Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Simplifying history

 My online book club is reading The Prince. I rather wish we'd picked Discourses on Livy instead, because I find Machiavelli's thoughts on republics more interesting and more relevant to the present day than his (possibly ironic; there's a lot of debate on that) comments on principalities. Oh well, c'est la vie. Anyway, his references in The Prince have made me realize how ignorant I am of Renaissance Italian history, so I've been doing some background reading and have come to the following "conclusions":

1. Given any two Italian states X and Y that border one another, X attacked Y (or vice versa) at some time.

2. Any prominent figure apart from Girolamo Savonarola betrayed somebody else to the Borgias at some time, and I'm not sure about Savonarola. (Good only to the date of Cesare Borgia's death.)

3. Somebody invited France in to support their claim to somewhere. Somebody else invited Spain in.

and finally, the only one relevant to the present day:

4. Our current situation could be worse. If our Republic fails, it will be.

I realize all this is something of an oversimplification, but honestly, the shifting alliances and wars make my head hurt. Anyway, I've already simplified my "understanding" of history by deciding:

5. All kings of France were named Louis.

6. All prominent medieval figures were named William, unless they were named Matilda/Maud. (You haven't lived until you've written a scene featuring three historical characters all of whom were named William or some variant thereof.)

It's not much of a stretch to extend this system to early Renaissance Italy. 

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