was born on May 3, 1469, in Florence, Italy. He eventually became
a man who lived his life for politics and patriotism. Right now,
however, he is associated with corrupt, totalitarian government.
The reason for this is a small pamphlet he wrote called The
Prince to gain influence with the ruling Medici family in
Florence. The political genius of Niccolo Machiavelli was
overshadowed by the reputation that was unfairly given to him
because of a misunderstanding of his views on politics.
Machiavelli's life was very interesting. He lived a nondescript
childhood in Florence,
and his main political experience in his youth was watching Savanarola
from afar. Soon after Savanarola was executed, Machiavelli entered
the Florentine government as a secretary. His position quickly
rose, however, and was soon engaging in diplomatic missions. He
met many of the important politicians of the day, such as the
Pope and the King of France, but none had more impact on him than
a prince of the Papal States, Cesare Borgia.
Borgia was a cunning, cruel man, very much like the one portrayed
in The Prince. Machiavelli did not truly like Borgia's
policies, but he thought that with a ruler like Borgia the Florentines
could unite Italy, which was Machiavelli's goal throughout his
life. Unfortunately for Machiavelli, he was dismissed from office
when the Medici came to rule Florence and the Republic was overthrown.
The lack of a job forced him to switch to writing about politics
instead of being active. His diplomatic missions were his last
official government positions.
When Machiavelli lost his office, he desperately wanted to return
to politics. He tried to gain the favor of the Medici by writing
a book of what he thought were the Medici's goals and dedicating
it to them. And so The Prince was
written for that purpose. Unfortunately, the Medici didn't agree
with what the book said, so he was out of a job. But when the
public saw the book, they were outraged. The people wondered how
cruel a man could be to think evil thoughts like the ones in The
Prince, and this would come back to haunt him when he was
alive and dead. However, if the people wanted to know what Machiavelli
really stood for, they should have read his "Discourses on
Livy", which explain his full political philosophy. But not
enough people had and have, and so the legacy of The Prince
continues to define Machiavelli to the general public.
A few years later the Medici were kicked out of Florence. The
republic was re-established, and Machiavelli ran to retake the
office he had left so many years ago. But the reputation that
The Prince had established made people think his philosophy was
like the Medici, so he was not elected. And here the sharp downhill
of his life began. His health began to fail him, and he died months
later, in 1527.
Machiavelli had been unfairly attacked all
of his life because of a bad reputation. But it only got worse
after he died. He was continually blasted for his "support"
of corrupt ruling. In fact, Machiavellian now means corrupt government.
Only recently has his true personality come to light. The world
must change it's vision of the cold, uncaring Machiavelli to the
correct view of a patriot and a political genius.
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Explorer:http://rhf.bradley.edu/~liberty/mach.html, 9 May 1996
Ganswijk, Jaap van. Niccolo Machiavelli. Downloaded from WOW!/MS Internet
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Mattingly, Garret. "Machiavelli." The Horizon Book of the Renaissance. New York:
American Heritage Publishing, 1961.
Niccolo Machiavelli: Power for Good or Bad? Downloaded from WOW!/MS Internet
Prezzolini, Guiseppe. Niccolo Machiavelli-The Florentine. New York: Bretano's, 1928.
Rachum, Ilan. "Machiavelli, Niccolo." The Renaissance-an Illustrated Encyclopedia. 1979
Wood, Tim. The Renaissance. New York: Viking, 1993.
Basque translation of this web page (by Web Geek Science)