The Machiavellian Moment

The Machiavellian Moment is a work of intellectual history by J. G. A. Pocock (Princeton University Press, 1975). It posits a connection between republican thought in early 16th century Florence, English-Civil War Britain, and the American Revolution.

A "Machiavellian moment" is that moment when a new republic first confronts the problem of maintaining the stability of its ideals and institutions. Machiavellian thought was a response to a series of crises facing early 16th century Florence in which a seemingly virtuous state was on the cusp of destruction. In response, Machiavelli sought to revive classical republican ideals. Works like The Prince and those of some pre-English Civil War thinkers and a group of American Revolutionary personalities all faced similar such moments and offered related sets of answers.

The Machiavellian Moment has come to represent the so-called republican synthesis, which holds that America was born with a fear of corruption and a desire to promote classical virtue.


  • J. G. A. Pocock. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition. Princeton University Press, 1975.