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POL200Y1 Study Guide - Final Guide: Niccolò Machiavelli

Political Science
Course Code
Janice Stein
Study Guide

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An Analysis of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Word Count: 1108
Name: Katherine Haire
Student Number: 997693205
Professor: Orwell
Class: POL200
Tutorial leader: Taylor Putnam TF 101
Niccolo Machiavelli wrote his most famous work, The Prince, on the basis that it could
not only improve his political career but that it could also help restore Florence under the Medici
family. Through his analysis of different political figures he is able to determine the most
effective ways of not only gaining power in Italy but also more importantly maintaining said
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power. Characters like King Ferdinand of Spain, most commonly known today for his financing
of Christopher Columbus, are carefully critiqued for their methods for not only uniting states, but
how he was able to rise amongst others to his peak of power and effectively govern. Even if
Machiavelli did not necessarily support all of a character's decisions, he still found ways to
respect and understand their choices and the reasons behind them. This is part of why
Machiavelli has been so widely remembered, as a man who consistently witnessed politicians
decisions throughout his life, he was able to provide an appropriate critique of the best way for
politicians to gain power, govern and maintain their rule of law.
The character Ferdinand of Aragon, critiqued in The Prince, was the present King of
Spain when Machiavelli wrote his novel. He was was capable of expanding his land through
conquering through Europe and Africa, and the means to which he did this, as well as how he
was able to maintain power was taken under scrutinization by Machiavelli. As Machiavelli
described Ferdinand, “This man can be called almost a new prince, since from being a weak ruler
he became through fame and glory, the first king of christendom.”(p. 83) As Machiavelli
described, he approached his conquering and ruling in a different form than previous leaders, but
that also may have been what contributed to his ultimate success.
According to Machiavelli, Ferdinand did not expand his territory in a typical fashion, but
instead challenged many of Machiavelli's views on political governing and expansion.
Machiavelli viewed the most effective way of conquering involved three steps, all with the focus
of long term success. Machiavelli explains the steps to this success are,
“first is to destroy them; the second is to go there in person and live; the third is to allow
them to live with their own laws, forcing them to pay a tribute and therein creating a
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