Niccolò Machiavelli was born on May 3, in 1469 in Florence He mainly lived for politics and patriotism. After the execution of Savonarola, he entered the Florentine government as a secretary and Cesare Borgia succeeded Savonarola. When Medici came to power, Machiavelli was dismissed from office. He tried to gain their favor by writing a book “The Prince”, but Medici didn’t like it. Medici were kicked out of Florence and Machiavelli tried to take position in politics, but was not accepted because of “The Prince”. Sharp downhill of his life began and soon his health deteriorated. Niccolò Machiavelli died in 1527.
The Prince is a political treatise written by Niccolò Machiavelli, and published in 1513.
This work was dedicated to Lorenzo de Medici.
Machiavelli wrote “the prince” to describe not the character of an ideal prince, but he was trying to give right indications to conquer and keep the power into the nation; also because of the need to create a strong government in Italy that could resist to the supremacy of the European States.
The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning how to consider politics and ethics.
The descriptions in The Prince have the general theme of accepting that ends of princes, such as glory, and indeed survival, can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends.
It relates to Machiavelli or Machiavellianism.
It is often characterized by expediency, deceit, and cunning.
Doctrine, Political Thought of N. Machiavelli, played so often arbitrary, as an affirmation of the priority of the result compared with the methods and means employed to achieve it.
Machiavelli's political thought
The deformation of Machiavelli’s thought comes from what some critics said after his death.
In fact they thought that Machiavelli had written “Il Principe” just to confuse the great European forces in order to make them fail. The Italian word “machiavellico” comes from this interpretation of Machiavelli’s thought.
Deformation of Machiavelli’s thought
Machiavelli’s thought influenced many European countries, from the XVI century until nowadays.
The fervent debate around the thought of the Florentine secretary reached also English colonies of America. In fact there are references to Machiavelli’s work, in its different interpretations, in the study that would lead to the Constitution of the United States of America.
Moreover, there are many examples of modern political Machiavelism in the contemporary age. Among the most significative we remember the dictatorships of Stalin and Mussolini. They used every means in order to get and hold the power, even taking the distances from the respective dreams of a Communist state and a social imperialist state.
Machiavellism in Europe
Spain was one of the main European areas influenced by Machiavellism. In fact, there were organized many conventions on this subject.
Juan Manuel Forte Monge, professor at the University Complutense of Madrid, organized on 26th and 27th November 2007 two International Days of study in Madrid about “Machiavelli and Machiavelism in Spanish political thought in XVI and XVII centuries
This initiative touches two ambits of interest: the first is the identification of the aspects attributed or that can be attributed to Machiavelli; the second is his ramifications in Spanish thought of XVI and XVII centuries.
The 5th and 6th November 2009 in Barcellona a meeting took place about Maquiavel a Espanya/Espanya a Machiavelli, organized by Helena Puigdomènech-Forcada. She organized a group of research aimed to work especially on translations – handwritten or unpublished – of Machiavelli’s work.
Machiavellism in Spain
Among all manuscripts, queen Cristina (1626 – 1689) left us an interesting autobiography never completed and a collection of maxims or sayings. the maxims, started in letter form in about 1670, had been finally divided into two sections: Heroic Feelings and The Work of Pleasure: the Feelings of Reason . These maxims had been written in Machiavelli’s spirit. In fact they talk about the Prince and his heroic virtues, about honor and passions.
Machiavellism in Sweden
The philosopher Georg Hegel (1770 – 1831), in his "Kritic der Verfassung Deutschlands", underlined the importance of Machiavelli’s work as interpreter of the Renaissance spirit.
The philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) was one of the main figures of Enlightenment current. Opposing to Machiavelism, as political realism, Kant purposed a moral politician, so a political man who subordinates political choices (the means) to social good (the aim).
The philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt (1888 – 1985), hero of the First World War , can be considered the real neo-machiavellic man of the XX century. He thought that the division of powers paid the way to civil war.
Machiavellism in Germany
Machiavelli’s doctrine had a significant role in the political debate of the second half of the XVII century, also in Holland. Were made other conventions. For example In Rotterdam, on 25th April 2008, at the Erasmus Center for early-modern Studies, as initiative by Hans Blom, professor at the University of Rotterdam, an international meeting took place. The topic was Machiavelli in the Dutch Republic: Machiavelism 1590-1730.
The influence of Machiavelli’s work is particularly remarkable in what concerns the rationalistic philosopher Spinoza.
The link between the two authors is strong. The constant study of Machiavelli’s works in Dutch cultural backgrounds attended by Spinoza is historically documented. An example is the political and intellectual experience of Franciscus Van den Enden, student of Machiavelli and master of Spinoza. Some contemporary critics have emphasized important correspondences between Spinoza’s works (especially his Political- Theological Treatise ) and Machiavelli’s Discorsi.
Spinoza talks about him using three adjectives: acutissimus, “skilled of great cleverness”; sapiens, “wise, judicious”; prudentissimus, “cautious, sagacious”.