The many examples of condottieri princes and of princes condottieri in Renaissance Italy show that in that period military and civil command could be combined in a single individual, a situation that has been the subject of famous interpretations (in particular by Machiavelli) that provide a powerful and enduring framework for the study of the phenomenon. This essay strives to investigate its chronology and geography. It also underscores the great diversity of the political projects of those men (not all condottieri were obsessed with becoming lords of a stable state) and their patterns of access to princedom and military activity. Finally, this paper reconsiders the relations between "war" and "state" by observing critical features of Renaissance political culture, which admitted the geographical and social mobility of political leaders and allowed political subjects even outside the state and its territory to perform activities that are now monopolized by the state.
Keywords: Condottieri, lordship, Machiavelli, princes, Renaissance state, warfare.