Category: Philosophy and Politics

By Niccolo Machiavelli

Published in 1595

Reference #0217

Machiavelli had already published his Discourses and The Prince when he was commissioned in 1520 to write this history of his native Florence. Left unfinished at his death in 1527, the Historie Fiorentine was first published in 1532 in Italian.

“[H]e carried with him to this new task of historiography the habit of mind proper to political philosophy. In his hands the history of Florence became a text on which at fitting seasons to deliver lessons in the science he initiated. This gives the work its special character. It is not so much a chronicle of Florentine affairs, from the commencement of modern history to the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici in 1492, as a critique of that chronicle from the point of view adopted by Machiavelli in his former writings. Having condensed his doctrines in the Principe and the Discoursi, he applies their abstract principles to the example of the Florentine republic… The History of Florence is… the first example in Italian literature of a national biography, the first attempt in any literature to trace the vicissitudes of a people’s life in their logical sequence… The style of the whole book is nervous, vivid, free from artifice and rhetoric…. It is an athlete’s style, all bone and sinew, nude, without superfluous flesh or ornament.”