Thomas Babington Macaulay – Machiavelli

Lord Tommy Sideburns

 

Nicky, the Prince

Thomas Babington Macaulay – Machiavelli

  • Machiavelli is usually referred to as a
    • tempter
    • presenter of an evil principle
    • pushing ambition, revenge, perjury
      • Only got this reputation after The Prince
      • As if these things didn’t exist before the Prince
      • Gunpowder Plot blamed on him, as well as other plots
  • People are/were horrified by what they read by/about him
    • Scientifically writing how to back stab & overthrow nations
  • B/c he was Republican & his book scared people. he was thrown in jail
    • Maybe the book was intended to motivate de Medicis?
  • Other works quote Livy & don’t get such reactions
  • Many passages in the Prince have a more patriotic & public good tone
    • Strange mixture of cruelty, selfishness, heroism & enigma
    • This felling is only for outsiders – those who knew him weren’t shocked at all
  • Medici Pope Clement VII patronized books later condemned by the Council of Trent
    • Including the Prince
    • Condemned by English Catholics & French Protestants
  • Focus on city-states in Italy, unlike the rest of Europe
    • Cities survived by being undesirable to invaders
    • Later survived by strength but paid for by money earned in trade
    • Rest of Europe was weak
    • Church supported city-states (popes were from there)
      • Guelph & Ghibellines
  • In the rest of Europe, wealthy families stamped on the people in spite of the government
    • Either taken down by the people or dominated them
  • Lombards & Tuscans gov’ts survived by placating people of city w/ entertainment & food
    • Crusaders brought wealth back
    • Italians became merchants, manufacturers & bankers
    • Economy took, arts flourished
    • Classics returned to Italy & new works created too
    • Patrons bid for artists, writers
  • Military campaigns not feasible b/c army was mostly farmers
    • Need to stay home & farm
    • Handicapped rulers in military most of year able to fight in off-season but not in growing season
    • W/ commerce & industry growing, almost no army
  • From Ionian league era – too rich to fight
    • Hired mercenaries
    • Spartans had slaves to plant while the Spartans fought
  • Italian military was very antiquated
    • Knights were OK but the infantry was useless
    • Swiss had no problem with them
  • War needed a soldier class – standing army
    • Needed to encourage patriotism to get volunteers
    • Italian princes hired mercenaries from all over
    • No loyalty after end of contract
    • Mercenaries didn’t fight for home, only money
    • Had more in common with enemy than employer
  • Italy was vulnerable to France, Spain & Switzerland
    • These nations had valor as its highest virtue
    • Italy – peace & civility were the virtues
  • Successful rulers, Sforzas, used techniques praised by Machiavelli – underhanded
    • Francis – made himself but had no real friends – passing alliances
    • Maybe Shakespeare’s role of Iago based on him
  • Greeks & Romans differed in 2nd century BC
    • Roman conquerors – brave, resolute, faithful, religious, ignorant, arbitrary, cruel
    • Mirrored by Non-Italians in The Prince
    • Greek conquered – had art, science, literature, painting, architecture, polished manners, perceptive, tolerant, humane, sincere
  • Mirrored by Italians in the The Prince
    • Italian statesman
      • half demon (w/ ambitious goals in mind)
        • Impetuous, passionate, full of hatred, revenge
        • no outward courage, cowardly, unscrupulous, very perceptive, intelligence
        • dangerous enemy & accomplice
      • half angel (w/o goals in mind)
        • fair-minded, soft humane, graceful, sublime, patronizes freely
  • Machiavelli – far more virtuous than his intended audience
    • Other works very impressive
      • Mandragola – up there w/ Shakespeare & Molière
      • Clizia – based on a Plautus play
      • Belphegor – borrowed by Ben Jonson
  • Correspondence published in 1700s
    • Wrote that he wasn’t pleased w/ Italy’s circumstances
    • States weren’t independence
    • France, Spain interfering w/ Italy politics
  • Served as a diplomat
    • Ran into Cesare Borgia
    • Wrote about him – impressed
    • Hoped he’d lead for a return to Roman times – Patriotism
  • Proposed:
    • placate people – protection, arts, property rights
    • placate rulers – no interference w/ peasants
  • Saw Naples under foreign occupation
    • Florence extorted again & again
    • Hoped for Medici return in Florence
  • Wrote “Art of War”
    • dialogue talking about arms, military strategy, diplomacy
    • emphasizes Romans, infantry
  • “Discourses on Livy”
    • supported any form of gov’t to give Florence independence
    • Talks about this at end of Prince
  • Looked to Greeks
    • Patriotism was principle & not a passion
  • Compared to Montesquieu
    • Spirit of Laws (1748) was startling to hear a Frenchman arguing for gov’t checks
    • General think but very flowery language
    • The Prince was a specific call for help to save Italy – very honest approach
    • Based on enthusiasm, patriotism
  • At end of his life
    • Saw Medicis return but the foreign powers fought them all the way
  • Misrepresented, abused by people who sought to keep Italy down
    • Patriotism overall

Leave a Reply