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Niccolo Machiavelli Statesman and Political Philosopher, 1469 - 1527 Niccolo Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469 in Florence, Italy. Machiavelli was a political philosopher and diplomat during the Renaissance, and is most famous for his political treatise, The Prince (1513), that has become a cornerstone of modern political philosophy. In The Prince, Machiavelli offered a monarchical ruler advice designed to keep that ruler in power. He recommended policies that would discourage mass political activism, and channel subjects' energies into private pursuits. Machiavelli wanted to persuade the monarch that he could best preserve his power by the judicious use of violence, by respecting private propertyand the traditions of his subjects, and by promoting material prosperity. Machiavelli held that political life cannot be governed by a single set of moral or religious absolutes, and that the monarch may sometimes be excused for performing acts of violence and deception that would be ethically indefensible in private life. During the Renaissance Italy was a scene of intense political conflict involving the dominant city-states of Florence, Milan, Venice, and Naples, plus the Papacy, France, Spain, and the HolyRoman Empire. Each city attempted to protect itself by playing the larger powers off against each other. The result was massive political intrigue, blackmail, and violence. The Prince was written against this backdrop, and in its conclusion Machiavelli issued an impassioned call forItalian unity, and an end to foreign intervention. Machiavelli’s other major work, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius (1513-21), was mainly concerned with “republics,” defined as states controlled by a politically active citizenry. In “Discourses” he emphasized that for a republic to survive, it needed to foster a spirit of patriotism and civic virtue among its citizens. Machiavelli argued that a republic would be strengthened by the conflicts generated through open political participation and debate. Partly because Machiavelli’s pragmatic view of the relationship between ethics and politics, he has been widely misinterpreted. The adjective “Machiavellian” has become a pejorative used to describe a politician who manipulates others in an opportunistic and deceptive way. It is a common misconception that Machiavelli faked his own death. There is no historical evidence that he did. RE #2 Historian and statesman, b. at Florence, 3 May, 1469; d. there, 22 June, 1527. His family is said to have been descended from the old marquesses of Tuscany, and to have given Florence thirteen gonfaloniers of justice. His father, Bernardo, was a lawyer, and acted as treasurer of the Marches, but was far from wealthy. Of Nicolò's studies we only know that he was a pupil of Marcello Virgilio. In 1498 he was elected secretary of the Lower Chancery of the Signory, and in later years he held the same post under the Ten. Thus it chanced that for fourteen years he had charge of the home and foreign correspondence of the republic, the registration of trials, the keeping of the minutes of the councils, and the drafting of agreements with other states. Moreover he was sent in various capacities to one or other locality within the State of Tuscany, and on twenty-three occasions he acted as legate on important embassies to foreign princes, e.g. to Catherine Sforza (1499), to France (1500, 1510, 1511), to the emperor (1507, 1509), to Rome (1503, 1506), to Cæsar Borgia (1502), to Gian Paolo Baglione atPerugia, to the Petrucci at Siena, and to Piombino. On these embassies he gave evidence of wonderful keenness of observation and insight into the hidden thoughts of the men he was dealing with, rather than of any great diplomatic skill. After the defeat of France in Italy (1512) the Medici once more obtained control of Florence; the secretary was dismissed and exiled for one year from the city. On the discovery of the Capponi and Boscoli plot against Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, Machiavelli was accused as an accomplice, and tortured, but he was set free when the cardinal became Pope Leo X. Thereupon he retired to some property he had at Strada near San Casciano, where he gave himself up to the study of the classics, especially Livy, and to the writing of his political and literary histories. Both Leo X and Clement VII sought his advice in political matters, and he was often employed on particular missions affecting matters of state, as, for instance, when he was sent to Francesco Guiccardini, the papal leader in the Romagna and general of the army of the League, concerning the fortification of Florence. He made vain efforts to secure a public post under the Medici, being ready even to sacrifice his political opinions for the purpose. He returned home after the sack of Rome (12 May, 1527) when the power of the Medici had been once more overthrown, but his old political party turned against him as one who fawned on tyrants. He died soon afterwards. Machiavelli's writings consist of the following works: Historical: "Storie Fiorentine", which goes from the fall of the Empire to 1492, dedicated to Clement VII, at whose request it had been written. "Descrizione del modo tenuto dal duca Valentino nello ammazzare Vitellozzo Vitelli, etc."; "Vita di Castruccio Castracane"; "Discorsi sopra laprima deca di TitoLivio"; "Descrizione della peste di Firenze dell' anno 1527"; to this group belong also his letters from his embassies as well as his minor writings concerning the affairs of Pisa, Lucca, France, Germany. Political: "Il Principe", "Discorso sopra il Riformare lo Stato di Firenze"; "Dell'arte della guerra", and other military works. Literary: "Dialogo sulle lingue"; five comedies: "Mandragola"; "Clizia"; a comedy in prose; "The Andria" of Terence, a translation; a comedy in verse; "I Decennati" (a metrical history of the years 1495-1504); "Dell' Asino d'oro", writings on moral subjects; "La serenata"; "Canti Carnas cialesehi"; a novel, "Belfagor", etc. Machiavelli's character as a man and a writer has been widely discussed, and on both heads his meritsand demerits have been exaggerated, but in such a way that his demerits have preponderated to the detriment of his memory. Machiavellism has become synonymous with treachery, intrigue, subterfuge, and tyranny. It has been even said that "Old Nick", the popular name of the Devil among Anglo-Saxonraces, derives its origin from that of Nicolò Machiavelli. This dubious fame he has won by his book the "Principe", and the theories therein exploited

