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Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 1527) Essay

1195 words - 5 pages

Niccolo Machiavelli(1469 - 1527)Niccolo Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469 in Florence, Italy. He is known for being a political philosopher, historian, writer, statesman, and diplomat. At the time of his life, Italy was in great turmoil. Italy was divided between four dominant city-states, and each of these was continually at the mercy of the stronger foreign governments of Europe. Since 1434 the wealthy Medici family ruled Florence. A reform movement, begun in 1494, temporarily interrupted their rule in which the young Machiavelli became an important diplomat. When the Medici family regained power in 1512 with the help of Spanish troops, Machiavelli was tortured and removed from public life. For the next ten years he devoted himself to writing history, political philosophy, and even plays. He ultimately gained favor with the Medici family and was called back to public duty for the last two years of his life. Niccolo Machiavelli developed a reputation throughout his life of unethical distrust, being associated with corrupt government and diabolical. Machiavelli was suspected as a conspirator involved in the downfall of Gonfaloniere Soderini. He was arrested and later tortured for this - he continued saying that he was innocent. Later, when he was released from prison, he was forced to retire from public life. He was banished to his country estate at San Casciano. This is where he wrote The Prince, Discourses and two plays, amongst some other minor works as well. However, many people criticize Machiavelli's radical suggestions in The Prince. These people do not consider the state Italy was in when The Prince was written. Machiavelli wrote The Prince to help save Italy from frequent foreign invasions. According to those that knew Machiavelli, he was a religious and moral man.Machiavelli's greatest work is The Prince, written in 1513 and published after his death in 1532. The work immediately provoked controversy and was soon condemned by Pope Clement VIII. Its main theme is that princes should retain absolute control of their territories, and they should use any means of practicality to accomplish this end, including deception. Scholars struggle over interpreting Machiavelli's precise point. In several sections Machiavelli praises Caesar Borgia, a Spanish aristocrat who became a notorious and much despised oppressor of the Romagna region of northern Italy. During Machiavelli's early years as a diplomat, he was in contact with Borgia and witnessed Borgia's rule first hand. Does Machiavelli hold up Borgia as the model prince? Some readers initially saw The Prince as a satire on absolute rulers such as Borgia, which showed the hatred of arbitrary power (thereby implying the importance of liberty).However, this theory fell apart when, in 1810, a letter by Machiavelli was discovered in which he reveals that he wrote The Prince to endear himself to the ruling Medici family in Florence. To liberate Italy from the influence of foreign governments,...

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