- Aug 17, 2005
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
- Very Conservative
Obtaining and Maintaining New and Mixed Principalities:
Machiavelli wanted there to be a unified Italy and dedicated his book The Prince to Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici of the Medici family who were the ruling class of Italy at the time. The Prince was written as a detailed explanation of how the Prince should come to power and unify Italy. It was less theoretical than earlier works and was written specifically for Italy at that time in the world by using historical examples of what the Prince ought and ought not to do. At the time The Prince was written Italy was in a state of great political strife. The Italian City-States of Florence, Venice, Milan, and Naples were each vying for the control of Italy, so to, did the foreign powers of France and Spain, as well as, the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. It was all of these different power centers in their grabs for control over Italy through the use of political maneuvering, crime, and violence that led to such a climate of political instability. And the infighting between the Italian city-states left Italy weak and vulnerable to foreign invasion. At a time when Machiavelli had reentered Florence, Italy had been invaded by King Charles VIII of France and in fact it was another French king named Louis XII who committed the five fatal errors in statecraft which are listed in The Prince and for his errors he was subsequently driven out of Italy. Foreign invasions, infighting between the different city states, and the influence of the Catholic Church each presented different problems that must be overcome in order for the Prince to unify Italy and maintain his control over the populace. Cesare Borgia who had brought the city states of Romagna in central Italy into tow was one of the major influences for Machiavelli for how the prince should rule, because he displayed the characteristics of both fortuna and virtu.
Machiavelli identifies three forms of Principalities that the Prince will encounter; that of the hereditary principality, the new and mixed principality, and the ecclesiastical principality. Machiavelli argues that the hereditary principality which is obtained through inheritance and birthright is the easiest to maintain because the citizenry has a pre-existing loyalty to the ancestry of the Prince. In relation to unifying Italy the most important principality is that of the new and mixed Principalities which are new territories obtained through military or civil means. Machiavelli lists four ways in which to obtain a new principality, by that of his own arms, the arms of others, by evil means, and by civil means.
To obtain new principalities through ones prowess the new ruler may be tempted to set up new forms of governments, however, Machiavelli urges against this, because people dislike change and, also, once the people realize that the ruler can not make good on all of his promises it will lead to civil unrest that is why Machiavelli recommends that for those principalities acquired through prowess or fortuna should be maintained through force. Machiavelli would argue that if one must use force to acquire and maintain new territory then it would be best to use native troops because they have an inherent loyalty to the prince and to his kingdom, though foreign troops may be employed if needed they still have a loyalty to a foreign power and therefore can not be relied upon as heavily as native troops, mercenaries, according to Machiavelli, are the worst type of troops to be used, because they owe their loyalty to nothing and no one and only fight for money therefore they are less likely to be willing to die for the cause of the Prince.
For new principalities acquired through evil means Machiavelli argues that the Prince may gain power but not glory. When a new territory is acquired by crime there will be no one to trust that is why Machiavelli argues that such territories should be maintained through cruelty but that proper cruelty must be done early and quickly in such as way as to obtain the goal without making putting the people under in an environment in which they feel under constant threat. Cruelty should be inflicted early and quickly all at once in order to avoid becoming hated by the citizenry and rewards should be doled out selectively little by little.
For a new principality acquired through civic means and popular support Machiavelli argues that this power comes from the antithesis goals of the people wishing not wanting to be oppressed and the nobles wishing to oppress. From these to contradictory wishes there can come three forms of government that of Monarch, Democracy, and Anarchy. Civil principalities are formed either when the nobles appoint one of their own to lead the people, or when the people elect one of their own to protect themselves from the nobles; furthermore, Machiavelli argues that the a ruler who comes to power through the former is less secure because the nobles will consider themselves to be equal to the new Prince but a prince who comes to power through the latter is more secure because the peoples only ambition is that they be protected from the tyranny of the nobles. If the prince comes to power through the nobles he must divide the unsupportive nobles into two separate groups that of those with weak character and those with
ambition. Machiavelli argues that the nobles with weak character can be used but those who dislike the Prince because of their own ambition must be looked upon as enemies. In either case whether the prince is elected by the nobles or by the citizenry he must take care to win over and maintain the good will of the people and the easiest way to do this is by not doing them excessive harm.