Niccolò Machiavelli was a distinguished Italian diplomat, and an acclaimed author. His rise to fame is attributed to his work, ‘The Prince’, a handbook for unconscientious politicians, which led to the origination of the terminology “Machiavellian”. This book has inspired generations for centuries, and has given Machiavelli the status of “father of modern political theory”.
Niccolò Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469, in Florence, Italy. He hailed from an affluent family and received an education complementing his wealth and social status. He entered the Florentine government after being accepted for the position of a clerk in 1494, the same year the Medici family was disgraced and exiled. Soon, he launched his career as a diplomat, and upon exhibiting his remarkable intellect, he was sent on diplomatic missions to several major cities in Italy as well as abroad, including France and Spain. He was presented in front of eminent personalities of his time as the ambassador of Florence, including Louis XII, Pope Julius II and Ferdinand II. Machiavelli was placed in charge of the Florentine militia, and he was also assigned to reorganize the military defence of Florence.
In 1512, the Medici family came back into power, and the Florentine republic was dissolved. Machiavelli became involved in organizing a Florentine militia against the return of the Medici family, and hence, he was dismissed from his post as a diplomat, arrested for his involvement in the conspiracy and brutally tortured. His political life came to an end, and he retired to his father’s estate, located on the outskirts of Florence.
Machiavelli compiled his masterwork during the bleakest period of his life when he was barred from his political career. He had all the time to spare, and he began educating himself on Roman history and compiling political discourses. His most praised and widely discussed work, titled “The Prince”, deals with the dynamics of monarchical rule, and portrays Machiavelli’s ethics of free will and determination to control one’s own destiny, which leads to the establishment of order and maintenance of supreme power. This treatise, over the centuries, has achieved the status of a handbook for the politician, and has led to the coining of the term “Machiavellian”.
Machiavelli is accredited for several remarkable literary contributions to the discipline of Politics. He published his first compilation, titled “Discorso sopra le cose di Pisa”. He followed that up with another highly acclaimed treatise, titled “Discorso sopra la provisione del danaro” (Discourse about the Provision of Money). The same year, he published another treatise where he explored several crucial themes such as rebellions by citing the example of the Romans, entitled “Del modo di trattare i sudditi della Valdichiana ribellati” (On the Way to Deal with the Rebel Subjects of the Valdichiana). His other highly praised works on Politics include “Ritratti delle cose dell’ Alemagna” (Portrait of the affairs of Germany) and “Ritratti delle cose di Francia” (Portrait of the affairs of France) among others. Machiavelli has also published a novel in 1527, titled “Belfagor arcidiavolo”. He wrote several poems, and three plays: “Mandragola” (The Mandrake, 1518), “Clizia” (1525), and “Andria” (1517). Mandragola is perhaps the most famous and widely enjoyed, it is a comedy that portrays Machiavelli’s ethics implemented in Italian society. During his stay in Lucca, he compiled “La vita di Castruccio Castracani da Lucca” (The Life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca), a comical account of the life of the medieval duke of Lucca. He also wrote the “Sommario delle cose della citta di Lucca”, which is basically an account of life and society in the city of Lucca.
Niccolò Machiavelli was appointed as the official historian of Florence by Pope Leo X, and he was commissioned to compile the history of Florence. He completed this work in five years, and presented it to Pope Clement VII in 1525, titled “Istorie fiorentine” (History of Florence). In 1526, he was appointed superintendent of the Procuratori delle Mura di Firenza, his job was to inspect the Florentine fortifications. However, he was soon removed from this post when the Medici family was thrown out of power in 1527. Following this, Machiavelli became increasingly disillusioned, and on June 21, 1527, he passed away. He was buried in the Church of Santa Croce, in Florence.