Niccolò Machiavelli

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Machiavellianism cuts both ways; and it is generally true that political leaders who practise it will increase the number of evil-doers in their own country until finally public wrath will rise up and overthrow them. It would seem as if the Apostle Paul prophesied the events of our day when he wrote in his letter to the Romans (chap. i. 18): 'For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.'

Samuel Igra, Germany's National Vice (1945), p. 13[1]

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.

Niccolò Machiavelli (May 3, 1469 – June 21, 1527), was the leading political theorist of the Renaissance and one of the best nonfiction writers in all of Italian literature. A politician and writer based in Florence, he is best known for his book The Prince, which showed how an aspiring ruler will follow the policy that the "end justifies the means," whereby a ruler can gain power (the "means") in any deceitful or unjust manner possible in order to achieve his often undisclosed goals (the "end"). During his time and long afterward, Machiavelli was considered to have been inspired by the devil, and his name has been used for centuries to describe the use or approval of unscrupulous, self-serving political action. The Prince made Machiavellian a byword for deceit, despotism and political manipulation, as in a politician who spends all his time and effort on obtaining and retaining power for himself.

Was Machiavelli a Machiavellian? The question much debated by scholars is whether Machiavelli intended The Prince to be an actual guide book in how to be a ruthless tyrant, or—as most scholars argue—wrote it as a warning to citizens. Good citizens do need a guide to evil so that they can recognize it and fight back to keep their institutions, distrust politicians, and keep watch for corruption. Machiavelli, most scholars believe, was dedicated to republicanism as the best form of government and opposed tyranny. The Prince was a warning that it could happen like this if citizens let down their guard.

In other books he took an opposite view, emphasizing that when a state does not have a prince (a king), the people must have civic virtue. In Discourses on Livy Machiavelli has been a major positive influence of modern conservative thought through his impact on civic humanism. He took the lead in defining what civic virtue means for a citizen of a republic—a state where the people are sovereign and not some king. For example, a citizen has the duty to oppose corruption and when called upon fight for his country. His ideas strongly influenced British, French and American thought on the duties of the good citizen, and can be traced through American history from the days of Benjamin Franklin and James Madison down to the 21st century.[2]


Niccolo Machiavelli Uffizi.jpg

Machiavelli's father was a Florentine lawyer of moderate means, who came from an old and noble family. He supervised the superb humanistic education the boy received in the classics, literature, philosophy, and law.

From the age of 20-29 he worked in Rome, employed in the banking business. In 1498 Machiavelli was elected to the Florentine chancery ("civil service," in modern terms), as secretary and second chancellor. The city deliberately gave preference for top positions to well-educated humanists, even more than experience or political connections. He was the staff aide to the Ten of War, the committee responsible for Florence's foreign and diplomatic relations. He acted as secretary to its ambassadors and drafted detailed reports on foreign affairs. He served until 1512, when the Spanish overthrew the Republic.

He married Marietta Corsini in 1501, who bore him six children, and suffered his infidelities with patience. She outlived him by a quarter of a century.

Machiavelli devoted himself with single-minded intensity to the grueling and poorly paid service of the Republic. In 1507 he added the role of chancellor of the Nove di Milizia (Nine of the Militia), a magistracy he fought to create because Florence needed a citizen army. He argued that putting every citizen in arms was much better than using mercenary troops which, he said, were largely responsible for the military weakness of most Italian states. He did create and train a citizen army, but it did poorly in battle in 1512.

Florentine diplomacy

Italy was a scene of intense political conflict involving four dominant city-states (Florence, Milan, Venice, and Naples), along with the Papacy, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire.

When Machiavelli was growing up Florence was under the control of Lorenzo de' Medici. Italy was invaded in 1494 by Charles VIII of France, who forced the Medici family to flee. A republic was established but it immediately came under the dictatorship of religious fanatic Girolamo Savonarola. The people turned against the monk and executed him in 1498.

