Machiavelli and The Prince

The Prince is a political work written in 1513 during the Renaissance by the humanist writer Machiavelli. Machiavelli suggested several strategies to his readers on how to be a good prince. He suggested that it is better to be feared than loved, because fear motivates people to do things, while love of a prince can be abandoned quickly. He did say that it was not good to be hated, because the people might turn against you. He said that a prince does not need to worry about being hated as long as he kept his hands of the possessions of the people.

Machiavelli said that a prince must always be prepared to act immorally when necessary. He said that a prince sometimes had to act in treacherous, ruthless, and inhumane ways to preserve the power of the government. He refers to these doings as “glorious crimes”. His view is that the state needs to do what it has to do, and that the actions of the state must be completely free from morality. He does not mention natural law, the Bible, or the writings of the church fathers in The Prince.

Machiavelli thought that Christianity was not a good religion for a robust nation. The emphasis of Christianity on gentleness, meekness, peace, its opposition to war, and adherence to a single moral code inhibited the actions of the state. He preferred the beliefs of the ancient Romans instead, in which the safety of the state was the guiding principle of the government.

The Prince represented a break with the traditions of the past, in which the works on politics and the government focused on natural law, the Bible, and the writings of the church fathers. Machiavelli focused on the preservation of the state, not on the moral boundaries of the state and it’s proper jurisdiction. He focused on what was best for the state and disregarded all else.


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