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Encyclopedia > The Prince
The Prince
Image:Machiavelli Principe Cover Page.jpg
The Prince Cover
Author Niccolò Machiavelli
Original title Il Principe
Country Florence
Language Italian
Subject(s) Political Science
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher Antonio Blado d'Asola.
Publication date 1532
Preceded by Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio
Followed by Andria

Il Principe (The Prince) is a political treatise by the Florentine public servant and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. Originally called De Principatibus (About Principalities), it was written in 1513,[1] but not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. The treatise is not actually representative of the work published during his lifetime, but it is certainly the most remembered, and the one responsible for bringing "Machiavellian" into wide usage as a pejorative term. Prince may refer to: Prince, a member of the highest aristocracy The Prince, a political treatise written by Niccolò Machiavelli in the 16th century PRINCE2, a project management method Prince (cigarettes), a brand of cigarettes Prince Sports, Inc. ... Machiavelli redirects here. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... The History of Florence // Roman Origins Florences recorded history began with the establishment in 59 BCE of a settlement for Roman former soldiers, with the name Florentia. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Events May 16 - Sir Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor of England. ... For other uses, see Politics (disambiguation). ... Look up Treatise in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Florence (or Firenze, Florentia and Fiorenza) is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany, and of the province of Florence. ... The Roman civil service in action. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political philosophy is the study of fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what... Machiavelli redirects here. ... 1513 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Events May 16 - Sir Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor of England. ... Detail of the portrait of Machiavelli, ca 1500, in the robes of a Florentine public official Niccolò Machiavelli (May 3, 1469—June 21, 1527) was an Italian political philosopher during the Renaissance. ...



The views expounded by Machiavelli in The Prince may seem extreme. However, his whole life was spent in Florence at a time of continuous political conflict. Accordingly, the main value that Machiavelli emphasized was the need for stability in a prince's domain. Florence (or Firenze, Florentia and Fiorenza) is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany, and of the province of Florence. ... The term prince, from the Latin root princeps, is used for a member of the highest ranks of the aristocracy or the nobility. ...

The theories expressed in The Prince are often venerated as shrewd methods that an aspiring prince can use to acquire the throne, or an existing prince can use to establish his reign. According to Machiavelli, the greatest moral good is a virtuous and stable state, and actions to protect the country, no matter how cruel, are always justified. It is vital that he do anything necessary to keep his power; however, Machiavelli strongly suggests that above all, the prince must not be hated. He does give a concise answer on whether or not a prince should be feared or loved. He states, "..a wise prince should establish himself on that which is his own control and not in that of others; he must endeavor to avoid hatred, as is noted." He also says "It is best to be both feared and loved; however, if one cannot be both it is better to be feared than loved." Morality (from the Latin manner, character, proper behavior) has three principal meanings. ...

The opening discourse of The Prince defines effective methods of governing in several types of principalities (for example, newly acquired vs. hereditary). Machiavelli explains to the reader, assumed to be a member of the Florentine Medici family, the best ways to acquire, maintain, and protect a state. The methods described therein include preaching war and ruthlessness. Detail of the portrait of Machiavelli, ca 1500, in the robes of a Florentine public official Niccolò Machiavelli (May 3, 1469—June 21, 1527) was an Italian political philosopher during the Renaissance. ... For the board game, see Medici (board game). ... For other uses, see State (disambiguation). ...



The Prince is widely regarded as one of the most influential books on politics, especially on the acquisition, perpetuation, and use of political power in the western world. Machiavelli's observations continue to resonate with politicians, students, and scholars. Not intending his writing to be a scholarly treatise on political theory, Machiavelli wrote The Prince to gain the favor of the ruling Medici family, offering advice on how a prince might gain and keep power. Detail of the portrait of Machiavelli, ca 1500, in the robes of a Florentine public official Niccolò Machiavelli (May 3, 1469—June 21, 1527) was an Italian political philosopher during the Renaissance. ... For the board game, see Medici (board game). ...

