It includes 26 chapters and an opening dedication to Lorenzo de Medici. The dedication declares Machiavelli's intention to discuss in plain language the conduct of great men and the principles of princely government. He does so in hope of pleasing and enlightening the Medici family.
Rich, sophisticated, and cultured, Italy was the center of intellectual achievement in the Western world, and scholars and artists from all over Europe flocked to it to absorb its heady atmosphere.
Even today, the achievements of Italian artists and thinkers are prized for their beauty and originality. It was also a period of religious change. The decadence and corruption of the Catholic church, exemplified by the conduct of Pope Alexander VI, brought about a backlash against Catholic authority.
In politics, as well, change was brewing. The scattered feudal territories of the medieval period were slowly being brought under centralized leadership, so that the outlines of what would become the modern European nations were becoming visible. The modern concept of the state was being born.
The complexities of European politics during this period can—and indeed have—filled large books. However, because Machiavelli draws so many of his examples in The Prince from contemporary Italian politics, a brief introduction to the tangled history of foreign involvement in Italy is helpful in gaining an understanding of the book.
It is this situation that leads Machiavelli to make his impassioned plea for a strong leader to free Italy from "barbarian" domination in Chapter Italy was composed of five main political powers: Naples, in particular, had a vexed history, with powers such as France, Spain, and the popes all laying claim to it on various dynastic pretexts.
The period prior to was relatively peaceful and prosperous, with the various Italian powers generally well balanced against each other. Though he was driven out less than a year later by an Italian coalition that Sforza himself joined, on his first entry into Italy, Charles met with practically no resistance, a fact that was not lost on other European leaders.
Machiavelli makes note of this in Chapter 12, when he mentions that Charles was able to conquer Italy with no more than a piece of chalk.
Louis claimed that he had a hereditary right to the duchy of Milan through his relation to the Visconti family, who had ruled Milan prior to the Sforza family. To do so, he needed the help of the French armies. Louis, meanwhile, needed favors that only a pope could manage.
In exchange for these favors, Louis agreed to help Alexander and Cesare conquer the Romagna region and to undertake a campaign against the Kingdom of Naples, which both France and the pope had claims to. Louis was also urged on by the Venetians, who wanted revenge on Sforza and Milan.
Louis invaded and captured Milan from Sforza in Many considered it poetic justice that Sforza had been deprived of his dukedom by the very forces he had first invited into Italy.
He initially installed a puppet ruler in Naples his cousin, Frederick of Aragonbut made a secret arrangement to split the kingdom with King Ferdinand of Spain, who also claimed a hereditary right to Naples.
Ferdinand quickly reneged on the agreement and drove the French forces out of Naples. Even so, the French still controlled much of Italy. As Machiavelli observes, he was every bit as warlike and ambitious as Alexander, but his goal was always to increase the power of the church, not to aggrandize his own family.
Unlike Alexander, he was a good manager of money and resources and exercised restraint in his personal habits. He was also a wily politician.
During this period, Louis had Julius at his mercy on more than one occasion, but never pressed his advantage, a move that Machiavelli criticizes. Despite a disastrous defeat at the battle of Ravenna, the League ultimately drove out Louis and his armies inputting him out of power in Italy.
Machiavelli alludes to this fact in Chapter 3 of The Prince when he comments that it took the entire world to deprive Louis XII of his Italian conquests. The Florentines had been longstanding allies of the French.
The Soderini government supported Louis up until the bitter end and against all advice, even as the French were pulling out of Italy. Their loyalty left them at the mercy of Pope Julius and his Spanish allies, and this led directly to the fall of the Florentine republic which Machiavelli had served for so many years.Apr 03, · Machiavelli's political views are, however, far too complex to be summed up in a few quick sentences.
You are much better served by reading The Prince and the Discourses on Livy and forming your own opinion. At the start of the treatise Machiavelli asks Lorenzo to accept The Prince as a "token of my devotion," stating that his "long acquaintance" with political affairs and "continuous study of the ancient world" inform his writing.
Machiavelli's political views are, however, far too complex to be summed up in a few quick sentences. You are much better served by reading The Prince and the Discourses on Livy and forming your own opinion.
The Prince, written by Niccolo Machiavelli, is one of the first examinations of politics and science from a purely scientific and. rational perspective. Machiavelli theorizes that the state is only created if the people cooperate and work to maintain it. But Machiavelli’s description of war encompasses more than just the direct use of military force—it comprises international diplomacy, domestic politics, tactical strategy, geographic mastery, and historical analysis.
The Prince is a political treatise describing the less-than-honorable but all-too-realistic methods politicians (still) use to secure their power. The Life and Context of Machiavelli If anyone knew how volatile politics could be, it was Niccolo Machiavelli.