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The Prince Essay, Research Paper

Of Princes and Statesmanship

Niccol Machiavelli, historically recognized as one of Italy s most prominent political theorists of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, witnessed the temporary downturn of his homeland s welfare due to foreign invasions from France, Spain, and Germany. In response to these misfortunes suffered by Italy, Machiavelli penned The Prince, in which he addressed Lorenzo the Magnificent, the contemporary ruler of Florence. In this treatise, Machiavelli articulated his opinions and advice on the subject of statesmanship. Machiavelli devised a genuine system, through the use of historical information, which illustrated his analytical view. It appeared that Machiavelli sincerely hoped that Italy s rulers would abide by his system, and that he predicted a more prosperous future for Italy if they were to do so.

In his analyzation, Machiavelli categorized the many diverse aspects of statesmanship into brief sections, supported each of these with historical examples, and articulated his views in an advisory style. In efforts to outline all possibilities which could arise for a prince, he gave historical reference and appropriate advice for all those topics which he could formulate. Hence The Prince was separated into twenty six different, yet connected essays. The diversity of the possibilities which Machiavelli described could be seen in the titles of each of these essays, a few of which are, Of New Dominions Which Have Been Acquired by One s Own Arms and Ability, Of New Dominions Acquired by the Power of Others or by Fortune, and, Of Those Who have Attained the Position of Prince by Villainy.

Machiavelli stressed the study of previous men who have acquired greatness, as he stated that, a prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that…he will get some tinge of it, (Machiavelli, 1935, 48). Machiavelli also emphasized the importance of a mutual need for one another between a prince and his subjects. He speculated that when subjects need their prince, they are not prone to revolt, and will defend their prince voluntarily; and that a prince needs his subjects in order to defend and run his territory (Machiavelli, 1935, 89). In the area of defense of a prince s territory, Machiavelli wrote in great detail, and stressed repeatedly the importance of a stable and reliable militia. Mercenaries and auxiliary allies he deemed insufficient, for mercenaries are independent and not obligated to anyone, and auxiliary allies place your power in the control of a foreigner (Machiavelli, 1935, 77). In military supremacy, developed by a prince s own ability and actions, Machiavelli believed that, war and its organisation and discipline…is the only art that is necessary to one who commands, (Machiavelli, 1935, 81). Also, for the preference and support of the prince s subjects, Machiavelli stated that he, must avoid those things which will make him hated or despised, for subjects under a tyrannical and hated ruler will be rebellious and unsupportive (Machiavelli, 1935, 95). To depict in further detail the necessity of being loved and respected, Machiavelli stressed that the ministers which a prince appoints must be, competent and faithful, in order to give a positive first impression of wisdom to his subjects (Machiavelli, 1935, 114).

Through the use of historically supportive examples, Machiavelli created a detailed and diverse array of advice for any prince, in all situations which he saw feasible. The Prince encompassed methods to learn the excellency of previous men, control one s subjects, defend one s territory, develop a strong military, and avoid hatred by one s subjects. Machiavelli outlined many diverse aspects of statesmanship, as he advised Lorenzo the Magnificent to do what he considered would bring about a more prosperous future for Italy.


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