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Machiavelli's The Prince Primary Source Document with Questions for Analysis

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This is a formatted document for the purpose of easy access, printing and distribution to students for the purpose of analyzing documents in AP World History Courses. If you teach AP World History (W.H.A.P.), you are familiar with the use of primary documents for the purpose of document analysis. Many times these documents are in a document source book and have to be copied for distribution to students; or there are electronic versions where students must read the document on-line and submit answers. The service that I have provided for you is to simply format the document with the analysis questions into an easy-to access and printable document that can be readily printed for easy distribution to students. Document analysis questions are also included so that documents can be read and analyzed individually, in a pair-share situation or use in a Group setting.

About the Document
After the collapse of the western Roman Empire, the Italian peninsula became a common battleground for much of Europe. Not only did its patchwork of city states and petty kingdoms war upon each other, but the great national armies of Spain, France, and Austria often intruded upon the area in their quest for European hegemony. Niccolò Machiavelli, 1469-1527, lived during a particularly turbulent era in Italian history. A citizen of Florence, at various times he served his city as a diplomat; at others he was tortured for suspected treason and then exiled from his beloved home. Machiavelli watched the armies march, saw the destruction visited upon city and countryside alike, and thought long and hard on the legacy of weak leaders who would allow such calamity to befall their people.

Scholars disagree on Machiavelli's reason for writing The Prince, his well-known treatise on securing and maintaining a kingdom. But they do agree that, at a time when the church encouraged rulers to adhere to morality, Machiavelli produced a manuscript that abandoned Christian mores for a very hard-edged, practical path to political success. Survival of the state superseded morality; and thus no ruler could allow personal conscience to endanger the state. The idea is often advanced that methods of modern government owe a great deal to Machiavelli. The selected passages allow the reader to examine that idea.
Source: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513., in The Prince, ed. and trans. David Wootton (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1995), pp. 31-49.
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Answer Key
Teaching Duration
30 minutes
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