Manual Nicolo Machiavelli The Prince : Digital Age Edition

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In , however, everything fell apart. After a series of military defeats, Soderini was forced from office.

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The Republic collapsed. Immediately, Giuliano purged the government and instituted a city-wide witch-hunt. As a prominent republican, Machiavelli was summarily dismissed from his positions in late , and in , a warrant was issued for his arrest. It was at this point that Machiavelli penned The Prince. Much like a fallen Politburo members at a Soviet show trial, Machiavelli defended his persecution in the hope of securing favour. Only later did he feel safe enough to express his republican sympathies more openly.


More a bid to suck up to those who had robbed him of everything than a true divergence from his republican tendencies, The Prince was a cri du coeur born of suffering and despair, but lacking any necessary links with his other works. Seen in this light, Machiavelli himself appears much less the puzzling proponent of cynical monarchism, and more an innocent victim searching for hope.

Alexander Lee is a research fellow at the University of Warwick. Skip to main content.

Promise to protect their interests against predatory elites and foreigners. Fan partisan hatreds so that you alone seem to rise above them, saviour of the fatherland. But why did Machiavelli write a whole book about them, peppering it with men who soared to power by greasing palms and exploiting weaknesses: Julius Caesar, Pope Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia? Along with our daily news, popular culture has brought legions of Machiavellian figures into our homes and made them both human and entertaining: Tony Soprano , Frank and Claire Underwood in House of Cards , Lord Petyr Baelish from Game of Thrones.

These Machiavellians are scoundrels, but subtle ones. Until about a decade ago, it never occurred to me to ask this question. It was part of my job to teach Plato-to-Nato courses in the history of ideas, and Machiavelli came up early in the year, squeezed between Augustine and Hobbes. Like thousands of overworked lecturers, I had my shortcuts. Academic summaries told me that Machiavelli was devoted to the salvation of his native city, Florence, and his country, Italy, at a time when both were ravaged by wars.

Yes, he made sinister excuses for violence and hypocrisy. But his reasons were patriotic, well-meaning, human.

Machiavelli’s The Prince - The British Library

Yet the more I read, the more I questioned this story. At one moment he seems to applaud men who break their oaths at will, caring little for just dealings. For every cynical Machiavellian precept, I found two or three others that clashed with it. I began to doubt that Machiavelli believed his own advice. These doubts grew as I delved into his life and times, trying to understand what made him say what he did.

They were deeply suspicious of his loyalties, dismissed him from his posts, then had him imprisoned and tortured under suspicion of plotting against them.

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The Prince

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