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Important Persons

List of Persons Mentioned in or Relevant to Machiavelli's Prince

Lorenzo de'Medici

Machiavelli dedicated the first printing of The Prince to this man, duke of Urbino and ruler of Florence in 1516. He had originally dedicated the book to Lorenzo's uncle, Giuliano de'Medici, but Giuliano died before the book appeared. (Confusingly, Giuliano's father, and Lorenzo's grandfather, was also named Lorenzo de'Medici, and known popularly as Lorenzo the Magnificent.)

Pope Sixtus IV

The first of three popes who figure prominently in Machiavelli's argument. Sixtus, whose real name was Francesco della Rovere, was pope from 1471-1484. He led the papacy to unprecedented wealth and power by waging wars against the Turkish Empire, and by fomenting domestic wars within Italy. Sixtus was responsible for commissioning the famous Sistine Chapel, with ceilings decorated by Michelangelo, in the Vatican.

Pope Alexander VI

Originally named Rodrigo Borgia, this pope succeeded Sixtus and led the Catholic Church from 1492-1503. Like Sixtus, Alexander increased the power of the papacy and of the Church generally. He notoriously used his wealth and power to advance his relatives (particularly his numerous illegitimate children) into high offices in the religious and political institutions of Italy.

Cesare Borgia

One of Alexander's sons, Cesare provided Machiavelli an ideal historical example of a crafty prince. Pope Alexander's original plan was to send Cesare into the church. Cesare actually became an archbishop - at the ripe old age of 17! -- because of his father's influence. After several years of this, Cesare left the "religious" life and entered the world of politics, eventually rising to dominance by cunningly manipulating strife among the Italian city-states.

Pope Julius II

This pope succeeded Alexander VI (after the hiccup of an eight-week reign by another man), and ruled the Church from 1503-1513. Julius led the papacy in a number of intimidation campaigns against Italian city-states, such as Venice and Florence, trying to get them to join him in his war on the French. His policies were bold, but ultimately unsuccessful. Eventually Julius' ongoing feud with the Borgias contributed to the utter collapse of most Italian alliances.

Agathocles of Syracuse

Machiavelli took the story of the cruel ruler Agathocles from the ancient historians Justin and Diodorus Siculus. Agathocles was ruler of Sicily from 361-289 BC, and his evil rise to power provided Machiavelli with an example of a man who achieves political domination through unvirtuous action.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Important Persons
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Summary of the Argument
Prefatory Letter
Chapters 1 and 2
Chapter 3
Chapters 4 and 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapters 9 and 10
Chapters 11 and 12
Chapters 13 and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Chapters 17 and 18
Chapters 19 and 20
Chapters 21, 22, and 23
Chapters 24, 25, and 26


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