Politics of Florence:Historical Figures.doc

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Political Science
POL 1201
Elizabeth Beaumont

Politics of Florence/Historical Figures Seedbed of a new Political Theory: Comparing Florentine politics to Athens and the Magreb region • Florence had been free republican city-state since the 12th century, then rise of Medici rulers in the 15th century, overthrow and brief return to republic (1494), then overthrow and return of Medici • A commercial crossroads and birthplace of the Renaissance in philosophy, arts, science (Michelangelo, Galileo, etc) Cesare Borgia as a Case Study of a Political Founder using Machiavellian Virtu to supplement Fortune • NM praises Cesare Borgia for his political acumen and achievements • Borgia was an illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI. With aid from his father, he began using an army to carve out a new unified state of Romagna, conquering Naples and trying to overtake Papal states ruled by other noble families • Machiavelli believes he would have succeeded except for problems: ◦ Pope Alexander died and was replaced by a rival power ◦ Borgia fell ill soon after How is Machiavelli's concept of "Virtu" exemplified in his favorite princes? • A "transvaluation of values" or reversal of meanings? and/or • A new conception of virtu derived from political realities, not moral ideal • "I would not know how to reproach him (Cesare Borgia), on the contrary, it seems to me he should be put forwards to be imitated . . .(32) " • The entire Borgia family, including Cesare's sister Lucretia, had a reputation for deception, violence, and power-seeking The Historical Example of Agathocles: the Limits of Villainy and the Utility of "Well-used Cruelty" • Machiavelli suggests that while Agathocles was politically successful, he didn't achieve glory and is not ranked among great men because he is associated with barbarous cruelty • But he also describes Agathocles as a case of study of some virtues and "well-used" cruelty (37-38) ◦ Swift, efficient, "economical", and moves towards creating order ◦ Badly-used cr
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