- "Unarmed prophets have always been destroyed, whereas armed prophets have succeeded."
- ―Niccolò Machiavelli in The Prince.[src]
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) was an Italian philosopher, humanist and writer, and a mentor of the Italian Brotherhood of Assassins. Considered one of the main founders of modern political science, he was a diplomat, political philosopher, musician, and playwright, but foremost, he was a civil servant of the Florentine Republic.
With the Assassin Order, Niccolò primarily worked with his ally Ezio Auditore da Firenze, and helped him with driving the Orsi brothers from Forlì and with removing the monk Girolamo Savonarola from power in Florence to obtain the Apple of Eden, an ancient First Civilization artifact, from him.
Two years later, Machiavelli took up the position of leader of the Italian Assassins, after the death of previous leader Mario Auditore. Once again joined by Ezio, they fought against the corrupted Borgia family, which ruled over Rome. Eventually successful in their goal, Machiavelli joined Ezio and Leonardo da Vinci in chasing Cesare Borgia in Valencia.
Machiavelli then focused on his duties in the Florentine government, leading the Florentine militia until he was defeated, arrested and deprived of office.
Niccolò was born in Florence as the first son and third child of attorney Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli, and his wife Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli. He was tutored by his father in grammar, rhetoric and Latin.
Acquiring the Apple of Eden
- "A prophet's arrival was foretold... And, unbeknownst to us - here you are. Perhaps all along, you were the one we sought."
- ―Niccolò to Ezio.[src]
At age 19, Niccolò and a group of other Assassins gathered in Venice to acquire the Apple of Eden from Rodrigo Borgia, the Grand Master of the Templar Order. When the group arrived at Rodrigo's location, they found him locked in combat with Ezio Auditore, the son of the late Assassin Giovanni Auditore da Firenze. The other Assassins rushed to Ezio's aid, whereas Niccolò watched from a distance.
After the group killed the guards and injured Rodrigo, Niccolò introduced himself to Ezio, and revealed all present to be Assassins, a fact previously unknown to Ezio. The group subsequently gathered atop a tower in Venice, where they inducted Ezio into the Assassin Order, before each performed a Leap of Faith off the tower.
Battle of Forlì
Shortly after initiating Ezio into the Order, Niccolò accompanied Ezio to Forlì, where they intended to hide the Apple from the Templars. They knew it would be well-protected, as the city was currently under the rule of one of their allies, Caterina Sforza.
After entering the outskirts of Forlì, they discovered that the city was under siege by the Orsi brothers. Entering the city, Ezio, Caterina and Niccolò fought their way to the Rocca di Ravaldino. Upon arriving there, they were assaulted by reinforcements, which Ezio, Caterina and Niccolò worked together to defeat. After the attack was dealt with, Ezio left the Apple in Caterina's possession while he went to rescue her children, who had been captured by the Orsi brothers.
Upon Ezio's return to the Rocca di Ravaldino, Niccolò informed him that the Apple had been taken from them. He then sent Ezio to retrieve it from the fleeing Checco Orsi. Though Ezio was able to assassinate Checco, he was severely injured by the dying man, and the Apple was then taken by the monk Girolamo Savonarola.
Bonfire of the Vanities
- "Rare is the man who is willing to oppose the status quo. And so it falls to us to help them see the truth."
- ―Niccolò commenting on Savonarola's takeover.[src]
In 1497, Niccolò met with Ezio again in Florence, and informed him that Savonarola had taken control of the city through the power of the Apple. Ezio reasoned that if he killed all nine of Savonarola's lieutenants, his grip would weaken. Niccolò thus informed fellow Assassins La Volpe and Paola of Ezio's plan, and after all of the lieutenants had been killed, the three encouraged the people to rise up against Savonarola.
Stoked into revolt, an angry mob swarmed Savonarola's residence, the Palazzo Pitti. Savonarola tried to calm the crowd with the Apple, but Ezio knocked it out of his hand with a well-thrown knife. The Apple fell to the ground, but it was retrieved by one of Rodrigo Borgia's men, forcing Ezio to chase him down and retrieve it.
Savonarola was then taken to be burned alive, and the Assassins watched from the distance. Ezio then decided that no one should die in such agony, and killed the monk before the flames could reach him. After Ezio gave a speech to inspire the crowd to follow their own ways, the Assassins left the scene.
War in Rome
- Niccolò: "I intend to write a book about you one day."
- Ezio: "If you do, make it short."
- ―Ezio and Niccolò, after settling their differences.[src]
In December 1499, Niccolò, Ezio, Mario Auditore, Bartolomeo d'Alviano, La Volpe, Antonio de Magianis, Paola, and Teodora Contanto, some of the highest-ranking Italian Assassins, gathered in the Villa Auditore in Monteriggioni to discuss the location of "the Vault".
