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Niccolò Machiavelli

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Niccolò Machiavelli
Portrait by Santi di Tito, c. 1550–1600
Born(1469-05-03)3 May 1469
Florence, Republic of Florence
Died21 June 1527(1527-06-21) (aged 58)
Florence, Republic of Florence
Notable work
Marietta Corsini
(m. 1501)
EraRenaissance philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Politics and political philosophy, military theory, history
Notable ideas
Classical realism, virtù, multitude, national interest

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli[a] (3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was a Florentine[4][5] diplomat, author, philosopher, and historian who lived during the Italian Renaissance. He is best known for his political treatise The Prince (Il Principe), written around 1513 but not published until 1532, five years after his death.[6] He has often been called the father of modern political philosophy and political science.[7]

For many years he served as a senior official in the Florentine Republic with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is also important to historians and scholars of Italian correspondence.[8] He worked as secretary to the second chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power.

After his death Machiavelli's name came to evoke unscrupulous acts of the sort he advised most famously in his work, The Prince.[9] He claimed that his experience and reading of history showed him that politics has always involved deception, treachery, and crime.[10] He also notably said that a ruler who is establishing a kingdom or a republic, and is criticized for his deeds, including violence, should be excused when the intention and the result are beneficial to him.[11][12][13] Machiavelli's Prince has been surrounded by controversy since it was published. Some consider it to be a straightforward description of political reality. Others view The Prince as a manual, teaching would-be tyrants how they should seize and maintain power.[14] Even into recent times, some scholars, such as Leo Strauss, have restated the traditional opinion that Machiavelli was a "teacher of evil".[15]

Even though Machiavelli has become most famous for his work on principalities, scholars also give attention to the exhortations in his other works of political philosophy. While less well known than The Prince, the Discourses on Livy (composed c. 1517) has been said to have paved the way for modern republicanism.[16] His works were a major influence on Enlightenment authors who revived interest in classical republicanism, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and James Harrington.[17] Machiavelli's political realism has continued to influence generations of academics and politicians, including Hannah Arendt and Otto von Bismarck.[18][19]


Oil painting of Machiavelli by Cristofano dell'Altissimo

Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy, the third child and first son of attorney Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli and his wife, Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli, on 3 May 1469.[20] The Machiavelli family is believed to be descended from the old marquesses of Tuscany and to have produced thirteen Florentine Gonfalonieres of Justice,[21] one of the offices of a group of nine citizens selected by drawing lots every two months and who formed the government, or Signoria; he was never, though, a full citizen of Florence because of the nature of Florentine citizenship in that time even under the republican regime. Machiavelli married Marietta Corsini in 1501. They had seven children, five sons and two daughters: Primerana, Bernardo, Lodovico, Guido, Piero [it], Baccina and Totto.[22][23]

Machiavelli was born in a tumultuous era. The Italian city-states, and the families and individuals who ran them could rise and fall suddenly, as popes and the kings of France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire waged acquisitive wars for regional influence and control. Political-military alliances continually changed, featuring condottieri (mercenary leaders), who changed sides without warning, and the rise and fall of many short-lived governments.[24]

Machiavelli was taught grammar, rhetoric, and Latin by his teacher, Paolo da Ronciglione.[25] It is unknown whether Machiavelli knew Greek; Florence was at the time one of the centres of Greek scholarship in Europe.[26] In 1494 Florence restored the republic, expelling the Medici family that had ruled Florence for some sixty years. Shortly after the execution of Savonarola, Machiavelli was appointed to an office of the second chancery, a medieval writing office that put Machiavelli in charge of the production of official Florentine government documents.[27] Shortly thereafter, he was also made the secretary of the Dieci di Libertà e Pace.

In the first decade of the sixteenth century, he carried out several diplomatic missions, most notably to the papacy in Rome. Florence sent him to Pistoia to pacify the leaders of two opposing factions which had broken into riots in 1501 and 1502; when this failed, the leaders were banished from the city, a strategy which Machiavelli had favoured from the outset.[28] From 1502 to 1503, he witnessed the brutal reality of the state-building methods of Cesare Borgia (1475–1507) and his father, Pope Alexander VI, who were then engaged in the process of trying to bring a large part of central Italy under their possession.[29] The pretext of defending Church interests was used as a partial justification by the Borgias. Other excursions to the court of Louis XII and the Spanish court influenced his writings such as The Prince.

At the start of the 16th century, Machiavelli conceived of a militia for Florence, and he then began recruiting and creating it.[30] He distrusted mercenaries (a distrust that he explained in his official reports and then later in his theoretical works for their unpatriotic and uninvested nature in the war that makes their allegiance fickle and often unreliable when most needed),[31] and instead staffed his army with citizens, a policy that yielded some positive results. By February 1506 he was able to have four hundred farmers marching on parade, suited (including iron breastplates), and armed with lances and small firearms.[30] Under his command, Florentine citizen-soldiers conquered Pisa in 1509.[32]

Machiavelli's tomb in the Santa Croce Church in Florence

Machiavelli's success was short-lived. In August 1512, the Medici, backed by Pope Julius II, used Spanish troops to defeat the Florentines at Prato.[33] In the wake of the siege, Piero Soderini resigned as Florentine head of state and fled into exile. The experience would, like Machiavelli's time in foreign courts and with the Borgia, heavily influence his political writings. The Florentine city-state and the republic were dissolved, with Machiavelli then being removed from office and banished from the city for a year.[34] In 1513, the Medici accused him of conspiracy against them and had him imprisoned.[35] Despite being subjected to torture[34] ("with the rope", in which the prisoner is hanged from his bound wrists from the back, forcing the arms to bear the body's weight and dislocating the shoulders), he denied involvement and was released after three weeks.

Machiavelli then retired to his farm estate at Sant'Andrea in Percussina, near San Casciano in Val di Pesa, where he devoted himself to studying and writing political treatises. During this period, he represented the Florentine Republic on diplomatic visits to France, Germany, and elsewhere in Italy.[34] Despairing of the opportunity to remain directly involved in political matters, after a time he began to participate in intellectual groups in Florence and wrote several plays that (unlike his works on political theory) were both popular and widely known in his lifetime. Politics remained his main passion, and to satisfy this interest, he maintained a well-known correspondence with more politically connected friends, attempting to become involved once again in political life.[36] In a letter to Francesco Vettori, he described his experience:

When evening comes, I go back home, and go to my study. On the threshold, I take off my work clothes, covered in mud and filth, and I put on the clothes an ambassador would wear. Decently dressed, I enter the ancient courts of rulers who have long since died. There, I am warmly welcomed, and I feed on the only food I find nourishing and was born to savour. I am not ashamed to talk to them and ask them to explain their actions and they, out of kindness, answer me. Four hours go by without my feeling any anxiety. I forget every worry. I am no longer afraid of poverty or frightened of death. I live entirely through them.[37]

Machiavelli died on 21 June 1527 from a stomach ailment[38] at the age of 58 after receiving his last rites.[39][40] He was buried at the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. In 1789 George Nassau Clavering, and Pietro Leopoldo, Grand Duke of Tuscany, initiated the construction of a monument on Machiavelli's tomb. It was sculpted by Innocenzo Spinazzi, with an epitaph by Doctor Ferroni inscribed on it.[41][b]

Major works[edit]

The Prince[edit]

Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, to whom the final version of The Prince was dedicated

Machiavelli's best-known book Il Principe contains several maxims concerning politics. Instead of the more traditional target audience of a hereditary prince, it concentrates on the possibility of a "new prince". To retain power, the hereditary prince must carefully balance the interests of a variety of institutions to which the people are accustomed.[42] By contrast, a new prince has the more difficult task in ruling: He must first stabilise his newfound power in order to build an enduring political structure. Machiavelli suggests that the social benefits of stability and security can be achieved in the face of moral corruption. Machiavelli believed that public and private morality had to be understood as two different things in order to rule well.[43] As a result, a ruler must be concerned not only with reputation, but also must be positively willing to act unscrupulously at the right times. Machiavelli believed that, for a ruler, it was better to be widely feared than to be greatly loved; a loved ruler retains authority by obligation, while a feared leader rules by fear of punishment.[44] As a political theorist, Machiavelli emphasized the "necessity" for the methodical exercise of brute force or deceit, including extermination of entire noble families, to head off any chance of a challenge to the prince's authority.[45]

Scholars often note that Machiavelli glorifies instrumentality in state building, an approach embodied by the saying, often attributed to interpretations of The Prince, "The ends justify the means".[46] Fraud and deceit are held by Machiavelli as necessary for a prince to use.[47] Violence may be necessary for the successful stabilization of power and introduction of new political institutions. Force may be used to eliminate political rivals, destroy resistant populations, and purge the community of other men strong enough of a character to rule, who will inevitably attempt to replace the ruler.[48] Machiavelli has become infamous for such political advice, ensuring that he would be remembered in history through the adjective, "Machiavellian".[49]

Due to the treatise's controversial analysis on politics, the Catholic Church banned The Prince, putting it on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Humanists also viewed the book negatively, including Erasmus of Rotterdam. As a treatise, its primary intellectual contribution to the history of political thought is the fundamental break between political realism and political idealism, due to it being a manual on acquiring and keeping political power. In contrast with Plato and Aristotle, Machiavelli insisted that an imaginary ideal society is not a model by which a prince should orient himself.

