Niccolo Machiavelli was a prominent political philosopher, humanist and writer of the 16th century. As a present to Lorenzo de’ Medici, the governor of Florence he wrote The Prince, a guide to how a ruler should govern his people if he wants a successful reign. This book dealt with the topic much differently than others of the same time period. Let’s take a look at some of the main points Machiavelli tries to get across in The Prince, and how his view is different from other writers of the past.
- More important to be perceived as merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious than to actually be.
- Sometimes it is necessary for a prince to commit violence, even against innocent citizens, to preserve his rule.
- Cruel rulers who were not hated did not have as much trouble with keeping order as those who were too nice. Their people feared the consequences of disobedience.
- The ruler of a principality should be feared but not hated.
- It is better to be feared than loved when you cannot have both. Love is fickle, fear much less so.
- Keep his hands off subject’s property and women, even if he has to take lives. It is hard for people to forget when their family property has been taken.
- Treaties and pledges should be broken if doing so will benefit the prince and if the circumstances which led to the promise are no longer in effect. Also if the party pledged to has not kept faith.
- If necessary to exterminate enemies, do so all in one blow. That way the killing is not spread out over time, and the people can get over it faster, not living in constant fear.
This writing is different from past works by other authors in that there is no consideration given to what is actually just, right, and moral, or to the views of the Church. What matters to Machiavelli is what works to keep the prince in power and his jurisdiction in order. Therefore the methods he recommends are generally crueler, less just, and more selfish.
Born in the early 1200s, Thomas Aquinas was one of the most prominent theologians and philosophers in the history of Catholicism. He was a Catholic priest and a member of the Dominican order.
Aquinas studied at the University of Naples when he was a young man. At age 19, he became a Dominican. His family was rather upset at this because they were influential. According to a tradition that may or may not be entirely true, his family locked him up for a year to try to get him to change his mind. He stayed true to his commitment though, and during that time he worked on memorizing the bible and the sentences by Peter Lombard. Later he studied at Paris and Cologne, then began to teach. He taught at Paris, Rome, Cologne ad Naples.
Aquinas was a prolific writer, writing over eight and a half million words in his life. In his works, there were over 48,000 references. Some of his great works include the Summa Theologica, the Summa contra Gentiles, Commentaries on the works of Aristotle, and a variety of hymns and poetry. He was offered the office of Archbishop of Naples by Pope Clement, but the offer was withdrawn when the Pope saw that Thomas really didn’t want the job. He wanted to continue his intellectual work, and the job of archbishop would interfere with his work. Later in his life, he stopped right in the middle of his last work and refused to finish it. When asked about it, he said that all his writings were “as straw” compared to what he had learned. He claimed to have had some sort of divine revelation.
The Albigensians, also called Cathars, were a religious group in the early 1200’s in Europe. They were similar to a much earlier group, the Manicheans, in that they believed in a dualistic divinity. There was an evil god who created the world and was in charge of all material things, and a good god who was concerned with spiritual purity. This meant that all physical things were evil, including the human body. This view on material things produced a lot of conflict with the Catholic church, because of the Sacraments. The Sacraments were material things that were meant to represent a spiritual reality. The Cathars believed that since the Sacraments were a sensible thing, they were evil. They had several other beliefs that were against the traditions of the church at the time. They believed it was wrong to eat any animal products. Since human bodies were evil, reproduction was wicked as well.
There were two subgroups of the religion: The Believers and the Perfect. The perfect followed all the detailed rules of the order. This was extremely difficult because bacon was off limits, so people often didn’t take the vow to be initiated into the “perfect” until they were on their death bed. That way they could enjoy their ham and bacon into their old age without worrying about it being wrong. A believer is someone who didn’t think themselves capable of being perfect, so they waited until they were dying to take the consolamentum, which was the laying on of hands by the other perfect ones that as supposed to wash away all of the person’s past sins. If a person took the consolamentum but his family and friends didn’t think he would be able to keep the vow, they would kill him so he wouldn’t have the chance to sin and break it.
The sacraments are a very important part of Catholic tradition. A sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace of God. The sacrament of baptism is a visible symbol of the washing away of sins by the blood of Christ. The Eucharist represents the shed blood and wounded flesh of Christ when he died on the cross. Other sacraments include marriage, confirmation, anointing of the sick and ordination. The sacraments were such a big deal to the Catholics that one of the worst punishments a pope could inflict on a ruler was to put his area under interdict. That meant that no sacraments could be performed in that area, except if someone was dying. This put enormous pressure on the ruler to get back in line with the church, because his people were naturally quite upset when they couldn’t partake in the sacraments.
Christendom was a social order developed in the 10th and 11th centuries by the Catholic countries in Europe. It was an international society between these countries, centered around the Catholic church. The pope was not a secular leader but he had the power to depose a king if he felt it necessary. The church also acted as a peacemaker between the nations. It could impose negative sanctions on leaders that were getting out of line. The most serious of these were excommunication and interdict. Excommunication meant that the person who was excommunicated could not participate in the traditions of the church, including communion. If a king was excommunicated, the Pope declared that the people were no longer under his rule. If the church declared an area to be under “interdict,” the church in that area could perform no sacraments except for someone who was dying.
