Territorial Extension of Italy
Although M. has never precisely defined the geographical extension, it is clear from many of his texts that he considered Italy one of the “provinces” of Europe, like France, Spain and “Magna” (Germany), all of which had distant origins in the fragmentation of the Roman empire and which had each taken on its own characteristics in the course of the following millennium. Several times M. lists the main regions that he believed were part of the Italy for example, in the Discourses (I lv 20-24): “the kingdom of Naples, the land of Rome [which corresponded roughly to the ancient patrimony of St. Peter and the modern Lazio region], Romagna […] Lombardy [which then included the entire Po Valley, without distinction between the current regions of Lombardy and Veneto] “and” Tuscany “. They are the same subdivisions that appear in the Discourse or dialogue around our language (§ 10). In the Florentine Histories (from now on Ist. Fior.) M. adds that “the Marca, the Patrimony, and Romagna” were part of the States of the Church (I xxxix 2); that the Republic of Venice began “to struggle in the affairs of Italy” only in the 14th century. (I xxviii 10), with the conquest of the territorial state in the mainland (I xxix 13); and that Genoa was “one of the principal [cities] of Italy” (VIII xxix 4). Of Sicily, on the other hand, he speaks only in relation to the events of the kingdom; the Discourse (§ 15), in fact, would seem to exclude Sicily from the Italy, affirming that the “yes” cannot be proof of a common language, because, if that were the case, “the Sicilians and the Spaniards would still be as much as speaking, Italians ».
«Italy» and «Italians». Even if the author of the Discourse, in controversy with what Dante argued about an alleged common language, underlines the linguistic diversity of the various regions, it is beyond doubt that M. believed that the residents of all these regions (except perhaps of Sicily) shared deep-rooted historical, political and cultural traditions such as to allow them to be called “Italians”. “Italy” and “Italians” often appear in contexts characterized by passionate feelings of hope or pain. In the first Decennial, M. sang “l’italice fatiche” and “l’italice lite” (vv. 1, 524). In the xxvi and last chapter of the Prince, wondering “if at present in Italy there were times to honor a new prince” (§ 1), he writes that, “wanting to know the virtue of an Italian spirit, it was necessary for Italy to be reduced to its present terms” (§ 3) ; that “it is no surprise” if none of the “Italian prenominates” have managed to heal the “wounds” of Italy (§ 14); that “Italians” are “superior in strength, in dexterity, in ingenuity” (§ 17); and finally he asks himself: “Which Italian […] would deny obeisance” to anyone who took “this opportunity, so that Italy would see one of its redeemers appear after such a long time?” (§§ 26-28). In the Speeches (I xii 16-17, 20), M. blames the “guilty examples” of the Church of Rome, ironically acknowledging that “we Italians […] have with the Church and with the priests this first obligation, of having become without religion and bad guys “; and adding that “we other Italians have” yet another and greater “obligo with the Church”, which “has kept and keeps this province divided”. Again in the Discorsi (I lv 16-17) M. refers to Italian “customs”, explaining that the cities of the “Magna” have maintained “the political and uncorrupted life” because they have not been able “to adopt the customs neither French nor Spanish nor Italians “. In the Art of War (VII 225, 230) Fabrizio Colonna denounces the lack of good military “orders” in Italy, judging the Swiss and Spanish soldiers “by far better than the Italians”. In Principe (iii 48) M. recalls having replied to Georges d’Amboise’s judgment on the inability of the “Italians” to understand the war by replying “that the French did not understand each other about the state”. Twice M. quotes famous passages by Francesco Petrarca in which the idea of ”Italy” is charged with strong emotion: at the conclusion of the Prince (xxvi 29) he evokes the hope expressed in the song “Italia mia” that “the ancient value / nelli italici cor is not dead yet “; and in the Flor. (VI xxviiii 2-5), praising Stefano Porcari’s attempt (however unsuccessful) in 1447 to overthrow the papal dominion over Rome and eradicate the “evil customs of the prelates”, says that Porcari himself was inspired by the verses of the song “Spirto gentil”, in which the poet addresses his song prophesying that “Above Mount Tarpeio, songs, you will see / A cavalier that Italy honors all”. In the last years of his life, when the threat of an even heavier foreign domination weighed on the peninsula, M. urged the Italian political world to make a supreme effort to free the country: Liberate diuturna cura Italiam (“Liberate Italy from its long torment “; M. to Francesco Guicciardini, May 17, 1526).