Machiavelli : The Prince (Summary)


Machiavelli‘s Prince is subject to uncountable reviews . We do not claim to revolutionize the practice of commentary on the Prince. But we will try to get back to the essence of Machiavelli‘s thought.

The Prince – Context and Summary

The Prince is part of a complicated historical context, i.e. the political fragmentation of Italy. The countless kingdoms are under threat of external attacks. Machiavelli was after all a patriot who fears that his country dismantled by the rival powers. Furthermore, Machiavelli’s Prince is dedicated to Prince Medici (Florence King). Thus, the aim is to advise the princes for the unification of Italy. His method is up to political reality.

Also recall that in his speech on the first Decade of Livy Machiavelli sought the reasons for the greatness of Rome, he erected a model of political success. Its goal is to create a handbook for princes.


Machiavelli and the Prince

The Machiavellian Prince must be provided with moral virtues and policies (based on the ruse and forces) must master the art of war, the sole object of power. Any peace is thus an armed peace. A good prince will continue if it holds the VIRTU, sense of anticipation and caution, the art of seizing singular situations. Fortune being a “raging river”, the Prince must notify the throes of destiny, act to anticipate the future.

The Prince must always win the sympathy of the people and rely on the powerful. Loved and feared at the time the Prince can be cruel if the situation requires, but still hide and appear fair to the people (the difference between being the Prince and his forthcoming). Raison d’etat premium on respect for morality.

Machiavelli, war and peace

Machiavelli describes foreign policy as being marked distrust. This distrust is justified by the survival instinct that all states must develop. The world is threatening, Machiavelli advocates the concept of aggressive foreign policy: to attack before being attacked. Thus, the defense of a state justifies all means: “a country is defended either by shame or by fame, or by any other means.” Machiavelli removes the notion of violence his moral connotation. Violence is used to thwart the plans of fortune against men.

The power of a state is inextricably linked to Machiavelli’s military power. In fact, a country whose defense would delegate is in great danger.

For Machiavelli, war is the means of maintaining outer peace, inner peace means to retain power. But at no moment the war is valued as such. The Prince must be a military leader (lion) and a skillful political leader (fox).

Machiavelli and the republican citizen

Citizens shall enhance active living, civic at the expense of the contemplative life. Inhabited by the desire of glory and grandeur, the citizen must avoid corruption and to the community. The citizen must be a soldier anxious to preserve the common good.

The lessons of Machiavelli are important. He describes a contingent world, the place where the will and human action are crucial. The Human cope the chaos but he is never convicted, he has one mean to overcome fate and chance: his freedom.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Machiavelli : The Prince (Summary), May 15, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 15, 2012,

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