Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito
|Born||3 May 1469|
|Died||21 June 1527 58) (aged|
Florence, Republic of Florence
|School||Renaissance humanism, classical realism, classical republicanism|
|Politics and political philosophy, military theory, history|
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli ( // , Italian: [nikkoˈlɔ mmakjaˈvɛlli] ; 3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist, writer, playwright and poet of the Renaissance period. He has often been called the father of modern political science. For many years he was a senior official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned by Italian scholars. He was secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power. He wrote his best-known work The Prince (Il Principe) in 1513, having been exiled from city affairs.
The Italians are a Romance ethnic group and nation native to the Italian peninsula and its neighbouring territories. Most Italians share a common culture, history, ancestry or language. Legally, all Italian nationals are citizens of the Italian Republic, regardless of ancestry or nation of residence and may be distinguished from people of Italian descent without Italian citizenship and from ethnic Italians living in territories adjacent to the Italian Peninsula without Italian citizenship. The majority of Italian nationals are speakers of Italian, or a regional variety thereof. However, around half also speak another regional or minority language native to Italy; although there is disagreement on the total number, according to UNESCO there are approximately 30 languages native to Italy.
Renaissance humanism is the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The term humanism is contemporary to that period, while Renaissance humanism is a retronym used to distinguish it from later humanist developments.
Political science is a social science which deals with systems of governance, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts, and political behavior. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics which is commonly thought of as determining of the distribution of power and resources. Political scientists "see themselves engaged in revealing the relationships underlying political events and conditions, and from these revelations they attempt to construct general principles about the way the world of politics works."
Machiavellianism is widely used as a negative term to characterize unscrupulous politicians of the sort Machiavelli described most famously in The Prince. Machiavelli described immoral behavior, such as dishonesty and the killing of innocents, as being normal and effective in politics. He even encouraged it in some situations. The book gained notoriety due to claims that it teaches "evil recommendations to tyrants to help them maintain their power".
Machiavellianism is defined as the political theory of Niccolò Machiavelli, especially the view that any means can be used if it is necessary to maintain political power. The word comes from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, born in 1469, who wrote Il Principe, among other works.
The term Machiavellian is often associated with political deceit, deviousness, and realpolitik. On the other hand, many commentators, such as Baruch Spinoza, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot, have argued that Machiavelli was actually a republican, even when writing The Prince, and his writings were an inspiration to Enlightenment proponents of modern democratic political philosophy.In one place, for example, he noted his admiration for the selfless Roman dictator Cincinnatus.
Realpolitik is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism. It is often simply referred to as "pragmatism" in politics, e.g. "pursuing pragmatic policies". The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are perceived as coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian.
Baruch Spinoza was a Jewish-Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Sephardi origin. By laying the groundwork for the Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and the universe, he came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy. Along with René Descartes, Spinoza was a leading philosophical figure of the Dutch Golden Age. Spinoza's given name, which means "Blessed", varies among different languages. In Hebrew, it is written ברוך שפינוזה. His Portuguese name is Benedito "Bento" de Espinosa or d'Espinosa. In his Latin works, he used Latin: Benedictus de Spinoza.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer. Born in Geneva, his political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political and educational thought.
Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy, the third child and first son of attorney Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli and his wife, Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli.The Machiavelli family is believed to be descended from the old marquesses of Tuscany and to have produced thirteen Florentine Gonfalonieres of Justice, one of the offices of a group of nine citizens selected by drawing lots every two months and who formed the government, or Signoria; but he was never a full citizen of Florence because of the nature of Florentine citizenship in that time even under the republican regime. Machiavelli married Marietta Corsini in 1502.
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.
Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli was a citizen of Florence and father to Niccolò Machiavelli. A Doctor of Law, debts inherited from his father and uncles limited his career and prevented him from joining the legal guild. He is known independently for his diary or Libro di Ricordi, chronicling the years 1474–1487. The pages, housed in the Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence, serve as a valuable window into everyday life and culture during the time and provide the only reliable information on his famous son's early youth. Bernardo Machiavelli was married to Bartolommea di Stefano Nelli. They had four children, Primavera, Margherita, Niccolò and Totto.
Gonfaloniere of Justice was a post in the government of medieval and early Renaissance Florence. Like Florence's Priori, it was introduced in 1293 when Giano Della Bella's Ordinances of Justice came into force.
Machiavelli was born in a tumultuous era in which popes waged acquisitive wars against Italian city-states, and people and cities often fell from power as France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire battled for regional influence and control. Political-military alliances continually changed, featuring condottieri (mercenary leaders), who changed sides without warning, and the rise and fall of many short-lived governments.
A city-state is a sovereign state, also described as a type of small independent country, that usually consists of a single city and its dependent territories. Historically, this included cities such as Rome, Athens, Carthage, and the Italian city-states during the Renaissance. As of 2019, only a handful of sovereign city-states exist, with some disagreement as to which are city-states. A great deal of consensus exists that the term properly applies currently to Singapore, Monaco, and Vatican City. City states are also sometimes called micro-states which however also includes other configurations of very small countries, not to be confused with Micronations.
The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.
Condottieri were Italian military leaders involved in classical formation battles, first as mercenary captains commanding free companies and later as generals of multi-national armies. In medieval Italian, condottiero meant "contractor" but the term later acquired the broader meaning of "military leader", also in reference to Italian Catholics serving as commanders for the Roman Catholic side during the Counter-Reformation.
