Home  »  library  »  prose  »  Exhortation to Lorenzo de’ Medici to Deliver Italy from Foreign Domination

C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Exhortation to Lorenzo de’ Medici to Deliver Italy from Foreign Domination

By Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527)

From closing chapter of ‘The Prince

IF it was needful that Israel should be in bondage to Egypt, to display the quality of Moses; that the Persians should be overwhelmed by the Medes, to bring out the greatness and the valor of Cyrus; that the Athenians should be dispersed, to make plain the superiority of Theseus,—so at present, to illuminate the grandeur of one Italian spirit, it was doubtless needful that Italy should be sunk to her present state,—a worse slavery than that of the Jews, more thoroughly trampled down than the Persians, more scattered than the Athenians; without a head, without public order, conquered and stripped, lacerated, overrun by her foes, subjected to every form of spoliation.

And though from time to time there has emanated from some one a ray of hope that he was the one ordained by God to redeem Italy, yet we have seen how he was so brought to a standstill at the very height of his success that poor Italy still remained lifeless, so to speak, and waiting to see who might be sent to bind up her wounds, to end her despoilment,—the devastation of Lombardy, the plunder and ruinous taxation of the kingdom of Naples and of Tuscany,—and to heal the sores that have festered so long. You see how she prays to God that he may send her a champion to defend her from this cruelty, barbarity, and insolence. You see her eager to follow any standard, if only there is some one to uprear it. But there is no one at this time to whom she could look more hopefully than to your illustrious house, O magnificent Lorenzo! which, with its excellence and prudence, favored by God and the Church,—of which it is now the head,—could effectively begin her deliverance….

You must not allow this opportunity to pass. Let Italy, after waiting so long, see her deliverer appear at last. And I cannot put in words with what affection he would be received in all the States which have suffered so long from this inundation of foreign enemies! with what thirst for vengeance, with what unwavering loyalty, with what devotion, and with what tears! What door would be closed to him? Who would refuse to obey him? What envy would dare to contest his place? What Italian would refuse him homage? This supremacy of foreign barbarians is a stench in the nostrils of all!