How a Ruler Ought to Govern His State

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Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) was an Italian scholar, poet, and early humanist during the reformation of the Renaissance period. He was one of the greatest poets of the 14th-16th century, and is regarded as the father of the humanist movement. Petrarch was a prolific writer. Not only was he known for poetry in Italian and Latin, but also hundreds of letters, essays and histories. Like Dante, a generation before Petrarch wrote in a vernacular style to bring Italian a literary language.

In this letter, Petrarch offers advice on how to rule as an effective leader. He uses various examples and sources to support his theories of how a good ruler should rule by laying out a good model. Petrarch emphasizes the first quality of a good leader should be friendly to the good citizens. He believed that nothing was worse for the state than to use fear and cruelty to maintain power. He used the case of the barbaric emperor by the name of Maxminus, claiming that it is far better for a lord to be loved than to be feared. He also advised the ruler to love the subjects like one’s own children. Next, Petrarch emphasized justice so that each person gets what is due, and no one is punished without a good reason.

He uses the Apostle Paul from the Bible and how the sword should only be used if necessarily and not foolishly. He stresses the strengths and gratitude that can be gained when one presents himself as friendly and not terrifying. The author goes on to use Caesar Augustus and Nero, two men that fell under the title “father of your country “even thou only Augustus can truly hold the title honestly, all the while Nero was both enemy of his country and his religion. The author also uses God, the Heavenly Judge and Eternal King of all. He expresses how we all can have sin in our lives and are weakened by our own self-willingness and all are in need of mercy. Petrarch uses the Aristotle, a great philosopher, to give advice on how one should govern or...
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