Neither political treatise, however, was published in his lifetime; the Discourses reached print in , The Prince in Following , Machiavelli continued to exercise his literary skills. His Golden Ass , though never completed, was written in , followed in the subsequent year by his comedy Mandragola. At the beginning of the s Machiavelli brought out his Life of Castruccio Castracani , was commissioned by the Medici to write his Florentine Histories published , and published his Art of War Just over one month later, Machiavelli died.
His political legacy, however, had just begun. Though more so as in the differences which arise between citizens, or in the maladies to which they are subjected, we see the same people have recourse to the judgments and remedies prescribed by the ancients. The civil laws are in fact nothing but decisions given by their jurisconsults, and which, reduced to a system, direct our modern jurists in their decisions. And what is the science of medicine, but the experience of ancient physicians, which their successors have taken for their guide?
And yet to found a republic, maintain states, to govern a kingdom, organize an army, conduct a war, dispense justice, and extend empires, you'll find neither prince, nor republic, nor captain, nor citizen, who has recourse to the examples of antiquity! This neglect, I am persuaded, is due less to the weakness to which the vices of our education have reduced the world, than to the evils caused by the proud indolence which prevails in most of the Christian states, and to the lack of real knowledge of history, the true sense of which is not known, or the spirit of which they do not comprehend.
Thus the majority of those who read it take pleasure only in a variety of the events which history relates, without ever thinking of imitating the noble actions, deeming that not only difficult, but impossible; as though heaven, the sun, the elements, and then had changed the order of emotions and power, and were different from what they were in ancient times. Wishing, therefore, so far as in me lies, to draw mankind from this error, I have thought it proper to write upon those books of Titus Livius that have come to us entire despite the malice of time; touching upon all those matters which, after a comparison between the ancient and modern events, may seem to me necessary to facilitate their proper understanding.
In this way those who read my remarks may derive those advantages which should be the name of all study of history; and although the undertaking is difficult, yet, aided by those who have encouraged me in this attempt, I hope to carry it sufficiently far, so that but little may remain for others to carry it to its destined end. Niccolo Machiavelli, The father of modern political theory, Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, was born at Florence, May 3, , saw the troubles of the French invasion , when the Medici fled, and in became secretary of the Ten, a post he held until the fall of the republic in Niccolo Machiavelli, Most probably Machiavelli did not wish to Edition: current; Page: [ xxx ] delay presenting his book to Lorenzo in , when, after the death of Giuliano, Lorenzo began to spread his wings, in attempting the conquest of Urbino; which enterprise, according to Guicciardini, was the first step towards the dominion of all papal fiefs, and perhaps also of the kingdom of Naples.
Seeing that he was not employed by the new government, notwithstanding the unceasing efforts made in his behalf by Francesco Vettori, he lamented that he could not make himself useful to his country, whilst feeling himself capable of rendering the most valuable services, for he had not wasted his time during the fifteen years that he had studied the arts of statesmanship. Unquestionably he was urged to this work by love of his country, seeing that he intended thereby to teach the Florentine people to defend their state with arms against whoever should, from within or without, plot against their liberty; showing at the same time by examples from antiquity the injury which results to republics from keeping mercenary armies, and explaining all things that seemed to him most suitable for instructing an army and leading it into the field.
If we are to believe two slanderous writers, Cardano and Bandello, Machiavelli was an able theoretician, but otherwise inexperienced in the practice of military affairs. And this was quite natural, for he was not accustomed to direct battalions in war, nor was this a matter that concerned him. During his stay in Lucca, Machiavelli wrote the Life of Castruccio Castracani, in ; and Zanobi Buondelmonti, to whom he sent it, acknowledges the receipt of it in a letter of the 6th of December. In fact, he was sent to Lucca in June, , to protect the interests of the Florentine merchants who were exposed to loss by the failure of Michele Guinigi; and whilst in that city he was charged by the Cardinal to ask the Signoria of Lucca to expel from their territory three Sicilians, formerly students at Pisa, but who had been banished from that university.
Both of these may be referred to the year , and were certainly written before December, , Leo X. Although holding firmly to republican appearances, Machiavelli would have wished that, the powers being duly equilibrated, Leo X.
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It may also be that he had, during the lifetime of Lorenzo, tasted the bitterness of deception in having placed confidence in such a man; and unable therefore, for the moment at least, to think of the independence of Italy from foreigners, he tried to find a possible means for arriving at the necessary conciliation between the ambitious hopes of the Medici and the liberty of his country.
