Week 7, 8 MachiavelliWeek 7, 8 Lecture NoteThe 15thand 16thCentury Italy and MachiavelliItalian Reneissance- We are skipping the Hellenistic Period and the Middle Ages because time is limited.- We move on to the 15thcentury Italy, the era of Italian renaissance. - Renaissance means rebirth. - By the 14thand the 15thcentury, the authority of the church was facing growing challenges, and larger cities start to grow. - Italian cities such as Venice emerged as a center of trade, and the merchant became rich. The rich merchant patronized artists, philosophers, humanists. - And with the decline of the church, the artists and intellectuals seek for the rebirth of their culture by going back to the classical ages from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, where man, not the God, is at the center of study. - Machiavelli’s interests in the classics is therefore not surprising. But the lessons of Machiavelli were far from the common wisdom of his time. Political Background- All political theory is bound up and influenced by the form of political organization that is dominant.- For the Greeks, it was polis, and for the Romans, it was republic.- Some scholars consider Machiavelli as one of the first political theorists to deal with the modern state. - It is a bit exaggerated claim, but Machiavelli’s political theories reflect the changes of dominant political community.1
Week 7, 8 Machiavelli- According to Max Weber, modern state is characterized by the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a territory.- In Middle Ages, the church had authority over individual states. But by the 16thcentury, a number of governments or states that claim for the highest authority within their territories emerged. France, Spain, and England, for instance. - But Italy in Machiavelli’s time was divided into a number of small city-states: Venice, Milan, Florence, Naples, the Papal States. - Machiavelli wanted to unify Italian cities so that Italy can also emerge as a powerful country.- We see in Machiavelli’s writing the idea of clearly defined territorial entities rationally pursuing their own interests without regards for other considerations—the church for instance.- In this sense, Machiavelli’s political thoughts show some incipient ideas of the modern state. - We will revisit the question about whether Machiavelli is the first modern thinker at the end of lecture.Bio- Machiavelli is a contemporary of Martin Luther (Who led the protestant reformation). But Machiavelli’s lessons broke away from medieval political thoughts centered on the Christianity.- Machiavelli was born in Florence in 1469 to a family of some distinction, but littlewealth.- Florence was under the control of the Medici – wealthy banking family until 1494- France invaded Italy in 1494, and in the ensuing chaos, the Medici were expelled,and the Florentines erected a republic.