Another aspect of this society was the ease of travel. Often an artist or craftsman would travel to another nation to practice their trade. Among the Christian countries, it often didn’t really matter where you came from. Universities accepted professors from other countries without question.
This international society made life easier for a wide variety of people and helped to keep peace between the nations. The central power of the church served to offset the power of any one king, preventing one nation from taking over the others within the boundaries of Christendom.
Nominated by Kyla! Thank you!
Her blog is here:
- Thank the blog who nominated you and link back to them.
- Make a blog post outlining 11 facts about you.
- Answer the 11 questions from the blog that nominated you.
- Write 11 questions for those you will nominate.
- Nominate 5-11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
11 facts about me, myself and I
- I am a bacon lover
- I like skiing
- But I am tired of snow
- I have been on RPC for just over a year now
- I love music
- I will be finished with my current math book this week
- I drive a Ford Ranger
- My favorite time of year is Spring
- I have not posted on my youtube channel since 2014
- My favorite country singer is Johnny Cash
- My favorite instrument is guitar
- Have you ever had an imaginary friend? No.
- You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go? I don’t know, maybe Alaska.
- You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into the place? “The following rules may never be changed or adapted.”
- You have been given the opportunity to create a half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it called and what’s the premise. “Average Man” A normal office worker gets stranded in the woods and is forced to fend for himself and survive.
- One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you’re surrounded by mummies. They aren’t really doing anything, just standing around your bed. What do you do? Throw them out the window and call up my annoying prankster buddy and yell at him.
- Name three things in nature you find most beautiful. Mountains, rivers and lakes.
- Tell me about something you would happily do again? Go skiing. Went for the first time the other day and I think I’m hooked.
- What is the stupidest thing you’ve done because someone dared you to? I can’t remember doing something stupid because of a dare.
- Strangest dream you’ve ever had? Hard to answer that question. So I won’t.
- Ever eaten a leaf or some grass? I tend to eat leaves quite often. My mother puts them in salad.
- Were you named after someone? Not that I know of.
My 11 questions:
- Do you think a democracy is a good thing?
- If so, why? If not, why not?
- Do you like snow?
- Do you think there should be income tax?
- Do you think there should be property tax?
- What’s your favorite thing to do?
- Would you homeschool your own children?
- Do you prefer the city or the country?
- Do you like cars, pickups, or suv’s?
- Pigs or cows?
- Old cars (pre 1990) or new cars? (after 1990)
A liberal college professor was grading his students late one night at the end of a term. When he was done, he found that there was a wide variety of grades. Bill only did the minimum of what was required, so he ended up with a C. Sally, who was a hard worker that took college seriously, got an A. Mike stayed out partying until three AM every night, and he got an F. His other students were just as varied in their grades. As this professor was preparing to release the grades, he noticed that something was wrong. “This is not fair,” he thought to himself. “These grades are not equal. Equality is a good thing, so why shouldn’t it apply here?” He made a few adjustments and went home. The next morning he awoke to a barrage of phone calls from his students who had checked their grades online, demanding to know why they all had a C. With venom in her voice, Sally yelled through the phone, “I worked my tail off and got 100 on every test! I stayed up until two in the morning studying for exams! Why do I have a C?” The sleepy professor mumbled a few words and hung up. He had almost fallen asleep again when he got another call. This was Mike thanking him for saving him from being kicked out of college. Over the course of the morning, he got twelve more calls from angry students. As he was on his way to work, he received one last call. “This is the superintendent of education speaking. There will be no need for you to show up at work today. We checked your last grades after hearing student complaints and they are not fairly given.” The professor was stunned. “I distributed them equally though!” he thought. “How is this not fair? Those who had higher grades paid a fair share to those with less. They all have the same, therefore it must be fair.”
This professor made the same mistake that many politicians do. They think that it is fair to give some of the rich people’s money to the poor, evening out the income inequality. They do not take into account the work people put into it and the decisions they make. The people with the money are nearly always those who work hard and make careful decisions. A hamburger flipper in McDonalds will not make as much as Donald Trump, because he didn’t work as hard and take the risks that Trump did. You might argue that some people don’t have the opportunity to be successful. This is partly true. The hamburger flipper didn’t get a million dollars from his dad like Trump did. However, if he is determined to improve his position, he certainly can, with lots of hard work. Many of the most prominent entrepreneurs of the 1900’s didn’t even have a high school education. Andrew Carnegie was an immigrant that started out working very low-paying jobs, but because of his determination to be successful he was able to move up.
Politicians proposing the idea of income redistribution win the favor of the low-income masses who haven’t put the effort into getting rich. This is another reason why democracy is a terrible political structure, but I won’t get into that now. The reason that income redistribution is immoral is because it has to be stolen from the person who earned it before it can be given away. (Stealing is illegal by the way, but the government often doesn’t care.)