Inspiration drawn from Florence and Siena

This term, Block 5 Philosophy, Religion & Ethics students begin their Utopia Projects, where they create a vision for a perfect society. So before Christmas, some of them visited Florence and Siena, to draw inspiration from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Florence provided an ambivalent view of power: The Medici were de facto rulers in Florence far before they were de jure in charge. The story of the Medici family is punctuated by violent episodes, exiles, and challenges from rival families. Yet, they are, without a doubt, responsible for commissioning people at the forefront in their fields, including Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Galileo and Michelangelo, all of whom we came across. In the Palazzo Vecchio, we stood in the infamous Machiavelli’s office, listening to passages from The Prince that claim you should ‘crush your enemies’ so they can’t retaliate. Unsurprisingly, many found it hard to swallow Machiavelli’s political realism! In Siena, we saw frescos of Good and Bad government, and the consequences they have for a society. Tragically, they remain unfinished as the city fell to the Black Death before they could be completed. The trip culminated in a ‘draw your favourite thing from the Uffizi’ competition over supper on the last night, all completed in the medium of ‘biro on paper placemat’, which I am sure that Michelangelo would have used, if only they had been available to him!

By Clare Jarmy, Head of Religious Studies and Philosophy


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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