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What can we deduce about Machiavelli’s views of commoners and nobility?? How does this view impact?leadership??LEAC834-Machaivelli-ThePrince-Summ

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The Prince

Niccolò Machiavelli

Summary – Chapters 1-8

Chapter I: The Kinds of Principalities and the Means by Which They Are Acquired

Machiavelli provides a description of the various kinds of states. He argues that all states are either principalities or republics. There are two types of principality: the hereditary principality and the new principality. The new principality can be entirely new or it can be a new appendage to a state that already exists. A prince can use either his own army or arms belonging to others to acquire a new principality. 

Chapter II: Hereditary Principalities

Chapter 11 focuses on methods one should use to govern principalities and maintain them. Machiavelli refrains from discussing republics, stating that he has “discussed them at length on another occasion. This statement is made in reference to Book 1 of Machiavelli’s Discourses.

Machiavelli sets out two main reasons why governing a hereditary state is easier than governing a new principality. The first reason is that he people under the rule of hereditary states are already familiar with the rule of the prince’s family. In these circumstances, the natural prince’s only real task is to keep existing institutions fully intact, while making sure that these institutions are properly adapted to current circumstances. The second reason is that subjects in a hereditary state have a natural disposition towards loving the existing ruling family. This is only destroyed if the prince is foolish enough to carry out a horrible action against the people. When if the hereditary state is conquered by an overwhelming outsider, the prince will be able to reconquer the state if the outsider comes across any setbacks.

Chapter III: Mixed Principalities

Machiavelli makes it clear why it is more difficult to maintain a new principality than it is to keep power in a hereditary state. Firstly, people are likely not to see the difference between being ruled by one new ruler or another. They will likely hope that the new ruler will be more effective than the current one. They will hope for improvement, and this may push people to fight against an unestablished prince. While the people may promptly conclude that their attempt at revolt will not be effective, they will still be successful in creating significant disorder. Additionally, when princes conquer other princes’ domains, they find themselves in difficult situations when it comes to the people who gave him power. He will be not able to maintain the support provided by these people because he will not have the ability to fulfill all of the expectations they have with regard to improvements in their situations. The fact that the prince is in their debt, however, will prevent him from dealing with them too harshly. Immediately after he has taken power, the new prince will find himself in danger of losing his new position and territory.

If a prince is successful in suppressing a revolt, however, he has the ability to easily prevent additional rebellion by being harsh in his punishments and destroying all opponents. He will be able to be harsher with his principality’s subjects in his punishments than he would be able to in normal circumstances.

The prince will find it much easier to maintain his control of a new principality if its people speak the same language and have the same customs as his own country. In these circumstances, a prince need only accomplish two tasks: destroy the former prince's family and maintain the existing taxes and  laws. If their established ways of life are left as they are, people will live quietly and refrain from opposing the new prince’s rule.

The prince will have more of a challenge maintaining power in a new state if it has different customs and a different language than those of his home country. An effective tactic is for the prince to reside in the new state. It is by living in the new state that the prince will be most able to address problems efficiently and effectively. He will be able to prevent his territory being plundered by local officials. People who are generally inclined to be good will be more likely to demonstrate their allegiance to the new prince. People who tend to be bad will feel more compelled to fear him. Invaders will be more likely to hesitate before making any moves to invade the state.

The establishment of colonies within the new state is another effective way of overcoming cultural and linguistic discrepancies. Establishing colonies is less expensive than keeping up a military occupation. Also, colonialism tends to only harm inhabitants who are poor and scattered and therefore do not pose a threat. It is posited as a general rule that men must either be pampered or oppressed. The only time a prince should cause any injury to people is if he knows there is no chance of revenge being exacted upon him. The approach of setting up military bases all over the state will be ineffective in maintaining order. It will only upset the people. The people will then in turn likely become hostile and could be enemies able to greatly harm the new regime.

