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Cover Political Thinkers

10. Machiavelli  

Joseph V. Femia

This chapter examines Niccolò Machiavelli's contribution to political thought. It first provides a short biography of Machiavelli before discussing the main perspectives on Machiavelli and the reasons for their divergence. It then considers the historical and intellectual context that helped to shape Machiavelli's thinking, asking how the Renaissance differed from the Middle Ages, the extent to which Machiavelli was a man of the Renaissance, and why the Italian scene stimulated creative thought about politics. The chapter also explores Machiavelli's most innovative ideas: his rejection of metaphysics and teleology, whether of the Christian or aristotelian variety; his empirical and historical approach to the study of political affairs; and his anti-utopianism and belief in ‘reason of state’.


Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

2. The History of the Practice of Strategy from Antiquity to Napoleon  

Beatrice Heuser

This chapter discusses the history of the practice of strategy from Antiquity to the First World War. After introducing the reader to the various definitions of strategy, the chapter considers sources of Antiquity about warfare, from ancient Greece and Rome to the time of Rome’s Constantinopolitan (Byzantine) successors, Justinian I and Heraclius. It then examines episodes of European history since Antiquity for which historians claim to have found evidence of the practice of strategy. In particular, it looks at the West European Middle Ages, which saw the rise of complex decision-making involving multiple tools—strategy. It also analyses the transformation of warfare and of strategy in early modern Europe, covering case studies that span the wars involving Philip II of Spain, Louis XIV of France, and Frederick II of Prussia, as well as the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars.