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Niccolo Machiavelli

Who was Niccolo Machiavelli?

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March 26, 2018 6:58AM

Niccolo Machiavelli is one of the best known political thinkers of Europe. He was an Italian at a time, early 1500s, when Italy consisted of small independent states. Macchiavelli was a public servant of the Republic of Florence, where his family had a certain reputation for public service and moderate wealth. After his day's work he went to his study and contemplated the history of political ideas. He was familiar with the works of Aristotle and developed an interest in the history of the Roman Republic. His idea was to discover how the Romans had achieved greatness and contrast this with the problems besetting Florence. Revolution and violence were typical of his lifetime as the small independent states were overwhelmed by northern nations, France and Austria, the Moslems and corruption in the Papacy. Setting aside his ideals he wrote a slim book, The Prince, for which he is best known. It reflects with grim humour Macchiavelli's assessment of the political lessons of the day. Forget ideals and achieve political advantage over your rivals by any means, bribery, violence and deceit. He advises The Prince, of the title, not to concern himself with the wellbeing of his people or his own reputation, but just to secure his power. This was contrary to the ideals of government formed by the Greeks, Romans and Christian tradition, which Macchiavelli shared. By painting an exaggerated picture of contemporary politics he hoped to bring to light certain principles of justice and decency that cannot be ignored in healthy states. The book was widely translated and some readers, who knew little of its author, imagined that he endorsed the political strategies that appeared in it. From this he was for long mistaken as the father of political intrigue. More influential among political thinkers, such as Thomas Hobbes, were his depictions of the state as an organic being with its own psychology, public opinion, and a sense of securing itself against an uncertain future.
Machiavelli was the person who wrote the famous book " The Prince"