The Prince Questions and Answers
by Niccolo Machiavelli

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What was the influence of Renaissance Humanism in The Prince?

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Machiavelli was greatly influenced by humanist thought when composing his seminal work, The Prince. Humanism concerns the potential for power that individuals have in determining their fate and influence in the world. In The Prince, Machiavelli lays out instructions and advice for how a ruler can take an active role in ruling his domain.

More to the point, humanist philosophy is concerned with practical matters of how people interact with society and the natural world. The Prince does not paint the picture of some ideal society or utopia as Thomas More wrote about. Instead, Machiavelli was interested in the way things actually are. He felt that a ruler could and should play an active role in governance and not rely on divine or spiritual help as many monarchs of the previous medieval period did.

Since humanism contends that people take an active role in their destiny, Machiavelli lays out instructions for how a ruler should do this. Worldly ambition is well-supported by humanist thought, and...

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