The Prince

The Prince is by far Machiavelli's most well known and important work. In 1513, after his exile from Florence, Machiavelli began work on this great work. Machiavelli states that during his work on the text he would take off his country dress, stained with mud, put on his good robe, and thus fittingly attired, enter into the assembly of men of old time. While many historians take this statement at face value, it is quite possible that Machiavelli is indulging in hyperbole to show his distinction between the act of manual labor and the art of writing. In The Prince, Machiavelli dedicated it to Lorenzo de Medici and hoped to regain some of his former prestige. Unfortunately this never came to pass, and the work was never published. Interestingly enough , the line of the Medici represented the ineffectual leadership that Machiavelli disliked in The Prince. Machiavelli's work has long been infamous for what some consider its harsh, unscrupulous methods of obtaining power and in ruling. While on the surface, The work does appear rather harsh, Machiavelli illustrates his points with episodes from great men such as Julius Caesar, Cesare Borgia, and Pope Julius II. While Machiavelli may have exaggerated or distorted some of the details of various rulers, it is still noteworthy that Machiavelli is not merely spouting off his own philosophies, but has rather read, observed and disseminated the most effective tools of the great leaders. It is difficult to criticize only Machiavelli without criticizing the effective leaders that he modeled his theories after. Here is a copy of the text of The Prince.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. ed., Quentin Skinner and Russell Price. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1988.