The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped
This interesting volume focuses on the final years of the 15th and the opening years of the 16th century as a troubled Italy is wracked by conflict. City state fights city state, French and Spanish armies rampage across the countryside at will, and Pope Alexander VI plots to have his family – the Borgias – take possession of the peninsula.
Thrown together in this time of conflict, intrigue and danger are three figures. The artist – Leonardo da Vinci – is not only a painter, but also a gifted military engineer whose talents are useful to Italy’s rulers or would-be rulers. The philosopher is a second tier Florentine civil servant – Niccolo Machiavelli – who seeks to understand the laws that govern politics and the acts of governing. The warrior is the charismatic son of a pope who would establish his family’s dominance over much of the Italian people – Cesar Borgia – who draws on the talents of the engineer and then courts, bullies, ignores and charms the philosopher. He is the dominant figure in this tale: the lives and work of both Machiavelli and da Vinci are profoundly affected by their relationships with Borgia before his death in combat at age 31.
The book repeats incidents and descriptions: this is annoying and detracts from what is otherwise a fine read.