Machiavelli portrait

The Life of Niccolo Machiavelli

  • 1465

    Birth of Spring (Primavera) Machiavelli

    Birth of Niccolo's sister to the same parents
  • 1468

    Birth of Margherita Machiavelli

    Birth of Niccolo's sister to the same parents
  • 1469

    Guiliano and Lorenzo Medici Rule Florence

    The Medici Brothers ruled Florence together until 1478.
  • May 3, 1469

    Birth of Niccolo Machiavelli

    Machiavelli is born in Florence, Italy to Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli (Mother) and Bernardo di Niccolo Machiavelli (Father). He was raised in the Santo Spirito district of Florence.
  • 1475

    Birth of Totto Machiavelli

    Birth of Niccolo's brother to the same parents
  • 1478

    Lorenzo becomes the Sole Ruler of Florence

    Lorenzo's rule has been considered that of "a benevolent tyrant in a constitutional republic" according to historian, Francesco Guicciardini.
  • Apr 26, 1478

    Pazzi Conspiracy Against the Medici//Golden Age of Lorenzo the Magnificent Begins

    The Pazzi Conspiracy is considered one of the most heinous and famous bloody events on Italian soil and took place in the Cathedral of Florence on Easter Sunday during mass in the middle of communion. Bernardo Bandini and Francesco de'Pazzi stabbed Guiliano and Lorenzo Medici. Lorenzo escaped and Guiliano succumbed to his injuries upon being stabbed. Conspirators in this incident all lost their lives due to government sentencing or "lynching"
  • 1481

    Niccolo begins studying under Ronciglione

    ~1481 At age 12, Niccolo begins to study under the priest, Paolo da Ronciglione, where he receives a formal education. Ronciglione had previously instructed some well-known humanists.
    Humanism: revival of ancient Greek and Roman thought that stresses the potential value and goodness of human beings while emphasizing common human needs and solving problems in rational ways.
    He is believed to have then studied at the University of Florence, where he received an excellent humanist education
  • 1482

    Girolamo Savonarola Begins Preaching in Florence

    Girolamo Savonarola Begins Preaching in Florence
    Savonarola was largely unsuccessful as a preacher until his revelations at San Gimignano in Lent of 1485 and 1486 where he expressed that the church needed to be reformed. According to his prophecies, it would be scourged and renewed.
  • 1487

    End of Niccolo's Early Whereabouts

    Much of Niccolo's early life is found in his father's diaries. These diaries ended in 1487. Some say Bernardo died in 1500 and others have dated his passing around 1487.
  • 1492

    Lorenzo the Magnificent Dies

    Lorenzo the Magnificent dies and was succeeded by his son Piero de' Medici.
  • 1492

    Rodrigo Borgia Ascends to the Papacy as Alexander VI

    Rodrigo Borgia Ascends to the Papacy as Alexander VI
    Borgia was selected by vote and historically has been accused of buying a vote from an elderly cardinal to win. Borgia consistently pursued the acquisition of gold, the pursuit of women, and his family interests rather than focusing on his role as Pope.
  • 1494

    Savonarola Gains Authority in Florence

    Savonarola was one of the men who negotiated with King Charles VIII. Due to his religious influence, Savonarola became a heavily influential member of the political climate in Florence. He influenced the reformation period of the political system, but the Great Council was not fully implemented until ~1499.
  • 1494

    The Medici are Ousted from Florence

    Piero Medici left Florence to negotiate with King Charles VIII and planned to hand over important fortresses in the region in return for respecting the freedom of the city. The already unpopular Piero was driven out of Florence by the citizens.
  • 1494

    France Invades Italy

    France Invades Italy
    The French were being led by Charles VIII, the King of France. This began a permanent alteration to Italy of continuous outside influence. This invasion was greatly promoted due to the power struggle between France and Spain at the time. France and Spain were two of the most powerful countries at the time and could extend their military operations over longer periods. Charles VIII was looking to claim the kingdom of Naples. His entrance into Italy caused the ousting of the Medici family.
  • 1496

    Bartolomea (Niccolo's Mother) Passes Away

  • 1496

    Savonarola Urges for the Creation of the Great Council

    Savonarola did not officially hold public office but urged for the creation of a Chief Council as the primary form of government, similar to the Venetian government (widely admired for its stability). This essentially replaced the Medici's guise of a democratic republic, which was truly a plutocracy, with an actual democratic republic.
  • May 12, 1497