Having extinguished in blood a conspiracy set on foot amongst the young men of the Oricellari Gardens, he made that the pretext for casting aside all idea of reform; and continued to govern absolutely, with the forms of a republic, but with the magistrates devoted and subject to him personally. Another benefit bestowed by the Medici on Machiavelli was the commission to write the Florentine History, which the Cardinal Giuliano gave him, although he did so through the officials of the University, who charged Machiavelli with it on the 8th of November, It must not, however, be passed over in silence, that public opinion had also designated him for this work; and a letter still exists from Zanobi Buondelmonti, written to Machiavelli on the 6th of September of the same year, in which he urges him, not only in his own name, but speaking also for Jacopo Nardi, Luigi Alamanni, and for all the most cultivated gentlemen of Florence, not to delay taking it in hand.
In May, , he received from the Magistracy of the Eight of Practice the commission to go to Carpi, where the Chapter of the Minorite Brothers of San Francesco was assembled, and Edition: current; Page: [ xxxiv ] to request them to constitute the Florentine dominion a separate chapter; and also to select a good preacher for the church of Santa Maria del Fiore.
He accepted and fulfilled this mission, but laughing all the while at the friars and the people of Carpi, as appears from his letters to his friend Francesco Guicciardini. Fully four years elapsed before he was again actively employed; the cause of this was probably the conspiracy against the Medici, which was set on foot by some of the young men of the Oricellari Gardens, and which cost the lives of Jacopo Diacelto and Luigi Alamanni, who were beheaded on the 7th of June, According to the testimony of the historian Nardi, Machiavelli was not altogether free from blame for the thoughts and actions of the conspirators, although he was not subjected to any trouble on that account.
In August, , finally, he was sent as Ambassador to Venice, to claim before the Doge and the Senate the restitution of the money and objects taken by a certain Giovanbattista Donato from three young Florentines, who were coming from Ragusa; but the documents do not tell us what result this mission produced. The familiar letters of Machiavelli tell us, moreover, that at the request of Francesco Guicciardini, governor of the Romagna, the Mandragola was repeated at Bologna during the Carnival of ; and in March of the same year Edition: current; Page: [ xxxv ] it was performed with the greatest success at Rome.
The Clizia followed soon after, and was also performed by the Academicians of the Cazzuola in the house of Jacopo, the furnace-man, near the gate of San Frediano; and Vasari tells us that the Cardinal of Cortona was so much pleased with the scenery made by San Gallo, that he took him under his protection from that day, and employed him in various magnificent works. These comedies, however, suited the taste of the period when they were written, as their popularity attests. They are certainly no worse than the tales of Boccaccio, and infinitely more spirited and witty. Pope Clement VII.
Machiavelli made a full report of this commission, which he sent to the Pope at Rome. It was probably in consequence of this that he was sent to the camp, to Francesco Guicciardini, commissary of the Pope, in the army of the allies against the Emperor Charles V. About this time the Pope had, at the request of Jacopo Salviati, destined Machiavelli to an honorable office at court; but as he would not abandon his mission, this post was given to some one else.
The Cardinal, always timid, saw supreme danger imminent for Florence; for the Pope was almost a prisoner of the Colonnese at Rome, whilst a numerous German army was descending upon Italy; so that he would have preferred that Guicciardini had sent him substantial aid into the city, or rather that he should have managed to bring about some agreement with the enemy. The lieutenant, however, did nothing that was asked of him, for the simple reason that he could not do it, and therefore it became necessary to send Machiavelli to him once more, who went accordingly, in February, The negotiations of the ambassador were protracted, he having been charged to follow Guicciardini wherever the particular duties of his office might call him.
They proved, nevertheless, to have no result; as the troops of the lieutenant were insufficient to restrain the violence of the German hordes that had invaded the Bolognese territory and were laying it waste. Machiavelli returned to Florence on the 22d of April, but nothing is heard of him during the sedition against the Medici on the 26th of that month, which, however, was quickly put down; nor on the occasion of the subsequent events that led to the expulsion of the Cardinal Passerini with his pupils, and to the claim of the Florentines for the restoration of their liberties.
Perhaps Machiavelli was not in Florence at the time, and had already returned to Guicciardini, by whom he was certainly sent to Andrea Doria, who was at Civita Vecchia, to obtain a brigantine from him. He was in this port on the 22d of May, as appears from one of his letters, and embarked the next day Edition: current; Page: [ xxxvii ] on a galley that escorted the Marchioness of Mantua, and a few days after landed with her at Livorno.
Being thus restored to his country, Machiavelli lived in obscurity the few days that were left him of life, until the 22d of June, , when he died like a Christian, as is proved by a letter written by his son Piero to his relative Francesco Nelli. The story related by Benedetto Varchi, and believed by many, that Machiavelli died from disappointment because Donato Giannotti was preferred to him in the appointment to the office of Secretary to the Ten of Liberty and Peace, is manifestly incorrect, for Machiavelli died before Giannotti was elected to that office.
