Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Machiavelli, Politics, People, Power, History, Literature, Time, Life

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2021/02/15

Niccolo Machiavelli belonged to an impoverished family who came from among the urban nobility and played at one time a role in the political life of the Florentine republic.
His father was a lawyer, family income was modest and did not allow the young Niccolo university education. But growing up in the circle of the Florentine humanist intellectuals, he learned Latin well enough to freely read ancient authors. From a young age the predominant interest in politics, in modern political life defined the range of his reading - primarily works of historians of classical antiquity.
In the political arena Florence Niccolo Machiavelli appears around the age of 30 years, when in spring 1498. For 14 years, he has many important political and diplomatic assignments, takes part in the embassies in Rome, France, Germany, writes reports, memoranda, which address important issues of foreign and domestic policy of the country. His works of this period show a deep understanding of the political situation in Italy and in Europe, shows his extraordinary perception, witty analytical approach to the events of today. This rich political experience, along with the study of ancient authors later serves as the basis of his work in the field of political theory (Skinner, 1978).
After the fall of the Republic in 1512 and the restoration of the power of the Medici Machiavelli is detached from the cases. On suspicion of involvement in the conspiracy he was imprisoned and tortured and then exiled to his estate. Attempts to return to active politics lead to nothing, and the man hatched a plan to rescue Italy from foreign domination, forced to remain impotent observer of the tragedy of his homeland.
Restored after the expulsion of the Medici, the new republic refuses services of its former secretary and 10 days after the fateful decision for him the Grand Council Niccolo Machiavelli died.
One of his most important works - "The Emperor" - Machiavelli created in 1513. Published it was only in 1532, after the death of the author.
Machiavelli's works should be seen as a natural expression of his era. What was at that time the state of Italy? It ceased to be a state. All parts have gained sovereignty, many have turned to seniors. In this structure the outward forms of the republican system were preserved, but in fact the city-states were ruled by representatives of noble families, transmiting power through dynastic principle. Italy has become a chaotic mix of independent states within which by chance was established monarchical, aristocratic or democratic governance.
In those years and there was written the opus magnum of Niccolo Machiavelli "The Prince", the reading which must be approached from the perspective of historical events.
His work caused a lot of controversy. Machiavelli dismisses the belief that ideal sovereign should have only excellent personal qualities. He shows realistic personalities possessed by the real rulers. And advices how to be the “new” sovereign in real life, gives arguments, referring to the actual events of world history. The new sovereign - is not just a person with a set of qualities and skills, not just the perfect image. Machiavelli carefully and thoughtfully builds a visible, vibrant and attractive image of the new sovereign. Machiavelli has dealt extensively with such categories and concepts as the generosity and frugality, cruelty and mercy, love and hate.
Considering the generosity and frugality, Machiavelli notes that those rulers who sought to be generous spend all their wealth in a short time. After depletion of the treasury, they were forced to raise the existing taxes and establish new, which led to unpopularity among the people. Therefore, Machiavelli advises the emperor not to be afraid of being branded stingy. But then the author examines some possible situations where such advice is not helpful and, in fact, harmful.
Leading talk about qualities such as cruelty and mercy, Machiavelli once wrote that " every prince ought to desire to be considered clement and not cruel ". Another thing is that often, to stay in power, the governor has to be cruel. If disorder threatens the country, the sovereign simply must not let that happen, even if I have to inflict massacres. But with respect to the numerous subjects such penalty will be an act of mercy, because the mess would have brought misery and suffering to the people.
Because of this Machiavelli was accused of being violent and in poor choice of means. "The Prince" is a book on the role, place and significance of the head of state, but it was declared to be a tool for absolute monarchs and dictators. Machiavelli did not advocate violence and hypocrisy, but the researcher of methods and the nature of autocracy. In addition, prosecutors did not notice in the same chapter, the words of the author: "Nevertheless he ought to be slow to believe and to act, nor should he himself show fear, but proceed in a temperate manner with prudence and humanity, so that too much confidence may not make him incautious and too much distrust render him intolerable". The use of violent means Machiavelli justified only under unavoidable circumstances (Records.viu.ca, 2015).
At the same time, like a true ideologue of the bourgeoisie, Machiavelli announces the inviolability of private property, homes and families of citizens. Everything else depends on the sovereign. Machiavelli advises a sovereign to be a realist regarding politics. This applies also to the question if the sovereign should keep his word. It is necessary, states Machiavelli, but only if it does not go against the interests of his state. The Emperor should act as circumstances dictate him to. "A prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion ". It means, the sovereign should be as strong as the king of beasts, and at the same time cunning and resourceful as a fox. Machiavelli calls upon the sovereign to be vigilant.
