Renaissance and Reformation Francesco Guicciardini
by
Stella Fletcher
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0406

Introduction

Francesco Guicciardini (b. 1483–d. 1540) was a Florentine patrician and papal administrator who wrote numerous works on the history and government of his native city and recorded the era of the Italian Wars in his monumental Storia d’Italia. His writing was inspired not by abstract principles but by his own practical experience, whether as Florentine orator in Spain from 1512, or in the service of the Medici popes Leo X and Clement VII, as governor of Modena and Reggio from 1516, as commissary general of the papal army (1521), as president of the Romagna (1524), and as a lieutenant general (1526). The sack of Rome by imperial forces in 1527 destroyed the political system in which he was so prominent a player. He was too close to the Medici to be trusted by the leaders of Florence’s “Last Republic,” from which he was exiled in 1530. His career never fully recovered and he devoted his final years to writing the Storia d’Italia. None of his works were published during his lifetime, meaning that his literary reputation has been an entirely posthumous creation, but his place in the pantheon of Italian Renaissance literary figures is now so secure that his name is readily linked with that of his friend and neighbor in Florence, Niccolò Machiavelli. How and when Guicciardini’s works were published, together with their subsequent impact, is the unifying theme running through this bibliography, which aims to guide the student through the maze of texts and toward the most appropriate editions, commentaries, and analyses. Reference Works acts as a prelude to the main biographical section, Lives and Letters. Guicciardini’s oeuvre is introduced in Collected Works, and then explored in the order in which it became available to the reading public, beginning with the Storia d’Italia, the Ricordi, and works on Florentine History and Politics, all three sections being subdivided into “Texts” and “Analysis.” Minor Works and Correspondence reflect an apparently insatiable desire to publish every word Guicciardini wrote, down to his marginal notes. The resulting body of work is so extensive as to put it well beyond the needs of most students, for whose convenience volumes of Extracts have been identified. Thereafter, the reader is guided through those Journals and Collections of Papers (whether Single-authored or Multi-authored) of greatest relevance for this subject. Guicciardini’s Reputation and Impact is apparent throughout the bibliography, but is nevertheless highlighted in its concluding section.

Reference Works

Francesco Guicciardini’s works were not intended for publication, so his manuscripts remained in the private archive of the Guicciardini family. Ridolfi 1931 is a guide to the contents of that collection. Various members of the family are featured in Dizionario biografico degli italiani), which can be consulted for bibliographical material up to 2003.

  • Dizionario biografico degli italiani. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1960–.

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    Volume 61 (2003) of this essential reference work contains the biographies of more than a dozen members of the illustrious Guicciardini family in the Renaissance period. The entry on Francesco (pp. 90–103) is by Gino Benzoni, whose bibliography has been updated by Pierre Jodogne, accounting for the emphasis on works in French. There are also entries for Francesco’s father, Piero (pp. 150–154); grandfather Iacopo; great-grandfather Piero; great-great-grandfather Luigi; brothers Luigi (pp. 138–142) and Iacopo (pp. 118–121); and nephew Giovan Battista.

  • Ridolfi, Roberto. L’archivio della famiglia Guicciardini. Florence: L. S. Olschki, 1931.

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    In the late 1920s Paolo Guicciardini invited Ridolfi to investigate the family archive in the Palazzo Guicciardini. Ridolfi’s findings were soon published in successive issues of La Bibliofilía, but this volume represents the sum of his research, systematically listing the contents of each file or folder. Surrounded by those of other family members, the papers of Francesco Guicciardini are detailed on pp. 55–100 and include autograph copies of his lengthier texts and considerable quantities of his correspondence.

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