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were further elaborated in his "Discorsi sopra Livio". To understand the "Principe" right it must be borne in mind that the work is not a treatise on foreign politics. It aims solely at examining how a kingdom may be best built up and established; nor is it a mere abstract discussion, but it is carried on in the light of an ideal long held by Machiavelli, that aUnited Italy was possible and in the last chapter of the work he exhorts the Medici of Florence(Giuliano and Lorenzo) to its realization. His aim was to point out the best way for bringing it about; he did not deal with abstract principles and arguments, but collected examples from classical antiquity and from recent events, especially from the career of Cæsar Borgia. So that the "Principe" is a political tract with a definite aim and intended for a particular locality. To gain the end in view results are to be the only criteria of the methods employed, and even the teachings of the moral law must give way to secure the end in view. Good faith, clemency, and moderation are not cast overboard, but he teaches that the interests of the state are above all individual virtues. These virtues may be useful, and when they are a prince ought to exercise them, but more often in dealing with an opponent they are a hindrance, not in themselves, but by reason of the crookedness of others. Whosoever would prevail against the treachery, crime, and cruelty of others, must himself be beforehand in misleading and deceiving his opponent and even in getting rid of him, as Cæsar Borgiahad done. While on the other hand Gian Paolo Baglione made a mistake, by omitting to imprison or put to death Julius II, in 1506, on the occasion of his unprotected entry to Perugia (Discorsi sopra Livio, I, xxvii). Again, a prince must keep clear of crime not only when it is hurtful to his interests but when it is useless. He should try to win the love of his subjects, by simulating virtue if he does not possess it; he ought to encourage trade so that his people, busied in getting rich, may have no time for politics; he ought to show concern for religion, because it is a potent means for keeping his people submissive and obedient. Such is the general teaching of the "Principe", which has been often refuted. As a theory Machiavellism may perhaps be called an innovation; but as a practice it is as old as politicalsociety. It was a most immoral work, in that it cuts politics adrift from all morality, and it was rightly put on the Index in 1559. It is worth noting that the "Principe" with its glorification of absolutism is totally opposed to its author's ideas of democracy, which led to his ruin. To explain the difficulty it is not necessary to claim that the book is a satire, nor that it is evidence of how easily the writer could change his political views provided he could stand well with the Medici. Much as Machiavelli lovedliberty and Florence he dreamed of a "larger Italy" of the Italians. As a practical man he saw that hisdream could be realized only through a prince of character and energy who would walk in the steps ofCæsar Borgia, and he conceded that the individual good must give way to the general well-being. As a historian Machiavelli is an excellent source when he deals with what happened under his eyes at the various embassies; but it should be remembered that he gives everything a more or less unconscious twist to bring it into conformity with his generalizations. This is more marked even in his accounts of what he had heard or read, and serves to explain the discrepancies in the letters he wrote during his embassies to Cæsar Borgia, the "Descrizione", etc., the ideal picture he drew of affairs in Germany, and his life of Castruccio Castracane, which is rather an historical romance modelled on the character of Agathocles in Plutarch. He knew nothing of historical criticism, yet he showed how events in history move in obedience to certain general laws; and this is his great merit as an historian. His natural bent was politics, but in his dealings with military matters he showed such skill as wouldamaze us even if we did not know he had never been a soldier. He recognized that to be strong a state must have its standing army, and he upholds this not only in the "Principe" and the "Discorsi" but in his various military writings. The broad and stable laws of military tactics he lays down in masterly fashion; yet it is curious to note that he lays no great stress on firearms. His style is always clear and crisp and his reasoning close and orderly. What poetry he has left gives no proof of poetic talent; rather, the comedies are clever and successful as compositions and only too often bear undisguised traces of the moral laxity of the author (this is shown also in his letters to his friends) and of the age in which he lived. His "Mandragola" and "Clizia" are nothing more or less thanpochades and lose no opportunity of scoring against religion. Machiavelli did not disguise his dislike forChristianity which by exalting humility, meekness, and patience had, he said, weakened the social andpatriotic instincts of mankind. Hence, he mocked at Savonarola though he was the saviour ofdemocracy, and he had a special dislike for the Holy See as a temporal power, as he saw in it the greatest obstacle to Italian unity; to use his own expression, it was too weak to control the whole peninsula, but too strong to allow of any other state bringing about unity. This explains why he has no words of praise for Julius II and his Italian policy. It was merely as an opportunist that he courted the favour of Leo X and Clement VII. On the other hand, when death came his way he remembered that he was a Christian and he died a Christian death, though his life, habits, and ideals had been pagan, and himself a typical representative of the Italian Renaissance. RE# 3 Among the most original thinkers of the Renaissance is a brilliant and slightly tragic figure, Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527). Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, his name would be synonymous with deviousness, cruelty, and willfully destructive rationality; no thinker was every so demonized or misunderstood than Machiavelli. The source of this misunderstanding is his most influential and widely read treatise on government, The Prince, a remarkably short book that attempts to lay out methods to secure and maintain political power.

