The Prince was infamous among political and intellectual circles during the Early Modern Era. To quote from the introduction to The Portable Machiavelli:
"It is a remarkable book, one which fascinated or horrified generations of readers and became, along with Castiglione's Book of the Courtier, the intellectual property of every well-read European during the sixteenth century. Much of its subsequent fame was due to its unsavory reputation as an immoral or amoral work" (Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa, The Portable Machiavelli, New York: Viking Penguin, 1979, 17)
Keep in mind, that Renaissance and Early Modern Europe was still a deeply Christian world, and there was still a large focus on political ideals concerning virtue and how Rulers ought to behave. With his ideas in The Prince , however, Machiavelli took those traditional virtues and actively subverted and shattered them, showing a political world shaped by...
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