Domination of neighboring states should be another aim of a prince who has occupied a state in a foreign country. He needs to weaken strong neighboring states and make sure that there isn’t a strong foreign power that will be able to invade his new territory. It is natural for weaker powers to align themselves with the strongest one, but this is case only if they are unable to become strong themselves. It is necessary for the prince to be master of the entire country if he is to be able to maintain control of the state he has successfully conquered.

The prince must take action to solve problems before those problems manifest themselves fully. It is when political disorders are identified and acted on early that they are easy to resolve. It will be too late to deal with if they are left too long without being addressed. It is natural for men to always seek to acquire more. When they are successful in acquiring more, they are not condemned but praised. However, rulers who do not have the ability to acquire but persist in trying to do so at the cost of their current power ought to be condemned.

A strong understanding of statecraft and warcraft are necessary for a prince to hold a state. Statecraft and warcraft are intertwined. It is only through suppressing disorder that war can be avoided. Yet it is not possible to escape a war. Postponement of war is done only to the advantage of the enemy.

Chapter IV: Why Alexander’s Successors Were Able to Keep Possession of Darius’ Kingdom after Alexander’s Death

There are two main methods for governing a principality. The first way involves a prince and his appointed ministers. Everyone is subservient to the prince, although the ministers assist in governing. The second method includes a prince and nobles. The prince does not appoint the nobles, but they have their own subjects and benefit from their lineages. The first method is considered stronger for the prince, as when there is only the prince and his ministers, the prince is the country’s only ruler.

A country where the prince uses ministers is much more difficult to take over. This is because ministers are much less susceptible to the corruption of foreign powers in order to turn against their prince. Even if ministers were to decide to turn against their prince, they wouldn’t have the capability of getting support from any of the subjects as they do not have the personal loyalties that nobles have. Nobles have their own subjects and these subjects are loyal to them. When a noble is corrupt, they will corrupt their subjects.  When a country has nobles, it is easier to conquer because one can corrupt them and get their cooperation. This is especially easy if the nobles are discontented.

While it is easier to take over when a state has nobles, it is more difficult to maintain power for the new ruler. This is because when there are nobles in a state, it is insufficient to only destroy the family of the former ruler. The nobles will be powerful enough to revolt and overthrow the new ruler. It is easier to keep control of a state that has ministers. Machiavelli argues that his ideas are consistent with the evidence of historical events, such as the rebellions against the Romans in Greece, France, and Spain and Alexander’s conquests in Asia.

Chapter V: How to Govern Cities and Principalities That, Prior to Being Occupied, Lived Under Their Own Laws

Machiavelli sets out three methods for holding states that have long lived freely and with their own laws. He explains that first they must be devastated. The second approach is to occupy them. The third is to let the state have its own laws but to also collect taxes and set up an oligarchy that will ensure the state stays friendly. Establishing a friendly oligarchy is useful because it will back up the conquering prince’s authority. It is because of this that the third approach can be the easiest and most effective. It is always easiest to use a state’s own citizens to help one rule. 

The most certain method of gaining control of a state that has enjoyed freedom is complete destruction. Not taking this route puts the prince at risk of being destroyed himself. Regardless of when the state was acquired, a rebellion is always able to call on ideas of former liberty and the impact of ancient institutions. This is true even if the state has gained benefits as result of the prince’s rule. The people will be unified against the prince by their sense of tradition.

It is easy to take over cities and provinces that are accustomed to being ruled by princes after the ruling families have been destroyed. People who live in these places don’t know how to live their lives in freedom without being ruled by someone. They are used to being obedient to the person who rules them. This makes it easier for a new prince to take over and rule.

If a prince takes over a republic (or former republic), there will be strong feelings of hatred as well as revenge against him. Memories of freedom never entirely die. This is why it would be more effective for the prince to occupy the state personally or destroy it.

Chapter VI: Concerning New Principalities Acquired by One’s Own Arms and Ability

Machiavelli recommends that princes try to imitate the behavior of historical great rulers, even when that would involve lofty goals. Even if the prince does not fulfill these lofty goals, the things that he will do in the process of trying to will help to improve his reputation as a powerful and great ruler. 

