Machiavelli as political: tax systems and the
Machiavelli is a popular Renaissance writer, with his most known work being “The Prince.
” “The Prince” serves to be an instruction manual to rulers. Machiavelli used a lot of sources in his work, mostly examples of how the Roman Empire ruled successfully and how they lasted as long as they did, and also examples of Alexander the Great’s ruling tactics. He used the Roman Empire the most, since he felt like his home country had been lacking in the ruling department, and was scared that barbarians would infiltrate Italy (Chapter 26). Machiavelli’s topic choices can be described as political: tax systems and the types of different princedoms and how to govern each one successfully. He uses examples of each in Chapters I-IV. The types of princedoms that he mentions are: inherited princedoms through a bloodline, mixed princedoms that use a taxing system, princedom that have one ruler and princedoms that have many rulers( Machiavelli, p 1-9). He uses these as examples to illustrate how to be a good ruler in different political climates.
He also puts forth a code of ethics for the princes, such as for them to not steal from their subjects and what traits an ideal ruler should possess. Examples of these traits are: to not be cruel, but merciful, be feared but not too much to spurn hate, and to always be generous to their subjects (Machiavelli p 39-40). There is also mention of democracy, which can be familiar to today’s modern audience and possibly provoke interest. This book can still be considered important today, even more so with the changing political climate.
as stated before, some aspects can be seen as political: the code of ethics, democracy and princedoms. He does word them in a way that seems to state that these things exist because they are political, not because they were created to be. I believe that Machiavelli is right, that somethings are political because they exist to be that way. In “The Prince”, Machiavelli presented his opinions and beliefs in a very factual way. He goes in depth about the princedoms–their varieties and how to rule each one differently–, ethics and what traits each ideal ruler and/or prince should have; and what a princedom is.
A princedom is a kingdom, ruled by a prince. This incorporates politics, as it talks about democracy and the political aspect that makes the kingdom the kind that it is. Examples of princedoms that you see in the work are—princedoms that have a bloodline, a monarchy that has a democratic voting and taxing system, princedoms that have one ruler or many rulers, princedoms that elect their prince, and finally princedoms that have no law system, instead just religion as their law. (Chapters I-IV, IX, and XI). Each of these have a specific way of being ruled, which Machiavelli examines thoroughly. Machavelli seems to have a disregard for the people of the princedom, putting the prince in the heart of it.
This shows that the state exists because the ruler exists. The traits described in Chapter XIX also tap into this notion. The existence of the ruler spurs the existence of politics, which both exist outside of creation. Same with ethics; if the ruler didn’t exist, then neither would ethics. Ethics exist because rulers do, and it’s a way for them to learn from their mistakes.