10 Facts About Machiavelli: Father of Modern Political Science

10 Facts About Machiavelli: Father of Modern Political Science

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469-1527) was arguably the most influential political thinker of the Renaissance period.

His best-known work, Il Principle (‘The Prince’), later led to his name becoming synonymous with ruthless political machinations.

To this day, the term “Machiavellian” connotes political deceit, scheming and unscrupulousness.

Here are 10 facts about him.

1. He lived during a time of political turmoil

Machiavelli was born on 3 May 1469 in Florence before becoming a senior official in the Florentine Republic.

From 1487 he began working under a banker, until in 1498 he was named the chancellor and the chief executive officer of the government of Florence.

As chancellor, he had responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs during an era of tumultuous political tragedy.

French troops under Charles VIII entering Florence by Francesco Granacci (Credit: Public domain).

In 1494, Italy was invaded by King Charles VIII of France and then later by Spain and Austria, resulting in nearly 400 years of rule by outsiders.

Machiavelli’s thinking was defined by this upheaval. It was his dream that the divided Italian city-states would unite under a strong leader to meet its threats on equal terms.

2. He worked with Leonardo da Vinci

As a senior government official, Machiavelli used his powers to commission Leonardo da Vinci and appointed him Florence’s military engineer in 1502.

Leonardo left his post only 8 months after, however it is believed that the two “seem to have become intimate” when they were both in Florence.

A painting of Leonardo da Vinci by Francesco Melzi

Some historians believe their relationship had a significant influence on Machiavelli’s political thinking. His writings appear to be rife with idiosyncratic expressions from Leonardo’s notebooks.

3. He was an enemy of the powerful Medici family

The Medici family – who were the de facto rulers of Florence – played a central role to Machiavelli’s life and works.

When the Medicis were ousted from the city in 1494, Machiavelli’s primary concern was their potential return.

To keep them at bay, he oversaw the recruitment and training of an official Florentine militia. However his army was no match for the Medicis, who were supported by Rome’s papal forces.

Machiavelli dedicated ‘The Prince’ to Lorenzo de’ Medici, depicted here by Giorgio Vasari (Credit: Uffizi Gallery).

When the House of Medici retook Florence in 1512, Machiavelli was deprived of office and imprisoned under conspiracy charges.

While in jail, he was subjected to torture by the strappado – where a prisoner would be hung by his wrists behind his back, and then suddenly dropped towards the floor, dislocating the shoulders and tearing the muscles.

Peter Ackroyd explores Venice, following in the footsteps of renowned English writer John Ruskin, and discovering the unique history of Isola di San Michele.

Watch Now

4. He wrote ‘The Prince’ to regain his lost status

After losing his job as a diplomat, Machiavelli strove to win the favour of the Medicis.

He retired to his estate and turned to scholarship, devoting his time to studying the ancient Roman philosophers. By the end of 1513, he had completed the first version of the political treatise that he would become known for.

Initially, Machiavelli dedicated ‘The Prince’ to Giuliano de’ Medici, but Giuliano died in 1516. The book was subsequently dedicated to the younger Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici, grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Machiavelli did not live to see if he succeeded; ‘The Prince’ was published in 1532, 5 years after his death at the age of 58.

Engraved portrait of Machiavelli, from the Peace Palace Library’s Il Principe (Credit: Public domain).

5. ‘The Prince’ is based on Cesare Borgia

The name Borgia is synonymous with decadence, treachery and ruthlessness – most exemplified by the daring and bloodthirsty Cesare Borgia (1475-1507).

The illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, Borgia worked to carve out what he hoped would be a kingdom for himself that would rival Venice and Naples.

Cesare Borgia, as depicted in ‘Portrait of Gentleman’ by Altobello Melone (Credit: Accademia Carrara).

His ambitions and actions attracted the notice of Machiavelli, who spent time as an emissary in Borgia’s court, and who would write long reports about him.

Many historians consider Borgia to be the inspiration for ‘The Prince’. Machiavelli admired Borgia’s daring, treachery and effectiveness in contrast to the frustratingly slow and prudent Florentine republic.

6. Machiavelli was not amoral himself

Statue of Niccolò Macchiavelli by Lorenzo Bartolini (Credit: Jerbulon / CC).

‘The Prince’ may have gained notoriety for its ruthlessness, but Machiavelli believed in a just government. As a civil servant, he had been one of the republic’s staunchest defenders.

Although his treatise openly encouraged politicians to cheat, bribe, threaten and even kill if necessary, he acknowledged that without respect for justice, society would collapse into chaos.

7. ‘The Prince’ was only one of his works

Cover page of 1550 edition of Machiavelli’s Il Principe.

Besides ‘The Prince’, Machiavelli also wrote treatises on ‘The Discourses on Livy’, ‘The Art of War’ and ‘Florentine Histories’.

Apart from being a novelist, he was also a translator, poet, playwright and wrote comedies and carnival songs.

His poems included ‘Decennale Primo’ and ‘Decennale Secondo’ and he penned the satirical play La Mandragola (‘The Mandrake’).

8. It was banned by the Pope

Although copies of ‘The Prince’ had been circulated among Machiavelli’s friends, it was not published until after his death, with the permission of Pope Clement VII.

The papacy’s attitude towards his work soon chilled and it was condemned by both the Catholic and Protestant churches.

In 1557, when Pope Paul IV established Rome’s first Index Librorum Prohibitorum (‘Index of Forbidden Books’), he made sure to include ‘The Prince’ for its encouragement of political and moral corruption.

9. He became a theatrical stock character of evil

By the 16th century, Machiavelli’s name had found itself in the English language as an epithet for crookedness.

In Elizabethan theatre, it came to denote a dramatic type: the incorrigible schemer driven by greed and unbridled ambition.

In Christopher Marlowe’s 1589 play ‘The Jew of Malta’, the character of Machiavel says:

I count religion but a childish toy, / And hold there is no sin but ignorance.

In Shakespeare’s 1602 play ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’, a characters asks:

Am I politic? Am I subtle? Am I a Machiavel?

Spreading throughout the length and breadth of Europe, the Renaissance made an enduring impact on art and architecture, science, politics and law. Rob Weinberg puts the big questions about this world-changing period to Professor Jerry Brotton of Queen Mary University of London.Listen Now

10. He is considered the father of modern political science

Machiavelli’s ideas had a profound impact on politics throughout the Western world. After 500 years, his legacy continues in political life across the world.

‘The Prince’ was accused of having inspired Henry VIII’s defiance of the papacy. A copy was in the possession of the Spanish king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

It was later blamed for having incited Queen Catherine de’ Medici to order the massacre of 2,000 rebel Protestants at the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre.

Machiavelli’s tomb in the Santa Croce Church in Florence (Credit: Gryffindor / CC).

He was also said to have directly influenced the founding fathers of the American Revolution.

Machiavelli was the first political writer to separate politics from morality, placing great emphasis on practical strategies over philosophical ideas.

Instead of focusing on what was right or wrong, he considered what needs to be achieved.

13 Interesting Facts About Niccolo Machiavelli

“Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.” – Niccolo Machiavelli. Formally known as Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, Niccolo Machiavelli was an infamous man, he was an Italian politician, diplomat, writer, humanist and philosopher during the Renaissance. People often term him as the founder of modern political science. Here are a few interesting Niccolo Machiavelli facts listed below.


Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy, the third child and first son of attorney Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli and his wife, Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli. [16] The Machiavelli family is believed to be descended from the old marquesses of Tuscany and to have produced thirteen Florentine Gonfalonieres of Justice, [17] one of the offices of a group of nine citizens selected by drawing lots every two months and who formed the government, or Signoria but he was never a full citizen of Florence because of the nature of Florentine citizenship in that time even under the republican regime. Machiavelli married Marietta Corsini in 1502. [18]

Machiavelli was born in a tumultuous era in which popes waged acquisitive wars against Italian city-states, and people and cities often fell from power as France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire battled for regional influence and control. Political-military alliances continually changed, featuring condottieri (mercenary leaders), who changed sides without warning, and the rise and fall of many short-lived governments. [19]

Machiavelli was taught grammar, rhetoric, and Latin. It is thought that he did not learn Greek even though Florence was at the time one of the centers of Greek scholarship in Europe. [ citation needed ] In 1494 Florence restored the republic, expelling the Medici family that had ruled Florence for some sixty years. Shortly after the execution of Savonarola, Machiavelli was appointed to an office of the second chancery, a medieval writing office that put Machiavelli in charge of the production of official Florentine government documents. [20] Shortly thereafter, he was also made the secretary of the Dieci di Libertà e Pace.

In the first decade of the sixteenth century, he carried out several diplomatic missions, most notably to the Papacy in Rome. Florence sent him to Pistoia to pacify the leaders of two opposing factions which had broken into riots in 1501 and 1502 when this failed, the leaders were banished from the city, a strategy which Machiavelli had favored from the outset. [21] From 1502 to 1503, he witnessed the brutal reality of the state-building methods of Cesare Borgia (1475–1507) and his father, Pope Alexander VI, who were then engaged in the process of trying to bring a large part of Central Italy under their possession. [22] The pretext of defending Church interests was used as a partial justification by the Borgias. Other excursions to the court of Louis XII and the Spanish court influenced his writings such as The Prince.

At the start of the 16th century, Machiavelli conceived of a militia for Florence, and he then began recruiting and creating it. [23] He distrusted mercenaries (a distrust that he explained in his official reports and then later in his theoretical works for their unpatriotic and uninvested nature in the war that makes their allegiance fickle and often unreliable when most needed), [24] and instead staffed his army with citizens, a policy that was to be repeatedly successful. By February 1506 he was able to have marching on parade four hundred farmers, suited (including iron breastplates), and armed with lances and small fire arms. [23] Under his command, Florentine citizen-soldiers defeated Pisa in 1509. [25]

Machiavelli's success did not last. In August 1512 the Medici, backed by Pope Julius II, used Spanish troops to defeat the Florentines at Prato. [26] In the wake of the siege, Soderini resigned as Florentine head of state and left in exile. The experience would, like Machiavelli's time in foreign courts and with the Borgia, heavily influence his political writings. The Florentine city-state and the republic were dissolved, and Machiavelli was deprived of office and banished from the city for a year. [27] In 1513, the Medici accused him of conspiracy against them and had him imprisoned. [28] Despite being subjected to torture [27] ("with the rope", in which the prisoner is hanged from his bound wrists from the back, forcing the arms to bear the body's weight and dislocating the shoulders), he denied involvement and was released after three weeks.

Machiavelli then retired to his farm estate at Sant'Andrea in Percussina, near San Casciano in Val di Pesa, where he devoted himself to studying and writing his political treatises. He visited places in France, Germany, and Italy where he had represented the Florentine republic. [27] Despairing of the opportunity to remain directly involved in political matters, after a time, he began to participate in intellectual groups in Florence and wrote several plays that (unlike his works on political theory) were both popular and widely known in his lifetime. Politics remained his main passion and, to satisfy this interest, he maintained a well-known correspondence with more politically connected friends, attempting to become involved once again in political life. [29] In a letter to Francesco Vettori, he described his experience:

When evening comes, I go back home, and go to my study. On the threshold, I take off my work clothes, covered in mud and filth, and I put on the clothes an ambassador would wear. Decently dressed, I enter the ancient courts of rulers who have long since died. There, I am warmly welcomed, and I feed on the only food I find nourishing and was born to savour. I am not ashamed to talk to them and ask them to explain their actions and they, out of kindness, answer me. Four hours go by without my feeling any anxiety. I forget every worry. I am no longer afraid of poverty or frightened of death. I live entirely through them. [30]

Machiavelli died in 1527 at 58 after receiving his last rites. [31] He was buried at the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. An epitaph honouring him is inscribed on his monument. The Latin legend reads: TANTO NOMINI NULLUM PAR ELOGIUM ("So great a name (has) no adequate praise" or "No eulogy (would be) a match for such a great name").

The Prince Edit

Machiavelli's best-known book Il Principe contains several maxims concerning politics. Instead of the more traditional target audience of a hereditary prince, it concentrates on the possibility of a "new prince". To retain power, the hereditary prince must carefully balance the interests of a variety of institutions to which the people are accustomed. [32] By contrast, a new prince has the more difficult task in ruling: He must first stabilise his newfound power in order to build an enduring political structure. Machiavelli suggests that the social benefits of stability and security can be achieved in the face of moral corruption. Machiavelli believed that public and private morality had to be understood as two different things in order to rule well. [ citation needed ] As a result, a ruler must be concerned not only with reputation, but also must be positively willing to act unscrupulously at the right times. Machiavelli believed that, for a ruler, it was better to be widely feared than to be greatly loved a loved ruler retains authority by obligation, while a feared leader rules by fear of punishment. [33] As a political theorist, Machiavelli emphasized the "necessity" for the methodical exercise of brute force or deceit, including extermination of entire noble families, to head off any chance of a challenge to the prince's authority. [34]

Scholars often note that Machiavelli glorifies instrumentality in state building, an approach embodied by the saying, often attributed to interpretations of The Prince, "The ends justify the means". [35] Fraud and deceit are held by Machiavelli as necessary for a prince to use. [36] Violence may be necessary for the successful stabilization of power and introduction of new political institutions. Force may be used to eliminate political rivals, to destroy resistant populations, and to purge the community of other men strong enough of a character to rule, who will inevitably attempt to replace the ruler. [37] Machiavelli has become infamous for such political advice, ensuring that he would be remembered in history through the adjective, "Machiavellian". [38]

Due to the treatise's controversial analysis on politics, the Catholic Church banned The Prince, putting it on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Humanists also viewed the book negatively, including Erasmus of Rotterdam. As a treatise, its primary intellectual contribution to the history of political thought is the fundamental break between political realism and political idealism, due to it being a manual on acquiring and keeping political power. In contrast with Plato and Aristotle, Machiavelli insisted that an imaginary ideal society is not a model by which a prince should orient himself.

Concerning the differences and similarities in Machiavelli's advice to ruthless and tyrannical princes in The Prince and his more republican exhortations in Discourses on Livy, few assert that The Prince, although written as advice for a monarchical prince, contains arguments for the superiority of republican regimes, similar to those found in the Discourses. In the 18th century, the work was even called a satire, for example by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. [39] [40]

Scholars such as Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield have stated that sections of The Prince and his other works have deliberately esoteric statements throughout them. [41] However, Mansfield states that this is the result of Machiavelli's seeing grave and serious things as humorous because they are "manipulable by men", and sees them as grave because they "answer human necessities". [42]

Another interpretation is that of Antonio Gramsci, who argued that Machiavelli's audience for this work was not even the ruling class, but the common people, because rulers already knew these methods through their education.