Machiavelli was taught grammar, rhetoric, and Latin. It is thought that he did not learn Greek even though Florence was at the time one of the centers of Greek scholarship in Europe. In 1494 Florence restored the republic, expelling the Medici family that had ruled Florence for some sixty years. Shortly after the execution of Savonarola, Machiavelli was appointed to an office of the second chancery, a medieval writing office that put Machiavelli in charge of the production of official Florentine government documents. Shortly thereafter, he was also made the secretary of the Dieci di Libertà e Pace.
The Republic of Florence, also known as the Florentine Republic, was a medieval and early modern state that was centered on the Italian city of Florence in Tuscany. The republic originated in 1115, when the Florentine people rebelled against the Margraviate of Tuscany upon the death of Matilda of Tuscany, a woman who controlled vast territories that included Florence. The Florentines formed a commune in her successors' place. The republic was ruled by a council known as the Signoria of Florence. The signoria was chosen by the gonfaloniere, who was elected every two months by Florentine guild members.
In the first decade of the sixteenth century, he carried out several diplomatic missions: most notably to the Papacy in Rome. Moreover, from 1502 to 1503, he witnessed the brutal reality of the state-building methods of Cesare Borgia (1475–1507) and his father, Pope Alexander VI, who were then engaged in the process of trying to bring a large part of Central Italy under their possession. The pretext of defending Church interests was used as a partial justification by the Borgias. Other excursions to the court of Louis XII and the Spanish court influenced his writings such as The Prince.
Between 1503 and 1506, Machiavelli was responsible for the Florentine militia. He distrusted mercenaries (a distrust that he explained in his official reports and then later in his theoretical works for their unpatriotic and uninvested nature in the war that makes their allegiance fickle and often too unreliable when most needed) and instead staffed his army with citizens, a policy that was to be repeatedly successful. Under his command, Florentine citizen-soldiers defeated Pisa in 1509.
However, Machiavelli's success did not last. In August 1512 the Medici, backed by Pope Julius II, used Spanish troops to defeat the Florentines at Prato, but many historians have argued that it was due to Piero Soderini's unwillingness to compromise with the Medici, who were holding Prato under siege. In the wake of the siege, Soderini resigned as Florentine head of state and left in exile. The experience would, like Machiavelli's time in foreign courts and with the Borgia, heavily influence his political writings.
After the Medici victory, the Florentine city-state and the republic were dissolved, and Machiavelli was deprived of office in 1512. In 1513 the Medici accused him of conspiracy against them and had him imprisoned. Despite having been subjected to torture ("with the rope" in which the prisoner is hanged from his bound wrists, from the back, forcing the arms to bear the body's weight and dislocating the shoulders), he denied involvement and was released after three weeks.
Machiavelli then retired to his estate at Sant'Andrea in Percussina, near San Casciano in Val di Pesa, and devoted himself to studying and writing of the political treatises that earned his place in the intellectual development of political philosophy and political conduct.
Despairing of the opportunity to remain directly involved in political matters, after a time, he began to participate in intellectual groups in Florence and wrote several plays that (unlike his works on political theory) were both popular and widely known in his lifetime. Still, politics remained his main passion and, to satisfy this interest, he maintained a well-known correspondence with more politically connected friends, attempting to become involved once again in political life.
In a letter to Francesco Vettori, he described his exile:
When evening comes, I go back home, and go to my study. On the threshold, I take off my work clothes, covered in mud and filth, and I put on the clothes an ambassador would wear. Decently dressed, I enter the ancient courts of rulers who have long since died. There, I am warmly welcomed, and I feed on the only food I find nourishing and was born to savour. I am not ashamed to talk to them and ask them to explain their actions and they, out of kindness, answer me. Four hours go by without my feeling any anxiety. I forget every worry. I am no longer afraid of poverty or frightened of death. I live entirely through them.
Machiavelli died in 1527 at 58 after receiving his last rites.He was buried at the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. An epitaph honouring him is inscribed on his monument. The Latin legend reads: TANTO NOMINI NULLUM PAR ELOGIUM ("So great a name (has) no adequate praise" or "No eulogy (would be) a match for such a great name").
Commentators have taken very different approaches to Machiavelli and not always agreed. Major discussion has tended to be about two issues: first, how unified and philosophical his work is, and second, concerning how innovative or traditional it is.
There is some disagreement concerning how best to describe the unifying themes, if there are any, that can be found in Machiavelli's works, especially in the two major political works, The Prince and Discourses. Some commentators have described him as inconsistent, and perhaps as not even putting a high priority in consistency.Others such as Hans Baron have argued that his ideas must have changed dramatically over time. Some have argued that his conclusions are best understood as a product of his times, experiences and education. Others, such as Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield, have argued strongly that there is a very strong and deliberate consistency and distinctness, even arguing that this extends to all of Machiavelli's works including his comedies and letters.
Commentators such as Leo Strauss have gone so far as to name Machiavelli as the deliberate originator of modernity itself. Others have argued that Machiavelli is only a particularly interesting example of trends which were happening around him. In any case Machiavelli presented himself at various times as someone reminding Italians of the old virtues of the Romans and Greeks, and other times as someone promoting a completely new approach to politics.
