Prince, The

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This Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Classic includes a glossary and reader’s notes to help the modern reader contend with Machiavelli’s complex approach to the relationships between politics and the use of a ruler’s power. Niccoló Machiavelli’s most famous treatise, The Prince, written in 1513, was not published until five years after the author’s death in 1527. The tumultuous history of the book parallels the political turmoil that inspired Machiavelli to write it. In the years between 1494 and 1527, the Medici family rose to power in Florence, but lost their position when the new Republic was inaugurated, in 1494. Later, in 1512, the Medicis returned to power and ruled until nearly the middle of the century. During the turmoil of these chaotic and war-torn events, Machiavelli himself was imprisoned, tortured, and then exiled. He wrote The Prince while living alone in his residence at Percussina. These dangerous years convinced Machiavelli that the primary goal of a ruler should be to gain and keep power. The Prince, addressed to Lorenzo deMedici, il Magnifico, examines this belief. Its assertion that ethical and moral considerations are not relevant to good government has engendered centuries of political and philosophical debate, and will surely continue to do so.

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