Friday, March 22, 2019

European Globalization 500 years ago: Girolamo Savonarola; Michelangelo Buonarroti; Niccolò Machiavelli

This year is the 500th anniversary of the death in France of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the multi-talented artist of the Italian Renaissance. He lived in a period of tumultuous change that has parallels with modern times — an information revolution; technological change; the advance of science; challenges to traditional verities; European globalization in what was called the Age of Discovery; populism and rejection of change.

"What's past is prologue," William Shakespeare wrote in his 1610/11 play ‘The Tempest’ and this post is my prologue to an earlier post on globlalization, ‘Ireland’s Faustian Bargain with hyper- globalization.’

Not only has William Shakespeare, Machiavellian themes in his plays but he has a number of direct references in ‘Henry VI’ to “the murderous Machiavel” who is Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who would become Richard III following a regicide.

In 1517, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527), the Florentine diplomat and philosopher wrote:

"Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who have been, and ever will be, animated by the same passions. The result is that the same problems always exist in every era."

Italian research shows that comparing the family wealth to those with the same surname today, suggest the richest families in Florence 600 years ago remain the same now.

From the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374), commonly anglicised as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar and poet who is sometimes credited for coining the expression the ‘Dark Ages,’ lamenting the dearth of quality in Latin literature compared with the classical times of Greece and Rome. However, in more modern times, the Dark Ages refers to the early Middle Ages after the collapse of the Western part of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.

In 410 AD Visigoths, a Germanic people, captured Rome — the first time it had been defeated or looted in almost 800 years. The Roman Empire had already split with the Western capital in Ravenna, about 350 kilometres (217 miles) northeast of Rome and the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire) in Constantinople (Istanbul). Finally, another group of Germanic barbarians in 476 AD destroyed the empire that had lasted over 500 years.

Medieval or mediaeval with its roots medi-, meaning "middle", and ev-, meaning "age", literally means "of the Middle Ages" according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary — here I take the Middle Ages period in Europe as 476-1430.

Hugh de Provence (c.1200-1263), Basilica San Niccolò, Treviso, north of Venice. Fresco (method of painting water-based pigments on freshly applied plaster, usually on wall surfaces) by Tommaso da Modena (1326-1379) — this is reputed to be the earliest surviving painting of an individual using eyeglasses, which are believed to have been first invented in Northern Italy in the 1280s. However, it's possible that the eyeglass was invented earlier for example for use in a monastery.

Technology and science

While Seneca the Younger, the Roman philosopher, commented in the 1st century AD that “Letters, however small and indistinct, are seen enlarged and more clearly through a globe or glass filled with water,” it took until the second half of the 13th century for an inventor in Northern Italy to develop what was the genesis of modern eyeglasses.

The eyeglass extended the work lives of artists and craftsmen, and used in conjunction with the product of a key invention of the 1450s, would become part of a new information age in Europe.

Donald Weinstein, the late American economic historian, has written on the development of the movable type printing press that was led by Johann Gutenberg (c.1399 - 1468):

Block printing on wood came to the West from China between 1250 and 1350, papermaking came from China by way of the Arabs to 12th century Spain, whereas the Flemish technique of oil painting was the origin of the new printers’ ink. Three men of Mainz — Gutenberg and his contemporaries Johann Fust (a wealthy lender to Gutenberg) and Peter Schöffer (Gutenberg’s son-in-law and most skilled employee of Gutenberg) — seem to have taken the final steps, casting metal type and locking it into a wooden press.”

The Bible (Biblia Sacra), with 42 lines on each page, followed by Psalter (Psalms of the Old Testament) were the first two significant books to be printed in Europe. After a court case, the indebted Gutenberg transferred his printing equipment to Johann Fust and the first printed book in Europe to bear the name of its printer is a “magnificent Psalter completed in Mainz on August 14, 1457, which lists Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer.”

Mainz, on the River Rhine, is today the capital and largest city of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. In 1462 it lost its ‘free city’ status after a war between rival Catholic archbishops.

Early religious and science printed books were in Latin and printers who escaped from Mainz found it easy to transfer their skills to other cities.

In the 2016 book, ‘Age of Discovery: Navigating the Storms of our Second Renaissance,’ authors Ian Goldin, professor of Globalisation and Development at Oxford University and his colleague Dr Chris Kutarna, say that before the Gutenberg press, only priests and less than 0.5% of Europeans could read or write. Some 50m books were printed in a 50-year period and many more political pamphlets.

The ending of the Church's effective monopoly of the written word would have both good and bad consequences.

Aristarchus of Samos (c.310-250) BC, a Greek astronomer, had said that the Earth rotates on its axis and with other planets revolves around the sun.

Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, in 'The Sand Reckoner' (Psammites) wrote that what Aristarchus had proposed if correct would make the universe vastly larger than was then believed — the word planet comes from the classical Greek term for wandering star and in ancient times through observation, the planets could be seen to move relative to stars and unlike stars, the brightness of planets varied over time.

Despite the work of Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827), the religious dogma that the Earth was at the centre of the universe persisted because Scripture confirmed it.

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), an Italian philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, and occultist whose theories anticipated modern science, was burned alive by orders of the Roman Inquisition in 1600.

Bruno's crime was to suggest that there could be other planets like Earth.

In 1633 the Inquisition convicted Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) for “vehement suspicion of heresy” and his sentence was commuted to house arrest

In two of my reports on Finfacts in 2018, I discussed how technological developments 1) in Portugal would make it a pioneer in the Age of Discovery while advances in technology again and trade would make the Dutch Republic the wealthiest country in Europe.

The human cost of the Western diet and European colonialism

First Modern Economy: Myths on tulips & most valuable firm in history

Developments in warfare as highlighted in the Ottoman Turks' use of new technology, in cannons in capturing Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, made wall fortifications obsolete.

Italian Renaissance / Rinascimento

Renaissance is French for “rebirth” and outside Italy, it was given this name rather than Rinascimento as a result of ‘La Renaissance’ — a book written by the French historian Jules Michelet (1798-1874) in 1855.

There are no strict chronological boundaries on the evolution of literature and works of art but the Florentine Republic was the cradle of the rebirth and it was not the only Italian state with rich residents.

'David' by Michelangelo 5004

Estimates or guesstimates of the population of main European cities in 1320 of Italian cities on top with Venice and Florence at 100,000 and 96,000 respectively, compared with London at 60,000 and Paris at 80,000 — the Black Death (bubonic plague) struck in 1347-1352.

In 1500 Venice was at 115,00; Naples 114,000 up from 25,000 in 1320; Florence 70,000; Paris 185,000 and London 50,000.

In Florence, the wealthy Medici family, who was prominent in the wool and banking sectors also had an increasing role in local politics from the 1430s and were significant patrons of the arts. The decline of the guilds had been a gain for wealthy families and Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464) sponsored Fra Angelico (c.1395–1455), the renowned painter of mainly religious themes.

Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-1492), also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, who became the family patriarch at the age of 20, invited the young Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti (1475–1564) known as Michelangelo, to live in the Medici palace and be educated along with the Medici children.

Ghirlandaio's Portrait of Michelangelo as a Young Boy? When older, the artist has few if anny depictions of hemself.

Art historian John Edwards presents an argument that a small fresco in the Tornabuoni Chapel in Florence's Church of Santa Maria Novella is a portrait of Michelangelo, painted when he artist was13 years old.

Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici (1472–1503), nicknamed Piero the Unfortunate, succeeded his father but when French forces under King Charles VIII arrived in Florence in 1494 en route to the Kingdom of Naples to enforce a French claim to the territory, the hapless 22-year old surrendered the city.

In 1496 Michelangelo journeyed to Rome for the first time. He was commissioned to carve a traditional type of devotional image called a Pietà. Michelangelo’s sculpture, known simply as the Pietà (1498–99), won him fame. It now stands in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The Pietà is one of the few works signed by Michelangelo.

A popular revolt resulted in the looting of the Medici palace and the family taking flight.

Medici family, an Italian bourgeois family that ruled Florence and, later, Tuscany during most of the period from 1434 to 1737, except for two brief intervals (from 1494 to 1512 and from 1527 to 1530).

The hanging and burning of Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, Florence, May 23, 1498. It was a godsend for the corrupt Spanish-born Pope Alexander VI to be rid of a turbulent priest.

Bonfire of the Vanities

Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), a fiery and puritanical Dominican friar, became the de facto political leader of Florence.

