Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
The Fruit of Liberty

The Fruit of Liberty

Political Culture in the Florentine Renaissance, 1480-1550

Nicholas Scott Baker

ISBN 9780674724525

Publication date: 11/04/2013

Request exam copy

In the middle decades of the sixteenth century, the republican city-state of Florence--birthplace of the Renaissance--failed. In its place the Medici family created a principality, becoming first dukes of Florence and then grand dukes of Tuscany. The Fruit of Liberty examines how this transition occurred from the perspective of the Florentine patricians who had dominated and controlled the republic. The book analyzes the long, slow social and cultural transformations that predated, accompanied, and facilitated the institutional shift from republic to principality, from citizen to subject.

More than a chronological narrative, this analysis covers a wide range of contributing factors to this transition, from attitudes toward office holding, clothing, and the patronage of artists and architects to notions of self, family, and gender. Using a wide variety of sources including private letters, diaries, and art works, Nicholas Baker explores how the language, images, and values of the republic were reconceptualized to aid the shift from citizen to subject. He argues that the creation of Medici principality did not occur by a radical break with the past but with the adoption and adaptation of the political culture of Renaissance republicanism.


  • In a lucid and lively way, Baker has managed to reveal untold parts of what would seem to be a well-worn story. Rather than seeing a pronounced break between republic and principate in Renaissance Florence, Baker emphasizes continuity of language and images, as well as of office holders themselves, from the late fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth century.

    —Sharon Strocchia, Emory University


  • Nicholas Scott Baker is Lecturer in Early Modern European History at Macquarie University.

Book Details

  • 382 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press