The Prince By Niccolo Machiavelli And The Art Of War By Sun Tzu | Niccolò Machiavelli

Summary of: The Prince By Niccolo Machiavelli And The Art Of War By Sun Tzu
By: Niccolò Machiavelli


Embark on a journey through the timeless wisdom on leadership, power, and strategy found in the works of two renowned thinkers: ‘The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli’ and ‘The Art of War by Sun Tzu’. This book summary will delve into topics such as the dynamics of governance in different political systems, strategic annexation of states, the qualities and art of effective rulership, and ways in which individuals rise to power. Unravel the complexities of these influential texts, as you learn how to navigate and thrive in the ever-evolving world of power and politics.

Types of Governance

The book explains the two types of governance that people live under, either as citizens of a republic or as subjects of an autocracy. The leader can attain sole rule through inheritance or by conquering new territories. Inheriting a kingdom presents fewer challenges in ruling and retaining power compared to conquering one. The people accept an inherited leader’s power and respect their long tradition of leadership. Potential opponents would struggle to gain support and would resort to cruelty, thus losing people’s favor, while a leader who conquers his kingdom risks losing the people’s support.

The Power of Language and Colonization

The success of annexing states relies heavily on language, according to the book. If the conquered territory speaks the same language as the existing territory, the ruler can take control by deposing the ruling family and keeping existing laws. To establish power, a ruler should build an official residence. The creation of colonies is an effective and inexpensive way to increase a ruler’s power compared to conquering an entire country. Dispossession of a few powerful individuals and settling followers in their place will allow the ruler to strip power from the strong and make alliances with weaker subjects.

Conquering and Governing Kingdoms

Taking over a kingdom with a single ruler such as Turkey may be challenging, but holding the power afterward is relatively easy. On the other hand, states like France, with many powerful barons vying for power around the king, make it easy to seize power but difficult to maintain it. To ensure governance after a successful conquest, destroy the capital city, establish a residence within the region, and create a government from loyal locals while still allowing the state to retain its laws but heed your authority.

The Art of Power and Dominance

The book highlights that to maintain power, a ruler must be more feared than loved. Cesare Borgia’s life serves as an excellent example of this principle. Rising to power on his father’s coattails, he consolidated his power by murdering opponents and installing a cruel governor to maintain order. When the masses grew to hate the governor, Borgia executed him, earning their approval once more. Borgia also eliminated the ruling family and built alliances with nobles and religious leaders to secure his grasp on power. However, he ultimately failed due to illness and the threat of attacking forces. Overall, the book emphasizes the importance of shrewdness and cunning to maintain power.

Seizing Power: Through Deception or Trust

The book summary explores two ways in which private citizens can become rulers. The first way is through foul play, which involves securing control independently and ruthlessly without relying on anyone for help. Although it may seem cowardly, this method of gaining power is quick and effective. The second way to gain power is either with the assistance of the public or with the help of the powerful. Leaders who are true men of the people have the support of their subjects, while those who are cruel can use good deeds to encourage loyalty. The book also highlights the importance of restraining the use of force and avoiding violence towards citizens and allies as such actions diminish the credibility of the ruler. The book reflects on Agathocles’ ruling journey and how he used foul play to seize control of Syracuse in 300 B.C. Although he gained the title of prince, his cowardly means of seizing power did not merit glory. Similarly, any ruler who aims to gain power should strive for virtue and avoid actions that may harm others’ lives and morals.

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