By Niccolo Capponi
Capponi’s intimate portrait of Machiavelli unearths his habit as completely un-Machiavellian, his imaginative and prescient of the realm as restricted by means of his very provincial outlook. finally, Machiavelli was once annoyed by means of his personal political mess ups and totally baffled via the luck of his booklet The Prince.
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Extra resources for An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli
And indeed, there were activities that Florentines pursued with almost single-minded obsession, the primary one being increasing their personal and family status. Money making, marriages, and artistic patronage were all geared to the elevation of one’s self or kin. The main problem with the Machiavelli clan—notable characters notwithstanding—was its small size; worse, by the fifteenth century it had been relegated to the fringe of Florence’s political inner circle. The close connection between large families and power was self-evident to all Florentines, since marriages meant alliances and, as a consequence, increased chances to enjoy political offices on a permanent basis.
In addition, there existed the gold florin (fiorino largo d’oro), valued about 7½ lire in 1520 and, like the lira and the “sealed florin” (fiorino di suggello), used as a unit of account. The sealed florin was equal to 4 lire, and in a letter of 1505, Totto Machiavelli mentions that 3 sealed florins were worth 2 gold ducats. On average during this period, a typical laborer earned about 8 soldi a day, and a skilled worker twice that sum. There were approximately 260 working days a year, and numerous holidays—Sundays aside—constantly interrupting the rhythms of labor.
The mastership of Altopascio was a hereditary benefice of the Capponi, who had successfully revived the institution’s sagging financial fortunes. Machiavelli would later indirectly pay homage in his Clizia to this example of entrepreneurship. Other members of the clannish and politically prominent Capponi resided near the Ponte Santa Trinita, including the ones known as di banco, due to the riches they had accumulated with banking. Nearby lived their once associates the Vettori, and Piero Vettori’s son, Francesco, although five years younger than our Niccolò, would later on play a fundamental part in the latter’s life.
An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli by Niccolo Capponi