By Niccolo Capponi
Capponi’s intimate portrait of Machiavelli finds his habit as totally un-Machiavellian, his imaginative and prescient of the area as constrained via his very provincial outlook. after all, Machiavelli was once annoyed by way of his personal political mess ups and completely baffled via the good fortune of his ebook The Prince.
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Additional info for An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli
When people use the hackneyed and quite ridiculous term “modern” to describe Niccolò, they demonstrate not only a definite anachronistic approach to the subject, but also rather less wisdom than Machiavelli’s own contemporaries. In reality Niccolò was a complex figure, and trying to pin him down can have the same effect as eating a hot dog: You bite it on one end, and everything inside shoots out from the other. Moreover, any attempt to find some sort of consistency in his thought and actions has to take into consideration that he, like most of us, changed his ideas over time, or adapted them to fit certain circumstances.
For this reason I have developed something of a soft spot for Niccolò—not so much for the depth of his thinking, but rather for his personal, and very human, traits. Besides, I can relate to his sense of humor, as shocking as it may appear to those not born and bred in Florence. Indeed, the city itself is one of the protagonists of this book; not so much its art and culture, but instead that same peculiar spirit and attitude that pervaded—and still pervades—the place and that few outsiders appreciate or understand.
From the Catasto (property tax records) of 1427 it emerges that Niccolò di Buoninsegna, Ser Bernardo’s father, owned real estate worth 1,086 florins and taxable assets for 463 florins, ranking among the two hundred wealthiest citizens of his quarter. Bernardo himself would declare in 1498 the ownership of a dwelling in Florence and a number of farmhouses with adjacent plots of land (poderi) in the countryside giving a yearly income of 110 “broad florins” (fiorini larghi). It would be wrong, however, to believe that this represented the actual wealth of that particular branch of the Machiavelli, tax-dodging and evasion being a normal practice in a city whose government frequently resorted to forced loans to compensate a chronic lack of liquidity.
An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli by Niccolo Capponi