    Savonarola is ex-communicated by Alexander VI

    Savonarola was believed to have condemned the immortality of the Church many times and called for the removal of Alexander VI from Papal office. Others say that his ex-communication was only political, since Alexander VI wanted the Florentines to join an anti-French coalition., which they would not do under Savonarola's leadership.
  • May 23, 1498

    Savonarola is publicly executed

    Savonarola is publicly executed
    On Palm Sunday of 1498, Savonarola and his two ardent companions, Fra Dominico and Fra Salvestro, were attacked by a screaming mob and arrested by the Florentine authorities. These men were cruelly tortured. A year post-ex-communication of Savonarola, the three men were hung and burned at the stake in the Piazza del Signoria. The remains of their bodies were thrown into the River Arno.
  • Jun 19, 1498

    Niccolo is appointed as Second Chancellor of the Republic of Florence

    Machiavelli's first political position, as the head of the Second Chancery, took place not long after Savonarola's death. At this point, he was 29 and had no prior political experience. He served under Marcello Virgilio Adriani, Chancellor of the Florentine Republic. Adriani, a scholar, began serving his position in 1498 as well.
  • Jul 14, 1498

    Machiavelli serves as Secretary to the Ten

    A month after being appointed to the Chancery, Machiavelli is also appointed to serve as Secretary of the Ten, the committee on war.
  • Nov 1, 1498

    Machiavelli's first diplomatic assignment

    Machiavelli was assigned a brief trip to the city of Piombino in November of 1498.
  • Mar 24, 1499

    Machiavelli is sent to Pontedera

    In Pontedera, Machiavelli would negotiate a pay dispute involving mercenary, Jacopo d'Appiano.
  • Jul 1, 1499

    Machiavelli visits Furli

    Machiavelli was asked to visit Furli in July to meet with Lady Catharine Sforza Riario about her son Ottaviano's conduct.
  • 1500

    Machiavelli is commissioned to France

    Machiavelli proceeded to the court of France with Francesco della Casa, ambassador to Louis XII regarding the ill conduct of the French troops. The French troops had been sent to fight in Pisa at the request of the Florentine Republic.
  • 1501

    Machiavellia marries Marietaa di Ludovico Corsini

    Marietta and Machiavelli married in August of 1501 and eventually had several children. There kids were Bernardo, Primerana (who died at a young age), an unnamed daughter (who also died young), Baccina, Ludovico, Piero, Guido, and Totto. Machiavelli was known to be romantically involved with at least two other women, La Riccia (courtesan) and Barbera Salutati (singer).
  • 1501

    Piero Soderini becomes gonfaloniere for life

    Piero Soderini becomes gonfaloniere for life
    The previous term limit of the gonfaloniere was two months. Due to major constitutional reform, the term limit was abolished. The gonfaloniere was a medieval Italian official who was instituted to protect the interests of the people against the dominant wealthy class.
  • 1502

    Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia meet for the first time

    Cesare Borgia was the son of Alexander VI
  • Period: 1502 to 1507

    Machiavelli collaborates with Leonardo Da Vinci

    The most notable collaboration was the attempt to connect the Arno River to the sea. This would irrigate the Arno valley and cut off the water supply to Pisa.
  • 1503

    Machiavelli writes the Decennali

    This texts were written in terza rima and dedicated to Alamanno Salviati, a member of the famous Salviati family who were known for commercial textile and banking activities. This work was most likely printed at the end of 1504 or beginning of 1505.
  • Period: 1505 to 1506

    Machiavelli creates the Florentine Militia

    Machiavelli promoted the creation of the Florentine militia so that Florence would not have to rely on foreign mercenaries for protection.
  • 1507

    Machiavelli serves as Chancellor to the Nine

    The Nine of Ordinance and Militia was a committee composed of nine civilians that were to train and discipline the militia that Machiavelli pushed to create.
  • Aug 30, 1512

    Soderini is ousted from power

    The Florentine militia is crushed in Prato and Soderini loses his seat as Gonfaloniere of Florence at the hands of Pope Julius II. The militia was defeated by the Spanish and Papal troops sent by Julius.
  • Sep 1, 1512

    Medici Family regains control of Florence

    Giuliano de' Medici marches into Florence to reestablish Medici control of the city.
  • Nov 8, 1512

    Machiavelli is dismissed

    Machiavelli is formally dismissed from the office of Secretary of the Second Chancellery of the Signoria and the secretaryship of the Magistracy of the Ten. Machiavelli was one of the few officials from the Republic that was dismissed upon return of the Medici.
  • Nov 10, 1512

