Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian diplomat, political philosopher, musician, poet and playwright. Machiavelli was a figure of the Italian Renaissance and a servant of the Florentine Republic. In June of 1498, following the ouster and execution of Girolamo Savonarola, the Great Council elected Machiavelli as the Secretary to the second Chancery of the Republic of Florence. He is most famous - or notorious - for one of his shorter works, The Prince, sometimes described as a work of realist political theory. However, both that text and the more substantial republican Discourses on Livy - as well as History of Florence (commissioned by the Medici family) - were printed only after his death, all appearing in the early 1530s. In his own lifetime, while he circulated The Prince among friends, the only work Machiavelli promoted through printing was his dialogue on The Art of War. But generations from the sixteenth century onwards were most attracted and repelled by the cynical approach to power on display in The Prince, the Discourses and History. Whatever Machiavelli's own intentions (and they remain a matter of heated debate), his name became synonymous with ruthless politics, deceit, and the pursuit of power by any means.
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