That Machiavelli had a wide range of influences is in itself not controversial. Their relative importance is however a subject of on-going discussion. It is possible to summarize some of the main influences emphasized by different commentators.
1. The Mirror of Princes genre. Gilbert (1938) summarized the similarities between The Prince and the genre it obviously imitates, the so-called "Mirror of Princes" style. This was a classically influenced genre, with models at least as far back as Xenophon and Isocrates. While Gilbert emphasized the similarities, however, he agreed with all other commentators that Machiavelli was particularly novel in the way he used this genre, even when compared to his contemporaries such as Baldassare Castiglione and Erasmus. One of the major innovations Gilbert noted was that Machiavelli focused upon the "deliberate purpose of dealing with a new ruler who will need to establish himself in defiance of custom". Normally, these types of works were addressed only to hereditary princes. (Xenophon is also an exception in this regard.)
2. Classical republicanism. Commentators such as Quentin Skinner and J.G.A. Pocock, in the so-called "Cambridge School" of interpretation, have been able to show that some of the republican themes in Machiavelli's political works, particularly the Discourses on Livy , can be found in medieval Italian literature which was influenced by classical authors such as Sallust.
3. Classical political philosophy: Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle. The Socratic school of classical political philosophy, especially Aristotle, had become a major influence upon European political thinking in the late Middle Ages. It existed both in the Catholicised form presented by Thomas Aquinas, and in the more controversial "Averroist" form of authors like Marsilius of Padua. Machiavelli was critical of Catholic political thinking and may have been influenced by Averroism. But he cites Plato and Aristotle very infrequently and apparently did not approve of them. Leo Strauss argued that the strong influence of Xenophon, a student of Socrates more known as an historian, rhetorician and soldier, was a major source of Socratic ideas for Machiavelli, sometimes not in line with Aristotle. While interest in Plato was increasing in Florence during Machiavelli's lifetime, Machiavelli does not show particular interest in him, but was indirectly influenced by his readings of authors such as Polybius, Plutarch and Cicero.
The major difference between Machiavelli and the Socratics, according to Strauss, is Machiavelli's materialism, and therefore his rejection of both a teleological view of nature and of the view that philosophy is higher than politics. With their teleological understanding of things, Socratics argued that desirable things tend to happen by nature, as if nature desired them, but Machiavelli claimed that such things happen by blind chance or human action.
4. Classical materialism. Strauss argued that Machiavelli may have seen himself as influenced by some ideas from classical materialists such as Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius. Strauss however sees this also as a sign of major innovation in Machiavelli, because classical materialists did not share the Socratic regard for political life, while Machiavelli clearly did.
5. Thucydides. Some scholars note the similarity between Machiavelli and the Greek historian Thucydides, since both emphasized power politics.Strauss argued that Machiavelli may indeed have been influenced by pre-Socratic philosophers, but he felt it was a new combination:-
...contemporary readers are reminded by Machiavelli's teaching of Thucydides; they find in both authors the same "realism," i.e., the same denial of the power of the gods or of justice and the same sensitivity to harsh necessity and elusive chance. Yet Thucydides never calls in question the intrinsic superiority of nobility to baseness, a superiority that shines forth particularly when the noble is destroyed by the base. Therefore Thucydides' History arouses in the reader a sadness which is never aroused by Machiavelli's books. In Machiavelli we find comedies, parodies, and satires but nothing reminding of tragedy. One half of humanity remains outside of his thought. There is no tragedy in Machiavelli because he has no sense of the sacredness of "the common." — Strauss (1958 , p. 292)
Amongst commentators, there are a few consistently made proposals concerning what was most new in Machiavelli's work.
Machiavelli is sometimes seen as the prototype of a modern empirical scientist, building generalizations from experience and historical facts, and emphasizing the uselessness of theorizing with the imagination.
He emancipated politics from theology and moral philosophy. He undertook to describe simply what rulers actually did and thus anticipated what was later called the scientific spirit in which questions of good and bad are ignored, and the observer attempts to discover only what really happens.
Machiavelli felt that his early schooling along the lines of a traditional classical education was essentially useless for the purpose of understanding politics. Nevertheless, he advocated intensive study of the past, particularly regarding the founding of a city, which he felt was a key to understanding its later development.Moreover, he studied the way people lived and aimed to inform leaders how they should rule and even how they themselves should live. For example, Machiavelli denies that living virtuously necessarily leads to happiness. And Machiavelli viewed misery as "one of the vices that enables a prince to rule." Machiavelli stated that "it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved." In much of Machiavelli's work, it seems that the ruler must adopt unsavory policies for the sake of the continuance of his regime.
