HIS name has become synonymous with the most devious of politicians.

But academics gathered in Wolfson College, Oxford, this week to sing the praises of Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th century Italian political thinker.

It is 500 years since he wrote his famous political tract The Prince which is seen as a manual for politicians and famously says it is better for a leader to be feared than loved.

Professor Paolo Carta, from the University of Trento in Italy, led the colloquium on the book.

He said: “Classics like Machiavelli’s The Prince will always endure, since politics means nothing if not power and war.

“His suggestions may appear strategic, but his intention was to persuade the new prince to do only what was for his own advantage.”