In 1492 Rodrigo Borgia, a member of a prominent Spanish family bought the papacy and became Pope Alexander VI, using the wealth he had accumulated as vice chancellor of the Church. He had been made a bishop at 15, an archbishop at 17, and a cardinal at 18 by his uncle Pope Calixtus III.

In 1493 Pope Alexander made Cesare, one of his sons, a cardinal at the age of 18.

Goldin and Kutarna, the authors of 'Age of Discovery' wrote:

"How did Savonarola do it? First, by shouting an apocalyptic message that stoked people's deep anxieties. Ottoman Muslims loomed to the east. The authorities were corrupt. Globalisation benefited only the well connected and brought new diseases and risks for the masses.

Second, he owned the news cycle. Print media was just emerging, and Savonarola harnessed its potential better than any. His fiery sermons rolled off the newly introduced printing presses, and just as Trump has used social media to confound the traditional media, Savonarola used one-page pamphlets to circumvent the popes and princes who previously had monopolised information flows.

Third, he believed in himself above all others. God had appointed him to bring a better tomorrow."

Savonarola's calls for a return to a simple church based on morality in contrast with the contemporary one of massive corruption were not favourably received in Rome.

The Pope invited the preacher to a meeting but the latter knew that he would likely be imprisoned and executed.

In February 1497 there was a big bonfire planned that would become known as “Falò delle vanità” (Italian for “Bonfire of the Vanities”),

According to David M. Reis, an American academic, "Sinful objects were collected for months leading up to the ritual, and on the day of the bonfire itself, Savonarola’s followers adorned themselves with white gowns, garlands, and red crosses, and went door-to-door collecting objects for burning. An enormous pyre was erected in the Piazza della Signoria and it was surmounted by an image of Satan."

On 23 May 1498, Church and civil authorities tortured, condemned, hanged, and burned Savonarola together with 2 other friars, in the same piazza.

It is reported that Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), painter of the famous Birth of Venus (see below), may have thrown some of his work on the fire.

Three days before the execution, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut, India, becoming the first European to reach India by sea. A week after the Florence executions on May 30, 1498, Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus), a native of the Republic of Genoa departed with 6 ships for a 3rd trip to what was called in Europe, "The New World."

Prof Donald Weinstein (cited above) wrote a book on Girolamo Savonarola and noted, "He had pretended to divine revelation, deceiving the many who believed in him; his motives were glory, reputation, and influence; his prophetic apostolate was thus based on a lie."

Roberto Ridolfi, the Italian historian, who wrote a biography of Savonarola (1959), was more positive about the monk's achievements: "He introduced a democratic government, the best the city ever had...He was not ambitious or an intriguer."

It is said the memory of Savonarola's writings, even "the living voice" of his sermons, never left Michelangelo. 

Martin Luther (1483-1546) found Savonarola personally inspiring and it is said that as Luther travelled to the Diet of Worms in 1521 to stand trial — after burning the papal bull that excommunicated him — he carried on his person a picture of the Dominican friar.

In Germany, the Catholic theologian and church historian Joseph Schnitzer (1859-1939) did comprehensive research on Savonarola and saw him as the last best hope of the Catholic Church before the catastrophe of the Protestant Reformation, “If Rome had fulfilled what he proposed, the fervent desire of Christianity would have been satisfied. Luther, Calvin and all the reformers could have come but they would have found no echo. Savonarola sounded the last hour for the legitimate reform of the Church.”

High Renaissance

The period of about 35 years, from the early 1490s to 1527, when Rome was sacked by troops of the Holy Roman Empire (in German Heiliges Römisches Reich it was a confederation of states in Western and Central Europe in the period 800-1806 CE and was later called the First German Reich), is known as the High Renaissance, centring on three towering figures: Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Michelangelo (1475–1564), and Raphael (1483–1520).

Voltaire (1694–1778), the French writer, commented sardonically on the Holy Roman Empire: "This body which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire"

In 1527, while standing in the Piazza della Signoria, the 'David' sculpture lost the lower half of its left arm during a riot: Accademia Gallery, Florence

In September 1504 Michelangelo unveiled his 5-metre-high statue of ‘David’ on Florence's Piazza della Signoria.

The sculptor artist was 26 years old when he began his work in 1501. It is said that it took 4 days and 40 men to move the statue from Michelangelo’s work site, a half mile away.

Niccolò Machiavelli who wanted to create a militia in the city saw the Biblical David winning against the odds.

