Machiavelli and Christianity: the political manipulation of religious myth
Any single political theory or set of political teachings ultimately rests upon a few very basic underlying premises or assumptions regarding the nature of man and his relation to the universe. The political maxims of Niccolo Machiavelli are no exception to this rule. However, the vast body of literature available on Machiavelli generally overlooks one of the most fundamental influences upon the Florentine theorist's teachings. Dr. Anthony Parel, in a series of lectures and a forthcoming book has revealed the importance of astrology for Machiavelli's works. The a proper understanding of impact of astrology on Machiavelli's writings and precepts is of major importance yet this been almost entirely neglected. aspect of study has That Machiavelli's cosmological framework has been ignored is surprising given both the prevalence of astrological beliefs and the intense and wide-ranging astrological debates of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. As one shifts the perspective or framework of analysis, Machiavelli's teachings appear in a different light; once the fundamental principles of a body of teaching are questioned and re-examined, a reappraisal of all aspects of the author's work becomes necessary. iii This thesis will examine one aspect of Machiavelli's teachings within the new astrological framework of analysis. In particular this thesis will concentrate upon Machiavelli's conception of religion in its relationship to political power. A cursory examination of Machiavelli's works gives the impression Machiavelli levelled his harshest criticism at the Christian religion while he reserved his highest praise for the rites and ceremonies of the pagan religion of republican Rome. It would appear that, in terms of political utility, Machiavelli believed the pagan religion was a superior tool of state, and this view has been the traditionally accepted interpretation of Machiavelli's conception of religion held by subsequent political theorists. However, this thesis suggests that although Machiavelli judged all religions in terms of political utility due to his astrological framework, he believed the Christian religion to be a more effective and a more powerful tool of state than the pagan religion. Particular attention will be paid to the influence of Girolamo Savonarola upon Machiavelli's ideas and writings, and the role of millenarian "myth" as an agent or catalyst of political mobilization and reformation in order to reveal that Machiavelli's intention was to counsel the "new prince" to use and manipulate the Christian religion to obtain and maintain political power.
Bibliography: p. 170-174.
Russell, P. W. (1984). Machiavelli and Christianity: the political manipulation of religious myth (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/18742