Machiavelli's highly influential treatise on political power The Prince shocked as well as the character of its author, Niccolò Machiavelli, since the book's. The Prince is an extended analysis of how to acquire and maintain political power The dedication declares Machiavelli's intention to discuss in plain language. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. To the great Lorenzo Di Piero De Medici. Those who try to obtain the favourable attention of a prince are accustomed to come.
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The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist . Machiavelli says that The Prince would be about princedoms, mentioning notes that this chapter is quite atypical of any previous books for princes. The Prince [Niccolo Machiavelli] on musicmarkup.info The Prince (Macmillan Collector's Library) and millions of other books are available for instant access. view. Machiavelli's highly influential treatise on political power The Prince shocked Renaissance Italy, a book for children; Venice: The Most Triumphant City; and.
The Prince Italian: From his correspondence, a version appears to have been distributed in , using a Latin title, De Principatibus Of Principalities. This was carried out with the permission of the Medici pope Clement VII , but "long before then, in fact since the first appearance of The Prince in manuscript, controversy had swirled about his writings". Although The Prince was written as if it were a traditional work in the mirrors for princes style, it is generally agreed that it was especially innovative. This is partly because it was written in the vernacular Italian rather than Latin, a practice that had become increasingly popular since the publication of Dante 's Divine Comedy and other works of Renaissance literature. The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy , especially modern political philosophy , in which the "effectual" truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It is also notable for being in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time, particularly those concerning politics and ethics.
Machiavelli wrote The Prince for Lorenzo de Medici, whose family ruled Florence at the time, as basically a job application. He wanted to get in good with the de Medici family secure a place at their court. Discounting the rah rah speech at the end, the other 3 sections deal with 1 the kinds of principalities and how they are acquired; 2 the proper organization of the military and the best kind of solider to comprise it; and 3 the internal make up of a princes court i.
Section 1 is interesting and fun to read, but basically worthless for anything other than historical perspective. Machiavelli discusses territories won be conquest, inheritance or luck and talks about the various characteristics of each. Section 2 can be summarized as follows: Mercenaries well and truly SUCK and should not be used under any circumstances because their suckage will end up squandering your resources and giving squat in return.
Section 3 is the real meat of the work and contains the bulk of the advice that garnered Niccolo his much deserved reputation for suggesting the propriety of abandoning morality in governance.
He speaks of the need of the Prince to be able to deceive and act against the "five" virtues of the righteous man when necessary for the betterment of his state and his people.
Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.
The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present. Machiavelli discusses numerous examples of sovereigns who either benefitted from following such advice or, conversely, who suffered calamity for adhering to a sense of virtue. So much of what Machiavelli says is now an ingrained part of political thinking that it comes across as DUH when you read it.
However, it was Niccolo who first put forth these concepts that have become the dogma and foundation of modern political thought. Something the famous rulers of history have always known…and practiced. In addition, I was surprised at how much fun the book was to read. Princes who rise to power through their own skill and resources their "virtue" rather than luck tend to have a hard time rising to the top, but once they reach the top they are very secure in their position.
This is because they effectively crush their opponents and earn great respect from everyone else. Because they are strong and more self-sufficient, they have to make fewer compromises with their allies. Machiavelli writes that reforming an existing order is one of the most dangerous and difficult things a prince can do.
Part of the reason is that people are naturally resistant to change and reform. Those who benefited from the old order will resist change very fiercely. By contrast, those who can benefit from the new order will be less fierce in their support, because the new order is unfamiliar and they are not certain it will live up to its promises.
Moreover, it is impossible for the prince to satisfy everybody's expectations. Inevitably, he will disappoint some of his followers. Therefore, a prince must have the means to force his supporters to keep supporting him even when they start having second thoughts, otherwise he will lose his power.
Only armed prophets, like Moses, succeed in bringing lasting change. Machiavelli claims that Moses killed uncountable numbers of his own people in order to enforce his will. Machiavelli was not the first thinker to notice this pattern. Allan Gilbert wrote: "In wishing new laws and yet seeing danger in them Machiavelli was not himself an innovator,"  because this idea was traditional and could be found in Aristotle 's writings.
But Machiavelli went much further than any other author in his emphasis on this aim, and Gilbert associates Machiavelli's emphasis upon such drastic aims with the level of corruption to be found in Italy. He does not command the loyalty of the armies and officials that maintain his authority, and these can be withdrawn from him at a whim. Having risen the easy way, it is not even certain such a prince has the skill and strength to stand on his own feet.
This is not necessarily true in every case. Machiavelli cites Cesare Borgia as an example of a lucky prince who escaped this pattern. Through cunning political maneuvers, he managed to secure his power base. Cesare was made commander of the papal armies by his father, Pope Alexander VI , but was also heavily dependent on mercenary armies loyal to the Orsini brothers and the support of the French king.
