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The Intellectual Struggle for FlorenceHumanists and the Beginnings of the Medici Regime, 1420-1440$
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Arthur Field

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198791089

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198791089.001.0001

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Niccolò Niccoli, the Man Who Was Nothing

Niccolò Niccoli, the Man Who Was Nothing

(p.233) 6 Niccolò Niccoli, the Man Who Was Nothing
The Intellectual Struggle for Florence

Arthur Field

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how Niccolò Niccoli (1364–1437), the humanist closest to Cosimo de’ Medici and hated by many scholars from his time to our own, represented a negation of contemporary culture—a negation not only of traditionalism but of those, such as Leonardo Bruni, who made compromises with it. Included here is a discussion of the origins of the humanist script, humanist orthography, and book hunting. For Niccoli, the intellectual legacy of the late Middle Ages had to be rejected upfront; then a new society could be created on the model of classical antiquity. The chapter argues that Niccoli’s notorious aversion to politics was simply an aversion to oligarchic politics and culture. He was always “political,” as a critic of the oligarchs, and as soon as the Medici took power he was more than happy to take political office.

Keywords:   Cosimo de’ Medici, Leonardo Bruni, Niccolò Niccoli, orthography, book hunting

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