The work of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) is frequently cited as the inspiration for realist thinking in International Relations. Learn about Machiavelli’s life and times. Then read excerpts from his famous primer on ruling, The Prince. Read the condensed version of chapters 12-24 especially carefully. If you are interested, you can also read the longer version of the Prince.
Answer the following questions about what you have read:
- How does Machiavelli view human nature? Does he believe people are essentially good and honest or bad and deceitful? How does his view influence his advice? Give specific examples to support your answer.
- What is Machiavelli’s position on whether it is better for a leader to be feared or loved? Why?
- How does Machiavelli feel about the need to maintain armed forces and the use of war as an instrument of foreign policy?
- Does Machiavelli still offer valuable advice or insight that present-day leaders can use or are his views no longer relevant in today’s world? Give examples.