Machiavelli Essay Research Paper Niccolo Machiavelli was

Machiavelli Essay, Research Paper

Niccolo Machiavelli was not one, but three men: a political theorist, a military

theorist, and a famous writer. Niccolo Machiavelli was born in Florence in 1469.

The Machiavelli family was one of the most prominent politically in the city,

having 15 Gonfaloniere among his ancestors.1 Niccolo?s father, Bernardo

Machiavelli was a legal consultant in the city, prominent participant in

humanist scholarship of the day, and close associate of the city?s First

Chancellor. Niccolo received the very top quality humanist education available.

We first hear of him playing an active role in the affairs of his native city in

1498, when the position for head of second chancery, came open. He was only

twenty-nine years old at the time, and didn?t have any previous experience.

However, his nomination was confirmed and he was appointed second chancellor of

the Florentine Republic.2 Machiavelli?s official position involved him in very

important duties. The first and second chanceries both handled official

correspondence dealing with Florence?s domestic, foreign, and military

affairs. As head of the second chancier, Machiavelli was also soon assigned the

further job of secretary to the Ten of War, the committee responsible for the

Florence?s diplomatic relations.3 In addition to his routine office duties, he

also traveled abroad to act as spokesman for the Ten. During the next fourteen

years, Machiavelli was sent on numerous diplomatic missions to France,

Switzerland, and Germany. In June 1500, Machiavelli was in France at the court

of Louis XII, negotiating for assistance in regaining Pisa, which had asserted

its independence form Florence and tried to establish an independent

city-state.4 There in France, Machiavelli saw first-hand the weak leadership of

the king. He also learned about the French Parliament and its difficulties in

resolving power struggles between the hereditary nobles and the common people.

The Medici reentered the city of Florence in 1512, after eighteen years. Within

weeks the free republic of Florence was swept away, and in came oligarchy, and

the Medici family assumed absolute power. In November 1512, Machiavelli was

dismissed from his government post and forbidden to leave Florentine territory

for a year.5 In February 1513, he was falsely accused of taking part in an

unsuccessful conspiracy against the Medici and was imprisoned.6 Early in the

same year, Cardinal Giovanni de? Medici was elected as pope as Leo X. The

election greatly strengthened the new regime in Florence. Along with

celebrations, they freed many political prisoners, including Machiavelli. As

soon as he was released, he tried to get his job back. With no response from the

Medici, he withdrew to his farm at Sant? Andrea. There Machiavelli began

writing ?The Prince?-describes the means by which a leader may gain and

maintain power. Machiavelli hoped that ?The Prince? would bring him to the

attention of the Medici. He wanted them to see that he was still their loyal

subject, and to impassive that he was a man worth employing.7 The year 1512 is

generally considered to have been the turning point of his life. Machiavelli,

throughout his whole life was involved in politics and writing.. He was a born

writer even when he was not trying. After he was dismissed from office, was when

he used his writing as means to get his job back. The Medici didn?t agree with

the book, and the public was outraged. The public thought he was cruel and

heartless for having such evil thoughts. Machiavelli never won the trust of the

Medici, and never got his job back. From 1513 to the time of his death in 15278,

he wrote numerous of political works including: The Prince, 1513; The Discourses

on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy, 1513-1518; The Discourse on the War with

Pisa, 1498; Report on the Fortifications of Florence, 1526; The Life of

Castruccio Castracani, 1520; The Art of War, 1517-1520, etc. In addition, he

wrote several literary works: Mandragola, a play; Clizia, an adaptation from

Plautus; Belfagor, a novel.9 The Medici was kicked out of Florence a few years

later.10 Machiavelli ran to take office, but his reputation with The Prince made

people think that his political views were like the Medici and was not elected.

Machiavelli continued to write and died peacefully in his home in 1527.11 Even

after his death he was criticized for his corrupt ruling. Machiavelli?s

purpose was to describe the realities of political life-not to set up a school

for tyrants. It was believed that rulers like Napoleon I and Adolf Hitler used

The Prince as a kind of textbook to guide them in the pursuit of power.12 If

Machiavelli?s exposition applies to the nineteenth–or twentieth-century

figures like Napoleon and Hitler, that is much more of an indication of how well

he understood the political dimensions of the human nature than it is evidence

that such figures learned their methods from him. Machiavelli believes that

military training is the source of human virtue because it forces the individual

to sacrifice for society.13 Ethics comes from the sacrifice of individual

interests to the state. Involuntary recruiting is the main form of education for

a people who want to be free and the best remedy for a people already corrupted

by indolence of peace.14 He thinks of educators as army leaders, not learned

academics.15 The youth of a country should become used to hardship and work, and

get used to fighting and not fear death. Idleness leads to indolence and

corruption. Frederick of Prussia wrote Refutation of Machiavelli?s Prince, or

Anti-Machiavel between 1739 and 174016. Frederick of Prussia attacks The Prince,

chapter by chapter. He completely missed Machiavelli?s point, while trying to

reconcile his own pessimistic and militaristic tendencies. ? My intention in

this work is to satisfy myself and to express my true convictions freely. If the

reader is sufficiently depraved not to like the truth or contradictions, he can

throw away this book. No one, assuredly, is forcing him to read it.?17

Frederick of Prussia criticizes Machiavelli all the way through the book, making

smart remarks ever so often. He states, ?Machiavelli is only striving by this

maxim to inspire princes with a secret jealousy for their generals and

allies.?18 He also says that Machiavelli only wrote for ?petty princes?19.

Was Hitler and Napoleon petty? He says that Machiavelli ?exaggerates so much

that he wants his prince to be nothing but a solider.?20 ? Throughout

Machiavelli?s writings, one can see that he was a very intelligent man. He was

first to see the connection between foreign and internal affairs, between armed

forces and the constitution. Yet, he is one of the most misunderstood and

distorted of philosophers. While Machiavell?s political career was much more

broad than of other political theorists, it was not in such an honorable

position as to achieve for him the fame he sought. His books, however, far

exceed in value the purpose for which they were created, and have earned for him

even more renown as a monumental political theorists than he could have possibly



1. Butterfield, Herbert. The Statecraft of Machiavelli. New York, Collier

Books. 1967,c1962. pp126. 2.. Fredrick II, King of Prussia, 1712-1786. Anti-Machiavel.

Ohio University press, c1981. pp164. 3. Gilbert, Felix. Machiavelli and

Guicciardini. Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, c1965. pp.349.

4. Jensen, De Lamar. Machiavelli: Cynic, Patriot, or Political Scientist?.

Boston, Heath, c1960. pp108. 5. Who2: Niccolo Machiavelli: Profile.



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