His son Piero attests most positively that he died from pains in his stomach, resulting from a medicine which he had taken on the 20th of June. These missions must Edition: current; Page: [ xxxviii ] often have been very distasteful and irksome to him, especially when sent as an envoy to the King of France or to the Emperor of Germany, to solicit the armed intervention of the one in the affairs of Italy, or to pay tribute to the other for a guaranty of the integrity of the republic. The eight years intervening between the time of his removal from office and the year , when he was again employed by the government, were spent at his villa near Casciano in rural pastimes, and literary occupation, and in a highly interesting correspondence with various friends, chiefly with Francesco Vettori.
During his frequent and important missions his pay never exceeded ten lire per day, out of which pittance he had to pay for his servants and horses, and frequently for the postage and express messengers to carry his despatches to the government of Florence, which often obliged him to borrow and to draw upon his own resources.
And from this scanty pay of ten lire per day his salary as Secretary to the Ten was regularly deducted. We consequently find in his despatches frequent appeals, at times pathetic, at times humorous, but always urgent, to the government of Florence for increase of pay, or pecuniary assistance of some kind. He was personally esteemed by the most distinguished men of Florence of his time, for he was of most cheerful social temper, and his conversation was full of learning and wit.
He was a good Catholic, but no Papist; on the contrary, he attributed nearly all the miseries of Italy to the efforts of the Popes to maintain and increase the temporal power and possessions of the Church. The most Edition: current; Page: [ xxxix ] perfect, so far as it goes, is the one printed at Florence in , under the direction of L.
Milanesi, containing a large number of letters from the Florentine government and others to Machiavelli, which throw much light upon the various missions, the whole being carefully revised according to the original documents. Unfortunately, the untimely death of one of the editors put a stop to the completion of this edition. As early as an edition was published in London in three volumes, large quarto, containing all the works of Machiavelli then known, with a Preface by Baretti.
Ten years later, however, in , Lord Nassau Clavering, Earl Cowper, published at his own expense a handsome one in four volumes quarto, truly worthy of the Florentine Secretary. This edition is still greatly prized to this day, and has served as the standard for all subsequent to it. It was also due to the persistent efforts of the same generous Englishman, that the Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany had a monument erected over the until then obscure tomb of Machiavelli, by the side of that of Michael Angelo in the church of Santa Croce at Florence, where the remains of Machiavelli had been buried in the family vault, and had remained unnoticed for two and a half centuries.
This monument was designed by the Chevalier Alberto Rombotti, and executed in marble by the sculptor Spinazzi in the year ; it bears the following Latin inscription: —. Numerous portraits and busts exist, claiming to represent Niccolo Machiavelli; the greater part of them, however, — if not all save one, — are not portraits of the great Secretary. They are either fictitious, or they represent some other personage; in several instances they are portraits of Lorenzo, or some other of the Medici family. In the Palazzo Boutourlin at Florence there is a portrait by Andrea del Sarto, which represents an old man with a very sad expression; it is claimed to be the portrait of Machiavelli, but is not generally recognized as such, and certainly has not a single feature that suggests the character of Machiavelli.
The same picture has been admirably engraved on a much larger scale by P. Toschi and A. But unfortunately the picture is not authentic, for Santi-Titi was not born until , eleven years after the death of Machiavelli, in June, It is this portrait that has been mainly consulted by the sculptor Bartolini in his admirable statue of Machiavelli, which, amongst the other great men of Florence, adorns the inner court of the Uffizii at Florence. The portrait in profile prefixed to this volume of the present translation is presumed to be the only well authenticated portrait of Niccolo Machiavelli known to exist.
This bust has always been in possession of the Ricci family, the lineal descendants of Machiavelli, through his daughter. The recent history of Italy has shown how correctly, and with almost prophetic vision, Machiavelli foresaw that her deliverance from all her ills could only be effected through the fusion of all the different Italian states into one, under the government of one man of courage, loyalty, and prudence, and with a national army.
Machiavelli: A Biography
How nobly and completely this task was performed by the late King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel, aided by his great minister, Cavour, is familiar to all the world. No longer does any foreign power possess one foot of Italian soil, and Italy made one has taken her place amongst the great powers of the earth. The great merits of Machiavelli have been recognized by the Italian government.
The one records the fact of his having lived and died there; the other was placed there by order of the government, on the fourth centenary of his birth, and bears the following inscription:—. Most Holy and Blessed Father, — Since your Holiness, before attaining your present exalted position, commissioned me to write an account of the things done by the Florentine people, I have used all the diligence and skill given me by nature and experience to satisfy your command.
