The Italian scientist, Renaissance thinker Niccolò Machiavelli, has a double reputation. On the one hand, it is often cited as an example of how the state should be governed. Others see him as an extremely cynical adviser to politicians of the past, whose only measure is not morality but power and money. Let’s find out who this really interesting person was.
Early Life and Education
This period in the life of Niccolò Machiavelli is not well known. He was born on May 3, 1469, in a small village in the then Republic of Florence. His father, Bernardo, was a well-known lawyer. He was brought up by home teachers, but Niccolò gained an excellent knowledge of ancient classical culture by himself. He knew Latin, and he read Roman authors such as Titus Livius and Cicero in Latin. At an early age, a list of his interests was at the forefront of history and politics. In a lively way, he tried to intervene in the events of his native state, as evidenced by his correspondence with powerful people of that time - for example, critical comments on Savonarola's activities in Florence.
Biographers claim that he was thin, white-faced, dark-haired, with a high forehead and thin lips. Many mention his sarcastic smile. The life of this person took shape in a very difficult time for Florence, when many neighboring countries, taking advantage of the political moment, tried to occupy the Italian republics. There was no stable force, there were strikes almost every month. Even then, Machiavelli Niccolò began his career using dubious methods. For example, on the one hand, he criticized Savonarola in private letters, but with his support, he took up his first position in the public service. And when the rigorous monk was burned as a heretic, Machiavelli was re-elected to power, this time thanks to the fact that the Prime Minister of Florence, Marcello Adriani, was his teacher.
For the first ten years of the sixteenth century, Niccolò conducted diplomatic missions on behalf of the Republic in various countries.
In 1501, Machiavelli Niccolò reached such a standard of living that he could marry a representative of his social circle. Marriage was successful both economically and familiarly. The couple had five children, and besides, Niccolò was still kind to various beauties abroad.
In 1502 he met the famous adventurer and commander Cesare Borgia, who struck him with his ability to use every opportunity to appear to expand his property. He spent a year in his service. It was then that he embraced the idea of writing a treatise on an ideal ruler who could masterfully pursue his goals, regardless of morality. But when Pope Alexander Borgia died in 1503, Father Cesare lost his finances and Niccolò was forced to return to Florence.
He also served the Republic with some intrigue during the diplomatic mission in Rome, trying to influence the policy of the new pope, and then dealt with the internal structure of the Republic and its defense capability. He is especially the author of the idea of a professional army (discussion Art of War). That theory which he successfully carried out in Florence, in connection with which the city-state regained, resulted in a separate Pisa.
Machiavelli Niccolo's celebration lasted until 1512. Pope Julius II managed to get out of the Italian republic's French soldiers, who, at the end of the 15th century, expelled the famous Medici family who ruled the city from Florence for decades. After that, the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent - Giovanni - returned to his inheritance, liquidated the Republic, and began to break up those who opposed his family.
Niccolò Machiavelli, who was thrown into prison, accused of anti-state conspiracy, and even tortured, also suffered retaliation. But in the end, he managed to justify himself and retreated into exile on the estate of his parents, where he lived with his family for almost the rest of his life and wrote texts that brought him world fame.
Machiavelli's political views are difficult to describe unambiguously. There was an opinion that his main characteristic was cynicism, which allowed him to achieve his goals in any way. There are some truths in this, but Machiavelli's attitude towards people, enemies, and opponents should be divided. When Niccolo wrote about the ideal ruler, she relied on the opinion of the population, to improve lives and protect freedom. He proposed a cynical policy of lying to enemies, and cruelty is recommended for those who encroach on power. But at the time, it was not the only thought of Niccolo Machiavelli. His books on politics - Sovereignty and Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy became a compilation of the opinions of many famous people, including those in power, who dominated the Renaissance.
In his writings, Machiavelli reveals the shortcomings of the relationship between rulers, people, institutions, and the law, and also reflects on how to achieve the better functioning of the latter. He can be called the "father of political science", as he was the first to say that politics is an experiential science with which you can understand the past, guide the present and predict the future. He also believed that much depended on the personality of the sovereign.
He was an advocate of strong power and a firm hand, arguing that centralized management based on force and the use of morals only as cover are ultimately better for the people. And, because of the unity of the country, it is possible to suppress fragmentation. However, he didn’t like the lower strata of the population. People he considered successful and politically active citizens were the people whose opinions should be listened to, that reliance on such people who are given the greatest freedoms serve as the basis for the sustainability of the state.
What was Niccolò Machiavelli's favorite topic? His philosophy was to analyze the most effective ways to seize state power and keep it as long as possible. The ideal for him was the ancient republics, which, in his opinion, combined love of freedom and good laws. The main goal lies in the complex art of power - the independence and luxury of one's own state. No morality or rights should stand in the way of the state, especially if it protects its interests. He says that the law should be read as long as it meets the needs of the country. If for the sake of observing the national interest or the prosperity of the country, this is to be circumvented, it must be done. He preferred a hereditary monarchy.
The works of the first Renaissance political scientist were initially criticized. First of all, the Roman Catholic Church disagreed with them. But not at all because of the principle proclaimed by the author that all means are permissible for a good cause, but because he has denied the clergy the exclusive right to moral guidance. Thus Machiavelli's works were condemned at the church council in Trent and even included in the Index of Forbidden Books.
On the other hand, many philosophers such as Jean Boden or Thomas Hobbes defended the idea of a centralized state and considered him an innovator in political life, a man who dared to write the truth about what everyone had been doing for so long. Indeed, Machiavelli broke the medieval ideas that people should serve God, including in public service, and elevate power and its interests to the center. Politics has become an independent discipline, acting for practical reasons and justifying violations of the law and immoral acts for them.
Machiavelli's name gave rise to the term Machiavellianism, which predominantly refers to unscrupulousness in achieving personal or general goals.
In 1520, he returned to Florence as a diplomat in public service - this time as a historian. He died in 1527 on his estate, but no one knows where his tomb is. His "History of Florence" enjoyed great success with his compatriots, including after the author's death.
Summaries, Analyses & Books