The Prince By Niccolo Machiavelli Essay, Research Paper
The Prince, a treatise by Niccolo Machiavelli, was arguably one of the greatest works of the renaissance. Its new ideas in political theory, although very controversial at its time, were revolutionary and remarkably similar to today’s political system. In the following paragraphs I will give a brief summary of this great work and then give my personal thoughts on these revolutionary ideas
Machiavelli believed that there are only two ways in which governments are ruled or have ever been ruled. He believed that these were either Republics or Princedoms. In his book, he only covers the latter and believes that all Princedoms are acquired in one of three ways either through heredity, merit or through fortune.
He believed that of the ways of acquiring a princedom that heredity was the easiest to maintain because the new prince should already have subjects loyal to his family and unless despicable should be able to keep them loyal to him. Machiavelli also believed that the other princedoms were much harder to maintain because they were new and required a new form of government and all that had it good under the former government would be against the new ruler, if there position or wealth changed.
Machiavelli continues to outline how he believed Princes should act in any of these situations. He states that in order for new princes to maintain and gain loyalty from newly conquered subjects. He must pursue one of three courses of action one to live in the newly conquered land, two to set up colonies or three to occupy the new territory with a large force of troops. Which he felt was the least desirable because of the cost and the negative influence on the residents. For Heredity Princes he merely states that they must maintain the ways of the former ruler to be successful.
Machiavelli also outlines how he believes a Prince should act in any form of rule. He states that “ It is essential, therefore, for a Prince who desires to maintain his position, to have learned how to be other than good, and to use his goodness as necessity requires.” (p.40) This was a shocking point of view for the period in which he was writing it. It was a complete departure from what everyone else had believed. Machiavelli believed that a Prince must not only be good but when the occasion called he must also be evil.
On the characteristics of Princes Machiavelli, states that a Prince should be miserly over liberal, and feared over loved but never hated. He wrote that a prince’s main objective should be war and always have good arms and good allies to be in good standing with his people.
Machiavelli finishes his treatise by giving his main reason for writing it, which was to inspire someone to take initiative and to unify Italy. He felt that it was the perfect time for a new ruler to come to power because of the lack of unity and national need for a strong government.
I believe that Machiavelli’s Prince, although a Masterpiece of its time departed to far from the traditional policies. Machiavelli makes a good point about the need for a prince to be flexible in his rule and not always good but he becomes to extreme and comes off sounding like a wannabe dictator. His rule is too harsh and while his ideas may work in some situations. I believe that his harsh uncompassionate rule would eventually bring down any prince who tried to follow it.