Book spawned term ‘Machivellian’ – meaning cunning and unscrupulous
Machiavelli was NICE: New biography claims arch plotter was a caring family man who doted on his six children
By Daniel Bates
He wrote the world’s most famous manual on how to cheat and scheme your way to the top.
But in real-life Niccolo Machiavelli was a caring family man who loved and doted on his six children.
A new biography has revealed that far from being a conniving plotter, the writer and diplomat was actually an appreciative husband.
He wrote his most famous work, ‘The Prince’, about how to get ahead using dirty tactics after losing his government job and wanting to impress his new boss.
It spawned the word ‘Machiavellian’, which means cunning and unscrupulous, especially in politics or in advancing one’s career.
According to Miles Unger in ‘Machiavelli: A Biography’ he was in reality a committed family man who appears completely different from how we imagine.
The book reveals that Machiavelli, who was born in 1469 and died in 1527, had his outlook shaped by the tumultuous events that took place during his lifetime, to which he had a front row seat.
Machiavelli carried out spying missions on behalf of the Italian government, was good friends with Leonardo and Michelangelo and dealt with Pope Alexander VI and his notorious son Cesare Borgia, who became the inspiration for ‘The Prince’.
According to Unger it was written in 1513 after he’d lost his job with the government and was briefly jailed due to powers shifting in his home city of Florence.
There was no intention to create a book that would become what Unger says is ‘the most notorious and influential political tract ever written’.
He also reveals that Machiavelli was a playwright, a poet and a caring husband to wife Marietta Corsini who cared deeply for his family.
Unger says that today Machiavelli’s name ‘has been turned into an adjective to describe any cynical act or the pursuit of power without conscience’.
Such a stereotype is unfair and wrong, he says in the introduction to the book, which is published by Simon and Schuster and is out now.