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“No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.”
- MACHIAVELLI
Niccolo Machiavelli
Statesman and Political Philosopher, 1469 - 1527

Niccolo Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469 in Florence, Italy. Machiavelli was a political philosopher and diplomat during the Renaissance, and is most famous for his political treatise, The Prince (1513), that has become a cornerstone of modern political philosophy.

In The Prince, Machiavelli offered a monarchical ruler advice designed to keep that ruler in power. He recommended policies that would discourage mass political activism, and channel subjects' energies into private pursuits. Machiavelli wanted to persuade the monarch that he could best preserve his power by the judicious use of violence, by respecting private property and the traditions of his subjects, and by promoting material prosperity. Machiavelli held that political life cannot be governed by a single set of moral or religious absolutes, and that the monarch may sometimes be excused for performing acts of violence and deception that would be ethically indefensible in private life.

During the Renaissance Italy was a scene of intense political conflict involving the dominant city-states of Florence, Milan, Venice, and Naples, plus the Papacy, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire. Each city attempted to protect itself by playing the larger powers off against each other. The result was massive political intrigue, blackmail, and violence. The Prince was written against this backdrop, and in its conclusion Machiavelli issued an impassioned call for Italian unity, and an end to foreign intervention.

Machiavelli’s other major work, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius (1513-21), was mainly concerned with “republics,” defined as states controlled by a politically active citizenry. In “Discourses” he emphasized that for a republic to survive, it needed to foster a spirit of patriotism and civic virtue among its citizens. Machiavelli argued that a republic would be strengthened by the conflicts generated through open political participation and debate.

Partly because Machiavelli’s pragmatic view of the relationship between ethics and politics, he has been widely misinterpreted. The adjective “Machiavellian” has become a pejorative used to describe a politician who manipulates others in an opportunistic and deceptive way.

It is a common misconception that Machiavelli faked his own death. There is no historical evidence that he did.

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Niccolo Machiavelli or related subjects, or if you would like to comment, please contact us.

Resource Menu
Books By Machiavelli

The Prince The Prince
by Niccolo Machiavelli

In his famous book “The Prince,”, Machiavelli offers the monarchical ruler advice designed to keep their power.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The Prince

Discourses on Livy Discourses on Livy
by Niccolo Machiavelli

In his lesser-known work, “Discourses on Livy,” Machiavelli advocates republican governance. This edition Includes a substantial introduction on the author and his work, explanatory notes, and a glossary of key words with occurrences and alternate translation.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Discourses on Livy

The Art of War The Art of War
by Niccolo Machiavelli , Ellis Farneworth (Translator)

Widely read and highly esteemed throughout the 16th century, this major work was a favorite of Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Saint-Cyr, and Clausewitz. In it, Machiavelli makes liberal use of the theories of the Romans while advancing the revolutionary idea that politics and war constitute a kind of functional unity.

Purchase this paperback edition of The Art of War

Machiavelli and His Friends Machiavelli and His Friends: Their Personal Correspondence
by Niccolo Machiavelli, James B. Atkinson (Translator), David Sices (Translator)

Comprehensive edition of the correspondence between Machiavelli and his patrons and friends.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Machiavelli and His Friends

Florentine Histories Florentine Histories
by Niccolo Machiavelli (Author), Laura F. Banfield (Translator), Harvey C., Jr. Mansfield (Translator)

Machiavelli’s thoughts on his native city.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Florentine Histories


Machiavelli Online Videos

A reading of selected passages from Machiavelli's “The Prince” in 3 parts:
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3


Machiavelli eTexts

The Prince
Constitution Society's html version

Machiavelli dedication of The Prince to the Magnificent Lorenzo Di Piero De Medici

Discourses Upon The First Ten (Books) of Titus Livy
Constitution Society's html version

Art of War by Machiavelli
Adelaide University html version

Aphorisms from Art of War by Machiavelli

Catalog of Machiavelli's works in Italian
Principe (The Prince) and Discorsi sopra la prima Deca di Tito Livio (Discourses on Livy)


Related Websites

Machiavelli at History Guide

Machiavelli on Open Directory Project

WebMuseum on the Renaissance

Polish translation of Lucidcafe.com's Machiavelli Profile

Romanian translation of Lucidcafe.com's Machiavelli Profile



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Other Philosophers in the Lucidcafé Library


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