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Images of Quattrocento Florence

Images of Quattrocento Florence: Selected Writings in Literature, History, and Art

Stefano Ugo Baldassarri
Arielle Saiber
Preface by Giuseppe Mazzotta
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Images of Quattrocento Florence
    Book Description:

    This anthology provides a panoramic view of fifteenth-century Florence in the words of the city's own citizens and visitors. The fifty-one selections-many translated into English for the first time-offer fascinating glimpses into Renaissance thought. Together, the documents demonstrate the social, political, religious, and cultural impact Florence had in shaping the Italian and European Renaissance, and they reveal how Florence created, developed, and diffused the mythology of its own origins and glory.The documents point up the divergences in quattrocento accounts of the origins of Florence, and they reveal the importance of the city's economy, social life, and military success to the formation of its image. The book includes sources that elaborate on the city's accomplishments in literature and the visual arts, others that present major trends in Florentine religious life, and still others that attest to the acclaim and admiration that Florence evoked from foreign visitors. The editors also provide an informative introduction, a detailed chronology of fifteenth-century Italy, maps, photographs, an annotated bibliography, and a biographical sketch of the author of each document.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14300-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Giuseppe Mazzotta

    Vico’sNew Scienceis an archaeology of history, a long meditation on the “principles” (which are origins, beginnings, causes, and foundations) shaping “nature of nations,” two words that designate births and begetting. Origins, Vico argues, are uncertain, hazy, and unknowable. They are even dangerous, because human beings invest myths of beginnings with the concerns of the present, and, thus, they may manipulate or falsify them.

    As a genealogist of knowledge, Vico retrieves ancient wisdom about beginnings. Plato’s commentary in theTimaeustells the story of a war between and Atlantis and Athens. Plato admonishes the Athenians—who are said to...

    (pp. xv-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xl)

    Crucial to all works of human invention is the complex relationship between novelty and tradition or, more precisely, the juxtaposition of elements author views as original with various familiar traditions. We must especially bear this in mind when studying the Italian humanists, whose “tradition” was far from univocal. Their pioneering studies were instead based on a new interpretation of two extremely rich cultural legacies, the Christian and the classical. A case in point is Leonardo Bruni’s innovativePanegyric of the City of Florence(ca. 1404). When Bruni—then one of the most promising pupils of the Florentine chancellor Coluccio Salutati...

  6. List of Classical Abbreviations
    (pp. xli-xlii)
    (pp. xliii-xliii)
    Andrea Alberico
    (pp. xliv-xliv)
    Andrea Alberico
    (pp. xlv-lxiv)

    • 1 A Defense of the Roman Origins of Florence
      (pp. 3-11)

      Who could bear to stand aside and let strangers shamefully slander our homeland, to which we owe everything? I would like to bring this case before a prince and argue it in the presence of our enemies themselves. I would like to listen to them speak, in order to understand the reasons for their lies and see what sort of evidence and arguments they bring forth. I dare say I would so thoroughly give them what they deserve that they would never again hurl their insults at that city which they have been unable to defeat—and, by God, they never...

    • 2 The Republican Legacy
      (pp. 12-17)

      For a long time I have debated with myself whether or not to record the history of the Florentines: their civil discord, their struggles against foreign enemies, and their glorious deeds in peace and war, the awesome nature of which enticed me to engage in such a project. The Florentines first faced civil discord and upheaval, then fought bravely against their neighbors, and finally attained such great power in our time that they could stand up to both the potent duke of Milan and the bellicose King Ladislas, making all Italy, from the Alps to Apulia, tremble under the clash...

    • 3 Inquiry into the Origins of Florence
      (pp. 18-24)

      After the peace of the night came gentle breezes. The songs of countless birds resounded through branches laden with new flowers. Apollo, the longhaired and glorious god, had begun to radiate within his wondrous chariot. The noble guests left their rooms and gathered by the fountain abundant with cool water to find refreshment and relief before proceeding devoutly to the chapel. Having attended mass with sincere reverence, they all agreed to return to the fountain, where they were to start a conversation. Many things were said in praise of our most glorious city, until Master Marsilio [of Padua] finally inquired...

