Cheyenne Belmonti Jeffrey Jowett
CH 202 Section 2883
02 June 2016
Paper 1- Machiavelli
Niccolo Machiavelli was a citizen of Florence, Italy, in the late fourteenth and fifteenth
century. In 1513, Lorenzo Medici was to be the new ruler of Florence. Although Machiavelli never directly mentions Medici in The Prince, he does seek help from a friend to see that the
Medici family will receive his text, said that The Prince was written specifically for Medici and not as a generalization. Machiavelli was never involved directly in politics until he wrote The Prince, an essay that sought to give advice to new rulers.
This suggests that Machiavelli held great pride in being Florentine, and this pride motivated Machiavelli to write The Prince. It also suggests that he wanted to be involved with the Medicis, in hopes that giving good enough advice would lead to an extension of employment from the Medicis. Although he
was only a citizen, Machiavelli had clearly put much of his time and effort into what makes an ideal ruler. He stressed the importance of military and power. At the time Machiavelli wrote The Prince, Italy was divided into many independent states. Some states were allies, while others fought for control over one another. This evidence is a strong indication that one of Machiavelli's goals in writing The Prince was to unify Italy. Another goal of Machiavelli's work was to keep out future foreign invaders. "For the rest of Machiavelli' s life, one foreign invasion was followed by another, and the Italian states completed to find strong foreign allies (Wootton p. xiv)." Italy was constantly faced with the invasion of stronger states of Europe, such as France and Spain. In The Prince Machiavelli stresses the importance of keeping out foreigners and invaders, especially through a strong military. Through his writing, it is obvious Machiavelli believes in power and military; the two are dependent on each other to make a good
ruler. The main goals of The Prince were to keep out foreigners and to unify the independent states of Italy into one nation.
It is evidentiary in the text that Machiavelli supported authoritarianism, specifically an authoritarian ruler who has supreme power. There is no specific chapter in The Prince dedicated to power; rather it is a point that is made throughout multiple chapters and concepts. Machiavelli repeatedly mentions power and nearly every piece of advice given is related to power. The key to being a successful ruler is by having strong power, and throughout leadership maintaining this power. If power weakens, then the ruler themself is also weaker. One way that Machiavelli suggests a ruler can maintain their power is by focusing on assets and skills rather than luck or fortune. Rulers that think good fortune is what makes them powerful do not know how to hold their position of power and are likely to lose it (Machiavelli p. 21). Machiavelli uses the example of two rulers, Sforza and Bogira. Sforza started as a citizen uninvolved in politics, and later became a duke. Bogira was selected to be duke by the people of his state and with the help of his father. Once his father was no longer involved, his fortune ran out and he lost power.
Machiavelli uses this example because Sforza became ruler through his own actions and by putting in continuous effort, and succeeded at holding power. Bogira became a ruler mainly through the efforts of other people, and because of that eventually lost power.
In order to maintain power, it is crucial for a ruler to be popular among their citizens. A liked and respected ruler is able to gain the cooperation of the citizens, which is especially necessary during hard times. While popularity is important, it is better to be feared than admired,if it is between one or the other (Machiavelli p. 51). With that being said, there is a difference between fear and hatred. A ruler that is feared is still respected and citizens remain obedient. A ruler that is hated is not respected, and poses a risk of citizens betraying him.
According to Machiavelli, a ruler is only as strong as his army is. Throughout his writing Machiavelli stresses the necessity of a ruler's militia. This is a reaction to the invasions that Florence experienced during Soderini's rule, the ruler of Florence before Medici. Not only will a good army prevent invasion by foreigners, but a good army will also contribute to the maintenance of power. "The principal foundations on which the power of all governments is based are good laws and good armies (Machiavelli p. 38)." A good army consists of natives, or people that reside under your rule. They are the best you can have because they actually want to go to war for you, and they take pride in doing so. A good army respects their ruler, and if they respect their ruler they can be trusted (Machiavelli p.46). Despite this, a good ruler should be feared, including by his army. Ifa soldier does not fear their ruler, than there is more chance for rebellion. An army should be well trained and independent so that the ruler can focus on tasks of his own. The ruler should be familiar with the land, especially his own land should foreigners ever invade. Knowing the homeland also prepares the ruler to get familiar with foreign lands when the time comes.
I think that for the most part, The Prince can be applicable to today. Take into consideration Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Regardless of their viewpoints or political parties, both are presidential candidates, so they could potentially be new "rulers". Many argue that Donald Trump has only been as successful as he has due to being wealthy .Ifthat is truly the case, he has relied on his good fortune to get him where he is today, and Machiavelli would claim that is this not a characteristic of a good ruler. While originally Trump was a man of business, Bernie Sanders was involved in politics early on. He eventually worked his way up to the U.S. senate, and is now a presidential candidate. Machiavelli may say that Sanders is a man of merit, meaning he has used his strengths and good qualities to get him where he is today.
.-Â· Belmonti 4
When it comes to the populace, both get a lot of attention, but one may receive much more negative responses than the other. Trump has his supporters, but he has a large number of the population that dislikes him, ridicules him, and some may even say they hate him. I cannot say with confidence that people fear Trump himself, but I can say I have heard discussion of a fear of his potential presidency. People attempt to humiliate Trump through the media constantly, whether that is on the Internet or with a sticker on the back of their car. While Sanders is not supported or liked by everyone, the ridicule and dislike is much less recognized. With this evidence, Machiavelli would argue that the populace does not respect Trump. When only focusing on the principles and not how Machiavelli would feel about a specific person, I think the advice The Prince gives is timeless. Any good ruler needs to have great power to be successful. Many of the points made by Machiavelli can be generalized and applied to situations today, whether that is for a presidential candidate in the U.S. or a ruler of another nation.
According to Machiavelli, it is obvious that power is the most important thing a new ruler can exercise in order to be a good ruler. Military is equally as important as power, and a ruler cannot have strong power without a strong military, nor can a ruler lead a successful militia without great power. These ideas are the heart of The Prince, and are the basis for the rest of the principles and concepts brought up in the book. The main purposes of his writing include the unification ofltaly and keeping foreigners from invading Italy. According to Machiavelli, If Italy was one nation and not multiple independent states;the potential for a strong military is greater, meaning it is easier to keep out foreigners. It is clear that Machiavelli had very specific hopes for the kind of ruler Lorenzo Medici would be, which is another reason Machiavelli wrote The Prince. Machiavelli believed in power, and without power there is no such thing as a good ruler.
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