Concerning the differences and similarities in Machiavelli's advice to ruthless and tyrannical princes in The Prince and his more republican exhortations in Discourses on Livy, a few commentators assert that The Prince, although written as advice for a monarchical prince, contains arguments for the superiority of republican regimes, similar to those found in the Discourses. In the 18th century, the work was even called a satire, for example by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.[50][51]

Scholars such as Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield have stated that sections of The Prince and his other works have deliberately esoteric statements throughout them.[52] However, Mansfield states that this is the result of Machiavelli's seeing grave and serious things as humorous because they are "manipulable by men", and sees them as grave because they "answer human necessities".[53]

Another interpretation is that of Antonio Gramsci, who argued that Machiavelli's audience for this work was not even the ruling class, but the common people, because rulers already knew these methods through their education.

Discourses on Livy[edit]

The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, written around 1517, and published in 1531, often referred to simply as the Discourses or Discorsi, is nominally a discussion regarding the classical history of early Ancient Rome, although it strays far from this subject matter and also uses contemporary political examples to illustrate points. Machiavelli presents it as a series of lessons on how a republic should be started and structured. It is a larger work than The Prince, and while it more openly explains the advantages of republics, it also contains many similar themes from his other works.[54] For example, Machiavelli has noted that to save a republic from corruption, it is necessary to return it to a "kingly state" using violent means.[55] He excuses Romulus for murdering his brother Remus and co-ruler Titus Tatius to gain absolute power for himself in that he established a "civil way of life".[56] Commentators disagree about how much the two works agree with each other, as Machiavelli frequently refers to leaders of republics as "princes".[57] Machiavelli even sometimes acts as an advisor to tyrants.[58][59] Other scholars have pointed out the aggrandizing and imperialistic features of Machiavelli's republic.[60] Nevertheless, it became one of the central texts of modern republicanism, and has often been argued to be a more comprehensive work than The Prince.[61]


Engraved portrait of Machiavelli, from the Peace Palace Library's Il Principe, published in 1769

Major commentary on Machiavelli's work has focused on two issues: how unified and philosophical his work is and how innovative or traditional it is.[62]


There is some disagreement concerning how best to describe the unifying themes, if there are any, that can be found in Machiavelli's works, especially in the two major political works, The Prince and Discourses. Some commentators have described him as inconsistent, and perhaps as not even putting a high priority on consistency.[62] Others such as Hans Baron have argued that his ideas must have changed dramatically over time. Some have argued that his conclusions are best understood as a product of his times, experiences and education. Others, such as Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield, have argued strongly that there is a strong and deliberate consistency and distinctness, even arguing that this extends to all of Machiavelli's works including his comedies and letters.[62][63]


Commentators such as Leo Strauss have gone so far as to name Machiavelli as the deliberate originator of modernity itself. Others have argued that Machiavelli is only a particularly interesting example of trends which were happening around him. In any case, Machiavelli presented himself at various times as someone reminding Italians of the old virtues of the Romans and Greeks, and other times as someone promoting a completely new approach to politics.[62]

That Machiavelli had a wide range of influences is in itself not controversial. Their relative importance is however a subject of ongoing discussion. It is possible to summarize some of the main influences emphasized by different commentators.

The Mirror of Princes genre

Gilbert (1938) summarized the similarities between The Prince and the genre it obviously imitates, the so-called "Mirror of Princes" style. This was a classically influenced genre, with models at least as far back as Xenophon and Isocrates. While Gilbert emphasized the similarities, however, he agreed with all other commentators that Machiavelli was particularly novel in the way he used this genre, even when compared to his contemporaries such as Baldassare Castiglione and Erasmus. One of the major innovations Gilbert noted was that Machiavelli focused on the "deliberate purpose of dealing with a new ruler who will need to establish himself in defiance of custom". Normally, these types of works were addressed only to hereditary princes. (Xenophon is also an exception in this regard.)

Classical republicanism

Commentators such as Quentin Skinner and J.G.A. Pocock, in the so-called "Cambridge School" of interpretation, have asserted that some of the republican themes in Machiavelli's political works, particularly the Discourses on Livy, can be found in medieval Italian literature which was influenced by classical authors such as Sallust.[64][65]

Classical political philosophy: Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle

Xenophon, author of the Cyropedia

The Socratic school of classical political philosophy, especially Aristotle, had become a major influence upon European political thinking in the late Middle Ages. It existed both in the Catholicised form presented by Thomas Aquinas, and in the more controversial "Averroist" form of authors like Marsilius of Padua. Machiavelli was critical of Catholic political thinking and may have been influenced by Averroism. But he rarely cites Plato and Aristotle, and most likely did not approve of them. Leo Strauss argued that the strong influence of Xenophon, a student of Socrates more known as a historian, rhetorician and soldier, was a major source of Socratic ideas for Machiavelli, sometimes not in line with Aristotle. While interest in Plato was increasing in Florence during Machiavelli's lifetime, Machiavelli does not show particular interest in him, but was indirectly influenced by his readings of authors such as Polybius, Plutarch and Cicero.

The major difference between Machiavelli and the Socratics, according to Strauss, is Machiavelli's materialism, and therefore his rejection of both a teleological view of nature and of the view that philosophy is higher than politics. With their teleological understanding of things, Socratics argued that by nature, everything that acts, acts towards some end, as if nature desired them, but Machiavelli claimed that such things happen by blind chance or human action.[66]

Classical materialism

Strauss argued that Machiavelli may have seen himself as influenced by some ideas from classical materialists such as Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius. Strauss however sees this also as a sign of major innovation in Machiavelli, because classical materialists did not share the Socratic regard for political life, while Machiavelli clearly did.[66]


Some scholars note the similarity between Machiavelli and the Greek historian Thucydides, since both emphasized power politics.[67][68] Strauss argued that Machiavelli may indeed have been influenced by pre-Socratic philosophers, but he felt it was a new combination:

...contemporary readers are reminded by Machiavelli's teaching of Thucydides; they find in both authors the same "realism", i.e., the same denial of the power of the gods or of justice and the same sensitivity to harsh necessity and elusive chance. Yet Thucydides never calls in question the intrinsic superiority of nobility to baseness, a superiority that shines forth particularly when the noble is destroyed by the base. Therefore Thucydides' History arouses in the reader a sadness which is never aroused by Machiavelli's books. In Machiavelli we find comedies, parodies, and satires but nothing reminding of tragedy. One half of humanity remains outside of his thought. There is no tragedy in Machiavelli because he has no sense of the sacredness of "the common". – Strauss (1958, p. 292)


Amongst commentators, there are a few consistently made proposals concerning what was most new in Machiavelli's work.

Empiricism and realism versus idealism[edit]

Machiavelli is sometimes seen as the prototype of a modern empirical scientist, building generalizations from experience and historical facts, and emphasizing the uselessness of theorizing with the imagination.[62]

He emancipated politics from theology and moral philosophy. He undertook to describe simply what rulers actually did and thus anticipated what was later called the scientific spirit in which questions of good and bad are ignored, and the observer attempts to discover only what really happens.

— Joshua Kaplan, 2005[69]

Machiavelli felt that his early schooling along the lines of traditional classical education was essentially useless for the purpose of understanding politics. Nevertheless, he advocated intensive study of the past, particularly regarding the founding of a city, which he felt was a key to understanding its later development.[69] Moreover, he studied the way people lived and aimed to inform leaders how they should rule and even how they themselves should live. Machiavelli denies the classical opinion that living virtuously always leads to happiness. For example, Machiavelli viewed misery as "one of the vices that enables a prince to rule."[70] Machiavelli stated that "it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved."[71] In much of Machiavelli's work, he often states that the ruler must adopt unsavoury policies for the sake of the continuance of his regime.

