Nicollo Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469 in Florence, Italy at a time when the country was in political upheaval. Italy was divided between four city-states, and each of these was continually at the mercy of the stronger foreign governments of Europe. Nicollo's father was a lawyer and his family descended from the old marquises of Tuscany. Niccolo was a student of Marcello Virgilio and was a very educated man. Niccolo Machiavelli is known for his political views, writings and the term "Machiavellianism." In addition to these accomplishments, he was also a diplomat and a historian. His full name is Nicollo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli and he is considered one of the greatest political philosophers of the Renaissance period.
Niccolo Machiavelli was born at a time when the country was in political upheaval. Italy was divided between four city-states, and each of these was continually at the mercy of the stronger foreign governments of Europe. Niccolo wanted Italy to be a stable, unified country with one single ruler. "To Machiavelli, man's mission in this life, and his first duty is patriotism toward the glory, greatness, and liberty of the fatherland." Nicollo's political career started when he worked for the Republicans in Florence. He was elected secretary of the Lower Chancery of the Signory and then he held the same position under the Ten. After that, he worked for fourteen years being in charge of the home and foreign correspondence of the republic.
After the defeat of France in 1512, the Medici obtained control of Florence and Niccolo was dismissed and exiled for one year from France because he worked for the republic. During this year of exile the Medici found Niccolo guilty of being an accomplice to the Capp oni and Boscolo plot against Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici. Niccolo was tortured, but pardoned when the cardinal became Pope Leo X. At this time, Niccolo retired from the political life in public and devoted himself to the study of classics and to the writing of his political and literary histories for the next 10 years. In 1527, the Medici lost control over Florence and the Florentine's proclaimed the republic. Niccolo once again tried to be a part of the public view to help Florence move toward liberty, but he was denied due to his long association with the Medici.
Niccolo Machiavelli died a month later on June 22. Niccolo Machiavelli is definitely one of the greatest political thinkers to have ever existed, and his ideas and beliefs have been an inspiration and motivation for many famous leaders. Niccolo Machiavelli's principle works that he wrote are: the Discourse on Livy, The Prince, The History of Florence, and two plays. Niccolo Machiavelli was very much a republican and his beliefs are very apparent in most of his writing. His works have not only made him famous for his contributions to society, but also have given him a bad reputation as being a person with no morals. The French even coined the term Machiavellian as a derogatory word for disgrace and hatred of anything Italian because of Machiavelli's political beliefs and his writings in The Prince.
However, if you were to read all of Machiavelli's books and not just The Prince one would see that this term Machiavellian has been used unjustly to describe Niccolo Machiavelli. The Discourses and The Prince differ greatly from one another, but are both about achieving power. The Discourses is primarily based on the superiority of the democratic republic and is more about political behavior than anything else. The Discourses portrays the most about Niccolo and his entire system of politics. This writing shows his love for the common good and the injustice of the modern connotation of Machiavellian. Niccolo Machiavelli also showed that he had a strong love for Liberty.
The Discourses contains one of Machiavelli's most famous sayings, "As a Prince (political ruler), it is best to be both feared and loved. But if you have to choose between the two, it is better to be feared than loved." This is one of the best quotes that can show Machiavelli's approach on political affairs. The Prince is Niccolo Machiavelli's best-known work. In this book, he outlines the way an ambitious individual can garner power in political office. His writings in The Prince include a key insight to many things such as human nature, virtue, fortune, military, and patriotism. The main reason why Machiavelli wrote The Prince was to gain a job with the Medici government.
Machiavelli describes two types of governments in this book: monarchies and republics. Of course, his focus is on the monarchies as this was the type of government formed by the Medici. The Prince was written in a time when Italy was trying to be seized by France, Spain and Germany. Machiavelli believed that the ruin of Italy was caused by military weaknesses and so he wrote this book as a way to call for a strong leader to unify the Italian peninsula from foreign domination. In The Prince, Machiavelli said that there must be only one absolute ruler with the main goal of POWER to unify Italy. To Machiavelli politics was about only one thing: getting and keeping power or authority.
Everything else such as religion and morals has nothing to do with politics. According to Machiavelli a successful politician knows what to do or say in every situation. Machiavelli also believed that a successful politician could and should lie and manipulate if it will help keep, gain and maintain power. Machiavelli also stressed the use of "good" cruelty that again is a tool to use to help keep, gain and maintain power. The phrase "the ends justify the means" is one that philosophers have chosen to accurately summarize most of the ideas and beliefs that Machiavelli uses in The Prince. Machiavellianism - defined in The American Heritage College Dictionary as: "the political doctrine of Machiavelli, which denies the relevance of morality in politics and justifies craft and deceit." Machiavelli's aim in The Prince is to tell the new rulers how to remain in power once they have gained it.
