On 7 November 1512—five hundred and five years ago— Niccolò Machiavelli was formally dismissed from his post in the chancery at the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, where he had been serving since 1498 administering the republic’s internal and external affairs.
The restoration of the Medici and the resulting fall of the Republic put an end to his public career. Although he had been a loyal and efficient servant of the Florentine government, he was removed from the office of secretary, and banished from the city.
His name was also mentioned in the course of an anti-Medici plot and he was imprisoned, and subjected to interrogation under torture
As he was entirely innocent, he was freed, but he retired to his small property at San Casciano, near Florence, where he devoted himself to literature. There he wrote his masterpiece, “The Prince”, an empirical study on power: he used a number of contemporary and ancient examples, such as Cesare Borgia or Alexander the Great, to demonstrate that ruthlessness, determination and cunning can be more effective than conventional virtue. He dedicated his book to the new Medici ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici, in the false hope of regaining employment.
The adjective Machiavellian means cunning, calculating, and unscrupulous, especially in politics, as taught in The Prince, which is regarded as one of the first leadership advice books.
Yet, while Machiavellianism is notable in Machiavelli’s works, these are really complex and much more than just “Machiavellian”
Here are five quotes:
“Politics have no relation to morals”
“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”
“It is much safer to be feared than loved because …love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”
“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”
“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”