Discourses on Livy Edit

The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, written around 1517, published in 1531, often referred to simply as the Discourses or Discorsi, is nominally a discussion regarding the classical history of early Ancient Rome, although it strays very far from this subject matter and also uses contemporary political examples to illustrate points. Machiavelli presents it as a series of lessons on how a republic should be started and structured. It is a much larger work than The Prince, and while it more openly explains the advantages of republics, it also contains many similar themes from his other works. [43] For example, Machiavelli has noted that to save a republic from corruption, it is necessary to return it to a "kingly state" using violent means. [44] He excuses Romulus for murdering his brother Remus and co-ruler Titus Tatius to gain absolute power for himself in that he established a "civil way of life". [45] Commentators disagree about how much the two works agree with each other, as Machiavelli frequently refers to leaders of republics as "princes". [46] Machiavelli even sometimes acts as an advisor to tyrants. [47] [48] Other scholars have pointed out the aggrandizing and imperialistic features of Machiavelli's republic. [49] Nevertheless, it became one of the central texts of modern republicanism, and has often been argued to be a more comprehensive work than The Prince. [50]

Commentators have taken very different approaches to Machiavelli and not always agreed. Major discussion has tended to be about two issues: first, how unified and philosophical his work is, and second, concerning how innovative or traditional it is. [51]

Coherence Edit

There is some disagreement concerning how best to describe the unifying themes, if there are any, that can be found in Machiavelli's works, especially in the two major political works, The Prince and Discourses. Some commentators have described him as inconsistent, and perhaps as not even putting a high priority in consistency. [51] Others such as Hans Baron have argued that his ideas must have changed dramatically over time. Some have argued that his conclusions are best understood as a product of his times, experiences and education. Others, such as Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield, have argued strongly that there is a very strong and deliberate consistency and distinctness, even arguing that this extends to all of Machiavelli's works including his comedies and letters. [51] [52]

Influences Edit

Commentators such as Leo Strauss have gone so far as to name Machiavelli as the deliberate originator of modernity itself. Others have argued that Machiavelli is only a particularly interesting example of trends which were happening around him. In any case Machiavelli presented himself at various times as someone reminding Italians of the old virtues of the Romans and Greeks, and other times as someone promoting a completely new approach to politics. [51]

That Machiavelli had a wide range of influences is in itself not controversial. Their relative importance is however a subject of on-going discussion. It is possible to summarize some of the main influences emphasized by different commentators.

I. The Mirror of Princes genre

Gilbert (1938) summarized the similarities between The Prince and the genre it obviously imitates, the so-called "Mirror of Princes" style. This was a classically influenced genre, with models at least as far back as Xenophon and Isocrates. While Gilbert emphasized the similarities, however, he agreed with all other commentators that Machiavelli was particularly novel in the way he used this genre, even when compared to his contemporaries such as Baldassare Castiglione and Erasmus. One of the major innovations Gilbert noted was that Machiavelli focused upon the "deliberate purpose of dealing with a new ruler who will need to establish himself in defiance of custom". Normally, these types of works were addressed only to hereditary princes. (Xenophon is also an exception in this regard.)

II. Classical republicanism

Commentators such as Quentin Skinner and J.G.A. Pocock, in the so-called "Cambridge School" of interpretation, have asserted that some of the republican themes in Machiavelli's political works, particularly the Discourses on Livy, can be found in medieval Italian literature which was influenced by classical authors such as Sallust. [53] [54]

III. Classical political philosophy: Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle

The Socratic school of classical political philosophy, especially Aristotle, had become a major influence upon European political thinking in the late Middle Ages. It existed both in the Catholicised form presented by Thomas Aquinas, and in the more controversial "Averroist" form of authors like Marsilius of Padua. Machiavelli was critical of Catholic political thinking and may have been influenced by Averroism. But he rarely cites Plato and Aristotle, and most likely did not approve of them. Leo Strauss argued that the strong influence of Xenophon, a student of Socrates more known as an historian, rhetorician and soldier, was a major source of Socratic ideas for Machiavelli, sometimes not in line with Aristotle. While interest in Plato was increasing in Florence during Machiavelli's lifetime, Machiavelli does not show particular interest in him, but was indirectly influenced by his readings of authors such as Polybius, Plutarch and Cicero.

The major difference between Machiavelli and the Socratics, according to Strauss, is Machiavelli's materialism, and therefore his rejection of both a teleological view of nature and of the view that philosophy is higher than politics. With their teleological understanding of things, Socratics argued that desirable things tend to happen by nature, as if nature desired them, but Machiavelli claimed that such things happen by blind chance or human action. [55]

IV. Classical materialism

Strauss argued that Machiavelli may have seen himself as influenced by some ideas from classical materialists such as Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius. Strauss however sees this also as a sign of major innovation in Machiavelli, because classical materialists did not share the Socratic regard for political life, while Machiavelli clearly did. [55]

Some scholars note the similarity between Machiavelli and the Greek historian Thucydides, since both emphasized power politics. [56] [57] Strauss argued that Machiavelli may indeed have been influenced by pre-Socratic philosophers, but he felt it was a new combination:

. contemporary readers are reminded by Machiavelli's teaching of Thucydides they find in both authors the same "realism," i.e., the same denial of the power of the gods or of justice and the same sensitivity to harsh necessity and elusive chance. Yet Thucydides never calls in question the intrinsic superiority of nobility to baseness, a superiority that shines forth particularly when the noble is destroyed by the base. Therefore Thucydides' History arouses in the reader a sadness which is never aroused by Machiavelli's books. In Machiavelli we find comedies, parodies, and satires but nothing reminding of tragedy. One half of humanity remains outside of his thought. There is no tragedy in Machiavelli because he has no sense of the sacredness of "the common." — Strauss (1958, p. 292)

Amongst commentators, there are a few consistently made proposals concerning what was most new in Machiavelli's work.

Empiricism and realism versus idealism Edit

Machiavelli is sometimes seen as the prototype of a modern empirical scientist, building generalizations from experience and historical facts, and emphasizing the uselessness of theorizing with the imagination. [51]

He emancipated politics from theology and moral philosophy. He undertook to describe simply what rulers actually did and thus anticipated what was later called the scientific spirit in which questions of good and bad are ignored, and the observer attempts to discover only what really happens.

Machiavelli felt that his early schooling along the lines of a traditional classical education was essentially useless for the purpose of understanding politics. Nevertheless, he advocated intensive study of the past, particularly regarding the founding of a city, which he felt was a key to understanding its later development. [58] Moreover, he studied the way people lived and aimed to inform leaders how they should rule and even how they themselves should live. Machiavelli denies the classical opinion that living virtuously always leads to happiness. For example, Machiavelli viewed misery as "one of the vices that enables a prince to rule." [59] Machiavelli stated that "it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved." [60] In much of Machiavelli's work, he often states that the ruler must adopt unsavory policies for the sake of the continuance of his regime.