Machiavelli justified rule by force rather than by law. Accordingly, The Prince seems to justify a number of actions done merely to perpetuate power. It is a classic study of power - how to get it, expand it and use it for maximum effect.

He also makes a point of declaring that he will not discuss republics, stating, "Of Republics I shall not now speak, having elsewhere spoken of them at length. Here I shall treat exclusively of Princedoms, and, filling in the outline above traced out, shall proceed to examine how such States are to be governed and maintained." Look up republic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Defense and military

Having discussed the various types of principalities, Machiavelli turns to the ways a state can attack other territories or defend itself. The two most essential foundations for any state, whether old or new, are sound laws and strong military forces. A self-sufficient prince is one who can meet any enemy on the battlefield. However, a prince that relies solely on fortifications or on the help of others and stands on the defensive is not self-sufficient. If a prince cannot raise a formidable army and must rely on defense, he must fortify his city. A well-fortified city is not a likely target for attack and if it is, most armies cannot endure an extended siege. However, during a siege a virtuous prince will keep the morale of his subjects high, while removing all dissenters. Therefore, as long as the city is properly defended and has enough supplies, a wise prince can withstand any siege. Prince Albert of Monaco on the left represents a principality where he wields adminisitrative authority. ... The term dissenter (from the Latin dissentire, to disagree), labels one who dissents or disagrees in matters of opinion, belief, etc. ...

Machiavelli takes a strong stance against the use of mercenary forces, troops that are hired to fight for a wage. He believes mercenary forces are useless to a ruler because they are undisciplined, cowardly, and without any loyalty. Their only motivation to fight is for money. Machiavelli attributes the Italian city states' weakness to the reliance on mercenary armies. For other uses, see Mercenary (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Mercenary (disambiguation). ...

Machiavelli also warns against using auxiliary forces, troops that are borrowed from an ally, because if they win, the employer is under their favor and if they lose, the employer is ruined. Auxiliary forces are more dangerous than mercenary forces because they are united and controlled by capable leaders who may turn against their employers.

The main concern for a prince should be war, or the preparation thereof. It is through war a hereditary prince maintains his power and a private citizen rises to power. Machiavelli advises that a prince must frequently hunt in order to keep the body fit and allow the prince to learn the immediate landscape surrounding his kingdom. Through this, he can best learn how to protect his territory and how to advance upon others similar. Likewise, for intellectual strength, it is advised that a prince be given to the study of great military men so that he may imitate their successes and avoid their mistakes. A prince that is diligent in times of peace will be ready in times of adversity. Machiavelli writes, “thus, when fortune turns against him he will be prepared to resist it.”

Reputation of a prince

Concerning the behavior of a prince toward his subjects, Machiavelli writes: "Many men have imagined republics and principalities that never really existed at all. Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is for what should be pursues his downfall rather than his preservation; for a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many men who are not good." Since there are many possible qualities that a prince can be said to possess, he must not be overly concerned about having all the good ones. Also, a prince may be perceived to be merciful, faithful, humane, frank, and religious, but he should only seem to have these qualities. A prince cannot truly have these qualities because at times it is necessary to act against them. Although a bad reputation should be avoided, this is not crucial in maintaining power. The only ethic that matters is one that is beneficial to the prince in dealing with the concerns of his state.

Generosity vs. parsimony

If a prince is overly generous to his subjects, Machiavelli asserts he will lose appreciation and will only cause greed for more. Additionally, being over-generous is not economical, because eventually all resources will be exhausted. This results in higher taxes and will bring grief upon the prince. Then, if he decides to discontinue or limit his generosity, he will be labeled as a miser. Thus, Machiavelli summarizes that guarding against the people’s hatred is more important than building up a reputation for generosity. A wise prince should be more willing to be reputed a miser than be hated for trying to be too generous.