His life spanned the greatest period of cultural achievement in Florence to its ultimate downfall. This period was marked by political instability, fear, invasion, intrigue, and high cultural achievement as the tiny states of Italy, including the Papal States, were pulled into the politics and wars of Europe by the immense gravity of two large states, Spain and France. His life began at the very start of this process: in 1469, when Ferdinand and Isabella married and through this marriage created a new, large kingdom of Spain composed of Castile and Aragon, Machiavelli was born to a wealthy Florentine lawyer. In his lifetime, he would see the efflorescence of Florentine culture and political power under the brilliant political genius of Lorenzo de'Medici. He would also see the twilight of the Medici power as Lorenzo's son and successor, Piero de'Medici, was thrown from power by the Dominican monk, Savonarola, who set up a true Florentine Republic. When Savonarola, fanatic about reform, was himself thrown from power and burned, a second Republic was set up under Soderini in 1498. Machiavelli was the secretary of this new Republic, an important and distinguished position. The Republic, however, was crushed in 1512 by the Spanish who installed the Medici's as rulers of Florence once again.

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It seems that Machiavelli really had no political commitments or political stripe: he seems to have been on nobody's side politically. For when the Medici came to power, he began to work overtime to get in good with them. It seems that either he was ruthlessly ambitious or believed in serving in government no matter what political group or party was in charge. The Medici, however, never fully trusted him since he had been an important official in the Republic. They imprisoned and tortured him in 1513 and eventually banished him to his country estate at San Casciano (all this torture and imprisonment, however, didn't stop him from trying to get in good with the Medicis). It was during his exile in San Casciano, when he was desparate to get back into government, that he wrote his principle works: the Discourse on Livy , The Prince , The History of Florence , and two plays. Many of these works, such as The Prince , were written for the express purpose of getting a job in the Medici government. The tremendous innovation of both the Discourses on Livy and The Prince was Machiavelli's uncoupling of political theory from ethics. Throughout the Western tradition, as in the Chinese tradition, political theory and policy was closely linked to ethics. Aristotle summed up this connection when he defined politics as merely an extension of ethics. Throughout the Western tradition, then, politics had been understood in terms of right and wrong, just and unjust, temperate and intemperate, and so on. The moral terms used to evaluate human actions were employed to evaluate political actions. Machiavelli was the first to discuss politics and social phenomena in their own terms without recourse to ethics or jurisprudence. In many ways you could consider Machiavelli to be the first major Western thinker to apply the strictly scientific method of Aristotle and Averroes to politics. He did so by observing the phenomena of politics, reading all that's been written on the subject, and describing political systems in their own terms. For Machiavelli, politics was about one and only one thing: getting and keeping power or authority. Everything else—religion, morality, etc—that people associate with politics has nothing to do with this fundamental aspect of politics —unles being moral helps one get and keep power. The only skill that counts in getting and maintaining power is calculation; the successful politician knows what to do or what to say for every situation. With this insight, Machiavelli in The Prince simply describes the means by which individuals have tried to seize and to maintain power. Most of the examples he gives are failures; the entire book is suffused with tragedy for at any moment, if the ruler makes one miscalculation, all the authority he has so assiduously cultivated will dry up like the morning dew. The social and political world of the The Prince is monstrously unpredictable and volatile; only the most superhuman calculative mind can overcome this social and political volatility. Throughout The Prince and the Discourses , it's clear that Machiavelli has praise only for the winners. For this reason, he admires figures such as Alexander VI and Julius II, universally hated throughout Europe as ungodly popes, for thei astonishing military and political success. His refusal to allow ethical judgements enter into political theory branded him throughout the Renaissance as a kind of anti-Christ. In chapters such as "Whether a Prince Should Be True to his Word," Machiavelli argues that any moral judgment should be secondary to getting, increasing and maintaining power. The answer to the above question, for instance, is "it's good to be true to your word, but you should lie whenever it advances your power or security—not only that, it's necessary." It might help to understand Machiavelli to imagine that he's not talking about the state so much in ethical terms but in medical terms. For Machiavelli believed that the Italian situation was desparate and that the Florentine state was in grave danger. Rather than approach the question from an ethical point of view, Machiavelli was genuinely concerned with healing the state to make it stronger. For instance, in talking about seditious points of view, Machiavelli doesn't make an ethical argument, but rather a medical one—"seditious people should be amputated before they infect the whole state." The single most articulated value in the work of Machiavelli is virtú (Latin virtus), which is related to our word, "virtue." Machiavelli means it more in its Latin sense of "manly," but individuals with virtú are primarily marked by their ability to enforce their will on volatile social situations. They do this through a combination of strong will, strength, and brilliant and strategic calculation. In one of the most famous passages from The Prince , Machiavelli describes the proper orientation towards the volatility of the world, or Fortune, by comparing Fortune to a lady: "la fortuna é donna," or "Fortune is a Lady." Machiavelli is referring to the courtly love tradition, where the lady that constitutes the object of desire is approached and entreated and begged. The ideal Prince, however, for Machiavelli does not entreat or beg Lady Fortune, but rather physically grabs her and takes whatever he wants. This was a scandalous passage and still is today, but it represents a powerful translation of the Renaissance idea of human potential to the area of politics. For if, according to Pico della Mirandola, a human being can self-transform into anything it wants, then it must be possible for a single, strongwilled individual to order the chaos of political life.

