1st Edition

An Analysis of Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince

By Riley Quinn, Ben Worthy Copyright 2017
    100 Pages
    by Macat Library

    100 Pages
    by Macat Library

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    How should rulers rule? What is the nature of power? These questions had already been asked when Niccolò Machiavelli wrote The Prince in 1513. But what made his thinking on the topic different was his ability to interpret evidence: to look at old issues and find new meaning within them.

    Many of Machiavelli’s contemporaries thought that God would make sure morality was rewarded. To these people, it was inevitable that ethical individuals would enjoy success in this world and attain paradise in the next. Machiavelli was not so sure. He used the evidence of history to prove that people who can lie, cheat and murder tend to succeed.

    Machiavelli concluded that three main factors affect a political leader’s success or failure. In doing so, he reached an entirely new understanding of the meaning of his evidence. Machiavelli argued that behaving in a moral way actually hinders a ruler. If everyone acted morally, he reasoned, then morals would not be a disadvantage. But in a world in which leaders are willing to be ruthless, a moral leader would make both themselves and their state vulnerable. Machiavelli’s novel interpretation posits that morals can make a leader hesitate, and this could cost them – and the citizens they are responsible for – everything.

    Ways in to the Text 

    Who was Machiavelli? 

    What does The Prince Say? 

    Why does The Prince Matter? 

    Section 1: Influences 

    Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context 

    Module 2: Academic Context 

    Module 3: The Problem 

    Module 4: The Author's Contribution 

    Section 2: Ideas 

    Module 5: Main Ideas 

    Module 6: Secondary Ideas 

    Module 7: Achievement 

    Module 8: Place in the Author's Work 

    Section 3: Impact 

    Module 9: The First Responses 

    Module 10: The Evolving Debate 

    Module 11: Impact and Influence Today 

    Module 12: Where Next? 

    Glossary of Terms 

    People Mentioned in the Text 

    Works Cited


    Riley Quinn holds master’s degrees in politics and international relations from both LSE and the University of Oxford.

    Dr Ben Worthy is Lecturer in Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. His research interests include government transparency, open data and political leadership, and he is the author of The Politics of Freedom of Information: How and Why Governments Pass Laws That Threaten Their Power.