Battista della Palla

Place Of Sender



Niccolò Machiavelli

Place Of Destination


Relevance to the Project


Type of Record

Standard (Letter text)

Type of Document


Main Subject

Della Palla relays the good news to M. that he will receive an official commission by the Medici for writing the History of Florence.

The letter gives insight into della Palla’s interventions at the papal court in Rome in favor of M.’s appointment as historiographer as well as into his efforts in advertising M.’s Mandragola and its forthcoming performance in Rome. Its content provides further evidence of the fact that, finally, M.’s ‘otiose’ writing brought him back into a new form of public service to the Medici.

M.’s Rehabilitation by the Medici

A few weeks before this letter was written M. had been “introduced to the Medici house” with the help of Lorenzo Strozzi (as we read in a letter of Filippo Strozzi to his brother Lorenzo from 17-03-1520); i.e. he had been received in an audience granted by cardinal Giulio de’ Medici and attained his desired rehabilitation (Ridolfi, Vita, 277; Landon, Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi, 80; Black, Machiavelli, 223–4). In fact, a whole network of friends had been involved to achieve the goal of M.’s full reintegration.


M.’s ‘Otiose’ Writing and Patronage

Della Palla informs his friend that he had interceded for him at the papal court and had tried to win him the pope’s favour by stressing M.’s eminent role among their “compagnia” (in the Orti Oricellari) and directing his attention to his new comedy, the Mandragola. Following this important encounter, Leo X had ordered to clarify the details about a commission for M. as a “writer” with cardinal Giulio after della Palla’s return to Florence, (“farvi dare una provisione per scrivere o altro”). Della Palla had also kept the pope informed about the progress of the preparations for the performance of the Mandragola (staged in 1520 at the papal court in Rome, cf. Wiles, Theatre and Citizenship, 63-68; Stoppelli, “Mandragola”; Lettieri, “Il Cantico dei cantici,” 43 and 51-55). Furthermore, della Palla reports to have sent M.’s compliments to cardinal Bibbiena (named here according to his titular church “Santa Maria in Porticu”) as well as commending his comedy Calandria, and that he had done so in the guise of a greeting from Messer Nicia, a character from the Mandragola. Inglese (“Nota introduttiva,” 10) has advanced the hypothesis that, perhaps, through della Palla, M. intended to propose a joint performance of the two successful plays to Bibbiena.


Io ho parlato de’ casi vostri particularmente al Papa, e in verità, per quanto apparisce, lo ho trovato ottimamente disposto verso di voi […]. Ho preso commissione di dire al cardinale de’ Medici [Giulio] da parte di Sua Santità, come io sarò costì [in Florence], che gli fia molto grato che oramai la buona volontà, che ha sua Signoria Reverendissima, di farvi piacere, abbia effetto; e credo dirlielo con tale efficacia, ed essermi in modo creduto, che non sarà stato invano. E questo è intorno a farvi dare una provisione per scrivere o altro, come s’è ragionato più dì fa, del che parlai distesamente al Papa, e in su questo presi la soprascritta commissione; e ho parlato ancora di voi con Sua Santità circa al caso della compagnia nostra, dicendogli come noi confidiàno di valerci assai dello ingegno e del giudizio vostro etc. Inoltre ho parlato della vostra commedia, dicendogli come la è in ordine, imparata in tutto da’ sua recitatori, e che io penso l’abbia assai a dilettare etc. […] A Santa Maria in Porticu feci la imbasciata del suo Calandro, e vostro Messer Nicea: risponde cortigianerie, come gli è usato.


Source: Edizione nazionale delle Opere di Niccolò Machiavelli

I have spoken of your affairs in detail with the Pope, and in truth, as far as can be seen, I have found him very well disposed toward you […]. I have been asked to tell Cardinal de’ Medici on behalf of his Holiness, when I am there, that he will be very pleased if the good will that His Reverend Lordship has toward your desires should henceforth be put into effect. I think I can say that to him with such effectiveness and be believed to such an extent that it will not have been in vain. This concerns commissioning you to do some writing or something else, as was discussed several days ago; I spoke at length about it with the Pope, and on the basis of this I got the above-mentioned authorization. I have also spoken of you with his Holiness in connection with the matter of our company, telling him that we are sure we shall derive great profit from your intelligence and judgment, etc. In addition, I spoke of your comedy, telling him that it is all ready, learned in entirety by its players, and that I think it is going to give great pleasure, etc. […]

I gave the message about his Calandro to Santa Maria in Portico from your Messer Nicia; his answers were courtly, as is his wont.


Source: Atkinson/Sices: Machiavelli and his friends. Their Personal Correspondence.

R. Ridolfi, Vita di Niccolò Machiavelli (Florence: Sansoni, 1978), 280-84; R. Ridolfi, The Life of Niccolò Machiavelli, transl.by C. Grayson (London: 1963); G. Inglese, “Nota introduttiva,” in N. Machiavelli, Mandragola, ed. by G. Inglese (Naples: il Mulino, 1997), 9-21; D. Wiles, Theatre and Citizenship. The History of a Practice (Cambridge: 2011); W. J. Landon, Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi and Niccolò Machiavelli. Patron, Client, and the Pistola fatta per la peste / An Epistle Written Concerning the Plague (Toronto/Buffalo/ London: 2013); P. Stoppelli, “Mandragola,“ in Enciclopedia machiavelliana (Rome: Ist. della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2014), online access; G. Lettieri, “Il Cantico dei cantici chiave della Mandragola. Callimaco figura del papa mediceo, voltando carta tra lettera erotica e allegoria cristologico-politica,” in “‘Dalle antiche alle nuove ‘corti’. Machiavelli dai ‘castellucci’ di San Casciano all’epoca della comunicazione globale,” ed. by A. Guidi (Manziana: Vecchiarelli, 2019), 43, 51-55; J. Frömmer, “Die Lenkung der Dinge bei Machiavelli: Magische (Ver-)Bindungen im Principe, den Discorsi und der Mandragola,” in Lenkung der Dinge. Magie, Kunst und Politik in der frühen Neuzeit, ed. by Kirsten Dickhaut (Frankfurt: Klostermann 2021), 169-199.



On Lorenzo Strozzi’s Role in M.’s Rehabilitation

Filippo Strozzi to his brother Lorenzo, 17-03-1520: “Piacemi assai abbiate condotto el Machiavello in casa e’ Medici, ché, ogni poco di fede acquisti co’ padroni, è persona per surgere” – “I am quite pleased that you introduce Machiavelli to the Medici because, should he gain the confidence of the masters, he is a person on the rise” (citation from Ridolfi, Vita, 277; transl. from Ridolfi, Life, 177).



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Cite as: Judith Frömmer, Andrea Guidi

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