A study in ambivalence : the influence of Machiavelli on poetry and drama of the French Renaissance (1553-1610)
Much recent writing on the 'fortuna' of Machiavelli deals with predictable authors (mainly of historical treatises and popular political pamphlets) who have long been associated with Machiavelli. This thesis aims to set the discussion in a wider context by taking into account those poets and dramatists who can be shown to have had first hand knowledge of Machiavelli. Examination of classical and Biblical sources has helped to determine the precise influence of the Italian author. This method has revealed that sixteenth century writers, when unimpeded by political loyalties, were able to form an impartial and reasoned opinion of his works, and has extended considerably documentation of the range of passages in Machiavelli known to the sixteenth century. As well as examining their poetry, I have discussed, where applicable these authors' prose treatises which confirm their preoccupation with Machiavelli and which often provide a key to the correct interpretation of their poetry and drama. Study of the ambivalent attitude of many of these writers towards Machiavelli helps to deepen our appreciation of the complexity and subtlety of the fiction of the period. With the exception of Ronsard, there is a short biography of each of the authors considered---Pierre Matthieu, Estienne Jodelle, Jean de La Jessee, Louis Des Masures, Agrippa D'Aubigne, Alexandre de Pont-Aymery, Robert Garnier and the La Taille brothers. In some cases, this is the first time such biographies have been established and they have called, attention to lesser known works which are nevertheless of historical value. This study concludes that Machiavelli's ideas held an enduring interest and fascination for the major French poets and dramatists of the Renaissance.