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Unformatted text preview: Machiavelli Krissy W. Gladders * University of Tennessee November 26, 2003 Niccol´ o Machiavelli, the founder of modern political science, was born in Flo- rence on May 3, 1469 during the Augustan Age of the Italian Renaissance (also called the Age of Lorenzo, after the Medici ruler Lorenzo the Magnificent). 1 Although both terms describe 15th century Italy, each aspect influenced Machi- avelli’s role and shaped his views as a public servant and as a political scientist. Beginning with the effect of the Italian Renaissance, it is important to note that Machiavelli’s family was a part of the popolo grasso , 2 a phrase which char- acterized the merchant families of the time. Although a lawyer who struggled for money, his father Bernardo took great interest in his son’s education. 3 Bernardo introduced Niccol´ o to humanist ideas, Roman ideals, Greek works, and republi- can beliefs; that is, Machiavelli participated in the Florentine Renaissance and familiarized himself with art, music, philosophy, and science, because of the urgings of his father. Clearly, the Florentine Renaissance affected Machiavelli’s future to some de- gree; however, living under Medici rule proved a greater influence. Although Lorenzo d’Medici lessened the strain between the five Italian factions, 4 Machi- avelli’s family disliked the banking family’s heir to the throne. Many scholars speculate Lorenzo’s oligarchic rule was the reason for the opposition. 5 The Machiavelli family was not alone in its dislike of Lorenzo and the d’Medici fam- ily, for Florence expelled the Medici family in 1494, only two years following Lorenzo’s death. * I would like to thank Ole J. Forsberg for his help in typesetting,proofreading, and creating the study questions for this paper. However, any errors are mine and mine alone. 1 Gauss 1952: 9-10 2 The popolo grasso was composed of wealthy and influential professionals and guild mem- bers who controlled trade and civic administration. The popolo grasso eventually developed its own aristocracy as the nouveau riche became established and the old feudal nobility died out or became impoverished. 3 Atkinson 1976: 4 4 Those five factions were the Kingdom of Naples, Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome and the Papal States. 5 Atkinson 1976: 4 1 Scholars know very little, if anything, about Machiavelli’s life from his child- hood until 1498, when the “free people” of Florence elected him Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence. 6 This position allowed him oversight in both foreign and military affairs. In essence, Machiavelli was a civil servant in charge of policy implementation, a modern-day “White House chief of staff and ambassador-at large.” 7 In addition to day-to-day activities, his duties included staffing and supervising foreign missions, training militias, and negotiating treaties....
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