Uploaded by lanester901 on Oct 26, 2011
This paper is a brief biography of the famous writer. (4+ pages; 4 sources; MLA citation style).
Today we use the word “Machiavellian” to describe people or situations that are convoluted, dangerous and perhaps even evil. The word comes from the name of the famous Italian writer, Niccolo Machiavelli, whose fame (or infamy) rests largely on a slim volume of essays about government that can either be seen as instructions to the prince or a handbook for assassins, depending on your point of view. But who was this man and was he really a sort of despicable plotter, or merely a realist who understood the politics of his day? Perhaps a brief look at the man behind the label will help us answer these questions.
II Brief Biography
Niccolo Machiavelli was born May 3, 1469 in Florence, one of four children born to Bartolomea and Bernardo di Niccolo di Buoninsegna. The family was poor, but Niccolo’s father loved books and had managed to collect a small personal library. (Viroli, p. 7). It is doubtless from his father that Machiavelli got his love of books and learning.
At the time of his birth, Italy was in turmoil and divided into five important states: the Republic of Venice, the Duchy of Milan, the Republic of Florence, the Church, and the Kingdom of Naples. (Bergin, p. vii). The country was ripe for invasion, and when Lorenzo de’Medici died, first France and then Spain invaded. Italy would not be free of the Spaniards until 1860.
Although we know little more about Machiavelli’s early life than what I’ve said about his love of books and learning, that seems to have been enough to bring him to the attention of the Florentine government, and in 1498 he was appointed secretary to the Republic. His office found him concerned largely with war and internal affairs.
Four years after his appointment he married Marietta Corsini, who bore him several children. Although he was apparently unfaithful, the marriage seems to have been a happy one. (Bergin, p. x).
His office as secretary meant that he was sent on many diplomatic missions; he met such personalities as Caterina Sforza and Cesare Borgia. He also accompanied Pope Julius II through Umbria, and met the Emperor Maximilian; he was also sent on an errand to Louis XII of France. (Bergin, p. x).
Machiavelli also found time...