Nicolas Machiavelli Biography

Niccolé di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (Florence, 3 May 1469 – ibid., 21 June 1527). Better known as Nicolas Machiavelli, he was a Writer, Philosopher, Official and Diplomat of Florentine origin, who went down in history as one of the most important thinkers of the Italian Renaissance.


He is also recognized for his work The Prince, considered one of the greatest texts on political doctrine. Machiavelli is listed by modern writers and philosophers as one of the most important and influential thinkers in history.

Early Life

Nicolás Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469, in the village of San Casciano in Val di Pesa, near Florence, in a cultured family of the nobility, which was nevertheless in a precarious economic situation.


His father was the aovado Bernardo Machiavelli and his mother Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli. In 1494, the same year of the medici’s term of office in Florence, Machiavelli began his career as a public official.

In 1498 he was appointed as Secretary of the Second Chancellery in charge of Foreign Affairs and War, a position he held until 1512, fulfilling important diplomatic missions, which allowed him to travel to the French and German courts, as well as to other Italian cities.

Among his main duties as a Florentine Diplomat are to try to convince Louis XII, king of France, in 1500, to continue the War against Pisa.

He also attended the ceremony for the election of Alexander VI’s successor, in 1503, where Giuliano delle Rovere, known historically as Pope Julius II, was elected. Also in 1507 he represented Florence before Maximilian I, in order to examine the expansionist coffers of this emperor.

However, his main task as a Diplomat was to procure and ensure the sovereignty of Florence, in the face of the great powers of Europe, for which he created in 1505 the National Militia.

Exile in San Casciano in Val di Pesa

He also tried tirelessly to improve relations between the French king Louis XII and Pope Julius II. However, the confrontation finally ensued, resulting in the defeat of France and the return in 1512 in Medici, which resulted in a misfortune for Machiavelli’s public career. In 1513, he was labelled a traitor, taken to prison and tortured.

After obtaining his freedom, thanks to the mediation of the new Pope Leo X, he decided to retire at his home in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, located on the outskirts of Florence, where he subsists economically thanks to the felling of a forest located within his property , as well as livestock and agriculture, living a time of great economic needs.

His Florentine friends forgot it. Machiavelli had nothing left but to share with the peasants who work on their lands. However, Machiavelli takes advantage of these years to read the great classics of Literature.

According to some historians, he devoted the hours of the night to his literary activity, dressing in his best galas, in order to read Dante, Ovid or Petrarca, dressed in his best costumes.

Literary work

At this time, he developed his talent for writing, producing between 1513 and 1525, more than a dozen works, including El Príncipe (1513), Della lengua (1514), Belfagor arcidiavolo (1515), Andria (1517), Asino d’oro (1517), La Mandrágora (1518), From the art of war (1520), Discorso sopra il reformare lo stato di Firenze (1520), Summary of the court of the city of Lucca (1520), The Life of Castruccio Castracani (1520), History of Florence, collected in eight bodes, which he wrote between 1520 and 1525.

These texts, in addition to his first ten books published during his career as a public official, add more than twenty works, born from Machiavelli’s pen.

His best known and most important work is El Príncipe, a book that Nicolás Machiavelo dedicated to Lorenzo de Medici, and where he uses the figure of César Borgia to scobar the different models of state, constituting one of the most outstanding works of politics. In its pages, Machiavelli analyzes the psychological profiles and virtues that must have the one who must assume the highest office of a government.

Likewise, whatever the origin of his power, the Ruling Prince must have the capacity to feign his virtues, subordinating and modifying his own moral values, for the benefit of the State and the people, to which he must give him freedom, in order to gain him in his favor, thus securing the best of futures.

Likewise, in his book Description of Things in Germany, Machiavelli expresses some of his great political and historical experience, acquired during his years as a diplomat.

For its part, the work Speeches on the First Decade of Titus Livio is also one of the most important in terms of his political vision, where he manages to outline his theory about the cyclical character of history, according to which a monarchical government has a tendency to become in tyranny, the aristocracy in oligarchy, and democracy in anarchy, being produced again to the monarchy.

Final years

From 1520, Cardinal Julio de Medici rehired him as a government function. In 1526 he was appointed to the post of Superintendent of Fortifications.

However, a year later, Charles I of Spain marched on Rome, again producing the fall of the Medici, again causing the political isolation of Machiavelli, who was relegated from all his public office.

He died in oblivion, at the age of fifty-eight, on June 21, 1527, being one of the many geniuses not appreciated by his contemporaries, whose work became one of the most important in Literature and Politics, while its name was popularly erected as synonymous with realism and cynism.

Image source: escuelapedia.com

Nicolas Machiavelli Biography
Source: Education  
July 31, 2019


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