A BALANCED HISTORY OF THE VENETIAN PRINCIPATE

Historie fiorentine.

Venice, Domenico Giglio, 1554.

£2,250

12mo., ff. 157 (i.e. 257), (1). Italic letter. Large printer’s device on title and last recto, historiated initial including S with Saturn and E with Europa; small ink spot to extremities of outer margin of first few leaves. A fine copy in very early seventeenth-century Italian (Roman?) calf, gilt panel with double fillet, spine with six gilt compartments decorated with foliage and pine-cones, title gilt on red morocco label, all edges gilt, original pastedowns, endpapers and flys; early price note at verso of rear endpaper.

Second 12mo. and correct edition of a masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, first published posthumously in March 1532 in Florence and Rome. A humanist, diplomat and politician as well as witty playwright, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) is regarded as one of the most influential political thinkers of all times. His highly debated Principe changed forever the notion and management of power, subordinating rulers’ moral conduct to the achievements of their own aims. In line with the scholarly tradition of Florence, he was also a passionate historian.

The Historie of Florence, starting from the fall of the Roman Empire and ending with the death of Lorenzo il Magnifico (1492) and the Italian campaign of French King Charles VIII (1494), is the outcome of a brilliant mind. Facts are not only presented very clearly and without bias, but are also examined with the political pragmatism typical of Machiavelli.

The book was dedicated to Pope Clement VII (Giuliano de’ Medici), which had commissioned it to Machiavelli in 1520 before succeeding to the throne of St. Peter. Like many of Machiavelli’s works, the Historie was reprinted year after year throughout the sixteenth century. Such an impressive pace was considerably slowed down by the ban of the Catholic Church over his Principe, and by the general negative light cast upon the author’s supposedly unethical theories of government.

Not in Brunet or Gamba. BM STC It., 400; Adams, M 30; Graesse, IV, 324.

L2043

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