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An outline for the book the prince by niccolo machiavelli

The first eleven chapters of The Prince examine types of principalities, or principates, with examples from both ancient and contemporary history, and strategies for governing these principates.

These are not lengthy chapters; some of them are only a few paragraphs long.

  1. The first eleven chapters of The Prince examine types of principalities, or principates, with examples from both ancient and contemporary history, and strategies for governing these principates.
  2. If a political leader has a strong military, there will be no need to concern oneself with laws.
  3. In The Prince, the results of actions are what matter. The first eleven chapters of The Prince examine types of principalities, or principates, with examples from both ancient and contemporary history, and strategies for governing these principates.
  4. He does not sympathize with political leaders who lose power because of fortune.
  5. The first chapter gives an outline of the book discussing various styles of ruling as a prince, character traits that a ruler should have and the political situation of Italy in the 16th century. Evidence suggests that Machiavelli was an upright man, a good father, and a husband who lived in affectionate harmony with his wife, Marietta Corsini, who bore him six children.

Machiavelli asserts that hereditary principates can only be conquered when one who wishes to conquer lives in that principate or establishes a colony there. He cites the Romans as best exemplifying this strategy of conquest. He makes a distinction between governing subjects who had previously been ruled despotically and subjects who had some practice of self-government.

Those who had previously been ruled with absolute power will be harder to take over, but once they have been conquered, they will be easy to govern. Machiavelli presents them as gaining a political territory through their own skill and cunning; they win not because of divine assistance, but because they are armed. Machiavelli criticizes rulers who are the opposite of great conquerors. These rulers may gain power easily, but this authority is also lost easily.

READERS GUIDE

Machiavelli treats the Church as a temporal power, like all other political orders. Enemies must be treated with military power; nothing else is effective. If a political leader has a strong military, there will be no need to concern oneself with laws.

  1. There are also mixed principalities which are seized by force, civic principalities which are acquired by various criminal methods and finally ecclesiastical principalities influenced by the church. That hope was in vain.
  2. Machiavelli criticizes rulers who are the opposite of great conquerors.
  3. The first type is hereditary princedoms meaning they are inherited by the ruler.

Machiavelli makes the distinction between the different types of arms or military forces available to a leader. Using the arms of another political leader can also be harmful.

The Prince Summary

Machiavelli cites Cesare Borgia, who briefly used mercenary and auxiliary arms but then stopped using them and depended on his own arms. Machiavelli also cites examples of ancient political leaders, including King David in the Old Testament, who depended on their own power.

Machiavelli states that it might be useful for a prince to have the appearance of some traditional virtues, but it is not necessarily useful to truly exemplify those virtues.

For example, Machiavelli asserts that it might be useful to have a reputation for generosity, but it certainly is not necessary to have that reputation. However, one can be generous with the things one takes from others. He cites Cyrus, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great as military leaders who rewarded citizens with possessions taken from others.

The Prince Reader’s Guide

This section includes the famous passage in which Machiavelli states that if the prince must choose between being loved and being feared, the prince should choose to be feared.

Importantly, the prince should be feared in such a way that he will avoid being hated. He cautions political leaders about those who are close to them; a leader needs a few people close to him who will speak the truth to him, but flatterers should be avoided. Machiavelli treats fortune in chapters 24 and 25.

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He does not sympathize with political leaders who lose power because of fortune. Instead, he maintains that leaders should be prepared for what might happen and should seek to overcome the results of fortune through impetuous action. It is a patriotic appeal to Italians to expel foreign armies from the region.