Niccolo Machiavelli

Philosopher / Writer

Born: 3 May 1469
Died: 22 June 1527
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Best known as: Author of The Prince

Name at birth: Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

Machiavelli has been called the brilliant creator of modern political science by some, and a cynical beast by others; he is considered the originator of the idea of a political pragmatism that says "the end justifies the means." Either way, his 1513 book The Prince is a landmark work in the history of political power. A high-level statesman in Florence (1498-1512), he traveled on diplomatic missions throughout Europe before he was exiled by the Medicis. Imprisoned for a time, he later retired to his private estate and concentrated on studying and writing. A rumination on the acquisition and uses of power, The Prince remains a mainstay of college bookstores everywhere.

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