Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince and The Discourses Essay

2273 Words 10 Pages
Niccolò Machiavelli thoroughly discusses the importance of religion in the formation and maintenance of political authority in his famous works, The Prince and The Discourses. In his writing on religion, he states that religion is beneficiary in the formation of political authority and political leaders must support and endorse religion in order to maintain power. However, Machiavelli also critiques corrupt religious institutions that become involved in politics and in turn, cause corruption in the citizenry and divisions among the state. In the following essay, I will examine Machiavelli’s analysis of religion and discuss the relationship between religion and politics in Machiavelli’s thought.

It is important to
…show more content…
A political leader should not worry about being perceived as cruel if his actions are just and done in order to keep his people united because with these “very few” examples of cruelty, he will appear more merciful than the merciful leader who lets acts of cruelty go on without intervention.

Machiavelli’s argument also focuses on the topic of integrity and generosity and on how a political leader should keep his word. On one hand, he states that it is commendable for a political leader to live by integrity and to be considered generous; however the leaders who have accomplished great deeds throughout history hardly cared about keeping their word and were men that were known to be able to manipulate every situation by clever and shrewd means. Since it is impossible to always maintain all the qualities that man consider good and also maintain a state in his view, a great leader would know when to break those qualities when it is needed for the preservation of the state. However, he warns of excess generosity and the burdens it brings because in order for a leader to maintain his reputation as generous, he has to continuously tax his people in order to raise his funds. This process in turn makes those who employ excessive generosity appear to be the most miserly of all since they tax everyone in order to appear generous to a few.

Machiavelli uses the historical examples of Hannibal and Scipio as support for his
Open Document