One method by which a ruler may acquire a state is by way of their own personal prowess. This means that they rely on their own abilities instead of inheritance, noble birth, or other fortunate circumstances. It is extremely difficult to acquire a state just using one’s prowess. Yet when a prince is successful in doing this, he will find the state easier to keep control over. Cyrus, Moses, Theseus, and Romulus are rulers who were able to acquire states using only their own powers.

Rulers who acquire states on the basis of their prowess rather than fortune or birth usually have greater success in keeping power. This is because they are better able to deal with the challenges involved in setting up a new order. Introducing a new order is a very dangerous and difficult process. People who liked the old order because they benefited from it will vehemently oppose a prince who attempts to impose a new one. Also, individuals who will likely benefit from the new order will provide merely moderate support. Princes who only rely on his talents of persuasion will find himself unsuccessful. However, princes who use their prowess and are willing to “force the issue” will generally enjoy success. It is possible that to “force the issue” will mean using force. This process can be a dangerous one. However, if the use of force is successful, the ruler will find himself to be respected, secure, and strong.

Chapter VII: Concerning New Principalities Acquired with the Arms and Fortunes of Others

Occasionally, it is good fortune that causes private citizens to become princes. These people are able to use their money to buy their way into a powerful position, get favors from someone else who is in a powerful position, or bribe individuals such as soldiers. Princes such as this tend to be weak. Fortune can be unstable and capricious, and these princes do not have the skills necessary to maintain their position. They lack the support and devotion of loyal troops, and they do not know how to maintain their power when opposed. Unlike princes who gain power with their fortune, those who do so on the basis of their own prowess are successful in creating a strong foundation for their rule. Princes who gain rule by using their fortune or harnessing the goodwill of others do not have this strong foundation that they can use to rule. They will experience difficulties in creating a foundation that will help to prevent them from losing power. Therefore, we see that princes who rely only on fortune to gain power will be able to do so quite easily but keeping their power will be very difficult.

In order to be able to maintain power, it is necessary for the ruler to create a solid foundation. In doing this, the prince is obliged to eliminate rivals for leadership and gain the favor of these rivals’ followers. Machiavelli calls attention to the example of the life of Cesare Borgia (who was also called Duke Valentino). Borgia had high intentions and was courageous. He was the son of Pope Alexander VI. It was the good fortune of his father that caused Borgia to be made duke of Romagna. He found himself unable to maintain his rule, despite the fact that he tried to consolidate his power. He utilized force and was strategic in his conquest of foreign lands. He made efforts to make himself both feared and loved by the people he ruled. He destroyed disloyal troops and set up an army of loyal soldiers, and he was diligent in maintaining relationships with other kings and princes in a friendly yet cautious way.  In spite of all this, however, Borgia found completion of the consolidation of his power impossible after his father (the source of his good fortune) died. He was successful, however, in creating a strong foundation for future power. This was because he had great prowess as well as good fortune.

Chapter VIII: Concerning New Principalities Acquired by Wickedness

The author sets out three ways in which states that are accustomed to living freely with their own laws may be held. The first way is to devastate them. The second approach is for the conqueror to occupy them himself. The third method is to let the state keep its own laws, but to set up a friendly oligarchy and charge taxes. This last option tends to be the most advantageous because a new oligarchy will want to keep the prince in power for their own advantage. This is why it is easiest and most effective to rule a state by way of its own citizens, unless the prince’s specific goal is devastation of the territory.

When conquering and securing a state that has enjoyed freedom in the past, destruction can be the most effective method. Princes who do not destroy the territory risk being destroyed himself. Regardless of the length of time that has passed since the state was acquired, rebellions always have the ability to bring ideas of liberty and the legacy of ancient institutions back to life. This is the case even if the state has gained some benefits from the prince’s rule. The people can be unified in opposition to the prince by a sense of tradition.

