Machiavelli is history's most startling political commentator. Recent interpreters have minimised his originality, but this book restores his radicalism. Robert Black shows a clear development in Machiavelli's thought. In his most subversive works The Prince, the Discourses on Livy, The Ass and Mandragola he rejected the moral and political values inherited by the Renaissance from antiquity and the middle ages. These outrageous compositions were all written in mid-life, when Machiavelli was a political outcast in his native Florence. Later he was reconciled with the Florentine establishment, and as a result his final compositions including his famous Florentine Histories represent a return to more conventional norms. This lucid work is perfect for students of Medieval and Early Modern History, Renaissance Studies and Italian Literature, or anyone keen to learn more about one of history's most potent, influential and arresting writers.