The Assassins came to the conclusion that the Vault was located in Rome, and that Rodrigo Borgia had become Pope because the Papal Staff was the second Piece of Eden needed to unlock its entrance. All of them left for Rome to distract the Borgia guards while Ezio infiltrated the Vatican.
Niccolò later returned to Monteriggioni to listen to what Ezio had discovered inside the Vault. Upon hearing that Ezio had spared Rodrigo, he furiously left for Rome to take down the Borgia once and for all.
The following morning, Monteriggioni was attacked by the Borgia, under the command of Rodrigo's son, Cesare Borgia. Niccolò's disappearance right before the attack aroused some suspicion from La Volpe, who thought that Niccolò was secretly working for the Borgia. During the attack, Mario Auditore was killed and Niccolò took command over the disordered Assassin Order, basing it on Tiber Island in Rome.
Following the attack, Ezio left for Rome as well, but passed out on the road there, succumbing to the two gunshot wounds he had received during the siege. Niccolò brought him to a woman living in Rome's countryside to have him cared for, and requested her to tell Ezio to meet him in front of the Mausoleo di Augusto as soon as he was able.
After Ezio arrived, Niccolò informed him of Rome's corrupt state, and lent him some money to purchase some new equipment. He also "introduced" him to the Followers of Romulus, who he suspected to be working for the Borgia, and showed him a faster way of traveling via the city's sewer system.
After Ezio left to restore the underground, Niccolò set to work on using his contacts to obtain the names of several Templar agents that were terrorizing the people of Rome. After strengthening the Assassins' contacts with the underground and freeing Caterina Sforza from her prison, Ezio returned to Niccolò to discuss the recruitment of new Assassins into the Brotherhood. Skeptical at first, Machiavelli then conceded and allowed Ezio to recruit their first novices, while he set up a means of communication with the recruits via pigeon coop.
In 1503, La Volpe believed that he had gathered substantial evidence to prove that Niccolò was working for the Borgia, and therefore told Ezio to "do what needs to be done", or he would do it himself. However, Ezio did not believe Niccolò to be a traitor, so he did not kill him.
Instead, La Volpe himself left for Tiber Island, ready to assassinate Niccolò. Ezio, however, found out that one of La Volpe's own thieves was the traitor, and managed to inform La Volpe of this, seconds before he was about to kill Niccolò with a dagger. La Volpe, pretending that nothing had happened, returned to an amicable relationship with Niccolò afterwards.
Over the course of three years, Niccolò began to realize that Ezio was much more suited to the role of leader of the Assassin Order than he was, as it was Ezio who had revived the Brotherhood back to its former strength and carried out the war against the Borgia and the Liberation of Rome.
Thus, after Claudia Auditore da Firenze's initiation into the Brotherhood, Niccolò placed Ezio at the head of the Italian Assassins and awarded him with the title of Mentor. When Ezio asked why he had had a sudden change of heart, Niccolò admitted that he had always stood by Ezio and had been supporting him without his knowledge, citing the explosion that distracted the guards when Ezio was fleeing the Castel Sant'Angelo. Ezio in turn named Niccolò as his "most trusted advisor."
Shortly after the ceremony, Ezio and Niccolò, along with La Volpe, Bartolomeo, and Claudia, confronted Cesare as he attempted one last rally for power. Fighting in the Piazza del Popolo, the Assassins managed to defeat the Borgia guards and secure Cesare's arrest at the hands of Fabio Orsini and his army. 
Cesare and Micheletto
- "We take you, Micheletto da Corella, as our prisoner. No more shall you infect our nation with your schemes."
- ―Machiavelli arresting Micheletto after the attack on Zagarolo.[src]
After the death of Rodrigo Borgia at the hands of Cesare, the latter was soon imprisoned by the new Pope in the Castel Sant'Angelo. After a failed escape attempt, he was transferred to a different prison, and the pope would not even reveal its location to Ezio.
Thus Ezio and Machiavelli started their quest to find Cesare, speaking to Giulia Farnese, Charlotte d'Albret, and Vannozza dei Cattanei. These conversations didn't provide them with the information they needed, and on their way back they were confronted by one of Machiavelli's spies, Bruno. He told them of Claudia's capture and imprisonment by Borgia diehards, and Ezio and Machiavelli went to the assigned building to free her.
After a short but fierce fight, the diehard leader revealed that they worked for Micheletto Corella, after which the Assassins decided to look for him, as he could lead them to Cesare. They soon found him in Zagarolo, where he had mustered a force of 200 men. The Assassins marched there the following day, with an army of 100 Apprentices and thieves, and were able to arrest Micheletto, who was then brought to Florence to be interrogated by Machiavelli, Piero Soderini, and Amerigo Vespucci.