A related and more controversial proposal often made is that he described how to do things in politics in a way which seemed neutral concerning who used the advice—tyrants or good rulers. 's advice presupposes the importance of ideas like legitimacy in making changes to the political system.That Machiavelli strove for realism is not doubted, but for four centuries scholars have debated how best to describe his morality. The Prince made the word "Machiavellian" a byword for deceit, despotism, and political manipulation. Even if Machiavelli was not himself evil, Leo Strauss declared himself inclined toward the traditional view that Machiavelli was self-consciously a "teacher of evil," since he counsels the princes to avoid the values of justice, mercy, temperance, wisdom, and love of their people in preference to the use of cruelty, violence, fear, and deception. Italian anti-fascist philosopher Benedetto Croce (1925) concludes Machiavelli is simply a "realist" or "pragmatist" who accurately states that moral values in reality do not greatly affect the decisions that political leaders make. German philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1946) held that Machiavelli simply adopts the stance of a political scientist—a Galileo of politics—in distinguishing between the "facts" of political life and the "values" of moral judgment. On the other hand, Walter Russell Mead has argued that The Prince
Machiavelli is generally seen as being critical of Christianity as it existed in his time, specifically its effect upon politics, and also everyday life. In his opinion, Christianity, along with the teleological Aristotelianism that the church had come to accept, allowed practical decisions to be guided too much by imaginary ideals and encouraged people to lazily leave events up to providence or, as he would put it, chance, luck or fortune. While Christianity sees modesty as a virtue and pride as sinful, Machiavelli took a more classical position, seeing ambition, spiritedness, and the pursuit of glory as good and natural things, and part of the virtue and prudence that good princes should have. Therefore, while it was traditional to say that leaders should have virtues, especially prudence, Machiavelli's use of the words virtù and prudenza was unusual for his time, implying a spirited and immodest ambition. Famously, Machiavelli argued that virtue and prudence can help a man control more of his future, in the place of allowing fortune to do so.
Najemy (1993) has argued that this same approach can be found in Machiavelli's approach to love and desire, as seen in his comedies and correspondence. Najemy shows how Machiavelli's friend Vettori argued against Machiavelli and cited a more traditional understanding of fortune.
On the other hand, humanism in Machiavelli's time meant that classical pre-Christian ideas about virtue and prudence, including the possibility of trying to control one's future, were not unique to him. But humanists did not go so far as to promote the extra glory of deliberately aiming to establish a new state, in defiance of traditions and laws.
While Machiavelli's approach had classical precedents, it has been argued that it did more than just bring back old ideas and that Machiavelli was not a typical humanist. Strauss (1958) argues that the way Machiavelli combines classical ideas is new. While Xenophon and Plato also described realistic politics and were closer to Machiavelli than Aristotle was, they, like Aristotle, also saw Philosophy as something higher than politics. Machiavelli was apparently a materialist who objected to explanations involving formal and final causation, or teleology.
Machiavelli's promotion of ambition among leaders while denying any higher standard meant that he encouraged risk-taking, and innovation, most famously the founding of new modes and orders. His advice to princes was therefore certainly not limited to discussing how to maintain a state. It has been argued that Machiavelli's promotion of innovation led directly to the argument for progress as an aim of politics and civilization. But while a belief that humanity can control its own future, control nature, and "progress" has been long-lasting, Machiavelli's followers, starting with his own friend Guicciardini, have tended to prefer peaceful progress through economic development, and not warlike progress. As Harvey Mansfield (1995 , p. 74) wrote: "In attempting other, more regular and scientific modes of overcoming fortune, Machiavelli's successors formalized and emasculated his notion of virtue."
Machiavelli however, along with some of his classical predecessors, saw ambition and spiritedness, and therefore war, as inevitable and part of human nature.
Strauss concludes his 1958 Thoughts on Machiavelli by proposing that this promotion of progress leads directly to the modern arms race. Strauss argued that the unavoidable nature of such arms races, which have existed before modern times and led to the collapse of peaceful civilizations, provides us with both an explanation of what is most truly dangerous in Machiavelli's innovations, but also the way in which the aims of his apparently immoral innovation can be understood.
Machiavelli shows repeatedly that he saw religion as man-made, and that the value of religion lies in its contribution to social order and the rules of morality must be dispensed with if security requires it. In The Prince, the Discourses, and in the Life of Castruccio Castracani, he describes "prophets", as he calls them, like Moses, Romulus, Cyrus the Great, and Theseus (he treated pagan and Christian patriarchs in the same way) as the greatest of new princes, the glorious and brutal founders of the most novel innovations in politics, and men whom Machiavelli assures us have always used a large amount of armed force and murder against their own people. He estimated that these sects last from 1,666 to 3,000 years each time, which, as pointed out by Leo Strauss, would mean that Christianity became due to start finishing about 150 years after Machiavelli.Machiavelli's concern with Christianity as a sect was that it makes men weak and inactive, delivering politics into the hands of cruel and wicked men without a fight.
While fear of God can be replaced by fear of the prince, if there is a strong enough prince, Machiavelli felt that having a religion is in any case especially essential to keeping a republic in order. For Machiavelli, a truly great prince can never be conventionally religious himself, but he should make his people religious if he can. According to Strauss (1958 , pp. 226–27) he was not the first person to ever explain religion in this way, but his description of religion was novel because of the way he integrated this into his general account of princes.
Machiavelli's judgment that democracies need religion for practical political reasons was widespread among modern proponents of republics until approximately the time of the French Revolution. This therefore represents a point of disagreement between himself and late modernity.
Despite the classical precedents, which Machiavelli was not the only one to promote in his time, Machiavelli's realism and willingness to argue that good ends justify bad things, is seen as a critical stimulus towards some of the most important theories of modern politics.
Firstly, particularly in the Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli is unusual in the positive side he sometimes seems to describe in factionalism in republics. For example, quite early in the Discourses, (in Book I, chapter 4), a chapter title announces that the disunion of the plebs and senate in Rome "kept Rome free". That a community has different components whose interests must be balanced in any good regime is an idea with classical precedents, but Machiavelli's particularly extreme presentation is seen as a critical step towards the later political ideas of both a division of powers or checks and balances, ideas which lay behind the US constitution, as well as many other modern state constitutions.
