Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince and The Discourses Essays

Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince and The Discourses Essays

Length: 2286 words (6.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Research Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview



     Niccolò Machiavelli thoroughly discusses the importance of religion in the formation and maintenance of political authority in his famous works, The Prince and The Discourses. In his writing on religion, he states that religion is beneficiary in the formation of political authority and political leaders must support and endorse religion in order to maintain power. However, Machiavelli also critiques corrupt religious institutions that become involved in politics and in turn, cause corruption in the citizenry and divisions among the state. In the following essay, I will examine Machiavelli’s analysis of religion and discuss the relationship between religion and politics in Machiavelli’s thought.

     It is important to establish from the very beginning of the essay what Machiavelli’s politics are and how he arrives at his beliefs in order to understand his views on religion in politics. Machiavelli is a realist thinker whose main arguments are about maintaining political authority over a state by using historical evidence, especially Roman, in order to support his theories. His main writings are an illustration of realpolitik, a government policy that emphasizes retaining power by using any means necessary including war and deceit. “Niccolò Machiavelli … emphasized a political calculus based on interest, prudence, power, and expediency above all other considerations.” (Kegley pp 36) Therefore, one must remember when reading Machiavelli that he is attempting to use religion as an instrument to maintain political power rather than a mechanism for achieving ideals.

     Machiavelli’s view on religion stems from his famous argument of whether it is better to be feared or loved as a leader of a state. Machiavelli feels that it is safer to be feared than loved, but a great leader would hope to be both even though it is rather difficult. His reasoning behind this is that he feels the nature of man is to be fickle and greedy and man will turn against the political leaders in difficult times despite his loyalty during prosperous times. Machiavelli writes, “…that prince who bases his power entirely on their words, finding himself stripped of other preparations, comes to ruin; for friendships that are acquired by a price and not by greatness and nobility of character are purchased but are not owned, and at proper time cannot be spent.” (The Prince Chapte...


... middle of paper ...


... control religion. While the government must stay secular without the influence of religious organizations, it must appear to be quite the opposite in the view of the citizenry. Religious organizations must be used to keep the people pious in order to instill the fear of God rather then a fear of the state for the leader to avoid being despised, in turn causing him to be both feared and loved. Unusual laws and organizations are introduced easier into the city when they are based on religion and morals and often times only divine authority would instill them. Religious institutions must be kept from getting too large and must be kept from gaining political power or else they will turn corrupt and cause divisions among the people as in the case of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy since religious organizations are neither powerful enough to defend the state nor are they willing to submit their power to those who can.

Works Cited

Kegley, Charles W., and Eugene R. Wittkopf. World Politics Trend and Transformation. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2006.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. “The Prince and The Discourses” McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 1 edition (August 1, 1950)

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Biography of and Principles Taught By Niccolo Machiavelli Essay

- Machiavelli Essay: Question 1 Born in the 15th century, Niccolò Machiavelli was an Italian historian, politician, philosopher, diplomat and humanist. Following his career as an official in the Florentine Republic, Machiavelli was a founder of modern political science and political ethics. In the political treatise The Prince, written in 1532, Machiavelli outlines several key traits of a successful princedom such as; how to incorporate newly acquired provinces, the most successful way to conquer territories, the establishment of successful defense and military forces, as well as qualities which would make for the most desirable prince....   [tags: The Prince, Discourses on Livy]

Research Papers
1039 words (3 pages)

Ethics in Machiavelli's The Prince Essay

- Ethics in Machiavelli's The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian statesman and political philosopher. He was employed on diplomatic missions as defence secretary of the Florentine republic, and was tortured when the Medici returned to power in 1512. When he retired from public life he wrote his most famous work, The Prince (1532), which describes the means by which a leader may gain and maintain power. The Prince has had a long and chequered history and the number of controversies that it has generated is indeed surprising....   [tags: Machiavelli The Prince]

Research Papers
1513 words (4.3 pages)

Niccolo Machiavelli 's The Prince Essays

- 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)....   [tags: Florence, Political philosophy, Virtue]

Research Papers
1538 words (4.4 pages)

