Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian statesman and student of
politics. He is best known for his book, "The Prince",
written in 1513 and published in 1532. This book
established him as the father of the modern science of
politics. It introduces the idea that a ruler need not
trouble himself about the means he uses to accomplish a
purpose. Instead, he must use any means, no matter how
wicket to strike down his enemies and make his people obey.
Machiavelli was born in Florence. The son of a juris and a
member of an old Tuscan family, he was educated chiefly
though private study. He became a leading figure in the
Republic of Florence after the Medici family was driven out
in 1498. For 14 years, he served as first secretary of the
council of the republic. His duties brought him in contact
with the notorious Cesare Borgia. He also became interested
in reorganizing the militia.
The Medici family returned to power in 1512, and dismissed
Machiavelli from his office. They arrested, tortured, and
imprisoned him. They finally released him on order of Pope
Leo X. He spent the last fourteen years of his life in
retirement near Florence. There he wrote his books on
history and politics. He also wrote poetry and comedies. He
became a leading literary figure of the Renaissance.