A related and more controversial proposal often made is that he described how to do things in politics in a way which seemed neutral concerning who used the advice—tyrants or good rulers. [51] That Machiavelli strove for realism is not doubted, but for four centuries scholars have debated how best to describe his morality. The Prince made the word Machiavellian a byword for deceit, despotism, and political manipulation. Leo Strauss declared himself inclined toward the traditional view that Machiavelli was self-consciously a "teacher of evil," since he counsels the princes to avoid the values of justice, mercy, temperance, wisdom, and love of their people in preference to the use of cruelty, violence, fear, and deception. [61] Strauss takes up this opinion because he asserted that failure to accept the traditional opinion misses the "intrepidity of his thought" and "the graceful subtlety of his speech." [62] Italian anti-fascist philosopher Benedetto Croce (1925) concludes Machiavelli is simply a "realist" or "pragmatist" who accurately states that moral values in reality do not greatly affect the decisions that political leaders make. [63] German philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1946) held that Machiavelli simply adopts the stance of a political scientist—a Galileo of politics—in distinguishing between the "facts" of political life and the "values" of moral judgment. [64] On the other hand, Walter Russell Mead has argued that The Prince ' s advice presupposes the importance of ideas like legitimacy in making changes to the political system. [65]

Fortune Edit

Machiavelli is generally seen as being critical of Christianity as it existed in his time, specifically its effect upon politics, and also everyday life. [66] In his opinion, Christianity, along with the teleological Aristotelianism that the church had come to accept, allowed practical decisions to be guided too much by imaginary ideals and encouraged people to lazily leave events up to providence or, as he would put it, chance, luck or fortune. While Christianity sees modesty as a virtue and pride as sinful, Machiavelli took a more classical position, seeing ambition, spiritedness, and the pursuit of glory as good and natural things, and part of the virtue and prudence that good princes should have. Therefore, while it was traditional to say that leaders should have virtues, especially prudence, Machiavelli's use of the words virtù and prudenza was unusual for his time, implying a spirited and immodest ambition. Mansfield describes his usage of virtu as a "compromise with evil". [67] Famously, Machiavelli argued that virtue and prudence can help a man control more of his future, in the place of allowing fortune to do so.

Najemy (1993) has argued that this same approach can be found in Machiavelli's approach to love and desire, as seen in his comedies and correspondence. Najemy shows how Machiavelli's friend Vettori argued against Machiavelli and cited a more traditional understanding of fortune.

On the other hand, humanism in Machiavelli's time meant that classical pre-Christian ideas about virtue and prudence, including the possibility of trying to control one's future, were not unique to him. But humanists did not go so far as to promote the extra glory of deliberately aiming to establish a new state, in defiance of traditions and laws.

While Machiavelli's approach had classical precedents, it has been argued that it did more than just bring back old ideas and that Machiavelli was not a typical humanist. Strauss (1958) argues that the way Machiavelli combines classical ideas is new. While Xenophon and Plato also described realistic politics and were closer to Machiavelli than Aristotle was, they, like Aristotle, also saw philosophy as something higher than politics. Machiavelli was apparently a materialist who objected to explanations involving formal and final causation, or teleology.

Machiavelli's promotion of ambition among leaders while denying any higher standard meant that he encouraged risk-taking, and innovation, most famously the founding of new modes and orders. His advice to princes was therefore certainly not limited to discussing how to maintain a state. It has been argued that Machiavelli's promotion of innovation led directly to the argument for progress as an aim of politics and civilization. But while a belief that humanity can control its own future, control nature, and "progress" has been long-lasting, Machiavelli's followers, starting with his own friend Guicciardini, have tended to prefer peaceful progress through economic development, and not warlike progress. As Harvey Mansfield (1995, p. 74) wrote: "In attempting other, more regular and scientific modes of overcoming fortune, Machiavelli's successors formalized and emasculated his notion of virtue."

Machiavelli however, along with some of his classical predecessors, saw ambition and spiritedness, and therefore war, as inevitable and part of human nature.

Strauss concludes his 1958 book Thoughts on Machiavelli by proposing that this promotion of progress leads directly to the modern arms race. Strauss argued that the unavoidable nature of such arms races, which have existed before modern times and led to the collapse of peaceful civilizations, provides us with both an explanation of what is most truly dangerous in Machiavelli's innovations, but also the way in which the aims of his immoral innovation can be understood.

Religion Edit

Machiavelli shows repeatedly that he saw religion as man-made, and that the value of religion lies in its contribution to social order and the rules of morality must be dispensed with if security requires it. [68] [69] In The Prince, the Discourses, and in the Life of Castruccio Castracani, he describes "prophets", as he calls them, like Moses, Romulus, Cyrus the Great, and Theseus (he treated pagan and Christian patriarchs in the same way) as the greatest of new princes, the glorious and brutal founders of the most novel innovations in politics, and men whom Machiavelli assures us have always used a large amount of armed force and murder against their own people. [70] He estimated that these sects last from 1,666 to 3,000 years each time, which, as pointed out by Leo Strauss, would mean that Christianity became due to start finishing about 150 years after Machiavelli. [71] Machiavelli's concern with Christianity as a sect was that it makes men weak and inactive, delivering politics into the hands of cruel and wicked men without a fight. [72]

While fear of God can be replaced by fear of the prince, if there is a strong enough prince, Machiavelli felt that having a religion is in any case especially essential to keeping a republic in order. For Machiavelli, a truly great prince can never be conventionally religious himself, but he should make his people religious if he can. According to Strauss (1958, pp. 226–27) he was not the first person to ever explain religion in this way, but his description of religion was novel because of the way he integrated this into his general account of princes.

Machiavelli's judgment that governments need religion for practical political reasons was widespread among modern proponents of republics until approximately the time of the French Revolution. This therefore represents a point of disagreement between himself and late modernity. [73]

Positive side to factional and individual vice Edit

Despite the classical precedents, which Machiavelli was not the only one to promote in his time, Machiavelli's realism and willingness to argue that good ends justify bad things, is seen as a critical stimulus towards some of the most important theories of modern politics.

Firstly, particularly in the Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli is unusual in the positive side he sometimes seems to describe in factionalism in republics. For example, quite early in the Discourses, (in Book I, chapter 4), a chapter title announces that the disunion of the plebs and senate in Rome "kept Rome free". That a community has different components whose interests must be balanced in any good regime is an idea with classical precedents, but Machiavelli's particularly extreme presentation is seen as a critical step towards the later political ideas of both a division of powers or checks and balances, ideas which lay behind the US constitution, as well as many other modern state constitutions.

Similarly, the modern economic argument for capitalism, and most modern forms of economics, was often stated in the form of "public virtue from private vices." Also in this case, even though there are classical precedents, Machiavelli's insistence on being both realistic and ambitious, not only admitting that vice exists but being willing to risk encouraging it, is a critical step on the path to this insight.

Mansfield however argues that Machiavelli's own aims have not been shared by those he influenced. Machiavelli argued against seeing mere peace and economic growth as worthy aims on their own, if they would lead to what Mansfield calls the "taming of the prince." [74]

Machiavellian Edit

Machiavelli is most famous for a short political treatise, The Prince, written in 1513 but not published until 1532, five years after his death. Although he privately circulated The Prince among friends, the only theoretical work to be printed in his lifetime was The Art of War, which was about military science. Since the 16th century, generations of politicians remain attracted and repelled by its neutral acceptance, and also positive encouragement, of the immorality of powerful men, described especially in The Prince but also in his other works.

