Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others, Vol. II

Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others, Vol. II

by Nicollò di Bernado dei Machiavelli, Allan Gilbert (Editor)



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Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others, Vol. II by Nicollò di Bernado dei Machiavelli

From praise for the 1965 edition:

Allan Gilbert is unquestionably the most accurate and reliable translator of Machiavelli into English; the publication of this edition is an altogether happy occasion. Students of the history of political thought owe a particular debt of gratitude to Allan Gilbert.”—Dante Germino, The Journal of Politics

“A most remarkable achievement.”—Felix Gilbert, Renaissance Quarterly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822309215
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Publication date: 07/27/1989
Pages: 499
Product dimensions: 6.44(w) x 9.62(h) x 1.46(d)

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Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others

Volume Two

By Allan H. Gilbert

Duke University Press

Copyright © 1989 Allan H. Gilbert
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8223-8158-7



[Written during a visit to Lucca in 1520.

The narrative is founded on fact but is essentially a work of fiction; no detail is to be taken as true without verification. Important is the interest in military affairs, suggesting passages in The Art Of War, published in 1521. Other passages are akin to parts of The Prince, for Castruccio knew how to gain and hold power. Undisturbed in his admiration by Castruccio's hostility to Florence, Machiavelli nevertheless does not present him as a man who might early have united Italy. In his last speech, Castruccio reviews the difficulties of attempting to unite even part of Tuscany under one government; had he heen content with Lucca and Pisa only, his dominions would have been more secure. The work has as a unifying idea the power of Fortune. Castruccio was aided by her; yet on the other hand even Virtue could not free him from her power; she gave him neither the judgment to recognize the best course nor the long life needed to carry out his ambitious though mistaken plans.]

[The Power of Fortune]

Those who consider it, my dearest Zanobi and Luigi, think it wonderful that all, or the larger part, of those who in this world have done very great things, and who have been excellent among the men of their era, have in their birth and origin been humble and obscure, or at least have been beyond all measure afflicted by Fortune. Because all of them either have been exposed to wild beasts or have had fathers so humble that, being ashamed of them, they have made themselves out sons of Jove or of some other god. Who these are, since many of them are known to everybody, would be boring to repeat and little acceptable to readers; hence, as superfluous, I omit it. I well believe that this comes about because Fortune, wishing to show the world that she—and not Prudence—makes men great, first shows her forces at a time when Prudence can have no share in the matter, but rather everything must be recognized as coming from herself.

[Castruccio an example]

So then, Castruccio Castracani of Lucca was one of those who, according to the times in which he lived and the city where he was born, did very great things—and like the others, did not have a more fortunate or better-known beginning—as will be plain in my narration of the course of his life. I have chosen to bring him back to the recollection of men, since I have found in his life many things, both as to ability and as to Fortune, that are very striking. And I have chosen to address it to you, as to those who, more than other men I know, delight in noble acts.

[The Castracani family]

I say, then, that the Castracani family is counted among the noble families of the city of Lucca, although in these times, according to the way of all mundane things, it has disappeared. Into this family long ago was born a son named Antonio, who, becoming a priest, was Canon of St. Michael of Lucca, and as a mark of respect was called Messer Antonio. He had no near relatives except one sister, whom he early married to Buonaccorso Cennami, but after Buonaccorso was dead and she was left a widow, she came to live with her brother, intending not to marry again.

[The finding of the infant Castruccio]

Messer Antonio had behind his house a vineyard, into which, because it was bordered by many gardens, it was possible to enter from many directions and without much trouble. It happened one morning soon after sunrise when Madonna Dianora (for that was the name of Messer Antonio's sister) was walking about in the vineyard and, according to the custom of women, gathering certain herbs with which to make seasonings, she heard a rustling under a vine among the foliage, and turning her eyes toward it, heard a sound like weeping. So, moving toward it, she saw the hands and face, surrounded by the leaves, of a baby boy who seemed to ask for help. Partly astonished, partly frightened, full of compassion and amazement, she took him up and, carrying him to the house and washing him and wrapping him up in white cloths according to custom, presented him to Messer Antonio on his return home. He, hearing what had happened and seeing the little boy, was not less filled with wonder and pity than was the woman, and after considering between themselves what plan they ought to adopt, they determined to bring him up, since Antonio was a priest and his sister had no children. Taking a nurse into the house, then, they took care of him with the same love as though he were their own son. And having had him baptized, in memory of their father they gave him the name of Castruccio.

[Castruccio a natural soldier]

In Castruccio charm increased with the years, and in everything he showed ability and prudence, and quickly, according to his age, he learned the things to which he was directed by Messer Antonio, who, intending to make him a priest and in time to turn over to him his canonry and other benefices, according to that purpose taught him. But he had found a subject wholly alien to the priestly character, for as soon as Castruccio reached the age of fourteen and began to get a little courage in respect to Messer Antonio and not to fear Madonna Dianora at all, laying churchly books aside, he began to busy himself with weapons; he took delight in nothing else than in handling them or, with his companions, in running, jumping, wrestling and similar sports, in which he showed the utmost strength and far surpassed all others of his age. If he did read at any time, no other reading pleased him than that which dealt with war or with things done by the greatest men. On account of this, Messer Antonio suffered immeasurable unhappiness and distress.

