Guicciardini’s Ricordi: The Counsels and Reflections of Francesco Guicciardini

Francesco Guicciardini was born into a long-established patrician family in Florence in 1483. He trained and then practised successfully as a lawyer, but in January 1512 was sent by the signoria, despite his youth, as ambassador to Spain.1 His mission was conducted against a background of acute tension and at a time when the goodwill of Ferdinand the Catholic — that master of deceit’ 2 — was of the first importance to the republic. (Ferdinand’s soldiers, only recently allied to those of Pope Julius II against Florence’s ally, France, were entering the nearby Romagna.) Guicciardini remained in Spain until 1514. In his absence, and despite his diplomacy, the Florentine republic was overthrown by Spanish arms, the Medici restored, and his native city subjected to the influence of Rome. This meant at least that positions in the Papal administration were open to the city’s citizens, and in 1516 Leo X appointed Guicciardini governor of Modena and in the following year added Reggio to his responsibilities. This was the start of a twenty-year-long career during which he served three popes and rose ever higher in their esteem, though this did not always endear him to his fellow Florentines. He died in 1540, having served, inter glia, as lieutenant-general of the papal army and governor of Bologna, the most important of all the Papal lord-lieutenancies.
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Geoff Berridge

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