Machiavelli, Political Thomism, and the Savonarolan Movement: Custom, People, and Republic in Florence (1494-1513)
Giorgio Bottini studied Philosophy at the University of Pisa, where he received his Master’s degree in 2012, having defended a thesis on Machiavelli and Florentine medieval Republicanism. From 2013 to 2017, he was a PhD student in a joint international program between the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon and the University of Naples Federico II, where he defended his dissertation “Customs in Machiavelli” in 2017. From 2016 to 2018, he taught Italian medieval and early modern literature at the ENS of Lyon and from 2018 to 2020, legal and political philosophy at the Sorbonne University Paris II Panthéon-Assas. He is an associated member of the Villey Institute.
This project investigates the relationship between the major texts of medieval Thomist republicanism (Peter of Auvergne and Bartholomew of Lucca) and Machiavelli’s notion of republic. It seeks to demonstrate that this reception of scholastic republicanism was marked by Savonarola’s preachings (1494-1498) and mediated by means of a long association with former members of the Savonarolan party (1498-1512) during Soderini’s Republic. In this period, Machiavelli rallied several of Savonarola’s followers to support the cause of the new state on the basis of a common political agenda: the opposition to the aristocratic model, the foundation of a citizen militia, and praise of the popular custom as a condition of the republic’s safety and prosperity. Therefore, this project proposes a method of analysis that is both ‘continuist’ and ‘contextualist’. It considers Machiavelli’s work as an original reinterpretation of medieval republican Aristotelianism, and grants major hermeneutic force to the political and biographical contexts in which this reading takes place. To that end, it will focus on the analysis of manuscripts (the record of the Boscoli-Capponi trial of 1513 and the memoirs of the Valori family) and incunabula (Bartholomew of Lucca’s De regno and Peter of Auvergne’s Commentary on Aristotle’s Politics), housed in Florence’s archives and libraries, with the aim of changing the way in which Machiavelli’s relationship with both the Middle Ages and Savonarola is conceived.