official in the Florentine Government. His youth, however, was passed
during some of the most tumultuous years in the history of Florence. He
born the year that Lorenzo the Magnificent came to power, subverting the
traditional civil liberties of Florence while inaugurating a reign of
unrivaled luxury and of great brilliance for the arts. He was twenty-five
at the time of Savonarola's attempt to establish a theocratic democracy,
although, from the available evidence, he took no part in it. Yet through
his family, he was closer to many of these events than many Florentine
citizens. The Machiavelli family for generations had held public office,
and his father was a jurist and a minor official. Machiavelli himself,
shortly after the execution of Savanarola, became Secretary of the Second
Chancery, which was to make him widely known among his contemporaries as
By virtue of his position Machiavelli served the "Ten of Liberty and
who sent their own ambassadors to foreign powers, transacted business with
the cities of the Florentine domain, and controlled the military
establishment of Florence. During the fourteen years he held office,
Machiavelli was placed in charge of the diplomatic correspondence of his
bureau, served as Florentine representative on nearly thirty foreign
missions, and attempted to organize a citizen militia to replace the
In his diplomatic capacity, which absorbed most of his energies, he dealt
with the various principalities into which Italy was divided at the time.
His more important missions, however, gave him insight into the court of
King of France, where he met the mightiest minister in Europe, Cardinal d'
Amboise. On this occasion he began the observation and analysis of
political forces, which were to find expression in his diplomatic reports.
His Report... [continues]
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