Various authors have already determined the links between dip&DIP established by the Niccolo Machiavelli Connection. I thought I’d bring them up to date in light of some recent events in The Machiavelli Family and what I call “The Mama Mias Dynasty”.
Let’s begin with Florentine trader, gentleman-farmer and attorney Bernardo Niccolo Machiavelli and his wife, Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli, Niccolo’s parents. Niccolo was their third child and first son.
Niccolo Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) was born and died in Florence, a true Florentine his entire life. His entire life is an open book. Well, actually, many of them.
Machiavelli was a good father and an affectionate if unfaithful husband. Scrupulously honest, he was also generous and tolerant and had unusual courage and integrity. He excelled in witty conversation and storytelling. As much a poet as a man of practical affairs, he was a dedicated republican who desired only to serve Florence rather than any particular party.
Beginning at age 31, Niccolo had 4 sons and 2 daughters (another source says 5 children) from Marietta Corsini, who he married in 1501. The Corsinis were an old historical Florentine family that from the 12th century included traders, bankers, diplomats, cardinals, a pope (Lorenzo Corsini aka Clemente XII) and even a saint (Saint Andrea Corsini). Even God and the Vatican appeared to be on the side of the Machiavelli-Corsini Family.
Niccolo and early members of The Family devised Five Rules which have continued to govern The Family’s behavior to this day. They are worth noting:
1. Preserve and protect the family name and line at all times and in all situations through the male side; and preserve the family fortune and power through the female side.
2. Believing and knowing that money was the root of all evil, the family soon established and nurtured a long and close relationship with one of the ecclesiastical noble dynasties of Southern Europe, the Peericellis.
3, The Family fortune was founded on a “trading” (e.g. smuggling) empire that expanded from its home base in Florence to include branches in San Marino, Torino, Monaco, Paris and Andorra with San Marino and Andorra being the two key hubs for the growing Machiavelli-Corsini Empire.
4, The Family fortune was preserved and expanded by carefully made and guarded investments which became assets in the form of: 1) Land, 2) Business investments (bonds and stocks), 3) Jewels, 4) Gold, 5) Other precious metals, 6) Real art works, & 7) Fine wines from Italy, France and Spain. In addition, like many European royals the Machiavelli-Corsini Family believed in and practiced “dynastic empire expansionism.” They used their spare sons and daughters, as well as lesser relatives, in a series of brilliant (frequently), profitable (usually) or, occasionally expensive (rarely) marriages, annulments, divorces and inheritances. As one of The Rothschilds said, “The Machiavelli-Corsini Family learned early something most bankers never learn, ‘An inheritance is the easiest way to make a lot of money very quickly with very little work’ --- usually.”
5. Niccolo, considered to be “The Father of Political Science,” by some, and Diplomacy, by many, passed on, in “The Prince” and other works and the lessons of his own life, the importance of wide and deep political alliances at all levels with all factions wherever The Family did business or had other affairs. But, even more important, was the making and keeping of good personal relations with other, like-minded families.
A few historical anecdotes will illustrate how The Family put these rules into practice.
Queen Catherine de’ Medici, 1519-1589, Florence/France, consort of Henry II, mother of five kings and queens of European countries. When sister Florentine Catherine de’ Medici moved to France (considered barbaric at the time), the Machiavellis kept in touch by each year sending her a case of their finest wines and olive oils. The tradition continues to this day with an annual wine and olive oil gift to the President of France.
The Machiavelli-Corsini Family used their family ties to install two of their unemployed siblings as bishop, archbishop and then cardinal of Peerijavo, near Udine in Veneto, Italy (Lorenzo Cardinal Peericelli) and as bishop, archbishop and then cardinal of St. Peerigourd, near Perigord, France (Guillermo Cardinal Peericelli).
Later, with the growth of the Spanish and Austrian Hapsburg and Habsburg empires the Family dispatched various un-wed daughters to marry minor members of the two dynasties.
Empress Eugenia de Mojito, 1826 – 1920, Spain/Spain, consort of Napoleon III served as godmother to at least one Machiavelli infant.
The unification of Italy under the Piedmont-Sardinians, the calming down of things in France, and the establishment of a quasi-independent Monaco was also good for The Machiavellis, who began to change their smuggling from donkeys over the Pyrenees and Dolomites and fishing boats along the Cote d’Azur to the freighters and passenger ships of the Grimaldi Family. In time The Machiavelli Family became the second-largest holder of stock in the highly-profitable shipping firm. Stock they still own today.
Changes in France brought about changes in Andorra, a key hub of The Family’s business empire. (Who would have known that smuggling cigarettes and fine wines across the Pyrenees could be so profitable?) The two co-princes of Andorra changed from the Count of Foix and the Bishop of Urgell, in Catalan, to the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell. The Machiavellis continued to look after their interests by continuing to send their annual gift basket of wines and olive oils to the Elyse Palace and making sure that the Bishop of Urgell was Machiavelli friendly or, better yet, of the Peericelli Family line.
