Machiavelli’s The Prince is undoubtedly his most famous work, the book that gave “Machiavellian” to the English language as a synonym for “deceitful. ” During his service in the Florentine government, he had had the opportunity to deal diplomatically with kings and princes from all parts of Europe. The early 15th century the time of Niccole Machiavelli, Italy was anarchy of states. It was divided into thirty principalities each ruled by a prince. It was a turbulent time of conflict and contradiction new ideas and new technology are rocking like a great earthquake.
It was a time where there were murders in Cathedrals and orgies in the Vatican. It was the time of Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Columbus, Henry VIII, Protestant Reformation era. The idea that Man is the master of his fate was just developing. Basically it was not the time of peace advice on politics and war was needed. It was the time where religion and politics went along with each other.
In 1512, Pope Julius II attacked Florence, because of events going on in Pisa. After the war, Soderini was removed from office and the prominent Medici family took control of Florence. Machiavelli was removed from his offices when this happened.
In early 1513, an anti-Medici conspiracy was found and Machiavelli was accused of being an accomplice. He claimed innocence throughout prison and eventually he was released though restrictions were imposed upon him. Machiavelli then went to live outside of Florence at the house he had inherited from his father. During this time Machiavelli wrote The Prince (Il Principe) and another famous work, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy He wrote The Prince as a dedication book to Lorenzo de’ Medici, the ruler of Florence. The Prince was not published until seven years after Machiavelli’s death, and was not really intended as a public work.
Machiavelli’s reputation has been largely created from reading his book without reference to its historical context. The Prince is an extended analysis of how to acquire and maintain political power. It includes 26 chapters and an opening dedication to Lorenzo de Medici. The book’s 26 chapters can be divided into four sections: Chapters 1–11 discuss the different types of principalities or states, Chapters 12–14 discuss the different types of armies and the proper conduct of a prince as military leader, Chapters 15–23 discuss the character and behavior of the prince, and Chapters 24–26 discuss Italy’s desperate political situation.
The final chapter is a plea for the Medici family to supply the prince who will lead Italy into unification. Machiavelli starts the book off explaining the different kinds of states, republics and principalities. He then goes on to explain the types of principalities, heredity, mixed, and what he calls “new”. New principalities are principalities that have just been created and their leaders are not hereditary. Mixed principalities are like those of the Pope or the sultan, he explains, for they have been established for a long time (like a hereditary principality), but the leadership does not pass from father to son (like a new principality).
Next, Machiavelli explains how to rule the different principalities and what challenges are presented to the ruler in each case. He says that hereditary leaders have an easier time than new princes because the people are already accustomed to their hereditary leaders and accept their power, but a new prince has to work hard to be accepted by his people. There are four ways a new prince can acquire a principality: by one’s own arms, by the arms of others, by evil means, and by civil means. A principality that is won by a prince by his own arms is most secure.
The first is the best way in his opinion because land acquired that way is the easiest to hang on to after you have conquered it, because you will still have your loyal militia, not mercenaries, and your own virtues to rule the principality wisely. Machiavelli lists great princes who came to power through their own abilities: Cyrus, Romulus, and Theseus. They ruled effectively because they were all armed, unlike Savaronola, a Dominican friar who lost power because he did not take up arms.
A principality acquired by the arms of others needs a prince with both fortune and virtue. Cesare Borgia is an example of a prince who came to power through fortune, but lost his power through an unfavorable change in fortune, even though he was a great leader and did almost everything right. Princes who come to power through evil means may gain power but not glory because of their conduct. Those who come to power by civil means (election by the nobles or the people) must remember to win the support of the people because they are crucial in times of adversity. The main foundation of every state are good laws and good arms , because you cannot have good laws without good arms and where there are good arms, good laws inevitable follow I shall not discuss laws but give my attention to arms. ” Good arms are the arms of citizen army not mercenary army. Machiavelli identifies three kinds of armies: mercenary, auxiliary, and native. Since mercenary forces are hired hands that fight for a wage, they are unreliable in the face of battle. Auxiliary forces, or forces borrowed from an ally, are dangerous if they are victorious because the prince who uses them is under their obligation.
Machiavelli strongly encourages every prince to use his own native troops. History has shown that princes who accomplished great things always used their own troops. In fact, a prince’s sole activity is the art of warfare He then discusses the qualities and character of a Prince It tells the prince first thing he needs to know is to fight be ruthless and cruel. He should also be able to break his words violate both religious and moral standard when needed. On the other side he should be compassionate, moral and devoted.
