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Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli Machiavelli wrote this book, The Prince,which is about becomming a political leader from examples of his own life. Niccolo Machiavelli lived from 1469 to 1527, saw what we now consider the height of the Italian Renaissance- a period that produced some of Italy’s greatest achievements in the arts and sciences, but that also produced horrible scandals and the establishment of foreign domination over the peninsula. Brought up while members of the powerful Medici family were masters of Florence, he studied the classics and learned to read and write in Latin. He also showed a keen interest in, and the ability to learn from, the world around him. He was a diplomat, a student of history, and a writer of comedy, and his sharp and unique insights changed the face of political science forever.

Machiavelli was born in Florence on May 3, 1469. We first hear of him playing an active role in the affairs of his native city in 1498, when the government dominated by Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar whose puritanical views had influenced Florence for the preceding four years, fell from power. Therefore, the post was left unoccupied, but after a short delay the little known name of Niccolo Machiavelli was put forward as a possible replacement. He was only twenty-nine years old at the time and apparently had no previous administrative experience. His nomination was confirmed, however, and he was appointed second chancellor of the Florentine Republic.

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It was an enormous opportunity, and the experiences and insights he would gain in the post would be used later in writing The Prince. At the time Machiavelli entered public service, there were already well-established standards for filling major administrative positions in Florentine government. In addition to exhibiting diplomatic skill, civil servants were expected to display competence in the humane disciplines. These disciplines had been derived from ancient Roman sources especially from the orator and statesman Cicero, who had written about the need for formal study of Latin, rhetoric, history, moral philosophy, and politics to prepare a student for professional service to the community. Ultimately, they were the ancestor of the humanities, or liberal arts curriculum in contemporary education. The popularity of the humanistic ideals in Florentine government help explain how Machiavelli came to be appointed to a responsible government post at such an early age. His family, though neither rich nor aristocratic, were closely allied with the city’s leading humanists. Machiavelli’s father, Bernardo, a lawyer, had acquaintance with several distinguished humanist scholars.

According to his fathers diary, Machiavelli began formal education at the age of seven, which included the study of Latin, the language that was the passport to the world of humanistic learning. By the time Machiavelli was twelve he had graduated from primary school and was enrolled in private classes. Later, he was accepted at the University of Florence, where he received training in the humanities, literature, and sciences from Marcello Adriani, who succeeded Scala as first chancellor of Florence. During the next fourteen years, Machiavelli was sent on numerous diplomatic missions to France, Switzerland, and Germany. His observations abroad resulted in many of the ideas that form the basis for the major statements found in his political works.

In The Prince, for example, Machiavelli comments at length on Germany’s well-fortified cities and evaluates the weak leadership of the French king, Louis XII. History Reports.

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