machiavelli and the prince

Powerful Essays
Social Life in Medieval and Early Modern Italy

Nicolo Macchiavelli and The Prince

At the end of the 14th century, Italy was still politically organized by city-states. Emerging as one of the most influential writers of the Renaissance, Niccolo Machiavelli was a political analyst,

whose aim was to free italy from foreign rule, as well as to unite and strengthen the Italian city

states. Machiavelli believed Italy could not be united unless its leader was ruthless. In 1513, he wrote his best-known work, The Prince, in which he describes the ways that a prince may gain and

maintain his power. Machiavellie advises his rulers to be kind only of it suited their purposes. Otherwise, he warned, it is better to be feared than loved.

Machiavelli is considered one of the great early modern analyzers of political power. Born in Florence in 1469 and living until 1527, Niccolo Machiavelli experienced what we now consider the height of the Italian Renaissance-a period that produced some of Italy's greatest achievements in the arts and sciences, but that also produced horrible scandals and the establishment of foreign domination over the peninsula (Microsoft Encarta 99). He grew up during the reign of the Medici family, and he learned to read and write in Latin while he studied the classics. Humanistic ideals were popular in Florentine government, and although Machiavelli’s family was neither rich nor aristocratic, they were supporters of the city’s leading humanists. Machiavelli showed a keen interest in the world around him, and from this interest he demonstrated a remarkable ability to learn. By the age of seven he had begun his formal education, and by age twelve he had graduated from primary school and was enrolled in private classes. He was later accepted into the University of Florence where he studied humanities, literature, and sciences.

In 1498, the year that Florence became a republic, Machiavelli was awarded a position in the government as a clerk. He rose quickly through governmental ranks and soon he became head of the ...

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...ositions on how a prince should rule and what qualities he should possess are relative to his particular view of human nature. Machiavelli believed that naturally man is greedy and concerned only with himself, therefore I agree with Machiavelli’s view that it is better for a prince to be feared than loved because I agree that people will be less likely to go against the ruler when they are fearful of the consequences. Machiavelli was perhaps 350 years ahead of his time with his vision of a united Italy and his unique thoughts have changed the face of political science forever.

Works Cited

•Machiavelli, Niccolo, Ed. Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. The Prince, The University of Chicago Press.,1985.

•“Machiavelli, Niccolo,” Encyclopedia Britannica CD 98 ©1994-1998 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

•“Machiavelli, Niccolo,” Microsoft Encarta 99 Encyclopedia ©1993-1998 Microsoft Corp.
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