Class Outline – gep 397 – Dr. V. Matthews Machiavelli’s The Prince Chapter 1: Is it a true statement that “all states and dominions … are either republics or monarchies”? Chapter 2



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Class Outline – GEP 397 – Dr. V. Matthews

Machiavelli’s The Prince
Chapter 1:

Is it a true statement that “all states and dominions … are either republics or monarchies”?
Chapter 2:

Why is it so likely that a deposed monarch can easily regain his throne at “the slightest mischance” by his usurper?


Chapter 3:

Is it true that “men change masters willingly, hoping to better themselves”?
Once a Prince conquers another area, the difficulties magnify because:

  • He has made enemies of all those he has injured

  • His “friends” are never truly content or under control

  • An army cannot maintain order if the local inhabitants do not accept their condition


A rebellion frees the conqueror to use more force and strengthen himself.
Why is it easier to hold territory annexed to another state if they share the same language and nationality?
What must be done to pacify territory when the annexed do not share common language and culture?

Men must either be caressed or else annihilated … the injury … that we do to a man must be such that we need not fear his vengeance.”


Use minor powers, but do not let them assume too much authority or they will wish to rule it all and drive the prince out.
Whoever is the cause of another becoming powerful, is ruined himself; for that power is produced by him either through craft or force; and both of these are suspected by the one who has been raised to power.”
Chapter 4:

Two types of kingdoms:


Chapter 5:

What options exist in governing occupied states?

  • Despoil them

  • Go and live there in person

  • Let them live under their own laws, making them pay tribute and imposing a friendly (native) government that owes its existence and power to the prince


Ancient usages are never forgotten by a subject people and they will appeal to them at every emergency.
Chapter 6:

A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent.”


Princes who come to power based on ability “obtain their dominion with difficulty, but retain them easily.”
The most difficult thing is to “initiate a new order of things.”
Chapter 7:

Those who rise “to be princes merely by fortune have little trouble in rising but very much in maintaining their position.”
The prince must deal with both present difficulties as well as prepare for future problems.
Note the methods used by Cesare Borgia to expand his control of the Romagna region and what forces eventually foiled his plans.
Chapter 8:

In taking a state the conqueror must arrange to commit all his cruelties at once, so as not to have to recur to them every day.”



Chapter 9:

The Civic principality has two opposing interests (populace & aristocracy)


  1. The aristocracy raises one of its own when they find “they are unable to resist the people” and can then carry out their own program “under the shadow of his authority.”



  2. The populace, when unable to resist the nobility, exalt and create a prince “in order to be protected by his authority.”

Men who receive good from whom they expected evil feel under a greater obligation to their benefactor.”


A wise prince will seek means by which his subjects will always and in every possible condition of things have need of his government, and then they will always be faithful to him.”
Chapter 10:

Men are always adverse to enterprises in which they foresee difficulties, and it can never appear easy to attack one who has his town stoutly defended and is not hated by the people.”


Men are “bound by the benefits that they confer as by those they receive.”
Chapter 11:

Ecclesiastical princes alone possess states, and do not defend them; subjects, and do not govern them.
Chapter 12:

Principalities organize their defense:

  • Main foundation is good laws and good arms

  • Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous

  • A prince must assume personal control and captain his troops himself


Chapter 13:

Unless it commands its own arms no principality is secure; rather, it is dependant on fortune, since there is no valor and no loyalty to defend it when adversity comes.”



Chapter 14:

A prince … must have no other object or thought, nor acquire skill in anything, except war, its organization and its discipline.”


The first way to lose your state is to neglect the art of war; the first way to win a state is to be skilled in the art of war.”
Military exercises are even more important in peacetime:

  • Keep the men well organized and trained

  • The prince should hunt to learn physical hardship and practical geography as a means to plan battle strategy

  • The prince must read history and discover how famous men won their victories and were defeated


Chapter 15:

A prince “must learn how not to be virtuous, and to make use of this or not according to need.”
A prince must learn “to escape the evil reputation attached to those vices which could lose him his state, and how to avoid those vices which are not so dangerous if he possibly can.”
Chapter 16:

It is better to have the reputation of a miser. A reputation for generosity is too costly since it must be maintained and will lead to impoverishment or to being hated for raising taxes. You can, however, be liberal with what does not belong to you or your subjects.
Chapter 17:

It is better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.… The bound of love is one which men … break when it is to their advantage to do so; but fear is strengthened by a dread of punishment which is always effective.”


The prince can always avoid hatred if he abstains from the property of his subjects and citizens and from their women…. Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.”
Chapter 18:

The prince must know how to bring out both beast and man in his army. He must be a fox to recognize traps and a lion to frighten off wolves.

A wise ruler must not honor his word when it places him at a disadvantage and when the reasons for which he made his promise no longer exist.
The deceiver will always find someone ready to be deceived.”
The prince should “appear to be compassionate, faithful to his word, kind, guileless and devout … [but] if he needs to be the opposite, he knows how.”
Chapter 19:

A prince will be “despised if he has a reputation for being fickle, frivolous, effeminate, cowardly, irresolute.”
The prince must fear two things: internal subversion and external aggression
The prince should delegate to others the enactment of unpopular measures and keep in his own hands the distribution of favors.”
The prince “first must strive not to be hated by all and every class of subject; and when his proves impossible, he should strive assiduously to escape the hatred of the most powerful classes.”
Princes cannot escape death if the attempt is made by a fanatic, because anyone who has no fear of death himself can succeed in inflicting it.”
Chapter 20:

To secure power a prince must disarm subjects in annexed territory, keep their towns divided, foster animosity among their leaders, and pull down their fortresses. Dissensions, however, are only useful in peacetime.
In his own state the prince must arm his citizens. If he disarms them then his causes offense since it shows his distrust.
Chapter 21:

A prince should never join in an aggressive alliance with someone more powerful than himself, unless it is a matter of necessity.”


A prince gains honor and prestige from “great campaigns and striking demonstrations of his personal abilities.”
A prince should show esteem for talent.
Chapter 22:

The intelligence of a ruler is “based on the quality of the men he has around him.” Intelligence is demonstrated by the ability to understand how things work and an appreciation of what others understand or know.
When a prince “sees a minister thinking more of himself than of you, and seeking his own profit in everything he does, such a one will never be a good minister.”
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