Having spent all his life in conflict-riven Florence, the Italian diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli composed his masterpiece "The Prince", a classic study of power and politics. Although controversial, making Machiavelli's own name a byword for manipulative scheming, and having an impact on such major figures as Napoleon, Frederick the Great and Mussolini, "The Prince" contains principles as true today as when they were first written.
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an important figure in the Italian Renaissance. Best known for his realist political philosophy, his works also included plays, novels and poetry. Despite the widely held perception of Machiavelli as little more than a cynical and amoral schemer, his political writings are notable for their emphasis on realism and practicality over idealism, and marked a significant shift in political thought.