In The Prince, written by Machiavelli, may be a book but it is overall a letter written by Machiavelli to Lorenzo de' Medici, the ruler of Florence, to help in his "understanding of the deeds of great men" and a guide to "How to be a Ruler." It is a very straightforward piece of work where advice is just handed over one by one with no impediments or obscurities. He writes in a very humble style where he actually states that it is completely unworthy of his audience (Lorenzo). Using this very humble and straightforward style in his work, The Prince, Machiavelli begins to give advice to the Ruler. Machiavelli first shows Lorenzo his analogy of how he could be a more effective ruler. He uses an analogy where "a person standing on a mountain is best positioned to survey the landscape below, and a person standing below is best positioned to survey the mountain." Through this analogy, Machiavelli states a sort of a ironic conclusion where one is to understand their subjects, one must be a prince and vice versa. Speaking of politics, control, and war craft Machiavelli organizes these such subjects into the different chapters throughout his work.
A couple pieces of such advice on "how to rule" given to Lorenzo by Machiavelli, states that all states are only either a republic ruling or a principality. Where principalities can be divided into two categories, hereditary and new. He states that hereditary states (states where you are only carrying on another Ruler's power) are much easier to govern due to the fact that the general populous already knows you. The Ruler before has already laid down all the ground work and rules for the next ruler, so things are a lot less hectic compared to a new principality where the population do not know you, where riots or revolts are more likely to occur. And since the people do not know the ruler, it will be much more difficult to gain trust and effectively rule the people. He advises Lorenzo that it is much easier to maintain control over a new principality if the people he is ruling share the same languages or customs in his country, and even better if the ruler shares the same customs and languages.
Other strategies on how to conquer and keep control of states, how to create other allies and when to do this are strewn throughout. When Machiavelli had written this book, Italy was in great political turmoil and conflict. The city states were fighting and feuding all over and peace seemed hopeless at the point. Such states such as Venice and Naples along with others were all in one big conflict to who should have highest control of Italy, a civil war in the making. Machiavelli, from bad experiences such as being kicked out of his government seat, has been striving for unity and a new republic. Machiavelli believed that through this book, he could help persuade Lorenzo into restoring the republic and unity that Machiavelli would dream about.
Through The Prince, Machiavelli used this to try and gain another chance at a political career in trying to bring unity. Although Machiavelli's intentions were not bad, ironically, Lorenzo evidently took Machiavelli's advice in the wrong way and quickly denounced and high criticized the book as being blasphemous. -- -- Throughout The Prince, Machiavelli most likely intended it to convey his views of unity, free will, and a very "do something for the good of the state at all costs" view. Where his disgust for lofty ideals and royal power are shown through how he advises against all this and suggests that one should not act upon personal virtues for it may hurt the good of the whole. Contrastingly, Machiavelli also suggest that although some undueness' may be immoral, he specifies that if it is for the good of the people and the whole, that it should be done without any hesitation. And with these particular "dirty deeds," Machiavelli seems to hold the general opinion of the populous to his top concern and priority.
He explains that nothing can occur without the support of the general populous and that a good ruler should do everything in his power to appease and please the needs of the people. He analyzes human nature through the advice where he tells how to keep the populous under control or how to make them love you. He sees humans in a very Hobbes way where it is very negative. Where humans are only interested that they are not hurt and that they succeed.
People are, in a way, portrayed as sheep in this work by the methods of control Machiavelli constructs. Machivelli's own views and opinions on these subjects such as human nature and ethical issues are shown very clearly throughout his explanations and advice throughout. He explores human nature and reflects this bad side towards the general populous or his subjects. The Prince is significant to modern and past history due to the fact that it may have set some tracks down to basic government. At least his theory of it where he believed that political theory should be completely cut off and ostracized from theology and metaphysics. For it to stand by itself and sustain itself with no outside forces.
It may have influenced the Renaissance as well since in the subjective side, "man became a spiritual individual" (Jacob Burkhardt), separated and left alone, to be kept simple. I believe that Machiavelli believed that politics should be something that should be kept at its essence, very simple and elementary but effective.