Those who try to obtain the favourable attention of a prince are accustomed to come things that they value most, or which they think the prince will most enjoy. The Prince. Nicolo Machiavelli, born at Florence on 3rd May From. to held an official post at Florence which included diplomatic missions to. The Original Version of this Text was. Rendered into HTML by Jon Roland of the Constitution Society nvrehs.info Converted to PDF by Danny Stone.
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The Prince. Niccolò Machiavelli. Contents. Dedication: To his Magnificence Lorenzo Di Piero De' Medici. 1. Part I: Kinds of principality; how to get and retain. Free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook. The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in. The Prince Machiavelli also discusses politics in relation to things outside politics , as we shall see, but his conclusion is very different. Politics according to him is.
For the next 19 years, the city was governed as a republic.
Machiavelli was 25 and working as a civil servant employed by the Florentine government when this happened. At the age of 29, he was made head of the second chancery, giving him responsibility for overseeing foreign affairs in the territories that Florence controlled.
It was an important role, because the republic was threatened both by other city-states and by aggressive European powers like France. The Medicis regained power in Florence in , but the following year Machiavelli was accused of plotting to overthrow their regime and was imprisoned and tortured.
This book explored what rulers had to do to retain their power. In his role as a civil servant Machiavelli had helped plan wars, but he was no general or leader. He studied historical accounts of the behavior of successful rulers to draw most of his conclusions in The Prince.
History, however, does not remember Machiavelli as a mild-mannered scholar. His ideas about power—and what rulers need to do to retain it—led to him being caricatured as a devil. His ideas have had a huge impact and are still debated today. What Does The Prince Say?
Basing his discussion on historical and contemporary political leaders, he asks probing questions. How should rulers rule? What is the nature of power?
Will a prince who is generous, trusting and honest actually manage to take power? Ethical princes would have both success in this world and paradise in the next.
Machiavelli is not so sure. He uses the evidence of history to prove that princes who can lie, cheat and murder have a tendency to succeed. The man displaying necessita will kill his enemies without hesitation after they become enemies. The third factor is fortuna. Machiavelli believed that politics was the realm of action, not the realm of morals. Political fortune favors those who act proactively and decisively to advance themselves.
Machiavelli argues that morality, or behaving in a moral way, hinders a ruler. If everyone acted morally, morals would not be a disadvantage.
But in a world where people are willing to be ruthless, a moral prince would make himself, and his state, vulnerable. His morals might make him hesitate to act—and this could cost him everything. Yet Machiavelli does not say that princes should forget morality completely.
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. Scipio's men, on the other hand, were known for their mutiny and dissension, due to Scipio's "excessive mercy" — which was, however, a source of glory because he lived in a republic.
In what way princes should keep their word Chapter 18 [ edit ] Machiavelli notes that a prince is praised for keeping his word. However, he also notes that in reality, the most cunning princes succeed politically. A prince, therefore, should only keep his word when it suits his purposes, but do his utmost to maintain the illusion that he does keep his word and that he is reliable in that regard.
Machiavelli advises the ruler to become a "great liar and deceiver", and that men are so easy to deceive, that the ruler won't have an issue with lying to others. He justifies this by saying that men are wicked, and never keep their words, therefore the ruler doesn't have to keep his.
And indeed he should be so. But his disposition should be such that, if he needs to be the opposite, he knows how. In this chapter, Machiavelli uses "beasts" as a metaphor for unscrupulous behavior. He states that while lawful conduct is part of the nature of men, a prince should learn how to use the nature of both men and beasts wisely to ensure the stability of his regime. In this chapter however, his focus is solely on the "beastly" natures.
In employing this metaphor, Machiavelli apparently references De Officiis by the Roman orator and statesman Cicero , and subverts its conclusion, arguing instead that dishonorable behavior is sometimes politically necessary.
Internal fears exist inside his kingdom and focus on his subjects, Machiavelli warns to be suspicious of everyone when hostile attitudes emerge.
