Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian statesman and author and prominent figure of the Renaissance, was born on May 3rd, 1469. His father was Bernardo di Niccoli, who belonged to an impoverished part of an old Florentine family, and there is little recorded about his youth.
It was in the independent city-state of Florence that he began an active career as a politician as a young man, becoming part of important diplomatic missions throughout Europe. He met with some of the most famous figures of his time and all history, such as Pope Alexander IV, and his son Cesare Borgia, as well as King Louis VII of France and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. He had spent more than a decade in public service when the republic he worked for collapsed.
In 1512, the Medici regained power, and although Machiavelli hoped to retain his career under the new government, he was dismissed on November 7th. Not long after his dismissal, he was put in jail and tortured under accusations of conspiracy against the Medici. After his release, he retired to a place just outside of Florence and dedicated himself to literature.
He created several important, mostly politically based writings during the Renaissance, most famous of which is The Prince. Originally written in hopes of winning favor and regaining his job with the Medici government, he dedicated it to Lorenzo II de' Medici, the current ruler of Florence. It did not, however, get him his government position back, and there is actually no prove that Lorenzo ever even read it. If examined at all, it was received as unimportant by the government. It caused little fuss with the public when it was first published, but later became known as an immoral and cruel interpretation of an ideal ruler. It was received so distastefully that the term Machiavellian is used for immoral cunning.
Machiavelli's dedication of "The Prince" to Lorenzo was all but expected during his time. Dedications of writings to powerful men were part of nearly all literature during the Renaissance. Written in this tradition, Machiavelli's dedication states his unworthiness and praised Lorenzo's greatness, even referring to him as magnificent. Just like Machiavelli, many writers during this time were also hoping to create favor with the powerful men they dedicated their writings to.
"The Prince" discusses many political structures of the time, both philosophically as well practically. Machiavelli discuss that there exist only two types of states: republics and principalities. Due to the dedication to a prince himself, he discusses very little about republican government. He goes on to discuss the various ways a prince may come into power during his time, ranging from luck to strategy and intelligence.
Throughout his writings in "The Prince", and the publics reactions to it, Machiavelli slowly but surely tells not only the of how government was run, but also alludes to what was socially acceptable during his lifetime. His own society deemed him...