“I count religion but a childish toy, / And hold there is no sin but ignorance” (Marlowe, 1978: “Prologue”, 14-15). So speaks the stage villain “Machevil” in Christopher Marlowe's

The Jew of Malta

. Marlowe's tragedy is one of several English Renaissance plays featuring Machiavellian characters, such as Shakespeare's Iago, Richard III and Prince Hal, who contributed to the construction of Machiavelli's scandalous reputation. Today, the term Machiavellian is still synonymous with the deceit and ruthlessness deemed necessary for, or endemic to, effective politics. What was and still is shocking about Machiavellianism is its banishment of ethics from political life, a banishment which has the effect of instrumentalising religion, sanctioning the immoral means deemed necessary to…

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Citation: Mousley, Andrew. "Niccolo Machiavelli". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 July 2001 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=2852, accessed 16 July 2024.]

2852 Niccolo Machiavelli 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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