Similarly, the modern economic argument for capitalism, and most modern forms of economics, was often stated in the form of "public virtue from private vices." Also in this case, even though there are classical precedents, Machiavelli's insistence on being both realistic and ambitious, not only admitting that vice exists but being willing to risk encouraging it, is a critical step on the path to this insight.
Mansfield however argues that Machiavelli's own aims have not been shared by those he influenced. Machiavelli argued against seeing mere peace and economic growth as worthy aims on their own, if they would lead to what Mansfield calls the "taming of the prince."
Machiavelli is most famous for a short political treatise, The Prince , written in 1513 but not published until 1532, five years after his death. Although he privately circulated The Prince among friends, the only theoretical work to be printed in his lifetime was The Art of War , which was about military science. Since the 16th century, generations of politicians remain attracted and repelled by its apparently neutral acceptance, or even positive encouragement, of the immorality of powerful men, described especially in The Prince but also in his other works.
His works are sometimes even said to have contributed to the modern negative connotations of the words politics and politician,and it is sometimes thought that it is because of him that Old Nick became an English term for the Devil. More obviously, the adjective Machiavellian became a term describing someone or something that is "marked by cunning, duplicity, or bad faith". Machiavellianism also remains a popular term used casually in political discussions; while in psychology, it denotes a personality type.
While Machiavellianism is notable in the works of Machiavelli, Machiavelli's works are complex and he is generally agreed to have been more than just "Machiavellian" himself. For example, J.G.A. Pocock (1975) saw him as a major source of the republicanism that spread throughout England and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries and Leo Strauss (1958), whose view of Machiavelli is quite different in many ways, agreed about Machiavelli's influence on republicanism and argued that even though Machiavelli was a teacher of evil he had a nobility of spirit that led him to advocate ignoble actions. Whatever his intentions, which are still debated today, he has become associated with any proposal where "the end justifies the means". For example, Leo Strauss (1958, p. 297) wrote:
Machiavelli is the only political thinker whose name has come into common use for designating a kind of politics, which exists and will continue to exist independently of his influence, a politics guided exclusively by considerations of expediency, which uses all means, fair or foul, iron or poison, for achieving its ends—its end being the aggrandizement of one's country or fatherland—but also using the fatherland in the service of the self-aggrandizement of the politician or statesman or one's party.
To quote Robert Bireley:
...there were in circulation approximately fifteen editions of the Prince and nineteen of the Discourses and French translations of each before they were placed on the Index of Paul IV in 1559, a measure which nearly stopped publication in Catholic areas except in France. Three principal writers took the field against Machiavelli between the publication of his works and their condemnation in 1559 and again by the Tridentine Index in 1564. These were the English cardinal Reginald Pole and the Portuguese bishop Jeronymo Osorio, both of whom lived for many years in Italy, and the Italian humanist and later bishop, Ambrogio Caterino Politi.
Machiavelli's ideas had a profound impact on political leaders throughout the modern west, helped by the new technology of the printing press. During the first generations after Machiavelli, his main influence was in non-Republican governments. Pole reported that The Prince was spoken of highly by Thomas Cromwell in England and had influenced Henry VIII in his turn towards Protestantism, and in his tactics, for example during the Pilgrimage of Grace. :17) reports, in the 16th century, Catholic writers "associated Machiavelli with the Protestants, whereas Protestant authors saw him as Italian and Catholic". In fact, he was apparently influencing both Catholic and Protestant kings.A copy was also possessed by the Catholic king and emperor Charles V. In France, after an initially mixed reaction, Machiavelli came to be associated with Catherine de' Medici and the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. As Bireley (1990
One of the most important early works dedicated to criticism of Machiavelli, especially The Prince, was that of the Huguenot, Innocent Gentillet, whose work commonly referred to as Discourse against Machiavelli or Anti Machiavel was published in Geneva in 1576.He accused Machiavelli of being an atheist and accused politicians of his time by saying that his works were the "Koran of the courtiers", that "he is of no reputation in the court of France which hath not Machiavel's writings at the fingers ends". Another theme of Gentillet was more in the spirit of Machiavelli himself: he questioned the effectiveness of immoral strategies (just as Machiavelli had himself done, despite also explaining how they could sometimes work). This became the theme of much future political discourse in Europe during the 17th century. This includes the Catholic Counter Reformation writers summarised by Bireley: Giovanni Botero, Justus Lipsius, Carlo Scribani, Adam Contzen, Pedro de Ribadeneira, and Diego Saavedra Fajardo. These authors criticized Machiavelli, but also followed him in many ways. They accepted the need for a prince to be concerned with reputation, and even a need for cunning and deceit, but compared to Machiavelli, and like later modernist writers, they emphasized economic progress much more than the riskier ventures of war. These authors tended to cite Tacitus as their source for realist political advice, rather than Machiavelli, and this pretense came to be known as "Tacitism". "Black tacitism" was in support of princely rule, but "red tacitism" arguing the case for republics, more in the original spirit of Machiavelli himself, became increasingly important.
