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British academic discovers a 500-year-old arrest warrant for Machiavelli

Famous author of "The Prince" met his downfall after crossing the Medici family in 1512 — a story rediscovered warrant sheds new light on.

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Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito. (Wikimedia commons)

A British academic stumbled across a rare find while combing through historical archives in Florence: an arrest warrant for the famous Italian writer and strategist Niccolò Machiavelli, dated to 1513 and subsequently forgotten.

"When I saw it I knew exactly what it was and it was pretty exciting," said Manchester University professor Stephen Milner in a university press release.

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"When you realize this document marked the fall from grace of one the world's most influential political writers, it's quite a feeling."

The academic had been looking through town criers proclamations when he stumbled upon the document, says the Independent, as well as documents securing the pay of the horsemen who hunted for the political writer in Florence.

Florence celebrates the 500th anniversary of "The Prince" this year, a legendary (and infamous) document intimately linked with Machiavelli's political downfall.

Machiavelli, who had served for 14 years as the Second Chancellor of the Republic of Florence, saw his downfall begin when the powerful Medici family return to power, years after they had been pushed out in 1484 (per Stanford University).

Machiavelli was arrested and tortured after the republican government of Florence was thrown out, as the Medicis suspected that he had conspired against them.

Forced out of politics, Machiavelli retired to a farm outside of the city and turned to writing, composing the legendary "The Prince" in 1513, partially in an effort to win favor with the Medici rulers.

The gambit to win over the Medici's by means of literature partially worked, says Stanford, but only near the end of Machiavelli's life — he passed in 1527, "before he could achieve a full rehabilitation."

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/130224/british-academic-discovers-500-year-old-arrest-warra