Lecture 13: Machiavelli, The Prince (Chapter 10-23)
Outline of the Lecture
1. Review of Monday’s Lecture: Machiavelli’s advice to “build” on the people.
2. Chapter 11:About Ecclesiastical States
a) How does the lesson of this chapter relate to the lessons of Chapters 2 and 6?
3. Chapters 12-14: Types ofArmies
4. Chapters 15-19: On praise and blame; how princes should avoid hatred and
contempt; reality and reputation; lion and fox
5. Chapters 21 and 24: How a prince can achieve genuine glory
6. Chapters 22 and 23: How a prince should choose, and treat advisors
7. Looking ahead to Monday’s lecture: the place of Fortune in Machiavelli’s
Review of Chapters 1-9
• Popular states are the best states. In chapter 9, the people provide the soundest
foundation for any political order. This runs fundamentally counter to any other
• Non- other thinks of using people as political thinkers.
• Aristotle like Plato and the Christian thinkers, thinks the purpose of political life
are lofty ones. The purpose of politics is the good life not the mere life. The
people are thought of as indifferent to lofty goals.
• The people are to narrowly selfish to be the foundation of choice for political
order. They are to ill formed and apathetic.
Chapter 9: Should a prince build on the people?
Machiavelli rejects all of this:
“Anyone who becomes a ruler with the support of the populace ought to ensure he keeps
their support; which will not be difficult, for are all they ask is not to be oppressed”
“ If you are a ruler and you put your trust in the populace, if you can give commands and
are capable of bold action, if you are nonplussed by adversity, if you take other necessary
precautions, and if through your own courage and your policies you keep up the moral of
the populace, the you will never be let down by them and you will discover you have
built on a solid foundation.”
• There’s a congruence of interest between the ruler and the people. The people
allow for the ruler to rule them as long as they are not oppressed and they protect
them from the great.
• The first interest of a social contract (quote 2). The basis of political operation is
to be selfish. There are no common good, or lofty goals that politics ought to
peruse. In this passage the purpose of political life is fundamentally reoriented.
• In chapter 9, we see that Machiavelli is precisely aiming at flipping the
Aristotelian view. • The doctrine of Zolan Politkon helps in understandingAristotle’s view. The
purpose of politics for Aristotle is self-realization and self-flourishing. We realize
our selves by participating in
• For Machiavelli its no longer self-realization and flourishing, but the purpose of
politics is comfortable self-realization. To ensure the populous is free from
oppression from the great and nobility.
• In the second quote the social contract is discussed. That politics is capable of
satisfying our private interests, in comfortable self-preservation.
Chapter 11: About ecclesiastical states
• How to measure the ruler’s strength: will be dependent on outside powers and
dependent on the city. We measure it by asking does he have enough resources to
defend city or is he dependent on outside powers. The city of Germany is free to
do as they please because they are well fortified.
• You have to know how to use the power of the other side. Telling the conquerors
to stay back and not fight back the enemies.
• States based on the rule of religious authorities are also too well fortified for a
frontal attack. It’s foolish and prudent to do so. The basis of ecclesiastical power
isn’t military preparedness, but the wide spread belief that citizens aren’t
• The people think they are governed by a higher power which human intelligent
cannot grasp. Gods govern them, and popes and priests are agents of the divine.
• For this they don’t resent their rulers or think of replacing them.
• This doesn’t require virtue or fortune to maintain them.
“Only ecclesiastical rules have states, but no need to defend them; subjects, but no need
to govern them… these are the only rulers who are secure and happy.”
“Because ecclesiastical principalities are ruled by a highest power, which human
intelligence cannot grasp, I will say no more about them; for, since they have been built
up and maintained by God, only a presumptuous and rash person would debate about
He feels he has some sort of solution to the problem of overcoming ecclesiastical
Machiavelli’s repeats this earlier on when discussing Moses, when he breaks him
down and assess him as if he were any other authority.
The church presents itself as a spiritual authority, and yet I can subject it to the
secular political analysis of any other regime. The power of the church is
fundamentally temporal. Like any other regime, the church is interested in
worldly good. In pursue of wealth, power, and glory but in certain respects the
church is smarter than other regimes.
