Flemish painter. His visit to Italy in 1508 started a new vogue in Flanders for Italianate ornament and Classical detail in painting, including sculptural nude figures, as in his Neptune and Amphitrite (c. 1516, Staatliche Museen, Berlin).
His early works, in a purely Flemish style, include the Adoration of the Magi (National Gallery, London), and The Upright Judges (Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp). His triptych of Adam and Eve, (1516, Berlin), on the other hand, clearly shows the influence of his visit to Italy.
French poet and composer. Born in Champagne, he was in the service of John of Bohemia for 30 years and, later, of King John the Good of France. He gave the ballade and rondo forms a new individuality and ensured their lasting popularity. His Messe de Nostre Dame about 1360, written for Reims Cathedral, is an early masterpiece of ars nova, 'new (musical) art', exploiting unusual rhythmic complexities.
Florentine diplomat and author. He rose to prominence after the fall of Girolamo Savonarola, serving the Republic as chancellor (from 1498), military administrator, and diplomat. With the return of the Medici in 1512, he was removed from office; the following year, he was implicated in an anti-Medicean plot and tortured. Though he had earlier written a verse chronicle, it was in the following years that he really took to writing, producing his own idiosyncratic versions of a mirror-for-princes work ( Il Principe/The Prince, c. 1513), a commentary on a Classical text ( Discorsi sopra la Prima Deca di Tito Livio/Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy, c. 1515-19) and a city history ( Istorie Fiorentine/ Florentine Histories, 1525), as well as comedies ( Andria, based on Terence, 1517; Mandragola 1518; Clizia, based on Plautus, 1525), biography ( The Life of Castruccio Castracani, 1520) and a discussion of military matters ( Arte della Guerra/The Art of War, 1520 -- the only work of his to be printed, in 1521, in his lifetime).
Machiavelli's writings were, for the most part, written for the delectation of a few, sometimes with the expectation of patronage: his short treatise, The Prince, was originally intended for Giuliano de' Medici and then dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici (died 1519); similarly, the Florentine Histories were commissioned by the Medici family and dedicated to Clement VII. This desire for Medicean patronage was somewhat ironic considering Machiavelli's own career and the circumstances of his major work, the Discourses. One of the dedicatees of these was Cosimo Rucellai who owned the Orti Oricellari, where a group of people met and discussed politics -- often with an anti-Medicean bias. The apparent contradictions between his works (not to mention his diabolical treatment at the hands of subsequent generations) have made it difficult to discern his political and ethical outlook.
The one work in which Machiavelli could be said to have a professional interest was The Art of War, written as a reflection on the patent inadequacies of Florentine arms in the face of the French invasions. Machiavelli's solution was hardly original: his preference for a citizen militia was a commonplace in the writings of Florentine humanists stretching back to leonardo Bruni. This combination of formative influences -- Florence's present woes and its past intellectual glories -- moulded his other works. Florentines' gullible acceptance of Savonarola's 'prophecies'; their inability to create a secure republican government under Piero Soderini; the success, meanwhile, of worldly, warrior popes -- such circumstances informed Machiavelli's attitudes. And in formulating his response, Machiavelli worked within the local humanist tradition but also (like any ambitious humanist) used his rhetoric to subvert elements of it. His studied worldweariness and his rejection of the belief (inherited from Bruni) in the importance of