What Did Machiavelli Stated in His Book? Niccolo Machiavelli (1467-1527), was an Italian statesman and political theorist whose ideas had great influence. He held office in the republic of Florence until the return to power of the Medici family in 1512 forced him to go into exile. In his book The Prince, published in 1513, he stated that a ruler was entitled to use any means, however ruthless, in order to maintain power and keep his country peaceful.
Though released in book form posthumously in 1532, The Prince was first published as a pamphlet in 1513. In it, Machiavelli outlined his vision of an ideal leader: an amoral, calculating tyrant for whom the end justifies the means. The Prince not only failed to win the Medici family’s favor, it also alienated him from the Florentine people.
Machiavelli was never truly welcomed back into politics, and when the Florentine Republic was reestablished in 1527, Machiavelli was an object of great suspicion. He died later that year, embittered and shut out from the Florentine society to which he had devoted his life.
One should be wary, however, of resting with what seems to be the case in The Prince, especially given Machiavelli’s repeated insistence that appearances can be manipulated. But the meaning of these manipulations, and indeed of these appearances, remains a scholarly question.
Interpreters of the caliber of Rousseau and Spinoza have believed The Prince to bear a republican teaching at its core. Some scholars have gone so far as to see it as an utterly satirical or ironic work. Others have insisted that the book is even more dangerous than it first appears. At any rate, how The Prince fits together with the Discourses (if at all) remains one of the enduring puzzles of Machiavelli’s legacy.
Content for this question contributed by Kelly Brien, resident of Calistoga, Napa County, California, USA