard to accept, but as yet there was no alternative. Even Luca Pitti did not have the power to act independently. “And so I have said nothing futher to our friend,” wrote Marco with reference to Pitti, “since it does not seem to me...

    • CHAPTER 6 SUMMER: THE RETURN VISIT
      (pp. 127-138)

      On the twenty-ninth of May, 1465, Parenti tells us in hisMemoir,the betrothal of Madonna Ippolita of Milan to Don Alfonso, duke of Calabria, was solemnized in Milan. By special mandate Don Federigo, the second son of the king of Naples, acted in his elder brother’s place. Within a few days of the festivities Madonna Ippolita, accompanied by her own party as well as that of Don Federigo, left Milan for Naples where she was to marry Don Alfonso. Six hundred horses accompanied Ippolita; added to those traveling with the prince, there were some two thousand in all. Followed...

    • CHAPTER 7 AUTUMN: UNCERTAINTY AND THE STIRRINGS OF REFORM
      (pp. 139-149)

      In the months of autumn, Marco continued his worried attention to the Strozzi cause. The departure of Don Federigo and Madonna Ippolita, however, left him without an immediate focus and no new opportunity came along on which to build new hopes. He wrote to Naples as frequently as ever, but without a central thread of expectation, his letters seem a confusion of detail. Yet as the chances for repatriation faded, the prospect of another and wider opportunity began to unfold. Rumors of political reform began to be heard, encouraging the expectations that had already led him to take the first...

    • CHAPTER 8 MATCHMAKING AND OTHER TROUBLES
      (pp. 150-168)

      While they waited for the political turbulence to die down, the Strozzi had an important family matter of their own to see to. This was the question of finding a suitable wife for Filippo. The idea appealed strongly to Alessandra’s heart and, as political prospects faded, she gave more and more of her attention to this alternate goal. Filippo himself was less keen, and Marco found himself once again playing the part of advisor and chief negotiator. His letters began to report the unfolding of this new campaign of domestic maneuver with much the same seriousness—and often the same...

    • CHAPTER 9 FALL AND WINTER: NICCOLÒ SODERINI AND THE SCRUTINY CRISIS
      (pp. 169-188)

      Personal disappointments were soon overshadowed by signs of a general crisis in Florence. The beginning of November brought a new priorate to office and a Gonfaloniere prepared to challenge the Medici hegemony. The mood of excitement deeply affected Marco. His correspondence for these months did not neglect the family concerns of the Strozzi, but more and more his reports were bracketed by a reluctant admission that little was possible as long as the city remained in such a state of unrest. To Alessandra this was the greatest frustration, but for her son-in-law the strained situation held a deeper fascination.

      The...

    • CHAPTER 10 THE CLIMAX OF THE STRUGGLE
      (pp. 189-216)

      An early Scottish novelist left deliberate lacunae in his fictitious journal, claiming that the previous owner of the manuscript used to tear out pages as wadding for his gun.¹ Historians, unlike the author of this ingenious parody, cannot be so artful in arranging the gaps in their narratives. The disappearance of Marco’s and Alessandra’s letters in the very months when their family drama reached its climax means that there is no way to continue an intimate chronicle of their lives in this decisive moment. But Marco’s life as a writer had another dimension, and as a diarist he devoted his...

  8. PART III HISTORY:: MARCO PARENTI’S Memoir

    • [PART III Introduction]
      (pp. 217-221)

      Recent historians have cautioned against the habit of seeing Cosimo’s coup in 1434 as a decisive break with earlier Florentine governments and the beginning of an undifferentiated epoch of Medici “rule.” Certainly in its beginnings the Medici domination was little different from earlier coalitions of powerful families that had succeeded for a time in monopolizing power. Only gradually were the institutional structures of the republic modified to permit this new coalition a degree of stability never before achieved. Nonetheless Florence changed, and under Lorenzo it was a very different political society than it had been under his grandfather. If we...

    • CHAPTER 11 A CRITIQUE OF MEDICI POLITICS: MARCO PARENTI’S VIEWS ON PIERO AND COSIMO
      (pp. 222-240)

      Florence has been made famous by a long line of men, stretching from Dante, Compagni, and Villani to Machiavelli, Guicciardini, and Giannotti, who confronted political change with self-conscious articulateness. Within this succession, Marco Parenti has a modest but significant place as a sensitive witness to the growth of Medici power and its impact on the traditions of Florentine citizenship in the second half of his century. Before examining his critique of Medici politics, it may be useful to be reminded of the kind of witness he was and how his circumstances contributed to his sensitivity.

      The broadest pattern of Marco...

    • CHAPTER 12 THE “CONSPIRACY” OF 1466: OTHER VIEWS
      (pp. 241-259)

      Every major upheaval in Florentine history produced its flurry of records and commentaries. A scattering of partisans, participants, ordinary citizens with an eye for politics or a diary to fill, as well as those who for one reason or another had committed themselves to longer narratives about their city, recorded their own version of events. This impulse had slackened in the mid-fifteenth century, in part because of the widening gulf between the ordinary citizen and the inner circle of government, in part because of a comparable literary gulf between the language of everyday life and the new, exalted conception of...

    • CHAPTER 13 HISTORIOGRAPHY AND THE PUBLIC WORLD
      (pp. 260-274)

      The differences that separate Parenti’s account from Benedetto Colucci’s bear the stamp of two distinct historiographical traditions marked by characteristic attitudes toward political conventions as well as literary ones. On one level, the two texts are divided by the extent to which they are affiliated to the classical tradition in historiography; on another, they are separated by the way in which each construes the relationship between the private or social world and the public sphere.

      Florence had an old and well-established historiographical literature. Its first outstanding work was the early fourteenth-century chronicle of Dino Compagni, but it was the massive...

  9. APPENDIX A NOTE ON THE MANUSCRIPT OF MARCO PARENTI’S Memoir
    (pp. 275-280)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 281-283)