Machiavelli was a trusted adviser to the head of the republic, Piero Soderini, who sent him on numerous diplomatic missions. Although he never had decisive authority, Machiavelli's missions often proved to be of considerable delicacy and importance. They included visits to several courts. In 1500 he spent six months at the court of Louis XII of France, to find out the terms on which the king would help Florence fight its war against the rebellious subject-city of Pisa. Florence depended on its powerful ally to maintain its independence against powerful foes, but France thought Florence was a poorly governed, small weak state.[3]

He spent some four months at the court of Cesare Borgia (1475-1507), the aggressive young Spanish duke who kept seizing territories across Italy and demanded an alliance with Florence. The duke went out of his way to expound his policies and the ambitions underlying them and Machiavelli was greatly impressed. The duke, he reported, is "superhuman in his courage", as well as being a man of grand designs, who "thinks himself capable of attaining anything he wants". Moreover, his actions are no less striking than his words, for he "controls everything by himself", governs "with extreme secrecy", and decides and executes his plans with devastating suddenness. Machiavelli saw that Borgia was no mere upstart but someone who "must now be regarded as a new power in Italy." Borgia was the most ruthless prince in Italy and became the model for The Prince.[4]

At Rome, in 1503, he kept an eye on the election of a new pope (Julius II); and at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian in 1507 he discussed the terms of a payment which the Emperor had demanded from Florence. Borgia, Machiavelli noted in The Prince ch 7, put excessive confidence in his own "fortune" (luck), was outmaneuvered by Pope Julius II, and expelled from Italy. Machiavelli, who strongly disliked the political power of the Church, suggests Borgia should have destroyed the papacy in order to stay in power.[5] Most historians agree he was very hostile to organized Christianity and profoundly anti-Christian because it made men humble, unmanly, and feeble. Christianity, he concluded:

Has glorified more humble and contemplative men rather than men of action. It also places the highest good in humility, lowliness, and contempt of human things: the [Roman pagan philosophy] places it in the greatness of soul, the strength of body, and all the other things which make men very brave.[6]

However, there is a dissent that suggests he really sought to reform the Church.[7]

Machiavelli was an unusually keen observer. In writing his books during retirement he incorporated verbatim into the Discourses and especially The Prince, the evaluations, and even the epigrams, that he prepared as a working diplomat.

When the Spanish took over in 1512, reinstalled the Medicis and ended the republican experiment, Machiavelli was seen was a dangerous opposition leader. He was dismissed from his post, tortured and released from imprisonment shortly afterwards. He then retired from public life to his modest family property for the next six years in an effort to provide for his wife and children.


Machiavelli's version of profane saying "The ends justify the means"
For although the act condemn the doer, the end may justify him; and when, as in the case of Romulus, the end is good, it will always excuse the means; since it is he who does violence with intent to injure, not he who does it with the design to secure tranquility, who merits blame.
— Niccolo Machiavelli: Discourses: I, 9[8]

By 1518 Machiavelli was giving public lectures of his written work, particularly the Discourses on the first ten books of Titus Livius and The Art of War. Only after his death were his great books published: The Discourses (in 1531) and The Prince (1532). In the last period of his life he received an annual grant from the Pope to write his history of Florence and to improve the defenses of the city. However, in 1527 the army of the Holy Roman Empire sacked Rome and the Pope was taken prisoner. At the same time the Papal government of Florence was overthrown and once again became a Republic. Although known as a committed Republican, he found it hard to gain back the favor of the Republicans because of his active collaboration with the last government.

Shortly after the coup Machiavelli, disappointed in not being able to play a more active role in the political life of the city, died and left his family in poverty.

The Discourses

The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius is Machiavelli's fullest discussion on his views on the practice of politics and government, and on the theories that should guide that practice. It was written in the same period as his more well known work, The Prince (1513-1519 approx.) The latter is a brief handbook on for the use of rulers, the former is an extended commentary on the first ten of thirty five books that remain of Livy's History of Rome, making him an important classical scholar in addition to his contributions to political philosophy.