    A new decree against Machiavelli

    Machiavelli was confined for a whole year within the limits of the republic and on November 17th, 1512 he was notified that he was not to enter the palace of the Signoria for a whole year.
  • 1513

    Machiavelli is jailed and tortured

    Machiavelli was wrongly accused of being involved in the conspiracy of Pietropaolo Boscoli and Agostino Capponi against the lives of Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici. He was arrested and placed in the prison of the Bargello where he was subjected six times to the strappado. The Strappado was a torture device where the prisoner was hung with their arms tied behind their back. They would fall the length of the rope over a pulley system, which typically resulted in dislocation of the arms/shoulders.
  • 1513

    Machiavelli retires to Percussina

    Following his release from prison, Machiavelli goes to his small property in Percussina, near San Casciano
  • Feb 21, 1513

    Pope Julius II dies

    Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici was chosen as the successor and assumed the title Leo X. Leo X set free Machiavelli and all others who had been implicated in the Boscoli and Capponi conspiracy. Boscoli and Capponi were unfortunately executed before the Pope's pardon.
  • Mar 13, 1513

    Machiavelli writes to Francesco Vettori

    In this letter, Machiavelli mentions his time being tortured. His torture is not found in any public documents today, but exclusively through letters sent to his close confidants.
  • Dec 10, 1513

    Machiavelli writes to Vettori again

    Machiavelli wrote to Vettori about his uncertainties about naming "De Principatibus" with that title. He also mentioned his intention of dedicating that text to Giuliano de' Medici.
    Machiavelli also began writing the "Discourses on Livy" at this point.
  • 1514

    Giuliano moves to Rome

    Giuliano de' Medici moves to Rome at the request of his brother, Giovanni. Giuliano became Gonfaloniere of the Holy Roman Church. His nephew, Lorenzo de' Medici, becomes his successor in Florence.
  • Period: 1514 to 1519

    Machiavelli writes The Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy

    This famous work was where Machiavelli had the opportunity to express his qualified views on the government of the state. This work was dedicated to Cosimo Rucellai and Zenobio Buondemonti. It would be published posthumously in 1531.
  • 1516

    Machiavelli presents The Prince to Lorenzo de' Medici

    Machiavelli originally planned to present The Prince to Giuliano de' Medici but ended up presenting it to Lorenzo instead due to Giuliano's passing.
  • Mar 17, 1516

    Giuliano de' Medici dies

    He leaves is illegitimate son, Ippolito, in the care of Leo X. Ippolito would eventually become Pope Clement VII.
  • 1518

    Machiavelli writes the Mandragola

    The Mandrake (Mandragola) is a quintessential classical comedy where a wealthy merchant, Nicias, and his beautiful wife, Lucretia, are deceived by Callimaco. Callimaco is a young man who wishes to be Lucretia's lover. This play is one of the things Machiavelli was well known for during his time.
  • 1520

    Machiavelli is commissioned to write the history of Florence

    Machiavelli spends most of his life up until this point trying to use his well-connected friends to rectify his relationship with the Medici. In 1520, Cardinal Giulio de' Medici (Pope Clement VII) commissioned him to compose a history of Florence called "Florentine Histories".
  • 1520

    Machiavelli writes the Life of Castruccio Castracani

    Following the numerous attempts of Machiavelli's friends, Francesco Guicciardini and Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi, to restore his political reputation, he was given a minor diplomatic mission. He was sent to Lucca where he wrote the Life of Castruccio Castracani. Giuliano de' Medici offered Machiavelli an opportunity to become the city's official historiographer at the University of Florence.
  • 1521

    The Art of War is published

    The Art of War is published
    Machiavelli discusses a philosophy on military combat. Here he emphasized the systemic concept of troop formation and proclaimed discipline to be the most important factor in military success.
  • 1525

    Florentine Histories is completed

    This work was presented to Cardinal Giulio de' Medici following his ascension to the papal throne as Clement VII.
  • 1525

    Machiavelli directs the first production of Clizia

    The Clizia is a little-known play where Machiavelli attempts to teach the audience about household management through a round-about, subversive husband and a strict, orderly wife.
  • Jun 20, 1527

    Machiavelli dies

    Machiavelli dies
    Towards the end of his life, Machiavelli became minorly involved in public affairs for the Medici government, but before he passed away before he could fully return to public life. His body is buried in the Florentine basilica of Santa Croce where Machiavelli was ironically banned from entering in the later years of his life. He leaves his four sons, daughter, and wife in grave poverty.
  • 1531

    Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy is published

    This work was published posthumously in 1531.
  • 1532

    The Prince is published

    The Prince is published posthumously in 1532.