[Francesco Guinigi adopts Castruccio]

There was in the city of Lucca a gentleman of the Guinigi family named Messer Francesco, who in riches and affability and vigor far exceeded all the other Lucchese. His business was war, and under the Visconti of Milan he had long been campaigning; and since he was a Ghibelline, he was esteemed above all the others who belonged to that party in Lucca. Being in Lucca and talking every evening and morning with the other citizens under the Loggia of the Podesta, at the head of the Public Square of St. Michael, the chief square in Lucca, this man many times saw Castruccio with the other boys of the neighborhood in those exercises which, as I say above, he practiced. And since it seemed to him that, in addition to outdoing them, he had over them a kingly authority, and that they in a certain way loved him and respected him, he became very eager to know about his situation. Being informed about it by the bystanders, Messer Francesco burned with greater desire to have him in his service, and one day calling the boy, he asked him where he would prefer to live, in the house of a gentleman who would teach him to ride and to handle arms, or in the house of a priest where he would never hear anything other than holy offices and masses. At once Messer Francesco realized how happy Castruccio was when he heard mention of horses and arms. At any rate, after a little bashful hesitation, being encouraged by Messer Francesco to speak, he replied that if it pleased his sire, he could have no greater pleasure than to leave the studies of a priest and take up those of a soldier. To Messer Francesco this reply was very pleasing, and in just a few days he so managed that Messer Antonio gave the boy over to him; to which he was driven more by Castruccio's nature than by anything else, judging that he could not long retain him as he had been.

[Castruccio's accomplishments]

So Castruccio was transferred from the house of Messer Antonio Castracani the canon into the house of Messer Francesco Guinigi the general; it is an extraordinary thing to contemplate in what a very short time after that change he fully possessed all those capabilities and habits that are expected of a true gentleman. First of all, he made himself an excellent rider, managing even the most fiery horse with the greatest skill; and in jousts and tournaments, though he was a mere boy, he was more notable than anybody else, so that in every feat, whether of strength or skill, no man could be found who surpassed him. To this should be added his manners, in which was seen a modesty beyond belief, because he was never seen to do a deed or heard to speak a word that was displeasing. And he was respectful to his elders, modest with his equals, and gracious with his inferiors; these things made him loved not merely by all the Guinigi family but by all the city of Lucca.

[Castruccio's first campaign]

It happened in those days, Castruccio being then eighteen years old, that Guelfs drove the Ghibellines out of Pavia; to the aid of the latter the Visconti of Milan sent Messer Francesco Guinigi, with whom went Castruccio, as the one who had the responsibility for his whole company. In this expedition, Castruccio showed so many signs of his prudence and courage that no one in that campaign gained such favor with everybody as he carried off. And not merely in Pavia but in all Lombardy his name became great and honored.

[He is envied in Lucca]

Returning then to Lucca, much more esteemed than on his departure, Castruccio did not fail to make friends as much as he could, practicing all the methods necessary for gaining men's friendship. Messer Francesco Guinigi, dying and leaving a son thirteen years old, named Pagolo, left Castruccio as guardian and administrator of his goods, for before his death he sent for him and begged him to consent to bring up his son with the same devotion as Castruccio himself had been brought up, and asked that those indications of gratitude which he had been unable to show to the father he would show to the son. So Messer Francesco being dead, Castruccio, as director and guardian of Pagolo, increased so much in reputation and power that the good will he was accustomed to have in Lucca changed in part into envy; hence many slandered him as a man to be feared and of a tyrannical spirit. Among these the chief was Messer Giorgio degli Opizi, head of the Guelf party. Since this man hoped that on Messer Francesco's death he would be left as it were prince of Lucca, he feared that Castruccio, who was in that position through the favor that his qualities gave him, had taken away his own opportunity; therefore he kept spreading gossip that would put Castruccio out of favor. The latter first felt anger at this, to which fear was soon added, because he believed that Messer Giorgio would never rest until he had brought him into disfavor with the vicar of King Robert of Naples, who would drive him from Lucca.