Machiavelli observes that the majority of men are content as long as they are not deprived of their property and women, and only a minority of men are ambitious enough to be a concern. A prince should command respect through his conduct, because a prince who does not raise the contempt of the nobles and keeps the people satisfied, Machiavelli assures, should have no fear of conspirators working with external powers. Conspiracy is very difficult and risky in such a situation.
Roman emperors, on the other hand, had not only the majority and ambitious minority, but also a cruel and greedy military, who created extra problems because they demanded. While a prince should avoid being hated, he will eventually be hated by someone, so he must at least avoid the hatred of the most powerful, and for the Roman emperors this included the military who demanded iniquity against the people out of their own greed.
He uses Septimius Severus as a model for new rulers to emulate, as he "embodied both the fox and the lion". Severus outwitted and killed his military rivals, and although he oppressed the people, Machiavelli says that he kept the common people "satisfied and stupified". Only once a regime is stable can a prince safely be like Marcus Aurelius , benign, just and an enemy to cruelty because he was a hereditary ruler.
Machiavelli notes that in his time only the Turkish empire had the problem of the Romans, because in other lands the people had become more powerful than the military. The Prudence of the Prince Chapters 20—25 [ edit ] Whether ruling conquests with fortresses works Chapter 20 [ edit ] Machiavelli mentions that placing fortresses in conquered territories, although it sometimes works, often fails.
Using fortresses can be a good plan, but Machiavelli says he shall "blame anyone who, trusting in fortresses, thinks little of being hated by the people". He cited Caterina Sforza , who used a fortress to defend herself but was eventually betrayed by her people Gaining honours Chapter 21 [ edit ] A prince truly earns honour by completing great feats.
King Ferdinand of Spain is cited by Machiavelli as an example of a monarch who gained esteem by showing his ability through great feats and who, in the name of religion, conquered many territories and kept his subjects occupied so that they had no chance to rebel.
Regarding two warring states, Machiavelli asserts it is always wiser to choose a side, rather than to be neutral. Machiavelli then provides the following reasons why: If your allies win, you benefit whether or not you have more power than they have.
If you are more powerful, then your allies are under your command; if your allies are stronger, they will always feel a certain obligation to you for your help. If your side loses, you still have an ally in the loser.
Machiavelli also notes that it is wise for a prince not to ally with a stronger force unless compelled to do so. In conclusion, the most important virtue is having the wisdom to discern what ventures will come with the most reward and then pursuing them courageously.
Machiavelli asserts that there are three types of intelligence: The kind that understands things for itself — which is excellent to have. The kind that understands what others can understand — which is good to have. The kind that does not understand for itself, nor through others — which is useless to have. If the prince does not have the first type of intelligence, he should at the very least have the second type.
A prudent prince should have a select group of wise counselors to advise him truthfully on matters all the time. All their opinions should be taken into account.
Ultimately, the decision should be made by the prince and carried out absolutely. If a prince is given to changing his mind, his reputation will suffer.
A prince must have the wisdom to recognize good advice from bad. Machiavelli gives a negative example in Emperor Maximilian I ; Maximilian, who was secretive, never consulted others, but once he ordered his plans and met dissent, he immediately changed them. Prudence and chance[ edit ] Why the princes of Italy lost their states Chapter 24 [ edit ] After first mentioning that a new prince can quickly become as respected as a hereditary one, Machiavelli says princes in Italy who had longstanding power and lost it cannot blame bad luck, but should blame their own indolence.
One "should never fall in the belief that you can find someone to pick you up". They all showed a defect of arms already discussed and either had a hostile populace or did not know to secure themselves with the great. Fortune Chapter 25 [ edit ] As pointed out by Gilbert it was traditional in the genre of Mirrors of Princes to mention fortune, but "Fortune pervades The Prince as she does no other similar work".
Machiavelli argues that fortune is only the judge of half of our actions and that we have control over the other half with "sweat", prudence and virtue.
