Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469 in Florence. Little is known of his early life, but he was known to have had a great amount of education and a thorough reading of great writers including Aristotle, Herodotus, and Virgil. In 1492, Savonarola came into power, and for a while Machiavelli was a follower. Machiavelli felt that Savonarola could only keep power by arming himself, and eventually became disenchanted with the religious leader. In 1498 Savonarola was hanged and Machiavelli gained a position as the head of the second chancery with the new republic. During this period, Machiavelli dealt with many officials in foreign nations including Cesare Borgia and Pope Julius II . Machiavelli was responsible for writing important government documents, and it is through these contacts and writings that Machiavelli's later philosophies and literary skills can be said to have been developed. In 1512, the Medici returned to power, and although Machiavelli had hopes of retaining his employment, he was quickly dismissed. Shortly after, a plot to overthrow the Medici was uncovered and Machiavelli's name was on a list of conspirators. Even though the plot was eventually discovered to have been very vague, Machiavelli was imprisoned, tortured and banished from the city. Machiavelli settled outside of Florence, and it is here that he began work on his masterpiece The Prince. Machiavelli had hoped to win favor with the Medici with this work, but this never came to pass, and The Prince was never published in his lifetime. Indeed it is rather surprising that Machiavelli was more well known during his lifetime for his plays Mandragola and Clizia. Machiavelli also wrote poetry and carnival songs, but he still wrote many political works. Important amongst these are his Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius and The History of Florence. Eventually Machiavelli regained some prestige with the Medici and continued some more political work for Florence. Machiavelli died on June 21, 1527. Machiavelli is an important figure in Florence's political and literary history, who is considered the founder of political philosophies, and whose name has been coined into the English word Machiavellian. Here is a a place for further information about Machiavelli.

Encyclopedia Brittanica, 15th ed., 1992. S.v. "Machiavelli, Niccolo".

Muir, D. Erskine. Machiavelli and His Times. New York: E.P Dutton & Co., 1936.