The Prince flew in the face of a prevailing theory that a virtuous prince would rule most successfully. Instead Machiavelli advised that too much virtue could be the downfall of a ruler and that rulers should instead cultivate the following characteristics:
Instill fear: This characteristic was partially to keep the common people from staging a revolt but also meant to keep potentially powerful rivals or rivals groups from plotting to undermine or overthrow the prince. If you are perceived as ruthlessly vengeful, people will be less likely to challenge your authority. It is better to be feared, than loved, said Machiavelli, if you want to hold your power.
Take good care of the common people: No amount of elite or army support will maintain a prince who does not have the people on his side. Make sure to take care of the material needs of the common people so they will stay loyal to you and be willing to fight in your wars, if need be.
Be careful with money: While you definitely want to...
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