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Lecture 1

BF190 Lecture 1: Machiavelli

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Brantford Foundations
Frank Cameron

Biography: • Born on May 3, 1469, in Florence, Italy. • Was a diplomat for 14 years in Florentine Republic during the Medici Family’s exile. • Machiavelli tried to attempt to organize a Florentine militia against the return of the Medicis but they returned to power. He was dismissed and briefly jailed. He then wrote The Prince. Machiavelli: • Machiavelli means to be deceitful • Machiavelli (1469-1527) “Teacher of evil” • He was a Florentine politician in the renaissance • He is a realist who wants to create a new order of things. He is the first to create the modern state. (The modern state is the modern secular sovereign state.) • First modern political philosopher (modern means early 16 century) • Lacks Christian conception of virtue, has a love for glory, • Plato, Augustine, other philosophers always came up with imaginary republics, but Machiavelli didn’t. • The ancient philosophers talked to much about how we should live rather than what Machiavelli argued • Machiavelli is a realist and is advocating amoral realism (it is not about being moral or immoral but about cleverly determining what will work – He might have to disguise himself as a good ruler; however, do whatever to maintain the state.) History when The Prince was written: • Renaissance took place in 5 main cities: Florence, Naples, Milan, Venice, Papal states. Italy was divided up into these city states • When Machiavelli was growing up, Florence was a republic • Florence is the main city in the Renaissance • Before 1494 the Medicis (or a principality) was ruling • Savonarola (1494-1498) was burned at the stake • When Soderini gains power in his republican rule in 1498, Machiavelli becomes a public servant. • In 1512, the Medicis return to power. Republic is again replaced with a principality The Prince: • Machiavelli wrote The Prince to create a manual on how to rule in a principality and how one is acquired • He starts with saying he is going to give him the gift of knowledge • This is a job application: he wants to be back in political life. • He wants to give his knowledge to the state. He wants to return to political life even though the Medicis were in power and a republican state. • The Roman Catholic Church didn’t really like it since its universality threatened the traditionalism of the church. Neither did the humanists of the Renaissance like it since the subjects are treated unethically. • He can write this because he believes it is important to study history, for example
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