In reading this your Holiness will see first, after the beginning of the decline of the power of the Roman Empire in the West, how many changes the states of Italy underwent during several centuries, and how many disasters they experienced under so many princes. You will see how the Pope, the Venetians, the Kingdom of Naples, and the Dukedom of Milan took the first rank and power in that province. You will see how your country raised itself by its very division from subjection Edition: current; Page: [ 4 ] to the Emperors, and remained divided until it began to govern itself under the protecting shadow of your house.
And being particularly charged and commanded by your Holiness to write the doings of your ancestors in such manner that it might be seen that I was free from all adulation, the true praises of men being agreeable to hear, whilst such as are feigned and written by favor are displeasing, I have hesitated much in describing the goodness of Giovanni, the wisdom of Cosimo, the humanity of Piero, and the magnificence of Lorenzo; so that it might not seem to your Holiness that I had transgressed your commands.
For this I excuse myself to you, and for any similar descriptions that might displease as being little faithful; for finding the recollections of those who have at various time written of them full of praise, it became me to write of them such as I found them, or to pass them over with invidious silence. And if under their distinguished acts there was concealed an ambition common to usefulness, or as some say contrary to it, I, who do not know it, am not bound to describe it; for in all my narrative I have never attempted to cover a dishonest act with honest reasons, nor have I ever dimmed a praiseworthy act by representing it as having been done for a contrary purpose.
But it may be seen in all parts of my history how far I am from adulation, and especially in the private discourses and public speeches, direct or indirect, which I have preserved with the very sentences, order, manner, and disposition of the person that spoke them, and without any reserve.
Essay about Niccolo Machiavelli
I avoid in all instances odious expressions, as being wholly unnecessary to the dignity and truth of history. No one, therefore, who considers my writings rightly, can charge me with being a flatterer, particularly seeing that I have not said much of the memory of the father of your Holiness, — the reason of which was the shortness of his life, during which he could not make himself known; nor could I by my writings have made him illustrious. Nevertheless the merit of having been the father of your Holiness is an ample equivalent of all those of his ancestors, and will insure him more centuries of fame than his evil fortune took years from his life.
I have endeavored then, Most Holy Father, in my descriptions, whilst not tarnishing the truth, to satisfy everybody; and yet I may have failed to satisfy any. Nevertheless I enter the field cheerfully, hoping that inasmuch as I am honored and supported by the benevolence of your Holiness, so shall I be aided and defended by the armed legions of your most holy judgment; and with the same courage and confidence with which I have written till now, I shall continue my undertaking so long as life is left me, and your Holiness does not abandon me.
It was my intention when I first resolved upon writing the things done by the Florentine people, within and without their city, to begin my narrative with the year of the Christian era, at which time the family of the Medici, by the merits of Cosimo and his father Giovanni, exercised more authority in Florence than any one else.
But having afterwards diligently read their writings to see in what order and manner they had proceeded, so that by imitating them our history might be the more approved by the reader, I found that in their descriptions of the wars carried on by the Florentines with foreign princes and peoples they had been most diligent; but of their civil discords and internal dissensions, and of the effects resulting therefrom, they had in part been silent, and in part had described them very briefly, which to the reader could be neither useful nor agreeable.
I believe they did so because these facts seemed to them so unimportant that they judged them unworthy of being recorded in history, or because they feared to offend the descendants of those who took part in them, and who by the narration of these facts might have deemed themselves calumniated. These two reasons be it said with their leave seemed to me wholly unworthy of such great men; because if anything delights or instructs in history, it is that which is described in detail; and if any lesson is useful to the citizens who govern republics, it is that which demonstrates Edition: current; Page: [ 8 ] the causes of the hatreds and dissensions in the republic, so that, having learned wisdom from the perils experienced by others, they may maintain themselves united.
And if the divisions of any republic were ever noteworthy, those of Florence certainly are most so, because the greater part of the other republics of which we have any knowledge were content with one division, by which, according to chance, they either increased or ruined their city.
Niccolò Machiavelli Biography
But Florence, not content with one division, had many. In Rome, as everybody knows, after the expulsion of the kings, a division arose between the nobles and the people, and with that she maintained herself until her downfall.
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So did Athens, and so all the republics that flourished in those times. But in Florence, the first division was amongst the nobles, afterwards between the nobles and the citizens, and finally between the citizens and the populace; and many times it happened that one of the parties that remained in power again divided in two. These divisions caused so many deaths, so many exiles, so much destruction of so many families, as never occurred in any other city of which we have any record.