Even more unusual, rather than simply suggesting caution as a prudent way to try to avoid the worst of bad luck, Machiavelli holds that the greatest princes in history tend to be ones who take more risks, and rise to power through their own labour, virtue, prudence, and particularly by their ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Machiavelli even encourages risk taking as a reaction to risk. In a well-known metaphor, Machiavelli writes that "it is better to be impetuous than cautious, because fortune is a woman; and it is necessary, if one wants to hold her down, to beat her and strike her down. Machiavelli compares fortune to a torrential river that cannot be easily controlled during flooding season.
In periods of calm, however, people can erect dams and levees in order to minimize its impact. Fortune, Machiavelli argues, seems to strike at the places where no resistance is offered, as had recently been the case in Italy. As de Alvarez —30 points out that what Machiavelli actually says is that Italians in his time leave things not just to fortune, but to "fortune and God". Machiavelli is indicating in this passage, as in some others in his works, that Christianity itself was making Italians helpless and lazy concerning their own politics, as if they would leave dangerous rivers uncontrolled.
This chapter directly appeals to the Medici to use what has been summarized in order to conquer Italy using Italian armies, following the advice in the book. Gilbert —30 showed that including such exhortation was not unusual in the genre of books full of advice for princes.
But it is unusual that the Medici family's position of Papal power is openly named as something that should be used as a personal power base, as a tool of secular politics. Indeed, one example is the Borgia family's "recent" and controversial attempts to use church power in secular politics, often brutally executed. This continues a controversial theme throughout the book. Analysis[ edit ] Cesare Borgia , Duke of Valentinois.
According to Machiavelli, a risk taker and example of "criminal virtue". As shown by his letter of dedication, Machiavelli's work eventually came to be dedicated to Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici , grandson of " Lorenzo the Magnificent ", and a member of the ruling Florentine Medici family, whose uncle Giovanni became Pope Leo X in It is known from his personal correspondence that it was written during , the year after the Medici took control of Florence, and a few months after Machiavelli's arrest, torture, and banishment by the in-coming Medici regime.
It was discussed for a long time with Francesco Vettori — a friend of Machiavelli — whom he wanted to pass it and commend it to the Medici. The book had originally been intended for Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici , young Lorenzo's uncle, who however died in He states the difference between honorable behavior and criminal behavior by using the metaphor of animals, saying that "there are two ways of contending, one in accordance with the laws, the other by force; the first of which is proper to men, the second to beast".
Machiavelli took it for granted that would-be leaders naturally aim at glory or honour. He associated these goals with a need for " virtue " and " prudence " in a leader, and saw such virtues as essential to good politics. That great men should develop and use their virtue and prudence was a traditional theme of advice to Christian princes. However, Machiavelli went far beyond other authors in his time, who in his opinion left things to fortune, and therefore to bad rulers, because of their Christian beliefs.
He used the words "virtue" and "prudence" to refer to glory-seeking and spirited excellence of character, in strong contrast to the traditional Christian uses of those terms, but more keeping with the original pre-Christian Greek and Roman concepts from which they derived. So in another break with tradition, he treated not only stability, but also radical innovation , as possible aims of a prince in a political community.
Managing major reforms can show off a Prince's virtue and give him glory. He clearly felt Italy needed major reform in his time, and this opinion of his time is widely shared. Founding a wholly new state, or even a new religion, using injustice and immorality has even been called the chief theme of The Prince.
This is one of Machiavelli's most lasting influences upon modernity. Nevertheless, Machiavelli was heavily influenced by classical pre-Christian political philosophy. Xenophon wrote one of the classic mirrors of princes, the Education of Cyrus.
Gilbert wrote: "The Cyrus of Xenophon was a hero to many a literary man of the sixteenth century, but for Machiavelli he lived". Xenophon also, as Strauss pointed out, wrote a dialogue, Hiero which showed a wise man dealing sympathetically with a tyrant, coming close to what Machiavelli would do in uprooting the ideal of "the imagined prince".
Xenophon however, like Plato and Aristotle, was a follower of Socrates , and his works show approval of a " teleological argument ", while Machiavelli rejected such arguments. On this matter, Strauss —23 gives evidence that Machiavelli may have seen himself as having learned something from Democritus , Epicurus and classical materialism , which was however not associated with political realism, or even any interest in politics.