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Machiavelli’s the Prince

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Essay title: Machiavelli’s the Prince

The Prince

Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian statesman and author and prominent figure of the Renaissance, was born on May 3rd, 1469. His father was Bernardo di Niccoli, who belonged to an impoverished part of an old Florentine family, and there is little recorded about his youth.

It was in the independent city-state of Florence that he began an active career as a politician as a young man, becoming part of important diplomatic missions throughout Europe. He met with some of the most famous figures of his time and all history, such as Pope Alexander IV, and his son Cesare Borgia, as well as King Louis VII of France and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. He had spent more than a decade in public service when the republic he worked for collapsed.

In 1512, the Medici regained power, and although Machiavelli hoped to retain his career under the new government, he was dismissed on November 7th. Not long after his dismissal, he was put in jail and tortured under accusations of conspiracy against the Medici. After his release, he retired to a place just outside of Florence and dedicated himself to literature.

He created several important, mostly politically based writings during the Renaissance, most famous of which is The Prince. Originally written in hopes of winning favor and regaining his job with the Medici government, he dedicated it to Lorenzo II de’ Medici, the current ruler of Florence. It did not, however, get him his government position back, and there is actually no prove that Lorenzo ever even read it. If examined at all, it was received as unimportant by the government. It caused little fuss with the public when it was first published, but later became known as an immoral and cruel interpretation of an ideal ruler. It was received so distastefully that the term Machiavellian is used for immoral cunning.

Machiavelli’s dedication of “The Prince” to Lorenzo was all but expected during his time. Dedications of writings to powerful men were part of nearly all literature during the Renaissance. Written in this tradition, Machiavelli’s dedication states his unworthiness and praised Lorenzo’s greatness, even referring to him as magnificent. Just like Machiavelli, many writers during this time were also hoping to create favor with the powerful men they dedicated their writings to.

“The Prince” discusses many political structures of the time, both philosophically as well practically. Machiavelli discuss that there exist only two types of states: republics and principalities. Due to the dedication to a prince himself, he discusses very little about republican government. He goes on to discuss the various ways a prince may come into power during his time, ranging from luck to strategy and intelligence.

Throughout his writings in “The Prince”, and the publics reactions to it, Machiavelli slowly but surely tells not only the of how government was run, but also alludes to what was socially acceptable during his lifetime. His own society deemed him ruthless for his amoral and rational attitude about ruling a principality in his writings. Although all rationally explained and justified as necessary to rule, his ideas shocked the people in his society. He spoke of “exterminating” not only the past ruler but also his family to eliminate their possible popularity with the people. He also discusses creating colonies, because they only harm the poor who can’t fight back anyway.

One of his most famous statements was that “Men should either be caressed or destroyed”, and talking about the idea that if you must harm someone, you need to harm them so much that they can’t take revenge on you. He even justified that criminal acts were more than acceptable so long as they achieved the desired aim. Although he would not be described as immoral for advocating these horrible acts, he certainly had an amoral standpoint, being not at all concerned with the moral value of a man, only his ability attain his goal. Although Machiavelli spouted practical ideas for ruling in a society that used to blood shed and poverty, the people of his time still despised the idea of what was going on around them.

Before Machiavelli’s logic on how to rule in the “real world”, most literature stated that princes were to be of utmost moral character. Writings of the time unsurprisingly advocated that leaders be exemplary characters that always upheld the highest of moral standards, and be generous, merciful, and honest. Machiavelli simply pointed out that it would work out just fine in a perfect world, but in the real world, a leader is surrounded by ruthless and deceitful people would have to compete to survive among them.

Through these writings, you come to realize that sieges and warfare were at least yearly events for most people in Europe. Machiavelli pointed out that a prince needed to be able

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