Modern materialist philosophy developed in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, starting in the generations after Machiavelli. This philosophy tended to be republican, but as with the Catholic authors, Machiavelli's realism and encouragement of using innovation to try to control one's own fortune were more accepted than his emphasis upon war and factional violence. Not only was innovative economics and politics a result, but also modern science, leading some commentators to say that the 18th century Enlightenment involved a "humanitarian" moderating of Machiavellianism.
The importance of Machiavelli's influence is notable in many important figures in this endeavor, for example Bodin,Francis Bacon, Algernon Sidney, Harrington, John Milton, Spinoza, Rousseau, Hume, Edward Gibbon, and Adam Smith. Although he was not always mentioned by name as an inspiration, due to his controversy, he is also thought to have been an influence for other major philosophers, such as Montaigne, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke and Montesquieu.
Although Jean-Jacques Rousseau is associated with very different political ideas he was also influenced by him, although he viewed Machiavelli's work as a satirical piece in which Machiavelli exposes the faults of a one-man rule rather than exalting amorality.
In the seventeenth century it was in England that Machiavelli's ideas were most substantially developed and adapted, and that republicanism came once more to life; and out of seventeenth-century English republicanism there were to emerge in the next century not only a theme of English political and historical reflection—of the writings of the Bolingbroke circle and of Gibbon and of early parliamentary radicals—but a stimulus to the Enlightenment in Scotland, on the Continent, and in America.
Scholars have argued that Machiavelli was a major indirect and direct influence upon the political thinking of the Founding Fathers of the United States due to his overwhelming favoritism of republicanism and the republic type of government. According to John McCormick, it is still very much debatable whether or not Machiavelli was "an advisor of tyranny or partisan of liberty."Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson followed Machiavelli's republicanism when they opposed what they saw as the emerging aristocracy that they feared Alexander Hamilton was creating with the Federalist Party. Hamilton learned from Machiavelli about the importance of foreign policy for domestic policy, but may have broken from him regarding how rapacious a republic needed to be in order to survive George Washington was less influenced by Machiavelli.
The Founding Father who perhaps most studied and valued Machiavelli as a political philosopher was John Adams, who profusely commented on the Italian's thought in his work, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America.In this work, John Adams praised Machiavelli, with Algernon Sidney and Montesquieu, as a philosophic defender of mixed government. For Adams, Machiavelli restored empirical reason to politics, while his analysis of factions was commendable. Adams likewise agreed with the Florentine that human nature was immutable and driven by passions. He also accepted Machiavelli's belief that all societies were subject to cyclical periods of growth and decay. For Adams, Machiavelli lacked only a clear understanding of the institutions necessary for good government.
The 20th-century Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci drew great inspiration from Machiavelli's writings on ethics, morals, and how they relate to the State and revolution in his writings on Passive Revolution, and how a society can be manipulated by controlling popular notions of morality.
Joseph Stalin read The Prince and annotated his own copy.
In the 20th century there was also renewed interest in Machiavelli's La Mandragola (1518), which received numerous stagings, including several in New York, at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1976 and the Riverside Shakespeare Company in 1979, as a musical comedy by Peer Raben in Munich's antiteater in 1971, and at London's National Theatre in 1984.
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Machiavelli's best-known book Il Principe contains several maxims concerning politics. Instead of the more traditional target audience of a hereditary prince, it concentrates on the possibility of a "new prince". To retain power, the hereditary prince must carefully balance the interests of a variety of institutions to which the people are accustomed. By contrast, a new prince has the more difficult task in ruling: He must first stabilise his newfound power in order to build an enduring political structure. Machiavelli suggests that the social benefits of stability and security can be achieved in the face of moral corruption. Machiavelli believed that public and private morality had to be understood as two different things in order to rule well. As a result, a ruler must be concerned not only with reputation, but also must be positively willing to act immorally at the right times. Machiavelli believed as a ruler, it was better to be widely feared than to be greatly loved; A loved ruler retains authority by obligation while a feared leader rules by fear of punishment.As a political theorist, Machiavelli emphasized the occasional need for the methodical exercise of brute force or deceit including extermination of entire noble families to head off any chance of a challenge to the prince's authority.
Scholars often note that Machiavelli glorifies instrumentality in state building, an approach embodied by the saying "The ends justify the means." This quote has been disputed and may not come from Niccolò Machiavelli or his writings. Violence may be necessary for the successful stabilisation of power and introduction of new legal institutions. Force may be used to eliminate political rivals, to coerce resistant populations, and to purge the community of other men strong enough of a character to rule, who will inevitably attempt to replace the ruler. Machiavelli has become infamous for such political advice, ensuring that he would be remembered in history through the adjective, "Machiavellian".
Due to the treatise's controversial analysis on politics, the Catholic Church banned The Prince, putting it on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum . Humanists also viewed the book negatively, including Erasmus of Rotterdam. As a treatise, its primary intellectual contribution to the history of political thought is the fundamental break between political realism and political idealism, due to it being a manual on acquiring and keeping political power. In contrast with Plato and Aristotle, Machiavelli insisted that an imaginary ideal society is not a model by which a prince should orient himself.
Concerning the differences and similarities in Machiavelli's advice to ruthless and tyrannical princes in The Prince and his more republican exhortations in Discourses on Livy, many have concluded that The Prince, although written as advice for a monarchical prince, contains arguments for the superiority of republican regimes, similar to those found in the Discourses. In the 18th century, the work was even called a satire, for example by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.More recently, commentators such as Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield have agreed that The Prince can be read as having a deliberate comical irony.