A prince must have strength of character, intelligence, courage, war skills and most important a touch of luck. On luck and fortune he uses the example of Cesare Borgia he says though Borgia has a lot of qualities of a true prince but he missed the touch of fortune. On courage he gives the example of Lion and Fox, the prince must have the ability of the Fox to find the snare and courage of Lion to drive off wolfs. “It is good to appear merciful, truthful, humane, sincere and religious, but need not be so in reality” The prince must be political actor by that he meant don’t show what you really are but act as you really should.
The prince must be able to manipulate his words. “Man in general is judge by their eyes rather than hands because everyone is in position to watch, everyone sees what you are but very few experience what you really are. ” A prince must take matter as though it was marble and imposes a form on it just as a sculpture. He should know how and when to be cruel. Harsh and deceitful means are necessary for the common good. The prince should be cautious and prudent. “A prince must watch he does not became afraid of his own shadow his behavior must be humane and prudent. A prince must avoid taking property on others because men sooner forget the death of their father than loss of their inheritance. It is better to be feared that loved but avoid being hated. Fear is useful hatred is counterproductive. “If you have choice, to be feared is much safer than to be loved” “Love endures by a bond which men, being scoundrels, may break whenever it serves their advantage to do so; but fear is supported by the dread of pain, which is ever present. ” “In the actions of all men and especially of the prince where there is no court of appeal one judges by he result” End is what counts. “End justifies the means”. On this I remember the quotation by Stanley Kunitz (American Poet) “If you permit this evil what good is the good of your life? ” He also talks about ethics and politics. “Believe that good prince is not necessarily a good man”. “Appearance matters more than reality”. “Better to be feared than loved”. Are all famous conclusions of the prince which struck people internally and most difficult and indeed painful questions about politics and ethics. A prince must love country more than his soul he must prepare to go to hell for it.
Regarding how a prince should rule and act. Machiavelli states that in an ideal world, it is virtuous for a prince to be good. But in reality, princes who distance themselves from ethical concerns and do whatever it takes for the benefit of their states rules the best. Therefore, it is better to be parsimonious than generous, cruel than loving, crafty than honest. Machiavelli’s general rule is to be as good as circumstances allow, but be willing to resort to any means necessary for the good of the state.
A feudal prince must be wise in controlling the nobles and keeping the people content. Even fortresses are useless if the prince does not have the support of his people. A prince gains esteem and glory through his courage. He must undertake great enterprises that allow him to display his abilities. When two neighbors are at war, a prince must never be neutral; he must take sides. The prince must have the wisdom to choose the least risky venture and act on it courageously. Wisdom is also needed in picking and satisfying his closest advisors and avoiding flatterers.
Machiavelli also stresses the importance of having good secretaries and ministers for you can tell the intelligence of a prince by the friends and secretaries he has. To find good ministers he says: “But how a prince may recognize the minister, there is a mode which never fails. When you see the minister think more of himself than of you, and that he seeks what is useful to him in all actions, someone made that way will never be a good minister, never will you be able to trust him: because whoever has another’s state in his hand must never think of himself but always of The Prince… Machiavelli also recommends to princes to keep away from flatters because you shall never know when they (or anyone else) are telling the truth and you will lose a good source of information. Instead, you should not listen to just anyone, but only to the very few that you can be sure of. Some Important historical characters and their role in The Prince Cesare Borgia the son of Pope Alexander VI who inherited much power and territory from his father, known as Duke Valentino, Cesare Borgia is considered by Machiavelli to have been a most capable leader and the embodiment of what a prince should be.
Machiavelli suggests that an ambitious prince looking for a recent model to follow should imitate Cesare Borgia. Machiavelli uses many events of Cesare Borgia’s life to illustrate how and why he was successful. On one instance Cesare Borgia invites all his enemies to peace talk and kills them all. He not just played with power and violence but used it in a very functional and productive way. The actions of Cesare Borgia were admired by Machiavelli who believed Borgia’s different qualities should be found in the perfect prince that would someday unite all of the city-states in Italy.
Examining Cesare Borgia’s life, Machiavelli concludes that in order for a prince to ultimately succeed, he needs both ability and fortune. Though, Machiavelli admired Cesare Borgia, he was glad when Borgia was imprisoned by the Pope Julius II, about which Machiavelli said “he deserved as a rebel against Christ. ” Pope Alexander VI, Father to Cesare Borgia, was a great leader who used his position and abilities to empower his son and consequently, the power of the Church.
