Home > Free Essays > Politics & Government > Politicians > The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli

The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Jun 15th, 2020

During the Renaissance, the political situation of Italy consisted of instability, invasion, fear, intrigues, and violence. Several powerful families established their territories and ruled authoritatively. The Prince provided a practical direction to Lorenzo Di Medici to operate in this unstable political environment. According to Machiavelli, the republic was the best form of government as opposed to an authority of the prince.

Therefore, Machiavelli proposed some advice for a new prince, who wanted to govern a state to prosperity. These pieces of advice would ensure that the prince remained great and powerful. Machiavelli’s work provided practical solutions to Lorenzo in a turbulent political environment. Unfortunately, Lorenzo did not concur with Machiavelli’s suggestions.

Machiavelli looks at how an authoritarian ruler can achieve a great success if he changes his authoritarian style. The Prince offers advice on how Lorenzo can expand the empire, keep people from all territories loyal to him, and conquer new territories. According to Machiavelli, Lorenzo could not afford to repeat past mistakes that divided Italy, and he had to learn to use both good and bad styles when running the kingdom.

Machiavelli offers two ideal views on principality: these are how to win and hold power. He notes, “Either through fortune or through strength”, (Machiavelli 6) are the main ways by which rulers can achieve principalities. This implies that people can only achieve power by overthrowing others or inheriting it from the family. From the Renaissance perspective, Machiavelli showed that moral or ethical issues were not important in a quest for power.

When a ruler overthrows another one, wars happen and people die. Thus, Machiavelli showed that killings were appropriate means of gaining power. Once a ruler has conquered a territory, he must “ensure that the previous ruler has no heirs” (Machiavelli 9). In addition, a new ruler must not change existing laws or introduce new taxes. Machiavelli argues that the new ruler should maintain the previous lifestyle people had so that many people can like him. This was the only way for the new ruler to establish hereditary domains.

Subjects have the duty to remain loyal to their rulers so that leaders can maintain power. The purposes of maintaining loyal subjects are to help the ruler keep power and join militia and fight for the ruler. However, this raises the issue of how Machiavelli viewed ‘subjects’. According to Machiavelli, rulers only needed subjects to maintain their power and protect their kingdoms.

Machiavelli did not foresee moral and ethical issues that his work would raise. However, these issues have been the epitome of The Prince. The work provided practical advice in a politically volatile society. However, both ruthless rulers and business individuals have used Machiavelli’s concepts (Machiavellian) to justify their actions, which view winning as the ultimate goal.

Machiavelli offered his advice on qualities the prince needed in order to run a new kingdom. He wrote:

Since a ruler, then, needs to know how to make use of beastly qualities, he should take as his models among the animals both the fox and the lion, for the lion does not know how to avoid traps, and the fox is easily overpowered by the wolves. So you must be a fox when it comes to suspecting a trap, and a lion when it comes to making the wolves turn tail” (Machiavelli 54).

This indicates that a ruler should be cunning than his subjects or those who may wish to overthrow him. As a result, the subject shall protect their strong ruler, fear him for his strength, and avoid any attempts to kill him. This leads us to the argument of whether it ‘is it better for a Prince to be loved or feared?’ According to Machiavelli, a Prince should be both (Machiavelli 51).

However, the challenge is to maintain both love and fear simultaneously. Machiavelli argues for both fear and love because a Prince needs obedience and loyalty from his people and people must fear the Prince because he has the responsibility to control and run the kingdom. Machiavelli notes:

I conclude, then, that, as far as being loved and feared is concerned, since men decide for themselves whom they love, and rulers decide whom they fear, a wise ruler should rely on the emotion he can control, not on the one he cannot. But he must take care to avoid being hated, as I have said” (Machiavelli 53).

Machiavelli supports the use of military to gain power and protect the kingdom. However, he does not support oppression. His views emanate from the notion that a good military power leads to a good rule of law. He supports this idea by stating, “The presence of a sound military force indicates the presence of sound laws” (Machiavelli 65). Machiavelli is right to advise the Prince that the subjects’ loyalty is a good defense than a structure a fortress.

Machiavelli notes that leaders should have positive public opinions, have support of subjects, and achieve their objectives. The ultimate objective is to unite different states.

Machiavelli does not encourage leaders to be cruel for personal gains. Instead, he wants leaders to use their power and influence to protect their kingdoms and subjects. Thus, most people have misunderstood Machiavelli’s concept of “The end justifies the means.

