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Born in Florence in 1469, Niccolo Machiavelli was one of the principal secretaries to the Signoria at Florence and undertook diplomatic missions to various courts, before his imprisonment and exile. To quote his own words, this book discusses "what a principality is, what kinds there are, how they can be acquired, how they can be kept and why they are lost". The book was written at a crisis when Machiavelli considered the case of Italy so desperate that it could hope for salvation only by the intervention of a powerful despot. The significance of this work today, is that it marks a stage in the development of the scientific method, whether in statecraft, or in general political analysis.