The Prince' and Renaissance: Definition Essay

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The Renaissance value of humanism greatly influences The Prince because Machiavelli, a humanist himself, targets human nature in portraying the ideal monarchy. Humanists of the Renaissance were devout proponents of human potential; throughout The Prince, Machiavelli articulately examines the dynamics of humanity. He understands that while a good ruler should possess some admirable qualities, it is impossible for any authentic being to be entirely good. Therefore, Machiavelli introduces the concept that characteristics like cruelty and dishonesty are necessary to effectively hold power over a state.

Unlike other humanists of his time, Machiavelli was perhaps the first to creatively explore relatively unethical methods of the rule while roaming within the intellectual bounds of humanism. This is why The Prince is considered to be such a great work from the Renaissance period: Machiavelli attempts to summarize human nature from a disturbingly accurate and realistic standpoint.

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The Renaissance virtue of individualism is also represented in Machiavelli’s work, The Prince. Individualists of the Renaissance believed in a self-reliant and independent mind, one that worked towards the promotion of self-interest. Machiavelli highlights these virtues when he advises rulers on how to achieve absolute power. He even takes the time to point out specific characteristics that would contribute to the individualistic well-being of a prince: courage, cruelty, craftiness, confidence, and intelligence.

Machiavelli’s individualistic and perhaps psychological approach to identifying human characteristics helps contribute to The Prince’s overall fame and legacy. This is because he was among the first to tackle an in-depth analysis of the relationship between a person and his quest for personal glory.

Scientific naturalism plays a significant role in the philosophy behind The Prince. This doctrine goes hand in hand with humanism as Machiavelli takes a realistic approach to summarize the average qualities that compose human nature. Scientific naturalists of the Renaissance focused prominently on viewing the world from the most realistic perspective humanly possible. In this way, Machiavelli examines human traits with natural assumptions and tries to stray as far as possible from supernatural or religious affiliations.

Part of The Prince’s literary significance can be attributed to its recurring themes of realism and naturalism. It is widely recognized for its brutal honesty; for example, Machiavelli argues that a prince should force his people to depend on him, whether it entails supplying limited resources or freedoms. While they may be unethical, Machiavelli’s tactics are truly authentic.

Secularism is the fourth and final Renaissance doctrine that heavily influences Machiavelli’s The Prince. Secularists of the Renaissance promoted the full separation of Church and government. Similarly, Machiavelli never uses religious reasoning to back his claims in his book. While he mentions that common people have strong ties to religion, it is evident that he believes spiritual argument is futile. Instead of being bound by supernatural or religious forces imposed by the Church, Machiavelli argues that man himself holds the ability to control his own destiny, which is why scientific logic reigns superior in the assertions of The Prince.

The Prince is considered a great work of its time because of its ability to move with the secularist movement of the Renaissance and break away from prevailing religious themes. Machiavelli even pushes readers to a further level of secularism, advising them to take his political strategies and challenge the Church as an institution of power.

• Using the prevailing sentiments of his revolutionary time, Machiavelli builds off of the virtues of humanism, individualism, scientific naturalism, and secularism to create a “how-to” guide for the successful monarchial rule. Every aspect of his work moves away from the medieval reliance on religion and uncertainty. Out of science and logic immersed obscure political strategies that were unknown to rulers of the medieval era. No longer were people merely defined by groups; Machiavelli urged his readers to use their individual traits to their advantage. In essence, The Prince radiates the Spirit of the Renaissance: the confidence and perseverance to own the present, to deviate from the norm, and to become legendary and powerful.

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