EARLY MODERN STRATEGY: LORENZO DE’ MEDICI’s LETTERS
Here is a lesson in strategy from a seasoned Renaissance politician. The quotes are from his letters, 1467- 89.
- How to obtain consent. We would like to inspect your properties…If you do not reply, we will interpret your lack of an answer as a quick way of giving your consent. I think I’ll try that strategy on the IRS: “I would like to withhold my taxes…If you do not reply, I take that as a quick way of you giving your consent.”
- How to get out of visiting your mother. My doctor does not think it would be good for my eczema to return to your place. PS: Send my purple tunic, as I have nothing to wear.
- How to get out of giving a present. I was going to send you some trout, but the fishing wasn’t good because it rained so furiously.
- How to avoid exile and death. I decided to go voluntarily to Naples.
- Sucking up to the Pope. So sorry to hear that you are suffering from the gout. As Saint Francis felt the pain of the wounds suffered by Jesus Christ, thus do I feel every pain and ill suffered by Your Holiness in my own person and am much vexed thereby.
- Don’t trust the French.What reliance is to be placed on France, seeing the French nature, I know not.
- Don’t denounce the King. It is better to dissimulate and make secret preparations than to show anger before being ready to strike…but an agreement would, I think, be better than a good war.
- First sign the contract, then complain. By the kindness of Your Holiness the contract of the alum works has been awarded to me…I entreat Your Holiness at last to act like a Pope…and not trust so much in posterity and good health.
(Source: Jon Thiem, Lorenzo de' Medici. Selected poems and Prose. Image: kingsacademy.com)