Machiavelli's Discourses, is the work of a staunch republican. It advises citizens of a republic how to preserve their liberty and avoid corruption. He concludes that self-government is the best guarantee of security and prosperity, noting that the interests of the people and the politicians are often antithetical, and that citizens should have a healthy distrust of politicians. The voice of the people he likens to the voice of God.[9]

Military strategy

The Art of War is the first major work on modern military thought, as the world's first systematic treatise on military strategy.[10] His only major book that appeared before Machiavelli's death. its seven volumes examines military strategy and the relationship between war and politics.[11]

Italy could not be freed by hiring soldiers because:

Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous. And if a prince holds on to his state by means of mercenary armies, he will never be stable or secure; for they are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, disloyal; they are brave among friends; among enemies they are cowards; they have no fear of God, they keep no faith with men; and your downfall is deferred only so long as the attack is deferred; and in peace you are plundered by them, in war by your enemies. The reason for this is that they have no other love nor other motive to keep them in the field than a meager wage, which is not enough to make them want to die for you. They love being your soldiers when you are not making war, but when war comes they either flee or desert.[12]

Allies were not much better, for, "the arms of another man either slide off your back, weigh you down, or tie you up."[13]

Machiavelli was the great promoter of the citizens' militia. He organized the first one in Florence and examined it in detail, concluding that the defence of a republic depended on the fighting ability and willingness of its citizens. Hired armies or mercenaries, he concluded, could not defend freedom. His ideas influenced the British "County Party" and the Americans before 1776 as they prepared to use their militias to defend freedom.[14]

The Prince

See also: The Prince

The Middle Ages saw many books of advice for princes, all of which explained that to be successful the prince had to lead a virtuous life. Machiavelli explained that in the real world it was just the opposite. The virtuous got trampled and the vicious won out, especially if they covered their tracks. "Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity."[15]

As for personal integrity:

"Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word....But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic....Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them."[16]

Machiavelli uses "virtù" to refer to the range of personal qualities, such as ruthlessness in dealing with friends or adversaries, and the flexibility to rapidly respond to changing circumstances regardless of past promises, that the prince will need to remain in power and be successful. However, this "virtù" refers to personal skills and qualities, not necessarily universal moral virtue. Machiavelli uses "fortune" to refer to things outside one's control. "Fortune is responsible for half of what happens to us, leaving the half to ourselves" (our own virtue or merit). Fortune provides the matter or opportunity for our own merit or virtue to be acted upon.

The The Prince advocated desperate measures for a desperate situation; Machiavelli's ridiculed half-measures and his dramatic statements and antithesis combined to produce bold and startling generalizations. Politics, he argued, is an art that is independent of morality and religion in its necessary methods. He has often been charged with cynicism for trying to discover permanently valid rules for political behavior based on observation of how men do in fact behave rather than on moral evaluation of how they ought to behave. That is, he advocated "realism" rather than "idealism" as a research technique in political science.

Machiavelli discovered the laws of politics by observing diplomacy firsthand and studying history—from what he called his "long experience of modern affairs and continuous study of the ancient world." However, scholars have concluded that he was not actually empirical; he formed conclusions first then sought out examples in history.

At the end The Prince appeals urgently for strong leadership to create a powerful native state and free Italy from foreign domination. To free Italy required ruthless action, he argued.

Quotes from The Prince[17]

I have not found among my possessions anything which I hold more dear than, or value so much as, my knowledge of the actions of great men, acquired by long experience in contemporary affairs, and a continual study of antiquity. Having reflected upon it with great and prolonged diligence, I now send, digested into this little volume, to your Magnificence.[18]
Fortune is a woman, and if she is to be mastered, she must be beaten and seduced.
Is it better to be loved or feared? Love is a bond men will break when it is to their advantage to do so. So I say it is better to be feared. But above all, avoid being hated.
Men nearly always follow in the footsteps laid out by others.
Fortune is responsible for half that happens, leaving the half to ourselves.
The reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit from the new order.[19]
There are two forms of government, principalities and republics.
A prince has never lacked legitimate reasons to justify his breach of faith. ...But it is necessary to know how to disguise this nature well and how to pretend and dissemble. Men are so simple and so ready to follow the needs of the moment that the deceiver will always find someone to deceive. ...So a prince need not have all the aforementioned good qualities, but it is most essential that he appear to have them. Indeed, I should go so far as to say that having them and always practising them is harmful, while seeming to have them is useful. It is good to appear clement, trustworthy, human, religious, and honest, and also to be so, but always with the mind so disposed that, when the occasion arises not to be so, you can become the opposite. ... a prince should stick to the path of good but, if the necessity arises, he should know how to follow evil.
A man who aspires to be good all the time must of necessity come to grief among so many who are so bad.
There never was a new prince who has disarmed his subjects; rather when he has found them disarmed he has always armed them, because, by arming them, those arms become yours, those men who were distrusted become faithful, and those who were faithful are kept so, and your subjects become your adherents. And whereas all subjects cannot be armed, yet when those whom you do arm are benefited, the others can be handled more freely, and this difference in their treatment, which they quite understand, makes the former your dependents, and the latter, considering it to be necessary that those who have the most danger and service should have the most reward, excuse you. But when you disarm them, you at once offend them by showing that you distrust them, either for cowardice or for want of loyalty, and either of these opinions breeds hatred against you.[20]

