Machiavelli on Religion Essay

2288 Words May 23rd, 2005 10 Pages
Niccolò Machiavelli thoroughly discusses the importance of religion in the formation and maintenance of political authority in his famous works, The Prince and The Discourses. In his writing on religion, he states that religion is beneficiary in the formation of political authority and political leaders must support and endorse religion in order to maintain power. However, Machiavelli also critiques corrupt religious institutions that become involved in politics and in turn, cause corruption in the citizenry and divisions among the state. In the following essay, I will examine Machiavelli's analysis of religion and discuss the relationship between religion and politics in Machiavelli's thought. It is important to establish from the …show more content…
For a political leader will often have to act out against his promise of maintaining charity, humanity and religion in order to maintain his state. Machiavelli views religion as a fundamental organization necessary for the preservation of public authority, for religion instills the fear of God; a fear that keeps man disciplined and obedient. As Machiavelli writes, "…these citizens were more afraid of breaking an oath than of breaking the laws, since they respected the power of God more than that of man." (The Discourses Book I Chapter XI) For when the citizens lose their love for their country and no longer find her laws just, they can be kept loyal to the state if they are religious and pious because they will be restrained by an oath they made to the religion of the state. For example, he cites that the people of Rome took an oath that forced their allegiance to their fatherland and despite the havoc caused by Hannibal after the battle of Cannae, the people were kept from abandoning Italy and fleeing to Sicily. He continues on to say that religion throughout history has helped command armies, encourage (or discourage) the lower classes, and keep man honorable by glorifying those who are good and shaming those who are immoral. Machiavelli also writes that religion helps those in power introduce laws to their citizens

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