In The Prince (c. 1513), Niccolo Machiavelli states:
Thus it is well to seem merciful, faithful, humane, sincere, religious, and also to be so; but you must have the mind so disposed that when it is needful to be otherwise you may be able to change to the opposite qualities. And it must be understood that a prince, and especially a new prince, cannot observe all those things which are considered good in men, being often obliged, in order to maintain the state, to act against faith, against charity, against humanity, and against religion. And, therefore, he must have a mind disposed to adapt itself according to the wind, and as the variations of fortune dictate, and, as I said before, not deviate from what is good, if possible, but be able to do evil if constrained.
This quote was at the time of the Italian renaissance. It refers to a different perspective that rulers should take. In order to be an effective ruler, you must be willing to sacrifice some religious virtuous in dire times, if it helps to better the situation. This goes against what was previously though about rulers, which was that they had to be good (from a religious standpoint) and can not do any wrong.
And can this quote not only apply to rulers, but to the urban literate elite (as the comments have clarified) in Italy as well? In the sense that they shifted away from caring too much about their religious morals, and focused on bettering themselves individually at the time of the Italian Renaissance.
According to this source, Italy's renaissance was becoming more focused on individual self morals, and less about religious morals (at least when compared to the Northern Renaissance). And that would correlated to what the quote is referring to.
So is the meaning of this quote an accurate representation of how rulers and the urban literate elite changed the view of themselves? Or is there more to it?