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Debts, Dowries, Donkeys

The Diary of Niccolò Machiavelli’s Father, Messer Bernardo, in Quattrocento Florence


Catherine Atkinson

The starting-point for this study of messer Bernardo, father of the statesman and humanist Niccolò Machiavelli, is the diary he wrote over a period of thirteen years (1474-1487). Drawing upon many further sources, including Bernardo’s will, tax records and genealogies, the first in-depth investigation of the libro di ricordi reconstructs a panorama of everyday life during a fascinating period of the history of Florence. Topics explored include Machiavelli family history, household economy, wedding rites and Bernardo’s interest in books and printing. This study is invaluable for an understanding of Niccolò’s intellectual and family background. Four case-studies examine how messer Bernardo dealt with disputes and reveal the medieval roots of behaviour and mentality in Quattrocento Florence.
Contents: Machiavelli family history (medieval) – Niccolò Machiavelli’s family background – Intellectual interests in Renaissance Florence – Study of Florentine mentalities – Messer Bernardo as a household economist – Writing ricordanze (diaries).