By Niccolo Capponi
Capponi’s intimate portrait of Machiavelli unearths his habit as totally un-Machiavellian, his imaginative and prescient of the area as constrained through his very provincial outlook. finally, Machiavelli used to be pissed off by means of his personal political mess ups and completely baffled through the luck of his ebook The Prince.
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On the diplomatic front matters were in a state of turmoil. Pisa, Florence’s main port, had rebelled and given itself to the king, who was using it as a pawn in hard-nosed negotiations with the Florentine authorities. However, this and Charles’s exorbitant monetary demands could not hide the fact that he feared being trapped in Florence; in any case, he wished to push on to Naples. After a heated exchange with some Florentine envoys he agreed to more modest requests, saying also that he would return Pisa to Florence at the end of his campaign and leave the city before the end of the month.
The league’s troops confronted the French at Fornovo on July 6, 1495, and although Charles managed to extricate himself with his army largely intact (the biggest loss being, probably, his love letters, read and gleefully published by their captors), it became clear that the Valois hold on Naples was tenuous, to say the least. Despite initial successes in the field, the French were ultimately driven from the kingdom of Naples in mid-1496, leaving their Florentine allies to fend for themselves. Charles VIII had initially declined to hand Pisa back, and when eventually he changed his mind his restitution orders were disobeyed.
In the end, and despite all his citations of classical authors, Niccolò’s father emerges as the vanquished of this erudite sparring match, but we can see very well where his son got his undue reliance on historical precedence. Given that the elder Machiavelli was no fool and had some powerful friends in high places, one is left wondering why he never pursued a career in politics, or at least tried to obtain for himself some financially lucrative position. Equally puzzled contemporaries of Ser Bernardo could find no other explanation than an allegedly illegitimate birth to explain his failure to hold any sort of public office—bastards being debarred from enjoying automatic Florentine citizenship.
An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli by Niccolo Capponi