As Europe and the world moved away from things royal the Machiavellis changed with the time. One sign of the change was the dropping of the Corsini name from The Family name. Instead of royals The Family looked for other families of wealth to link up with. Suddenly the new title of importance was “millionaire,” rather than duke or count. Of course, finding both in one person was the ultimate Family goal. As Europe boomed, so did the Machiavelli Family. The simple smugglers’ huts and trading shops gave way to a real estate empire that included a completely restored original Machiavelli villa with vineyards and olive groves that raised only the best grapes to make the house labelled wines and olive oils (Villa Machiavelli); a four-star hotel/resort in Andorra (Hotel Diplomatic); a three-star hotel in Florence (Machiavelli Hotel); as well as numerous office buildings, warehouses, a shipping agency, truck lines and even an in-house bank (headquartered in Liechtenstein for financial (e.g. tax) purposes).
House of Machiavelli (now part of the Villa Machiavelli complex)
Hotel Diplomatic in Andorra La Vella, Andorra
Hotel Machiavelli, a three star hotel in Florence
Time and inflation raised the ante, of course, and in time millionaires had to be billionaires to match the Machiavelli Family wealth and status.
Having inherited her name, beautiful looks and made a small fortune (carefully invested to The Family rules) Nicoletta was not satisfied. She wanted more. After graduating from The Academy in Florence her looks got her a decade long career in mostly B-grade, or worse, motion pictures. During those 28 films in ten years she was the leading lady, or at least a “woman of interest” to many of Hollywood’s top actors. At some point she rebelled against the “Hollywood on the Tiber” mentality of the Italian motion picture industry, moved to the United States, changed her name to Peggy Gemignani (Some said that was a salute to one of her favorites, Peggy Guggenheim. Others later said of Peggy Gemignani, “She looked good as long as you didn’t take the paper bag off her head.”), took up other arts, including the hot new game Diplomacy at City College of New York, where it is rumored she had a brief affair with a popular young professor named John Boardman. One of her friends at the time was Juliette Exner, briefly mistress to John F. Kennedy but long-time mistress to a variety of East Coast Mafia bosses. Through those connections she moved to New York, taught art and opened an art gallery. (I have a work by a pupil of hers, Filomena Oppido, entitled “Shooting Stars at High Noon” from 1985, in my collection.) But the lure of “Hollywood on the Tiber” and the jewels sent to her by various Italian movie producers induced her to return to Rome, where she continued to make movies, ending with the 1976 artistic bomb but financially successful “Beyond Good and Evil.”
Eventually, as she tired and aged, she looked at possible future family fortunes and decided to go where the New Money was. After a brief respite in Paris, where she took on the dangerous role of a “middle-aged model” for her godmother, Liliane Bettencourt’s L’Oréal women’s products company. At 31 her vanity got the best of her and soon she and her son, Nirio (Princess Caroline of Hanover and Monaco served as his godmother --- another strong business and personal link that dated back over a century or two. No word of what became of daddy.) left for the United States, moved to Seattle, Washington and started a new life as an art teacher and interpreter. Her still good looks (Her obituary in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported her as once saying, “The worst looking woman in Florence is still better looking than the best looking woman in Seattle.”), charming accent and vivacious personality attracted customers to her highly-exclusive “Travel to Italy” personal tour business that always included multi-day stops at The Family hotel in Florence and the Villa Machiavelli. La Dolce Vita for her was a reality.
In 2009 she made the long trip to Rome to attend the funeral of her long-time business partner and personal friend Susanna Agnelli (1922-2009) who was born in Torino and whose interests included a big share in FIAT, the Torino Juventus football team, Italian politics (she was Italy’s first female Foreign Minister and served more than a year in that position, unusual in Italy), and various philanthropic causes). At the funeral she sat in the second row between the President and Prime Minister of Italy
In time her son, Nirio’s three children grew and eventually established their own mini-empires under the wings of Microsoft, Oracle and FEDEX. Mother Nicoletta, by now the grande dame of the family, watching their progress and the companies balance sheets and annual reports exercised one of her Family prerogatives and called a meeting of The Family Council in both Andorra and San Marino and proposed that The Family begin an orderly transfer of new investment funds into the acquisition of the stocks of all three companies. Within ten years her initial $1B investment had grown to over $40B in value and the family fortune was over $100B. Not bad for a B-grade actress. Most multi-billionaire families would be satisfied at that point, but not the Machiavellis.
Nicoletta and The Family still craved one thing --- respect in the man’s world of international affairs to match their ancestor’s accomplishment some five hundred years earlier. Once again Nicoletta looked around for opportunities and when the governments of San Marino and Andorra asked for her help in promoting their local economies, especially in the area of tourism, she remembered her days as a Diplomacy player in New York under the tutorship of Professor Dr. John Boardman. She agreed to support the efforts of Gian-Carlo Ceccoli to get a San Marino Diplomacy Association and event going. As the end of her life approached she agreed to sponsor a new Diplomacy Association and event in Andorra. And not any event, but next year’s European Diplomacy Convention. I suggest you all mark this date in your calendar and book your tickets as soon as possible. It‘s going to be the most lavish Diplomacy event you ever attended.Event: EuroDipCon 2017
Date: April 1-3, 2017
Location: Andorra la Vella, Andorra
Nicoletta Rangoni Machiavelli (aka Peggy Gemignani) , 1944 – 2016, Modena/Seattle
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