His works are sometimes even said to have contributed to the modern negative connotations of the words politics and politician, [75] and it is sometimes thought that it is because of him that Old Nick became an English term for the Devil. [76] More obviously, the adjective Machiavellian became a term describing a form of politics that is "marked by cunning, duplicity, or bad faith". [77] Machiavellianism also remains a popular term used casually in political discussions, often as a byword for bare-knuckled political realism. [78] [79]

While Machiavellianism is notable in the works of Machiavelli, scholars generally agree that his works are complex and have equally influential themes within them. For example, J.G.A. Pocock (1975) saw him as a major source of the republicanism that spread throughout England and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries and Leo Strauss (1958), whose view of Machiavelli is quite different in many ways, had similar remarks about Machiavelli's influence on republicanism and argued that even though Machiavelli was a teacher of evil he had a "grandeur of vision" that led him to advocate immoral actions. Whatever his intentions, which are still debated today, he has become associated with any proposal where "the end justifies the means". For example, Leo Strauss (1987, p. 297) wrote:

Machiavelli is the only political thinker whose name has come into common use for designating a kind of politics, which exists and will continue to exist independently of his influence, a politics guided exclusively by considerations of expediency, which uses all means, fair or foul, iron or poison, for achieving its ends—its end being the aggrandizement of one's country or fatherland—but also using the fatherland in the service of the self-aggrandizement of the politician or statesman or one's party.

. there were in circulation approximately fifteen editions of the Prince and nineteen of the Discourses and French translations of each before they were placed on the Index of Paul IV in 1559, a measure which nearly stopped publication in Catholic areas except in France. Three principal writers took the field against Machiavelli between the publication of his works and their condemnation in 1559 and again by the Tridentine Index in 1564. These were the English cardinal Reginald Pole and the Portuguese bishop Jeronymo Osorio, both of whom lived for many years in Italy, and the Italian humanist and later bishop, Ambrogio Caterino Politi.

Machiavelli's ideas had a profound impact on political leaders throughout the modern west, helped by the new technology of the printing press. During the first generations after Machiavelli, his main influence was in non-republican governments. Pole reported that The Prince was spoken of highly by Thomas Cromwell in England and had influenced Henry VIII in his turn towards Protestantism, and in his tactics, for example during the Pilgrimage of Grace. [81] A copy was also possessed by the Catholic king and emperor Charles V. [82] In France, after an initially mixed reaction, Machiavelli came to be associated with Catherine de' Medici and the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. As Bireley (1990:17) reports, in the 16th century, Catholic writers "associated Machiavelli with the Protestants, whereas Protestant authors saw him as Italian and Catholic". In fact, he was apparently influencing both Catholic and Protestant kings. [83]

One of the most important early works dedicated to criticism of Machiavelli, especially The Prince, was that of the Huguenot, Innocent Gentillet, whose work commonly referred to as Discourse against Machiavelli or Anti Machiavel was published in Geneva in 1576. [84] He accused Machiavelli of being an atheist and accused politicians of his time by saying that his works were the "Koran of the courtiers", that "he is of no reputation in the court of France which hath not Machiavel's writings at the fingers ends". [85] Another theme of Gentillet was more in the spirit of Machiavelli himself: he questioned the effectiveness of immoral strategies (just as Machiavelli had himself done, despite also explaining how they could sometimes work). This became the theme of much future political discourse in Europe during the 17th century. This includes the Catholic Counter Reformation writers summarised by Bireley: Giovanni Botero, Justus Lipsius, Carlo Scribani, Adam Contzen, Pedro de Ribadeneira, and Diego Saavedra Fajardo. [86] These authors criticized Machiavelli, but also followed him in many ways. They accepted the need for a prince to be concerned with reputation, and even a need for cunning and deceit, but compared to Machiavelli, and like later modernist writers, they emphasized economic progress much more than the riskier ventures of war. These authors tended to cite Tacitus as their source for realist political advice, rather than Machiavelli, and this pretense came to be known as "Tacitism". [87] "Black tacitism" was in support of princely rule, but "red tacitism" arguing the case for republics, more in the original spirit of Machiavelli himself, became increasingly important.

Modern materialist philosophy developed in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, starting in the generations after Machiavelli. This philosophy tended to be republican, but as with the Catholic authors, Machiavelli's realism and encouragement of using innovation to try to control one's own fortune were more accepted than his emphasis upon war and factional violence. Not only was innovative economics and politics a result, but also modern science, leading some commentators to say that the 18th century Enlightenment involved a "humanitarian" moderating of Machiavellianism. [88]

The importance of Machiavelli's influence is notable in many important figures in this endeavor, for example Bodin, [89] Francis Bacon, [90] Algernon Sidney, [91] Harrington, John Milton, [92] Spinoza, [93] Rousseau, Hume, [94] Edward Gibbon, and Adam Smith. Although he was not always mentioned by name as an inspiration, due to his controversy, he is also thought to have been an influence for other major philosophers, such as Montaigne, [95] Descartes, [96] Hobbes, Locke [97] and Montesquieu. [98]

Although Jean-Jacques Rousseau is associated with very different political ideas he was also influenced by him, although he viewed Machiavelli's work as a satirical piece in which Machiavelli exposes the faults of a one-man rule rather than exalting amorality.

In the seventeenth century it was in England that Machiavelli's ideas were most substantially developed and adapted, and that republicanism came once more to life and out of seventeenth-century English republicanism there were to emerge in the next century not only a theme of English political and historical reflection—of the writings of the Bolingbroke circle and of Gibbon and of early parliamentary radicals—but a stimulus to the Enlightenment in Scotland, on the Continent, and in America. [99]

Scholars have argued that Machiavelli was a major indirect and direct influence upon the political thinking of the Founding Fathers of the United States due to his overwhelming favoritism of republicanism and the republican type of government. According to John McCormick, it is still very much debatable whether or not Machiavelli was "an advisor of tyranny or partisan of liberty." [100] Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson followed Machiavelli's republicanism when they opposed what they saw as the emerging aristocracy that they feared Alexander Hamilton was creating with the Federalist Party. [101] Hamilton learned from Machiavelli about the importance of foreign policy for domestic policy, but may have broken from him regarding how rapacious a republic needed to be in order to survive. [102] [103] George Washington was less influenced by Machiavelli. [104]

The Founding Father who perhaps most studied and valued Machiavelli as a political philosopher was John Adams, who profusely commented on the Italian's thought in his work, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America. [105] In this work, John Adams praised Machiavelli, with Algernon Sidney and Montesquieu, as a philosophic defender of mixed government. For Adams, Machiavelli restored empirical reason to politics, while his analysis of factions was commendable. Adams likewise agreed with the Florentine that human nature was immutable and driven by passions. He also accepted Machiavelli's belief that all societies were subject to cyclical periods of growth and decay. For Adams, Machiavelli lacked only a clear understanding of the institutions necessary for good government. [105]

20th century Edit

The 20th-century Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci drew great inspiration from Machiavelli's writings on ethics, morals, and how they relate to the State and revolution in his writings on Passive Revolution, and how a society can be manipulated by controlling popular notions of morality. [106]

Joseph Stalin read The Prince and annotated his own copy. [107]

Revival of interest in the comedies Edit

In the 20th century there was also renewed interest in Machiavelli's play La Mandragola (1518), which received numerous stagings, including several in New York, at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1976 and the Riverside Shakespeare Company in 1979, as a musical comedy by Peer Raben in Munich's antiteater in 1971, and at London's National Theatre in 1984. [108]

In popular culture Edit

Christopher Marlowe's play The Jew of Malta (ca. 1589) contains a prologue by a character called Machiavel, a Senecan ghost based on Machiavelli. [109] Machiavel expresses the cynical view that power is amoral, saying "I count religion but a childish toy,/And hold there is no sin but ignorance."

Somerset Maugham's last book Then and Now fictionalizes Machiavelli's interactions with Cesare Borgia, which formed the foundation of The Prince.

