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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Machiavelli’s Masterpiece ‘The Prince’ Turns 500

A posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) by Santi di Tito. (Wikimedia Commons)

A posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) by Santi di Tito. (Wikimedia Commons)

This week the city of Florence recreated the “Bando,” the official proclamation, which 500 years ago gave any citizen of Florence with any knowledge of the whereabouts of one Niccolo Machiavelli just one hour to report the information to the authorities.

Because at one point Machiavelli was fighting the bad guys!

He lost. And he lost his beloved Florence to the Medici family, aided and abetted by the Pope’s invading army.

So disillusioned, he wrote the political guidebook “The Prince,” declaring that the end justifies the means. That rulers and governments can and should be brutal to defend themselves.

The 500th anniversary of Machiavelli’s book and his arrest is now being marked in Florence.

That’s where we found the man who recently uncovered the “Bando” while researching the role of town criers in Renaissance Italy. Stephen Milner is visiting professor at Harvard’s Center for Renaissance Studies, the Villa I Tatti.

Guest:

  • Stephen Milner, visiting professor at Harvard’s Center for Renaissance Studies.

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