By contrast, territories that are accustomed to the rule of a prince tend to be easy to conquer as long as the ruling family is destroyed. The people of such regions do not understand how to live in freedom without someone else’s rule, and they are accustomed to being obedient. As a result, it is easy for the prince to take over the province and hold onto his new power.

Feelings of hatred and a desire for revenge against conquering princes are strong in republics and former republics. The people always remember that they once had liberty. It is because of this that the prince would be wise to either occupy the state personally or destroy it.



The Prince

Niccolò Machiavelli

Summary – Chapters 9-18

Chapter IX: Concerning a Civil Principality

Princes are encouraged in their striving to imitate the examples of great rulers from times past, even if doing so will require them to set lofty goals. Doing this will mean that if the prince is not able to meet those higher goals, the actions he takes will still improve his reputation as a powerful and great ruler. 

One way by which a ruler can acquire a state is by way of their own abilities and prowess as opposed to good fortune (for example, inheritance or noble birth). While it is very difficult to acquire a state using one’s prowess, if the prince is successful in doing so he will find it easier to maintain his power. Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus are examples of rulers who were able to triumph purely based on their own personal abilities.

Either the nobles or the people have the power to form a principality. If the nobles recognize that they are not able to dominate the people, they will attempt to strengthen their position by appointing one of the nobles as prince. They will then seek to achieve their own goals by way of the prince’s authority. The people are able to use the same approach. If they understand that they cannot resist the nobles, they may choose one of the people to be a prince and then hope the prince’s authority protects them.

A prince who is given his power by the nobles will have difficulty in keeping up his position as the people who surround him will think themselves to be his equal. They will believe that the fact that he occupies the position of prince is a matter of good fortune, good fortune given to him by them. However, when the people create a prince, he stands alone at the pinnacle of the society. People are easier to satisfy than nobles, as the latter hope to oppress the people and are dishonest in their motives. The people’s only wish is to be left alone. The worst that can happen to a prince is the people are hostile towards him is desertion. When nobles are hostile, however, there will be active opposition as well as desertion. Nobles are concerned with protecting their interests, and they are cunning and astute enough to do so.

Nobles can remain independent of the prince’s control, or they might be dependent. Princes should show love and honor to the nobles who are dependent on him. Nobles who maintain their sense of independence could possibly be timid but they might alternatively be ambitious. While timid nobles are not a threat, ambitious ones are as they can become adversaries in difficult times.

When a prince is created by the people, he must keep their friendship. This is generally an easy task. Princes created by nobles are still obliged to work to win the affection of the people, as they can protect him from nobles who may turn against him. The most effective way to keep the people’s mandate is to show benevolence. When people receive favors and kindness from a prince from whom they had expected hostility, they feel a strong senses of obligation.

There are usually difficulties when principalities change from having a government with only limited powers to one with more absolute power. The prince can rule through magistrates or directly in order to effect this transition. When the prince rules through magistrates, he is more vulnerable because he is dependent on their will. The magistrates have the ability to depose him if they wish, by way of disobeying his orders or direct action. When magistrates revolt, princes lack the ability to assume absolute power. This is because the people will be accustomed to showing obedience to the magistrates instead of the prince. Declarations of allegiance to the prince is fashionable during times of prosperity. However, trusted men are difficult to find in times of danger. If a prince is wise, he will ensure that his citizens must always be dependent on his specific authority. When this is the case, they will stay loyal.

Chapter X: How the Strength of All Principalities Should Be Measured

While a prince ought to always have the goal of maintaining an army that equals the size and strength of one belonging to an aggressor, it is also important to keep up fortifications and defenses. Such preparations are effective not only at securing the territory but also deterring potential enemies from trying to invade.

It might be argued that when an enemy overcomes the fortifications and lays siege to a city, the people will become hostile to their prince. This is would be a result of their witnessing their home and possessions being destroyed. However, if a prince has made the best possible effort in fortifying and defending the state, this can serve as an inspiration to the people. The prince needs to make the people believe that their suffering is only temporary, and he needs to inspire feelings of enthusiasm and patriotism. Using this strategy will ensure that the people will feel grateful and obliged and love the prince even more once peace is restored. 

