Francesco Guicciardini (6 March 1483 – 22 May 1540) was an Italian historian and statesman. A friend and critic of Niccolò Machiavelli, he is considered one of the major political writers of the Italian Renaissance. In his masterpiece, The History of Italy, Guicciardini paved the way for a new style in historiography with his use of government sources to support arguments and the realistic analysis of the people and events of his time.
Storia d' Italia (1537-1540)
- L'imitazione del male supera sempre l'esempio; comme per il contrario, l'imitazione del bene è sempre inferiore.
- He who imitates what is evil always goes beyond the example that is set; on the contrary, he who imitates what is good always falls short.
- Gli ambasciadori sono l'occhio e l'orecchio degli stati.
- Ambassadors are the eye and ear of states.
- Non è male alcuno nelle cose umane che non abbia congiunto seco qualche bene.
- There is no evil in human affairs that has not some good mingled with it.
- Ha sempre dimostrato l'esperienza, e lo dimostra la ragione, che mai succedono bene le cose che dipendono da molti.
- Experience has always shown, and reason also, that affairs which depend on many seldom succeed.
- Con disavvantaggio grande si fa la guerra con chi non ha che perdere.
- We fight to great disadvantage when we fight with those who have nothing to lose.
Counsels and Reflections (1857)
Ricordi politici e civili (published 1857, ed. Giuseppe Canestrini), online Italian text
- Frank sincerity is a quality much extolled among men and pleasing to every one, while simulation, on the contrary, is detested and condemned. Yet for a man's self, simulation is of the two by far the more useful; sincerity tending rather to the interest of others. But since it cannot be denied that it is not a fine thing to deceive, I would commend him whose conduct is as a rule open and straightforward, and who uses simulation only in matters of the gravest importance and such as very seldom occur; for in this way he will gain a name for honesty and sincerity, and with it the advantages attaching to these qualities. At the same time, when, in any extreme emergency, he resorts to simulation, he will draw all the greater advantage from it, because from his reputation for plain dealing his artifice will blind men more.
- Number 104.
- Non combattete mai con la religione, né con le cose che pare che dependono da Dio; perché questo obietto ha troppa forza nella mente degli sciocchi.
- Never wage war on religion, nor upon seemingly holy institutions, for this thing has too great a force upon the minds of fools.
- Number 253.
- If displeased with any man, do all you can to prevent his seeing it, for otherwise he will become estranged. And occasions often arise when he might and would have served you had you not lost him by showing your dislike. Of this I have had experience to my own profit. For once and again I have felt ill-disposed towards some one who not being aware of my hostility has afterwards helped me when I needed help and proved my good friend.
- Number 324.
- Francesco Guicciardini. Counsels and Reflections (Ricordi politici e civili). Translation by Ninian Hill Thomson. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1890.