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Niccolo Machiavelli Essay

856 words - 3 pages

Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat, a political philosopher, a musician, and a poet. He was born in a village near the city-state of Florence, Italy, in 1469. Machiavelli is best considered as one of the great early analyzers of political power. He is best remembered for his masterpiece, The Prince. The Prince stands apart from all other political writings of the period as it focuses on the practical problems a monarch faces in staying in power. Machiavelli is really important because he introduced the concept of realism, practical down-to-earth considerations, into a previously exalted or "transcendental" subject. Furthermore, The Prince was one of the first humanist works of the Renaissance and was very secular. In it, Machiavelli proposes that religion and politics should be separate, which was a very new idea for the people to accept easily. The main themes discussed in The Prince are Defense and Military, Cruelty vs. Mercy, and Generosity vs. Frugality.The basic point of view of the book is that in order to succeed, a prince should ignore moral considerations entirely and depend upon strength and cunning. Machiavelli stressed heavily on the importance of a state being well armed. He stood strongly against mercenaries because they were useless and dangerous for the country. He believed that their only motivation to fight is for money. According to him, a prince that relies solely on fortifications or on the help of others and stands on the defensive is not self-sufficient. A prince who is diligent in times of peace is going to be ready in times of adversity. Italy was in a bit of a turmoil in the 16th century and it didn't have a very good military and defense force. Italy also hired mercenaries and that was Machiavelli's straight target: to get rid of them.In chapter XVII, Machiavelli writes, "…it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with." His explanation for this was that commitments made in peace are not always kept, and commitments made in fear are kept out of fear. But, a prince must ensure that he is not feared to the point of hatred which could be dangerous to his position. Above all, Machiavelli argues, do not interfere with the property of the subjects, their women, or the life of somebody without proper justification. Regarding the troops of the prince, fear is absolutely necessary to keep a large post united and a prince should not mind the thought of cruelty in that regard. For a prince who leads his...

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