Impact of The Prince

The practical influence of his advice on actual politicians was minimal; it was first translated into English only in 1640, after a century. Few politicians needed to read a manual on how to manipulate people; usually it was the critic of a politician who complained he acted in Machiavellian fashion.

Machiavelli did influence Italian nationalists during the Risorgimento (unification movement) of the 19th century and under Fascism. They tended to misread him as a proponent of the centralized Italian state; rather, his patriotism was devoted to the city-state rather than the nation.

Machiavelli was not thoroughly consistent. Some contradictions include the a despairing view of the nature of man coupled with a fervent belief in the ability of a leader possessed of virtù to liberate Italy from foreign domination; this with the backing of the people, despite former evidences of the people's corruptibility.

History of Florence

The History of Florence (1925) displayer's dramatic power as the patriotic reader is swept along from the origins of Italian medieval civilization to the threshold of the French invasions at the end of the 15th century. He is harshly critical of the negative role of the Catholic Church—that is, the papacy.

The major themes in History of Florence are the necessity of basing strong government on ultimate consent, and the inevitable corruption of the state if it tolerates political factions. As a scholar Machiavelli relied heavily on the details as related by earlier chroniclers, but he shaped and combined his material with the purpose of discovering the true causes of historical events as revealed by the psychology of individual persons and the conflicting interests of classes; he used history to provide lessons which he thought remained permanently valid. He was one of the first historians to ignore the role of divine intervention in shaping history, a mark of his commitment to Humanism.

Contributions to political philosophy

Machiavelli was in many respects not an innovator. His largest political work seeks to bring back a rebirth of the Ancient Roman Republic; its values, virtues and principles the ultimate guiding authority of his political vision. Machiavelli is essentially a restorer of something old and forgotten. The republicanism he focused on, especially the theme of civic virtue, became one of the dominant political themes of the modern world, and was a central part of the foundation of American political values.

Machiavelli studied the way people lived and aimed to inform leaders how they should rule and even how they themselves should live. To an extent he admits that the old tradition was true - men are obliged to live virtuously as according to Aristotles Virtue Ethics principle. However, he denies that living virtuously necessarily leads to happiness. Machiavelli viewed misery as one of the vices that enables a prince to rule [21] Machiavelli states boldly in The Prince, The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved. [22] In much of Machiavelli's work, it seems that the ruler must adopt unsavory policies for the sake of the continuance of his regime.

Hans Baron was the most influential scholar to study Machiavelli. Najemy (1996) examines Baron's ambivalent portrayal, arguing that Baron tended to see Machiavelli simultaneously as the cynical debunker and the faithful heir of civic humanism. By the mid-1950s, Baron had come to consider civic humanism and Florentine republicanism as early chapters of a much longer history of European political liberty, a story in which Machiavelli and his generation played a crucial role. This conclusion led Baron to modify his earlier negative view of Machiavelli. He tried to bring the Florentine theorist under the umbrella of civic humanism by underscoring the radical differences between The Prince and the Discourses and thus revealing the fundamentally republican character of the Discourses. However, Baron's inability to come to terms with Machiavelli's harsh criticism of early 15th century commentators such as Leonardo Bruni ultimately prevented him from fully reconciling Machiavelli with civic humanism.

