Petrarch and Machiavelli

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Thoughts on Ruling: Machiavelli VS. Petrarch

In the fourteenth century, the humanist philosopher Francesco Petrarch wrote a letter entitled How a Ruler Ought to Govern His Sate. Nearly a century later, another philosopher by the name of Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a book about governing, The Prince. The two documents show many similarities in content and theme. While the two wrote in similar subject matter, it is clear that these philosophers possess distinctly different viewpoints on how a ruler should govern. In Petrarch’s How a Ruler Ought to Govern His Sate and Machiavelli’s The Prince, both philosophers possess different opinions on how a ruler ought to govern. In particular Machiavelli pays specific attention to the importance of appearing like a good ruler. There is much evidence to support this in the readings.

Niccolo Machiavelli was a humanist philosopher born in Florence, Italy. He spent a good portion of his life working in Florence as a banker. Soon, Machiavelli became an important political figure when he was promoted to the position of chancellor and secretary to the Council of Ten for War. Machiavelli was trusted on many other government councils as well. Machiavelli was very successful in his positions until 1512 when the powerful Medici family regained control of Florence. The following year, he was accused of participating in a conspiracy to restore the republic. Machiavelli was thrown in jail, tortured, and eventually exiled from Florence. This was very unfortunate for the philosopher who received much joy from partaking in political matters in Florence. It was in exile that he wrote The Prince. Machiavelli desperately wanted to return to politics. He decided to write The Prince for Lorenzo de’ Medici, the head of the Medici family ruling the government. The philosopher hoped that by writing this book that he could regain favor with the Medici family and receive his position back in the government. However, his writing was not received...
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