Muster Rolls, Lists and Annotations: Practical Military Records Relating to the Last Florentine Ordinances and Militia, from Machiavelli to the Fall of the Republic

Record-making and record-keeping were amongst the most basic aspects of warfare, which implied an amassing of public records related to the recruitment, provisioning and management of soldiers. In Renaissance Florence, the militia force created after Niccolò Machiavelli’s project in 1506, then re-established during the last popular government of 1527-1530, involved the production of two types of administrative records: the low-level ‘practical’ records which documented the daily running of an army in the field, such as muster rolls, annotations and detailed lists of militiamen; and the upper-level administrative records, such as the official correspondence between the central governing bodies and the military officers in the territories, orders and instructions. As Secretary of the Nove di Ordinanza e Milizia, the new magistracy in charge of the administration of the militia, Machiavelli himself engaged in both documentary activities. An analysis of published and unpublished documentation provides evidence of the importance of such documentary practices, and especially improves our knowledge of problems relating to the loss and preservation of low-level military records relating to Renaissance Florentine ordinances and militia. Unknown documentation provides further details on Machiavelli’s involvement in the preparation of the Provisione della ordinanza of 1506.

Andrea Guidi is the author of Un Segretario militante, a book which investigates Niccolò Machiavelli’s work in the Florentine chancery. He also co-edited two volumes of the series Legazioni. Commissarie. Scritti di governo, which present autograph documentation of Machiavelli’s activities in the chancery. He is currently a member of «AR.C.H.I.ves», a project on the history of Italian archives based at Birkbeck, University of London, and funded by the European Research Council.