This essay Machiavelli has a total of 1624 words and 6 pages.


"The term Machiavellian refers to someone who is unscrupulous, cunning, cynical, and unprincipled"(Goods 1998). Many scholars agree that this particular adjective would have dismayed Niccolo Machiavelli, the man from whom the term is derived. In reality he has been attributed as being one of the brightest lights of the Italian Renaissance through his works as not only a writer, but also as an influential philosopher of history and political thought. His most famous work The Prince has been misunderstood due to the motives discussed and the blatantly honest language used. Many of his critics have condemned him for his pessimistic outlook of man as a whole and in doing so try to negate the bulk of his work. Yet even after over 470 years his works are still thought provoking and influential in the political arena. This paper looks at some of the influences that may have created such a man.
Machiavelli was born in Florence on May 3, 1469, a time of political upheaval and a strong political influence from the Roman Catholic Church. Although Machiavelli was never what would today be considered middle class, he himself states “I was born poor and learned earlier to stint myself than to prosper”(Gilbert 1961, 102). While the extent of this poverty is not known, it is known that his family owned land and was able to pay for his education. In fact, through some of his father’s letters we learn that he had an excellent education in Latin, arithmetic, history, and poetry, but that he was not well off enough to afford other more expensive forms of training (Gilbert 1961, 56). However, his financial hardship from earlier on seems to display itself in his cautious approach to most of his political activities. In fact, the lessons Machiavelli learned early on set a precedent of conservatism that carried on throughout his life.
Machiavelli’s first position in government was given to him in 1498 at the age of twenty-nine. His position was that of Second Chancellor or Secretary and was the second most important paid position in the city (Gilbert 1961, 12). This position was advantageous in the fact that it provided him with experience dealing with both international negotiations and domestic business within the city. These early experiences were evident influences in his political beliefs and he himself commented on them occasionally. It was these early lessons in politics that not provided the foundation for his political beliefs,

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