niccolo machiavelli vs. cardinal richelieu
Uploaded by Brent R Goodin on May 09, 2004
Unlike Cardinal Richelieu, the prime minister of France during the early years of the Reformation, Niccolo Machiavelli never mentioned God nor did he quote the Bible to substantiate any of his arguments. He was secular, which makes him seem modern. Today, his principals on governing a state are deemed immoral; however, he would say that his methods are practical. Whilst this book was being written during the Renaissance, Italy was weak and the city-state structure was breaking down because of French and Spanish invasions. Desperately in search of a philosophy of politics to remedy this instability, Machiavelli wrote The Prince. This book is a step-by-step guidebook on how to rule by means of a ruthless dictatorship; whereas, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu by Richelieu himself advocates absolutism. As a result of the Fronde, Richelieu and many other French people alike wished for the government to be centralized under the leadership of the king which is otherwise known as an absolute monarchy. The French king, Louis XIV stated, “L’Etat – c’est moi,” which translates to “I am the State.” This statement embodies Richelieu’s as well as Machiavelli’s theory of government. Both books argue the importance of a strong state.
In order for Machiavelli and Richelieu to have their ideas put into practice, they dedicated each of their books to the ruler of their respective states. Richelieu dedicated his book to the king of France, Louis XIII, so that his political beliefs would live on after his death through the king. Similarly, Machiavelli dedicated his book to Lorenzo de Medici, ruler of city-state, Florence so that he might receive a government job as an advisor to Lorenzo. Both writers were very humble and marginally sycophantic in their tone with regards to their dedications so as to accomplish the aforementioned goals. This is evident in the first paragraph of The Prince when Machiavelli referred to Lorenzo de Medici as “…Your Magnificence” (Machiavelli, p.1) and Richelieu obsequiously said “when it was first Your Majesty’s pleasure to give me a part to play in the management of your affairs I determined to devote my fullest efforts to the completion of your plans...” (Richelieu, p.3). Machiavelli had a very different reception from Richelieu. The former was avant-garde hence the world he lived in was not quite ready for his...