Matteo Palmieri

Matteo Palmieri

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Matteo di Marco Palmieri (1406–1475) was a Florentine
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 humanist and historian who is best known for his work Della vita civile ("On Civic Life"; printed 1528) which advocated civic humanism, and his influence in refining the Tuscan vernacular to the same level as Latin. He was sent as Florentine ambassador to the court of Alfonso of Naples. Vespasiano da Bisticci
Vespasiano da Bisticci
Vespasiano da Bisticci was an Italian humanist and librarian .Born near Rignano sull'Arno, not far from Florence, he was chiefly a dealer in books, or cartolaio, and had a share in the formation of all the great libraries of the time...

 included him among the illustrious men of his generation whose careers deserved an article in his Vite di uomini illustri del secolo XV. vita
Biography
A biography is a detailed description or account of someone's life. More than a list of basic facts , biography also portrays the subject's experience of those events...

.

Biography


Palmieri was born to a middle-class family who held prominent positions in the city. He was educated in Florence and ran a profitable apothecary
Apothecary
Apothecary is a historical name for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica to physicians, surgeons and patients — a role now served by a pharmacist and some caregivers....

 shop; like his father he pursued a career in civil service, becoming a well known and respected public official between 1432 and 1475 holding many posts and titles.

At the end of his life, he commissioned from the florentine painter Francesco Botticini
Francesco Botticini
Francesco di Giovanni Botticini was an Italian Early Renaissance painter. He studied under Cosimo Rosselli and Andrea del Verrocchio. He was born in Florence in 1446 and is mostly remembered for his painting entitled "Assumption of the Virgin"; he died in 1498...

(1446 – 1498) a monumental Assumption of the Virgin
Assumption of the Virgin (Botticini)
The Assumption of the Virgin, 1475 - 1476, is a large painting in tempera on wood panel by Francesco Botticini. It was commissioned as the altarpiece for a church in Florence and is now in the National Gallery, London....

for the church of the Benedictine nunnery of San Pier Maggiore in Florence, where the Palmieri had their chapel; in the painting are the kneeling donor portrait
Donor portrait
A donor portrait or votive portrait is a portrait in a larger painting or other work showing the person who commissioned and paid for the image, or a member of his, or her, family...

s of Matteo and his wife Niccolosa de' Serragli.

Works


Palmieri firmly believed in the humanist ideal that virtù
Virtù
Virtu comes from Italian virtù "virtue, excellence," from Latin virtus, "excellence, worth, goodness, virtue." See also vertù.According to the Oxford Dictionary, Virtu means "a love of fine arts." Examples of this are seen here:...

was a combination of both learning and political action, and so in concordance with his political life, he was also an author. He wrote in both Latin and Italian. Among his Latin works are Liber de temporibus (Book of Epochs), a universal chronicle of the world from the time of creation to his present day; the De captivitate liber (The Capture of Pisa), an account of the Florentine capture of Pisa
Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

 in 1406; and a biography of Niccolò Acciaioli
Niccolò Acciaioli
Niccolò Acciaioli was an Italian noble, a member of the Florentine banking family of the Acciaioli. He was the grand seneschal of the Kingdom of Naples and count of Melfi, Malta, and Gozo in the mid-fourteenth century. He was the son of Acciaiolo, a wealthy Florentine merchant...

, translated to Italian by Donato Acciaioli.

In Italian Palmieri wrote a three-book poem La città di vita ("The City of Life") in 1465, which is an imitation of Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

's Divine Comedy. The poem was unpublished in his lifetime, and upon its appearance in print was condemned by the Church as heretical, thus after his death Palmieri's body was removed from the Church of San Pier Maggiore and an effigy of him was burned.

Palmieri's best known work as a humanist is Della vita civile ("On Civic Life"; printed 1528), composed in 1429 and circulated between 1435-1440. It is a treaties discussing the qualities of the ideal citizen. It is written as series of dialogs in four books, set in a country house in Mugello during the plague of 1430, with Agnolo Pandolfini a rich florentine merchant as the main speaker. Depending for the first dialogue upon Quintilian
Quintilian
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was a Roman rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing...

's Institutio oratoria and for the last three on Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

's De officiis
De Officiis
De Officiis is an essay by Marcus Tullius Cicero divided into three books, in which Cicero expounds his conception of the best way to live, behave, and observe moral obligations.- Origin :...

, it discusses the physical and intellectual development of children, the moral life of a citizen, the contrasting tensions between what is useful and what is honest. As well as classic writers such as Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, Quintilian
Quintilian
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was a Roman rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing...

 and Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

, it draws on Palmieri's own personal experiences as a civil servant. His primary emphasis and advocacy is on the need for a good education and taking an active part in the life of the city. Education at an early age he considered crucial to improve the human capacity to do good for others and the community.