The Prince

The Prince All the states, all the dominions, under whose authority men have lived in the past and live now have been and are either republics or principalities. In Machiavellis, The Prince, timeless keys to a successful principality are examined. The keys are understanding human nature, respecting that nature, and reaffirming that successful leadership can exist in the same fashion yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Machiavellis perspective of human nature is founded on the principle that people in general dont want their culture changed by an outside influence. Machiavelli demonstrates in the book that the nature of people is to defend who they are. When the prince attempts to change their culture in any way the subjects will do any number of things to crush this attempt or even change the leadership.

If a prince uses force to try to change people this will lead to hostility, because as Machiavellis says, they remain, defeated, in their own homes. This underlying fact will lead to a rebellion of some sort. One way this rebellion can happen is when a powerful foreigner invades the principality. The now defeated people will join this powerful foreigner, in hopes that their culture will now be respected, to dethrone the prince. When the prince tries to use force to control the people it only creates enemies. Machiavelli explains this aspect of human nature when he writes, he harms the whole state by billeting his army in different parts of the country, everyone suffers from this annoyance, and everybody is turned into an enemy.

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On the contrast if a prince allows the people to keep their customs Machiavelli states that the people will remain content when he writes, For the rest, so long as their old ways of life are undisturbed and there is no divergence in customs, men live quietly. Another natural tendency of people comes with freedom. Once they have had a taste of freedom, they virtually cannot live without it. This feeling of control over ones life is a quality that once molded is nearly impossible to reshape. Machiavelli asserts this idea when he writes, a city used to freedom can be more easily ruled through its own citizens..than in any other way. The same tendency lies in the control that the prince gains over the people in the principality.

Once the prince has control he finds that giving up control to be extremely difficult. That is why ideally a prince would posses a number of qualities to find success as a leader. Only through an understanding of the nature of his subjects, having an ability to control his subjects, and possessing the means to defend his subjects can the prince truly find the universal key to open the door to upholding the ideals of practical leadership. When a prince understands the nature of the people it is easier for him to enter the land. Machiavelli writes of the Romans and how they developed their empire, the Aetolians once brought the Romans into Greece; and in every other country they invaded, the Romans were brought in by the inhabitants. Because the Romans understood human nature their movement into power was unchallenged.

Once in power it is essential for the prince to be able to control the people. I say that a prince must want to have a reputation for compassion rather than cruelty: none the less, he must be careful that he does not make bad use of compassion. When Machiavelli wrote this he was outlining the key to controlling the people. The prince needs to be able to keep the people united, and loyal to him and at the same time ensure respect for the laws by instilling a fear for punishment. One of Machiavellis most used examples of a successful prince is Cesare Borgia.

It is essential to be feared not hated and in the case of Borgia his minister Remirro de Orco punished law breakers in a cruel fashion that led to people hating Borgia. To create a feeling of fear for punishment rather than hatred for the prince Borgia decided to punish his minister for all to see. One morning, Remirros body was found cut in two pieces on the piazza at Cesena, with a block of wood and a bloody knife beside it. The brutality of this specticle kept the people of the Romagna at once appeased. Finally, once control has been established the prince is now obligated to defend the people.

This only comes through a strong military. Machiavelli believes that the military is essential to help create friends for the prince, form trust from the people, and avoid attempts from foreign lands to invade his principality or citizens to overthrow his government. Machiavelli writes that, a prince should assume personal command and captain his troops himself. Experience is shown that only princes..achieve solid success. Though these keys were expressed by Machiavelli over 450 years ago they are most definitly applicable today, and in the future.

In examining the 20th century two leaders have seemingly emulated the ideas of Machiavelli, Adolf Hitler and Mao Tse-Tsung. Hitler understood the nature of the German people, which allowed him to eventually rise to power, by one vote. By exploiding the vulnerability of his comrads in the post-World War 1 era he appealed to their needs. Once in power he used the minority as an example that he should be feared which at the same time allowed him to gain the trust of the majority. Hitler stands alone in history as being an individual that was able to justify horrid acts in the minds of his people. The same people that formed an army and nearly succeeded in conquering the European continent.

Hitler possessed the three keys of understanding, controlling, and defending, and as hard as it is to say he was a successful leader in the 20th century. A leader who didnt use intimidation to gain power rather manipulation to develop control and support was Mao the first communist dictator of China. Through his little red book Mao used positive reenforcement to oil the gears of one of the worlds strongest super powers. Mao didnt try to use force and change the culture in China rather he persuaded the people into having great national pride. This pride enabled Mao to control the people also build a strong military and defend his land.

In China Mao did and still today, decades after his death, have a hand in every aspect of Chinese life. Both of these leaders project how timeless Machiavellis ideas truly are. The first rung of the ladder to a successful principality is the understanding of human nature. A nature that values consistency over forced change and an atmosphere of control over ones self instead of someone blatently controlling another. Through this understanding of human nature can a prince hold his power.

Once he holds this power the best way to keep it is by providing defense for the people whom he has power over. These ideas were present in the infamous reigns of Hitler and Mao. Machiavelli is correct there are either principalities or republics, and I have come to the conclusion I prefer the latter. Bibliography The Prince, by Nicolo Machiavelli European History Essays.

The prince

Niccolo Machiavelli
The Prince
In The Prince’, Niccolo Machiavelli approaches, the topic of political morality and human
nature in a very different way than thinkers preceding him. His argument on political morality
and human nature is made very clear in the early part of his book. For him politics is war, no
matter which way you look at it. “You must, therefore, know that there are two means of
fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the
second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases is not sufficient , it becomes necessary to
have recourse to the second.” (Machiavelli, p.351-352). He clearly points out towards man’s
poor behavior in politics and accepts it as a fact, saying that law is a type of combat. He does not
look up to god or any other divine authority for the political morality, like Augustine in his book
the city of god’ or try and look at things the way they should have been in the ideal state, but
instead probes into the individual. He aims straight at the reality of politics.


Machiavelli In his vision, to guide the actions of men in general, turns to the actions of the
strong prince. Machiavelli’s higher political morality is to pursue the means to gain and hold
power. He is of the view that the ruling prince should be of the sole authority and to gain this
authority the prince has to command a certain fear from his citizens.

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Machiavelli believes that good laws follow naturally from a good military. His famous statement
that “the presence of sound military forces indicates the presence of sound laws” describes the
relationship between developing states and war in The Prince. Machiavelli reverses the
conventional understanding of war as a necessary, but not definitive, element of the development
of states, and instead asserts that successful war is the very foundation upon which all states are
built. Much of The Prince is devoted to describing exactly what it means to conduct a good war:
how to effectively fortify a city, how to treat subjects in newly acquired territories, and how to
prevent domestic insurrection that would distract from a successful war. But Machiavelli’s
description of war encompasses more than just the direct use of military force, it comprises
international diplomacy, domestic politics, tactical strategy, geographic mastery, and historical
analysis. Within the context of the political situation those times, when cities were constantly
threatened by neighboring states and the area had suffered through power struggles for
many years, his method of analyzing all the affairs of state through a military point was timely
useful in political thinking.


Machiavelli’s analysis could be thought of as pessimistic from the point of view of other
thinkers, but in reference to the times , Machiavelli is simply telling it the way it is. He is
simply describing his experiences and observations about human nature. Machiavelli believes
that politics has turned into war and that this war is not a consequence of men sinking to new
lows, or men reversing evolution and grasping the characteristics of beasts, but rather men living
they way their bodies and minds guide them to. Machiavelli believes that this is human nature
and instead of criticizing the poor behavior he accepts is as a fact and analyses the results.
“While you the prince work for their good, they are completely yours, offering you their blood,
property, lives, and their sons, as I said earlier, when danger is far away; but, when it is nearer to
you, they turn away revolt. And that prince who has bases his power entirely on their words,
finding himself completely without other preparations, comes to ruin.” (Machiavelli, P. 350).
Machiavelli has a very low opinion of the people throughout history. In general, he feels that
men are “ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceiver.” They avoid danger and are greedy for profit;
while you treat them well, they are yours. They will do anything for you but when you are in
danger they turn against you. Machiavelli has little respect for the people, and he feels
as though they have not earned much either.
Machiavelli asserts that a number of traits

The prince

The Prince, one of the most popular and well-known doctrines of political thought was also one of the greatest works of Niccolo Machiavelli. First published posthumously in 1532, The Prince was written in response to the failure of the Greek-based Italian city-states. Machiavelli wrote The Prince because, despite being a firm Republican, he was also well documented as a strong patriot. He wanted that his people live under a free but effective government, but he decided that if his nation has to be ruled by a despotic form of government that he would rather have it be a strong yet merciful tyranny. He wasn’t paid for writing The Prince, it wasn’t even originally a book, but a series of letters to the Prince Lorenzo de Medici. He wrote it during exile, after he had been arrested and tortured by Medici’s people, so it is doubtful that they had a bountiful relationship. Machiavelli’s intent, it would seem to the naked eye, was not to taunt the Prince, but to give him advice about how to survive on the throne and to also keep the dynasty in his family after his death. It appeared that he wanted to help the Prince to keep the nation free from invasion and occupation and also how to handle internal problems; such as when to bribe, oppress, etc.

Machiavelli’s real objective in writing The Prince was far different from the words that are found composed by him. The letters from Machiavelli to the Prince of Florence were not messages of suggestion as much as they were a job application for a place in his dynasty. The actual ambition of Machiavelli was to use this political hypocrisy to promote his own good. He was a firm believer that one should give the people what they want in order to earn their support and respect. Then, once in the public’s good graces, to use your authority, position and support to promote and complete your own agenda, political or otherwise, as long as it would eventually benefit the good of the people. He was a believer that anything can be justified as long as the results in for the common good. Machiavelli used this idea to coin his most well known phrase; “the end justifies the means.” He explains that is it necessary to appear to be a lovely moral person, but in reality, to act “as necessity dictates” and this allows lying, perjury and other immoral acts as long as the overall intent and final product is for the Common Benefit. He believed that people act according to their self interests alone, that people are generally equal in mind and body, and that it is this equality amongst man that causes them to war. Without a superior power to suppress the common power of the individual, man is apt to violence.
Machiavelli believed that proper government was a cyclical event, with three stages. The first, tyranny, was the beginning of the new regime, an overthrow of the current government. The second stage, the republic regime, began once authority was imposed and stable. The third and final stage was effective government, which would lead to the people having more leisure time, eventually leading to idleness and corruption. Once this third stage was reached, there would once again be a need for tyranny to restore order among the people. Machiavelli saw a need for harsh government overthrow periodically to keep people from becoming to relaxed in their duties and daily lives. There is definite evidence of this is found in the Rimirro de Orco example (chapter 7) that harsh government can then pave the way for a more liberal regime. Machiavelli promoted political hypocrisy as an effective form of government because he was a patriot and wanted his people to be free, but live under an effective government. He wanted to expose the problems with the ruling class and illustrate the proper path to the reunification of Italy. He wanted to lead the way for The Prince to use whatever tactics deemed necessary to seize, control and maintain the power of Italy. Machiavelli wanted “his” Prince, not to be a role model or to encourage spiritual and moral integrity, but only

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