Machiavelli The Prince Analysis

1042 Words5 Pages
Niccoló Machiavelli (1469-1527), Italian political thinker and historical figure best remembered for his masterpiece, The Prince (written in 1513, but published posthumously in 1532). Machiavelli is considered one of the great early analyzers of political power. As a thinker Machiavelli belonged to an entire school of Florentine intellectuals concerned with an examination of political and historical problems. His important writings were composed after 1512 when he was accused of conspiracy in 1513. The Medici family had returned to power and had ended the Florentine Republic. Lorenzo de ' Medici fired Machiavelli who had held the office of Secretary under the previous government. He was suspected of plotting against the Medici,…show more content…
Many earlier thinkers had constructed hypothetical notions of ideal or natural states, but Machiavelli treated historical evidence pragmatically to ground The Prince in real situations. The book is dedicated to the current ruler of Florence, and it is readily apparent that Machiavelli intends for his advice. He formulated his own theory of effective government and famously asserted that good rulers sometimes have to learn "not to be good," they have to be willing to set aside ethical concerns of justice, honesty, and kindness in order to maintain the stability of the state. The idea was shocking to contemporaries, who had inherited medieval ideas about divine kingship, in which the king was appointed by God for the express purpose of serving as a sort of celestial deputy on earth, upholding law and justice. In popular medieval belief, the king was thought to be a "primate," an avatar of human virtue with innate authority over lesser beings in the cosmological hierarchy. In contrast, Machiavelli argued that the most successful kings were not the ones who acted according to dictates of law, or justice, or conscience, but those willing to do whatever was necessary to preserve their own power--and thus indirectly preserve the order of the state. A prince can neither choose his nature nor change it, free will seems illusory indeed, and virtù,…show more content…
In general, Machiavelli uses fortuna to refer to all of those circumstances which human beings cannot control. Whether fortune obeyed the will of God or was simply an impersonal natural force was a subject of debate throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance. However, nowhere in The Prince is there an indication that one should try to transcend fortune; rather, one should meet it head on and bend it, if possible, to one 's own will. The Prince reads like a political how to succeed manual. In his book, he instructs his reading audience on the ways and means of absolute rule over others. He suggests that any new prince who successfully follows the advice found in The Prince will enjoy the stability of a hereditary prince, since men are more aware of the present than of the past. Knowing the past has relevance not only for theoretical awareness but also for practical applications. Furthermore, knowing the past helps one anticipate the future. Machiavelli does not hesitate to lament the fact that even political people and analysts ignore the
Open Document