A few days after the interrogation, on the day of Micheletto's execution, he managed to escape, and Machiavelli brought Ezio this grave news. They decided to track Micheletto and follow him to Cesare, using the Apple to find him. The Apple told Ezio to ride for Naples, and the Assassins did so immediately. Once they arrived in Naples, the encountered the courtesan Camilla, who told them that Micheletto had traveled to Valencia.
- "Well, we don't need the Apple to tell us what our old friend Cesare is planning."
- ―Niccolò, upon arriving in Valencia.[src]
Once they arrived in Valencia, they immediately noticed the ship Micheletto had used to travel there. They asked the captain where his passenger was heading, and he told them to look for Micheletto in the Lone Wolf Inn. They managed to find the building without difficulty, but were ambushed as they entered its dark interior. There was a fierce battle, and Ezio eventually recognized one of their ambushers as Micheletto himself.
However, Micheletto and his diehards fled the scene before the Assassins could follow them, though one of the diehards revealed that they were going to the Castillo de la Mota, where Cesare was imprisoned. The Assassins chased Micheletto, but he had stolen a march on them and had managed to break Cesare out of prison before they arrived. When the Assassins heard this news, Ezio wanted to return to Valencia immediately, acting on a vision he had seen using the Apple, but Machiavelli insisted on resting.
They returned to Valencia within the month but found that Cesare had managed to build up a considerable army. There were more than one thousand men stationed just outside Valencia, and there was a fleet of a dozen warships in its harbor.
Attack on Valencia
Ezio and Niccolò formulated a plan to destroy Cesare's new army. Whilst Niccolò made his way to the diehards' camp, Ezio headed to the docks to destroy the enemy ships there with several hand-held bombs.
Afterwards, he met up with Niccolò on the corner of the street where the Lone Wolf Inn was located. The two climbed onto the roof of the building, and peered through the open top skylight at Cesare and Micheletto, who were discussing the recent turn of events.
Cesare angrily belittled Micheletto, blaming him for what had happened and driving him to launch himself across the table at his Master. Cesare quickly pulled one of his pistols from his belt and shot Micheletto, destroying his face completely.
Ezio pulled back, hoping to catch Cesare as he left the building, though Niccolò, who had craned forward to get a better look, had kicked a tile in the process, drawing Cesare's attention. Drawing his second pistol just as rapidly as he had his first, Cesare shot at the Assassin, hitting Niccolò in the shoulder.
Ezio briefly thought of pursuit, but Niccolò's injury was severe and required immediate medical attention. Finding a local doctor, they learned that the bullet had gone straight through, and that Niccolò would be sufficiently healed for travel in two weeks. Before Ezio left to pursue Cesare, Niccolò wished him good luck.
Niccolò had entered service in the Florentine government as a clerk and ambassador in 1494. Becoming a member of the Florentine diplomatic council, he was sent to the courts of France, Spain and Rome between 1499 and 1512.
Between 1503 and 1506, Niccolò returned from Rome to Florence, where he was responsible for leading the Florentine militia. He noted on multiple occasions that he distrusted mercenaries, although he occasionally made use of them, and under the patronage of the new Gonfaloniere of Florence, Piero Soderini, he established a standing militia composed of recruited citizens of the republic, which was unusual as at the time most militias were composed of mercenaries. Machiavelli claimed that as citizens of Florence, his militia would prove more loyal than mercenaries as they had a stake in the republic's success, rather than mercenaries whose sole motive was wealth.
His militia managed to defeat Pisa in 1509. However, in August 1512, they were defeated by the Medici, aided by Spanish troops and Pope Julius II. After this defeat, Florence was returned to Medici control.
Niccolò was deprived of office, and was arrested in 1513 on accusations of conspiracy. He was tortured in prison, though he denied involvement in any conspiracy. He was released, and he retired to his estate in Sant'Andrea in Percussina.
During his stay at his estate, Niccolò wrote Il Principe (The Prince), which was a relatively short book written in a few months. It was written specifically for a period when the Medici family had the opportunity to build a strong Italian state in central Italy, and drive out the "barbarians."
Over a significant amount of his life, Niccolò also wrote the Discourses on Livy, a thesis that reflected his more republican notions of government. It is a far more comprehensive thesis than The Prince.
These two manuscripts were banned by the Church because they were in direct opposition to many of Niccolò's reforms, as he sought to help unite the city-states of Italy under government, not religion. Together, Discourses and The Prince explained that Niccolò was an individual who preferred a republican government, but was prepared to accept a principality if it ensured the survival of the state, even if it was religion.
There have also been suggestions that The Prince is a piece of overt political satire. This is inspired in part by the fact that his magnum opus, the Discourses, contains arguments that clash with the contents of The Prince.
