Common Misconceptions About the Renaissance


When Niccolò Machiavelli wrote that “it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state,” in The Prince, people took him seriously. So seriously, in fact, that his surname has basically become a synonym for the end justifies the means.

But some scholars don’t believe that Machiavelli practiced what he preached—or that he thought other people should.

On this episode of Misconceptions, Mental Floss’s Justin Dodd is traveling back to the glory days of the Italian Renaissance to investigate some of the movement’s most prevailing myths. Galileo was handy with a telescope, sure, but he didn’t invent it; and he also denounced heliocentrism under pressure from the Catholic Church much more easily than you’d think. Speaking of faith: the arts didn’t exactly replace religion as the hottest hobby of the era either.

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