Medieval History/World history


Why does Machiavelli argue that fear is a more effective tool for ruling than love is?

Hi Katlyn,
In Chapter 17 of "The Prince" he writes, and I paraphrase:

After punishing a few examples, the firm prince will be more merciful than those princes who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise. Murders and robberies injure the whole people while executions offend only the individual.

and a little later:

Men are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, and covetous. They are loyal only as long as the prince succeeds. They will offer the prince their blood, property, life, and children when the threat is distant, but when it approaches they turn against the prince. The prince who relies entirely upon promises is ruined. Friendships obtained by payments and not by greatness or nobility are not secured, and in time of need can not be relied upon. Men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared. Love is preserved by the link of obligation which is broken at every opportunity for their advantage, but fear preserves the prince by a dread of punishment which never fails.

Hope this answers your question,   C.M.

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C.M. Aaron


I've been studying the early medieval period for almost 20 years. In particular, I've studied the fall of the Roman Empire, the barbarian invasions/migrations, early barbarian law codes, the early medieval church, technology of the period, military campaigns and tactics, and some of the early barbarian dynasties, especially the Merovingians in Gaul (France).


Twenty years of self study. I also write historical fiction of this era.

Bachelor's degree.

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