The intrigue that led Niccolo Macchiavelli to write The Prince is not relegated to the distant past.
Centuries later, another round of intrigue, complete with stolen documents and blackmail, is playing out in the Vatican.
The days of the Medici are back, and you half-expect to find Dan Brown on the scene somewhere, penning a work of non-fiction.
Like any good suspense novel, this story opens quietly, with the arrest of the Pope's butler. Documents, stolen from the private correspondence of His Holiness, are found in the possession of a man described as mild-mannered.
Obviously, he's a patsy, he's been set up by someone higher up.
You read on, to discover who done it, but in this case, there's a real person or persons out to undermine the current Papacy, or attempting to exert powerful influence to have their choice elected by the College of Cardinals.
Not too Angels and Demons, is it?
According to the Vatican, someone is now trying to blackmail the Pope, who is thought to be nearing the end of his reign.
Perfect timing for a little Macchiavellian subterfuge, isn't it?
The blackmailer has called for the sacking of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, and the Pope's secretary Monsignor Georg Ganswein.
What is the Cardinal doing, if not studying the history of the Medici and Borgia clans? How does a man with his eye on those charming red Prada shoes go about putting himself on the throne of St. Peter when others are doing their best to keep him off the seat?
Supposedly, there are documents in the possession of Cardinal Bertone's enemies, and they have threatened to release the material which will, of course, be so shocking that the Church will shake to its very foundation. Thus far, what has been released all seems to be aimed at toppling the Cardinal.
Rumour has it that the men who stole the documents in the first place are a couple of Cardinals, but could they be power hungry themselves, or are they using devious means to save the Church from certain destruction at the hands of the evil Prince of the Church?
There's a novel in all this, one of those complex thrillers with twists and turns and the occasional red herring. You just know that Dan Brown is all over it.