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The early sixteenth century marked a watershed period for political writings on the art of governing. In 1516, Erasmus placed into the hands of a printer the manuscript of The Education of a Christian Prince. Also printed in 1516 was Thomas More’s Utopia, which he also wrote while was a houseguest on one of his frequent visits to England. And far to the south in a suburb of Florence a man unknown to either Erasmus or More, Niccolo Machiavelli, out of work and out of favor with the newly powerful Medicis, was at work on The Discourses. He had completed his more famous work, The Prince, three years previously in hopes that it would win him prestige and power with the Florentine elite. The book was not printed
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My goal in this paper is to ilustrate a relatively simple point in a hopefully entertaining manner. I intend to show how, in the sixteenth century, image of the Other could have been used in order to gain very concrete political profit. Of course, I am far from denying that images of the Other frequently were more or less “spontaneously” created cultural facts without any obvious instrumental value. Yet there were also instances in which they were consciously modified and even fully fabricated in order to serve the interests of those in power.
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Abstract: This article examines the diplomatic challenges faced by the king of Naples, Ferrante d’Aragona (1458-1494) and the activity of his ambassadors in meeting those challenges. It identifies Rome, Florence and Milan as the three most important nodes of Ferrante’s diplomacy and looks in detail at the activity of the ambassadors who served in these postings. In the area of diplomatic praxis, Ferrante enthusiastically embraced changes pioneered by Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan (1450-1466), including the use of permanent resident ambassadors and diplomatic chanceries. This was very much in keeping with Ferrante’s pragmatic approach to statecraft and counters the widely held view of Naples as a state out of step with the innovations of the Renaissance period.
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Not required reading but worth dipping into if you want to expand your Renaissance knowledge with some current thinking
The book takes the works that Michelangelo produced for the Florentine Republic between 1501 and 1506 as a case study in an artist’s engagement with art’s political function. That function had become a topic of debate by the late fifteenth century, witnessed by a decline of artistic commissions and the burning of existing works of art. That debate was part of an organized campaign to reverse Florentine culture in the eighteen years after the expulsion of the Medici in 1494 – also the years in which older scholarship locates the origins of High Renaissance art.