A related and more controversial proposal often made is that he described how to do things in politics in a way which seemed neutral concerning who used the advice – tyrants or good rulers.[62] That Machiavelli strove for realism is not doubted, but for four centuries scholars have debated how best to describe his morality. The Prince made the word Machiavellian a byword for deceit, despotism, and political manipulation. Leo Strauss declared himself inclined toward the traditional view that Machiavelli was self-consciously a "teacher of evil", since he counsels the princes to avoid the values of justice, mercy, temperance, wisdom, and love of their people in preference to the use of cruelty, violence, fear, and deception.[72] Strauss takes up this opinion because he asserted that failure to accept the traditional opinion misses the "intrepidity of his thought" and "the graceful subtlety of his speech".[73] Italian anti-fascist philosopher Benedetto Croce (1925) concludes Machiavelli is simply a "realist" or "pragmatist" who accurately states that moral values, in reality, do not greatly affect the decisions that political leaders make.[74] German philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1946) held that Machiavelli simply adopts the stance of a political scientist – a Galileo of politics – in distinguishing between the "facts" of political life and the "values" of moral judgment.[75] On the other hand, Walter Russell Mead has argued that The Prince's advice presupposes the importance of ideas like legitimacy in making changes to the political system.[76]


Machiavelli is generally seen as being critical of Christianity as it existed in his time, specifically its effect upon politics, and also everyday life.[77] In his opinion, Christianity, along with the teleological Aristotelianism that the Church had come to accept, allowed practical decisions to be guided too much by imaginary ideals and encouraged people to lazily leave events up to providence or, as he would put it, chance, luck or fortune. While Christianity sees modesty as a virtue and pride as sinful, Machiavelli took a more classical position, seeing ambition, spiritedness, and the pursuit of glory as good and natural things, and part of the virtue and prudence that good princes should have. Therefore, while it was traditional to say that leaders should have virtues, especially prudence, Machiavelli's use of the words virtù and prudenza was unusual for his time, implying a spirited and immodest ambition. Mansfield describes his usage of virtù as a "compromise with evil".[78] Famously, Machiavelli argued that virtue and prudence can help a man control more of his future, in the place of allowing fortune to do so.

Najemy (1993) has argued that this same approach can be found in Machiavelli's approach to love and desire, as seen in his comedies and correspondence. Najemy shows how Machiavelli's friend Vettori argued against Machiavelli and cited a more traditional understanding of fortune.

On the other hand, humanism in Machiavelli's time meant that classical pre-Christian ideas about virtue and prudence, including the possibility of trying to control one's future, were not unique to him. But humanists did not go so far as to promote the extra glory of deliberately aiming to establish a new state, in defiance of traditions and laws.

While Machiavelli's approach had classical precedents, it has been argued that it did more than just bring back old ideas and that Machiavelli was not a typical humanist. Strauss (1958) argues that the way Machiavelli combines classical ideas is new. While Xenophon and Plato also described realistic politics and were closer to Machiavelli than Aristotle was, they, like Aristotle, also saw philosophy as something higher than politics. Machiavelli was apparently a materialist who objected to explanations involving formal and final causation, or teleology.

Machiavelli's promotion of ambition among leaders while denying any higher standard meant that he encouraged risk-taking, and innovation, most famously the founding of new modes and orders. His advice to princes was therefore certainly not limited to discussing how to maintain a state. It has been argued that Machiavelli's promotion of innovation led directly to the argument for progress as an aim of politics and civilization. But while a belief that humanity can control its own future, control nature, and "progress" has been long-lasting, Machiavelli's followers, starting with his own friend Guicciardini, have tended to prefer peaceful progress through economic development, and not warlike progress. As Harvey Mansfield (1995, p. 74) wrote: "In attempting other, more regular and scientific modes of overcoming fortune, Machiavelli's successors formalized and emasculated his notion of virtue."

Machiavelli however, along with some of his classical predecessors, saw ambition and spiritedness, and therefore war, as inevitable and part of human nature.

Strauss concludes his 1958 book Thoughts on Machiavelli by proposing that this promotion of progress leads directly to the advent of new technologies being invented in both good and bad governments. Strauss argued that the unavoidable nature of such arms races, which existed before modern times and led to the collapse of peaceful civilizations, show that classical-minded men "had to admit in other words that in an important respect the good city has to take its bearings by the practice of bad cities or that the bad impose their law on the good". Strauss (1958, pp. 298–299)


Machiavelli shows repeatedly that he saw religion as man-made, and that the value of religion lies in its contribution to social order and the rules of morality must be dispensed with if security requires it.[79][80] In The Prince, the Discourses and in the Life of Castruccio Castracani he describes "prophets", as he calls them, like Moses, Romulus, Cyrus the Great and Theseus (he treated pagan and Christian patriarchs in the same way) as the greatest of new princes, the glorious and brutal founders of the most novel innovations in politics, and men whom Machiavelli assures us have always used a large amount of armed force and murder against their own people.[81] He estimated that these sects last from 1,666 to 3,000 years each time, which, as pointed out by Leo Strauss, would mean that Christianity became due to start finishing about 150 years after Machiavelli.[82] Machiavelli's concern with Christianity as a sect was that it makes men weak and inactive, delivering politics into the hands of cruel and wicked men without a fight.[83]

While fear of God can be replaced by fear of the prince, if there is a strong enough prince, Machiavelli felt that having a religion is in any case especially essential to keeping a republic in order. For Machiavelli, a truly great prince can never be conventionally religious himself, but he should make his people religious if he can. According to Strauss (1958, pp. 226–227) he was not the first person to explain religion in this way, but his description of religion was novel because of the way he integrated this into his general account of princes.

Machiavelli's judgment that governments need religion for practical political reasons was widespread among modern proponents of republics until approximately the time of the French Revolution. This, therefore, represents a point of disagreement between Machiavelli and late modernity.[84]

Positive side to factional and individual vice[edit]

Despite the classical precedents, which Machiavelli was not the only one to promote in his time, Machiavelli's realism and willingness to argue that good ends justify bad things, is seen as a critical stimulus towards some of the most important theories of modern politics.

Firstly, particularly in the Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli is unusual in the positive side to factionalism in republics which he sometimes seems to describe. For example, quite early in the Discourses, (in Book I, chapter 4), a chapter title announces that the disunion of the plebs and senate in Rome "kept Rome free". That a community has different components whose interests must be balanced in any good regime is an idea with classical precedents, but Machiavelli's particularly extreme presentation is seen as a critical step towards the later political ideas of both a division of powers or checks and balances, ideas which lay behind the US constitution, as well as many other modern state constitutions.

Similarly, the modern economic argument for capitalism, and most modern forms of economics, was often stated in the form of "public virtue from private vices". Also in this case, even though there are classical precedents, Machiavelli's insistence on being both realistic and ambitious, not only admitting that vice exists but being willing to risk encouraging it, is a critical step on the path to this insight.

Mansfield however argues that Machiavelli's own aims have not been shared by those he influenced. Machiavelli argued against seeing mere peace and economic growth as worthy aims on their own if they would lead to what Mansfield calls the "taming of the prince".[85]


Statue at the Uffizi

To quote Robert Bireley:[86]

...there were in circulation approximately fifteen editions of the Prince and nineteen of the Discourses and French translations of each before they were placed on the Index of Paul IV in 1559, a measure which nearly stopped publication in Catholic areas except in France. Three principal writers took the field against Machiavelli between the publication of his works and their condemnation in 1559 and again by the Tridentine Index in 1564. These were the English cardinal Reginald Pole and the Portuguese bishop Jeronymo Osorio, both of whom lived for many years in Italy, and the Italian humanist and later bishop, Ambrogio Caterino Politi.

