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After the Medici family got back in power in Florence in 1512, the political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, who had been part of the government that had thrown them out, wrote the political treaty The Prince to gain the family's benevolence. The book was not published until five years after the author's death, in 1532.
By writing The Prince, Machiavelli put his political expertise to the service of the Medici family. Yet, he also gave a picture of intellectual and political life in Italy during the Renaissance. The book stresses the weak political condition of a divided Italian peninsula and highlights the importance of being capable both to wage war to conquer new territories but also to use the army for defensive purposes. The treaty also points to the importance of a single man, the prince, in the government of the city and in keeping his subjects happy. Machiavelli shows the increasing Renaissance concern for politics as a separate philosophical sphere from morals and ethics. What matters is not how morally acceptable and good is the prince, but to waht extent he is capable of being perceived by his citizens to be an effective governor. In a typically Renaissance turn, man is put on the center stage of politics as Machiavelli claims that the effective prince knows how to govern in the face of the alternative flows of furtune. The book is therefore the intellectual product of a world that puts man at its center.
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