    • 4 So Depraved a Man as Julius Caesar Should Not Be Deemed the Founder of Florence
      (pp. 25-28)

      As attentive to the melodious harmony of eloquence as to the truths of the extraordinary foundation of our city of Florence, I said [to Genius]: “Since these spreaders of lies request better evidence to prove that Giovanni Villani’s mendacious assertions are not as reliable as the texts we cite, I beg you to clarify the stories told of Caesar, King Rinaldo, Renzo, and Fiorino. With equal fervor I pray that you reveal to me who erected the temples [of our city] and to which gods they were first consecrated. I should also like to know if, at that time, the...

    • 5 The Original Site of Florence Contrasted with Its Present Splendor
      (pp. 29-31)

      All these rich buildings, both sacred and profane, rising before your eyes and rendering you speechless, could not have been imagined by Sulla’s soldiers when they first settled in the territory of Fiesole. The beautiful cultivated fields that you now see were once covered by the Arno’s dark, swampy waters, whose rapid course was obstructed by a massive rock and turned here into a stagnant Pond.¹ The ground could not be trodden by man, nor was the lake navigable; the river was not suitable for fish, nor the grass for cattle. It was not yet possible for the traveler to...

    • 6 The Only City Founded by Three Roman Generals
      (pp. 32-36)

      Angelo Poliziano sends greetings to his dear Piero de’ Medici. You have often heard me say that this city, in which you are now deservedly the ruler, as your elders were before you, has an origin other than what our historians write. Thus you have asked me, with your usual gentility, to write what I know about the topic. You have mentioned that Florence would be extremely grateful to me if I showed it who its fathers were, especially since these men were such that had if one had wanted to select them from a history book, he could have...


    • 7 Panegyric of Florence
      (pp. 39-43)

      I wish that God immortal would bestow upon me an eloquence worthy of the city of Florence, of which I am about to speak, or at least an eloquence that equals my love and zeal for it. One form of eloquence or the other would, I believe, suffice in revealing the magnificence and splendor of this city. Nothing more beautiful or more splendid than Florence can be found anywhere in the world. I must confess that I have never been more willing to undertake anything than the present task. I have no doubt whatsoever that if my wish for either...

    • 8 The Structure of the Florentine Government
      (pp. 44-54)

      One must certainly believe and give heed to what the Bible says in the words of the Psalmist, “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”¹ No matter what we may say about the just and magnificent government of our city, we must always remember that it is the Lord—by His grace and by the prayers of both the glorious Virgin Mary (whose name is more venerated in Florence than anywhere else in the world) and St. John the Baptist, patron of this city—who governs our state and bestows virtues upon men, well...

    • 9 The Beauties of the Florentine Countryside
      (pp. 55-60)

      The origin of our family dates back a long time, some five hundred years or more. Our ancestors were first noted for their properties and possessions in the beautiful Mugello Valley, more precisely in the area of San Cresci, in the parish of San Martino a Valcava. Not only is this distinguished and pleasant region the place where our family originated, but it has passed down the virtues of our ancestors. It would be most ungrateful not to mention the numerous noble qualities of this region. In order not to begin something my humble intellect cannot finish, and in order...

    • 10 A Letter to Bartolommeo Cederni on Gambling at the Feast of St. John
      (pp. 61-63)

      On the twentieth of this month I wrote you a letter and prepared a box containing six pairs of eyeglasses—three for shortsightedness and three for far-sightedness.¹ On the same day I asked Pandolfo Pandolfini to send you both things immediately, but, as he later told me, it was not possible to find a courier. Since then I have received two letters from you, one from June 16, and the other from the 18th. I am happy to read that everyone there is doing fine. Praise be to God. In this letter, I want to tell you about the feast...

    • 11 A New Rome
      (pp. 64-68)

      The Roman Republic increased to the point of becoming a great empire, dominating the whole world during the time in which its founding fathers virtuously governed it and considered it to be more important than anything. By choosing justice as their fundamental principle, they followed the precept of the divine Plato, who stated that justice should be the soul of a republic, for, as he said, a republic cannot endure without justice, just as the body cannot live without the soul. The founders of the Roman Republic wished to be rich in honor and glory, and poor in material possessions,...

    • 12 A Critique of Cosimo’s Florence
      (pp. 69-71)

      Florence had not seen such prosperity in a long time. People spent great sums on sumptuous feasts, jousts, pageants, weddings, balls, and banquets. Innumerable women in pearls, jewels, and rich silk clothes decorated with lavish embroidery attended these feasts, as did youths in costly livery of diverse kinds.On ordinary work days, men of all ages wore elegant clothes of rose, scarlet, or black, and silks of every color with luxurious linings. Florence’s architects constructed magnificent buildings both inside and outside the city walls.Cosimo accomplished greater feats than anyone else, on account of his immense wealth, such as constructing beautiful and...