Niccolò Machiavelli plays a vital role in the young adult book series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. [110] He is an immortal working in national security for the French government. [111]

Niccolò Machiavelli aids Cesare Borgia and protagonist Nicholas Dawson in their dangerous intrigues in Cecelia Holland's 1979 historical novel City of God. [112] David Maclaine writes that in the novel, Machiavelli "is an off-stage presence whose spirit permeates this work of intrigue and betrayal . It is a brilliant introduction to the people and events that gave us the word 'Machiavellian.'" [112] Machiavelli appears as an Immortal adversary of Duncan MacLeod in Nancy Holder's 1997 Highlander novel The Measure of a Man, and is a character in Michael Scott's novel series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (2007–2012). Machiavelli is also one of the main characters in The Enchantress of Florence (2008) by Salman Rushdie, mostly referred to as "Niccolò 'il Macchia", and the central protagonist in the 2012 novel The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis.

Television dramas centring on the early Renaissance have also made use of Machiavelli to underscore his influence in early modern political philosophy. Machiavelli has been featured as a supporting character in The Tudors (2007–2010), [113] [114] Borgia (2011–2014) and The Borgias (2011–2013), [115] and the 1981 BBC mini series The Borgias.

Machiavelli appears in the popular historical video games Assassin's Creed II (2009) and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (2010), in which he is portrayed as a member of the secret society of Assassins. [116]

A highly fictionalised version of Machiavelli appears in the BBC children's TV series Leonardo (2011–2012), [117] in which he is "Mac", a black streetwise hustler who is best friends with fellow teenagers Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, and Lorenzo di Medici. In the 2013 episode "Ewings Unite!" of the television series Dallas, legendary oil baron J. R. Ewing wills his copy of The Prince to his adopted nephew Christopher Ewing, telling him to "use it, because being smart and sneaky is an unbeatable combination." In Da Vinci's Demons (2013–2015) – an American historical fantasy drama series that presents a fictional account of Leonardo da Vinci's early life [118] – Eros Vlahos plays a young Niccolò "Nico" Machiavelli, although the character's full name is not revealed until the finale of the second season.

The 1967 The Time Tunnel episode "The Death Merchant" stars famed character actor Malachi Throne as Niccolò Machiavelli, who has been time-displaced to the Battle of Gettysburg. The character's personality and behaviour seem to portray Cesare Borgia rather than Machiavelli himself, suggesting that the writers may have confused the two.

Machiavelli is played by Damian Lewis in the 2013 BBC radio play The Prince written by Jonathan Myerson. Together with his defence attorney Lucrezia Borgia (Helen McCrory), he presents examples from history to the devil to support his political theories and appeal his sentence in Hell. [119]

The historical novel The City of Man (2009) by author Michael Harrington fully portrays the complex personalities of the two main characters – Girolamo Savonarola and a formative Niccolò Machiavelli – in opposition during the turbulent last decade of 15th century Florence. The portrayal of Machiavelli draws from his later writings and observations of the chaotic events of his youth before rising from obscurity to be appointed as Second Chancellor of the Florentine Republic at the age of twenty-nine, only one month after Savonarola's execution. Major characters include Lorenzo de' Medici, his son Piero, Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), Cesare Borgia (model for The Prince), Piero and Tommaso Soderini, Il Cronaca and the diarist, Luca Landucci.

The American rapper Tupac Shakur read Machiavelli while in prison and became greatly influenced by his work. Upon his release from prison, Tupac honoured Machiavelli in 1996 by changing his own rap name from 2Pac to Makaveli. [120]

In the 1993 crime drama A Bronx Tale, local mob boss Sonny tells his young protégé Calogero that while he was doing a 10-year sentence in jail, he passed the time and stayed out of trouble by reading Machiavelli, whom he describes as "a famous writer from 500 years ago". He then tells him how Machiavelli's philosophy, including his famous advice about how it is preferable for a leader to be feared rather than loved if he cannot be both, have made him a successful mob boss.

Machiavelli also appears as a young Florentine spy in the third season of Medici, where he is portrayed by Vincenzo Crea. He is addressed as "Nico" in all appearances except the season finale, where he reveals his full name.

9 Important Contribution of &ldquoNiccolo Machiavelli&rdquo to Political Science

Niccolo Machiavelli has been an enigma throughout the ages. Whatever he wrote on politics are in the form of pamphlets and scattered.

But, later on it was discovered, mainly by Quentin Skinner that he made tremendous contribution to the growth of political thought. He was original in many of his ideas and laid the foundations of modern political thought.

1. Machiavelli’s discussion of a territorial, national and sovereign state is the hallmark of modern period. He was the first to use the term state in modern connotation which becomes the main topic of discussion in the hands of subsequent writers.

2. Machiavelli’s separation of politics from ethics and assigning it an autonomous sphere is another contribution. Prior to him politics was considered the hand maid of ethics.

3. Machiavelli is the first to bring the aspect of realism in politics. Prior to him normative dominated the political thinking.

4. Machiavelli’s advocacy of power politics is another contribution that has been followed widely in the realm of international relations. Perhaps no nation can afford to rely exclusively on idealism.

5. Machiavelli’s method of history combined with commonsense observation has remained pragmatic till now.

6. Machiavelli’s denouncement of Church and its interference in the state places him as the first secular thinker.

7. Machiavelli’s analysis of role of the state to offer security of its citizens remains pragmatic as ever.

8. Machiavelli’s republican spirit (service to the nation) has been celebrated by nationalists of all ranks.

9. Machiavelli’s suggestion to the prince signifies eyesight of political psychologist. Every theorist in modern time seeks to base his argument on the basis of motivation and orientation of human beings towards political objects.

Under this background one cannot refuse to agree with Prof. Dunning that “Machiavelli was the first modern political philosopher”. He was indeed an intellectual manifesting the cross currents of Renaissance and Reformation and Scientific outlook.

Machiavelli’s Principles?

Machiavelli’s principles especially the ones outlined in “The Prince” strongly extolled the use of treachery and vexatious tricks to cling to power. He tried to explain that horrific acts such as the killing of innocent people as well as other immoral behavior like dishonesty were normal acts and very effective in politics.

His book “The Prince”, in simple terms, was written to teach unscrupulous politicians how to use ruthless acts and self-serving, cunning tricks to cheat their people and cling to power by all means possible. This inspired the term “Machiavellian” which, in modern time, is thought to refer to political deceit and deviousness.

Machiavelli’s theories did not sit well with everyone. He has been denounced by many people who condemned him for giving tyrants evil recommendations to help them maintain their grip on power.

However, another less-known treatise he wrote which is called the “Discourses on Livy”, is now being credited with helping to pave the way of modern republicanism.

Early Life and Diplomatic Career

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy, on May 3, 1469 — a time when Italy was divided into four rival city-states and, thusly, was at the mercy of stronger governments throughout the rest of Europe.

The young Machiavelli became a diplomat after the temporary fall of Florence&aposs ruling Medici family in 1494. He served in that position for 14 years in Italy&aposs Florentine Republic during the Medici family&aposs exile, during which time he earned a reputation for deviousness, enjoying shocking his associates by appearing more shameless than he truly was.

After his involvement in an unsuccessful attempt to organize a Florentine militia against the return of the Medici family to power in 1512 became known, Machiavelli was tortured, jailed and banished from an active role in political life.