Chapter XI: Concerning Ecclesiastical Principalities

Regions controlled by the Catholic Church, called ecclesiastical principalities, are different from principalities of other kinds. It is very difficult to gain control of these kinds of principalities. Prowess or unusually good fortune are usually required. Machiavelli is sarcastic when asserting that ecclesiastical principalities are not ruled by the principles of governments but rather of religion, and as a result the prince is not required to govern. He says there is no need to defend ecclesiastical principalities, and that it is not necessary to administer the subjects. Despite all of this, it seems that these states always enjoy happiness and security. Machiavelli explains that as ecclesiastical principalities are “sustained by higher powers which the human mind cannot comprehend,” it would be presumptuous to look further into why this is true.

It is clear that we need to consider how the Church gained the tremendous temporal power it holds. At one time, Italy was divided between the pope and the city-states of Florence, Milan, Naples, and Venice. Each power needed to be wary of the others, and they helped to prevent any intervention from foreign powers. At this time, papal power was quite weak as a result of the short duration of papacies and disagreements among Roman barons. However, Popes Julius II and Alexander VI significantly increased the Church’s power through the use of armed force in order to weaken other factions, strengthening the Church’s position by accumulating great wealth, and fostering factionalism.  As a result, the contemporary Church during the time of Machiavelli, which was under Pope Leo X’s leadership, was strong as a result of force of arms. It was now hoped that the pope would maintain his power through virtue and goodness.

Chapter XII: Concerning Various Kinds of Troops, and Especially Mercenaries

It is essential that princes build on strong foundations. Strong armies and good laws are the two most important components of a strong state. Strong armies are necessary for the existence of good laws. The existence of good laws is indicated by the presence of a good army.

Machiavelli sets out the three different kinds of army: prince’s army, mercenary troops, and auxiliary troops. We learn that auxiliary and mercenary troops are dangerous and useless. Mercenaries have the weaknesses of being “disunited, undisciplined, ambitious, and faithless.” Having monetary rewards as their sole motivation makes mercenaries ineffective in battle and causes them to have low morale. Mercenary commanders may be skilled or unskilled: both are problematic. While unskilled commanders are useless, skilled commanders can never be trusted to resist the call of their own ambition. It is much better for the prince to have and command his own army.

Historically, being dependent on mercenary armies has caused significant problems for Italy. Numerous townships hired mercenaries during the breakup of Italy. The Church encouraged the breakup, hoping that it would result in an increase in its own power. Unfortunately, the mercenaries’ main objective turned out to be much more increasing their own status and prestige rather than achieving military objectives. As a result, the mercenary forces fought with one another and things degenerated into ineffective battles that led to the degradation of the political and military significance of the entire country.

Chapter XIII: Concerning Auxiliary, Mixed, and Native Forces

Auxiliary troops are armies that are borrowed from more powerful states. They are deemed to be as useless as mercenaries. While they frequently fight effectively, princes put themselves in potentially damaging and never beneficial situations by using auxiliary armies. He will find himself defenseless if the auxiliaries fail, while he will owe his success to an outside power if they are successful. The auxiliary troops’ loyalty will always be to another ruler, and they are usually organized and skilled. This combination of attributes means that they might be dangerous to the prince.

The principality will never be secure if the prince fails to command troops that are native to his own territory. The choice to depend on outside armies is just as foolish as depending solely on good fortune. During times of prosperity, it might be effective to use auxiliaries and mercenaries. However, it is always perilous to rely on mercenaries and auxiliaries during times of adversity.

Chapter XIV: A Prince’s Concern in Military Matters

The art of war is the only subject that a prince must study. It is always a ruler’s most important discipline. A great ruler can be made out of even a common citizen through mastery of this subject. Neglect of the art of the war is the most certain way of losing power over a state. Skill in the art of war is the most important quality to help ensure success in gaining and keeping power.

