Machiavelli saw himself as an enemy of oppression and corruption, but critics attacked his cynical advice. (In fact, the term “Machiavellian” came to refer to the use of deceit in politics.) Later students of government, however, argued that Machiavelli provided a realistic look at politics. His work continues to spark debate because it raises important ethical questions about the nature of government and the use of power.

Color sketch of a bearded man with a high collared tunic and a stylized robe. Inscription reads: R Cooper sculp? Niccolo Macchiavelli, from a print by Raphael Morghon after a picture by Bronzino.

Analyze Information

Niccolò Machiavelli, the Italian Renaissance political philosopher and writer. Would Machiavelli have considered The Court of Mantua painting as realistic or not? Why?


  1. Analyze Information What were some of the characteristics of the Italian Renaissance?
  2. Identify Cause and Effect How did Italy's trade with the Muslim world contribute to the Italian Renaissance?
  3. Analyze Information What new ideas and techniques resulted in more realistic and accurate portrayals of people in Renaissance paintings?
  4. Draw Conclusions What Renaissance theme appears in Machiavelli's book The Prince?
  5. Identify Central Ideas What was the impact of the Italian Renaissance in the field of architecture?

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments