The period of events that occurred in Europe between fourteenth to sixteenth centuries influenced him to a great extent.
Machiavelli was born in Florence (Italy) in 1469 and studied under his father who was a jurist. He produced ‘Prince’ (1513), ‘Discourses’ (1521) and his life reflects that he was more a practical politician than a political philosopher. There are significant factors that influenced his thinking.
1. Contemporary Situation in Italy:
Divided Italian principalities and constant situation of war amongst them greatly affected Machiavelli. He was led to convince that unless unity was restored, nothing fruitful can be done.
2. Association with Cesare Borgia:
Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valentine, the superbly endowed son of Pope Alexander VI was a decisive factor in shaping his thought.
3. Political Turmoil and Upheavals:
Machiavelli’s sentence for life on charges of plotting against Medici family, political corruption and undue interference of Pope affected him. It was because of such state of affairs that his age was called age of ‘Bardards and Adventurers’.
This movement which stood for revival of ancient art, cultures and values brought man at the centre of political life.
God was relegated to the background. It is with such and spirit and outlook Machiavelli proceeded in his ‘Prince’. His individualism is directed descendent of Renaissance.
5. Political Thinkers:
Apart from contemporary situation, Machiavelli was greatly influenced by people like Aristotle and Marsilio of Padna. From Aristotle, he imbibed empirical outlook and Marsilio influenced him in his secular ideas. His works include Prince and Discourses.
Though Machiavelli was influenced by some of the eminent political thinkers of the preceding period, his method is original in its rigor and content.
Morley says “Machiavelli’s merit in the history of political literature is his method”. Similarly Allen remarks “What was most new and original in the work of Machiavelli was perhaps his method of his manner of approaching problems of politics”.
Like Plato, his method was inductive (from general to particular) rather than deductive (from particular to general). Moreover, he borrowed historical method from Aristotle. But, Dunning says that his method was historical more in appearance than in reality.