Machiavelli's ideas had a profound impact on political leaders throughout the modern west, helped by the new technology of the printing press. During the first generations after Machiavelli, his main influence was in non-republican governments. Pole reported that The Prince was spoken of highly by Thomas Cromwell in England and had influenced Henry VIII in his turn towards Protestantism, and in his tactics, for example during the Pilgrimage of Grace.[87] A copy was also possessed by the Catholic king and emperor Charles V.[88] In France, after an initially mixed reaction, Machiavelli came to be associated with Catherine de' Medici and the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. As Bireley (1990:17) reports, in the 16th century, Catholic writers "associated Machiavelli with the Protestants, whereas Protestant authors saw him as Italian and Catholic". In fact, he was apparently influencing both Catholic and Protestant kings.[89]

One of the most important early works dedicated to criticism of Machiavelli, especially The Prince, was that of the Huguenot, Innocent Gentillet, whose work commonly referred to as Discourse against Machiavelli or Anti Machiavel was published in Geneva in 1576.[90] He accused Machiavelli of being an atheist and accused politicians of his time by saying that his works were the "Koran of the courtiers", that "he is of no reputation in the court of France which hath not Machiavel's writings at the fingers ends".[91] Another theme of Gentillet was more in the spirit of Machiavelli himself: he questioned the effectiveness of immoral strategies (just as Machiavelli had himself done, despite also explaining how they could sometimes work). This became the theme of much future political discourse in Europe during the 17th century. This includes the Catholic Counter Reformation writers summarised by Bireley: Giovanni Botero, Justus Lipsius, Carlo Scribani, Adam Contzen, Pedro de Ribadeneira, and Diego de Saavedra Fajardo.[92] These authors criticized Machiavelli, but also followed him in many ways. They accepted the need for a prince to be concerned with reputation, and even a need for cunning and deceit, but compared to Machiavelli, and like later modernist writers, they emphasized economic progress much more than the riskier ventures of war. These authors tended to cite Tacitus as their source for realist political advice, rather than Machiavelli, and this pretence came to be known as "Tacitism".[93] "Black tacitism" was in support of princely rule, but "red tacitism" arguing the case for republics, more in the original spirit of Machiavelli himself, became increasingly important.

Francis Bacon argued the case for what would become modern science which would be based more upon real experience and experimentation, free from assumptions about metaphysics, and aimed at increasing control of nature. He named Machiavelli as a predecessor.

Modern materialist philosophy developed in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, starting in the generations after Machiavelli. Modern political philosophy tended to be republican, but as with the Catholic authors, Machiavelli's realism and encouragement of innovation to try to control one's own fortune were more accepted than his emphasis upon war and factional violence. Not only was innovative economics and politics a result, but also modern science, leading some commentators to say that the 18th century Enlightenment involved a "humanitarian" moderating of Machiavellianism.[94]

The importance of Machiavelli's influence is notable in many important figures in this endeavour, for example Bodin,[95] Francis Bacon,[96] Algernon Sidney,[97] Harrington, John Milton,[98] Spinoza,[99] Rousseau, Hume,[100] Edward Gibbon, and Adam Smith. Although he was not always mentioned by name as an inspiration, due to his controversy, he is also thought to have been an influence for other major philosophers, such as Montaigne,[101] Descartes,[102] Hobbes, Locke[103] and Montesquieu.[104][105] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who is associated with very different political ideas, viewed Machiavelli's work as a satirical piece in which Machiavelli exposes the faults of a one-man rule rather than exalting amorality.

In the seventeenth century it was in England that Machiavelli's ideas were most substantially developed and adapted, and that republicanism came once more to life; and out of seventeenth-century English republicanism there were to emerge in the next century not only a theme of English political and historical reflection – of the writings of the Bolingbroke circle and of Gibbon and of early parliamentary radicals – but a stimulus to the Enlightenment in Scotland, on the Continent, and in America.[106]

John Adams admired Machiavelli's rational description of the realities of statecraft. Adams used Machiavelli's works to argue for mixed government.

Scholars have argued that Machiavelli was a major indirect and direct influence upon the political thinking of the Founding Fathers of the United States due to his overwhelming favouritism of republicanism and the republican type of government. According to John McCormick, it is still very much debatable whether or not Machiavelli was "an advisor of tyranny or partisan of liberty."[107] Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson followed Machiavelli's republicanism when they opposed what they saw as the emerging aristocracy that they feared Alexander Hamilton was creating with the Federalist Party.[108] Hamilton learned from Machiavelli about the importance of foreign policy for domestic policy, but may have broken from him regarding how rapacious a republic needed to be in order to survive.[109][110] George Washington was less influenced by Machiavelli.[111]

The Founding Father who perhaps most studied and valued Machiavelli as a political philosopher was John Adams, who profusely commented on the Italian's thought in his work, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America.[112] In this work, John Adams praised Machiavelli, with Algernon Sidney and Montesquieu, as a philosophic defender of mixed government. For Adams, Machiavelli restored empirical reason to politics, while his analysis of factions was commendable. Adams likewise agreed with the Florentine that human nature was immutable and driven by passions. He also accepted Machiavelli's belief that all societies were subject to cyclical periods of growth and decay. For Adams, Machiavelli lacked only a clear understanding of the institutions necessary for good government.[112]

20th century[edit]

The 20th-century Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci drew great inspiration from Machiavelli's writings on ethics, morals, and how they relate to the State and revolution in his writings on Passive Revolution, and how a society can be manipulated by controlling popular notions of morality.[113]

Joseph Stalin read The Prince and annotated his own copy.[114]

In the 20th century there was also renewed interest in Machiavelli's play La Mandragola (1518), which received numerous stagings, including several in New York, at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1976 and the Riverside Shakespeare Company in 1979, as a musical comedy by Peer Raben in Munich's Anti Theatre in 1971, and at London's National Theatre in 1984.[115]


Portrait of a Gentleman (Cesare Borgia), used as an example of a successful ruler in The Prince

Machiavelli's works are sometimes even said to have contributed to the modern negative connotations of the words politics and politician,[116] and it is sometimes thought that it is because of him that Old Nick became an English term for the Devil.[117] More obviously, the adjective Machiavellian became a term describing a form of politics that is "marked by cunning, duplicity, or bad faith".[118] Machiavellianism also remains a popular term used casually in political discussions, often as a byword for bare-knuckled political realism.[119][120]

While Machiavellianism is notable in the works of Machiavelli, scholars generally agree that his works are complex and have equally influential themes within them. For example, J. G. A. Pocock (1975) saw him as a major source of the republicanism that spread throughout England and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries and Leo Strauss (1958), whose view of Machiavelli is quite different in many ways, had similar remarks about Machiavelli's influence on republicanism and argued that even though Machiavelli was a teacher of evil he had a "grandeur of vision" that led him to advocate immoral actions. Whatever his intentions, which are still debated today, he has become associated with any proposal where "the end justifies the means". For example, Leo Strauss (1987, p. 297) wrote:

Machiavelli is the only political thinker whose name has come into common use for designating a kind of politics, which exists and will continue to exist independently of his influence, a politics guided exclusively by considerations of expediency, which uses all means, fair or foul, iron or poison, for achieving its ends – its end being the aggrandizement of one's country or fatherland – but also using the fatherland in the service of the self-aggrandizement of the politician or statesman or one's party.

In popular culture[edit]

In English Renaissance theatre (Elizabethan and Jacobian), the term "Machiavel" (from 'Nicholas Machiavel', an "anglicization" of Machiavelli's name based on French) was used for a stock antagonist that resorted to ruthless means to preserve the power of the state, and is now considered a synonym of "Machiavellian".[121][122]

Christopher Marlowe's play The Jew of Malta (ca. 1589) contains a prologue by a character called Machiavel, a Senecan ghost based on Machiavelli.[123] Machiavel expresses the cynical view that power is amoral, saying "I count religion but a childish toy,/And hold there is no sin but ignorance."

Somerset Maugham's last book Then and Now fictionalizes Machiavelli's interactions with Cesare Borgia, which formed the foundation of The Prince.

Niccolò Machiavelli plays a vital role in the young adult book series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott.[124] He is immortal, and is working in national security for the French government.[125]

Niccolò Machiavelli aids Cesare Borgia and protagonist Nicholas Dawson in their dangerous intrigues in Cecelia Holland's 1979 historical novel City of God.[126] David Maclaine writes that in the novel, Machiavelli "is an off-stage presence whose spirit permeates this work of intrigue and betrayal ... It is a brilliant introduction to the people and events that gave us the word 'Machiavellian.'"[126] Machiavelli appears as an Immortal adversary of Duncan MacLeod in Nancy Holder's 1997 Highlander novel The Measure of a Man, and is a character in Michael Scott's novel series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (2007–2012). Machiavelli is also one of the main characters in The Enchantress of Florence (2008) by Salman Rushdie, mostly referred to as "Niccolò 'il Macchia", and the central protagonist in the 2012 novel The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis.

Television dramas centring on the early Renaissance have also made use of Machiavelli to underscore his influence in early modern political philosophy. Machiavelli has been featured as a supporting character in The Tudors (2007–2010),[127][128] Borgia (2011–2014) and The Borgias (2011–2013),[129] and the 1981 BBC mini series The Borgias.

