History The Prince.pdf - Bloom's Literature The Prince Dedicated to Lorenzo de Medici(though initially to Giuliano de Medici his uncle who died in 1516

History The Prince.pdf - Bloom's Literature The Prince...

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Bloom's Literature The Prince Dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici (though initially to Giuliano de' Medici, his uncle, who died in 1516), The Prince , or Il Principe , was written in 1513–14, against a backdrop of 16th-century Italian intrigue, strife, and political upheaval. Machiavelli had been a casualty of this upheaval when the republican government of Florence in which he had been a civil servant, chiefly in the diplomatic corps, fell and the Medici family returned to power. (Three generations of Medicis had ruled prior to the formation of the republican government in 1494.) Machiavelli's purpose in this treatise on politics, at least on the surface, is to offer advice on successful governance, including gaining and maintaining control of territories. Ultimately, he wanted a "strong state, capable of imposing its authority on a hopelessly divided Italy" and the expulsion of foreign powers. Underlying his analysis is a basic tenet: "the real truth of things rather than an imaginary view of them," favoring political realism and rejecting idealist views of human behavior, including rulers and the ruled, with regard to political practice and response. In this context of politics, Machiavelli subordinated morals to political expediency. Having minimized the problems of princes of hereditary states in maintaining control of their territory—"it is simply a matter of not upsetting ancient customs, and of adjusting them instead to meet new circumstances," for the people have grown accustomed to their prince's family—Machiavelli turns his attention to the greater difficulties of "mixed principalities," that is, a new territory grafted onto the old states, and of new states. These difficulties increase when the language, customs, and laws of the new possession differ from those of the conquering prince. One of the chief difficulties is the conquered, some of whom may have welcomed the opportunity to change masters but are fickle in their friendship when they discover that their expectations of bettering their lives have not been borne out. Additionally, those who have been harmed in the power seizure become enemies. Machiavelli recommends extinguishing the family line of the previous prince but maintaining the old way of life and customs, laws and taxes, thus earning the good will of the people, so as to incorporate the new territory into the old in the shortest possible time. For new possessions, Machiavelli recommends that the new prince go to the new territory to live; troubles may be spotted and dealt with before they expand. Another tactic is to establish colonies
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rather than maintain any army because fewer are hurt and they are poor and scattered. All the others remain untouched, which is a persuasion to keep quiet; yet they also become fearful of making a mistake and suffering like those who have already been despoiled.… And in this connection it should be remarked that men ought either to be caressed or destroyed, since they will seek revenge for minor hurts but will not be able to revenge major ones. Any harm you do to a man should be done in such a way that you need not fear his revenge.
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