How does Machiavelli think a ruler should act?

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Niccolo Machiavelli’s early-sixteenth century The Prince is considered a treatise on how rulers should conduct themselves and handle affairs of state, should they wish to survive. Machiavelli was the product of turbulent and dangerous times, having observed first-hand the intricacies and brutality seemingly inherent in ruling Florence. The Borgias and the Medici were both prominent families and their successes and failures deeply influenced this high-ranking Florentine official. Having been influenced by such regimes and by his own travails, he wrote a manual on leadership that remains widely studied today, 500 years after he completed The Prince.

Machiavelli’s principal concern was the survival of the ruler, whoever that might be at any given time. His experiences and observations did not lead to a series of simplistic recommendations. On the contrary, The Prince is a sophisticated analysis of the precise qualifications and policies needed, he believed, to remain in power. Toward that...

(The entire section contains 606 words.)

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