Julius II, originally named Giuliano della Rovere (1443-1513), became pope after the death of Pius III, who had succeeded Alexander VI. Pius died after a month in office.

Giuliano had been made a cardinal at the age of 28 by his uncle Pope Sixtus IV (1414-1484) even though historians suggest that he showed little interest in religion. Nevertheless, his uncle made him wealthy by giving him control of 6 bishoprics in France and 3 in Italy. Lavish bribes ensured a short conclave and as Julius II, the pope made four members of the Della Rovere family cardinals.

Giuliano had been in exile in France as Alexander VI had made several attempts to kill him and there were rumours that Giuliano may have been involved in the poisoning of the Spanish pope.

What was important for the arts was that the new pope was an enthusiastic patron and had an ambition of re-creating the ancient empire of the Caesars (renovatio imperii). He also wished to expel foreigners from Italy but from 1494 to 1559, Italy remained a battleground for France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire.

Donato Bramante (1444—1514), the architect who was responsible for several projects including the new Basilica of St. Peter in Rome — it was his greatest work "and one of the most ambitious building projects up to that date in the history of humankind." The foundation stone was laid on April 18, 1506.

Julius brought Michelangelo to Rome and in 1508-1512, the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel comprising 343 figures was a magnum opus (Latin, great work) of stunning achievement.

In 1546 Pope Paul III (1468-1549) appointed Michelangelo, aged 71, as chief architect of St. Peter's. Michelangelo produces his first wooden model of St. Peter's Basilica and writes to Florence for measurements of Brunelleschi's dome.

In 1512 Giovanni de' Medici (1475-1521) — the future Pope Leo X who had been created a boy cardinal at the age of 13 — lobbied the pope to restore the Medicis to power in Florence. They returned to the city with the help of Spanish troops.

Later Michelangelo would get further artistic work in Rome from the Medici children he had grown up with, Pope Leo X (1513–1521) and Pope Clement VII (1523–1534). There would subsequently be two further Medici popes, Pius IV (1559–1565) and Leo XI (1605).

Pope Clement VII,  in 1530 was the head of an army that laid siege to Florence. Michelangelo was a supervisor on the city's fortifications for the short-lived republican government. The Medici family were restored to power and the pope ordered Michelangelo's death.

He was eventually pardoned by the Medicis and the sentence was lifted by the pope so that the artist could complete work on the Sistine Chapel and the Medici family tomb.

Michelangelo left Florence for Rome in 1534.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael(1483–1520) were also prominent artists who had been supported by the Medici family. Later, the first opera where music has survived, was performed in 1600 at the wedding of King Henry IV of France and Marie de’ Medici at the Pitti Palace in Florence.

A century later, Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) who was working for Ferdinando de’ Medici used the harpsichord as a basis for the invention of the pianoforte (piano) in about 1700.

The first English edition of 'The Prince' (Il Principe) in 1640, British Library

Machiavelli and Machiavellian

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) may appear to have been a minor figure in the Renaissance but in retrospect, he was a hugely significant political philosopher of the early decades of the modern world.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective Machiavellian, as "Cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics."

Machiavelli joined the Florentine government in 1498 after the execution of Savonarola and he had diplomatic and domestic responsibilities — including a project with Leonardo da Vinci to connect the Arno River to the sea; irrigate the Arno Valley, and to deprive arch-enemy Pisa of water — until the return of the Medicis to Florence in 1512.

In early 1513 Machiavelli was imprisoned for some weeks and was subjected to the common strappado torture and exiled to the countryside.

In December of that year, he wrote to his friend Francesco Vettori, detailing his day spent haggling with local farmers and setting bird traps for his evening meal. He mentions towards the end of the letter a “little work” on politics.

Statue of Niccolò Machiavelli at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence

Machiavelli’s father had also been in public service but he had been declared bankrupt and Niccolò in contrast with contemporary priests who reached high office, did not enrich himself through looting.

'The Prince' (Original title: De Principatibus (principalities) / Il Principe) was dedicated to Lorenzo di Piero de Medici (1492-1519) who was the ruler of Florence from 1513 until he died in 1519. Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici (1479-1516) also a cardinal like his brother Pope Leo X, had transferred power to his nephew who had been restored to the Medicis in 1512.

Machiavelli was looking for a job and there is no evidence that Lorenzo read the book.

