Machiavelli was a man who was not worried about what was morally correct, but rather, what was politically deserved. He was in fact an honest and religious man, but he has become known for trickery and double-dealing. He thought that princes would have to start tricking his enemies, or even his people for the good of his state. In my opinion, his theory, "It is better to be feared than loved" is saying that when the people fear their ruler, the ruler will most likely get what he wants. When a ruler has control and intimidation over his people, they will most likely do what he says and follow his rules, out of fear. Some people might argue and say that if a ruler is loved than people will respect him and follow his rules.
This is true, except, it is harder to get people to love and respect their ruler so much as to do everything they are told, than it is to get them to fear their ruler. Out of the three monarchs: Louis of France, Henry of England, and Ferdinand of Spain, I think Louis definitely exhibited Machiavelli's theory the best. Louis depended on trickery, intimidation and bribery to get what he wanted. These three characteristics are exactly what Machiavelli believes in.
Louis wanted to weaken the powers on the great lords in France so that he had all the power. Any noble that resisted Louis's rule was bribed or threatened until the noble agreed with Louis. Once there was a cardinal who disobeyed Louis. He was locked in a small cage for 11 years.
He couldn't even stand up or sit down. The people under Louis' rule were very scared of him that they were willing to put up anything to impress and agree with him. Louis was aiming for people to fear him though. I think he felt that it would in fact be easier to get people to fear him rather than respect him. Machiavelli's theory is true, but not moral. I feel that a good leader would rather have his people respect him, rather than fear him.
The king of France, Louis, followed Machiavelli's theory all the way. He led his state by ruling with intimidation, bribery, and trickery. He wanted his people to fear him so that they would do what he want, when he wanted. "It is better to be feared than loved" is a true statement, but it is not moral..