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'Niccolò Machiavelli was born in the city of Florence, Italy, on May 3, 1469. His father, Bernardo Machiavelli, was a lawyer, although not a very prosperous one, with much of his income derived from family property rather than his law practice. However, he retained his membership in the lawyers' guild, which was influential in Florentine politics. As a lawyer and a man with a love of literature and writing, Bernardo probably had contacts among the powerful in Florence's political circles, which later provided Niccolò with the opportunity to enter public service. Niccolò would grow up to share his father's literary ambitions.
Very little is know about Machiavelli's early life, but it appears that he received a typical education for a boy of the middle class, learning Latin and reading the classical Roman and Greek authors, particularly the histories. Although Florence was supposed to be a republic, ruled by its leading citizens rather than by lords or princes, during Machiavelli's youth, Florence was effectively controlled by the powerful Medici family, with Lorenzo de Medici, called "the Magnificent," at its head. The Florence of Machiavelli's time was a rich, vibrant city—a center of the arts—of which Lorenzo was a great patron, and a hub of intellectual activity. Florence had an excellent university, where Machiavelli may have listened to lectures, and it is possible he had some contact with Lorenzo's son, Giuliano. Lorenzo's truly magnificent public displays and artistic ventures drained the Medici fortune, and his successor, Piero, proved unpopular. The Medici fell from power in 1494, replaced by Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican friar who led a charismatic religious government.'