Machiavelli and Lessons of the Italian Wars


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Prior to the start of World War II, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression pact. This pact, however, was broken in 1941 when the Nazi's invaded the Soviet Union. Which of Machiavelli's musings would this most apply to?

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1. The main theme of 'The Prince' could be summed up as; _____.

2. According to Machiavelli, leaders should expect the worst and be able to anticipate evil, so that it can be more easily remedied. Which of the following modern examples might this musing apply to?

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About This Quiz and Worksheet

Machiavelli is best known for his political treatise, 'The Prince,' a brutally practical description of successful leadership that was written during the Italian Wars. These wars were a series of military conflicts among Italy's city states and kingdoms that were fueled by support from external powers such as France and Spain. This quiz/worksheet combo will help you understand Machiavelli's vision that broke with the prevailing Renaissance view that kings and princes should rule nobly, ethically and graciously and instead presented a realistic strategy of how to use power to protect and preserve the state.

Quiz & Worksheet Goals

In these assessments, you'll be tested on:

  • Themes in 'The Prince'
  • Definition of the term Machiavellian
  • Machiavelli's relationship with the Medici family
  • The role of Spain in the Italian Wars
  • Machiavelli's ideas on fear

Skills Practiced

This quiz and worksheet lets students practice the following skills:

  • Knowledge application - use your knowledge on Machiavelli to answer questions about his views on successful political leadership
  • Making connections - examine how the threats of foreign domination during the Italian Wars helped shape Machiavelli's political views
  • Critical thinking - apply Machiavelli's view that the end justifies the means to other examples of wartime leadership, and examine this frequently criticized concept in a new light

Additional Learning

To learn more, review the accompanying lesson on Niccolo Machiavelli and the Italian Wars. This lesson covers the following objectives:

  • Understand the factors that influenced Machiavelli's theories
  • Know several of the main themes in 'The Prince'
  • Understand Machiavelli's view that wise leaders always expect the worst
  • Understand why Machiavelli believed it is safer for leaders to be feared rather than loved
  • Understand the use and misuse of the term 'Machiavellian'