Notes: Episode 47, The Italian Renaissance (Part 1)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


15:30 – I’m using the word “princes” in its generic form here – most of the city states had their own customized words for their rulers, unique to that city. The politics of 14th century Italy are fairly complicated, and I’m breezing by them in an effort to get to more salient and less tiresome aspects of the Renaissance. Most functioned as an oligarchical republic, though.

16:50 – That Templars episode can be found here, if you’re looking for it.

23:01 – Another episode callback! This one to last month’s communism topic, which can be found here.

34:28 – And there’s the hat-trick. The fall of Constantinople episode is here.

34:54 – Four, if you’re keeping track. Vlad the Impaler can be found here.

1:01:52 – “From this arises the following question: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is that one would like to be be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both… for fear is quite compatible with an absence of hatred… since some men love as they please but fear when the prince pleases, a wise prince should rely on what he controls*, not on what he cannot control. He must only endeavour, as I said, to escape being hated.” This is a heavily edited section from chapter 17 of The Prince with my emphasis added. The entire work is a study in realpolitik, not despotism; Machiavelli freely notes that devotion and loyalty through love is better, but also believes that love is fickle and fear of punishment is consistent. As long as punishments for disloyalty are fairly, consistently, and proportionately carried out, people will respect them, and will not resent you for meeting transgression with a sensible response. Resentment and unrest are the result of indiscriminate punishment, and this senselessness is the real threat to one’s own power. People’s appreciation, however, cannot be guaranteed. It should be cultivated, but not depended on. It’s not idealistic, but hardly seems cruel or unreasonable when read as a whole and not a single phrase.

1:06:59 – The lute is actually much older than the classical Greek period; it goes back to Mesopotamia, features in Egyptian artwork, and basically shows up in the hands of every major ancient player at some point.

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