When I think of the Renaissance, the first thing that comes to my mind is Italy. We have already been studying many of the Italian artists from this period, Bottocelli, DaVinciandRaphael, and we will be looking at some more of them. Italy at this time was a group of city-states individually ruled by either dukes or families who had become rich from trade and commerce in the late Middle Ages. The most powerful family of the time was theMedici family of Florence. As well as being clever statesmen and bankers, they were patrons of the arts -writing, art, philosophy and science. It is for this reason that the growth of art during the Renaissance began in Italy. The Medici's also helped to make the form of Italian spoken in Florence to be the standard for all of Italy, uniting this country. The Sforzas family was another powerful family that ruled Milan. People traveled to Italy to learn these new ideas that were being fostered there and took them back to other parts of Europe.
Niccolo Machiavelli, (1469-1527) who lived in Florence, wrote a book called The Prince. It is dedicated to Lorenzo Di Piero De Medici. Machiavelli outlines how a ruler should behave in his or her role over their people. He argues that the ruler needs to act with the end goal in view while using any means necessary to achieve that goal. Some of the issues he brought up that there are, according to him, only two types of government: republics and princedoms, how a prince should behave if he takes over a republic, that a prince can be either miserly or economically liberal, that a prince should keep his promises only when it is convenient, and that only a very few people should be allowed to speak freely with criticism of the prince or with advice to the prince. These are all subjects for debate, of course. We learned the meaning of the adjective Machiavellian.