The Prince and the Discourses on Livy

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 258
  • Published : December 13, 2011
Open Document
Text Preview
Niccolo Machiavelli was at his time and continues to be now days one of the most influential and revolutionary authors known throughout the centuries. His writings, distinct from other renaissance authors of the epoch, make emphasis on his personal views and his opinions on the political matters taking place in Florence, Italy. Further discussed in the text are two of Machiavelli’s most renowned works, The Prince and the Discourses on Livy. Both books comprehend Machiavelli’s understandings of politics and explicit analysis on the various methods of governments with respect to principalities and republics. Machiavelli had many intentions in mind when he was first writing The Prince, among which where to understand, instruct and influence the minds of rulers at the time. More precisely, Machiavelli meant to influence the mind of one ruler in particular, the ruler of Florence Lorenzo de’ Medici to whom the book is dedicated. Machiavelli’s purpose throughout the book intended to help Lorenzo de’ Medici achieve eminence as a prince and guide him on how to properly rule Florence. The fist chapter of The Prince opens up by describing how many kinds of governments there are, in what manner they are given rise to and how they are later on acquired by states. Curiously, it is indeed, the first sentence of Chapter I which contains, what is perhaps, the most important discovery in Machiavelli’s entire writings from the Prince___ “ALL states and governments that have had, and have at present, dominion over men, have been and are either republics or principalities.” Being introduced the topic on governments, Machiavelli proceeds to make an acquaintance on principalities and restrains himself to talk only about this one type of government___ “I Will not discuss here the subject of republics, having treated of them at length elsewhere, but will confine myself only to principalities.” Machiavelli argues that principalities can be either hereditary, new or mixed. Hereditary principalities are the kinds of principalities “where the government has been for a long time in the family of the prince.” The prince, in the line to succeed, is the natural heir to a perfect constitution on which to base his rule upon and for which people are accustomed. He explains that in order for the natural prince to continue with the good reign, is it merely enough that he accommodates himself to the order of things previously established by his predecessors and occasionally need to adapt institutions to the current events. Machiavelli argues that hereditary principalities are maintained with much less effort and difficulty than new or mixed principalities in reason that hereditary principalities, having made a fair beginning, have had the time to perfect its constitution and laws to assure security and bring content to all of those who live under its rule. Whereas in mixed and new principalities that rulers, having made a new start, may easily run out of time before having perfected its constitution and thus end up by destroying the state. In addition, Machiavelli argues that the natural prince was also liable of inheriting the affection of the people who had at other periods in time become familiar with he’s family. Thus, to the disadvantage of new coming ruler’s, the natural prince had on his behalf a natural disposition of the subjects in the hereditary state to love the ruling family. Finally, Machiavelli concludes his chapter on hereditary principalities by saying that “for each change and alteration always prepares the way and facilitates the next.” In simple english, that in hereditary states the rule from prince to prince is facilitated by bringing on a change at different times giving people an opportunity to come familiarize at their own pace, while new or mixed principalities are obliged to enforce change in a flash. Machiavelli has overtime become a common adjective to immorality for he deeply believes that the main objective to politics is by...
tracking img