Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 1 (Life of Machiavelli, History of Florence)
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PREFACE. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 1 (Life of Machiavelli, History of Florence) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 1. History of Florence.
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It was my intention when I first resolved upon writing the things done by the Florentine people, within and without their city, to begin my narrative with the year 1434 of the Christian era, at which time the family of the Medici, by the merits of Cosimo and his father Giovanni, exercised more authority in Florence than any one else. For I thought to myself that Messer Lionardo d’ Arezzo and Messer Poggio, two excellent historians, had related all the events that had occurred previous to that time. But having afterwards diligently read their writings to see in what order and manner they had proceeded, so that by imitating them our history might be the more approved by the reader, I found that in their descriptions of the wars carried on by the Florentines with foreign princes and peoples they had been most diligent; but of their civil discords and internal dissensions, and of the effects resulting therefrom, they had in part been silent, and in part had described them very briefly, which to the reader could be neither useful nor agreeable. I believe they did so because these facts seemed to them so unimportant that they judged them unworthy of being recorded in history, or because they feared to offend the descendants of those who took part in them, and who by the narration of these facts might have deemed themselves calumniated. These two reasons (be it said with their leave) seemed to me wholly unworthy of such great men; because if anything delights or instructs in history, it is that which is described in detail; and if any lesson is useful to the citizens who govern republics, it is that which demonstrates the causes of the hatreds and dissensions in the republic, so that, having learned wisdom from the perils experienced by others, they may maintain themselves united. And if the divisions of any republic were ever noteworthy, those of Florence certainly are most so, because the greater part of the other republics of which we have any knowledge were content with one division, by which, according to chance, they either increased or ruined their city. But Florence, not content with one division, had many. In Rome, as everybody knows, after the expulsion of the kings, a division arose between the nobles and the people, and with that she maintained herself until her downfall. So did Athens, and so all the republics that flourished in those times. But in Florence, the first division was amongst the nobles, afterwards between the nobles and the citizens, and finally between the citizens and the populace; and many times it happened that one of the parties that remained in power again divided in two. These divisions caused so many deaths, so many exiles, so much destruction of so many families, as never occurred in any other city of which we have any record. And truly no other circumstance so much illustrates the power of our city as that which resulted from these divisions, which would have been enough to destroy any other great and powerful republic.
Ours, nevertheless, seems always to have increased in power; such was the virtue of her citizens and the strength of their genius and courage to make themselves and their country great, that the many who remained untouched by so many evils could by their virtues exalt their city more than the malignity of those events that diminished her greatness could have oppressed her. And doubtless if Florence had had so much good fortune that, after having freed herself from the Empire, she could have adopted a form of government that would have kept her united, I know not what republic, modern or ancient, would have been her superior, such abundance of power of arms and industry would she in that case have possessed. For it will be seen that after she had expelled the Ghibellines in such numbers that Tuscany and Lombardy were full of them, the Guelfs, together with those who remained in Florence, drew from the city, and of her own citizens, twelve hundred mounted men and twelve thousand infantry for the war against Arezzo, one year before the battle of Campaldino.
Afterwards, in the war against Filippo Visconti, Duke of Milan, having to make trial of her own resources, but not of her own troops, (for they had exhausted them at that time,) it will be seen that she spent during the five years that this war lasted the sum of three and a half millions of florins; and after that war was finished they were not satisfied to remain at peace, but took the field against Lucca. I cannot see therefore what reasons there can be why these divisions should not be worthy of being particularly described. And if those most noble writers were withheld from doing so by the fear of offending the memory of those of whom they would have to speak, they deceive themselves in that respect, and show that they little know the ambition of men, and the desire they have to perpetuate the names of their ancestors and their own. And they do not remember that many, not having had the opportunity of acquiring fame by any praiseworthy acts, have endeavored to acquire it by disgraceful ones. Nor have they considered how the actions that have inherent greatness, such as those of governments and states, however they may have originated, or whatever their object may have been, always bring more honor than discredit to the actors. But I, having considered these things, have been induced thereby to change my purpose, and have resolved to begin my history from the origin of our city. And as it is not my intention to occupy the same ground as others, I shall describe particularly only those things up to the year 1434 that occurred within the city, and of the foreign relations I shall say no more than what may be necessary for a proper understanding of the internal affairs. From and after the year 1434, however, I shall fully describe both the one and the other. Beyond that, for the better understanding of each period, before I treat of Florence I shall relate by what means Italy came to be under the rule of those potentates who governed her at that time.
All of which things, Italian as well as Florentine, will be completed in four Books; the first of which will briefly relate all that befell Italy after the decline of the Roman Empire up to 1434; the second will go with its narrative from the beginning of the city of Florence up to the war which she carried on against the Pope after the expulsion of the Duke of Athens. The third will finish in 1414 with the death of King Ladislaus of Naples; and with the fourth we shall reach the year 1434, from which time forward will be described particularly the events that occurred, within Florence and without, up to our times.