The author sets out an analogy; he asks the reader to picture an armed man and an unarmed man. It would clearly be unreasonable to think that the armed man would obey the unarmed one. It would also be unreasonable to think that the unarmed man would feel secure and safe if his servants had arms. Suspicion will be the overwhelming emotion the unarmed man feels toward the armed one. The armed man will likely feel contemptuous towards the unarmed man. As a result, it will be impossible for the two men to cooperate. Princes who lack a strong understanding of warfare and tries to lead an army can be compared to an unarmed man attempting to lead the armed.

Princes must devote all of their time in deep study of the art of war. Such study is both mental and physical. The prince’s body must be trained to endure hardships. He must also learn how to hunt wildlife. He is required to study geography and understand how it effects the strategy of battle. Princes must study history and understand the actions and lives of great leaders. During peacetime, princes must spend their time intensely preparing for future possible times of war.

Chapter XV: Concerning Things for Which Men, and Princes Especially, Are Praised or Censured

Machiavelli transitions from discussing state or principality strength to the correct way a prince should behave. While he concedes that others have addressed this subject, Machiavelli contends that it is necessary to have an original (as opposed to theoretical) set of rules. Other philosophers have written on their ideas of what an idealized notion of how people should live (rather than how they actually live) is. However, the truth is far different than the ideals that philosophers imagine. It is argued that men’s lives are never lived in ideal way in every area. The author believes that princes ought to act in a way that will achieve the greatest amount of practical benefit rather than preoccupy himself with the issue of living virtuously.

While possessing certain person characteristics will gain praise, others will earn condemnation. Praise is generally earned by qualities such as faith, compassion, courage, generosity, and craftiness. Condemnation usually meets characteristics such as miserliness, stubbornness, cowardice, and cruelty. Princes should ideally have all the qualities that are generally deemed to be “good.” Yet this expectation can be unrealistic. It is important to understand that the prince’s most important job is to safeguard his state. It is possible that some “bad” qualities might be necessary to achieve this goal. It is only when these vices endanger the state that they are truly evil and a prince should not possess them. We must not condemn princes that have vices that are employed to protect the well-being of the state.

Chapter XVI: Liberality and Parsimony

Many men admire liberality, also known as generosity. However, it can ruin the state when a prince has a reputation for generosity. This is because such a reputation can require displays of lavishness, and these displays can lead to depletion of resources. If the prince feels obliged to be lavish in his generosity, he might be compelled to burden the people of his state with excessive taxes so that he can cover the costs. This means that the prince’s generosity could ultimately cause his people to hate and resent him. Additionally, if a prince who already has a reputation for generosity tries to change that, people will think he is a miser.

While an ungenerous or parsimonious prince may be seen as miserly at the start, he can eventually gain a reputation for being generous. Additionally, princes who are frugal and thrifty are better able to save the funds needed to effectively defend the state against aggression as well as properly fund necessary projects without excessive taxes.

Machiavelli points out that in history, the actions of Pope Julius II and their results demonstrated how useful parsimony can be. He also points to the kings of France and Spain as being examples of effective parsimony, as they have great accomplishments. It is possible that some could argue that successful leaders have achieved power and kept up their rule through their generosity. Caesar could be an example. However, it is known that is Caesar had not met an early death, he would have been forced to moderate his spending in order to maintain his rule.   It seems clear that generosity can be self-defeating. It can use up current resources, thus possibly preventing future generosity. While parsimony can lead to ignominy, generosity is likely to lead to hatred.

Similar to generosity, compassion is usually seen as an admirable characteristic. However, princes need to show discretion to ensure that he refrains from showing compassion unwisely. When princes are too compassionate and they fail to mete out adequate punishment, it is possible that an atmosphere of disorder will result. This is because his subjects might think they have the liberty to do whatever they please, even perhaps going to the extremes of theft and murder. The entire community is harmed by crime. On th


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