He was the second son of Bernardo di Nicolo Machiavelli, a lawyer of some repute, and of Bartolommea di Stefano Nelli, his wife. Both parents were members of the old Florentine nobility. His life falls naturally into three periods, each of which singularly enough constitutes a distinct and important era in the history of Florence. The downfall of the Medici in Florence occurred in , in which year Machiavelli entered the public service.

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Sources According to Machiavelli, the ends always justify the means—no matter how cruel, calculating or immoral those means might be. Rather, when Machiavelli wrote The Prince, his shrewd guidelines to power in the 16th century, he was an exiled statesman angling for a post in the Florentine government. It was his hope that a strong sovereign, as outlined in his writing, could return Florence to its former glory.

Before his exile, Machiavelli had navigated the volatile political environment of 16th-century Italy as a statesman. There were constant power struggles at the time between the city-states of Italy, the Holy Roman Empire, France and Spain.

The Prince As leaders rapidly rose and fell, Machiavelli observed traits that, he believed, bolstered power and influence. In , after being expelled from political service with the takeover of Florence by the Medici family , Machiavelli penned his outline of what makes an effective leader in The Prince. During a visit with Borgia to discuss relations with Florence, Machiavelli witnessed as Borgia lured his enemies to the city of Senigallia with gifts and promises of friendship and then had them all assassinated.

Ultimately, even Borgia would succumb to ill fortune when his father, Pope Alexander VI, became ill and died. Borgia died a few years after the death of his father at the young age of Machiavelli Quotes "The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him. France, then Spain and Austria, invaded Italy and its warring city-states were unable to defend themselves, leading to nearly years of dominance by outside rulers.

Over the centuries that followed, the principles it espoused would trigger outrage as well as admiration and establish Machiavelli as a controversial and revolutionary political thinker. Drawing on themes he introduced in The Prince, Machiavelli also notes how deception and intrigue are valuable military strategies. Hitler kept a copy of The Prince by his bedside and Stalin was known to have read and annotated his copy of the book.

Some scholars have questioned whether Machiavelli intended that readers take him at his word. Instead, they propose that The Prince was actually a satirical work and intended as a warning of what could happen if power is left unchecked. But most take it at face value as a cold-blooded blueprint for how to gain and hold onto power.

Codevilla, The Hoover Institution. Citation Information.



Summary[ edit ] Each part of The Prince has been extensively commented on over centuries. The work has a recognizable structure, for the most part indicated by the author himself. The subject matter: New Princedoms Chapters 1 and 2 [ edit ] The Prince starts by describing the subject matter it will handle. In the first sentence, Machiavelli uses the word " state " Italian stato which could also mean " status " in order to cover, in neutral terms, "all forms of organization of supreme political power, whether republican or princely.



Instead of the more traditional target audience of a hereditary prince, it concentrates on the possibility of a "new prince". To retain power, the hereditary prince must carefully balance the interests of a variety of institutions to which the people are accustomed. By contrast, a new prince has the more difficult task in ruling: He must first stabilise his newfound power in order to build an enduring political structure. Machiavelli suggests that the social benefits of stability and security can be achieved in the face of moral corruption.


Niccolò Machiavelli


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