Niccolo Machiavelli’s Prince

  1. On the 10th of December 1513, Niccolip Machiavelli’s wrote a letter to Francesco Vettori in which he described how, after a day of working at his farm, he would take off his muddy clothes to ‘put on clothes that are fit for a royal court. Being thus properly clad, I enter the ancient courts of the men of old, in which I am received affectionately by them… There I do not hesitate to converse with them, and ask them why they acted as they did; and out of kindness they respond.” How does Machiavelli use history as part of his argument in The Prince? How does this relate to the development of humanism and the interest in antiquity in the Renaissance?
  2. Why is Cesare Borgia such a significant example for Machiavelli in The Prince? What does this example say about Machiavelli’s understanding of religion and the role of the Catholic Church, since Borgia was the illegitimate son of pope Alexander VI? Finally. how does the example of Cesare Borgia relate to Machiavelli’s understanding of the battle between fortune and virtue? In your answer, make sure to relate your discussion of Cesare Borgia to the whole text.
  3. In chapter two of The Prince Machiavelli quickly passes over the ease with which hereditary princes can preserve their power. The rest of the book concerns the difficulties of maintaining power in new principalities. Machiavelli begins chapter three with the comment “However, it is in new principalities that there are real difficulties.” Why does Machiavelli believe that political innovation is so difficult? How does this relate to the question of the legitimacy of authority and the relationship between the prince and the people? Finally, how does a new prince’s difficulty relate to Machiavelli’s concept of liberty?