Niccolo Machiavelli

Father of Modern Political Theory


Born: May 3, 1469 in Florence, Italy

Died: May 22, 1527 in Florence, Italy

AKA Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

  • Most people consider cunning, sly and ruthless
  • Started his career as a diplomat
  • Specialized in foreign policy and trained the Florentine militia
  • Allegedly conspired to overthrow the Medici family
  • Jailed in 1513 and tortured


  • The Prince written 1513
  • The Art of War published 1521
  • Discourses published 1531
  • Wrote for practical and personal purposes
  • Writings spread from Italy through Europe
  • Infamous book instructs leaders how to maintain power and control over government
  • Concerned with political efficiency
  • Thought to be advisor of tyrants

“A ruler ought to do whatever is appropriate to the situation in which he finds himself and may lead most quickly and efficiently to success. Sometimes cruelty, sometimes leniency, sometimes loyalty, sometimes villainy might be the right course. The choice depends on circumstances.” (Gilbert, 2006).


Quotes & Application as Principal