The Prince and His Art of War: Machiavelli’s Military Populism
Abstract

In chapter XIV of The Prince, Machiavelli warns present and prospective princes not to neglect the art of war and to be a “professore di questa arte.” By exhorting the prince to be an expert in the art of war, this passage establishes the paradigmatic status of the arte della guerra for the arte dello stato. But what precisely is this art of war, which the prince is supposed to master? In order to answer this question, I offer a new interpretation of Machiavelli’s dialogue on military affairs, the Art of War. My essay casts Machiavelli’s politics-war nexus in a fresh light that emphasizes soldiers’ bodies and practices and highlights the popular dimension of Machiavelli’s militia. In contrast to The Prince, where military troops are typically described as a (potentially treacherous) tool of the prince, Art of War figures the popular army as dynamic political and social force and a potential catalyst for popular revolt and upheaval.


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