Other interpretations include for example that of Antonio Gramsci, who argued that Machiavelli's audience for this work was not even the ruling class but the common people because the rulers already knew these methods through their education.
The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy, published in 1531, written 1517, often referred to simply as the "Discourses" or Discorsi, is nominally a discussion regarding the classical history of early Ancient Rome although it strays very far from this subject matter and also uses contemporary political examples to illustrate points. Machiavelli presents it as a series of lessons on how a republic should be started and structured. It is a larger work than The Prince, and while it more openly explains the advantages of republics, it also contains many similar themes. Commentators disagree about how much the two works agree with each other, frequently referring to leaders of democracies as "princes". It includes early versions of the concept of checks and balances and asserts the superiority of a republic over a principality. It became one of the central texts of republicanism, and has often been argued to be a superior work to The Prince.
From The Discourses:
Besides being a statesman and political scientist, Machiavelli also translated classical works, and was a playwright (Clizia, Mandragola), a poet (Sonetti, Canzoni, Ottave, Canti carnascialeschi), and a novelist (Belfagor arcidiavolo).
Some of his other work:
Della Lingua (Italian for "Of the Language") (1514), a dialogue about Italy's language is normally attributed to Machiavelli.
Machiavelli's literary executor, Giuliano de' Ricci, also reported having seen that Machiavelli, his grandfather, made a comedy in the style of Aristophanes which included living Florentines as characters, and to be titled Le Maschere. It has been suggested that due to such things as this and his style of writing to his superiors generally, there was very likely some animosity to Machiavelli even before the return of the Medici.
Christopher Marlowe's play The Jew of Malta (ca. 1589) contains a prologue by a character called Machiavel, a Senecan ghost based on Machiavelli.Machiavel expresses the cynical view that power is amoral, saying "I count religion but a childish toy,/And hold there is no sin but ignorance."
Somerset Maugham's last book "Then and Now" fictionalizes Machiavelli's interactions with Cesare Borgia which formed the foundation of "The Prince."
Niccolò Machiavelli plays a vital role in the young adult book series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel .He is an immortal working in national security for the French government.
Niccolò Machiavelli aids Cesare Borgia and protagonist Nicholas Dawson in their dangerous intrigues in Cecelia Holland's 1979 historical novel City of God .David Maclaine writes that in the novel, Machiavelli "is an off-stage presence whose spirit permeates this work of intrigue and betrayal ... It is a brilliant introduction to the people and events that gave us the word 'Machiavellian.'" Machiavelli appears as an Immortal adversary of Duncan MacLeod in Nancy Holder's 1997 Highlander novel The Measure of a Man, and is a character in Michael Scott's novel series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (2007–2012). Machiavelli is also one of the main characters in The Enchantress of Florence (2008) by Salman Rushdie, mostly referred to as "Niccolò 'il Macchia", and the central protagonist in the 2012 novel The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis.
Television dramas centering on the early Renaissance have also made use of Machiavelli to underscore his influence in early modern political philosophy. Machiavelli has been featured as a supporting character in The Tudors (2007–2010),Borgia (2011–2014) and The Borgias (2011–2013).
Machiavelli appears in the popular historical video games Assassin's Creed II (2009) and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (2010), in which he is portrayed as a member of the secret society of Assassins.
A highly fictionalised version of Machiavelli appears in the BBC children's TV series Leonardo (2011–2012),in which he is "Mac", a black streetwise hustler who is best friends with fellow teenagers Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, and Lorenzo di Medici. In the 2013 episode "Ewings Unite!" of the television series Dallas , legendary oil baron J.R. Ewing wills his copy of The Prince to his adopted nephew Christopher Ewing, telling him to "use it, because being smart and sneaky is an unbeatable combination." In Da Vinci's Demons (2013–2015)—an American historical fantasy drama series that presents a fictional account of Leonardo da Vinci's early life —Eros Vlahos plays a young Niccolò "Nico" Machiavelli, although the character's full name is not revealed until the finale of the second season.
The 1967 The Time Tunnel episode "The Death Merchant" stars famed character actor Malachi Throne as Niccolò Machiavelli, who has been time-displaced to the Battle of Gettysburg. The character's personality and behaviour seem to portray Cesare Borgia rather than Machiavelli himself, suggesting that the writers may have confused the two.
Machiavelli is played by Damian Lewis in the 2013 BBC radio play The Prince written by Jonathan Myerson. Together with his defence attorney Lucrezia Borgia (Helen McCrory), he presents examples from history to the devil to support his political theories and appeal his sentence in Hell.
The historical novel The City of Man (2009) by author Michael Harrington fully portrays the complex personalities of the two main characters—Girolamo Savonarola and a formative Niccolò Machiavelli—in opposition during the turbulent last decade of 15th century Florence. The portrayal of Machiavelli draws from his later writings and observations of the chaotic events of his youth before rising from obscurity to be appointed as Second Chancellor of the Florentine Republic at the age of twenty-nine, only one month after Savonarola's execution. Major characters include Lorenzo de' Medici, his son Piero, Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), Cesare Borgia (model for The Prince), Piero and Tommaso Soderini, Il Cronaca and the diarist, Luca Landucci.
