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Title: Language, politics and patriotism : Niccolò Machiavelli's 'Secular Patria' and the creation of an Italian national identity
Author: Landon, William J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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This is a study about Florence, Italy and the possibility for peninsular unification as set out in the pages of Niccoló Machiavelli’s Il Principe and the Discorsi. Many scholars have viewed these works as irreconcilable; the first focusing on principalities and the second upon republican government. Indeed, the political vocabulary which makes up these works is different. Il Principe concentrates on the actions of the prince and is not a study of politics in general where the Discorsi certainly are. This may be due to considerations of genre; the former being one in a long line of advice books for princes and the latter being a good example of the Florentine civic humanist tradition. However, scholars have yet to examine Machiavelli’s use of the term ‘patria’ in both works. This Dissertation argues that ‘patria’ provides a definite link between Machiavelli’s two famous treatises, bridging the gap that some believe separates them. Such an interpretation of ‘patria’ has interesting implications. For example, Machiavelli’s concept of the ‘secular patria’ may have provided, at least in theory, the means by which Italy could be united. For, when he wrote Il Principe and particularly its rousing conclusion, Florence was in a special place of prominence. It not only had a Medici prince ruling it, but a Medici Pope in Rome. This Florentine/Roman link through the Medici family represented an occasione which Machiavelli desperately wanted Lorenzo de’ Medici and Pope Leo X to seize. If they would act decisively, following the example of Cesare Borgia and Pope Alexander VI, it seems that Machiavelli believed they could unite Italy under a secular republican government as described in the Discorsi. The different aspects of this plan include a national ‘citizen army’, an ‘end to exile’ and possibly linguistic unification. When Machiavelli’s use of the term ‘patria’ is examined within the confines of Il Principe and the Discorsi, similarities appear between those and a work which the vast majority of scholars - both Italian and Anglophone - attribute to him - the Discorso o dialago intorno alla nostra lingua. An examination of that work cannot prove Machiavelli’s authorship or the date in which it was written, but it is possible to demonstrate that Machiavelli could have authored the treatise around the same time he authored the final Chapter to Il Principe.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available