Niccolo Machiavelli was born on 3 May 1469 in Florence, during that city-state's peak of greatness under the Medici family. In 1494, the year the Medici were exiled, Machiavelli entered Florentine public service. In 1498 he was appointed Chancellor and Secretary to the Second Chancery. Serving as diplomat for the republic, Machiavelli was an emissary to some of the most distinguished people of their age. When the Medici were returned to Florence in 1512, Machiavelli was forced into retirement. In the years that followed he devoted himself to literature, producing his most famous work, The Prince. In 1527 the Medici were again expelled from Florence, but before Machiavelli was able once more to secure political office in the city he died on 22 June 1527.
At a time when pious drivel, feckless rhetoric and fatal arrogance too often rule the affairs of us all, a realist dollop of Machiavellianism might well be added to the cauldron of post-modern statecraft -- Ronald K. L. Collins * Washington Independent Review of Books * Machiavelli was showing how to achieve power and hold on to it -- Lesley McDowell Few books have attracted such an influential readership as The Prince -- Michael Arditti * Telegraph *