A Comprehensive Review Of The Prince By Niccolo Machiavelli Essay

- A Comprehensive Review of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli Ryan Ardelle University of Pittsburgh ADMJ 1235: Organized Crime Professor Giunta October 21, 2014 No book has been as influential to the practice of realpolitik throughout history as Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince. This Renaissance classic is so infamous for its unorthodox lessons that the author even has a word dedicated to him – Machiavellianism – referring to the employment of cunning, deception, expediency, or duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct....   [tags: Florence, House of Medici, Political philosophy]

Research Papers
1993 words (5.7 pages)

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli Essay

- Machiavelli’s The Prince has been widely interpreted as representative of political behavior that is violent and deceitful. As such, the term Machiavellian has to come to be associated with deviousness, ruthlessness, and power politics. The issue of whether or not Machiavelli can be considered a Machiavellian himself is difficult to resolve because of the complexity of the arguments he puts forth in both The Prince and Discourses. While the claims made in the former are more focused on the individual, namely the “prince,” those posited in the latter describe phenomena on a broader spectrum, having to do with human nature and society at large....   [tags: sociopolitical analysis]

Research Papers
680 words (1.9 pages)

The Prince Analysis Essay

- Historical Background Having spent his childhood most peacefully, Niccolo Machiavelli, the great Italian philosopher witnessed Italy’s state of decadence and intense political conflict in his adulthood. The then Italy was not a unified country rather, it was an accumulation of city-states, each with its own court and ruler, each of them attempting to addition control over the others. Italy was not only a place of domestic intrigue but also a battleground for the force-ravenous French, the Spanish, the Germans and the Catholic Church under the power of the popes....   [tags: Niccolo Machiavelli, Medici, politics, Italy]

Research Papers
1762 words (5 pages)

Machiavellian Folly in The Prince Essay

- Machiavellian Folly in The Prince       In the annals of history, many individuals have contributed great works of literature, waxing philosophically on the meaning of life, death, and love.   Niccolo Machiavelli wrote not on love or life, but on power:  How to capture it, how to consolidate it, and how to defend it against all comers.  His work has been talked about and dissected to the extent that his subject matter and methods have earned their own moniker:  Machiavellian.  Nonetheless, this great philosopher's works did not meet with unanimous approval.  His own student, Thomas Hobbes, presented a very different account of politics.  This essay offers a Hobbesian critique of some of M...   [tags: Machiavelli The Prince Essays]

Research Papers
1685 words (4.8 pages)

Essay about Biography of Niccolo Machiavelli

- Niccolo Machiavelli - Biography Niccolo Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469 in Florence , Italy. He is known for being a political philosopher, historian, writer, statesman, and diplomat. Machiavelli is best known for his famous, influential work, "The Prince" (1513). This brought him a reputation of: amoral cynicism, being associated with corrupt government, diabolical (Showing the cunning or ingenuity or wickedness typical of a devil). Machiavellian and Machiavellianism are two concepts coined from Machiavelli's views as stated in The Prince....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
787 words (2.2 pages)

Niccolo Machiavelli Essay

- Niccolo Machiavelli Around 1513 Niccolo Machiavelli while writing "The Prince" would not be considered a theologian. When thinking of Machiavelli many people confuse him together with the names of rulers who have abused his writings. It also seems other people confuse Machiavelli with the rapper who took his name. Either way people confuse Machiavelli it seems they fail to look at his true message, bettering the state and the greater good. Machiavelli may seem evil to some but his political theory properly applied is optimal for founding a state, establishing and then maintaining order....   [tags: Politics]

Research Papers
1550 words (4.4 pages)

Niccolo Machiavelli Essays

- Niccolo Machiavelli Niccolo Machiavelli was a political philosopher from Florence Italy. He lived during the Italian Renaissance from May 1469 to 1527. This period in time that Machiavelli lived was the "rebirth" of art in Italy and rediscovery of ancient philosophy, literature and science. During this time in the Renaissance, Italy was also involved in intense political conflict with dominant city-states of Florence, Milan, Venice, Naples, the Papacy, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire....   [tags: History Philosophy Philosopher]

Free Essays
933 words (2.7 pages)