Niccolo Machiavelli – the Cunning Critic of Political Reason

Vincent Barnett reveals that there is more to Machiavelli than his notorious reputation.

Customarily, the name ‘Machiavelli’ was a synonym for the devil. The myth of the corrupt immorality of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) has lasted for many centuries, the description ‘Machiavellian’ being used today for anyone who is seen slyly to manipulate a given situation to their own advantage by means of shrewd political insight. Machiavelli as an individual has been described as aloof, as standing to one side of life ‘with a sarcastic expression continually playing around his mouth and flashing from his eyes’. This reputation is based on Machiavelli’s most famous work, The Prince, which was written in 1513-14.

However, is Machiavelli’s lasting reputation as the philosopher-king of political manipulation really justified? This article re-examines Machiavelli’s work and legacy and comes to some surprising conclusions. It also suggests a number of different ways to interpret Machiavelli’s political ideas.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

6. The Discourses on Livy: Liberty and Conflict

While The Prince is doubtless the most widely read of his works, the Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy perhaps most honestly expresses Machiavelli's personal political beliefs and commitments, in particular, his republican sympathies. The Discourses certainly draw upon the same reservoir of language and concepts that flowed into The Prince, but the former treatise leads us to draw conclusions quite different from&mdashmany scholars have said contradictory to&mdashthe latter. In particular, across the two works, Machiavelli consistently and clearly distinguishes between a minimal and a full conception of &ldquopolitical&rdquo or &ldquocivil&rdquo order, and thus constructs a hierarchy of ends within his general account of communal life. A minimal constitutional order is one in which subjects live securely (vivere sicuro), ruled by a strong government which holds in check the aspirations of both nobility and people, but is in turn balanced by other legal and institutional mechanisms. In a fully constitutional regime, however, the goal of the political order is the freedom of the community (vivere libero), created by the active participation of, and contention between, the nobility and the people. As Quentin Skinner (2002, 189&ndash212) has argued, liberty forms a value that anchors Machiavelli's political theory and guides his evaluations of the worthiness of different types of regimes. Only in a republic, for which Machiavelli expresses a distinct preference, may this goal be attained.

Machiavelli adopted this position on both pragmatic and principled grounds. During his career as a secretary and diplomat in the Florentine republic, he came to acquire vast experience of the inner workings of French government, which became his model for the &ldquosecure&rdquo (but not free) polity. Although Machiavelli makes relatively little comment about the French monarchy in The Prince, he devotes a great deal of attention to France in the Discourses.

Why would Machiavelli effusively praise (let alone even analyze) a hereditary monarchy in a work supposedly designed to promote the superiority of republics? The answer stems from Machiavelli's aim to contrast the best case scenario of a monarchic regime with the institutions and organization of a republic. Even the most excellent monarchy, in Machiavelli's view, lacks certain salient qualities that are endemic to properly constituted republican government and that make the latter constitution more desirable than the former.

Machiavelli asserts that the greatest virtue of the French kingdom and its king is the dedication to law. &ldquoThe kingdom of France is moderated more by laws than any other kingdom of which at our time we have knowledge&rdquo, Machiavelli declares (Discourses CW 314, translation revised). The explanation for this situation Machiavelli refers to the function of the Parlement. &ldquoThe kingdom of France&rdquo, he states,

lives under laws and orders more than any other kingdom. These laws and orders are maintained by Parlements, notably that of Paris: by it they are renewed any time it acts against a prince of the kingdom or in its sentences condemns the king. And up to now it has maintained itself by having been a persistent executor against that nobility. (Discourses CW 422, translation revised)

These passages of the Discourses seem to suggest that Machiavelli has great admiration for the institutional arrangements that obtain in France. Specifically, the French king and the nobles, whose power is such that they would be able to oppress the populace, are checked by the laws of the realm which are enforced by the independent authority of the Parlement. Thus, opportunities for unbridled tyrannical conduct are largely eliminated, rendering the monarchy temperate and &ldquocivil&rdquo.

Yet such a regime, no matter how well ordered and law-abiding, remains incompatible with vivere libero. Discussing the ability of a monarch to meet the people's wish for liberty, Machiavelli comments that

as far as the &hellip popular desire of recovering their liberty, the prince, not being able to satisfy them, must examine what the reasons are that make them desire being free. (Discourses CW 237).

He concludes that a few individuals want freedom simply in order to command others these, he believes, are of sufficiently small number that they can either be eradicated or bought off with honors. By contrast, the vast majority of people confuse liberty with security, imagining that the former is identical to the latter: &ldquoBut all the others, who are infinite, desire liberty in order to live securely (vivere sicuro)&rdquo (Discourses CW 237. Although the king cannot give such liberty to the masses, he can provide the security that they crave:

As for the rest, for whom it is enough to live securely (vivere sicuro), they are easily satisfied by making orders and laws that, along with the power of the king, comprehend everyone's security. And once a prince does this, and the people see that he never breaks such laws, they will shortly begin to live securely (vivere sicuro) and contentedly (Discourses CW 237).

Machiavelli then applies this general principle directly to the case of France, remarking that

the people live securely (vivere sicuro) for no other reason than that its kings are bound to infinite laws in which the security of all their people is comprehended. (Discourses CW 237)

The law-abiding character of the French regime ensures security, but that security, while desirable, ought never to be confused with liberty. This is the limit of monarchic rule: even the best kingdom can do no better than to guarantee to its people tranquil and orderly government.

Machiavelli holds that one of the consequences of such vivere sicuro is the disarmament of the people. He comments that regardless of &ldquohow great his kingdom is&rdquo, the king of France &ldquolives as a tributary&rdquo to foreign mercenaries.

This all comes from having disarmed his people and having preferred &hellip to enjoy the immediate profit of being able to plunder the people and of avoiding an imaginary rather than a real danger, instead of doing things that would assure them and make their states perpetually happy. This disorder, if it produces some quiet times, is in time the cause of straitened circumstances, damage and irreparable ruin (Discourses CW 410).

A state that makes security a priority cannot afford to arm its populace, for fear that the masses will employ their weapons against the nobility (or perhaps the crown). Yet at the same time, such a regime is weakened irredeemably, since it must depend upon foreigners to fight on its behalf. In this sense, any government that takes vivere sicuro as its goal generates a passive and impotent populace as an inescapable result. By definition, such a society can never be free in Machiavelli's sense of vivere libero, and hence is only minimally, rather than completely, political or civil.

Confirmation of this interpretation of the limits of monarchy for Machiavelli may be found in his further discussion of the disarmament of the people, and its effects, in The Art of War. Addressing the question of whether a citizen army is to be preferred to a mercenary one, he insists that the liberty of a state is contingent upon the military preparedness of its subjects. Acknowledging that &ldquothe king [of France] has disarmed his people in order to be able to command them more easily&rdquo, Machiavelli still concludes &ldquothat such a policy is &hellip a defect in that kingdom, for failure to attend to this matter is the one thing that makes her weak&rdquo (Art CW 584, 586&ndash587). In his view, whatever benefits may accrue to a state by denying a military role to the people are of less importance than the absence of liberty that necessarily accompanies such disarmament. The problem is not merely that the ruler of a disarmed nation is in thrall to the military prowess of foreigners. More crucially, Machiavelli believes, a weapons-bearing citizen militia remains the ultimate assurance that neither the government nor some usurper will tyrannize the populace: &ldquoSo Rome was free four hundred years and was armed Sparta, eight hundred many other cities have been unarmed and free less than forty years&rdquo (Art CW 585). Machiavelli is confident that citizens will always fight for their liberty&mdashagainst internal as well as external oppressors. Indeed, this is precisely why successive French monarchs have left their people disarmed: they sought to maintain public security and order, which for them meant the elimination of any opportunities for their subjects to wield arms. The French regime, because it seeks security above all else (for the people as well as for their rulers), cannot permit what Machiavelli takes to be a primary means of promoting liberty.