Cesare Borgia inherited much power and territory from his shrewd father. Machiavelli considers Alexander VI a master at the art of political deception. Through the military success of Cesare Borgia, Pope Alexander VI not only brought respect and prestige to the position of the pope and the Church, he helped establish his son as the most powerful prince in Italy until they both fell ill. Pope Alexander died soon after and Cesare Borgia, deathly ill, could not prevent his eventual downfall.
Lorenzo de’ Medici, The Duke of Urbino and the grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent, he is the recipient of Machiavelli’s work. Machiavelli originally intended to dedicate the work to Lorenzo the Magnificent’s son, Giuliano de’ Medici, but he died in 1516. Machiavelli dedicates the book to Lorenzo de’ Medici in hopes that the young prince would restore Italy to its former glory. Machiavelli believes that Lorenzo de’ Medici is in the best situation to unite the Italians because of his family’s great influence in Florence and over the Church-Lorenzo’s uncle being Pope Leo X.
In concluding that virtue, or abilities and fortune must come together for success, Machiavelli implores Lorenzo de’ Medici to be the leader Italy has been waiting for-a prince to unite the Italians, drive the barbarians out of Italy, and restore his beloved nation to her former glory. We see people criticizing and demonizing Machiavelli for The Prince just because it violates moral standards and ethics and speaks the truth but in fact we should consider it as a technical book and in a technical book we do not seek for rules of ethical conduct, of good and evil.
It is enough if we are told what is useful or what is useless. Every word in The Prince must be read and interpreted in this way. The Prince seems to describe a leader that Machiavelli views as ideal, and seems to suggest that he believes he would be the perfect leader. The book may be his own blueprint for seizing power or a guide for another to do so, it may also be revealing of the unspoken rules of politics that separate the leaders from the followers.
Machiavelli’s perceptions may seem distorted by cynicism, especially since at one point he was a highly important and respected official and now, just as Polonius said, reduced to “be no assistant to the state, but keep a farm and carters”. No matter the circumstances The Prince was written under, it is definitely worth the time to read for those interested in learning about human nature and political science, the psychology of a leader and the qualities that may in fact make a successful leader. The Prince leaves an enlightened, yet terrified reader.
The is a must read book for all not because it talks about the qualities of a prince but it give lessons in power and in today’s modern world this lesson in power and politics are very useful in everyday life. I think Machiavelli’s guidance have been followed even in today’s politics Washington, Nepolean bonapart, Churchill, Lennon, have used similar ideas as of Machiavelli they are the intellectual children of the same father Niccolo Machiavelli. I am not saying the book is perfect there are some draw backs of the book.
Niccolo considered reality was self evident but in fact it is not it is covered by disguise and people play around with it. He was wrong in using the history to make his point sound appealingly true but in reality he never saw the root of the cause of that historical event. In other words he was a consumer of history rather than a producer of history. But still it is a worth reading for any one. There are certain books which are sufficiently complicated that they have a message for different people in different times for example The Republic by Plato, The Prince by Machiavelli Another book I ould recommend to read will be the Discoursers by Niccolo Machiavelli written at the same time as of The Prince but mainly dealt with the republic form of government. Another modern inspiration of The Prince would be Patriot by Gary Harth very known book of modern literature and politics. Citation Machiavelli, N. (1992). The Prince by Robert M Adams, Ed. & Trans Norton Critical Editions. New York: Norton. (Original work published 1532) Discovery Great Books Machiavellis The. Prince DVD
Narrated by Don Sutterland written and produced by Dale Minor 2001 DVD. Discovery Media Productions Donno, Daniel (trans. ). The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli. New York: Bantam Books, 1996. Machiavelli, The Prince, in The Portable Machiavelli, edited and translated by Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa (Penguin Books, 1979). “Book rags Book Notes on. ” Book rags Retrieved 11 Nov 2009, from the World Wide Web. . Lee, Richard and Walsh, Joel. SparkNote on The Prince. 11 Nov. 2009 . Magedanz, Stacy. CliffsNotes on The Prince. 11 Nov 2009 .
Cite this The Prince by Niccole Machiavelli Book Review
The Prince by Niccole Machiavelli Book Review. (2018, Feb 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-prince-by-niccole-machiavelli-book-review/