The only way it was possible to get ahead was to be part of the inner circle. It didn't really matter what the issue was or what sort of implications it carried. All that mattered was knowing the right person, having the right information, making the right introductions, and going to the right parties. The most valuable information was not necessarily something you knew about an enemy but something you knew about a friend. Staff and "advisors" were, in many ways, far more powerful than the aristocrat holding office. As much as it sounds like it, it was not late 20th century Washington, D.C. but early 16th century Italy. The tell all book is not "Primary Colors," "And the Horse He Rode In," or any other modern political tell-all but the most infamous political book of all time, "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527). Machiavelli entered government service as a clerk and rose to prominence when the Florentine Republic was proclaimed in 1498. His duties included missions to the French king (1504, 1510-11), the Holy See (1506), and the German emperor (1507-8). In the course of his diplomatic missions within Italy he became acquainted with many of the Italian rulers and was able to study their political tactics, particularly those of Cesare Borgia, who was at that time engaged in enlarging his holdings in central Italy. From 1503 to 1506 Machiavelli reorganized the military defense of the republic of Florence.
Although mercenary armies were common during this period, he preferred to rely on the conscription of native troops to ensure a permanent and patriotic defense of the commonwealth. In 1512, when the Medici, a Florentine family, regained power in Florence a...
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...of Milan. His sons, who were not interested in war, lost Milan and became private citizens. The Prince who is uninterested in war becomes contemptible, and this attitude on the part of others must be guarded against at all costs."
At the core of all his writing, Machiavelli was determined to eliminate pretense and examine what he perceived as reality. Before this could be done, he had to develop his political hypothesis, which was based, not upon the Christian ethic, as other writers had done before him, but rather upon what he considered as obvious and observable occurrences. Through his eyes, modern readers have had an opportunity to see the political maneuvering of an age of great intrigue and deceit . . . not unlike the close of the 20th century in America.
Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Arlington Heights: Harlan Davidson, 1947.
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