Despite his hopes that the Medicis might prove to be those ideal rulers that could unite Italy, they did not remain in power for long. When Guilio de'Medici left Firenze to become Pope Clement VII, the subalterns that he left in charge of the city managed it very poorly. The people soon overthrew the Medici rule and established the Third Republic of Firenze in 1527. Machiavelli saw his chance and tried to get a position in the new republic, but the new rulers distrusted him because of his long association with the Medici. So on June 22, 1527, only a few months after the establishment of the Third Republic, Machiavelli died. That same year, Rome was sacked by Emperor Charles VII and the pope was forced to ally with Charles. In 1530, the pope and Charles led a punitive expedition against Firenze and crushed it as an independent state. Three years after the death of Machiavelli and two years before the publication of The Prince , , the state that Machiavelli worked so hard to help and believed so much in blinked out of existence. Medieval Sourcebook: Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince [excerpts], 1513

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are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you successed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by nobility or greatness of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserved you by a dread of punishment which never fails. Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their women.

Niccolo Machiavelli, a diplomat in the pay of the Republic of Florence, wrote The Prince in 1513 after the overthrow of the Republic forced him into exile. It is widely regarded as one of the basic texts of Western political science, and represents a basic change in the attitude and image of government. That Which Concerns a Prince on the Subject of the Art of War The Prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art. Francesco Sforza, though being martial, from a private person became Duke of Milan; and the sons, through avoiding the hardships and troubles of arms, from dukes became private persons. For among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies against which a prince ought to guard himself, as is shown later on. Concerning Things for Which Men, and Especially Princes, are Blamed It remains now to see what ought to be the rules of conduct for a prince toward subject and friends. And as I know that many have written on this point, I expect I shall be considered presumptuous in mentioning it again, especially as in discussing it I shall depart from the methods of other people. But it being my intention to write a thing which shall be useful to him to apprehends it, it appears to me more appropriate to follow up the real truth of a matter than the imagination of it; for many have pictured republics and principalities which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil. Hence, it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity. Therefore, putting on one side imaginary things concerning a prince, and discussing those which are real, I say that all men when they are spoken of, and chiefly princes for being more highly placed, are remarkable for some of those qualities which bring them either blame or praise; and thus it is that one is reputed liberal, another miserly...; one is reputed generous, one rapacious; one cruel, one compassionate; one faithless, another faithful.... And I know that every one will confess that it would be most praiseworthy in a prince to exhibit all the above qualities that are considered good; but because they can neither be entirely possessed nor observed, for human conditions do not permit it, it is necessary for him to be sufficiently prident that he may know how to avoid the reproach of those vices which would lose him his state... Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether it is Better to be Loved than Feared Upon this a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they

From: Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, ed. W. K. Marriott. London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1908, pp. 117-118, 129-131

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