The 500-year-old arrest warrant for Niccolò Machiavelli has been discovered by Professor Stephen J. Milner of the University of Manchester.
The document calling for the arrest of the famous Italian Renaissance figure was the catalyst for Machiavelli’s writing of “The Prince.” Milner came across this piece of history while he was researching town criers from the 15th and 16th centuries.
“When I saw it I knew exactly what it was and it was pretty exciting,” Milner said in a University news article. “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 arrest warrant was read aloud on Feb. 19, 1513. According to The Daily News, it stated that any Florentines with knowledge as to the whereabouts of Machiavelli had one hour to come forward with that information. The warrant also called for the surrendering of the names of anyone who may have been hiding Machiavelli.
When he became associated with a conspiracy to overthrow the Medici family, the ruling family in Florence at the time, Machiavelli became a wanted man. “When his name was linked to conspiracy to overthrow the Medici, they wasted no time in seeking his capture using the proclamation I discovered,” said Milner.
Machiavelli ended up being exiled from Florence. The famed philosopher lived in poverty until his death in 1527. Although he twice dedicated “The Prince” to members of the Medici family in an attempt to get them to once again look upon him in a good light, it didn’t work. “‘The Prince’ was written in the vain hope of gaining favor and employment with the Medici - but there's no evidence to suggest they even read it,” Milner said.
The book is regarded as one of the original works of modern political philosophy. Its primary argument is that the ends justify the means and that sacrificing one's virtues in order to maintain power is sometimes necessary.
Source: (The Daily News)