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Cambridge Centre for Political Thought



Public Lecture

"Neither Medicean nor Populist: A Defense of Machiavelli's Republicanism"

Prof. Maurizio Viroli (Princeton University; University of Lugano; University of Texas Austin)

5:00 pm, 23 May 2022

Portrait Room, Christ's College, University of Cambridge




Two interpretive trends dominate the stage in recent scholarship on Machiavelli. One claims that Machiavelli was a loyal supporter of the Medici (from at least 1513); the other asserts that he was a radical democrat. One of the two claims must be wrong: one cannot sustain an oligarchic regime like the Medici’s and, at the same time, praise a radical democracy in which all power belongs to the lowest classes. In fact, both allegations are incorrect. Machiavelli was neither a Medicean nor a populist; he was a republican. The purpose of this paper is to defend this outmoded interpretation of Machiavelli’s political thought and life.