The intimate world of Niccolò Machiavelli comes to life in this first complete collection in English of the letters he wrote and received. Spanning his adult life from 1497 until his death in 1527, these letters to and from his friends and compatriots—some of whom, such as Francesco Guicciardini and Francesco Vettori, were among the most influential thinkers of the day—reveal his personality and present a panorama of life, people, and critical events in Renaissance Italy.
The correspondence offers valuable insight into the origins of Machiavelli's ideas on history, politics, literature, and society and the social context from which his achievements arose. Often his correspondence served as a testing ground for ideas he developed more fully in his writing. While the letters taken together show Machiavelli both living within and transcending his own time, on a more intimate level they reveal the human element that helped to shaped his thought. Machiavelli emerges as an individual with multifaceted capabilities and a multitude of roles, among them devoted humanist, political analyst, shrewd rhetorician, and practical joker.
Based on Franco Gaets's authoritative critical Italian edition of Machiavelli's correspondence, the collection includes 257 letters written to Machiavelli and 84 letters written by him. Arranged chronologically, correspondence to and by Machiavelli is interwoven so that readers may easily follow discussions between him and his associates. The translators' introduction establishes the political and cultural context of the correspondence, and headnotes introduce each section of letters. Explanatory and historical annotations illuminate people, places, and events mentioned within the letters.
Machiavelli's correspondence opens a window onto an important era in Western intellectual history, disclosing the language, thoughts, and preoccupations of some of the key people who shaped the Italian Renaissance. As the definitive edition, Machiavelli and His Friends will interest students of Machiavelli, specialists in political science and Renaissance literature and history, and general readers desiring to know more intimately one of the most fascinating personalities of the Renaissance.