The American rapper Tupac Shakur studied Machiavelli while in prison and became greatly influenced by his work. Upon his release from prison, Tupac honored Machiavelli in 1996 by changing his own rap name from 2Pac to Makaveli.
In the 1993 crime drama A Bronx Tale , local mob boss Sonny tells his young protege Calogero that while he was doing a 10-year sentence in jail, he passed the time and stayed out of trouble by reading Machiavelli, whom he describes as "a famous writer from 500 years ago"—and then tells him how Machiavelli's philosophy, including his famous advice about how it is preferable for a leader to be feared rather than loved if he cannot be both—have made him a successful mob boss.
Republicanism has had different definitions that vary significantly based on historical context and methodological approach.
The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus. However, the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. This was done with the permission of the Medici pope Clement VII, but "long before then, in fact since the first appearance of The Prince in manuscript, controversy had swirled about his writings".
Modernity, a topic in the humanities and social sciences, is both a historical period, as well as the ensemble of particular socio-cultural norms, attitudes and practices that arose in the wake of the Renaissance—in the "Age of Reason" of 17th-century thought and the 18th-century "Enlightenment". Some commentators consider the era of modernity to have ended by 1930, with World War II in 1945, or the 1980s or 1990s; the following era is called postmodernity. The term "contemporary history" is also used to refer to the post-1945 timeframe, without assigning it to either the modern or postmodern era.
Piero di Tommaso Soderini also known as Pier Soderini, was an Italian statesman of the Republic of Florence.
Classical republicanism, also known as civic republicanism or civic humanism, is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity, especially such classical writers as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero. Classical republicanism is built around concepts such as civil society, civic virtue and mixed government.
The Discourses on Livy is a work of political history and philosophy written in the early 16th century by the Italian writer and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, best known as the author of The Prince. The Discourses were published posthumously with papal privilege in 1531.
Tacitean studies, centred on the work of Tacitus the Ancient Roman historian, constitute an area of scholarship extending beyond the field of history. The work has traditionally been read for its moral instruction, its narrative, and its inimitable prose style; Tacitus has been most influential as a political theorist, outside the field of history. The political lessons taken from his work fall roughly into two camps : the "red Tacitists", who used him to support republican ideals, and the "black Tacitists", those who read his accounts as a lesson in Machiavellian Realpolitik.
Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli was an Italian condottiero and duke of Lucca.
The Art of War is a treatise by the Italian Renaissance political philosopher and historian Niccolò Machiavelli.
A Christian republic is a government that is both Christian and republican. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke considered the idea to be an impossibility and a self-contradiction, but for different reasons. As of the 21st century, the only countries in the world with a republican form of government and with Christianity as the established religion are Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland and Malta.
Harvey Claflin Mansfield Jr. is an American political philosopher. He is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1962. He has held Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships and has been a Fellow at the National Humanities Center; he also received the National Humanities Medal in 2004 and delivered the Jefferson Lecture in 2007. He is a Carol G. Simon Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is notable for his generally conservative stance on political issues in his writings.
The history of political thought dates back to antiquity while the political history of the world and thus the history of political thinking by man stretches up through the Medieval period and the Renaissance. In the Age of Enlightenment, political entities expanded from basic systems of self-governance and monarchy to the complex democratic and communist systems that exist of the Industrialized and the Modern Era. In parallel, political systems have expanded from vaguely defined frontier-type boundaries, to the definite boundaries existing today. The history of political thought has often overlapped with the history of philosophy.
Virtù is a concept theorized by Niccolò Machiavelli, centered on the martial spirit and ability of a population or leader, but also encompassing a broader collection of traits necessary for maintenance of the state and "the achievement of great things."
Oliverotto Euffreducci, known as Oliverotto of Fermo, was an Italian condottiero and ruler of Fermo during the pontificate of Alexander VI. His career is described in Niccolò Machiavelli's Il Principe.
On the method of dealing with the Rebellious Peoples of Valdichiana is a 1503 work by Italian political philosopher and historian Niccolò Machiavelli.
This timeline lists important events relevant to the life of the Italian diplomat, writer and political philosopher Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469–1527).
Italy over the ages has had a vast influence on Western philosophy, beginning with the Greeks and Romans, and going onto Renaissance humanism, the Age of Enlightenment and modern philosophy.
The Life of Castruccio Castracani is a short work by Niccolò Machiavelli. It is made in the form of a short biographical account of the life of the medieval Tuscan condottiere, Castruccio Castracani, who lived in and ruled Lucca.
The military reforms of the Florentine Republic were initiated by Florentine politician and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli during the short-lived Republic of Florence that lasted from 1498 to 1512 under the priest Girolamo Savonarola. In the pursuit of the republican spirit which pervaded Florence at the time, Machiavelli sought to establish a military establishment that was similar to that of ancient Rome. He was specifically focused upon the establishment of an army possessed with the discipline of the Roman legions. He sought to establish a citizen-infantry capable of taking the field against the Italian Condottieri of the day, who largely terrorized the peninsula, in addition to the chronic foreign invasions which occurred on a regular basis at this time. Broadly speaking Machiavelli would institute a series of reforms in 1506 that would create a citizen army of 20,000 men, and establish a system that would keep this citizen army in a state of readiness.
14 lectures in the series; (lectures #7) – see disc 4