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Machiavelli Essay

1091 words - 4 pages

MACHIAVELLI Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince captures the political spirit of the fourteen hundreds. One can produce vivid images of rulers conquering new lands or keeping peace in their own. Italy provided excellent grounds to observe political action of all kinds. The many city-states contained, within them, various forms of ruling from republics to leaders seeking absolute power over their territory. Machiavelli had exposure to all these variations, this allowed him to observe and compare what techniques were effective and what techniques were failures. Machiavelli attained knowledge of many rulers past and present, which he incorporated into The Prince. The Italian renaissance is in effect while Machiavelli is writing to Lorenzo d'Medici of Florence (to whom he addressed The Prince). The renaissance and the rise of Civic Humanism also affect the style in which Machiavelli scribbles down his ideas. One may notice a persuasive element in his writings as well as rhetoric that comes from Machiavelli's study of the works of Plato. Machiavelli's efforts may now be tied in with his education and his political surroundings.Machiavelli had known many rulers and studied the actions of many more. His knowledge gave him great insight on political strategy. The Medici family was in power in Florence when The Prince was written. Machiavelli's own political career was brought to a close when the Medici's returned to their ruling status in Florence (Machiavelli, intro). Machiavelli made many of his political contacts during his stay as an administrator to the Florentine Republic. Perhaps the most important of these being Cesare Borgia or Duke Valentino, as he was known. Popular belief would have it that Cesare Borgia served as the model for Machiavelli's The Prince. I feel however that Machiavelli intended Cesare to be modeled only under certain circumstances, such as for "those who have come to power through the fortunes and arms of others." (Machiavelli, p.34) Casare Borgia's father, Pope Alexander XI supported much of the renaissance movement thereby being partly responsible for the style in which Machiavelli writes, as we will see later. Machiavelli list's many rulers and their conquests as examples of what to do or what not to do. One such example being the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, who was born a regular citizen and lifted himself to the title of Duke (Machiavelli, p.54). Machiavelli writes that in order for some men to rise to power certain circumstances must be present for them to take advantage of, after which he is reliant on his skill as a leader (Machiavelli, p.26). Machiavelli mentions Fra' Girolama Savanrola as a modern day example of a man who took advantage of his situation, yet failed to keep the masses on his side due to being unarmed. Machiavelli then looks back and finds instances in the past where the men were successful and finds those such as Cyrus, Romulus, Moses, and Theseus. He finds that on order to keep ones subjects one...

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