About Machiavelli (from Wikipedia):
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was a Florentine historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist, and writer during the Renaissance. He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned in the Italian language. He was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power. He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence. His views on the importance of a strong ruler who was not afraid to be harsh with his subjects and enemies were most likely influenced by the Italian city-states, which due to a lack of unification were very vulnerable to other unified nation-states, such as France.
“Machiavellianism” is a widely used negative term to characterize unscrupulous politicians of the sort Machiavelli described in The Prince. The book itself gained enormous notoriety and wide readership because the author seemed to be endorsing behavior often deemed as evil and immoral. Because of this, the term “Machiavellian” is often associated with deceit, deviousness, ambition, and brutality.