Biography of Nicolás Maquiavelo (1469-1527)

Politician and Italian writer, born May 3, 1469 in San Casciano, Florence, and died 21 June 1527 in the same city. Experience in political activity, as well as the observer skills to know the psychology of the politician and the interests that move the masses, joined all its sharpness and brilliant style, have made de Nicolás Maquiavelo, volumes of the Niccoló Machiavelli Italian name, one of the best-known, most widely read, but also most discussed, political writers.

Life and work

Nicolás Maquiavelo was born in a small town near Florence, San Casciano in Val di Pesa, in the bosom of a coming family less. He was the son of Bernardo Machiavelli, a lawyer of an ancient family that was formerly influential in Florence, with Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli. The two parents were educated families and in possession of titles of nobility but scarce resources.

Between 1494 and 1512 Nicolás Maquiavelo worked in a public unit. He made trips, sent to several courts in France, Germany and other Italian city-States on diplomatic missions. His city, Florence, was ruled by Lorenzo de Medici, called El Magnifico.

After receiving a full humanistic education entered the service of the Florentine Republic as Secretary of the Chancery in 1498. In 1512 he was imprisoned for a short time in Florence, and then he was exiled and sent to San Casciano. After the fall of the Republic, in 1512, took advantage of the years of forced removal to write Il principe (the Prince), - his work known - (1513), the Discorsi sopra decade prima di Tito Livio (discourses on the first decade of Tito Livio, in 3 volumes) (1513-21), the dialogues Dell'arte della war (1521) and Istorie fiorentine (1521-25). He was also the author of two comedies Mandragora and Clizia, and other many minor writings.

His political thought

The development of his ideas coincides with a period in history when the great cities of the time were real strengths, poles of concentration of trade and civic and military instruction centres. Florence that lived you was divided by two types of mentality, represented by the austere Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola , on the one hand and Lorenzo, lover of art, splendour and some excesses. The power of Savonarola on the Florentine fortunes was immense, and famous were the burning of luxury articles and books, but does not seem to have been so important for Machiavelli, since just mentioned it in the Prince, appearing as a failed Prophet. On the other hand, the excellence and magnificence of the mandate of Lorenzo impressed strongly Machiavelli dedicated the Prince to the grandson of the President.

He served for four years in a public office, working as a Secretary, it was then named Chancellor and Secretary of the second Chancery. He had an important role in the Affairs of the Republic, as reflected in their offices and other writings, in which they started highlights for its concise and direct style. Even today used fully current phrases of Machiavelli, such as "divide to reign". He held prominent career positions, although it accepted in Exchange for low-paid work, and came to say that he did not aspire to become rich.

One of their first missions to Caterina Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan, drew the conclusion, which would continue in the future, that it is better to win the trust of people who rely on the strength. The center of the thought of Machiavelli the political problem was: how you can create a new State and how to preserve it. For the establishment of a State are important capabilities of an individual; above all the qualities (virtu) of the people are important for the conservation of the same. But we must bear in mind that the concept of virtue in Machiavelli is far from meaning something similar to the same Christian name. The "virtue" carries the meaning of the ancient: ability and strength, which can give rise to behaviors (justified according to him, in the case of policy) that would be probably disqualified for Christian ethics. To achieve success, he says, those who wish to establish a new State shall employ its strength and its cunning, without hinder by moral scruples, to the point of use the cruelty and deception for their own ends against who opposes them. In addition, it does not hesitate consider that the religion itself can be manipulated, if it is in favour of these interests, since religious approval favours compliance with agreements and commitments that have been agreed in the interior of a village, thus reducing controversy and disputes between subjects.

"Fortune" and "virtù" in human events

All this conception is based on a method that Machiavelli makes clear: look for realism in politics, an "effective truth" that remain on the sidelines of myths and utopias that enhance the reality of a hypocritical way, characteristics of philosophy and religion. The history of mankind shows that it is impossible to remove the evil of the human heart. These assertions described them with a bare-bones style, clear, without ambivalence, recall an example: "If the main party, the people, the army or the nobility, which you think is most useful and most suitable for the conservation of your dignity is corrupted, must follow you the humor and excuse it." In this case, honesty and virtue are harmful".