'The Prince43 pages in pdf format. There are several English translations of the work.

Machiavelli was in favour of republican government, which was particularly highlighted in his 'The Discourses on Livy' (1517).

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), the French philosopher, wrote (The Social Contract page 37):

"While pretending to teach kings, he was really giving extensive lessons to the people. His 'The Prince' is the book of Republicans."

'The Prince' was at best a manual for good governance or a satire, but not just a guide for despots. In his later years, Machiavelli authored satirical comedies that were performed on stage.

In modern times the German word realpolitik, which had its origins in the 1890s, refers to politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives.

Machiavelli rejects delusion and he separates private and public morality.

In wartime situations, democratic politicians in modern times also do this — think of President Barack Obama protecting the state by signing off on a drone strike against suspected terrorists that will also result in civilian casualties.

’The Prince’ was published in 1532, five years after the political philosopher’s death.

Machiavelli writes:

"Many have imagined republics and principalities which in fact have never been known or seen. How one actually lives is far distant from how one ought to live. Anyone who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner brings about his ruin rather than his preservation. A man who wishes to act entirely in a virtuous way is soon destroyed among so much that is evil in the world."

Ireland, for example, had an "imagined" republic until recent times — see here.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) is widely considered one of the most important British philosophers of the 20th century in 'A History of Western Philosophy' (1945), Book Three Modern Philosophy, Part I. From the Renaissance to Hume Chapter III, Machiavelli, page 504, he writes on Niccolò Machiavelli:

"The Italian Renaissance, though it produced no important theoretical philosopher, produced one man of supreme eminence in political philosophy, Niccolò Machiavelli. It is the custom to be shocked by him, and he certainly is sometimes shocking. But many other men would be equally so if they were equally free from humbug. His political philosophy is scientific and empirical, based upon his own experience of affairs, concerned to set forth the means to assigned ends, regardless of the question whether the ends are to be considered good or bad. When, on occasion, he allows himself to mention the ends that he desires, they are such as we can all applaud. Much of the conventional obloquy that attaches to his name is due to the indignation of hypocrites who hate the frank avowal of evil-doing. There remains, it is true, a good deal that genuinely demands criticism, but in this he is an expression of his age. Such intellectual honesty about political dishonesty would have been hardly possible at any other time or in any other country, except perhaps in Greece among men who owed their theoretical education to the sophists and their practical training to the wars of petty states which, in classical Greece as in Renaissance Italy, were the political accompaniment of individual genius."

Russell also added that Machiavelli never bases any political argument on Christian or biblical grounds while medieval writers had a conception of "legitimate" power, which was that of the pope and the emperor, or derived from them.

There is no evidence that Russell called 'The Prince' "a handbook for gangsters" as superficial commenters on the Internet claim.

Chapter 7 of 'The Prince' is on Pope Alexander VI's appointment of his son Cesare Borgia (1475-1507) who was the first cardinal to resign his position as duke of Romagna, which was the most northerly Papal State but Vatican control was nominal. There followed much local bloodletting and Machiavelli spent time in Urbino with the duke as he tried to reduce tensions with the Florentine Republic.

"If you refuse me for a friend you shall know me for an enemy," Borgia is reported to have said and Florence offered the services of Leonardo da Vinci to work on military engineering for the duke.

Portrait of Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici (1492-1519)

To Machiavelli, Cesare was an example of how difficult it is to keep a newly acquired state.

The fatal mistake was to support Giuliano della Rovere to become Pope Julius II. The new pope had made promises he had no intention of keeping.

Machiavelli writes:

"He who believes that new benefits will cause great persons to forget old injuries is deceived. Therefore, Cesare was wrong in his choice, and it was the cause of his ultimate ruin."

Prof Harold James of Princeton University wrote in 2015:

"Machiavelli is poorly understood. The most notorious chapter of 'The Prince,' Chapter 18, which explains the circumstances in which it is permissible and even desirable for rulers to break promises, appears to argue that the most successful rulers think 'little about keeping faith' and know 'how cunningly to manipulate men’s minds.' The chapter has been widely interpreted to mean that leaders should lie as often as possible.

Machiavelli’s message, however, was more complex. With an expert analysis of the wider implications of deception and ‘spinning’ the truth, he demonstrates that manipulation can work only if the ruler can convincingly pretend not to be engaging in it. In short, leaders must cultivate a reputation for being dependable and sincere a lesson that Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly never took on board."

