talian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli, whose writings would influence modern political leaders, was born on this day in 1469. A native of Florence, Machiavelli served as that city's defense secretary. His high office allowed Machiavelli to rub shoulders with popes, kings, and emperors. When Machiavelli fell out of favor with the powerful Medici family, he was accused of conspiracy, imprisoned, and tortured. In an attempt to regain his power and win back the trust of the Medici family, Machiavelli wrote The Prince
, his most famous work. In it, Machiavelli outlined his idea of a perfect leader, a person who was amoral, calculating, and a tyrant. The manuscript failed to win over the Medici family. It also alienated him from the people of Florence, Today the term "Machiavellian" is often used to describe a ruthless and autocratic leader.
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