Pico's experience demonstrates the continuing power of the Church over expression during the Renaissance. However, it also demonstrates the current of power which rose to rival this continuing power, in the form of Lorenzo de Medici, whose intervention saved Pico from exile and perhaps even death. Lorenzo was the consummate politician and patron of the arts, a wealthy power player considered to be one of the most influential men in the world. His intervention on behalf of Pico shows that due to his place in the Renaissance world, which centered on the rise of commerce and the simultaneous rise in arts and literature, he was capable of influencing the most powerful and rigid institution in the world, the Catholic Church. This says much about the changing balance of power in the Renaissance.

Niccolo Machiavelli's writing, while it did not earn him condemnation as a heretic, was nonetheless novel and controversial. The Prince clearly hammers home the concept that a ruler must be strong and awe-inspiring in order to be successful. It argued for the consolidation of power by any means possible. European rulers have, for centuries, consulted The Prince as a handbook, and it is often said to have had more influence on modern politics than any other work. With the publication of his book Machiavelli's fame and infamy grew to such extents that his own name became a term: ruthless, calculating antagonists of literature and drama quickly became known as Machiavellian villains. /PARAGRPH

Popular pages: Italian Renaissance (1330-1550)