With regard to the political events, seems to adopt the cyclic scheme proposed by Polybius, according to which, the decline of a State would follow its splendor of irretrievable way. The thought of Machiavelli on the subject is pessimistic, but without falling into nihilism. Provides an important correction to the scheme: this process is not inevitable, given that you can have you front with the virtu of the people and the judges, through a return to the principles that gave strength to the primitive State. Here are two forces that are mutually intertwined: the virtu and the fortuna ("luck", "chance"). "Fortune" denotes the conditions which do not depend on the will or of freedom of men, front which, however, should not be one shelter passively in the hope, but it should intervene actively to dominate them. Machiavelli the virtu awards much more transcendent possibilities than to "Fortune". Thus, defends that the chances of success not can be relegated only to "Fortune", but they also depend on the virtu who act. He compared the achievement of Fortune with women, and concludes that only the bold with his boldness will conquer both, ever the cautious.

The life of Machiavelli was influenced by the political and social events arising as a result of the ambition of papa Alejandro VI and his son, César Borgia, Duke Valentino; both occupy several pages of the Prince. Machiavelli describes the actions of the Duke as a model of behavior patterns of political action, in terms of the seizure of power. Some historians and critics, Prince is carved with the profile of the Borgia family. Even with details and descriptions of type heroic, the Duke is described as the type of man who grows his fortune at the expense of others, and therefore also falls in the same way, in its own law. Through Borgia, Machiavelli coincided with Leonardo da Vinci, who apparently held extensive talks.

When Alejandro VI died in 1503, Machiavelli was chosen to oversee the choice of successor. He had then perceive César Borgia maneuvers aimed at forcing the election of Giuliano delle Rovere (future Pope Julius II). Machiavelli, describing the process of this election, said then, quite rightly: "those who think that favors will make the great characters to forget past offenses, deluding himself". The story was commissioned to give the reason, because Pope Julio II not rested until to César Borgia to complete ruin.

In 1507 he traveled on a delicate diplomatic mission, to meet with representatives of the Government in Germany, and it was able to convince them that you don't invade Italy, after which said: "the Germans are a great military force, but have and will have a very weak policy". He described the Emperor Maximiliano as a ruler weak and full of defects, mainly in its character, devoid of the persistence and the momentum necessary for success. Other comments about politicians of the time includes the effected on the King Fernando El Católico, who, on the contrary, admired its conquests under religion, but, says, was unaware of the principles of mercy, humanity and integrity; Although much less I would have succeeded if it had been influenced by these principles.

The rest of the public service of Machiavelli revolved around the events which influenced the creation of the League of Cambrai, in 1508 formed with the purpose of destroying the Venetian Republic. Following the battle of Agnadello, in which the powers of the time faced the powerful Venice, generating a conflict between the Pope and France, it was Florence unprotected and at the mercy of the Papal designs. It ruled in favour of the return of the Medici family to power, which materialized the September 1, 1512. The fall of the Republic brought the cessation of Machiavelli in the public service, giving terminated its services in the official sphere. Shortly after, he was imprisoned and even tortured, accused of conspiracy against the Medici, but he was released through the intercession of Pope Leo X. He retired to his native town of San Casciano, which remained barely with rough work in the field. In his time off was when he discovered his interest in literature, and, dressed in their costumes and uniforms of the civil service, read the classics, especially Dante, Petrarca and Ovid. During the period covering about 8 years, you can write 8 books, precisely at the time that he described as more unhappy, when more developed his talent as a writer.

In 1521 he was acquitted of the charges against him, but not he rejoined the public service. He was a defender of a few representatives of the Guild of wool, for which he received a substantial compensation. He worked at the Academy of Bernardo Rucellai, and translated the work of the Greek Polybius, who adopted many ideas on how to govern in a Republic. He writes a history of Florence at the request of Pope Clement VII (Julio de Médici), which receives a payment, but is accused again of conspiring against the Medici, so it was reviled by popular opinion.

His work has transcended the wear of time and the expressions of "Machiavellian", or "Machiavellianism" allude to the principles set out in his works, mainly in the Prince, true Treaty of customs and detailed observations, which specifies the traits that successful leaders must possess to arrive and stay in power.

He died in the town that see him born, in solitude, in 1527.