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Machiavelli, Niccolò and Battista della Valle
A VOLUME CONTAINING THE FIRST EDITION OF MACHIAVELLI'S ARTE DELLA GUERRA AND THE CONTEMPORARY MILITARY TEXT VALLO, COMPRISING:
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 150,000 GBP
Machiavelli, Niccolò and Battista della Valle
A VOLUME CONTAINING THE FIRST EDITION OF MACHIAVELLI'S ARTE DELLA GUERRA AND THE CONTEMPORARY MILITARY TEXT VALLO, COMPRISING:
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 150,000 GBP

Details & Cataloguing

The Cottesloe Military Library

|
London

Machiavelli, Niccolò and Battista della Valle
A VOLUME CONTAINING THE FIRST EDITION OF MACHIAVELLI'S ARTE DELLA GUERRA AND THE CONTEMPORARY MILITARY TEXT VALLO, COMPRISING:
i. Libro della arte della guerra. (Florence: heirs of Filippo Giunta, 16 August 1521), woodcut initial, woodcut diagrams, woodcut printer's device on final verso, small hole running through the first five leaves
ii. Della Valle, Battista. Vallo. Venice: [Gregorio de Gregori], 11 March 1524, woodcut initials and illustrations, typographical diagrams of battle formations, lacking title-page and final blank

2 works in one volume, 8vo (153 x 97mm.), old Italian vellum, a few small wormholes in binding


Provenance

obscured inscription at foot of first title-page

Literature

Edit16 28762 & 16580; USTC 839293 & 826392

Catalogue Note

FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST MAJOR PUBLISHED WORK BY MACHIAVELLI. It was the only work of his to be published in his lifetime; all his other works were printed posthumously, even if they circulated in manuscript beforehand. It was reprinted in 1529, translated and adapted into various languages (with and without acknowledgement), and placed on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1559 (along with all Machiavelli's works), which however did not prevent its continuing use and influence.

Machiavelli combined the classical precepts of Vegetius (his main source, though unacknowledged) with an understanding of the military problems facing contemporary Florence (and Italy); though not a soldier himself, he was an experienced statesman and military administrator who had witnessed the success and crashing fall of Cesare Borgia and had attempted to form a citizen militia for the protection of Florence in the face of the domination of contemporary warfare by mercenary armies. The return of the Medici to Florence in 1512 meant that Machiavelli was deprived of office and he devoted himself to writing.

One of Machiavelli's main preoccupations was the need for a citizen militia; along with Vegetius (and his Roman sources) he believed that citizens would be more reliable in fighting for their homes than mercenaries. The rise in the condottieri and their armies in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italy showed the danger of mercenary troops but there was also the failure of Florence's militia at Prato in 1512 to take into account. The concept of a standing army (professional and paid but homegrown) gained support during the fifteenth century, but the invasion of Italy by the French in 1494 spurred contemporary debate about military policy. Machiavelli's main thesis stated that a ruler has to be versed in warfare in order to rule effectively.

Many ideas in this work also appear in The Prince and Machiavelli's other writings; while Machiavelli's posthumous (and negative) reputation rests mainly on The Prince, this work on military matters was considered more important by both the author and his contemporaries. The Roman emphasis on training, preparation and communication, reinforced by Machiavelli, also resonated with military leaders over the next few centuries, such as Maurice of Nassau, Marshal de Saxe and even Thomas Jefferson.

This copy of Machiavelli shows signs of close reading by a later Italian scholar who has made numerous underlinings and marginal marks, along with notes relating to passages in e.g. Guicciardini and Giovio; Guicciardini disapproved of Machiavelli's belief in the superiority of all things Roman.

It is plausible that these two works were bound together because they are strictly contemporary works of military theory; Vallo was first published in 1521 as well (for later editions of Vallo, see lots 117-118). Della Valle was a professional soldier.

The Cottesloe Military Library

|
London