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‘A notorious fiend’, ‘generally odious’, ‘he seems hideous, and so he is.’

Thanks to the invidious reputation of his most famous work, The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli exerts a unique hold over the popular imagination. But was Machiavelli as sinister as he is often thought to be? Might he not have been an infinitely more sympathetic figure, prone to political missteps, professional failures and personal dramas?

Alexander Lee reveals the man behind the myth, following him from cradle to grave, from his father’s penury and the abuse he suffered at a teacher’s hands, to his marriage and his many affairs (with both men and women), to his political triumphs and, ultimately, his fall from grace and exile. In doing so, Lee uncovers hitherto unobserved connections between Machiavelli’s life and thought. He also reveals the world through which Machiavelli moved: from the great halls of Renaissance Florence to the court of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, from the dungeons of the Stinche prison to the Rucellai gardens, where he would begin work on some of his last great works.

As much a portrait of an age as of a uniquely engaging man, Lee’s gripping and definitive biography takes the reader into Machiavelli’s world – and his work – more completely than ever before.

Book Information

  • ISBN: 9781760980726
  • Format: eBook
  • Pub Date: 31/03/2020
  • Category: Biography & True Stories / Biography: historical, political & military
    Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700
    Humanities / European history
  • Imprint: Picador
  • Price: $17.99

‘A notorious fiend’, ‘generally odious’, ‘he seems hideous, and so he is.’

Thanks to the invidious reputation of his most famous work, The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli exerts a unique hold over the popular imagination. But was Machiavelli as sinister as he is often thought to be? Might he not have been an infinitely more sympathetic figure, prone to political missteps, professional failures and personal dramas?

Alexander Lee reveals the man behind the myth, following him from cradle to grave, from his father’s penury and the abuse he suffered at a teacher’s hands, to his marriage and his many affairs (with both men and women), to his political triumphs and, ultimately, his fall from grace and exile. In doing so, Lee uncovers hitherto unobserved connections between Machiavelli’s life and thought. He also reveals the world through which Machiavelli moved: from the great halls of Renaissance Florence to the court of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, from the dungeons of the Stinche prison to the Rucellai gardens, where he would begin work on some of his last great works.

As much a portrait of an age as of a uniquely engaging man, Lee’s gripping and definitive biography takes the reader into Machiavelli’s world – and his work – more completely than ever before.

Author Information

Alexander Lee is a research fellow at the University of Warwick. He is the author of four acclaimed books, most recently Humanism and Empire: The Imperial Ideal in Fourteenth-Century Italy. He writes a regular column for History Today, and has contributed articles on a wide variety of historical and cultural subjects to the Sunday Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Times Literary Supplement, and Dissent, and has frequently appeared on BBC television and radio, ITV, Central Television and Sky News. He lives in France.

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