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Word Count: 813
MACHIAVELLI The first great political philosopher of the Renaissance was Nicolo Machiavelli 1469-1527 His famous treatise The Prince stands apart from all other political writings of the period insofar as it focus on the practical problems a monarch faces in staying in power rather than more speculative issues explaining the foundation of political authority As such it is an expression of realpolitik that is governmental policy based on retaining power rather than pursuing ideals LIFE Machiavelli was born in Florence Italy at a time when the country was in political upheaval Italy was divided between four dominant city-states and each of these was continually at the mercy of the stronger foreign governments of Europe Since 1434 Florence was ruled by the wealthy Medici family Their rule was temporarily interrupted by a reform movement begun in 1494 in which the young Machiavelli became an important diplomat When the Medici family regained power in 1512 with the help of Spanish troops Machiavelli was tortured and removed from public life For the next 10 years he devoted himself to writing history political philosophy and even plays He ultimately gained favor with the Medici family and was called back to public duty for the last two years of his life Machiavellis greatest work is The Prince written in 1513 and published after his death in 1532 The work immediately provoked controversy and was soon condemned by Pope Clement VIII Its mai n theme is that princes should retain absolute control of their territories and they should use any means of expediency to accomplish this end including deceit Scholars struggle over interpreting Machiavellis precise point In several section Machiavelli praises Caesar Borgia a Spanish aristocrat who became a notorious and much despised tyrant of the Romagna region of northern Italy During Machiavellis early years as a diplomat he was in contact with Borgia and witnessed Borgias rule first hand Does Machiavelli hold up Borgia as the model
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