The case of disarmament is an illustration of a larger difference between minimally constitutional systems such as France and fully political communities such as the Roman Republic, namely, the status of the classes within the society. In France, the people are entirely passive and the nobility is largely dependent upon the king, according to Machiavelli's own observations. By contrast, in a fully developed republic such as Rome's, where the actualization of liberty is paramount, both the people and the nobility take an active (and sometimes clashing) role in self-government (McCormick 2011 Holman 2018). The liberty of the whole, for Machiavelli, depends upon the liberty of its component parts. In his famous discussion of this subject in the Discourses, he remarks,

To me those who condemn the tumults between the Nobles and the Plebs seem to be caviling at the very thing that was the primary cause of Rome's retention of liberty&hellip. And they do not realize that in every republic there are two different dispositions, that of the people and that of the great men, and that all legislation favoring liberty is brought about by their dissension (Discourses CW 202&ndash203).

Machiavelli knows that he is adopting an unusual perspective here, since customarily the blame for the collapse of the Roman Republic has been assigned to warring factions that eventually ripped it apart. But Machiavelli holds that precisely the same conflicts generated a &ldquocreative tension&rdquo that was the source of Roman liberty. For &ldquothose very tumults that so many inconsiderately condemn&rdquo directly generated the good laws of Rome and the virtuous conduct of its citizens (Discourses CW 202). Hence,

Enmities between the people and the Senate should, therefore, be looked upon as an inconvenience which it is necessary to put up with in order to arrive at the greatness of Rome. (Discourses CW 211)

Machiavelli thinks that other republican models (such as those adopted by Sparta or Venice) will produce weaker and less successful political systems, ones that are either stagnant or prone to decay when circumstances change.

The Prince

As leaders rapidly rose and fell, Machiavelli observed traits that, he believed, bolstered power and influence. In 1513, after being expelled from political service with the takeover of Florence by the Medici family, Machiavelli penned his outline of what makes an effective leader in The Prince.

Unlike the noble princes portrayed in fairy tales, a successful ruler of a principality, as described in Machiavelli’s writings, is brutal, calculating and, when necessary, utterly immoral.

Because people are “quick to change their nature when they imagine they can improve their lot,” he wrote, a leader must also be shrewd. “The fact is thatਊ man who wants toꂬt virtuously in਎very way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous. Therefore, ifਊ prince wants to maintain his rule he mustꂾ prepared not to be virtuous, and to make use of this or not according to need.”

Until Machiavelli’s writing, most philosophers of politics had defined a good leader as humble, moral and honest. Machiavelli shed that notion, saying frankly, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot have both.”

Cruelty can be better than kindness, he argued, explaining that “Making an example of one or two offenders is kinder than being too compassionate, and allowing disorders to develop into murder and chaos which affects the whole community.” Keeping one’s word can also be dangerous, he said, since 𠇎xperience shows that those who do not keep their word get the better of those who do.”

Moreover, Machiavelli also believed that when leaders are not moral, it’s important they pretend they are to keep up appearances. 𠇊 prince must always seem to be very moral, even if he is not,” he wrote.

6] Machiavelli on Religion.

Machiavelli is not against religion, he was against church. He was against church only because church was corrupt at that time. Church was interfering in politics and was proving as an obstacle in achieving the national interest.
Machiavelli believes religion can be useful for prince. Thus Machiavelli has utilitarian approach towards religion. What is the utility of religion? Religion is a disciplinary force which can be of great help to the prince. Many persons do not commit wrong things out of the fear of god. He suggests prince to appear religious in public, even if prince has no faith in religion. Thus for Machiavelli religion should not use the prince, but prince should be in opposition to use religion for the national interest.
[ * Machiavelli represents the interest of bourgeoisie/capitalist class. The capitalist class may have limited the role of religion but not eliminated the role of religion. On the other hand, Marx is a critic of religion and God. ]

Was Machiavelli Immoral ?

No, he does not suggest prince to be immoral in the personal sphere, he only permits prince to ignore ethics, as far as national interest in concerned. Hence it is better to call Machiavelli amoral rather than immoral. He is indifferent to morality.
Machiavelli advices prince for expansionist foreign policy. He was the first person to suggest that prince should have the army comprising of only the nationals. (Not mercenary soldier).
In case of conquered land, Machiavelli suggests that prince should rule directly only if the culture of the people of that land is similar to the culture of the prince, otherwise prince should select some local person as his lieutenant / Viceroy.

Advice on fortune.

He defines fortune as circumstances which are not under one’s control. He defines fortune in terms of bad luck. He suggests that even when prince has all the qualities, well versed in statecraft, yet there is no guarantee that he will be successful. Bad time can strike anyone, anywhere.
When bad time comes, they come like torrential rains or roaring river. Wise prince will always do preparations like creating embankments, however still it can devastate the prince.
He suggests that the nature of fortune is like women, women embrace brave men. Hence if prince will face these times with courage, he can convert bad times into favorable times. This shows that Machiavelli is realist but at the same time optimist.

Another book DISCOURCES

In his book THE PRINCE Machiavelli supports monarchy, in DISCOURCES he supports republican form of govt. (Like of Aristotle’s POLITY). In society where people are corrupt, he suggests the rule of a prince, who rules with iron hand. Where people are virtuous, have civic sense, responsibility, there he recommends republic.
According to Machiavelli wherever necessary monarchy, wherever possible republic, but in no situation oligarchy or aristocracy. He does not prefer the rule of nobles or feudal lords. This also shows the impact of his times and Machiavelli as the scholar of emerging capitalist class. He considers feudal lords as parasite class. He advice prince that in case of conflict, between nobles and common man, prince should take the side of common man. Why ? Nobles will have aspiration for power and hence they are challenge to the king. Common man has limited aspirations, protection of life and property and hence they will not bear threat to the king.

Critical Evaluation of Machiavelli

“Machiavelli is narrowly dated and narrowly located.” – Sabine.

Machiavelli is one of the most criticized figure in the history of western philosophy. He is primarily criticized for his views on religion and ethics. Specifically his criticism of church. Sabine believes that his pessimistic view on human nature, church, politics, is because of the circumstances prevailing in Italy during his times. His views would have been different had be belonged to different time and space.
It is true that Machiavelli was ‘child of his times’. However it does not mean that his thoughts are lacking any universal and transcendental value. Machiavelli is not only one of the most criticized figures, he is also one of the most unfortunate figures. It is unfortunate that Machiavelli was criticized for telling the reality of politics. According to Dunning, it is an irony that everyone is Machiavellian in practice but no one accepts himself as Machiavellian. Even when Machiavelli’s ideas are one sided, however it is very important to understand this dark aspect of human nature and politics. Machiavelli’s thoughts are not only having practical importance but huge academic importance. He laid the foundation of political realism. His empirical method also led to the emergence of behavioral method in political science. We can see his influence on the philosophers like Hobbes and he is the intellectual precursor of realist school of international politics.

Watch the video: Peradaban Renaisans dan Pemikiran Politik Machiavelli