Prince Notes

Topics: Prince, Principality, Political philosophy Pages: 5 (1655 words) Published: March 6, 2013
Machiavelli notes that it is easier to govern a hereditary state than a new principality for two main reasons.

-First, those under the rule of such states are familiar with the prince’s family and are therefore accustomed to their rule. The natural prince only has to keep past institutions intact, while adapting these institutions to current events.

-Second, the natural disposition of subjects in a hereditary state is to love the ruling family, unless the prince commits some horrible act against his people. Even if a strong outsider succeeds in conquering a prince’s hereditary state, any setback the outsider encounters will allow the prince to reconquer the state.

Machiavelli explains why maintaining a new principality is more difficult than maintaining a hereditary state.

-In the first place, people will willingly trade one recently arrived ruler for another, hoping that a new ruler will be better than the present one. This expectation of improvement will induce people to take up arms against any relatively unestablished prince.

One of the prince’s most effective options is to take up residence in the new state. -By living there, the prince can address problems quickly and efficiently. • He can prevent the local officials from plundering his territory. -The subjects will be in close contact with the prince. • Therefore, those who are inclined to be good will have more reason to show their allegiance to the prince • Those who are inclined to be bad will have more reason to fear him.


Machiavelli describes three ways to hold states that have been accustomed to living freely under their own laws. • The first is to devastate them.
• The second is for the conqueror to occupy them.
• The third is to allow the state to maintain its own laws, but to charge taxes and establish an oligarchy to keep the state friendly. o The third option is advantageous because the newly imposed oligarchy will work hard to secure the authority of the conquering prince within the conquered state because it owes its existence to the prince and cannot survive without his support. Thus, as long as the goal is not to devastate the other state, it is easiest to rule it through the use of its own citizens.

Machiavelli continues to describe the ways that a man can become a prince.

- In addition to fortune and prowess, criminal acts or the approval of his fellow citizens can facilitate a man’s rise to power.
- The other way a prince can come to power is through the favor of his fellow citizens. Princes who rise through this route are heads of what Machiavelli calls constitutional principalities. • Machiavelli argues that every city is populated by two groups of citizens: common people and nobles. o The common people are naturally disposed to avoid domination and oppression by the nobles. o The nobles are naturally disposed to dominate and oppress the common people.  • The power to form a principality lies with either the nobles or the people. o If the nobles realize they cannot dominate the people, they will try to strengthen their position by making one of the nobles a prince.

But a prince who has made adequate defensive preparations can actually inspire his subjects during such times. • To do so, he must convince the people that the hardships are only temporary and, more importantly, create feelings of patriotism and enthusiasm for the city’s defense. • This way, when the siege is over, the grateful and obliged people will love the prince all the more.

Machiavelli sarcastically remarks that principles of religion, rather than governments, rule ecclesiastical principalities, • So the prince does not even need to govern.
o Ecclesiastical principalities do not need to be defended, and their subjects require no administration. o Nonetheless, these states are always...
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