Pocock (1981) traces the Machiavellian belief in and emphasis upon Greco-Roman ideals of unspecialized civic virtue and liberty from 15th century Florence through 17th century England and Scotland to 18th century America. Thinkers who shared these ideals tended to believe that the function of property was to maintain an individual's independence as a precondition of his virtue. Consequently, in the last two times and places mentioned above, they were disposed to attack the new commercial and financial regime that was beginning to develop. However, Paul Rahe (1992) takes issue with Pocock on the origins and argues Machiavelli's republicanism was not rooted in antiquity but was is entirely novel and modern. Scholars have argued that James Madison followed Machiavelli's republicanism when he set up the Jeffersonian Republicans in 1792, a party opposed to Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists.[23] Conservative historians likewise conclude that Thomas Jefferson's republicanism was "deeply in debt" to Machiavelli, whom he praised.[24]

Usage of the term Machiavellianism in political science

Shortly after arrival of the Bolshevik leader Lenin to the Petrograd, the French ambassador to Russia Maurice Paléologue named him in his diary a Machiavellian. Paléologue thought the Marxist theorist Lenin to be all the more dangerous because Lenin was said to be pure-minded, temperate and ascetic, whereas in Paléologue's view Lenin was in fact a combination of an utopian dreamer and fanatic, prophet and metaphysician, blind to any idea of the impossible and absurd, a stranger to feelings of justice or mercy, violent, and crazy with vanity. Paléologue further described Lenin as being a compound of Savanorola and Marat, Blanqui and Bakunin.[25]

Realist or evil?

For four centuries scholars have debated whether Machiavelli was the theorist of evil, or just being realistic. The Prince, made the word "Machiavellian" a byword for deceit, despotism and political manipulation. Some historians argue Machiavelli had a secret (or very subtle) message that explains away the ugly implications of the plain text, saying that Machiavelli really favored virtue after all and was just trying to trick princes into policies that would lead to their overthrow, not their triumph.[26]

The atheist German-born American neoconservative Leo Strauss and founder of the Straussian School denounces Machiavelli as a "teacher of evil," because he counsels the princes to avoid the values of justice, mercy, temperance, wisdom, and love of their people in preference to the use of cruelty, violence, fear, and deception.[27] Italian anti-fascist philosopher Benedetto Croce (1925) concludes Machiavelli is simply a "realist" or "pragmatist" who accurately states that moral values in reality do not greatly affect the decisions that political leaders make.[28] German philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1946) held that Machiavelli simply adopts the stance of a political scientist—-a Galileo of politics—in distinguishing between the "facts" of political life and the "values" of moral judgment.[29]

Thoughts on the State

Machiavelli was not a political philosopher in the ordinary sense. He did not try either to define the State or to justify its existence. His views about the State are implied as matter of course when he describes how a ruler may retain or acquire control, how he is liable to lose it, which qualities are necessary for a republic to remain strong, or how precarious a Republic's liberty can be at times. Medieval thinkers had taken the political authority of any prince or king in the community of Christendom to be necessarily limited – by the Emperor (In the case of the Holy Roman Empire), by the power of the Roman Catholic Church in spiritual matters and by the power of natural law (Universal moral principles) that determine the boundaries of justice. Machiavelli did not challenge this long held traditional position. He ignored it, writing as a matter of fact that the state had absolute authority. He thought that the value of religion lies in its contribution to social order and the rules of morality must be dispensed with if security required it.

Machiavelli further differed from medieval thinkers in taking for granted that the power of the state is a single whole and can be centrally controlled, irrespective of whether the state is a monarchy or a republic. He preferred a republic because he preferred liberty. However, he believed that in order for the liberty of republicanism to function, it needed a citizenry who were independent and courageous (Virtuous). Machiavelli believed these qualities were rare and existed hardly anywhere in the Europe of his day since the Romans.

Impact on America

The Founding Fathers read Machiavelli closely. In his Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, John Adams praised Machiavelli, with Algernon Sidney and Montesquieu, as a philosophic defender of mixed government. For Adams, Machiavelli restored empirical reason to politics, while his analysis of factions was commendable. Adams likewise agreed with the Florentine that human nature was immutable and driven by passions. He also accepted Machiavelli's belief that all societies were subject to cyclical periods of growth and decay. For Adams, Machiavelli lacked only a clear understanding of the institutions necessary for good government.[30]

Most recently, Michael Ledeen, holder of the "Freedom Chair" at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, was instrumental in uniting neoconservatives with the new Christian Right. An admirer of the political philosophy of Machiavelli,[31] he used Christian fundamentalism as a political tool to advance the candidacy and help ground the presidency of George W. Bush, producing what political scientist David Domke has called "political fundamentalism." Ledeen's theoretical ideas have influenced the policies of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Karl Rove.[32]

