Italian Paleography


Los Angeles, The Getty Research Institute, MS 860787
Inventory of Buildings Selected by Michelangelo to be Demolished
Italy, between 1529 and 1530

Assigned to Michelangelo on April 6, 1529, by the Nove della Milizia association, this project of architectural evaluation was a response to the growing threat of a military takeover and was designed to overturn the Florentine republic and restore the rule of the Medici family. Michelangelo’s task was to determine the value of houses, churches, and other buildings that made up the borghi—suburbs located outside the official city walls that contained many artisanal workshops and facilitated cultural and economic interactions with travelers. Despite their great value, the borghi needed to be destroyed so that land surrounding the walls would be clear for one mile, offering a clear view for the Florentine military and eliminating any potential refuge for an invading imperial army. This record would indicate the value of each building that needed to be destroyed in order to determine the compensation owed to Florentines.

This document is comprised of two different fascicles, though within these there is inconsistent pagination which implies that the record is incomplete. Michelangelo’s account has 239 evaluations of individual houses and goes into detail about the location of each property, information about the owner, physical description and measurements of the property, and an estimate of each building’s compensation value. In addition to private homes, the account assesses farms, taverns, workshops, hospitals, and religious buildings. The document provides a detailed record of properties that were important to Florence’s urban development but ultimately did not survive.

—Madeline Klein and Ella Anderson

Selected Bibliography

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