Cruelty vs. mercy

In answering the question of whether it is better to be loved than feared, Machiavelli writes, “The answer is of course, 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.” As Machiavelli asserts, commitments made in peace are not always kept in adversity; however, commitments made in fear are kept out of fear. Yet, a prince must ensure that he is not feared to the point of hatred, which is very possible. Above all, Machiavelli argues, do not interfere with the property of the subjects, their women, or the life of somebody without proper justification. Regarding the troops of the prince, fear is absolutely necessary to keep a large garrison united and a prince should not mind the thought of cruelty in that regard. For a prince who leads his own army, it is imperative for him to observe cruelty because that is the only way he can command his soldiers' absolute respect. Machiavelli compares two great military leaders: Hannibal and Scipio. Although Hannibal's army consisted of men of various races, they were never rebellious because they feared their leader. Scipio's men, on the other hand, were known for their mutiny and dissension. For other uses, see Hannibal (disambiguation). ... Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major (Latin: P·CORNELIVS·P·F·L·N·SCIPIO·AFRICANVS¹) (235–183 BC) was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic. ...

Avoiding contempt and hatred

Machiavelli observes that most men are content as long as they are not deprived of their property and women. A prince should command respect through his conduct, because a prince that is highly respected by his people is unlikely to face internal struggles. Additionally, a prince who does not raise the contempt of the nobles and keeps the people satisfied, Machiavelli assures, should have no fear of conspirators.

Gaining honors

A prince earns honor by completing great feats. King Ferdinand of Spain is cited by Machiavelli as an example of a lowly monarch who gained esteem by showing his ability through great feats and who, in the name of religion, conquered many territories and kept his subjects occupied so that they had no chance to rebel. Regarding two warring states, Machiavelli asserts it is always wiser to choose a side, rather than to be neutral. Machiavelli then provides the following reasons why: Ferdinand V of Castile & II of Aragon the Catholic (Spanish: , Catalan: , Aragonese: ; March 10, 1452 – January 23, 1516) was king of Aragon (1479–1516), Castile, Sicily (1468–1516), Naples (1504–1516), Valencia, Sardinia and Navarre and Count of Barcelona. ... Louis XIV, king of France and Navarre (Painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701). ...

  • If your allies win, you benefit whether or not you have more power than they have.
  • If you are more powerful, then your allies are under your command; if your allies are stronger, they will always feel a certain obligation to you for your help.
  • If your side loses, you still have an ally in the loser.

Machiavelli also notes that it is wise for a prince not to ally with a stronger force unless compelled to do so. In conclusion, the most important virtue is having the wisdom to discern what ventures will come with the most reward and then pursuing it courageously.

Nobles and staff

The selection of quality servants is reflected directly upon the prince’s intelligence, so if they are loyal the prince is considered wise; however, when they are otherwise, the prince is open to adverse criticism. Machiavelli asserts that there are three types of intelligence:

  • The kind that understands things for itself- which is great to have.
  • The kind that understands what others can understand- which is good to have.
  • The kind that does not understand for itself, nor through others- which is useless to have.

If the prince does not have the first type of intelligence, he should at least have the second type. For, as Machiavelli states, “A prince must have the discernment to recognize the good or bad in what another says or does even though he has no acumen himself".

Avoiding flatterers

A prudent prince should have a select group of wise counselors to advise him truthfully on matters all the time. All their opinions should be taken into account. Ultimately, the decision should be made by the counselors and carried out absolutely. If a prince is given to changing his mind, his reputation will suffer. A prince must have the wisdom to recognize good advice from bad. Machiavelli gives an example in Emperor Maximilian I; Maximilian, who was secretive, never consulted others, but once he ordered his plans and met dissent, he immediately changed them. Maximilian I of Habsburg (March 22, 1459 – January 12, 1519) was Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death. ...


Machiavelli argues that fortune is only the judge of half our actions and we have control over the other half. He expresses a high opinion of Cesare Borgia, but says he lost power because of unexpected illness. Machiavelli compares fortune to a torrential river that cannot be easily controlled during flooding season. In periods of calm, however, people can erect dams and levees in order to minimize its impact. Fortune, Machiavelli argues, seems to strike at the places where no resistance is offered, as is the case in Italy. Additionally, a prince’s rule must be suited and adjusted for the times. In a more controversial metaphor, Machiavelli writes that "it is better to be impetuous than cautious, because fortune is a woman; and it is necessary, if one wants to hold her down, to beat her and strike her down."[2] Some translations use the word "rape," although it is disputed. However, the attitude encapsulates Machiavelli's view of power and his understanding of the lust which follows it. A prince should imitate the actions of great men before him but only to a certain extent, then mimic them and adjust certain respects of his predecessors' ideas. Cesare Borgia. ...


Writing on the brink of a new era, Machiavelli's ideals on ruling a country have had a profound impact on political leaders throughout the modern era in the western world. The Prince impressed prominent figures such as William Shakespeare,[citation needed] Sir Walter Raleigh,[citation needed] Francis Bacon,[citation needed] Leonardo Da Vinci,[citation needed] and Adolf Hitler.[citation needed] Even though Machiavelli's book was prohibited in Elizabethan England,[citation needed] many educated, upper class citizens read the work. Shakespeare used some of Machiavelli's concepts to create a few of his most infamous characters including Richard III, Edmund, Don John, Claudius, and Iago.[citation needed] Iago and Edmund, who are specifically deceptive in politics, both exemplify the manipulative, opportunistic aspects of Machiavelli's ideas. Machiavelli is even featured as a character in the prologue of Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta. Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Alternatively, Professor Walter Raleigh was a scholar and author circa 1900. ... For other persons named Francis Bacon, see Francis Bacon (disambiguation). ... “Da Vinci” redirects here. ... Hitler redirects here. ... This article is about the English dramatist. ... The Jew of Malta is an antisemetic play by Christopher Marlowe, probably written in 1589 or 1590. ...

Frederick the Great of Prussia criticised Machiavelli's conclusions in his "Anti-Machiavel", published in 1740. Frederick the Great Frederick II of Prussia (Friedrich der Große, Frederick the Great, January 24, 1712 – August 17, 1786) was the Hohenzollern king of Prussia 1740–86. ... For other uses, see Prussia (disambiguation). ... Anti-Machiavel is an 18th century essay by Frederick the Great, King of Prussia and patron of Voltaire, rebutting The Prince, the 16th century book by Niccolò Machiavelli. ... Events May 31 - Friedrich II comes to power in Prussia upon the death of his father, Friedrich Wilhelm I. October 20 - Maria Theresia of Austria inherits the Habsburg hereditary dominions (Austria, Bohemia, Hungary and present-day Belgium). ...

At different stages in his life, Napoleon I of France wrote extensive comments to The Prince. After the defeat in Waterloo, these comments were found in the emperor's coach and taken by Prussian military.[3] Napoléon I, Emperor of the French (born Napoleone di Buonaparte, changed his name to Napoléon Bonaparte)[1] (15 August 1769; Ajaccio, Corsica – 5 May 1821; Saint Helena) was a general during the French Revolution, the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from... Waterloo The top of the knoll and the famous lion. ...

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini wrote a discourse on The Prince. Mussolini redirects here. ...

See also

The Art of War (Dellarte della guerra), is one of the lesser- read works of Florentine statesman and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli. ... Neo Gomanism Manifesto Special - On War Vom Kriege (complete text available here) is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife in 1832. ... Siyāsatnāma (Book of Kingship or Book of Politics), also known as Siyar al-muluk, is the most famous work by Nizam al-Mulk, the founder of Nizamiyyah schools in medieval Persia. ...


  1. ^ Google books. The Prince. Retrieved on 2007-10-02.
  2. ^ Prince, ch. 25.
  3. ^ Massa-Carrara, Marina (2006). El Principe/The Prince: Comentado Por Napoleon Bonaparte / Commentaries by Napoleon Buonaparte, Mestas Ediciones

Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... is the 275th day of the year (276th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
The Prince
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The Prince

Links to the full text: Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ...

Project Gutenberg, abbreviated as PG, is a volunteer effort to digitize, archive and distribute cultural works. ...

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