Machiavelli appears in the popular historical video games Assassin's Creed II (2009) and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (2010), in which he is portrayed as a member of the secret society of Assassins.[130]

A highly fictionalised version of Machiavelli appears in the BBC children's TV series Leonardo (2011–2012),[131] in which he is "Mac", a black streetwise hustler who is best friends with fellow teenagers Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, and Lorenzo di Medici. In the 2013 episode "Ewings Unite!" of the television series Dallas, legendary oil baron J. R. Ewing wills his copy of The Prince to his adopted nephew Christopher Ewing, telling him to "use it, because being smart and sneaky is an unbeatable combination." In Da Vinci's Demons (2013–2015) – an American historical fantasy drama series that presents a fictional account of Leonardo da Vinci's early life[132]Eros Vlahos plays a young Niccolò "Nico" Machiavelli, although the character's full name is not revealed until the finale of the second season.

The 1967 The Time Tunnel episode "The Death Merchant" stars character actor Malachi Throne as Niccolò Machiavelli, who has been time-displaced to the Battle of Gettysburg. The character's personality and behaviour seem to portray Cesare Borgia rather than Machiavelli himself, suggesting that the writers may have confused the two.

Machiavelli is played by Damian Lewis in the 2013 BBC radio play The Prince written by Jonathan Myerson. Together with his defence attorney Lucrezia Borgia (Helen McCrory), he presents examples from history to the devil to support his political theories and appeal his sentence in Hell.[133]

The historical novel The City of Man (2009) by author Michael Harrington fully portrays the complex personalities of the two main characters – Girolamo Savonarola and a formative Niccolò Machiavelli – in opposition during the turbulent last decade of 15th-century Florence. The portrayal of Machiavelli draws from his later writings and observations of the chaotic events of his youth before rising from obscurity to be appointed as second chancellor of the Florentine Republic at the age of twenty-nine, only one month after Savonarola's execution. Major characters include Lorenzo de' Medici, his son Piero, Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), Cesare Borgia (model for The Prince), Piero and Tommaso Soderini, Il Cronaca and the diarist, Luca Landucci.

Rapper Tupac Shakur studied in depth the teachings of The Prince while in prison recovering from an attempt on his life. He was so inspired that once released from prison he changed his stage name to a pseudonym derived from Niccolo Machiavelli; "Makaveli", stating: "Like, Machiavelli. My name is not Machiavelli. My name is Makaveli. I took it, that's mine. He gave me that. And I don't feel no guilt."[134] "That's what got me here, My reading. It's not like I idolize this one guy Machiavelli. I idolize that type of thinking where you do whatever's gonna make you achieve your goal".[134] Released only eight weeks after Tupac Shakur died from gunshot wounds, Death Row records released The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory the posthumous album under the name of Makaveli, after having been influenced by Machiavelli's philosophy of using deception and fear on one's enemies.

In the 1993 crime drama A Bronx Tale, local mob boss Sonny tells his young protégé Calogero that while he was doing a 10-year sentence in jail, he passed the time and stayed out of trouble by reading Machiavelli, whom he describes as "a famous writer from 500 years ago". He then tells him how Machiavelli's philosophy, including his famous advice about how it is preferable for a leader to be feared rather than loved if he cannot be both, has made him a successful mob boss.

Machiavelli also appears as a young Florentine spy in the third season of Medici, where he is portrayed by Vincenzo Crea. He is addressed as "Nico" in all appearances except the season finale, where he reveals his full name.


Political and historical works[edit]

Peter Withorne's 1573 translation of The Art of War

Fictional works[edit]

Besides being a statesman and political scientist, Machiavelli also translated classical works, and was a playwright (Clizia, Mandragola), a poet (Sonetti, Canzoni, Ottave, Canti carnascialeschi), and a novelist (Belfagor arcidiavolo).

Some of his other work:

Other works[edit]

Della Lingua (Italian for "On the Language") (1514), a dialogue about Italy's language is normally attributed to Machiavelli.

Machiavelli's literary executor, Giuliano de' Ricci, also reported having seen that Machiavelli, his grandfather, made a comedy in the style of Aristophanes which included living Florentines as characters, and to be titled Le Maschere. It has been suggested that due to such things as this and his style of writing to his superiors generally, there was very likely some animosity to Machiavelli even before the return of the Medici.[136]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ /ˈnɪkəl ˌmækiəˈvɛli/ NIK-ə-loh MAK-ee-ə-VEL-ee, US also /- ˌmɑːk-/ -⁠ MAHK-,[1][2][3] Italian: [nikkoˈlɔ mmakjaˈvɛlli]; also occasionally rendered in English as Nicholas Machiavel (/ˈmækiəvɛl/ MAK-ee-ə-vel, US also /ˈmɑːk-/ MAHK-).
  2. ^ The Latin legend reads: TANTO NOMINI NULLUM PAR ELOGIUM ("So great a name (has) no adequate praise" or "No eulogy (would be) a match for such a great name" or "There is no praise equal to so great a name.")


