About Niccolo Machiavelli

Between 1498 and 1512, Niccolo Machiavelli served as an Italian statesman. His political career came to an unpleasant conclusion after he was detained for 22 days and arrested. Niccolo wrote The Prince while he was away from politics in an effort to reclaim his position and job in politics. Despite being penned and published 500 years ago, The Prince's influence endures to this day. Niccolo attempts to explain the rise and fall of states and kingdoms in The Prince. In his book, he also outlines the tactics—or, more precisely, the steps—that a leader can take to stop states from collapsing and maintain their survival. The author mainly focuses on how the society really works in the spheres of governance. The book is very critical in addressing matters to do with grasping for power, retaining it as well as losing it. It also tries to offer some advice on how current leaders ought to strategize themselves to ensure the prosperity of kingdoms and states. There is a sense in which Niccolo Machiavelli uses his own political life experience to try and demystify what really transpires in the political arena.

Humanism and Renaissance

Book Review: The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

The Prince by Machiavelli is a book that remains fresh and vibrant as if it was written yesterday. Machiavelli's main intention in writing this book was mainly to make it possible for the reader to read and internalize the ideas communicated and apply them in daily life. The book allows readers to explore political history involving famous leaders who both succeeded and at some points failed. It is meant to enable the reader to identify the reasons behind successes and failure of historical global leaders and eventually draw lessons that can be applied to solving problems in the current society. The book is among a few books in the market which do not depreciate with time, it has remained relevant for more than 1500 years, and the ideas communicated are still borrowed to provide solutions to current problems especially in the political arena.

There are several ideas that Machiavelli tries to communicate in his book The Prince.

Machiavelli indicates that when a problem is detected in advance it becomes easy to prevent. If the problem is not dealt out as early as possible then later it becomes very difficult to eradicate (Machiavelli, 1975). It is the same as a disease. Once it takes advantage of the body it becomes hard to treat. In this regard, Machiavelli tries to demystify the reasons for the failure of most prominent men and women and states. There is a sense in which ancient kingdoms and rulers failed not because it was deliberate but because of ignorance, failing to detect and tackle problems in advance.

Another idea communicated by Machiavelli is that men or rather people change their leaders to expect transformation (Machiavelli, 1975).

That is what exactly happens even in today's political operations. Almost every country today has a multiparty system where the citizens are at free will to elect their leaders of choice from a vast availability of political parties. All people are at liberty to the side and be inclined to any party of their choice. There is a sense in which Machiavelli wanted to communicate the idea of effective leadership. There is a sense in which he wanted to advocate more on good leadership than power. The problem with leaders is hunger for power, and that what resulted in the fall of early states and kingdoms because of conflict that arose among the rulers fishing for power other than service for the people who appointed them.

Machiavelli also indicates that when states under the same political administration differ in customs, language, and institutions, then trouble arises (Machiavelli, 1975).

To retain and maintain such states together becomes a very difficult task. The only option is for the ruler who acquired the states to go and live in states by himself or herself. Holding states which had differences in ancient kingdoms became very hard, and that is the main contributor to the fall of many states. A consumer who acquired states from other nations experienced difficulty in securing those states which had many differences in terms of language, culture and even was of governance.

Governments which are formed aggressively lack strong foundations (Machiavelli, 1975).

Political administrations which are formed overnight without a critical process rarely stay alive for long. Such administrations tend to be vulnerable to failure upon encounter with the slightest challenge. They cannot stand political waves and storms. Such governments become vandalized and devastated quickly. Machiavelli in this point tries to advocate for a properly well-conducted process of forming a government. He tries to explain the consequences of forming political institutions overnight without proper consultation and due process. States and governments fail majorly due to the lack of a concrete foundation at the time they are being formed.

A man who rises up to the position of a prince by the assistance of the nobles hardly finds it easy to maintain that position than the one whose position is granted with the help of common people.

Machiavelli tries to indicate that power attracts power. It becomes more difficult for a prince whose position has been granted by nobles to exercise his full authority. This is because the people surrounding him are his equals and therefore he cannot control them the way he wants. This is opposed to the one whose position has been provided by the ordinary people. There is a good structural administration of power and hence it is easy to retain that position. In other words, Machiavelli says that power that is not rightfully and legitimately given does not last long. Power obtained illegally through corruption and force does not thrive.


Some people may want to refer to The Prince as a book that talks about ancient political evil. However, Machiavelli does not bring a new form of political behavior but rather explains what he sees and at the same time gives advice on the proper way of obtaining and maintaining power in a manner that ensures value addition both to the leaders and the people. Machiavelli's book is a message to the twenty-first-century Princes and generally political leaders. Maybe he might have wished to be alive by today to give oral advice. However, it is upon us to read and apply the ideas communicated in the book. Machiavelli's book is not fictional, he uses life experience to try and communicate a message to people in power.


Machiavelli, N. (1975). The Prince: Transl. with an Introd. by George Bull. Penguin Books.

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