Course Hero. "The Prince Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Sep. 2016. Web. 20 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Prince/>.
Course Hero. (2016, September 29). The Prince Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Prince/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "The Prince Study Guide." September 29, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Prince/.
Course Hero, "The Prince Study Guide," September 29, 2016, accessed September 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Prince/.
Machiavelli starts by providing a categorization of governments that have existed in history. He claims there are only two sorts of government: republics and principalities. According to Machiavelli, the defining characteristic of a principality is heredity—that is, rulership is passed down through a family.
Next, Machiavelli introduces a subcategorization of principalities. They can be old, meaning the ruling family has been in power for a long time, or they can be new, meaning the ruling family takes territory to start its own domain or to add to its existing domain.
Concerning new principalities, Machiavelli introduces two further subcategorizations. These have to do with how the new principalities were ruled in the past, and how the prince secured the new domains. Machiavelli further divides new principalities into those that were previously ruled by a prince and those that were previously republics. There are a number of different ways to secure a new domain, according to Machiavelli, including by military force, by luck, by skill, or by some combination thereof.
In this first section, Machiavelli sets the stage for his account of effective rulership by princes. He spells out the categories and subcategories in order to thoroughly account for historical examples of successful and unsuccessful princes. Each distinction will be used later to explain the success or failure of a historical leader and thus structure Machiavelli's advice to a prince confronting situations similar to those that have already occurred in history.