The Prince is a handbook that depicts how to obtain political power which was written by Niccolo Machiavelli in 1505 with the purpose of securing him a political position in the Medici family. (Prince) Machiavelli had been a political leader between 1498 and 1512 as a secretary of the commune of Florence and worked with internal and war affairs, thus allowing him a large amount of political experience. After the republican government of Florence fell, Machiavelli lost his position and was exiled from the city and later the entire city-state. Yearning to be a part of politics once more, Machiavelli wrote The Prince to bring to light the value and extent of his political experience and how it could be used by the Medici family, the ruling family of the time. (James 1945-47) Machiavelli uses this insight into the world of politics along with the ideas associated with the Italian Renaissance to compose a very controversial political manual that focuses more on practical rather than idealistic theories, which were the contemporary of the time.
The Prince is a product of the Italian renaissance. A revolutionary book for a revolutionary time, it scrutinizes the ways leaders and politicians, such as Duke Valentino, took actions to support and ultimately secure their leadership in order to improve upon and adapt current and future political practices. Though hardly noticed at first and then even hated, the ideas The Prince described a way of governing that was applicable to the politics of its time and is still applicable, to a certain extent, to the politics of today because of Machiavelli’s logical analyses of real world occurrences.
Ruthless and blunt, Machiavelli describes politics as they truly are in The Prince, a cut-throat world in which questionable methods must be used to reach ones goal. There are no areas described within the book where the politician is able to be truly benevolent and successful at the same time. Instead, Machiavelli describes scenarios where, a leader must be deceitful, feared, ruthless and militaristic in order to maintain power. This new perspective on politics does not go over well with the general public of Machiavelli’s time. In fact, they hated it and gave Machiavelli the name of “Old Nick”, an Anglo-Saxon name for devil. Interestingly though, rulers such as Frederick the Great of Prussia read and followed the text to their understanding, all the while, condemning it (Gatt-Rutter).
This phenomenon can best be explained as a result of the amount of religious ethic that Machiavelli included in The Prince. Nowhere within the work does Machiavelli touch upon ethics, he only includes the actions a leader must take to survive and become strong. Whether these actions are virtuous or wicked depend completely upon the context of the situation. In an era where life revolved around Christianity and the behavior dictated to be followed there in, the unethical, cold, and calculating behavior described in The Prince was...