The Prince (1532) - best known work of Niccolò Machiavelli - is seen by many as the foundation of modern political science for four reasons:

  • its stress on centralized government and bureaucracy
  • its cynicism about character
  • its opposition to the classical, affirmative view of Hebrew Scriptures and Plato
  • its focus on success and efficiency as the supreme goals of government

Today it is often spoken in tone of admiration but Machiavelli's Florentine contemporaries were shocked by his views,[17] some in fact to such degree that they regarded his works to be inspired by devil.[33] We don't know if Machiavelli wrote the Prince as a satire on the way the princes of his day behaved or as serious advice. We do know that more than a few leaders have taken his advice seriously."we compel them to have some care and responsibility for others" from Plato:The Parable of the Caveare extremely important for public welfare: "the States are as the men are; they grow out of human characters".[17] The contemporary society of Machiavelli's period based its morale on conviction that evil acts in temporal life will cause punishment in eternal life. He turned this perception upside down and refrained from mentioning Bible or Christianity in his writings. His ostentatious avoidance of addressing the question of the Last Judgement in this respect excited resentment.[33][35]

"Machiavellism" in the field of psychology

See also: Machiavellianism (Psychology)

Generally speaking, the term "Machiavellian" is used by people who are unfamiliar with the works of Machiavelli, or do not understand them. Machiavellianism in the field of psychology has a different connotation than as in the field of political science. It is defined as a manipulative strategy of social interaction and personality style that uses other people as tools to achieve for personal gain.[36] This alleges that a prince or ruler of a society always, and only, acts out of selfish-motives, and not for the benefit of the whole of society, or on behalf of its citizens. Machiavelli's political recommendations to the prince aspiring to power is merely how to survive and be successful "among so many who are so bad."

See also

Further reading

See the more detailed guide in the Bibliography below

  • Bondanella, Peter, and Mark Musa, eds. The Portable Machiavelli (1979)
  • Burd, L. A., "Florence (II): Machiavelli" in Cambridge Modern History (1902), vol. I, ch. vi. pp 190–218 online edition
  • de Grazia, Sebastian. Machiavelli in Hell (1989), highly favorable intellectual biography; won the Pulitzer Prize excerpt and text search
  • Jensen, De Lamar, ed. Machiavelli: Cynic, Patriot, or Political Scientist? (1960) essays by scholars online edition
  • Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Prince, ed. by Peter Bondanella (1998) 101pp online edition
  • Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Prince, (1908 edition translated by W. K. Marriott) Gutenberg edition
  • Skinner, Quentin. Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction (2000) online edition, good place to start
  • Viroli, Maurizio. Niccolo's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Viroli, Maurizio. Machiavelli (1998) 252pp online edition



  • Burd, L. A., "Florence (II): Machiavelli" in Cambridge Modern History (1902), vol. I, ch. vi. pp 190–218 online Google edition
  • de Grazia, Sebastian. Machiavelli in Hell (1989), highly favorable intellectual biography; won the Pulitzer Prize; difficult and not the place to start excerpt and text search
  • Hale, J. R. Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy (1961) online edition
  • Hulliung, Mark. Citizen Machiavelli (1983)
  • Ridolfi, Roberto. The Life of Niccolò Machiavelli (1963), a standard scholarly biography
  • Schevill, Ferdinand. Six Historians (1956), pp. 61–91
  • Skinner, Quentin. Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction (2000) online edition
  • Villari, Pasquale. The Life and Times of Niccolò Machiavelli (2 vol 1892), good older biography; online Google edition vol 1; online Google edition vol 2
  • Viroli, Maurizio. Niccolo's Smile : A Biography of Machiavelli (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Viroli, Maurizio. Machiavelli (1998) online edition, good place to start

