Giovanni Cavalcanti (chronicler)

Among several members of the extended Florentine patrician family the Cavalcanti[1] holding the name Giovanni, the chronicler Giovanni Cavalcanti (1381-c.1451),[2] of a minor branch of the family but who was captain of the Guelf party in 1422, is most widely remembered for his malevolent and melancholic account[3] of Florence, covering the period 1420-47. Cavalcanti's Storie obsessively focussed on the city's political intrigues and scandals and was colored by his personal political misfortunes as an aristocratic agitator, first against the corrupt oligarchy of 1420-34 and subsequently of the Medici; his long imprisonment for debt excluded him from the participation in public life that he considered his noble right.

Historians had discounted the decayed grande, Cavalcanti, who was rehabilitated by Claudio Varese, 1961.[4] In private he was also the author of a Trattato politico-morale, written in the 1440s and dedicated to the anti-Medicean Neri Capponi; it was intended as a Ciceronian moral guide to family morality and a nostalgic account of lost, pre-Medicean civic virtues, offered with Roman parallels, intended for Neri's young son.[5]


  1. ^ Voluminous genealogical material in the Raccolte Pucci and Sebregondi in the Archivio di Stato in Florence is supplemented by kinship alliances testified to in family archives of the Manelli, Riccardi, Compagni, Strozzi, Guicciardini, Capponi, Antinori, and Galilei. The most prosperous time for the Cavalcanti bank was during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, when the Cavalcanti had offices in Rome. As Medici supporters (and residents of the district of Santa Croce), the family’s status in Florence was prone to sudden changes, and some of the Cavalcanti were exiled in the fifteenth century along with Cosimo the Elder. (Victor Anand Coelho, "The Players of Florentine Monody in Context and in History, and a Newly Recognized Source for Le nuove musiche" Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music 9.1 (2003)).
  2. ^ Dizionario degli Storici di Firenze: Giovanni Cavalcanti" Archived 2007-02-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Istorie fiorentine and its continuation, the Seconde Storie (1440-47).
  4. ^ Varese, "Giovanni Cavalcanti storico e scrittore", in Storia e politica nella prosa del Quattrocento (Turin) 1961, pp. 93-131.
  5. ^ Giovanni Cavalcanti, Marcella T. Grendler, editor, The "Trattato politico-morale" of Giovanni Cavalcanti (1381-c.1451) (Geneva: Droz) 1973. First publication, of Cavalcanti's book III.