Machiavelli (1469-1527). a Florentine. was one of the most important figures of the Renaissance.’ He introduced a new type of political writing. Before Machiavelli, all political dealt with the state as a means to the good life. Machiavelli ignored theories about the state as such. He was an individualist in his admiration of the successful ruler who makes power an end in itself, divorced all considerations of morality, religion, and ethics.
The Prince Machiavelli’s chief work, is an accurate description of politics in the Italian city-states of the fifteenth century, a period characterized by low political morality and factional strife among the able but cruel Italian despots. The able ruler made the safety and success of the state superior to all considerations of morality or religion. The latter he accepted as facts of lite to be used if they advanced the interests of the state but to be disregarded if they did not serve the interests of the ruler. In general, Machiavelli believed it better for a prince to be feared rather than loved. To Machiavelli, the success of a ruler’s policy was determined by his ability to control fortune and virtue. By fortune he meant the uncertainty of history. Virtue referred to the ability to show mastery amid the uncertainty of events.
Machiavelli saw himself as an Italian patriot and scientific historian with a realistic philosophy who sought the unification of Italy. Although he had a romantic and idealized vision of the Roman Republic, he believed that the Italians of his era were too corrupt to make a republic practical. More importantly. Machiavelli assumed the corrupt politics of his time to be the norm. He identified power politics with the whole of political reality, thus dismissing the moral imponderables, such as humanity’s desire for freedom.