Machiavelli Essay, Research Paper
In The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, Machiavelli goes against the traditional mindset that a prince derived his power from God. Machiavelli believed that the rulers were given no divine right. He said that a ruler achieved his power through hid own efforts and skills. The traditional thinkers believed that the ruler had to abide by Christian morals like the virtues. On the other hand, Machiavelli said that they did not have to abide by these Christian standards. Machiavelli was in contradiction with many other beliefs of medieval philosophers and politicians.
Traditional medieval thinkers believed that the Christian standards of morality were the guidance?s to political life. Traditional medieval thinkers believed that God chose the ruler and he had divinity because of that. They believed that an important standard of Christianity was to be merciful. They believed that the ruler was to be merciful because God wanted it that way. God doesn?t want the ruler to be cruel. They believed that in general, religion was to be the ruler?s method of control. Everything had to do with religion when there were decisions to be made. The medieval thinkers believed that the successful ruler was someone who acquired faith, mercy, and other Christian virtues in his rule.
Machiavelli went against the majority of the traditional medieval thinkers? ideas. Machiavelli eliminated moral principles from politics. Machiavelli believed that the good ruler ignored questions of good and evil because those questions distracted the ruler from dealing with the necessities like the state. Instead of using religion in a way of ruling, he said religion was to be used to unite the people and to encourage obedience to law. To him, the successful ruler was disinterested in the issues of morality and immorality.
It is not that Machiavelli does not believe in being merciful, it is just that he believes there are special occasions or situations where it should be used. One of the situations was not in trying to become a successful ruler. In his book The Prince Machiavelli states that a ?Cesare Borgia was considered cruel, but his cruelty had brought order to the Romagna??(p.303) Machiavelli also gave an example in The Prince of ??the Florentine people, who, to avoid the name of cruelty allowed Pistoia to be destroyed.?(p.303) By saying this, he is trying to prove his point that by being cruel and prioritizing his state over his image, Cesare saved more lives by restoring peace. On the other hand, the Florentine people who were preoccupied about they?re public image and not being cruel allowed a city to be destroyed. Machiavelli believed that it was difficult to be loved and feared at the same time. Therefore, he suggested that it be better to be feared. This is because ?? love is held by a chain of obligation which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.?(Machiavelli 303) To Machiavelli there is a difference between being hated and feared. To be feared is to in a way to be respected while being hated is because of unnecessary reasons, namely the rulers self.
Machiavelli emphasizes the need to disregard being thought cruel especially when in the military. This is because with a reputation of being soft, no man can lead a powerful and successful army. According to Machiavelli ??Hannibal? had an enormous army, composed of men of all nations and fighting in foreign countries, there never arose any dissention??(p.304). Machiavelli uses this as an example because he thinks that Hannibal could never had controlled an army of that size without being extremely cruel and being feared. He also explains that Hannibal?s other virtues could not have surfaced without cruelty being the first exemplified.
In summary, Machiavelli believed cruelty was to replace mercifulness by the ruler an order for the ruler to be successful. This idea of a ruler being cruel, not following Christian standards and virtues was contrary to the conception of a successful ruler by the traditional medieval thinkers.