    • 13 A Merchant’s Praise of Florence
      (pp. 72-76)

      Most people believe that our age, from 1400 onward, is the most fortunate period in Florence’s history. I shall now explain why this is so. It is commonly believed that since 1400 the Italians have been superior to all other nations in the art of war, whereas before 1400 the northern Europeans were thought to be peerless. Thanks to their intelligence, astuteness, cunning, and strategic ability, the Italians are now the best at seizing cities and winning battles. In this age, moreover, there are more outstanding scholars of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew in Florence than ever before. An elegant and...

    • 14 On the Celebrations for Pius II’s and Galeazzo Maria Sforza’s Visits to Florence
      (pp. 77-82)

      For the illustrious prince Galeazzo Maria’s arrival [in Florence], the officials of our government appointed many distinguished citizens and a great many youths to welcome him; they were all richly dressed, accompanied by their servants in elegant uniforms and more than three hundred beautifully caparisoned horses. The foreign officials of the Florentine government, namely, the podestà and the capitano, were there to receive the noble prince, and, like everyone else, they went to great lengths to honor his arrival. The city musicians and the herald of our republic presided over the prince’s entry into the city. Gian Galeazzo’s retinue included...

    • 15 The City’s Unparalleled Economic Prosperity
      (pp. 83-87)

      Let all Italy know, and all Christendom too, of the power, and the strength, and the glory that the Florentines have at present in Tuscany. May this record benefit the peoples of Venice, Milan, Rome, Naples, Siena, Ferrara, Mantua, Lucca, Bologna, Perugia, Ancona, and Romagna who do not know what Florence looks like and have never been here. In order for them to learn, understand, consider, and appreciate what this city is like, I, Benedetto Dei of Florence, shall speak at length about the city’s location, size, buildings, citizens, towns governed (while specifying their names, number, and previous rulers), origins,...

    • 16 Lorenzo the Magnificent’s Utopian State
      (pp. 88-91)

      (79) Lauro¹ spoke thus: “My beautiful nymph, I wish you to dwell with me in the city that is queen of all other cities, enriched by property and castles, a university, a seaport,² and divine liberty. Inhabited by a great people, it boasts experts in many arts and is perfect in all respects. I shall now briefly describe her seven virtues to you.

      (80) “While on a rock by the river, you may happen to see fish in the waves, Clymene crying,³ and wild beasts fleeing from bold hunters in the environs of the city and within the circle of...

    • 17 The Glories of a New Golden Age
      (pp. 92-95)

      I am delighted indeed to have been born in this fortunate time, a time in which men are rewarded according to their merits, and excellent deeds receive excellent recognition. Glory now advances the liberal arts and laboring brings joy, for no one is left uncompensated for his efforts; now is a great moment to devote one’s efforts to the art of poetry. In Italy, these studies have been ignored for a thousand years, ever since barbarian races invaded our soil. It was many years later that the great Tuscan Dante finally brought poetics back for the people of Italy to...

    • 18 The Pazzi Conspiracy
      (pp. 96-102)

      Meanwhile, people flocked to the Medici palace with incredible passion and love, demanding that the traitors be executed and that they be shown no mercy until they had been dragged to their punishment. The house of Jacopo Pazzi was barely saved from looting, and Piero Corsini’s men, overcome by fury, took the naked and wounded Francesco Pazzi off to be hanged. Francesco was nearly dead before he reached the gallows, for it was impossible to curb the wrath of the multitude. Soon afterward, they hung the Pisan leader¹ from the same window as Francesco Pazzi, right above the latter’s corpse....

    • 19 A Condemnation of Lorenzo’s Regime
      (pp. 103-114)

      I know full well, my dear brother, that when I took up this lifestyle—which, after all, is not so different from yours—some men, out of either envy or lack of wisdom, criticized my choice, despite the fact that you and several friends support it. I have resolved, in fact, to abandon all civic affairs and retire to this small house in the country. Here I shall care for the little estate as if I were in exile from the city, detached from political life and the company of my fellow citizens. Although I could easily confute this criticism...

