May 3rd 1469: Niccolò Machiavelli born

On this day in 1469, the Italian thinker Niccolò Machiavelli was born in Florence. He went on to become a central figure of the Renaissance that coloured Florentine life during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Machiavelli was involved in city politics, especially during the fourteen years when the powerful Medici family were exiled from power when he was a diplomat. Upon their return, Machiavelli was dismissed for his opposition to their rule and thus occupied his time writing what has become considered his magnum opus: The Prince. This book is often considered a kind of handbook for ruthless politicians, as it detailed how one must be prepared to use any means to preserve political power. However, some scholars have suggested that the work was more of a satire than prescriptive guide. Machiavelli died on June 21st 1527, aged fifty-eight, and was buried in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence.

“Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.”