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This paper is based on Machiavelli's The Prince.
It is quite possible that Machiavelli's method of analysis in some ways followed Aristotle's in the use of examples to support a set of recommendations which he feels are practical. This is something of a 'case analysis' approach, where individual examples are used to support and demonstrate general principles.
Another factor that must be kept in mind when evaluating the generalapplicability of Machiavelli's theory in The Princestems from the very situation in which his prince ofvirtù operates. Such a ruler comes to power not bydynastic inheritance or on the back of popular support, but purely as aresult of his own initiative, skill, talent, and/or strength (all wordsthat may be translated for virtù). Thus, theMachiavellian prince can count on no pre-existing structures oflegitimation, as discussed above. In order to “maintain hisstate,” then, he can only rely upon his own fount of personalcharacteristics to direct the use of power and establish his claim onrulership. This is a precarious position, since Machiavelli insiststhat the throes of fortune and the conspiracies of other men render theprince constantly vulnerable to the loss of his state. The idea of astable constitutional regime that reflects the tenor of modernpolitical thought (and practice) is nowhere to be seen inMachiavelli's conception of princely government.
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Machiavelli adopted this position on both pragmatic and principledgrounds. During his career as a secretary and diplomat in theFlorentine republic, Machiavelli came to acquire vast experience ofthe inner workings of French government, which became his model forthe “secure” (but not free) polity. Although Machiavellimakes relatively little comment about the French monarchy in ThePrince, he devotes a great deal of attention to France in theDiscourses.
While many are cynical of Machiavelli’s intention when writing The Prince, the works of earlier writers seem to indicate that his piece was indeed a reflection on how a ruler ought to govern.
Machiavelli completed The Prince in 1513.
Meanwhile, Machiavelli's enforced retirement led him to otherliterary activities. He wrote verse, plays, and short prose, penned astudy of The Art of War (published in 1521), and producedbiographical and historical sketches. Most importantly, he composed hisother major contribution to political thought, the Discourses onthe Ten Books of Titus Livy, an exposition of the principles ofrepublican rule masquerading as a commentary on the work of the famoushistorian of the Roman Republic. Unlike The Prince, theDiscourses was authored over a long period of time (commencingperhaps in 1514 or 1515 and completed in 1518 or 1519, although againonly published posthumously in 1531). The book may have been shaped byinformal discussions attended by Machiavelli among some of the leadingFlorentine intellectual and political figures under the sponsorship ofCosimo Rucellai.
In Machiavellis' The Prince, written to the ruler of Florence at the time, Lorenzo de' Medici, he analyzes the characteristics of numerous past rulers....
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