    • 20 The Entry of Charles VIII, King of France, into Florence
      (pp. 115-122)

      On November 17, 1494, at 4 P.M., the king of France entered Florence. He arrived at Porta San Frediano and approached the main piazza. The procession moved so slowly that it was 6 P.M. when they entered Santa Maria del Fiore. He dismounted from his horse before the church steps and went to the high altar, walking between two lines of people holding two-branched candelabra. His barons and the city authorities followed him to the high altar amid loud cries of “Long live France”—no one had ever heard such a great ovation. All the citizens of Florence were there,...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)

    • 21 The Lives of Dante and Petrarch
      (pp. 125-138)

      Having recently completed a lengthy work, I felt like refreshing my spirits by reading something in the vernacular. Just like eating the same food day after day, reading the same work again and again becomes unpleasant. While I was thus carrying out my search for a book in the vernacular, I came across a small work by Boccaccio calledOn the Life, Customs, and Studies of the Most Illustrious Poet Dante.¹Although I already was well acquainted with the text, this second reading gave me the impression that Boccaccio, a most agreeable and refined man, had written on the life...

    • 22 Lives of the Illustrious Florentine Poets Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio
      (pp. 139-159)

      Having recently completed a laborious and lengthy work in six books about great men who reached a ripe old age,¹ I have decided to do something different and enjoyable by composing a Latin text on the lives of the three illustrious poets. In theDe longevibus clarisI briefly summarized the most important deeds of the men of every country who, for more than five thousand years after the beginning of the world, distinguished themselves for the piousness of their habits, the excellence of their doctrine, and their military glory. Regarding this present collection, however, I do not think I...

    • 23 A Heavenly Vision After the Battle of Campaldino
      (pp. 160-168)

      . . . Nature itself calls us to act according to justice, and to this same end we are impelled by divine and human laws, motivated by the common utility of all men, and prompted by religious and philosophical texts. This virtue [of acting justly] helps us in private affairs; in politics it is not only the most useful virtue but [one that is] utterly necessary. This is why, in discussing civic life, we have spoken more about justice than about any other virtue. He who leads a just life, especially if he happens to participate in the governing of...

    • 24 The First Anthology of Vernacular Poetry
      (pp. 169-174)

      My most illustrious Lord Frederick, I have often debated with myself which among the many and innumerable good customs of ancient times was most excellent. I finally chose one that I believe should be considered the most glorious of all: that in those times, no illustrious and virtuous work produced by either hands or intellect lacked for rewards and grand tributes, both in private and in public. Consequently, as all rivers and springs are said to originate in the Ocean, so all famous deeds and wondrous works of the Ancients are held to have derived from this worthy custom.


    • 25 Proem to the First Edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy
      (pp. 175-178)

      There is no class of learned writers, most distinguished lords of our state,¹ which does not deserve to receive the highest and most enduring gratitude from mankind. This is just, for the aim of all their efforts, all their most attentive scholarship and laborious logic is to benefit not only themselves and their contemporaries but also all posterity for centuries to come. Although I have read many authors who have, either in Latin or in Greek, written their own memoirs, I have not found anyone who can rightly be compared with Dante or be considered on a par with him....

    • 26 Florence Welcomes Dante upon His Return from Exile
      (pp. 179-182)

      Florence, long sad but joyful at last, warmly congratulates its poet Dante, who has come back to life and to his homeland for a glorious crowning after an absence of two centuries. O my Dante, during your exile you predicted that one day piety would overcome cruelty and that you would gladly return to your homeland and receive Apollo’s crown in the marvelous temple of St. John the Baptist.¹ Your parents did not tell you of the omen in vain,² for recently, Apollo—filled with pity from my long weeping and your eternal exile—ordered Mercury to enter the devout...


    • 27 Giotto’s Revival of Ancient Art
      (pp. 185-187)

      The ancient authors included in their written histories discussions of excellent painters and sculptors, along with other famous men. The ancient poets, moreover, struck by Prometheus’ brilliant and generous deed, imagined that he had created man by using the mud of the earth. These wise men thought that those who imitate nature in striving to make human figures with bronze and marble, could not have accomplished so much without a magnificent intellect, an outstanding memory, and a particularly sensitive hand. Among the illustrious men mentioned in their historical works are Zeuxis, Polycleitos, Chares, Phidias, Praxiteles, Myron, Apelles, Conon, Volarius, and...

