3rd May 1469 – Niccolo Machiavelli Is Born

Portrait_of_Niccolò_Machiavelli_by_Santi_di_Tito

On 3rd May 1469, Niccolo Machiavelli was born to Bernado Machiavelli and Bartholomea Benizzi. The Machiavelli family were relatively well to do, a family of prominence if not lesser nobility within Florence. Today, we think of Machiavelli as incredibly cunning and indeed even as ruthless thanks to his work “The Prince” (1513-14), however Niccolo Machiavelli was so much more than that. He was the father of modern politics, a historian and a humanist. Throughout his life he ended up becoming one of Florence’s most senior officials, and ended up working on military affairs which was when he came into contact with Cesare Borgia.

It was Borgia who provided one of the ideals for his work “The Prince”, a moral work in which Machiavelli describes immoral behaviour conducted within war and politics as completely normal and effective. Indeed, Cesare Borgia’s methods seemed to prove Machiavelli’s thoughts on the matter as correct which is why Machiavelli based a lot of his work on Il Valentino’s methods.

“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”

“Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved”

The Prince, written around six years after Borgia’s death, followed on from Machiavelli’s imprisonment and torture by the Florentine Republic in 1512. Although he never held political office within Florence, he dissected and investigated political behaviour that he had seen first hand throughout the years. Drawing on events from Classical history as well as more recent events, he created a work that would have Machiavelli go down in history as a man who endorsed immoral behaviour and believed that deceit was perfectly normal within politics and war. Indeed, this is where the term “Machiavellian” comes from. However, The Price was actually a piece of work that opened up political thinking more than any other work had previously.

Machiavelli was certainly an incredible man whose work paved the way for political thinking throughout the centuries. His history is also intertwined closely with Cesare Borgia’s time as Gonfalonier of the Papal States and his taking of the Romagna.

Watch this space for more on Machiavelli’s life.

Further Reading

Machiavelli: A Life Beyond Ideology – Paul Oppenheimer

The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli

The Art Of War – Niccolo Machiavelli

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