Machiavelli gets the sack; civilization gets The Prince

Civil servant Niccolo Machiavelli flourished at government work, but his fall from grace came in 1512 when he was fired and imprisoned for his involvement in a conspiracy against the Medicis, leading to the creation of his greatest work, The Prince. Sarah Dunant has the feature for the BBC.

"Assessing man's behaviour through history and the bear-pit of Italian politics, Machiavelli argued that a successful ruler must be able and willing to balance moral virtue with tough, sometimes ruthless pragmatism. Il Principe, The Prince, would go on to become one of the most reviled, studied, admired, influential, read and written about works of political philosophy, securing its writer a place in history that most of the rulers around him never reached."