    • 28 Giotto Brings Art out of the Dark Ages
      (pp. 188-191)

      At the time of the Emperor Constantine and Pope Sylvester, the Christian religion had grown. Idolatry was persecuted so violently that all statues and paintings were destroyed, their ancient and exquisite beauty ruined. Likewise, the volumes, commentaries, outlines, and rules that had instructed such an excellent and noble art were lost. Finally, in order to delete every possible form of idolatry, the Church proclaimed that all temples were to be white [inside and out]. At that time, terrible punishments were inflicted on those who dared produce any sort of statue or painting; this marked the end of the arts of...

    • 29 The Marvel of Brunelleschi’s Dome for the Cathedral of Florence
      (pp. 192-194)

      I once used both to marvel and to regret that so many of the excellent and divine arts and sciences—which, as the artists’ works themselves and the books of historians attest, were abundantly cultivated among those most noble men of antiquity—have now almost completely disappeared. Painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, geometers, rhetoricians, augurs, and other such noble and excellent intellects are today rare and scarcely deserving of praise. I was thus led to believe what many people were saying, namely that Nature, the teacher of all things, having grown old and tired, had stopped producing those scores of giants...

    • 30 Brunelleschi and Donatello Discover Ancient Roman Treasures
      (pp. 195-199)

      Having thus resolved to bow out of the contest,¹ Filippo seemed to say, “I was not apparently good enough for them to entrust me with the whole project. I shall go, then, to [a place] where I can observe and learn from good sculptures.” And so he went to Rome, where, at that time, one could see excellent works of art in public places. Some of these works can still be seen today, although not many, as several popes and cardinals, from both Rome and elsewhere, have taken them away. Since he had a sharp eye and happened to be...

    • 31 Eminent Florentine Artists of the Quattrocento
      (pp. 200-203)

      Filippo, son of Brunellesco, was an architect and man of outstanding genius. He built the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore from the round windows up, and built a vault for the tribune without any centering. He also made the lantern on top [of the church], using a remarkable kind of scaffolding and other building machines. He worked without ruining the materials or posing any risk to the masons. In Florence, he built the Sacristy of San Lorenzo and the transept of that same church; its bulk is the work of other masters who did not always follow his project....

    • 32 An Account of the Great Local Artists
      (pp. 204-206)

      We have the art of painting [left to discuss], a skill which the Ancients held in high esteem. The Egyptians claim that they invented it and that it moved to Greece from Egypt. Some Greeks, however, hold that it was invented in Sicyon, others in Corinth. The first paintings were made of a single line which followed the outline of the human body. Painters then worked with only one color; such a painting being called monochrome—that is, of a single color, sincemonosmeans “one” andcromameans “color.” Painting was relatively new, as Pliny writes, for at the...

    • 33 The Beauty of Florence Surpasses that of Ancient Athens
      (pp. 207-212)

      The Rhodians admired Protogenes for a single painting, which took him nearly ten years to complete. The poets write that Nicomachus, by contrast, was a rapid painter, capable of producing an excellent work in a short time. Parrhasius of Ephesus so excelled at his art that he is considered the inventor of symmetry. In the course of many centuries, ancient Greece produced these artists, all with outstanding qualities equal to their genius. But if Greece could see all the painters of our time, how highly it would praise them! Florence alone begot them all in the same age, and so...

    • 34 An Artistic Vade Mecum for the City of Florence
      (pp. 213-226)

      You asked me to write about painting. This is a legitimate request, and one I feel I must fulfill, for we are old friends, we are both Florentines, and I highly admire your expertise in this field. Every cultured mind must know about painting, for sculpture and painting give man great pleasure, education, and abundant fruits. Painting is an essential [skill] not only to artists but to geographers and sailors.¹ It is the most excellent of all the arts, for it is instructive to both the learned and the unlettered. I therefore urge you to dedicate yourself to it fully,...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)

    • 35 Tuscany as the Cradle of Christianity
      (pp. 229-231)

      After God’s love and grace had enlightened and kindled both my fervent passion and my eager mind, in a short time my long journey had happily come to an end, and I retired to my little room to have some rest.¹ Once sleep had restored my body and my spirit, I started to ponder and reflect upon what I had seen. I began to think about the Etruscans, that ancient and glorious people, and then realized, my dear friends, that we should take great pride in being the offspring of this renowned country of ours: its military deeds and culture,...

    • 36 Vision of the Future of Italy
      (pp. 232-235)

      Jesus Christ be praised. Reverend Father Roberto, following my usual custom, I shall inform you of marvelous things that have recently happened to me. I hope you will provide me with your valued advice, as you have always done in the past.

      Upon my return to Venice from Jerusalem, I stayed for some time at the convent of our order, La Vigna. We were tired from the long journey and sea voyage, and so we resolved to remain there awhile to rest. On a Monday night, twelve days after our arrival, I was sound asleep when I saw an incredible...

    • 37 A Prophecy of a New Age
      (pp. 236-237)

      The she-bear of tribulation rises from her den. The swords of the philosophers clash.This stands for the teachings of the ancient prophets, sages, and astrologers, for they all appear to contend with one another. In examining them properly, however, it will become clear that they all have said the same thing. The bear represents the mother of scandalous action—more precisely, the hope of those who believe they save themselves by murdering their neighbors. She will be so thoroughly annihilated that barely even the memory of her will remain.

      The whorelike she-wolf licks the blood of the she-bear, leaves...

    • 38 The Consecration of the Cathedral of Florence
      (pp. 238-240)

      The Most Reverend Cardinal Orsini began the consecration of the church [Santa Maria del Fiore], continuing until the relics of the saints were placed by the altar. Then he began the consecration of the altar. The most holy Pope Eugenius IV, who had resided in Florence for thirty-one months without ever leaving the monastery of Santa Maria Novella, arrived at the church at nine in the morning. He walked on a platform two or three braccia high, decorated with rugs, drapes, tapestries, chestcloths, and other types of material. The platform had been prepared so as to protect the pontiff from...

    • 39 A History of Florentine Piety
      (pp. 241-245)

      The Florentine Zenobias was bishop of this city,¹ living at the time in which the great Ambrose vanquished the rabid enemies of Christ. He distinguished himself for his genuine faith and his intolerance of heresy. Both Ambrose and Zenobius were kind shepherds who looked after their sheep responsibly. It was at that time that the pontiff of the Roman church, Damasus, sent Zenobius to Byzantium (Constantine had moved the capital of the ancient Roman Empire to the shores of Greece) to discuss matters of great importance, as he was considered an excellent orator in both Greek and Latin. Zenobius was...

    • 40 A Guide to Florence’s Holy Sites
      (pp. 246-251)

      Devout worshipper of the Virgin Mother who gave birth to the loving king of the world, O Piero, receive this book that I have just devoted to her. I believe that you, O noble offspring of Cosimo, will welcome whatever derives from love for her, to whom you give so many lavish offerings. Please accept this brief work I have composed, whose first part will report the untainted life of the pure Virgin, as well as her death. The second part of this book will recount the immense and eternal glory of the heavenly triumph when the Virgin received the...

    • 41 A Treatise on the Florentine Government
      (pp. 252-265)

      Illustrious men of acute intellect and profound scholarship have dedicated numerous pages to the government of cities and states. I have always held, therefore, that writing additional books on such a topic would simply increase the number of works devoted to this subject, without offering anything new or useful. Your lordships, however, are not asking me at present to write a treatise on the means of governing a state or city in general but instead to write about the new government of the city of Florence, a task I deem appropriate to my position. Leaving all digressions and useless words...

    • 42 An Epistle to the Fanciulli
      (pp. 266-270)

      My belovedfanciulli,Jesus Christ, Our Savior, told his disciples in advance that he would be tortured and flogged, and that he would suffer an ignominious death on the cross. He also predicted that on the third day he would rise again from the dead. When the time of his passion came, his disciples abandoned Our Lord because, as it is written, “The shepherd will be beaten and the sheep will be scattered.”¹ Only the holy women remained, and John, the beloved disciple. When the time of resurrection came, all the disciples were together in one place; they started doubting...

    • 43 Two Poems on Spiritual Renewal
      (pp. 271-275)

      Long live Florence in our hearts, long live Florence, long live Christ your king, and long live the spouse, His daughter, and mother,¹ who is queen and guide, for it is thanks to their bounty and clemency that the day is nearing in which this city shall be made richer, more powerful, and more glorious than ever before. Such a promise or inestimable gift can never be in vain, since it is not a human tongue that utters it, but divine bounty.

      O city more fortunate than all others, you are certainly more fortunate than anyone would believe, and perhaps...

    • 44 The Rise and Fall of the Self-Made Prophet Girolamo Savonarola
      (pp. 276-284)

      On June 17 [1495] Fra Girolamo spoke with King Charles VIII of France at Poggibonsi.¹ People said it was thanks to him that the king had not come to Florence. They said that the friar had urged the king to act for the sake of Florence, and had told him that God wanted him to take care of Florence, and that the whole city was on his side. They said that the friar had helped Florence and that the king had taken his advice. At that time the Florentines held the friar in such high esteem and such veneration that...