These observations were made before Trump became US president who can lie to his base with impunity including hypocritical Evangelicals and conservative Roman Catholics.

Some Machiavelli quotes:

"And of all princes, it is impossible for the new prince to avoid the reputation for cruelty. This is because new states are full of dangers. Nevertheless, a prince ought to be slow to believe and to act, and should not show fear. He should proceed in a calm manner with care and concern for others so that too much confidence does not make him careless and too much distrust does not make him always suspicious.

Related to this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved?"

"You must know there are two ways of winning, one by the rules, and the other by force. The first method is suited to men, the second to beasts. But because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to use the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how to use the ways of both the beast and the man... So, it is necessary for a prince to know how to make use of both natures, and that one without the other is not sufficient. A prince, therefore, being forced knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against traps and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves. Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the traps and a lion to frighten the wolves. "

"But above all things, he must keep his hands off the property of others because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their inheritance."

From Chapter 18: Machiavelli did not write that "The end justifies the means" as is often claimed;

"Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because everybody can see you, but few come in touch with you. Everyone sees what you appear to be, but few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose the opinion of the many, who have the power of the state to defend them. In the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not wise to challenge, one judges by the result.

For that reason, let a prince have the credit for conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody. This is because the common people are always influenced by what a thing seems to be and by what results from it. In this world only the common people matter when their minds are firmly made up."


The first globalization in Europe had many benefits and severe consequences including colonialism.

The current globalization has great benefits for the world but the losers in advanced countries are putting hope in populists who like Savonarola in Florence, rely on fear rather than credible remedies.

Whether it was the printing press in the 1450s or the World Wide Web from 1989 (see the first website!) technology brings great benefits to humanity but also downsides.

Printing greatly aided Martin Luther (1483–1546) to ignite a revolt against the Catholic Church and it was over 100 years after his death that the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 reduced religious violence. Still, the common people had a continuing reason to fear war.

Between 1648 and 1789, the European powers fought 48 wars, some like the Seven Years' War in the mid-18th century, which lasted several years and stretched around the world.

Today, a social media platform like Facebook has benefits too but it also provides a significant stage for hate.

It's not that Facebook can't afford better policing and regulation seems inevitable: In 2018 its net profit before tax/revenues ratio was 45% compared with the US tech industry as a whole at 14% and the financial sector at 20%. Revenues were over $55bn in 2018 with $13.5bn coming from Europe. Facebook had $41bn in cash or near-cash securities. The global effective rate of tax was 13%.

Wars between great powers in Europe have become inconceivable but wars elsewhere are resulting in a backlash against immigration to the region

There are always challenges ahead and climate change will likely be the greatest.

What Machiavelli and Shakespeare show is that respect for the rule of law is required in a democracy to contain political leaders like Trump who are both narcissistic and ignorant of history.

Six weeks before Niccolò Machiavelli's death in June 1527, German and Spanish troops pillaged, murdered and raped thousands of people in Rome. The savage rampage of the mutinous troops of 27-year-old Charles V, the Holy Roman emperor, who was also Charles I king of Spain, went on for weeks and resulted in the deaths of an estimated third of the population of 55,000.

Besides the pope's demands from the English king for an annulment of his marriage to the Spanish Catherine of Aragon, Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation in Northern Europe coincided with a struggle in Italy between Europe's two most powerful kings, Holy Roman emperor Charles V — the Holy Roman Empire at the time comprised mainly independent Germanic principalities, which divided between Catholic and Protestant control — and Francis I of France, each of whom demanded the pope's blessing.

Civic unrest in Florence in 1527 following the bad news from Rome resulted in the Medici family taking flight again. In the rest of the 16th century, the Medicis became hereditary princes as the Duke of Florence and Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Emperor Charles V got a papal ransom (despite the massive plunder of his troops) after the sack of Rome from Pope Clement VII in 1530, and he agreed to send his army to restore the Medicis in Florence. Alessandro de’ Medici (1511-1537) the first duke who was believed to be a son of Pope Clement VII, was murdered by a cousin in 1537.

When the last Medici grand duke died without a male heir in 1737, the family dynasty died with him.

Ireland’s Faustian Bargain with hyper- globalization