Borgia won over the allegiance of the Orsini brothers' followers with better pay and prestigious government posts.
To pacify the Romagna, he sent in his henchman, Remirro de Orco, to commit acts of violence. When Remirro started to become hated for his actions, Borgia responded by ordering him to be "cut in two" to show the people that the cruelty was not from him, although it was. When it looked as though the king of France would abandon him, Borgia sought new alliances. Finally, Machiavelli makes a point that bringing new benefits to a conquered people will not be enough to cancel the memory of old injuries, an idea Allan Gilbert said can be found in Tacitus and Seneca the Younger.
Machiavelli's offers two rulers to imitate, Agathocles of Syracuse , and Oliverotto Euffreducci. After Agathocles became Praetor of Syracuse, he called a meeting of the city's elite. At his signal, his soldiers killed all the senators and the wealthiest citizens, completely destroying the old oligarchy. He declared himself ruler with no opposition.
So secure was his power that he could afford to absent himself to go off on military campaigns in Africa.
Machiavelli then states that the behavior of Agathocles is not simply virtue, as he says, "Yet one cannot call it virtue to kill one's citizens, betray one's friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; these modes can enable one to acquire empire, but not glory. Thus, one cannot attribute to fortune or virtue what he achieved without either. After he laid siege to the city and terrified the citizenry, he had then set himself to be ruler of the city.
However, in an ironic twist, Oliverotto was killed the same way his opponents were, as Cesare Borgia had him strangled after he invited Oliverotto to a friendly setting. Machiavelli advises that a prince should carefully calculate all the wicked deeds he needs to do to secure his power, and then execute them all in one stroke, such that he need not commit any more wickedness for the rest of his reign.
In this way, his subjects will slowly forget his cruel deeds and his reputation can recover. Princes who fail to do this, who hesitate in their ruthlessness, find that their problems mushroom over time and they are forced to commit wicked deeds throughout their reign. Thus they continuously mar their reputations and alienate their people. Gilbert —55 remarks that this chapter is even less traditional than those it follows, not only in its treatment of criminal behavior, but also in the advice to take power from people at a stroke, noting that precisely the opposite had been advised by Aristotle in his Politics 5.
On the other hand, Gilbert shows that another piece of advice in this chapter, to give benefits when it will not appear forced, was traditional. Becoming a prince by the selection of one's fellow citizens Chapter 9 [ edit ] A "civil principality" is one in which a citizen comes to power "not through crime or other intolerable violence", but by the support of his fellow citizens. Machiavelli makes an important distinction between two groups that are present in every city, and have very different appetites driving them: the "great" and the "people".
The "great" wish to oppress and rule the "people", while the "people" wish not to be ruled or oppressed. A principality is not the only outcome possible from these appetites, because it can also lead to either "liberty" or "license". A principality is put into place either by the "great" or the "people" when they have the opportunity to take power, but find resistance from the other side.
They assign a leader who can be popular to the people while the great benefit, or a strong authority defending the people against the great.
Machiavelli goes on to say that a prince who obtains power through the support of the nobles has a harder time staying in power than someone who is chosen by the common people; since the former finds himself surrounded by people who consider themselves his equals.
He has to resort to malevolent measures to satisfy the nobles. One cannot by fair dealing, and without injury to others, satisfy the nobles, but you can satisfy the people, for their object is more righteous than that of the nobles, the latter wishing to oppress, while the former only desire not to be oppressed.
Also a prince cannot afford to keep the common people hostile as they are larger in number while the nobles smaller. Therefore the great should be made and unmade every day. There are two types of great people that might be encountered: Those who are bound to the prince.
Concerning these it is important to distinguish between two types of obligated great people, those who are rapacious and those who are not. It is the latter who can and should be honoured. Those who are not bound to the new prince. Once again these need to be divided into two types: those with a weak spirit a prince can make use of them if they are of good counsel and those who shun being bound because of their own ambition these should be watched and feared as enemies.
How to win over people depends on circumstances. Machiavelli advises: Do not get frightened in adversity. One should make sure that the people need the prince, especially if a time of need should come. How to judge the strength of principalities Chapter 10 [ edit ] The way to judge the strength of a princedom is to see whether it can defend itself, or whether it needs to depend on allies.
This does not just mean that the cities should be prepared and the people trained; a prince who is hated is also exposed.
Ecclesiastical principates Chapter 11 [ edit ] Leo X : a pope, but also a member of the Medici family. Machiavelli suggested they should treat the church as a princedom, as the Borgia family had, in order to conquer Italy, and found new modes and orders. This type of "princedom" refers for example explicitly to the Catholic church, which is of course not traditionally thought of as a princedom.
According to Machiavelli, these are relatively easy to maintain, once founded. They do not need to defend themselves militarily, nor to govern their subjects. Machiavelli discusses the recent history of the Church as if it were a princedom that was in competition to conquer Italy against other princes.