Particularly interesting was the fact that it was written in Italian rather than Latin, as was the common practice by Italy's intelligentsia at the time. This suggests that the book was actually written to be digested by Italy's common people rather than the ruling classes (who were likely already aware of the techniques described within the book).
In April 1519, Niccoló had received a letter from Leonardo da Vinci, revealing his deteriorating health. Niccolò accompanied Ezio to Leonardo's home in Amboise, France. The pair stayed with Leonardo for a while, and were present at his death. While travelling home from Amboise, Niccolò recalled a rumor that Leonardo had died in King Francis' arms, to which Ezio replied "Some people - even Kings - will do anything for publicity".
By 1524, Machiavelli had become a successful playwright; Ezio intended to see one of his plays but missed it by three weeks because he was busy trying to write his final letter for his wife, Sofia, for when he died. When the Chinese Emperor Jiajing's soldiers began pursuing Ezio's guest Shao Jun, Ezio had Sofia and their two children stay at Machiavelli's estate.
Niccolò died on 21 June 1527 at the age of 58. He was first buried at the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. His final resting place is unknown, and as such, a cenotaph was erected at the Basilica in his memory.
Personality and characteristics
- "When did you become so cynical?"
- ―Ezio Auditore da Firenze to Niccolò.[src]
Niccolò possessed a rather intricate personality. He was a mysterious individual, secretive in his ways, which resulted in his fellow Assassin, La Volpe, questioning his loyalty to the Assassin Order.
A usually cautious man, Niccolò was often astounded by Ezio Auditore da Firenze's brash and headstrong actions. He was also opportunistic, easily seeing the actions which benefited the Order the most. This was clearly shown when Ezio infiltrated the Castel Sant'Angelo for the first time, and Niccolò insisted that Ezio prioritize assassinating the Templars Cesare and Rodrigo, rather than rescuing Caterina Sforza.
Niccolò also, from time to time, verbally sparred with Ezio, usually openly contradicting his views. When Ezio suggested that the Order appeal to the citizens of Rome for aid, Niccolò quickly opposed this idea, stating that relying on the people was "like building on the sand".
Niccolò often had little patience for those who did not follow his plans, and was quick to do things on his own should he see fit. He rarely worked alongside Ezio or other Assassins, preferring to do everything his own way so long as it ended in a beneficial result for the Order – such as making deals with Borgia guards, an act which other Assassins would see as conspiring with the enemy.
He could sometimes be seen to display a dry, almost uncaring sense of humor. While rarely laughing, he would often make sarcastic quips, particularly to Ezio. He also found it amusing to laugh at Ezio's misfortune when his money was stolen by a thief, partly because it supported a pessimistic point of his that trusting the citizens was a waste of time, shortly after debating it with Ezio.
While not as brash or flamboyant in his fighting style as Ezio, Niccolò was nonetheless a skilled fighter and swordsman. Although never assassinating targets, he usually carried a blade with him for both defensive and offensive means. In various different battles with Ezio, he was capable of performing the same killing techniques as him, as opposed to the dogmatic style of simply swinging his sword at the enemy.
- In line with his real-life counterpart, the in-game Niccolò stated during the Bonfire of the Vanities that he found mercenaries unreliable, as they fought only for payment, not loyalty.
- The clothes Niccolò wore in Assassin's Creed II and at the beginning of Brotherhood were based on the clothes seen in various pieces of artwork and statues depicting him.
- If Ezio chose to do nothing during the moment where Savonarola tried to silence the crowd during the Bonfire of the Vanities, Niccolò would step in and throw a knife at Savonarola's hand.
- According to Assassin's Creed: Renaissance, it was Niccoló who threw the knife.
- Historically, Niccolò had good relations with the Borgia family. In 1502, he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Cesare Borgia. He called Rodrigo Borgia a very successful politician, because he was the prototype of a leader who had no scruples to reach his target, and it is also said that Niccolò greatly admired Cesare. In Brotherhood, this is referenced in the memory "New Man in Town", where Ezio detects that Niccolò bears a degree of respect for Cesare's strength of will, however much he urges for his death.
- In Brotherhood, it was suggested that Niccolò's later works, mainly The Prince, were inspired by Ezio.
- In the non-canonical mobile adaptation of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Niccolò Machiavelli exhibits none of his cynicism of seeking aid from the common people. In fact, he is the one to instruct Ezio Auditore to enlist the help of the Assassin apprentices of Rome by earning their loyalty, as in this version, they are not recruited and trained by Ezio himself. He acts as Ezio's guide throughout the game, and they are never at odds with another, though Ezio's quest in this version is not to free Rome from the Borgias, but purely to exact vengeance against them for Mario Auditore's death. Although the game takes off after the Siege of Monteriggioni, the entire story is set in 1486.