The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli - is a 16th-century political treatise written by Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli as an instruction guide for new princes and royals. The general theme of The Prince is of accepting that the aims of princes - such as glory and survival - can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends.
From Machiavelli's correspondence, a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus (Of Principalities). However, the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. This was carried out with the permission of the Medici pope Clement VII, but "long before then, in fact since the first appearance of The Prince in manuscript, controversy had swirled about his writings".
The Prince starts by describing the subject matter it will handle. In the first sentence, Machiavelli uses the word "state" (Italian stato, which could also mean "status") to cover, in neutral terms, "all forms of organization of supreme political power, whether republican or princely." The way in which the word "state" came to acquire this modern type of meaning during the Renaissance has been the subject of much academic debate, with this sentence and similar ones in the works of Machiavelli being considered particularly important.
Machiavelli says that The Prince would be about princedoms, mentioning that he has written about republics elsewhere (a reference to the Discourses on Livy), but in fact, he mixes discussion of republics into this work in many places, effectively treating republics as a type of princedom, also, and one with many strengths. More importantly, and less traditionally, he distinguishes new princedoms from hereditary established princedoms. He deals with hereditary princedoms quickly in Chapter 2, saying that they are much easier to rule. For such a prince, "unless extraordinary vices cause him to be hated, it is reasonable to expect that his subjects will be naturally well disposed towards him". Gilbert (1938:19-23), comparing this claim to traditional presentations of advice for princes, wrote that the novelty in chapters 1 and 2 is the "deliberate purpose of dealing with a new ruler who will need to establish himself in defiance of custom". Normally, these types of works were addressed only to hereditary princes. He thinks Machiavelli may have been influenced by Tacitus as well as his own experience.
This categorization of regime types is also "un-Aristotelian" and apparently simpler than the traditional one found for example in Aristotle's Politics, which divides regimes into those ruled by a single monarch, an oligarchy, or by the people, in a democracy. Machiavelli also ignores the classical distinctions between the good and corrupt forms, for example between monarchy and tyranny.
Xenophon, though, made exactly the same distinction between types of rulers in the beginning of his Education of Cyrus, where he says that, concerning the knowledge of how to rule human beings, Cyrus the Great, his exemplary prince, was very different "from all other kings, both those who have inherited their thrones from their fathers and those who have gained their crowns by their own efforts".