Political thought

  • Arciniegas, Germán. "Savonarola, Machiavelli, and Guido Antonio Vespucci: Totalitarian and Democrat 500 Years Ago," Political Science Quarterly, (1954) 69:184-201, argues that modern totalitarianism is a blending of Machiavelli's theories and Savonarola's techniques of rabble rousing. in JSTOR
  • Ball, Terence. "The Picaresque Prince: Reflections on Machiavelli and Moral Change," Political Theory, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Nov., 1984), pp. 521–536 in jstor
  • Baron, Hans. The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny (2 vol 1955), highly influential, deep study of civic humanism (republicanism); 700 pp. excerpts and text search; ACLS E-books; also vol 2 in ACLS E-books
  • Baron, Hans. In Search of Florentine Civic Humanism (2 vols. 1988).
  • Baron Hans, "Machiavelli: The Republican Citizen and the Author of The Prince" in The English Historical Review 76 (1961), pp. 217–53. in JSTOR
  • Bock, Gisela; Skinner, Quentin; and Viroli, Maurizio, ed. Machiavelli and Republicanism. (1990). 316 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Butterfield, Herbert. The Statecraft of Machiavelli (1940).
  • Chabod, FedericoMachiavelli & the Renaissance (1958) online edition; online from ACLS E-Books
  • Colish, Marcia L. "Republicanism, Religion, and Machiavelli's Savonarolan Moment," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Oct., 1999), pp. 597–616 in JSTOR
  • Colish, Marcia L. "Machiavelli's Art of War: A Reconsideration," Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Winter, 1998), pp. 1151–1168 in JSTOR
  • Fischer, Markus. "Machiavelli's Political Psychology," The Review of Politics, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 789–829 in JSTOR
  • Gilbert, Felix. Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Century Italy (2nd ed. 1984) online from ACLS-E-books
  • Gilbert, Felix. "Machiavelli: The Renaissance of the Art of War," in Edward Mead Earle, ed. The Makers of Modern Strategy (1944)
  • Jensen, De Lamar, ed. Machiavelli: Cynic, Patriot, or Political Scientist? (1960) essays by scholars online edition
  • Lukes, Timothy J. "Lionizing Machiavelli," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 95, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 561–575 in JSTOR
  • Lukes, Timothy J. "Martialing Machiavelli: Reassessing the Military Reflections," The Journal of Politics, Vol. 66, No. 4 (Nov., 2004), pp. 1089–1108 in JSTOR
  • Femia, Joseph V. Machiavelli Revisited (2004) online edition, 140pp, good place to start
  • McCormick, John P. "Machiavelli against Republicanism: On the Cambridge School's 'Guicciardinian Moments,'" Political Theory, Vol. 31, No. 5 (Oct., 2003), pp. 615–643 in JSTOR
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. Machiavelli's New Modes and Orders: A Study of the Discourses on Livy (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. Machiavelli's Virtue (1996), 371pp
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. "Machiavelli's Political Science," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 75, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 293–305 in JSTOR
  • Mindle, Grant B. "Machiavelli's Realism," The Review of Politics, Vol. 47, No. 2 (Apr., 1985), pp. 212–230 in JSTOR
  • Najemy, John M. "Baron's Machiavelli and Renaissance Republicanism." American Historical Review 1996 101(1): 119-129. ISSN 0002-8762 Fulltext in Jstor.
  • Nederman, Cary J. "Amazing Grace: Fortune, God, and Free Will in Machiavelli's Thought," Journal of the History of Ideas 60: 617-638. in JSTOR
  • Parel, A. J. "The Question of Machiavelli's Modernity," The Review of Politics, Vol. 53, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), pp. 320–339 in JSTOR
  • Pellerin, Daniel. "Machiavelli's Best Fiend." History of Political Thought 2006 27(3): 423-453. Issn: 0143-781x on Pope Alexander VI
  • Pocock, J.G.A. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (1975; new ed. 2003), a highly influential study of Discourses and its vast influence; excerpt and text search; also online 1975 edition
  • Pocock, J. G. A. "The Machiavellian Moment Revisited: a Study in History and Ideology.: Journal of Modern History 1981 53(1): 49-72. Fulltext: in Jstor.
  • Rahe, Paul A. Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy (2005) excerpt, reviews and text search, shows Machiavelli's Discourses had a major impact on shaping conservative thought.
  • Rahe, Paul. Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution, (1992) online edition
  • Scott, John T. and Vickie B. Sullivan, "Patricide and the Plot of the Prince: Cesare Borgia and Machiavelli's Italy." American Political Science Review 1994 88(4): 887-900. Issn: 0003-0554 in Jstor
  • Skinner, Quentin. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, v. I, The Renaissance, (1978)
  • Strauss, Leo. On Machivelli (1957)
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Niccolò Machiavelli (2005) online edition
  • Struever, Nancy S. The Language of History in the Renaissance: Rhetoric and Historical Consciousness in Florentine Humanism (1970)
  • Wight, Martin. Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory: Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant, and Mazzini (2005), ch. 1 online edition


