AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Machiavelli and Shakespeare.

by Edith M. Stark

Institution: University of Louisville
Department: Department of English
Degree: MA
Year: 1930
Record ID: 1562655
Full text PDF: http://ir.library.louisville.edu/etd/1373


A brief introduction to Nicola Machiavelli is necessary for a better understanding of the influence he exerted upon English thought. He was a descendant of old Florentine nobility and lived from 1469 to 1527. Little is known of his early years and education, but it is evident from his works that he read widely in the Latin and Italian classics, particularly the Roman histories, and that he was a student of men and things. His first entrance into public service was made in 1494. He was made clerk of the second chancery and four years later was appointed second chancellor of the republic, and secretary. He retained this position until the return of the Medici to power in 1512. His superior officers had charge of the department of war and the interior, and while thus steeped in Florentine diplomatic service and voluminous correspondence he had every opportunity to study state-craft and the relative strength of nations, and to estimate the essential elements of success or failure. With the return of the Medici to power his political career came to an end, and the remaining years of his life, from 1512 until 1527, were spent in writing the works which have made his name immortal. They are the condensed result of practical experience combined with meditations on the Latin historians; and the principles set forth in them have been far-reaching in their influence.