The Prince | Study Guide

Niccolò Machiavelli

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The Prince | Chapter 2 : Hereditary Principalities | Summary

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Summary

Machiavelli discusses principalities that have long been under the rule of the family of a prince. In such a situation, the job of ruling is easier for the prince. By maintaining the status quo, and adjusting when the situation demands it, the prince satisfies the people. Even if the prince is deposed, he will have a good chance to retake his domain as long as he lives. When a new prince begins to have difficulties keeping his people satisfied, they will want the old prince back. At the very least, the people will not hinder the old prince if he tries to retake his domain. They may even agitate for his return.

Analysis

Machiavelli states for the first time his most important piece of advice: that the prince should avoid being hated by those he rules. This is why the job of ruling is easier for the prince whose family has ruled a domain for many years. There is a familiarity and affection for the prince's family and their way of doing things that makes the people less prone to hate the prince. This assumes that the prince's ancestors have ruled as Machiavelli recommends. If the family has long been hated, the new prince's job will not be easier.

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