La fortuna dei Medici

Credo che fosse il 2000 quando un editore americano mi contattò per chiedermi la disponibilità a contribuire alla creazione di una collana di saggi in cui alcuni ‘romanzieri’ avrebbero trattato argomenti finanziari. Data la mia passione per l’Italia, mi fu chiesto di scrivere un libro di 150 pagine sulla banca medicea del quindicesimo secolo. La mia risposta immediata fu no. Gli dissi che era una campo troppo specialistico. Non faceva per me.
Ma su di me la curiosità ha sempre la meglio. Ecco che allora presi un paio di biografie della famiglia Medici, lessi il libro di Raymond De Roover sulla banca medicea e i suoi meccanismi, lessi Nicolai Rubenstein e il suo resoconto di come i Medici manipolarono il governo fiorentino, lessi Dale Kent e il suo enorme tomo in cui cataloga e descrive tutti i capolavori commissionati da Cosimo de’ Medici.
Ero del tutto rapito. Fui soprattutto sorpreso dal fatto che gran parte di ciò che stavo leggendo mi ricordava tanto ciò che era stato uno dei punti cardine del mio Questa pazza fede: la differenza tra valore estimabile (il danaro) e valore inestimabile (lealtà, sentimenti, religione) e il modo in cui curiosamente i due si attraggono e si respingono, creando una continua attività culturale. Cosimo de’ Medici voleva arricchirsi nonostante la Chiesa avesse imposto leggi chiare contro l’usura che vietavano ai banchieri di chiedere un tasso d’interesse sui prestiti: e avrebbe voluto persino andare in paradiso! Come fece ad arricchirsi? E una volta arricchitosi, come si servì del denaro per guadagnarsi il rispetto della gente?
Ciò che mi fece cambiare idea convincendomi a richiamare l’editore fu questo: i libri storici che stavo leggendo erano o troppo superficiali (le biografie romanzate sui Medici) o troppo specializzati in un certo ambito (finanza, politica, arte), ma non ce n’era nessuno che accomunava il tutto. Capii avevo l’occasione di fare qualcosa di nuovo. E inoltre mi affascinava la sfida di scrivere un libro interessante ed eccitante nei limiti imposti dall’editore.
Quando cominciai a lavorarci su, capii che La fortuna dei Medici era un libro sugli albori dell’umanesimo e della mentalità moderna, sulla nascita di una serie di valori non necessariamente religiosi, qualcosa che, fino al medioevo, pareva impensabile.

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