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The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli was first published in 1532. It is a political treatise addressed to Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino. One of the most famous of the author's works, and the one that brought the term 'Machiavellian' into use.
It is written as a guide for new princes, and includes chapters on conquests by virtue, and by other people's virtue, conquered kingdoms, obtaining principality's through crimes and misdeeds and how a prince should perform all the wicked deeds he needs to do in one go so that his people will eventually forget them, defense and military, reputation and generousity, and more. At the time of it's publication, the immorality in the book was considered shocking - given that Machiavelli basically teaches princes how to tyrannise their subjects. Of course, this was partly due to the era he lived in - a time of constant political instability and conflict.
The influence the book has had throughout time, cannot be understated. People such as Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII (in his turn towards Protestantism), and Charles V (a Catholic King), all owned the book. Interestingly enough, both Catholics and Protestants claimed that Machiavelli associated with their side. The founding fathers of the United States are known to have been influenced by The Prince, including Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. Both Stalin and Mussolini read it, with the former annotating his copy, and the latter writing a discourse on it. Full chapter list.
№ 4 in Anne Haight's List of Banned Books.
№ 8 in Neil deGrasse Tyson's Essential Book List.
This book has 93 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1532. This translation by W. K. Marriott was first published in 1908.
Production notes: This edition of The Prince was published by Global Grey ebooks on the 12th June 2020, and updated on the 13th July 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Portrait of Lorenzo di Medici, Duke of Urbino' by Raphael.
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Excerpt from 'The Prince'
The second period of Machiavelli's life was spent in the service of the free Republic of Florence, which flourished, as stated above, from the expulsion of the Medici in 1494 until their return in 1512. After serving four years in one of the public offices he was appointed Chancellor and Secretary to the Second Chancery, the Ten of Liberty and Peace. Here we are on firm ground when dealing with the events of Machiavelli's life, for during this time he took a leading part in the affairs of the Republic, and we have its decrees, records, and dispatches to guide us, as well as his own writings. A mere recapitulation of a few of his transactions with the statesmen and soldiers of his time gives a fair indication of his activities, and supplies the sources from which he drew the experiences and characters which illustrate "The Prince."
His first mission was in 1499 to Catherina Sforza, "my lady of Forli" of "The Prince," from whose conduct and fate he drew the moral that it is far better to earn the confidence of the people than to rely on fortresses. This is a very noticeable principle in Machiavelli, and is urged by him in many ways as a matter of vital importance to princes.
In 1500 he was sent to France to obtain terms from Louis XII for continuing the war against Pisa: this king it was who, in his conduct of affairs in Italy, committed the five capital errors in statecraft summarized in "The Prince," and was consequently driven out. He, also, it was who made the dissolution of his marriage a condition of support to Pope Alexander VI; which leads Machiavelli to refer those who urge that such promises should be kept to what he has written concerning the faith of princes.
Machiavelli's public life was largely occupied with events arising out of the ambitions of Pope Alexander VI and his son, Cesare Borgia, the Duke Valentino, and these characters fill a large space of "The Prince." Machiavelli never hesitates to cite the actions of the duke for the benefit of usurpers who wish to keep the states they have seized; he can, indeed, find no precepts to offer so good as the pattern of Cesare Borgia's conduct, insomuch that Cesare is acclaimed by some critics as the "hero" of "The Prince." Yet in "The Prince" the duke is in point of fact cited as a type of the man who rises on the fortune of others, and falls with them; who takes every course that might be expected from a prudent man but the course which will save him; who is prepared for all eventualities but the one which happens; and who, when all his abilities fail to carry him through, exclaims that it was not his fault, but an extraordinary and unforeseen fatality.
On the death of Pius III, in 1503, Machiavelli was sent to Rome to watch the election of his successor, and there he saw Cesare Borgia cheated into allowing the choice of the College to fall on Giuliano delle Rovere (Julius II), who was one of the cardinals that had most reason to fear the duke. Machiavelli, when commenting on this election, says that he who thinks new favours will cause great personages to forget old injuries deceives himself. Julius did not rest until he had ruined Cesare.
It was to Julius II that Machiavelli was sent in 1506, when that pontiff was commencing his enterprise against Bologna; which he brought to a successful issue, as he did many of his other adventures, owing chiefly to his impetuous character. It is in reference to Pope Julius that Machiavelli moralizes on the resemblance between Fortune and women, and concludes that it is the bold rather than the cautious man that will win and hold them both.
