Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Machiavelli's class analysis of the ancient Roman and medieval Florentine republics

So here's Niccolo Machiavelli (Florentine Histories, Book III, chapter 1)on the different results of class struggle in Rome and Florence:

"The grave and natural enmities that exist between the men of the people and the nobles, caused by the wish of the latter to command and the former not to obey, are the cause of all evils that arise in cities. For from this diversity of humors all other things that agitate republics take their nourishment. This kept Rome disunited, and this, if it is permissible to compare little things with great, has kept Florence divided... For the enmities between the people and the nobles at the beginning of Rome that were resolved by disputing were resolved in Florence by fighting. Those in Rome ended with a law, those in Florence with the exile and death of many citizens... for the people of Rome desired to enjoy the highest honors together with the nobles, while the people nof Florence fought to be alone in the government without the participation of the nobles. And because the desire of the Roman people was more reasonable... the nobility would yield easily and without resorting to arms. Thus, after some differences, they would come together to create a law whereby the people would be satisfied and the nobles retain their dignities... the desire of the florentine people was injurious and unjust, so that the nobility readied greater forces for its own defense, and that is why it came to the blood and exile of citizens... in the victories of the people the city of Rome became more virtuous, for as men of the people could be placed in the administration of the magistracies, the armies, and the posts of empire together with the nobles... but in Florence, when the people conquered, the nobles were left deprived of the magistracies, and if they wanted to regain them, it was necessary for them not only to be but to appear similar to men of the people in their conduct, spirit,and mode of living."

O.K. Leftsiders, let's chew on that for a moment... we'll be back tomorrow with some ideas on how these general ideas about class conflict will shape Machiavelli's whole historical understanding of the Ciompi revolt in Florence.

1 comment:

tbpetz84 said...

Who knew Machiavelli was also such a good historian?