Machiavelli pays much attention to the relations of the sovereign with the nation. First of all, he warns that the sovereign should not commit acts that could incite hatred or contempt of the people. The Emperor can cause such feelings towards him by volatility, lightheadedness, effeminacy, cowardice. It is in this chapter Machiavelli articulates the inviolability of private property. The emperor in no case should break these sacred rights, since this will faster than anything lead to hatred to the ruler of the people. Governor, according to the author of "The Prince", could face a two dangers from the outside and inside. Against external hazards can the sovereign protect himself with arms and valor. Against conspiracy there is the main mean - not to be hated by the people.
Machiavelli taught not only how to seize the power, but also how to preserve it. Advices the author gives are not abstract, and are confirmed by real historical events. In the matter of retaining power after its conquest Machiavelli considers a large number of suitable methods: good choice of friends and advisers, construction or, on the contrary, the destruction of fortresses, maintenance of the army, etc. Veneration and respect for the sovereign by the people is one of the main conditions for preserving their power in the country. According to Machiavelli, "nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and setting a fine example”. As such, he sets out a code of conduct and actions of the new sovereign, which should be aimed at increasing its credibility at home and abroad, to glorify his name, virtue and valor.
Giving new sovereign unlimited power, Machiavelli conferred upon him the entire responsibility for the condition of the state, for the preservation and consolidation of power. To rely less on the fate and pay more attention to governance, wise and able. The sovereign must rely primarily on his ability to manage the state and on the army, not the destiny.
Although Machiavelli recognizes that the fate is "guilty" in the half of the events, but the second half he attributes to man.
Many times in different chapters on various subjects, Machiavelli returns to the question of the army. Any army can be attributed to one of four groups: private, mercenary, allied and mixed. Constantly considering different historical situations, the author concludes that the mercenary and allied forces are dangerous to the ruler. Machiavelli believes that own strong army is a must to any ruler who does not want to lose power.
One of the most important achievements of Machiavelli – making politics an independent science. Politics, according to the beliefs of Machiavelli, is a symbol of human faith, and therefore it should occupy a dominant position in the outlook. Based on the requirements of his time, Machiavelli formulates an important historical task - to create a single unitary Italian state. In the course of thought Machiavelli concludes that leading the people to the construction of a new state can only the sovereign. Not a specific person, but abstract, symbolic, possessing such qualities, which in their totality are not available to any living ruler. That is why most of his research Machiavelli devotes to one question: what should be the sovereign, to perform a historic task - building a new state?
The research is based strictly logically and objectively. Machiavelli bases upon the real life experiences and trying to build their theoretical constructs on the foundation of this experience. "The Prince" is a live picture of the time. All persons mentioned in the works are real. Contemporaries of the author or historical figures appear in "The Prince" to prove or disprove. In the choice of names, events, places, battles there is nothing accidental, everything has a specific function. Works of Machiavelli are an expression of the person who wants to interfere in the politics and history of their country. Machiavelli - a person who perceives to revealing the main trends of his era, its main demands and aspirations, decides to radically change the further development of his country.
Is very significant in this regard is Chapter IX. There Machiavelli reveals the relationship of the sovereign, the nobles and the people among themselves, their interests and goals. Purchased power due to the location of people or nobility. The nobles want to oppress the people, but the people do not want to be oppressed. As a result, the nobles nominate one of their number ruler, and the people choose his successor. Machiavelli believes the power derived from the people to be much more durable because the sovereign can protect himself from the nobility, but cannot hide from the hostility of his people.
Machiavelli advises convincing the emperor never to incur the anger and hatred of the people. On the contrary, the wise sovereign will always find a way to attract people to his side. Thus, the alignment of class forces, the structure of political power form the strategy and tactics of all participants in the political life of the state.
The content of “The Prince" is the basic of the philosophy of Machiavelli. His writings are the highest point of the development of political thought of the late Renaissance, played a major role in the history of political and ideological development of many countries in Europe.
Machiavelli's political attitudes are based on fundamental social principles. The political life of the Italian city-states gave Machiavelli great opportunities for sociological observations.
In 16th – 17th centuries to his works are used in international and domestic affairs, in 18th century for an explanation of methods and techniques of the government. For historical school of the 19th century Machiavelli was a chronicler and historian, in the 20th century with a classic of political sociology.


Machiavelli, N., & Marriott, W. (2008). The prince. [Waiheke Island]: Floating Press.
Records.viu.ca,. (2015). Lecture on Machiavelli's The Prince. Retrieved 12 April 2015, from http://records.viu.ca/~Johnstoi/introser/machiavelli.htm
Skinner, Q. (1978). The foundations of modern political thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jones, T. (2002). Modern political thinkers and ideas. London: Routledge.

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