YMMV: The Prince


  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • One theory holds that Machiavelli was actually a satirist. This is not a crackpot theory held solely by humorists; The Prince is the only work of Machiavelli's that overtly argues for despotism, in contrast with his others, which deal with the administration of republics. Several scholars and Rousseau agree; Rousseau writes, "Machiavelli's The Prince is the book of republicans... The court of Romenote  has sternly prohibited his book. I can well believe it; it is the court he most clearly depicts."
    • While the above theory has become popular, given the details elaborated on inside of it, there is another that Machiavelli genuinely believed this is how one should approach a principality in it's most efficient way possible. While he was a firm believer that republics were better, he was also a believer that principalities could turn into republics & wasn't as anti-principality as some would lead people to believe.
    • There are also those who push forward the view that, at root, Machiavelli was a realist — he might have regarded a republic as the ideal form of government, but at the same time he desired a strong, unified Italy first, and believed that a republic would be unable to provide the focus on such a long-term goal that a state under a single prince could. Once Italy was united and relatively free from manipulation by the outside powers that had kept it divided, then the Italians could work out the transition from principality to republic.
    • One other theory suggests that Machiavelli knew what the Renaissance would lead to a certain consciousness arising from the populace, and that what he had written in The Prince would be seen as disgusting by much of the populace, turning them against their political leaders. From there, it's suggested he knew they would topple their leaders, because they would outright hate them, making their own forms of liberal democracy, which is what he would have always wanted. Thus by writing about Machiavellian methods, he himself had a Machiavellian plot to bring republics to the general populace, by plotting against those who themselves would plot.
    • There's also the theory that The Prince was written as a sort of jab at Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI, who had ambitions to unite all Italy and is often described as acting similar to Machiavelli's "ideal" prince. Machiavelli knew Cesare Borgia quite well, and was an adviser of Borgia's for a time, before eventually becoming disillusioned with the man and his plans.
  • Fair for Its Day: With the state of Italy (and most of the rest of Europe the world for that matter) anything else would be hopelessly idealistic.
  • Magnificent Bastard: What you should become if you take this book as your guide.
    • So much so that the adjective "Machiavellian" is used to describe the highest quality of Magnificent Bastardry.