  1. ^ "Machiavelli, Niccolò". Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Longman. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  2. ^ "Machievelli, Niccolò". Lexico US English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 10 February 2022.
  3. ^ "Machiavelli". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  4. ^ Dietz, Mary G.. Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469–1527), 1998, https://doi.org/10.4324/9780415249126-S080-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis
  5. ^ Berridge, G.R., Lloyd, L. (2012). M. In: Barder, B., Pope, L.E., Rana, K.S. (eds) The Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Diplomacy. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137017611_13
  6. ^ For example: "Niccolo Machiavelli – Italian statesman and writer". 17 June 2023. and "Niccolò Machiavelli". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  7. ^ For example: Smith, Gregory B. (2008). Between Eternities: On the Tradition of Political Philosophy, Past, Present, and Future. Lexington Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-0739120774., Whelan, Frederick G. (2004). Hume and Machiavelli: Political Realism and Liberal Thought. Lexington Books. p. 29. ISBN 978-0739106310., Strauss (1988). What is Political Philosophy? And Other Studies. University of Chicago Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0226777139.
  8. ^ Najemy, John M. (2019). Between Friends: Discourses of Power and Desire in the Machiavelli-Vettori Letters of 1513–1515. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691656649.
  9. ^ "Niccolo Machiavelli". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  10. ^ Cassirer, Ernst (1946). The Myth of the State. Yale University Press. pp. 141–145. ISBN 978-0300000368. ernst cassirer the myth of the state.
  11. ^ For example, The Prince chap. 15, and The Discourses Book I, chapter 9
  12. ^ Strauss, Leo; Cropsey, Joseph (2012). History of Political Philosophy. University of Chicago Press. p. 297. ISBN 978-0226924717.
  13. ^ Mansfield, Harvey C. (1998). Machiavelli's Virtue. University of Chicago Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0226503721.
  14. ^ Giorgini, Giovanni (2013). "Five Hundred Years of Italian Scholarship on Machiavelli's Prince". Review of Politics. 75 (4): 625–640. doi:10.1017/S0034670513000624. S2CID 146970196.
  15. ^ Strauss, Leo (2014). Thoughts on Machiavelli. University of Chicago Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0226230979.
  16. ^ Harvey Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov, "Introduction to the Discourses". In their translation of the Discourses on Livy
  17. ^ Theodosiadis, Michail (June–August 2021). "From Hobbes and Locke to Machiavelli's virtù in the political context of meliorism: popular eucosmia and the value of moral memory". Polis Revista. 11: 25–60.
  18. ^ Pflanze, Otto (1958). "Bismarck's "Realpolitik"". The Review of Politics. 20 (4): 492–514. doi:10.1017/S0034670500034185. ISSN 0034-6705. JSTOR 1404857. S2CID 144663704.
  19. ^ Arendt, Hannah (1988). The Human Condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press. p. 77.
  20. ^ de Grazia (1989)
  21. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Niccolò Machiavelli" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  22. ^ Guarini (1999:21)
  23. ^ "Machiavèlli, Niccolò nell'Enciclopedia Treccani". www.treccani.it (in Italian). Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  24. ^ Maurizio Viroli, Niccolò's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli (2000), ch 1
  25. ^ Niccolo Machiavelli Biography – Life of Florentine Republic Official, 13 December 2013
  26. ^ "Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527)". IEP. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  27. ^ Ridolfi, Roberto (2013). The Life of Niccolò Machiavelli. Routledge. p. 28. ISBN 978-1135026615.
  28. ^ Machiavelli 1981, p. 136, notes.
  29. ^ "Niccolo Machiavelli | Biography, Books, Philosophy, & Facts". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  30. ^ a b Viroli, Maurizio (2002). Niccolo's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli. Macmillan. pp. 81–86. ISBN 978-0374528003.
  31. ^ This point is made especially in The Prince, Chap XII
  32. ^ Viroli, Maurizio (2002). Niccolo's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli. Macmillan. p. 105. ISBN 978-0374528003.
  33. ^ Many historians have argued that this was due to Piero Soderini's unwillingness to compromise with the Medici, who were holding Prato under siege.
  34. ^ a b c Machiavelli 1981, p. 3, intro.
  35. ^ Skinner, Quentin (2000). Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0191540349.
  36. ^ Niccolò Machiavelli (1996), Machiavelli and his friends: Their personal correspondence, Northern Illinois University Press, translated and edited by James B. Atkinson and David Sices.
  37. ^ Joshua Kaplan, "Political Theory: The Classic Texts and their Continuing Relevance," The Modern Scholar (14 lectures in the series; lecture #7 / disc 4), 2005.
  38. ^ "Washingtonpost.com: Horizon Section". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
  39. ^ "Even such men as Malatesta and Machiavelli, after spending their lives in estrangement from the Church, sought on their deathbeds her assistance and consolations. Both made good confessions and received the Holy Viaticum." – Ludwig von Pastor, History of the Popes, Vol. 5, p. 137.
  40. ^ Black, Robert (2013). Machiavelli. Routledge. p. 283. ISBN 978-1317699583.
  41. ^ Sil, Narasingha Prosad (1985). Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra: A Comparative Study. Academic Publishers Calcutta. p. 217.
  42. ^ Zuckert, Catherine H. (2017). Machiavelli's Politics. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226434803.
  43. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolo (1984). The Prince. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0192816020.
  44. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolò (1532). The Prince. Italy. pp. 120–121.
  45. ^ Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter III
  46. ^ Mansfield, Harvey C. (1998). Machiavelli's Virtue. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226503721.
  47. ^ The Prince, Chapter XVIII, "In What Mode Should Faith Be Kept By Princes"
  48. ^ The Prince. especially Chapters 3, 5 and 8
  49. ^ Kanzler, Peter (2020). The Prince (1532), The Leviathan (1651), The Two Treatises of Government (1689), The Constitution of Pennsylvania (1776). Peter Kanzler. p. 22. ISBN 978-1716844508.
  50. ^ Discourse on Political Economy: opening pages.
  51. ^ Berlin, Isaiah. "The Originality of Machiavelli" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  52. ^ This point made most notably by Strauss (1958).
  53. ^ Mansfield, Harvey C. (1998). Machiavelli's Virtue. University of Chicago Press. pp. 228–229. ISBN 978-0226503721.
  54. ^ Mansfield, Harvey C. (2001). Machiavelli's New Modes and Orders: A Study of the Discourses on Livy. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226503707.
  55. ^ "Discourses on Livy: Book 1, Chapter 18". www.constitution.org. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  56. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolò (2009). Discourses on Livy: Book One, Chapter 9. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226500331.
  57. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolò (2009). Discourses on Livy. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226500331.
  58. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolò (2009). Discourses on Livy: Book One, Chapter 16. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226500331.
  59. ^ Rahe, Paul A. (2005). Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1139448338.
  60. ^ Hulliung, Mark (2017). Citizen Machiavelli. Routledge. ISBN 978-1351528481.
  61. ^ Pocock (1975, pp. 183–219)
  62. ^ a b c d e f Fischer (2000)
  63. ^ Mansfield, Harvey C. (1998). Machiavelli's Virtue. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226503721.
  64. ^ Skinner, Quentin (1978). The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: Volume 1, The Renaissance. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521293372.
  65. ^ Pocock, J. G. A. (2016). The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1400883516.
  66. ^ a b Strauss (1958)
  67. ^ Paul Anthony Rahe, Against throne and altar: Machiavelli and political theory under the English Republic (2008), p. 282.
  68. ^ Jack Donnelly, Realism and International Relations (2000), p. 68.
  69. ^ a b Joshua Kaplan (2005). "Political Theory: The Classic Texts and their Continuing Relevance". The Modern Scholar. 14 lectures in the series; (lectures #7) – see disc 4
  70. ^ Leo Strauss, Joseph Cropsey, History of Political Philosophy (1987), p. 300.
  71. ^ Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, Chap 17.
  72. ^ Strauss, Leo (2014). Thoughts on Machiavelli. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226230979.
  73. ^ Strauss, Leo. Leo Strauss "Thoughts On Machiavelli". p. 9.
  74. ^ Carritt, E. F. (1949). Benedetto Croce My Philosophy.
  75. ^ Cassirer, Ernst (10 September 1961). The Myth of the State. New Haven, Connecticut; London, England: Yale University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-300-00036-8.
  76. ^ "When Isms go to War | StratBlog". 29 October 2013. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  77. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolò (2009). Discourses on Livy. University of Chicago Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0226500331.
  78. ^ Mansfield, Harvey C. (25 February 1998). Machiavelli's Virtue. University of Chicago Press. p. 233. ISBN 978-0-226-50372-1.
  79. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolò (2009). Discourses on Livy, Book 1, Chapter 11–15. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226500331.
  80. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolò (2010). The Prince: Second Edition. University of Chicago Press. pp. 69–71. ISBN 978-0226500508.
  81. ^ Especially in the Discourses III.30, but also The Prince Chap.VI
  82. ^ Strauss (1987, p. 314)
  83. ^ See for example Strauss (1958, p. 206).
  84. ^ Strauss (1958, p. 231)
  85. ^ Mansfield (1993)
  86. ^ Bireley, Robert (1990), The Counter Reformation Prince, p. 14.
  87. ^ Bireley (1990:15)
  88. ^ Haitsma Mulier (1999:248)
  89. ^ While Bireley focuses on writers in the Catholic countries, Haitsma Mulier (1999) makes the same observation, writing with more of a focus upon the Protestant Netherlands.
  90. ^ The first English edition was A Discourse upon the meanes of wel governing and maintaining in good peace, a Kingdome, or other principalitie, translated by Simon Patericke.
  91. ^ Bireley (1990:17)
  92. ^ Bireley (1990:18)
  93. ^ Bireley (1990:223–230)
  94. ^ Kennington (2004), Rahe (2006)
  95. ^ Bireley (1990:17): "Jean Bodin's first comments, found in his Method for the Easy Comprehension of History, published in 1566, were positive."
  96. ^ Bacon wrote: "We are much beholden to Machiavelli and other writers of that class who openly and unfeignedly declare or describe what men do, and not what they ought to do." "II.21.9", Of the Advancement of Learning. See Kennington (2004) Chapter 4.
  97. ^ Rahe (2006) chapter 6.
  98. ^ Worden (1999)
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  101. ^ Schaefer (1990)
  102. ^ Kennington (2004), chapter 11.
  103. ^ Barnes Smith "The Philosophy of Liberty: Locke's Machiavellian Teaching" in Rahe (2006).
  104. ^ Carrese "The Machiavellian Spirit of Montesquieu's Liberal Republic" in Rahe (2006)
  105. ^ Shklar (1999)
  106. ^ Worden (1999)
  107. ^ John P. McCormick, Machiavellian democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 23.
  108. ^ Rahe (2006)
  109. ^ Walling "Was Alexander Hamilton a Machiavellian Statesman?" in Rahe (2006).
  110. ^ Harper (2004)
  111. ^ Spalding "The American Prince? George Washington's Anti-Machiavellian moment" in Rahe (2006)
  112. ^ a b Thompson (1995)
  113. ^ Marcia Landy, "Culture and Politics in the work of Antonio Gramsci," 167–188, in Antonio Gramsci: Intellectuals, Culture, and the Party, ed. James Martin (New York: Routledge, 2002).
  114. ^ Service, Robert. Stalin: A Biography, p.10.
  115. ^ Review by Jann Racquoi, Heights/Inwood Press of North Manhattan, 14 March 1979.
  116. ^ Bireley (1990, p. 241)
  117. ^ Fischer (2000, p. 94)
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  133. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Saturday Drama, The Prince". BBC.
  134. ^ a b "Reason Why Tupac Changed His Name to Makaveli". 4 November 2022.
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  136. ^ Godman (1998, p. 240). Also see Black (1999, pp. 97–98)


  • Machiavelli, Niccolò (1981). The Prince and Selected Discourses. Translated by Daniel Donno. New York: Bantam Classic Books. ISBN 0553212273.
  • Haitsma Mulier, Eco (1999). "A controversial republican". In Bock, Gisela; Skinner, Quentin; Viroli, Maurizio (eds.). Machiavelli and Republicanism. Cambridge University Press.
  • Harper, John Lamberton (2004). American Machiavelli: Alexander Hamilton and the Origins of US Foreign Policy. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521834858.
  • Shklar, J. (1999). "Montesquieu and the new republicanism". In Bock, Gisela; Skinner, Quentin; Viroli, Maurizio (eds.). Machiavelli and Republicanism. Cambridge University Press.
  • Worden, Blair (1999). "Milton's republicanism and the tyranny of heaven". In Bock, Gisela; Skinner, Quentin; Viroli, Maurizio (eds.). Machiavelli and Republicanism. Cambridge University Press.

Further reading[edit]


  • Baron, Hans (April 1961). "Machiavelli: The Republican Citizen and the Author of 'the Prince'". The English Historical Review. 76 (299): 217–253. doi:10.1093/ehr/LXXVI.CCXCIX.217. JSTOR 557541.
  • Black, Robert. Machiavelli: From Radical to Reactionary. London: Reaktion Books (2022)
  • Burd, L. A., "Florence (II): Machiavelli" in Cambridge Modern History (1902), vol. I, ch. vi. pp. 190–218 online Google edition
  • Capponi, Niccolò. An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli (Da Capo Press; 2010) 334 pages
  • Celenza, Christopher S. Machiavelli: A Portrait (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2015) 240 pages. ISBN 978-0674416123
  • Godman, Peter (1998), From Poliziano to Machiavelli: Florentine Humanism in the High Renaissance, Princeton University Press
  • de Grazia, Sebastian (1989), Machiavelli in Hell, Knopf Doubleday Publishing, ISBN 978-0679743422, an intellectual biography that won the Pulitzer Prize; excerpt and text search Archived 9 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  • Hale, J. R. Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy (1961) online edition Archived 19 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  • Hulliung, Mark. Citizen Machiavelli (Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge, 1983)
  • Lee, Alexander. Machiavelli: His Life and Times (London: Picador, 2020)
  • Oppenheimer, Paul. Machiavelli: A Life Beyond Ideology (London; New York: Continuum, 2011) ISBN 978-1847252210
  • Ridolfi, Roberto. The Life of Niccolò Machiavelli (1963)
  • Schevill, Ferdinand. Six Historians (1956), pp. 61–91
  • Skinner, Quentin. Machiavelli, in Past Masters series. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1981. pp. vii, 102. ISBN 0192875167 pbk.
  • Skinner, Quentin. Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction (2d ed., 2019) ISBN 978-0198837572 pbk.
  • Unger, Miles J. Machiavelli: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 2011)
  • Villari, Pasquale. The Life and Times of Niccolò Machiavelli (2 vols. 1892) (Vol 1; Vol 2)
  • Viroli, Maurizio (2000), Niccolò's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli, Farrar, Straus & Giroux excerpt and text search Archived 24 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  • Viroli, Maurizio. Machiavelli (1998) online edition Archived 20 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  • Vivanti, Corrado. Niccolò Machiavelli: An Intellectual Biography (Princeton University Press; 2013) 261 pages

Political thought[edit]

  • Baron, Hans. The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny (2 vol 1955), highly influential, deep study of civic humanism (republicanism); 700 pp. excerpts and text search; ACLS E-books; also vol 2 in ACLS E-books
  • Baron, Hans. In Search of Florentine Civic Humanism (2 vols. 1988).
  • Baron, Hans (1961), "Machiavelli: the Republican Citizen and Author of The Prince", English Historical Review, lxxvi (76): 217–253, doi:10.1093/ehr/LXXVI.CCXCIX.217, JSTOR 557541. in JSTOR Archived 18 November 2022 at the Wayback Machine
  • Berlin, Isaiah. "The Originality of Machiavelli", in Berlin, Isaiah (1980). Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas. New York: The Viking Press.
  • Bireley, Robert (1990), The Counter Reformation Prince
  • Black, Robert (1999), "Machiavelli, servant of the Florentine republic", in Bock, Gisela; Skinner, Quentin; Viroli, Maurizio (eds.), Machiavelli and Republicanism, Cambridge University Press
  • Bock, Gisela; Skinner, Quentin; Viroli, Maurizio, eds. (1993). Machiavelli and Republicanism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521435895.
  • Chabod, Federico (1958). Machiavelli & the Renaissance online edition Archived 19 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine; online from ACLS E-Books Archived 20 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  • Connell, William J. (2001), "Machiavelli on Growth as an End," in Anthony Grafton and J.H.M. Salmon, eds., Historians and Ideologues: Essays in Honor of Donald R. Kelley, Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 259–277.
  • Donskis, Leonidas, ed. (2011). Niccolò Machiavelli: History, Power, and Virtue. Rodopi, ISBN 978-9042032774, E-ISBN 978-9042032781
  • Everdell, William R. "Niccolò Machiavelli: The Florentine Commune" in The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  • Fischer, Markus (Autumn 1997). "Machiavelli's Political Psychology". The Review of Politics. 59 (4): 789–829. doi:10.1017/S0034670500028333. JSTOR 1408308. S2CID 146570913.
  • Fischer, Markus (2000), Well-ordered License: On the Unity of Machiavelli's Thought, Lexington Book
  • Frederick II of Prussia (1980) [1740]. Anti-Machiavel: The Refutation of Machiavelli s Prince. Translated by Sonnino, Paul. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. ISBN 9780821405598.
  • Guarini, Elena (1999), "Machiavelli and the crisis of the Italian republics", in Bock, Gisela; Skinner, Quentin; Viroli, Maurizio (eds.), Machiavelli and Republicanism, Cambridge University Press
  • Gilbert, Allan (1938), Machiavelli's Prince and Its Forerunners, Duke University Press
  • Gilbert, Felix. Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Century Italy (2nd ed. 1984) online from ACLS-E-books Archived 18 November 2022 at the Wayback Machine
  • Gilbert, Felix. "Machiavelli: The Renaissance of the Art of War," in Edward Mead Earle, ed. The Makers of Modern Strategy (1944)
  • Jensen, De Lamar, ed. Machiavelli: Cynic, Patriot, or Political Scientist? (1960) essays by scholars online edition Archived 25 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  • Jurdjevic, Mark (2014). A Great and Wretched City: Promise and Failure in Machiavelli's Florentine Political Thought. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674725461.
  • Kennington, Richard (2004), On Modern Origins, Lexington Books
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. "Machiavelli's Political Science," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 75, No. 2 (Jun. 1981), pp. 293–305 in JSTOR Archived 8 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  • Mansfield, Harvey (1993), Taming the Prince, The Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Mansfield, Harvey (1995), "Machiavelli and the Idea of Progress", in Melzer; Weinberger; Zinman (eds.), History and the Idea of Progress, Cornell University Press
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. Machiavelli's Virtue (1996), 371 pp.
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. Machiavelli's New Modes and Orders: A Study of the Discourses on Livy (2001) excerpt and text search Archived 11 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  • Roger Masters (1996), Machiavelli, Leonardo and the Science of Power, University of Notre Dame Press, ISBN 978-0268014339 See also NYT book review Archived 18 November 2022 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Roger Masters (1998), Fortune is a River: Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli's Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0-452-28090-8 Also available in Chinese (ISBN 9789572026113), Japanese (ISBN 978-4022597588), German (ISBN 978-3471794029), Portuguese (ISBN 978-8571104969), and Korean (ISBN 978-8984070059). See also NYT book review Archived 18 November 2022 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Mattingly, Garrett (Autumn 1958), "Machiavelli's Prince: Political Science or Political Satire?", The American Scholar (27): 482–491.
  • Najemy, John (1993), Between Friends: Discourses of Power and Desire in the Machiavelli-Vettori Letters of 1513–1515, Princeton University Press
  • Najemy, John M. (1996), "Baron's Machiavelli and Renaissance Republicanism", American Historical Review, 101 (1): 119–129, doi:10.2307/2169227, JSTOR 2169227.
  • Parel, A. J. (Spring 1991). "The Question of Machiavelli's Modernity". The Review of Politics. 53 (2): 320–339. doi:10.1017/S0034670500014649. JSTOR 1407757. S2CID 170629105.
  • Parel, Anthony (1972), "Introduction: Machiavelli's Method and His Interpreters", The Political Calculus: Essays on Machiavelli's Philosophy, Toronto, pp. 3–28{{citation}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • Parsons, William B. (2016), Machiavelli's Gospel, University of Rochester Press, ISBN 978-1580464918
  • Pocock, J.G.A. (1975), The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition, Princeton new ed. 2003, a highly influential study of Discourses and its vast influence; excerpt and text search Archived 18 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine; also online 1975 edition Archived 7 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  • Pocock, J. G. A. "The Machiavellian Moment Revisited: a Study in History and Ideology.: Journal of Modern History 1981 53(1): 49–72. Fulltext: in Jstor Archived 11 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Rahe, Paul (1992), Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution online edition Archived 23 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  • Rahe, Paul A. (2006), Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521851879 Excerpt, reviews and Text search shows Machiavelli's Discourses had a major impact on shaping conservative thought.
  • Ruggiero, Guido. Machiavelli in Love: Sex, Self and Society in Renaissance Italy (2007)
  • Schaefer, David (1990), The Political Philosophy of Montaigne, Cornell University Press.
  • Scott, John T.; Sullivan, Vickie B. (1994). "Patricide and the Plot of the Prince: Cesare Borgia and Machiavelli's Italy". The American Political Science Review. 88 (4): 887–900. doi:10.2307/2082714. ISSN 0003-0554. JSTOR 2082714. S2CID 144798597.
  • Skinner, Quentin. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, v. I, The Renaissance, (1978)
  • Soll, Jacob (2005), Publishing The Prince: History, Reading and the Birth of Political Criticism, University of Michigan Press
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Niccolò Machiavelli (2005)
  • Strauss, Leo (1987), "Niccolò Machiavelli", in Strauss, Leo; Cropsey, Joseph (eds.), History of Political Philosophy (3rd ed.), University of Chicago Press
  • Strauss, Leo (1958), Thoughts on Machiavelli, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226777023
  • Sullivan, Vickie B., ed. (2000), The Comedy and Tragedy of Machiavelli: Essays on the Literary Works, Yale U. Press
  • Sullivan, Vickie B. (1996), Machiavelli's Three Romes: Religion, Human Liberty, and Politics Reformed, Northern Illinois University Press
  • von Vacano, Diego, "The Art of Power: Machiavelli, Nietzsche and the Making of Aesthetic Political Theory," Lanham MD: Lexington: 2007.
  • Thompson, C. Bradley (1995), "John Adams's Machiavellian Moment", The Review of Politics, 57 (3): 389–417, doi:10.1017/S0034670500019689, S2CID 154074090. Also in Rahe (2006).
  • Whelan, Frederick G. (2004), Hume and Machiavelli: Political Realism and Liberal Thought, Lexington{{citation}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • Wight, Martin (2005). Wight, Gabriele; Porter, Brian (eds.). Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory: Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant, and Mazzini. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199273676.
  • Zuckert, Catherine, (2017) "Machiavelli's Politics" Archived 18 November 2022 at the Wayback Machine

