J.P.Sommerville

 

Machiavelli, Machiavellism, and reason of state

 

The Prince

The Discourses


 

Suggested reading

 

Baron, Hans, The crisis of the early Italian Renaissance, Princeton 1966.
[Highly important on the background to Machiavelli, though its central thesis has been widely challenged (for details see vol.1 of  Quentin Skinner's Foundations).

Bock, Gisela, Quentin Skinner and Maurizio Viroli, eds, Machiavelli and republicanism, CUP 1990
[important collection of essays.]

Burke, Peter, 'Tacitism, scepticism, and reason of state', in J.H.Burns, ed., The Cambridge History of Political Thought 1450-1700, Cambridge 1991, 479-98.
[Good introduction to important themes.]

Gilbert, Felix, Machiavelli and Guicciardini, New York 1984.
[Excellent work.]

Hale, J.R., Florence and the Medici, London 1977
[General background.]

Hale, J.R., Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy, London 1961,
[Clear, brief account.]

Hörnqvist, Mikael   Machiavelli and empire, Cambridge University Press, 2004
[Machiavelli and the imperialist theme in Florentine republicanism.]

Meinecke, F., Machiavellism: the doctrine of raison d'état and its place in modern history, translated by D. Scott.
[The classic discussion.]

Pocock, J.G.A., The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition, Princeton 1975.
[Large and difficult, but has been highly influential.]

Raab, Felix, The English Face of Machiavelli, London 1964.
[Standard  account of English response to Machiavelli.]

Ridolfi, R., The life of Niccolò Machiavelli, translated by G. Grayson, London 1963.
[Standard biography.]

Schmitt, C., Kessler, E., and Skinner, Q., The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, Cambridge 1988.
[Massive survey of the intellectual background.]

Skinner, Quentin, The foundations of modern political thought, 2 vols, Cambridge 1978, vol. 1 (The Renaissance), especially pp. 113-189.
[Useful discussion of Machiavelli and his background.]

Skinner, Quentin, Machiavelli, Oxford 1985.
[The best brief modern introduction.]

Skinner, Quentin, "Machiavelli on virtù and liberty" in his Visions of Politics, CUP 2002, vol. 2, 160-185; and Skinner, "The idea of negative liberty: Machiavellian and modern perspectives," in Visions, 2:186-212
[Important articles on Machiavelli and the concept of liberty.]

Sullivan, Vickie B., Machiavelli, Hobbes, and the Formation of a Liberal Republicanism in England, CUP 2004; esp. pp. 31-79,
[An interesting, well-argued account of Machiavelli's republicanism.]

Tuck, Richard, Philosophy and government 1572-1651, Cambridge 1993
[Identifies a "new humanism" which owed much to Machiavelli but was overtly Tacitist - following the ancient Roman historian Tacitus.]

Viroli, Maurizio, From politics to reason of state. The acquisition and transformation of the language of politics 1250-1600, Cambridge 1992.
[Interesting book, re-assessing Machiavelli's relationship with "reason of state" literature.]

 

Questions
 

What were Machiavelli's objectives in The Prince?
How does  the teaching of that book cohere with the doctrine of The Discourses?
Why was the reception of Machiavelli's works generally so hostile?
How do his ideas relate to later Tacitism and 'reason of state'?