This page features a collection of the best resources on Niccolò Machiavelli. To get started, simply choose the type of resource that best suits your learning style.
If you want an academic overview of Machiavelli:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Niccolò Machiavelli. However, you should keep in mind that the SEP is often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 8700 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces Machiavelli:
“Why an entry on Machiavelli? That question might naturally and legitimately occur to anyone encountering an entry about him in an encyclopedia of philosophy. Certainly, Machiavelli contributed to a large number of important discourses in Western thought—political theory most notably, but also history and historiography, Italian literature, the principles of warfare, and diplomacy. But Machiavelli never seems to have considered himself a philosopher—indeed, he often overtly rejected philosophical inquiry as beside the point—nor do his credentials suggest that he fits comfortably into standard models of academic philosophy. His writings are maddeningly and notoriously unsystematic, inconsistent and sometimes self-contradictory. He tends to appeal to experience and example in the place of rigorous logical analysis. Yet succeeding thinkers who more easily qualify as philosophers of the first rank did (and do) feel compelled to engage with his ideas, either to dispute them or to incorporate his insights into their own teachings….”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:
- Read Catherine Zuckert’s article: The prince of the people: Machiavelli was no ‘Machiavellian’ [3300 words]
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
- Listen to Quentin Skinner discuss Machiavelli’s The Prince on the Philosophy Bites podcast [26 mins]
While these resources are a great starting point, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the best books on or by Machiavelli.
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