The Prince -

The Prince
By: Niccolo Machiavelli
1. Who is the audience? For whom is the
advice for?
2. To what extent should this advice apply
to average people?
3. To what extent should this advice apply
to aspiring leaders?
4. How much of this applies to today’s
Post-modern world?
• Who is the book written for? Why?
Lorenzo Di Piedro De’ Medici
Advice on being an effective prince
• Why would he do this?
Job application???
• Who is the intended audience?
Rulers – NOT fellow scholars or average people
Chapter 1
• What are the two types of Governments?
Republics or Princedoms
• What are the 2 types of Princedoms?
Hereditary (old) or Newly acquire
• WHY is Machiavelli ‘defining’ these?
He is establishing ‘premise’
Chapter 2
• What is the main topic of Chapter 2?
Hereditary Princedoms (1st type)
• Why is this type easier to maintain than New
Tradition established – people used to it
• Example of Hereditary Princedom?
Duke of Ferrara
Chapter 3
• What is the main topic?
Mixed Principalities: Old ruler taking new land
• Why can’t this new ruler avoid giving offense to
newly conquered land?
Troops quartered in land or other complaints related
to change
• Why is it easier to take land or put down revolt a
second time?
Easier to punish wrongdoers & people more willing
to accept the ‘old ways’
• What role does language play regarding the ease
of taking territory?
Same language makes rule easier – different
language is tough
• Does Machiavelli have a point here? How might
some people apply this to the USA today?
• Explain what Machiavelli means by: “he who is the
cause of another’s greatness is himself undone”
Do not help someone become powerful because
they are likely to turn on you
Chapter IV
• What are the two ways in which all
Princedoms are governed?
Prince-Servant & Prince-Nobility
• Which is easier to maintain? Why?
Prince-Servant because servants depend on
Prince & are unlikely to turn
• How can this be applied to modern day?
Chapter V
• What are the 3 methods to hold newly acquired
Destroy to totally; reside in person; suffer to live
under its old laws exacting tribute
• Which method would Machiavelli suggest if the
old territory previously lived under a Prince?
Live in person: people used to a Prince
• Which method would Machiavelli suggest if the
territory used to be a Republic? Why?
Destroy it: People more likely to rebel
Chapters VI - XI
• Territories can be gained either by ability or by
luck. Which is harder to acquire? Which is harder
to maintain? Why?
Hard to acquire: Ability – difficult to make new
laws & institutions to secure power
Hard to maintain: Luck – little hindrance in
gaining acquisition, but since much of success is
due to relying on others’ favour and fortunes,
stability of power base is lost
• Who does Machiavelli use as the example of a
‘luck’ ruler? What is Machiavelli’s opinion of
Cesare Borgia (Duke Valentino)
Machiavelli praises Cesare! He loves the guy!
Cesare is the rare private person who has
natural ability to rule & he did everything he
could to secure his power
• What is better? Power through Merit or
through Fortune? Why?
• Merit – hard to acquire – easy to maintain
• If a ruler acquires power through infamy
(cruelty) when should all injuries take place?
All at once when power is acquired because
once over, ruler can work on image whereas if
he drags out the injury, he will always look
over his shoulder due to continued hatred
• How might this apply to a newly appointed
leader/president/CEO, etc in today’s society?
• When discussing a Civil Princedom,
Machiavelli uses the term “fortunate
astuteness”. What does he mean?
Some merit & some good fortune
• The Prince, in this case, partially arises from
aid by Nobles OR the people. Why not both at
Nobles and the people are naturally opposed:
nobles desire dominance (oppression) over
people & the people do not wish to be
dominated (oppressed)
• Why is it difficult to work with the Nobles?
They see themselves as equal to the Prince
• What must a Prince do to Nobles to be
Make them dependent on the Prince
• What is the problem with being beholden to
the People?
The number is great & hard to deal with when
they are angry (Nobility is a small group by
• Why is it difficult to transition from a Civil
Princedom to an Absolute Princedom?
Friends in peace time often turn and flee when
danger arises
• What is the advantage of Ecclesiastical
They are based on old religion (tradition)
Chapters 12-14
• What are the 4 types of military (armies)?
Mercenary; auxiliary; mixed; national
• What is Machiavelli’s opinion of each?
Mercenary – useless & dangerous
Auxiliary – uses neighbors & is useless
Mixed – better, but since reliance on outsiders still
a part of the mix, not ideal
National – best because people will fight for their
Chapters 15-24
• In general, what do these chapters address?
Qualities of the Prince himself
• What are some general ideas discussed?
