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Niccolo Machiavelli, one of the most brilliant and versatile intellects of the Italian Renaissance, was born in Florence in 1469 of noble parents. He entered public service as a young man, and between 1500 and 1512 he was employed as a diplomatic envoy, traveling to France and Germany as well as within Italy. When the Medici returned to power in Florence in 1512, Machiavelli lost his position and was imprisoned and tried for conspiracy. After being exonerated, he retired to a small property in San Casciano, overlooking Florence. There he began to write, turning his political experience into works of literature. His first book was his masterpiece - Il principe, or The Prince, written in 1513. Later works include Discorsi (Discourse), a companion piece of sorts to The Prince; La mandragola (The Mandrake), a comedy; Clizia, a play; and Storie Fiorentine, a history of Florence commissioned by Pope Clement VII. Machiavelli married Marietta Corsini around 1502 and fathered six children, but most historians agree that his first love was political affairs. Although Machiavelli's name was synonymous with cunning and cynicism for centuries, modern critics stress his patriotism and consider him a pioneer of political science. He died in 1527, a few weeks after the expulsion of the Medici, never having regained political office.