    • 45 Metropolite Isidore’s Journey to the Council of Florence
      (pp. 287-291)

      Pope Eugenius IV left Ferrara for Florence on January 16, whereas Patriarch Joseph left by boat on January 26, for the River Po was calm that day. The Russian metropolite left the next day. Ferrara and Argenta are twenty-five miles apart—seven from Argenta to Bastia, and seven from Bastia to Conselice. There we landed and continued our trip on horseback: seven miles from Conselice to Lugo, ten from Lugo to Faenza, twenty-eight from there to Marradi, and thirteen from Marradi to Borgo San Lorenzo, through which the Sieve River flows, crossed by a stone bridge. It is a pleasant...

    • 46 The Heir to Roman Justice
      (pp. 292-298)

      O glorious and most magnificent lords, when I am in the presence of your very distinguished and generous persons or reflect upon the noble nature of this most flourishing republic, the lavish display of your fortunate people, the piety with which the crowd attends the solemn ceremony of this most holy day, and finally all the riches and the wealth of this city, I am seized with astonishment at such numerous and unusual marvels. If I were to give a proper description of all these extraordinary things in an elegant speech, it would be much easier to commence it than...

    • 47 Bittersweet Praise of Florence
      (pp. 299-305)

      Florence, once called Fluentia after the River Arno, which flows through the middle of the city, is the current capital of Tuscany. It grew out of the ruins of Fiesole, which Totila, king of the Goths, had razed to the ground. It then gained control of Volterra, Pistoia, Arezzo, Cortona, and Pisa and managed to conquer part of the territory of Lucca. It has caused Siena great losses, although at times it has itself suffered damage from this city. Florence has been repeatedly attacked by German emperors—Henry VII camped just outside its walls and laid fierce siege to the...

    • 48 A Celebration of Florentine Eloquence
      (pp. 306-308)

      Florence, May 1st, 1473

      Most illustrious and excellent duke and my kind lord,

      Although I have no doubt that you are already informed of the course of our journey, I think it proper to send you a brief report regarding a few matters. The Bolognese treated us with great kindness and hosted us in their most beautiful houses, decorated and adorned with many tapestries and silver, as if they all belonged to noblemen. I was unable to deliver my oration in Bologna, however, because the official appointed to preside was feeling sick—I am not sure whether he was physically...

    • 49 Praise of the City Before Its Authorities
      (pp. 309-315)

      Pure, joyful, and glorious daughter of Jove,¹ sent by the heavenly council, if you cast your pious glance upon this world, please do not maintain the indignation that you were once forced to feel, when impious and belligerent people, ignoring the beatific life, drove the gods away from the earth. Turn now to your old father, whose white temples pour forth a double flame² and whose laws, carved on the two tables, shine with the same gaze with which you once graced the court of the Cretan king and the borders of the Spartan general, or with the same voice...

    • 50 A Sketch of Florence and Its Domain
      (pp. 316-321)

      The city of Pistola lies in the northern part of Tuscany’s most extensive plains. Catilina’s army was defeated there, as many ancient authors note.¹ Leonardo Bruni claims that in 1250 Pistoia was the first of many Tuscan cities to come under the rule of the Florentines, who at that time had just freed themselves.² In the environs of Pistoia are Monsummano, Serravalle, Vitolino, and, a little further north, Montecatini. Two rivers, called Stella and Ombrone, flow near the walls of Pistoia, not far from each other; they also flow close to Carmignano before running into the Arno near Montelupo. The...

    • 51 The Delights of the Medici Villa in Careggi
      (pp. 322-324)

      Florence, April 23, 1459

      Most illustrious prince, excellent lord, and dear father,

      As I told you I would do in the letter I wrote you yesterday, this morning I went to Mass. I then went to Cosimo’s villa in Careggi with the Most Serene Messer Sigismondo, the Most Serene Messer d’Este, an ambassador of King Ferdinand, [Cicco] Simonetta, and Giovanni, Cosimo’s son. I visited the whole area and was impressed with its beautiful gardens, which are truly marvelous, and with the building itself, which has bedrooms, kitchens, halls, and all sorts of household goods—none of the other beautiful houses...

    (pp. 325-342)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 343-350)