- Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince (1532) is a treatise that systematically charts the best strategies for successful governing. It unapologetically places realism above idealism, showing would-be kings how to get what they want while appearing to be generous and honourable, and advocates that the means – cruelty, duplicity and terror – justify the ends of secure monarchical rule. But it can also be read as the work of a secret republican subtly undermining the despotism of the ruling Medici family. Hugely influential for nearly five centuries, and the reason the word ‘Machiavellian’ has its place in English, The Prince retains its status as the archetypal political primer.