[Uguccione della Faggiuola captures Lucca]

Pisa at that time was ruled by Uguccione della Faggiuola of Arezzo, who first had been chosen by the Pisans as their general, and then had made himself their ruler. With Uguccione there were some Lucchese exiles of the Ghibelline party, with whom Castruccio was scheming about bringing them back with Uguccione's help; and he also made known his plan to his friends inside the city, who could not endure the power of the Opizi. So having made arrangements for what they were going to do, Castruccio cautiously fortified the Onesti tower and filled it with munitions and with a store of food, so that if he had to, he could defend himself in it for some days. When the night came on which he had agreed with Uguccione, he gave the signal to that leader, who had arrived with a large force on the plain between the mountains and Lucca; on seeing the signal, Uguccione came to Saint Peter's Gate and set fire to the barbican. Castruccio within the wall raised the alarm, calling the people to arms, and mastered the gate on the inside, so that Uguccione and his men, coming in, occupied the city and killed Messer Giorgio with all the members of his family and with many of his friends and supporters, and drove out the chief magistrate; they reorganized the city government as Uguccione desired, with very great damage to the place, because it is reported that more than a hundred families were then driven out of Lucca. Of those who fled, one group went to Florence, another to Pistoia; these cities were ruled by the Guelf party and therefore were hostile to Uguccione and to the Lucchese.

[Florence makes war on Uguccione]

Since the Florentines and the other Guelfs believed that the Ghibelline party in Tuscany had gained too much power, they agreed to restore the exiled Lucchese. And having raised a great army, they came into Val di Nievole and took Montecatini; next they laid siege to Montecarlo, in order to have free passage to Lucca. Meanwhile Uguccione, having assembled many Pisans and Lucchese, and in addition many German cavalry which he had brought from Lombardy, advanced toward the Florentine army; the latter, hearing that the enemy were coming, had left Montecarlo and taken position between Montecatini and Pescia. Uguccione placed himself near Montecarlo about two miles distant from the enemy. For a few days, there were some slight skirmishes between the cavalry of the two armies, because, Uguccione having fallen sick, the Pisans and the Lucchese avoided fighting a battle with the enemy.

[In Uguccione's absence, Castruccio takes command]

But since Uguccione's illness grew worse, he withdrew to Montecarlo in order to be cared for and left to Castruccio the care of the army. This caused the overthrow of the Guelfs, because they took courage, since they supposed the hostile army left without a leader. Castruccio realized their belief and for some days attempted to strengthen them in it, making a show of being afraid and not letting anybody leave the fortifications of the camp. On the other hand, the Guelfs, the longer they saw his fear, the more they kept growing arrogant; so every day, drawn up for battle, they presented themselves before Castruccio's army. He, thinking he had given them enough confidence and having learned their order, determined to fight a battle with them. First with words he gave firmness to the spirit of his soldiers and put before them victory as certain, if they were willing to obey his orders.

[Castruccio's tactics]

Castruccio had seen that the enemy put all their strongest men in the center of their array and the weaker soldiers on their wings. Therefore he did the opposite, putting on the wings of his army his bravest men and in the center those of less value. Going out of his camp in this order, as soon as he came within sight of the hostile army, which arrogantly, according to its custom, was coming to offer him battle, he ordered the squadrons in the center to go slowly and those on the wings to move rapidly. Hence, when they began close combat with their enemies, the wings alone of both armies were fighting, and the squadrons in the center were standing still, because the soldiers at Castruccio's center had kept so far back that those at the enemy's center did not meet them, and so it came about that the strongest of Castruccio's soldiers were fighting with the weakest of the enemy, and their strongest were standing still, without being able to injure those they had opposite them or to give any aid to their companions. Hence, without much difficulty, both wings of the enemy were put to flight, and those in the center—denuded of their flanking forces, without having had any chance to show their valor—fled. The defeat and the slaughter were great; in that battle more than ten thousand men were killed, with many leaders and great knights of the Guelf party from all Tuscany, and in addition many princes who had come to their aid, such as Piero, King Robert's brother, Carlo his nephew, and Filippo lord of Taranto. Yet on Castruccio's side they did not amount to three hundred, among whom died Francesco, Uguccione's son, a young man and ardent who was killed in the first charge.


Excerpted from Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others by Allan H. Gilbert. Copyright © 1989 Allan H. Gilbert. Excerpted by permission of Duke University Press.
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Table of Contents


Texts Used in Translating,
Volume Two,
The Life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca, Written By NiccolÒ Machiavelli and Sent to Zanobi Buondelmonti and Luigi Alamanni, His Very Dear Friends,
The Art of War,
List of Books,
The Art of War,
Preface By NiccolÒ Machiavelli, Florentine Secretary and Citizen, For The Book of The Art of War, to Lorenzo Dl Filippo Strozzi, Florentine Patrician,
The Account of a Visit Made To Fortify Florence: a Letter To The Ambassador of The Republic in Rome,
Tercets on Ambition,
Tercets on Ingratitude or Envy,
Tercets on Fortune,
The [Golden] Ass,
Machiavelli's Comedies: Mandragola and Clizia,
Articles For a Pleasure Company,
Belfagor: The Devil Who Married,
Carnival Songs,
Familiar Letters,
A Sonnet to Messer Bernardo His Father on The Farm at San Casciano,
Two Sonnets to Giuliano, Son of Lorenzo De'Medici,
A Third Sonnet to Giuliano, Son of Lorenzo De'Medici,

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