He points to factionalism as a historical weak point in the Church, and points to the recent example of the Borgia family as a better strategy which almost worked. He then explicitly proposes that the Medici are now in a position to try the same thing. Defense and military Chapter 12—14 [ edit ] Having discussed the various types of principalities , Machiavelli turns to the ways a state can attack other territories or defend itself.
The two most essential foundations for any state, whether old or new, are sound laws and strong military forces. He should be "armed" with his own arms. However, a prince that relies solely on fortifications or on the help of others and stands on the defensive is not self-sufficient.
If he cannot raise a formidable army, but must rely on defense, he must fortify his city. A well-fortified city is unlikely to be attacked, and if it is, most armies cannot endure an extended siege.
However, during a siege a virtuous prince will keep the morale of his subjects high while removing all dissenters. Thus, as long as the city is properly defended and has enough supplies, a wise prince can withstand any siege.
Machiavelli stands strongly against the use of mercenaries , and in this he was innovative, and he also had personal experience in Florence. He believes they are useless to a ruler because they are undisciplined, cowardly, and without any loyalty, being motivated only by money.
Machiavelli also warns against using auxiliary forces, troops borrowed from an ally, because if they win, the employer is under their favor and if they lose, he is ruined. Auxiliary forces are more dangerous than mercenary forces because they are united and controlled by capable leaders who may turn against the employer. The main concern for a prince should be war, or the preparation thereof, not books.
Through war a hereditary prince maintains his power or a private citizen rises to power. Machiavelli advises that a prince must frequently hunt in order to keep his body fit and learn the landscape surrounding his kingdom. Through this, he can best learn how to protect his territory and advance upon others. For intellectual strength, he is advised to study great military men so he may imitate their successes and avoid their mistakes.
A prince who is diligent in times of peace will be ready in times of adversity. However, the advice is far from traditional. A Prince's Duty Concerning Military Matters Chapter 14 [ edit ] Machiavelli believes that a prince's main focus should be on perfecting the art of war.
He believes that by taking this profession an aspiring prince will be able to acquire a state, and will be able to maintain what he has gained. He claims that "being disarmed makes you despised. The two activities Machiavelli recommends practicing to prepare for war are physical and mental. Physically, he believes rulers should learn the landscape of their territories. Mentally, he encouraged the study of past military events. He also warns against idleness. Machiavelli reasons that since princes come across men who are evil, he should learn how to be as equally evil himself, and use this ability or not according to necessity.
Concerning the behavior of a prince toward his subjects, Machiavelli announces that he will depart from what other writers say, and writes: Men have imagined republics and principalities that never really existed at all.
Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is for what should be pursues his downfall rather than his preservation; for a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many men who are not good. Since there are many possible qualities that a prince can be said to possess, he must not be overly concerned about having all the good ones. Also, a prince may be perceived to be merciful, faithful, humane, frank, and religious, but most important is only to seem to have these qualities.
A prince cannot truly have these qualities because at times it is necessary to act against them. In fact, he must sometimes deliberately choose evil. Although a bad reputation should be avoided, it is sometimes necessary to have one.
Generosity vs. Additionally, being overly generous is not economical, because eventually all resources will be exhausted. This results in higher taxes, and will bring grief upon the prince. Then, if he decides to discontinue or limit his generosity, he will be labeled as a miser.
A wise prince should be willing to be more reputed a miser than be hated for trying to be too generous. On the other hand: "of what is not yours or your subjects' one can be a bigger giver, as were Cyrus , Caesar , and Alexander , because spending what is someone else's does not take reputation from you but adds it to you; only spending your own hurts you". Cruelty vs. Mercy Chapter 17 [ edit ] Hannibal meeting Scipio Africanus. Machiavelli describes Hannibal as having the " virtue " of "inhuman cruelty".
But he lost to someone, Scipio Africanus , who showed the weakness of "excessive mercy" and who could therefore only have held power in a republic. Machiavelli begins this chapter by addressing how mercy can be misused which will harm the prince and his dominion.
He ends by stating that a prince should not shrink from being cruel if it means that it will keep his subjects in line.
After all, it will help him maintain his rule. He gives the example of Cesare Borgia , whose cruelty protected him from rebellions. Yet, a prince must ensure that he is not feared to the point of hatred, which is very possible.
Above all, Machiavelli argues, a prince should not interfere with the property of their subjects, their women, or the life of somebody without proper justification. Regarding the troops of the prince, fear is absolutely necessary to keep a large garrison united and a prince should not mind the thought of cruelty in that regard. For a prince who leads his own army, it is imperative for him to observe cruelty because that is the only way he can command his soldiers' absolute respect.
Machiavelli compares two great military leaders: Hannibal and Scipio Africanus. Although Hannibal's army consisted of men of various races, they were never rebellious because they feared their leader. Machiavelli says this required "inhuman cruelty" which he refers to as a virtue.