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The Prince

The Prince


by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince Chapter 11 Summary

Church states

  • We've arrived at the last type of state. Hurrah! But if the book is only half done, what's the rest of it about? Don't worry: it's coming.
  • Church states are awesome because no matter what you do, you can't lose them. You don't have to defend them, or even govern them. It is totally a sweet deal being pope.
  • Now, Machiavelli is just a little bit sarcastic when he says that, "since Church states depend on forces beyond the reach of human reason, I shall say no more about them," but continues to talk about them for a couple of pages (10.2).
  • Recently, the church has been getting more and more earthly power. We're not talking angels here, we're talking war popes.
  • This sounds a bit weird to us, since we can't imagine Pope John Paul or Benedict XVI going all Rambo on someone, but these were hard core biker popes back in Machiavelli's day.
  • Apparently the whole aggro-pope thing snuck up on Europe and no one noticed that they were getting so powerful that they could boss France around.
  • We get it. They are popes. They're supposed to be goody two-shoes; plus, they only rule for like ten years. What can get done in that amount of time?
  • Well, everything changed when Cesare Borgia's dad, Pope Alexander VI, came on the scene. He was darned determined to get his kid some land, and he did.
  • Sure, that land was reabsorbed into the pope's territory, but oh well. So, when Julius, the next pope, took over, the church was stronger than ever.
  • Machiavelli ends this chapter with some pretty blatant flattery to Pope Leo, the pope at the time, and the uncle of the prince Machiavelli was writing to.
  • Tricky.

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