This is because Machiavelli believed that rulers could use brutality to capture, but will eventually lose their glory. Therefore, he believes that the Prince can only achieve loyalty, obedience, and trust if he does not cruelties on his subjects. However, the concept was justifiable if there were clear objectives to achieve for the benefit of the state.

Machiavelli viewed humans as objects of gaining power and using it to maintain power. In addition, human subjects provided numbers for authorities, which were suitable for achieving power and money by using force for the interest of the state. Machiavelli considered human subjects as “fickle and ungrateful” (Machiavelli 52).

The Prince showed that Machiavelli’s main concern was how to run a kingdom rather than moral and ethical issues, which came with such responsibilities. Thus, Lorenzo had not moral or ethical obligation to be correct. However, Machiavelli reflects the raw life of the Renaissance in which States benefited from atrocities.

Machiavelli remains a controversial figure. He knew that some of his views were not right. For instance, he viewed subjects as objects of acquiring and keeping power, considered people as ungrateful, and raised issues of fear or love among others.

From Machiavelli’s point of view, the ruler could apply these techniques during his time of need in order to defend his throne. The true purpose of Machiavelli remains defined as succinct ideals for running a prosperous kingdom in a volatile political situation. Therefore, Machiavelli did not advocate for brutality.

It is advisable for a ruler to have advisers in order to manage a kingdom effectively. According to Machiavelli, a good leader had to possess proper skills in order to select good advisers. The works of such competent advisers are to provide competent responses and honest advice to specific issues.

In addition, such advisers have to put the state first before their self-interests (Machiavelli 22). In return, the prince must reward and honor such characters because of their unshakable services. On the other hand, bad leaders were likely to surround themselves with incompetent people, who only revealed their weaknesses.

Private morality and ethics have other factors too, such as personal character, state duties, and divine approvals. However, it is only reactions from humans, which count in real-life situations. This explains why Machiavelli insists that a leader needs to achieve the best reputation among his subjects, and do whatever is appropriate and wrong for the prosperity of the state in a given circumstance. Therefore, rulers must be cunning, generous and must inculcate a reputation of honesty (Machiavelli 18).

According to Machiavelli, rulers can disregard moral obligations in affairs of kingdoms. Thus, the only relevant issue is the important outcome for the kingdom. It is suitable for rulers to engage in deceit, murder, and other immoral acts for the benefit of their states. These ideologies of Machiavelli gave rise to the concept of Machiavellian, which implies being “crude, cunning, and deceitful.

This is exactly how Machiavelli thought the new prince should act” (Machiavelli 63). This is why Machiavelli notes that, in the absence of a court of law, one should only rely on the result in order to make a judgment. However, Machiavelli had a strong belief in the need to have a strong ruler so that kingdoms could maintain their power for benefits of subjects rather than for individual interests.

Works Cited

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Shelbyville, KY: Wasteland Classics, 2011. Print.

This essay on The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Further Study: FAQ

📌 What is the main purpose of The Prince (Niccolo Machiavelli)?

The Prince is a political treatise written by Niccolo Machiavelli. It was created primarily for Lorenzo de Medici as a set of recommendations on how to navigate Italy’s turbulent political climate of the time.

📌 What is Machiavelli’s advice to the prince?

Machiavelli believed that the republic was the best form of the government. The author offers some practical solutions for maintaining power in an authoritarian state and conquering new territories. Machiavelli stated that moral and ethical matters are secondary to the power of authority.

📌 According to Machiavelli, what should a prince be an expert at?

Machiavelli believes that a prince should be clever and cunning to maintain power. He also considered military knowledge as essential for a successful rule. The author states that a prince should be both loved and feared.

📌 What did Machiavelli believe about power?

Machiavelli argued that a good ruler does not always have to be a good person. The quest for power is a tough one. To maintain power, sometimes it is necessary to resort to the “fear over love” strategy.

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2020, June 15). The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-prince-niccolo-machiavelli/


IvyPanda. (2020, June 15). The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-prince-niccolo-machiavelli/

Work Cited

"The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli." IvyPanda, 15 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-prince-niccolo-machiavelli/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli." June 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-prince-niccolo-machiavelli/.


IvyPanda. "The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli." June 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-prince-niccolo-machiavelli/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli." June 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-prince-niccolo-machiavelli/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli'. 15 June.

Powered by CiteTotal, online bibliography tool
More related papers