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Machiavelli

Italian historian born in Florence (1469) and died in Florence (1527), aged 58

1456

August 24

on Sunday

A Storm over Tuscany

On 24 August, an hour before daybreak, a whirlwind of dense black vapour spreading for about two miles in all directions issued from the upper sea near Ancona, and traversing Italy passed into the lower sea near Pisa. This vapour driven by resistless forces, whether natural or supernatural I know not, and rent and driven in struggles with itself, split off into clouds which, now rising to heaven now descending to earth, dashed one against another, or whirling round with inconceivable velocity before them a wind of measureless violence, and sent forth as they strove together frequent lightnings and dazzling flames. From these clouds thus broken and embroiled, from this furious wind, and these quick-succeeding sheets of flame, came a sound louder than the roar of thunder or earthquake, and so terrible that whosoever heard it thought the end of the world had come, and that land and sea, and all that was left of earth and sky, were returning mingled together to ancient Chaos. Wherever this dreadful whirlwind passed it wrought the most astonishing and unheard-of effects, but more notably than elsewhere near the walled village of San Casciano, situated about eight miles from Florence, on the hill separating the Val di Pesa from the Val di Grieve. Between this town and the village of Sant'Andrea, standing on the same hill, the hurricane swept, not touching Sant'Andrea, and merely grazing the outskirts of San Casciano so as to strike some of the battlements of the walls, and the chimneys of a few houses. But outside, in the space between the two places named, many buildings were levelled with the ground; the roofs of the churches of San Martino at Bagnuolo, and of Santa Maria della Pace, were borne bodily to a distance of more than a mile; and a carrier and his mules were found dead, some way from the road, in the neighbouring valley. The strongest oaks and the sturdier trees which would not stoop before the fury of the blast, were not merely uprooted but carried far away from the places where they grew. When the tempest had passed and morning broke, men remained stunned and stupfied. They saw their fields devastated and destroyed, their houses and churches laid in ruins, and heard the lamentations of those who looked on shattered homesteads under which their kinsmen or their cattle lay dead. Which sights and sounds filled all who say or heard of them with the profoundest pity and fear. But doubtless it was God's will rather to threaten than to chastise Tuscany; for had a hurricane like this, instead of coming among oaks, and alders, and thinly scattered dwellings, burst upon the close-packed houses and crowded population of a great city, it would assuredly have wrought the most terrible ruin and destruction that the mind of man can conceive.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Val di Pesa was at 5:58 AM and sunset was at 6:04 PM.
Sunrise in Val di Greve was at 5:58 AM and sunset was at 6:04 PM.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 5:58 AM and sunset was at 6:04 PM.
Sunrise in Ancona was at 5:58 AM and sunset was at 6:04 PM.
Sunrise in San Casciano was at 5:58 AM and sunset was at 6:04 PM.

1502

June 26

on Thursday

45 years, 10 months, 16 days later

Extract from a dispatch of Machiavelli to the Signoria of Florence concerning Cesare Borgia:

This Duke is so enterprising that nothing is too great to be discounted by him. For the sake of glory and the enlarging of his dominions, he deprives himself of rest, yielding to no fatigue, no danger. He arrives in one place before anyone knows he has left the other, he gains the good will of his soldiers, he attracts to him the best men in Italy, and he has constant good luck. For all these reasons he is victorious and formidable.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.

Agents

Cesare Borgia (1475-1507), aged 27: condottiero; cardinal; duke
Machiavelli (1469-1527), aged 33: historian

Source: Primary

Machiavelli; "Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind"; E-book, p. 595.

1502

December 26

on Friday

6 months, 3 days later

Extract from a dispatch of Machiavelli to the Signoria of Florence while in the service of Cesare Borgia:

This morning Messer Rimino was found lying in the piazza cut into two pieces; he still lies there, so that everyone has had an opportunity to see him ... The reason for his death is not yet clear, except that such was the pleasure of the Prince, who shows is that he can make and unmake men according to their deserts.

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The moon was waning crescent that night.

1502

December 26

on Friday

Cesare Borgia kills Ramiro D'Orco; this incident is referenced in Machiavelli's The Prince.

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The moon was waning crescent that night.

Agents

Machiavelli (1469-1527), aged 33: historian
Cesare Borgia (1475-1507), aged 27: condottiero; cardinal; duke

Source: Primary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1502

1504

1 year, 6 days later

In Florence, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli become involved in a scheme to divert the Arno river, cutting the water supply to Pisa to force its surrender: Colombino, the project foreman, fails to follow da Vinci’s design, and the project is a major failure.

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Source: Primary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1504

1504

May 4

on Wednesday

4 months, 4 days later

The mural for the Council Hall of Florence was commissioned from Leonardo with a contract of 4 May 1504, signed by Machiavelli as secretary of the Republic; but Leonardo had already begun working on the cartoon in the Sala del Papa in S. Maria Novella, which had been assigned to him on 24 October of the preceding year.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning gibbous that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.

1504

Winter

Leonardo's work on the cartoon of the Battle of Anghiari was suddenly interrupted in the last months of 1504, and he went to Piombino on a somewhat official mission as a military architect. (During his absence Michelangelo was to receive the commission for the Battle of Cascina.) His mission was preceded by a diplomatic action conducted by Machiavelli himself. It can be inferred, therefore, that it was Machiavelli who suggested Leonardo's name for the programme of fortification projects suggested by Jacopo IV Appiano, Lord of Piombino, an ally of the Florentines at the time of the Pisian war, 1503-4, when Leonardo had already been consulted on the project of diverting the Arno River for strategic reasons, and when Antonio da Sangallo the Elder was the chief military architect of the Florentine Republic. Leonardo's activity at Piombino, revealed by newly discovered evidence, included the study of the city walls, the citadel and the main gate.

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