Niccolo Machiavelli, one of the most respected individuals of the Italian Renaissance, spent much of a long and active life trying to figure out what qualities of a human being it really takes to become a good leader. Machiavelli discovered that some great characteristics of leaders that made them successful in war and peace were the concepts of religion, virtue, and peace. Machiavelli is commonly portrayed as the pessimist who sides with dictators. His name has become a common source for cruel leaders prepared to do anything to obtain or hold power and increase in wealth. He is also known for speaking about men having to enter into evil to become a great ruler. It is therefore surprising to know that Machiavelli would rather free states to authoritarian ones, and save the ridicule for the tyrants. The main goals that Machiavelli is trying to reach is to better advance the common good and make people understand the appropriate and rewarding use of power in a manner that contemporary leaders can understand. .
Machiavelli believes that, along with an advanced military are advanced laws. The best government is the one that relies on the freedom of its citizens, which in turn requires freedom of religion. He believes that Moses was one of the best leaders because he created a new religion and state while under the guidance of God. He believes fear of God enables us to be more humble towards each other. Machiavelli considers the Catholic Church to be too lenient and corrupt. He wants a tougher, version of the faith, which will inspire men to fight for the glory of their country, and he wants a more disciplined church, one devoted to the glory of the spirit rather than the well being of the church in its own self interests. A greater devotion to glory in ones religion needs a catalyst that is known as virtue.
Machiavelli uses the term virtue in many different ways, sometimes to mean power.