4. GirolamoSavonarola was an Italian preacher and friar who lived during theRenaissance period in Florence. Savonarola made a big impression onNiccolo Machiavelli as the former ruled Florence from 1494 to 1498.As an avid follower of Savonarola, Machiavelli was impressed by theformer’s fight for democracy. Savonarola championed the rights ofthe people to elect leaders into public office. Furthermore,Savonarola bemoaned the corruption of original Christianity.Machiavelli also felt strongly about the prevalent erosion ofChristian values. However, Savonarola was hanged and burned in May1498. According to Machiavelli, the friar’s downfall stemmed fromhis inability to arm himself (Machiavelli, 2014). Savonarola lackedthe military force capable of securing his authority.
5. Machiavellicites Cesare Borgia as a prime example of a great prince. Machiavellilauded rulers that were ruthless and self-sufficient. Borgia killedall his opponents and further converted all the weak supporters tohis cause. The Colonna and Orsni families suffered death because theyposed a threat to his rulership. Rather than relying on mercenariesand auxiliary forces, Borgia used his army. Borgia secured the newstate of Romagna by using great violence and cruelty. He covered hiscruelty by using a scapegoat. In this manner, he guaranteed that noone would hate him. Additionally, he killed the scapegoat to ensurethat people feared him. However, he failed to consolidate his rule bynot acquiring more land. Eventually, Borgia suffered grave illnessand faced attacks from 2 armies (Machiavelli, 2014). This combinationof misfortune became his undoing.
6. Agathoclescame to power after murdering all members that sat in the SyracuseSenate. Machiavelli contrasted between cruelty that was used well andcruelty that was used wrongly. If a leader used cruel means for thebenefit of his citizens and his personal safety, then it was a nobleact. On the other hand, cruelty was wrongly used if it fosteredanimosity and continued to recur with growing intensity. The endswould justify the means employed. Machiavelli criticized Agathoclessince the latter`s kingship in Syracuse yielded suffering and failure(Machiavelli, 2014). Therefore, this undesirable outcome did notjustify Agathocles’ use of cruelty.
7. Oliverotto daFermo rose to power by murdering his uncle, Giovanni, and other noblepersons in Fermo. Furthermore, Oliverotto used cruelty and militaryforce to ensure the whole city submitted to his dictatorship.Machiavelli champions the use of force, particularly when it used forthe benefit of citizens. However, the consequences of Oliverotto’sactions harmed his subjects (Machiavelli, 2014). Therefore,Machiavelli loathed Oliverotto’s cruelty.
8. Machiavelliestablishes a clear distinction between Oliverotto and Agathocles onthe one hand and Cesare Borgia on the other. All three rulers luredtheir enemies and murdered them to establish their distinctrulership. According to Machiavelli, it is impossible for leaders toavoid harming their citizens at the outset (Machiavelli, 2014).However, the difference occurs in the consequences of evil actionsperpetrated by rulers. Cruelty was expedient only if it served toeither defend the welfare of the citizens or ensureself-preservation. On the other hand, cruelty could not be justifiedif it were continually repeated to the detriment of the subjects.
As discussed,Oliverotto murdered his uncle and other persons while Agathocles slaysenators and wealthy citizens in Syracuse. On the other hand, Borgiakilled Oliverotto and other enemies at Senigallia. The differenceoccurs in the fact that Borgia used his rule to bring order and unityto Italy at a time that divisive elements had crippled the country.Additionally, Borgia used ingenuity and tact to win the favor andsupport of his citizens. He accomplished this by using his lieutenantgeneral as an unsuspecting scapegoat. On the other hand, Agathoclesand Oliverotto oppressed their citizens and created anarchy in theirdomains (Machiavelli, 2014). While Borgia acted ruthlessly due tourgent necessity, Agathocles and Oliverotto were primarily motivatedby deep-seated savagery.
9. The crueltyperpetrated by these leaders served its purpose since they were ableto retain considerable support from their citizens. Several factorscan be cited in explanation. Firstly, these leaders staved allopposition to clear their ascension to power. Further, they acquiredthe unconditional support of weak citizens. They also used theirloyal armies to accomplish their purpose rather than relying onuntrustworthy mercenaries. To retain the support of their citizens,these leaders inspired fear rather than nurturing favor and goodwill(Machiavelli, 2014). In this manner, opponents were quashed tosilence.
Machiavelli, N. (2014). The prince. Newburyport, Mass.: OpenRoad Media.