Machiavelli's arrest warrant found by British scholar

Professor Steven Milner from Manchester University stumbled upon the 500-year-old document while sifting through Florentine archives.

In 2013, our society's most wanted are serial killers, drug dealers and terrorists.

In 1513, the now-eminent political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli was one of the most wanted men in Florence, Italy, according to a recently discovered "most wanted notice" for "The Italian Prince of Darkness."

Professor Steven Milner of Manchester University found the arrest document while rifling through state archives of Florentine town criers in the 15th and 16th centuries, the University of Manchester announced.

It turns out, Milner discovered, a town crier rode a horse through Florence Feb. 19, 1513, with a silver trumpet alerting Florentines that Machiavelli was a wanted man. That same day, we know from history, he was captured, tortured and exiled.

By poring over crier documents from 1470 to 1530, Milner was even able to map the sites in Florence where the crier would have shouted out the proclamation, which gave citizens one hour to surrender any information about the whereabouts of Machiavelli or anyone who may have been hiding him.

Machiavelli became persona non grata when the powerful Medici family returned to power in 1512. Since he was allied with the head of the city's previous government, he lost his position in Florence's Chancery.

Soon after, his name was linked to a plot to overthrow the Medici faction and authorities issued their "most wanted notice" for him.

While in exile, Machiavelli wrote his most famous work, "The Prince," which advocates the abandonment of virtue and morality to maintain power. He hoped the book would endear him to the Medicis who would then accept and employ him. According to Milner, there's no evidence the ruling party ever read his opus.

Machiavelli died in abject poverty 14 years later, but the legacy of "The Prince" lives on today, taught at top universities around the world and applied in business, political and financial sectors.

To celebrate the 500-year anniversary of Machiavelli's fall from grace, Florence this month reenacted the search with a costumed crier riding through the city on horseback announcing the arrest declaration.


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