Summary of The Prince The Prince, written in 1513 by Niccolo Machiavelli, was dedicated to Lorenzo the Magnificent, the prince of Florence. At the time, Italy was not a unified country, but a collection of city-states, each with its own court and ruler, attempting to gain power over the others. Machiavelli wrote this book for two purposes. First, he urged the young Medici to save and unite Italy from constant foreign invaders by instructing him to be a successful prince. Also, he pleaded Lorenzo to consider inviting him back to the Florentine politics from his exile.
Having made his case, Machiavelli then wrote about his main focus of the work! X how a prince can establish, govern, and maintain the strongest government in his reign. Machiavelli categorized governments into three types: hereditary, new, or mixed. Mixed principalities are government with addition of new territories. If the new territory shares the same language and customs as the old one, the prince must extinguish the former ruling line and rule similarly to the former government. On the other hand, if the new territory does not share the same language and customs, the prince should either reside in it or set up colonies consisting of his own citizens or soldiers. There are four ways a prince can acquire principalities! By his own arms, help of others, evil ways, or civil means.
Machiavelli believed that a prince should do whatever it takes to achieve his goal. Acquiring a government by using one! |s own arms and abilities is the most secure. Gaining a government with the help of others can often be risky and requires good fortune. A prince can acquire a government by using wickedness, however, there will be no glory that accompanies the victory. If a prince gains control of a government from election, he should keep himself popular among his people and especially the nobles. At the same time, the prince should establish a solid foundation and weaken his potential threats by scattering their followers.
Apart from these principalities, there is also the ecclesiastical principality; they are governed by Popes rather than prince. There are three ways a prince can gain and protect his territories: using his own armies, mercenaries, or auxiliaries. Machiavelli pointed out that the most successful leaders, such as Alexander the Great, conquered lands using his own armies, since using mercenaries and auxiliaries can often be risky. A prince should be familiar with his territory, the art of warfare, and should frequently hold military exercises during the time of peace. Machiavelli suggested that a prince should rather be mean than liberal, cruel than loving, crafty than honest. A mean leader has enough to defend his people and keep away chaos and revolts.
In contrast, a liberal leader end up being hated because the moment he stops being liberal, he would be accused of greediness. A wise prince should do whatever it takes to not be hated, because hatred can cause destruction. To rule effectively, a prince must be as merciful as the circumstance allow, but willingly utilize any means to achieve the best for his states. A wise prince should be able to pick wise advisors instead of flatterers.
He should tentatively listen to all his advisors! | opinion, but act according to his very own. The prince must control the nobles and his people by keeping the weak protected and content, and weakening the powerful who are potential threat to the state. He should have a reputation of greatness and praiseworthiness. Other than performing outstandingly during times of warfare, the prince can secretly arrange hostility against himself, and overcome it to increase his fame. When the neighboring states are at war, the prince should take sides and never stand neutral. If not, when the war is over, the winning country will not take the prince as a friend, while the losing country will hate the prince for not helping.
The Prince was written for Lorenzo de Medici. Machiavelli hoped that Lorenzo would be able to unify the scattered states into one united Italy with his advices, and invite Machiavelli back to politics. His main focus of this book is to successfully acquire, govern, and maintain the principalities whether the government is new, hereditary, or mix of both. An outstanding prince should do whatever it takes and distance himself from ethical concerns for the benefit of his states.