Italian studies[edit]

  • Barbuto, Marcelo (2005), "Questa oblivione delle cose. Reflexiones sobre la cosmología de Maquiavelo (1469–1527)," Revista Daimon, 34, Universidad de Murcia, pp. 34–52.
  • Barbuto, Marcelo (2008), "Discorsi, I, XII, 12–14. La Chiesa romana di fronte alla republica cristiana", Filosofia Politica, 1, Il Mulino, Bologna, pp. 99–116.
  • Celli, Carlo ( 2009), Il carnevale di Machiavelli, Firenze, L.S. Olschki.
  • Connell, William J. (2015), Machiavelli nel Rinascimento italiano, Milano, Franco Angeli.
  • Giuseppe Leone, "Silone e Machiavelli. Una scuola...che non crea prìncipi", pref. di Vittoriano Esposito, Centro Studi Ignazio Silone, Pescina, 2003.
  • Martelli, Mario (2004), "La Mandragola e il suo prologo", Interpres, XXIII, pp. 106–142.
  • Martelli, Mario (2003), "Per la definizione della nozione di principe civile", Interpres, XXII.
  • Martelli, Mario (2001), "I dettagli della filologia", Interpres XX, pp. 212–271.
  • Martelli, Mario (1999a), "Note su Machiavelli", Interpres XVIII, pp. 91–145.
  • Martelli, Mario (1999b), Saggio sul Principe, Salerno Editrice, Roma.
  • Martelli, Mario (1999c), "Machiavelli e Savonarola: valutazione politica e valutazione religiosa", Girolamo Savonarola. L´uomo e il frate". Atti del xxxv Convegno storico internazionale (Todi, II-14 ottobre 1998), CISAM, Spoleto, pp. 139–153.
  • Martelli, Mario (1998a), Machiavelli e gli storici antichi, osservazioni su alcuni luoghi dei discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, Quaderni di Filologia e critica, 13, Salerno Editrice, Roma.
  • Martelli, Mario (1998b), "Machiavelli politico amante poeta", Interpres XVII, pp. 211–256.
  • Martelli, Mario (1998c), "Machiavelli e Savonarola", Savonarola. Democrazia, tirannide, profezia, a cura di G.C. Garfagnini, Florencia, Sismel-Edizioni del Galluzo, pp. 67–89.
  • Martelli, Mario and Bausi, Francesco (1997), "Politica, storia e letteratura: Machiavelli e Guicciardini", Storia della letteratura italiana, E. Malato (ed.), vol. IV. Il primo Cinquecento, Salerno Editrice, Roma, pp. 251–320.
  • Martelli, Mario (1985–1986), "Schede sulla cultura di Machiavelli", Interpres VI, pp. 283–330.
  • Martelli, Mario (1982) "La logica provvidenzialistica e il capitolo XXVI del Principe", Interpres IV, pp. 262–384.
  • Martelli, Mario (1974), "L´altro Niccolò di Bernardo Machiavelli", Rinascimento, XIV, pp. 39–100.
  • Sasso, Gennaro (1993), Machiavelli: storia del suo pensiero politico, II vol., Bologna, Il Mulino,
  • Sasso, Gennaro (1987–1997) Machiavelli e gli antichi e altri saggi, 4 vols., Milano, R. Ricciardi



  • Gilbert, Allan H. ed. Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others, (3 vol. 1965), the standard scholarly edition
  • Bondanella, Peter, and Mark Musa, eds. The Portable Machiavelli (1979)
  • Penman, Bruce. The Prince and Other Political Writings, (1981)
  • Wootton, David, ed. (1994), Selected political writings of Niccolò Machiavelli, Indianapolis: Hackett Pubs. excerpt and text search Archived 16 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine

The Prince

The Discourses on Livy

  • Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio (2001), ed. by Francesco Bausi, Edizione Nazionale delle Opere di Niccolò Machiavelli, II vol. Salerno Editrice, Roma.
  • The Discourses, online 1772 edition Archived 15 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  • The Discourses, tr. with introduction and notes by L. J. Walker (2 vol 1950).
  • Machiavelli, Niccolò (1531). The Discourses. Translated by Leslie J. Walker, S.J, revisions by Brian Richardson (2003). London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044428-9
  • The Discourses, edited with an introduction by Bernard Crick (1970).

The Art of War

Florentine Histories


  • Epistolario privado. Las cartas que nos desvelan el pensamiento y la personalidad de uno de los intelectuales más importantes del Renacimiento, Juan Manuel Forte (edición y traducción), Madrid, La Esfera de los Libros, 2007, 435 págs, ISBN 978-8497346610
  • The Private Correspondence of Niccolò Machiavelli, ed. by Orestes Ferrara; (1929) online edition Archived 23 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  • Machiavelli, Niccolò (1996), Machiavelli and his friends: Their personal correspondence, Northern Illinois University Press. Translated and edited by James B. Atkinson and David Sices.
  • Also see Najemy (1993).

Poetry and comedy

  • Machiavelli, Niccolò (1985), Comedies of Machiavelli, University Press of New England Bilingual edition of The Woman from Andros, The Mandrake, and Clizia, edited by David Sices and James B. Atkinson.
  • Hoeges, Dirk. Niccolò Machiavelli. Dichter-Poeta. Mit sämtlichen Gedichten, deutsch/italienisch. Con tutte le poesie, tedesco/italiano, Reihe: Dialoghi/Dialogues: Literatur und Kultur Italiens und Frankreichs, Band 10, Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt/M. u.a. 2006, ISBN 3631546696.

External links[edit]