Scipione Ammirato
Portrait of Scipione Ammirato engraved by Francesco Allegrini after Giuseppe Zocchi (1763)
Born(1531-10-07)7 October 1531
Died11 January 1601(1601-01-11) (aged 69)
OccupationHistorian and philosopher
Notable work
Discorsi sopra Cornelio Tacito
Istorie Fiorentine
EraRenaissance philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Politics and political philosophy, military theory, history

Scipione Ammirato (October 7, 1531 – January 11, 1601) was an Italian historian and philosopher. He is now regarded as an important founding figure in the scholarly study of the history of philosophy. He is best known for his political treatise Discorsi sopra Cornelio Tacito (Discourses on Tacitus), published in 1594. The book soon became “an international classic” with numerous translations.[1]

In his Discorsi Ammirato presents himself as an anti-Machiavellian from the outset, leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to confute the main theses of Il Principe. Unlike Botero and Lipsius, Ammirato did not see Tacitism as a surrogate form of Machiavellianism. On the contrary, his Discorsi present the works of the Roman historian as an antidote to Il Principe, and this approach was to prove widely popular during the long Tacitus revival.[2]

Moreover, Ammirato's doctrine of reason of state defined such “reason” as violating neither natural nor divine law; it was the reason of the greater public good (such as public safety) and thus, in departing from the ordinary moral order in extraordinary circumstances, the modern prince did not come into conflict with Christianity.[3]


Ammirato was born at Lecce in the Kingdom of Naples in 1531, of a family originally from Florence. He was sent to Naples to study the law, for which, however, he had no taste. He applied himself chiefly to literature and poetry, and in 1551 he received the minor orders from the Bishop of Lecce, who gave him a canon's stall in the cathedral of that town. He afterwards travelled, or rather wandered, about Italy in quest of occupation; he resided some time at Venice, Rome, and Naples; returned to his native country, was temporarily employed by several noblemen, and was sent by the Archbishop of Naples on a mission to Pope Pius V. At last he fixed his residence at Florence in 1569, and the Grand Duke Cosimo I commissioned him to write the Istorie Fiorentine, the work by which he is best known, and Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici gave him the use of his own country house at La Petraia. In 1595 he was made canon of the cathedral of Florence.[4] He died in 1601.


Ammirato was a very copious writer; the following are those of his works which deserve notice:

Scipione Ammirato, Delle famiglie nobili napoletane, Volume 1, 1580
Scipione Ammirato, Delle famiglie nobili napoletane, Volume 1, 1580

Ammirato left also several MSS. works, among others a continuation of the chronicle of Montecassino, and his own autobiography, which is kept in the library of Santa Maria la Nuova of Florence.

Scipione Ammirato the younger, above mentioned, but whose real name was Cristoforo del Bianco, was born at Montaione in Tuscany about 1582; he acted as amanuensis to Ammirato in the latter part of his life, and was made his heir by will, on the condition of assuming his name and surname. He edited several of the posthumous works of his benefactor.


See also


  1. ^ Tuck, Richard. Philosophy and Government 1572–1651. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 69.
  2. ^ Jürgen Von Stackelberg, Tacitus in der Romania: Studien zur literarischen Rezeption des Tacitus in Italian und Frankreich 120–128.
  3. ^ “Ragion di Stato altro non essere che contravvenzione di legge ordinaria, per rispetto di pubblico beneficio, ovvero per rispetto di maggiore e più universale ragione.” See Rodolfo De Mattei, “Scipione Ammirato,” Dizionario biografico degli italiani, vol. 3 (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 1961) 1-4; De Mattei, Il pensiero politico di Scipione Ammirato, con discorsi inediti (Milan: A. Giuffrè, 1963) 121-151 (the above citation appears on 124).
  4. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ammirato, Scipione". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 860.
  5. ^ William Caferro, ed. (2017). The Routledge History of the Renaissance. Routledge. ISBN 9781351849456.
  6. ^ Discorsi del Signor Scipione Ammirato sopra Cornelio Tacito, Filippo Giunta, Florence 1594, Book V, Discorso 5; see also Eric Cochrane, Florence in the Forgotten Centuries, 1527-1800: A History of Florence and the Florentines in the Age of the Grand Dukes.
  7. ^ Eric Cochrane (2013). Florence in the Forgotten Centuries, 1527-1800: A History of Florence and the Florentines in the Age of the Grand Dukes. University of Chicago Press. p. 125. ISBN 9780226115955.
  8. ^ Dorigen Sophie Caldwell. The Sixteenth-century Italian Impresa in Theory and Practice. AMS Press, 2004. p. 43. ISBN 9780404637170.
  9. ^ Ammirato's Istorie fiorentine, ed., F. Ranalli (Florence, 1846), cited in Eric W. Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, pp. 269-70.
  10. ^ See esp. Republic book 3, Stephanus number 398a-b, as well as 2.377b-c and 3.392a-b.
  11. ^ Jedin, Hubert (1947). Papal Legate at the Council of Trent, Cardinal Seripando. B. Herder Book Company. p. 69.