It’s just like every other principality.
In this chapter Machiavelli speaks of Julius the second. He admires him because
he is concerned with strengthen the power of the church in a worldly way. He is obsessed with accumulation of wealth and power. He transformed the church into
a military power. They ruled Italy in a large way because of this.
He admires him not only because of his virtue but also because of his purse of
worldly ambitions. Besides his praise for Julius, what undoes him is that he to
bold, too rash and too risky which causes his downfall.
Chapter 12-14: OnArms Mercenaries,Auxiliaries, Citizens’Militia
“The principle foundation on which the power of all governments is based on good laws
and good armies. And, since there cannot be good laws where there are not good armies, I
will omit any discussion of laws, and will talk about armies” (Chapter 12, p.38)
He doesn’t talk about good laws because that is all an other philosophy talked
about—how to achieve the best regime to get a good life
He is going to entirely omit any discussion of good laws. He puts the concerns of
the ancient aside.
He argues not only that good arms are good for good laws, but also good arms are
sufficient for good laws. Where there are good armies, there will be good laws.
Agood law has to be enforceable. This is part of Machiavelli’s’project of
overturning the wisdom of the ancients.
Power is primary. Machiavelli thinks of good arms as the most needful thing. He
thinks of war as a more fundamental art than politics. Everything depends on
force and the power to compel.
There are 3 kinds of armies: ones own, mercenaries and auxiliaries.
Mercenaries are bad arms, they are not your own and you cannot rely on them.
Higher troops are disunited, ambitious and not loyal. With them you require new
territory, and one loses so much so quickly it seems an act of god. The source of
Italy’s conspicuous reliance and blames it on Christianity
Christianity emphasizes love peace and faith, which fosters priests. Priests by
their very essence are disarmed. Christianity results in a un-war like model of a
citizen. He blames the ascendants of the church for where Italy is at the moment.
To liberate they must liberate away from the church.
Rather than rely on mercenaries’arms we have rely on our own arms. This is in a
sense not relying on god.
The greatest danger is reliance on auxiliaries; they are troops who rely on
Machiavelli’s presents two possibilities for human beings: to rely on god or rely
on himself or herself.
David and its Connection to Moses with a quick incite to Borgia
Every pre-modern society teaches reliance on god, where as god shows us to rely
on others. Machiavelli is interested in princes that can see that submitting
themselves to gods is intolerable. In the example of David, he liberates himself
from the previous regime and dependence on god. He refuses to rely on Sol’s
armor and he refuses to rely on God’s help to kill Goliath. It’s his self-reliance on
his own arms that allow him to uses Sol’s thrown. He relies on himself, which is
where he gains a reputation for being god’s favorite. They now believe that god has deserted Sol and now backs David. This is a
blasphemous reading of the bible.
The story of David and Moses are both demonstrating self-reliance. David, Moses
and other examples discussed in chapter 13, are meant to show that great men
make their own opportunities, which is what the prince needs to learn. You have
to raise soldiers of your own and be masters of your troops.A virtuous prince has
to make everything new.
Borgia failed in relying on power from the Church.As soon as the good will of
the pope deserted him all of his plans were undone. Borgia is a pitiful in being
reliant on the power of others.
Chapter 15: On Praise and Blame
He doesn’t only discuss princes, but generalizes the human situation. He is careful to
emphasize the novelty of his new account.
“My hope is to write a book that will be useful, at least to those who read it intelligently,
and so I though it sensible to go straight to a discussion of how things are in real life and
not waster time with an imaginary world”
This is a discussion of Plato.
“For anyone who wants to act the part of a good man in all circumstance will bring about
his own ruin, for those he has to deal with will not all be good. So it is necessary for a
ruler, if he wants to hold onto power, to learn how not to be good, and to know when it is
and when it is not necessary to use this knowledge”
Machiavelli wants the truth he presents to be practicable not imaginary. This is
what he means by the effectual truth. It acknowledges the reality of things. How
men do behave and not how they ought to behave.
Machiavelli’s standard for judging the truth is whether or not it gets the desired
results. You know something’s true if it works and can be shown to have an affect.
If it doesn