Lofty ideals translate into bad government
Virtue is good, in general, but is often harmful to
the state
Sometimes the ruler must be cruel – do what is
needed to maintain power
Gaining the goodwill of the people is very
important, even if it is a facade
• Assess this quote: “And the manner in which
we live, and that in which we ought to live, are
things so wide asunder, that he who quits the
one to betake himself to the other is more
likely to destroy than to save himself; since any
one who would act up to a perfect standard of
goodness in everything, must be ruined
among so many who are not good.”
• How might this be applied to yourself?
(although remember, in the end, the advice is
NOT for you!)
• What does Machiavelli recommend as the best
method for acquiring revenue?
Be miserly – don’t raise taxes!!!
• What is the drawback of a Prince being too
It is too expensive
• Is it better to be feared or loved (or both)?
What is most realistic?
Both is best, but being unrealistic, fear is better
than love
• Why is fear better than love?
Answer lies in Machiavelli’s assessment of human
• Assess the following quote: “For love is held by the
tie of obligation, which, because men are a sorry
breed, is broken on every whisper of private
interest; but fear is bound by the apprehension of
punishment which never relaxes its grip.”
• What does that quite assume about human
Our nature is one of self-interest & avoidance of
• Should a Prince keep his word (keep faith)? Why?
Why not?
A price does what he needs to: keeping his
word/faith could lead him to harm
• What are the two ways for a Prince to ‘contend’
(deal with problems)? Which is better? Why?
Laws or force: force is better because humans are
themselves beasts and respond to force more than
• Does this mean a Prince should always resort to
NO!!! Use laws – use force when necessary
• Evaluate the following quote: “It is not essential,
then, that a Prince should have all the good
qualities which I have enumerated above, but it
is essential that he should seem to have them…”
• Define: “amoral” How does this term apply to
this part of the text?
Morality is neutral – a Prince must be amoral,
yet appear moral
• Can you think of modern day examples of this
advice? Is this good? Bad? Does Machiavelli
have a point? Whatcha’ think?
• Although a Prince does what he must,
what are some things that he should
Do not take property: do not insult
• How should a Prince deal with external
and internal attacks?
External: use force – internal: avoid being
• The ‘right’ to bear arms is a major issue even
today. Firstly, was there such a thing as ‘rights’
then? To what extend did ‘rights’ exist (if at
Essentially, the idea of liberty and ‘rights’ did
not exist. However, some claimed certain
privileges granted automatically by birthright,
power, or wealth. This would be the early version
of ‘rights’. The ability of bearing arms was solely
at the whim of the leaders… no ‘rights to bear
• According to Machiavelli, should people be
allowed to bear arms? Under what
circumstances? Why? Why not?
Newly acquired territory should be disarmed.
Old territories can have weapons. The reason is
because new territories a likely to resist the new
ruler. Old territories have tradition established
and the weaponry of the citizens can be wielded
by the Prince in times of need.
• What type of foreign affairs policies should a
prince have? Why?
Aggressive – it increases a Prince’s esteem
• Should a Prince be neutral in foreign affairs?
Why? Why not?
A neutral Prince is likely to become prey to a
victor – by declaring (or involving yourself) in
foreign conflicts, you know whether to fear a
foreign power or not and prepare accordingly
• Is this sound advice? Can it be applied to the USA
today? Explain.
• Who should a Prince surround himself? Who
should be his ministers? Why?
• Avoid flatterers! Accept ‘truth’ from a few
loyalists. Surrounding oneself with loyal and
capable ministers helps the Prince’s reputation:
These ministers must be chosen based upon
who’s interests they serve. If they serve the
Prince’s interests – good! If they serve their
own interests – bad!
Chapters 25-26
• What role does Fortune play in human affairs?
She is the mistress of half our actions
• What does Machiavelli mean when he stated
that “Fortune is a woman who to be kept
under must be beaten and roughly
handled…”? Why does he say this?
Fortune must not dictate our lives. Plan
ahead and avoid Fortune! If we rely on Fortune
– it could go well… or it could go bad!
• Summarize the main advice Machiavelli gives to
• What are Machiavelli’s assumptions about
human nature?
• Why would this document be controversial in
Machiavelli’s age? Could it still be controversial
today? Explain.
• In what ways was this a Humanist document?
• In what way would this be considered a ‘poster
child’ for Renaissance literature?
• What were your favorite points? What do you
agree with? What do you disagree with? Why?
• How might a leader today make use of
Machiavelli’s advice?
• If you wanted to asses a historical leader’s level of
“Machiavellianism” what evidence would you look
• If you were to interview a modern leader’s (say a
WHS school leader) level of “Machiavellianism”
what questions would you ask to asses them?
• Pair up, choose your leader, and create interview

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