Early Life and Diplomatic Career
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy, on May 3, 1469—a time when Italy was divided into four rival city-states and, thusly, was at the mercy of stronger governments throughout the rest of Europe.
The young Niccolò Machiavelli became a diplomat after the temporary fall of Florence’s ruling Medici family in 1494. He served in that position for 14 years in Italy’s Florentine Republic during the Medici family’s exile, during which time he earned a reputation for deviousness, enjoying shocking his associates by appearing more shameless than he truly was.
After his involvement in an unsuccessful attempt to organize a Florentine militia against the return of the Medici family to power in 1512 became known, Machiavelli was tortured, jailed and banished from an active role in political life.