Niccolo Machiavelli 's The Prince

1538 Words7 Pages
Niccolo Machiavelli was a fifteenth century diplomat and historian. Born in Florence in 1469, he lived during a turbulent time in Italy’s history when the division and rivalry between city-states made Italy vulnerable to external powers such as France and Spain. Although he created many other works such as plays and poems, his most famous work is perhaps The Prince. Machiavelli is primarily remembered for his political works and is known as the father of modern political thinking (Monte, 2013; Wilcox, 1975). To understand Machiavelli’s work, it is important to understand the times in which he lived and his personal experiences that influenced his work. Machiavelli served in the Florentine republic in several capacities until the Medici returned to power in that city-state. Because of his involvement with the republic, he was imprisoned by the Medici and tortured, eventually being exiled from Florence. Due to these experiences, Machiavelli had personal experience with politics and how governments actually function. It was during his exile that Machiavelli wrote his most famous work The Prince, which was very controversial because of its departure from the prevalent writings concerning rulers. Although humanism was the prevalent thought at the time, most political writing followed the genre known as Mirror of Princes, which was a sort of handbook giving ideal models on how a prince should behave. Most works in the Mirror of Princes genre contained idealized examples of behavior, extolling the virtues of great leaders (Gilbert, 1939). While Machiavelli’s work also gave direction on how a prince should behave, it was a more realistic look at politics in general and how a prince would realistically need to act in order to as... ... middle of paper ... ...Proclamation itself, while morally correct, could be viewed as a political and military tool to undermine the Confederate States. It did not free all the slaves, only those in the territories that were in rebellion against the United States. Also, during the civil war, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, a basic constitutional right. Lincoln surrounded himself with intelligent advisors and was willing to listen to others council and learn, but made his own decisions in the end. Much as Machiavelli describes Moses and others in chapter IV of The Prince, Doris Kearns Goodwin describes Lincoln in Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, in this way “It was history that gave him the opportunity to manifest his greatness, providing the stage that allowed him to shape and transform our national life” (pg XIX; Machiavelli, 1513; Goodwin, 2005).
Open Document