Since the early 1950s, medieval and Renaissance Florence has been the focus of intense research by anglophone scholars attracted by the cultural, economic, and political significance of the city and by the richness of its archives and libraries. Although always sensitive to the important contribution made by Italian historians and, as we shall see, original in its own right, this book is, to an extent, a monument to much of this scholarship. John Najemy is unusually well qualified to survey the Florentine longue durée; he began his career by working on Florentine politics in the late fourteenth century and has since become one of the leading authorities on Niccolò Machiavelli.

In discussing earlier histories of Florence, Najemy refers to those written by Gene Brucker and Ferdinand Schevill. In fact, he is more the heir to the humanist historians of Florence: Leonardo...

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