It is impossible to follow here the varying fortunes of the Italian states, which in 1507 were controlled by France, Spain, and Germany, with results that have lasted to our day; we are concerned with those events, and with the three great actors in them, so far only as they impinge on the personality of Machiavelli. He had several meetings with Louis XII of France, and his estimate of that monarch's character has already been alluded to. Machiavelli has painted Ferdinand of Aragon as the man who accomplished great things under the cloak of religion, but who in reality had no mercy, faith, humanity, or integrity; and who, had he allowed himself to be influenced by such motives, would have been ruined. The Emperor Maximilian was one of the most interesting men of the age, and his character has been drawn by many hands; but Machiavelli, who was an envoy at his court in 1507-8, reveals the secret of his many failures when he describes him as a secretive man, without force of character—ignoring the human agencies necessary to carry his schemes into effect, and never insisting on the fulfilment of his wishes.
The remaining years of Machiavelli's official career were filled with events arising out of the League of Cambrai, made in 1508 between the three great European powers already mentioned and the pope, with the object of crushing the Venetian Republic. This result was attained in the battle of Vaila, when Venice lost in one day all that she had won in eight hundred years. Florence had a difficult part to play during these events, complicated as they were by the feud which broke out between the pope and the French, because friendship with France had dictated the entire policy of the Republic. When, in 1511, Julius II finally formed the Holy League against France, and with the assistance of the Swiss drove the French out of Italy, Florence lay at the mercy of the Pope, and had to submit to his terms, one of which was that the Medici should be restored. The return of the Medici to Florence on 1st September 1512, and the consequent fall of the Republic, was the signal for the dismissal of Machiavelli and his friends, and thus put an end to his public career, for, as we have seen, he died without regaining office.
Chapter List for 'The Prince'
Youth Æt. 1-25—1469-94
Office Æt. 25-43—1494-1512
Literature And Death Æt. 43-58—1512-27
The Man And His Works
Chapter 1. How Many Kinds Of Principalities There Are, And By What Means They Are Acquired
Chapter 2. Concerning Hereditary Principalities
Chapter 3. Concerning Mixed Principalities
Chapter 4. Why The Kingdom Of Darius, Conquered By Alexander, Did Not Rebel Against The Successors Of Alexander At His Death
Chapter 5. Concerning The Way To Govern Cities Or Principalities Which Lived Under Their Own Laws Before They Were Annexed
Chapter 6. Concerning New Principalities Which Are Acquired By One’s Own Arms And Ability
Chapter 7. Concerning New Principalities Which Are Acquired Either By The Arms Of Others Or By Good Fortune
Chapter 8. Concerning Those Who Have Obtained A Principality By Wickedness
Chapter 9. Concerning A Civil Principality
Chapter 10. Concerning The Way In Which The Strength Of All Principalities Ought To Be Measured
Chapter 11. Concerning Ecclesiastical Principalities
Chapter 12. How Many Kinds Of Soldiery There Are And Concerning Mercenaries
Chapter 13. Concerning Auxiliaries, Mixed Soldiery, And One’s Own
Chapter 14. That Which Concerns A Prince On The Subject Of War
Chapter 15. Concerning Things For Which Men, And Especially Princes, Are Praised Or Blamed
Chapter 16. Concerning Liberality And Meanness
Chapter 17. Concerning Cruelty And Clemency, And Whether It Is Better To Be Loved Than Feared
Chapter 18. Concerning The Way In Which Princes Should Keep Faith
Chapter 19. That One Should Avoid Being Despised And Hated
Chapter 20. Are Fortresses, And Many Other Things To Which Princes Often Resort, Advantageous Or Hurtful?
Chapter 21. How A Prince Should Conduct Himself So As To Gain Renown
Chapter 22. Concerning The Secretaries Of Princes
Chapter 23. How Flatterers Should Be Avoided
Chapter 24. Why The Princes Of Italy Have Lost Their States
Chapter 25. What Fortune Can Effect In Human Affairs And How To Withstand Her
Chapter 26. An Exhortation To Liberate Italy From The Barbarians
Description Of The Methods Adopted By The Duke Valentino When Murdering Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto Da Fermo, The Signor Pagolo, And The Duke Di Gravina Orsini
The Life Of Castruccio Castracani Of Lucca