The best way is to rule well. If this is not possible, then Machiavelli presents a variety of strategies for remaining in power. It is because of these strategies that the term "Machiavellian" was created. The main theme of The Prince is that all means may be resorted to for the gaining and keeping of power - the end justifies the means - and that the worst and most cruel acts of the absolute ruler are justified by the wickedness and cruelty of the governed. Before Machiavelli wrote these books where he expressed his political beliefs and ideas, writer and politics had only been concerned about how the government should work. Machiavelli was concerned about how the government actually does work.
Politicians say that Machiavelli was definitely a realist. Although Machiavelli's writings do seem to portray him as a corrupt, devious, and cruel politician or thinker, Machiavelli was actually a very religious and moral man. Niccolo Machiavelli was a very interesting man to research. He had many goals and insights that other political figures did not have.
Machiavelli traveled widely on diplomatic missions and met many of the most powerful and influential political figures of his time. These worldly travels have contributed to his knowledge and accomplishments of a historian. One of his greatest merits as a historian was the way he showed how past events in history moves in obedience to certain general laws. Another distinguishing view of Nicollo Machiavelli was his view of human nature. He believed that human nature does not change and he stereotypes human nature in a negative light.
Some of the negative characteristics that man shares are ungratefulness, insincerity, selfishness, and greed. Machiavelli's personal view of human nature was based merely on his own observation, but he based his assumption of human weakness on Christian theology. He thought that the weakness in character would not necessarily deem an effective government possible, but rather a government must realize and take into account human nature's negative characteristics and act upon them to be an effective government. He believed that much depended on the character of the citizens and so he wrote The Prince with the belief of one absolute ruler and his many strategies of gaining and keeping power in the context of his own century.
My first research on Nicollo Machiavelli was to find out what type of government he would propose. When I was doing the research, my first thoughts were just like all of the other critics. I judged him because I felt that he was proposing a very immoral type of government. Who wouldn't think this way with his views of deceit, lies, greed for power and totalitarian rule, where the ends justify the means? The next few paragraphs describe my view of what I read during my research based on his work in The Prince.
The first and foremost important aspect of a long lasting government is this: One absolute ruler whose only aim is for POWER. To gain and maintain power the political leader must first build military strength. The leader must also stay fit, practice military maneuvers and study past battles to lead his military. However, military strength alone is not enough for a lasting government. I believe that religion and politics must stay separate when governing a state. To be an absolute ruler, one must always appear to have the highest standards of morals and values.
This appearance will keep the citizens on your side or in your control under any circumstances. However, an absolute ruler must always use deception and lies when necessary to keep and gain POWER. This is an example of how "the ends justify the means." For a ruler to win and maintain his state: the means will always be judged honorable, and will be praised by everyone. I believe that it is better to be feared than loved. I also believe that an absolute ruler must have subordinates that he can use as a scapegoat for himself. An absolute ruler must never risk his own position and allowing others to doubt him.
Using others to take the blame on issues that would put the absolute ruler in danger of losing control is a mere tool that one must recognize and utilize. A good consul is also essential to success in forming a government. A leader must choose wise men to ask them about everything and these men must know that they can give their opinions with the utmost truth. A leader must grant only a few counselors permission to speak freely and the leader must limit the comments to topics that he himself has chosen.
This will help the leader in decision making, yet he will still be able to control the few that are allowed to speak freely. Therefore, the absolute ruler will still have POWER. An absolute ruler must do their best no matter what the situation. I believe that a ruler must use deceit as deemed necessary, yet maintain high standards to the public at all times.
A ruler must promise things that are demanded but can back out at any time if the power could be in question. My motto is this: "Whatever strengthens the state is right and whatever weakens it is wrong; power is the end, and the end justifies the means. However, upon further research I have realized that Nicollo Machiavelli did not necessarily have the immoral beliefs that I first perceived him to have. My views and opinions of Machiavelli took a different direction after I discovered that The Prince was written primarily for personal gain back into politics while the Medici was still in control.
Machiavelli merely accepted the immoral and totalitarian rule of the Medici even though he did not support it because he felt that having a position in government would give him the open door that he needed to make Italy a better state. Machiavelli only hoped for a unified Italian state and he thought that The Prince was his way of helping to bring about the changes he felt were necessary to give Italy the tools for a powerful ruler who could provide stability and security. I feel that Machiavelli is unfairly judged by many people who do not take the time to research all of the resources that are available. I feel that the last paragraph in the article Machiavelli Was Not Machiavellian describes it best. "The western view of Machiavellianism is one of power, ambition, and corruption. Instead, Niccolo Machiavelli was a republican and a patriot.
He supported the republic in his writing and in his actions. He loved his country and worked fiercely to protect it. The term "Machiavellian" should represent liberty and patriotism. He supported the republic and loved his country.".