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Chapter 11 Notes from The Prince

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The Prince Chapter 11

Concerning ecclesiastical principalities

In addressing the ecclesiastical principalities, Machiavelli is referring mainly to the Church and its main position of authority, the papacy. Among the princes, the ecclesiastical prince is the only one who, once in power, does not have to defend his power because it is rooted in the ancient traditions of religion. According to Machiavelli, "[t]hese states alone, therefore, are secure and happy." Chapter 11, pg. 44 Machiavelli attributes the power of the papacy to have originated in the reign of Pope Alexander VI. Before he came to office, the ruling powers of Italy did not respect the popes and the Church. However, when Alexander VI came to power, he used his influence to strengthen the power of the Church through his son's (Cesare Borgia) military successes. After Alexander's death, Pope Julius II continued strengthening the Church's power base through innovative ways to raise money, including the sale of ecclesiastical offices. He then succeeded in several significant feats: enlarging the territorial boundaries of the Church through military conquests, weakening the most powerful barons of Italy, and driving the French out of Italy. Machiavelli suggests to Pope Leo X, the newly elected pope and uncle to Lorenzo de' Medici, that as his predecessors have made the position great through the use of arms, he should make it greater through his goodness and other virtues.

Topic Tracking: Power Politics 7
Topic Tracking: Virtue 8

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