External links


  1. Igra, Samuel (1945). Germany's National Vice, p. 13. Internet Archive. Retrieved October 5, 2023.
  2. Paul A. Rahe, ed. Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy (2005)
  3. Skinner, Machiavelli (2000) pp 8-9
  4. Skinner, Machiavelli (2000) p. 11
  5. See Scott and Sullivan (1994).
  6. Discourses book 2 chapter 2, online
  7. For the minority view see Sebastian de Grazia, Machiavelli in Hell (1989) page 115 online
  8. Niccolo Machiavelli. "9", Titus Livius. 
  9. See Femia (2004), pp 11-12, 69
  10. Although the Greeks invented military history, and the Chinese were famous for collections of aphorisms. European military thought was most influenced by Machiavelli. Peter Peret et al, eds. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (1986), esp. ch 1 by Felix Gilbert, "Machiavelli".
  11. Christopher Lynch, in Introduction to Art of War (2003) p. xiii
  12. The Prince ch 12. Florence indeed had a bad experience but most historians feel that in general the mercenary system usually worked effectively. Skinner, Machiavelli (2000) p 36.
  13. The Prince ch 13
  14. Gilbert, "Machiavelli" in Paret, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy pp. 19-22
  15. The Prince ch. 15
  16. The Prince ch. 18
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Guinness, Os (2007). in Virginia Mooney Withrow: When no one sees: Character and leadership in an age of Image. McLean, Virginia:, 59–65,305. ISBN 1-57683-159-0. 
  18. Dedication
  19. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince and The Discourses 21 (Luigi Ricci trans., McGraw Hill Educ. 1st ed. 1950) (1532) (as quoted by Hall v. McRaven, 508 S.W.3d 232, 247 (Tex. 2017) (Willett, J., concurring).
  20. Chapter 20, section 2.
  21. Leo Strauss, Joseph Cropsey, History of Political Philosophy (Chicago, 1987) p. 300
  22. Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 60
  23. Gary Rosen in Rahe, ed. Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy (2005) p. 231 online
  24. Rahe, Jefferson's Machiavellian Political Science in Rahe, ed. Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy (2005) p. 209 online
  25. Hellen Rappaport (2016). "9 Bolsheviki! It Sounds 'Like All that the World Fears'", Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917. Windmill books, 166. ISBN 978-00995-92426. 
  26. John Langton and Mary G. Deitz, "Machiavelli's Paradox: Trapping or Teaching the Prince" The American Political Science Review, Vol. 81, No. 4 (Dec., 1987), pp. 1277-1288 at JSTOR
  27. Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli (1957), p 9 online
  28. Benedetto Croce, My Philosophy (1949), p. 142 online
  29. Ernst Cassirer, The Myth of the State, (1946) p.136, online
  30. C. Bradley Thompson, "John Adams's Machiavellian Moment," Review of Politics 1995 57(3): 389-417, in EBSCO
  31. Michael Ledeen, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership; Why Machiavelli's Iron Rules are as Timely and Important Today as Five Centuries (1999)
  32. Ledeen appeared over seventy times on Pat Robertson's televised 700 Club, promoting the Neoconservatives' political plan for the Middle East before an audience of several million evangelical viewers. Hugh B. Urban, "Machiavelli Meets the Religious Right: Michael Ledeen, the Neoconservatives, and the Political Uses of Fundamentalism," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 2007 42(1): 76-97,
  33. 33.0 33.1 William Raeper, Linda Edwards (1997). Brief guide to ideas. Lion Hudson, 175–181. ISBN 9780310227748. 
  34. What is life about?. EVS and JPK. Retrieved on 2012-11-18.
  35. cf."Marx called religion 'the opium of the people'. However, the Nobel Prize winner Czeslav Milosz argued: 'A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death - the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders we are not going to be judged.'"[34]
  36. Harriet B. Braiker (2004). Who's pulling your strings? How to break the cycle of manipulation and regain the control of your life. The McGraw Hill, 85. ISBN 0-07-144672-9.