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Q: Euporean History ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Euporean History
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: sky3d-ga
List Price: $44.50
Posted: 02 Nov 2002 12:57 PST
Expires: 02 Dec 2002 12:57 PST
Question ID: 96708
Machiavellis suggested that a ruler should behave both "like a lion"
and "like a fox".  Analyze the policies of Peter the Great and
Frederick William (the Great Elector). Discuss the degree to which
both rulers successfully followed machiavelli advise.
Subject: Re: Euporean History
Answered By: shananigans-ga on 02 Nov 2002 20:13 PST
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
Hi sky3d,

As you know, we Answerers can't write an entire essay for you. So what
I've done here is provide you with the relevant passage of
Machiavelli's text, just so you can see it and the other information
without having to change windows. I have also found some discussions
on the policies and attitudes of Peter the Great and of Frederick
William which I think are pertinent to your question - although the
examples are of policies both concurrent with and contradictory to
Machiavelli's advice. I'll finish with a brief discussion of whether I
personally think the Rulers followed Machiavelli's advice. The rest is
up to you! If you need any clarification, please don't hesitate to



by Nicolo Machiavelli
Written c. 1505
Translated by W. K. Marriott

CHAPTER XVIII (note: the entire text can be found at this source)
Concerning The Way In Which Princes Should Keep Faith

“ they had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so
it is necessary for a prince to know how to make use of both natures,
and that one without the other is not durable. A prince, therefore,
being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox
and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares
and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves. Therefore, it is
necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the
wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what they
are about. Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith
when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons
that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely
good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will
not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with
them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate reasons to
excuse this nonobservance. Of this endless modern examples could be
given, showing how many treaties and engagements have been made void
and of no effect through the faithlessness of princes; and he who has
known best how to employ the fox has succeeded best.

But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic,
and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and
so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will
always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent
example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander VI did nothing else
but deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he always
found victims; for there never was a man who had greater power in
asserting, or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet would
observe it less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded according
to his wishes, because he well understood this side of mankind.

Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good
qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to
have them.”

Modern History Sourcebook:
Peter the Great and the Rise of Russia, 1682-1725 


Bishop Burnet, "Peter the Great" 1698

“He came this winter over to England and stayed some months among us.
I waited often on him, and was ordered by both the king and the
archbishops and bishops to attend upon him and to offer him such
information of our religion and constitution as he was willing to
receive. I had good interpreters, so I had much free discourse with
him. He is a man of very hot temper, soon inflamed and very brutal in
his passion.”

“He wants not capacity, and has a larger measure of knowledge than
might be expected from his education, which was very indifferent. A
want of judgment, with an instability of temper, appear in him too
often and too evidently.”

“He told me he designed a great fleet at Azov and with it to attack
the Turkish empire. But he did not seem capable of conducting so great
a design, though his conduct in his wars since this has discovered a
greater genius in him than appeared at this time."

"He was desirous to understand our doctrine, but he did not seem
disposed to mend matters in Muscovy. He was, indeed, resolved to
encourage learning and to polish his people by sending some of them to
travel in other countries and to draw strangers to come and live among
them. He seemed apprehensive still of his sister's intrigues. There
was a mixture both of passion and severity in his temper. He is
resolute, but understands little of war, and seemed not at all
inquisitive that way.”

“The strangers, to whom he trusted most, were so true to him that
those designs were crushed before he came back. But on this occasion
he let loose his fury on all whom he suspected. Some hundreds of them
were hanged all around Moscow, and it was said that he cut off many
heads with his own hand; and so far was he from relenting or showing
any sort of tenderness that he seemed delighted with it.”


Von Korb, "Diary" 1698-99 

”How sharp was the pain, how great the indignation, to which the
tsar's Majesty was mightily moved, when he knew of the rebellion of
the Streltsi [i.e., the Muscovite Guard], betraying openly a mind
panting for vengeance! [...] Nor did he long delay the plan for his
justly excited wrath; he took the quick post, as his ambassador
suggested, and in four week's time he had got over about three hundred
miles without accident, and arrived the 4th of September, 1698---a
monarch for the well disposed, but an avenger for the wicked.”


General Alexander Gordon, "History of Peter the Great", 1718

“This great emperor came in a few years to know to a farthing the
amount of all his revenues, as also how they were laid out. He was at
little or no expense about his person, and by living rather like a
private gentleman than a prince he saved wholly that great expense
which other monarchs are at in supporting the grandeur of their
courts. It was uneasy for him to appear in majesty, which he seldom or
never did, but when absolutely necessary, on such occasions as giving
audience to ambassadors or the like; so that he had all the pleasure
of a great emperor and at the same time that of a private gentleman.”

“He had no letters; he could only read and write, but had a great
regard for learning and was at much pains to introduce it into the

From: James Harvey Robinson, ed., Readings in European History, 2
Vols. (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1904-1906), Vol. II: From the opening of
the Protestant Revolt to the Present Day, pp. 303-312.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has
been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001.
"Peter I, czar of Russia"

“Foreign Policy 

Russia was almost continuously at war during Peter’s reign. In the
16th and early 17th cent. the country had fought periodically in the
northwest against Sweden, in an attempt to gain access to the Baltic
Sea, and in the south against the Ottoman Empire. While continuing the
policy of his predecessors, Peter drew Russia into European affairs
and helped to make it a great power. His earliest venture was the
conquest of Azov from the Ottomans in 1696, after an unsuccessful
attempt in 1695. Peter then embarked on a European tour (1697–98),
traveling partly incognito, to form a grand alliance against the
Ottoman Empire and to acquire the Western techniques necessary to
modernize Russia’s armed forces. He failed to form an anti- Ottoman
alliance, but his conversations with the Polish king and others led
eventually (1699) to a coalition against Sweden.

Peter also gained considerable knowledge of European industrial
techniques (he even spent some time working as a ship’s carpenter in
Holland) and hired many European artisans for service in Russia. In
1698 he returned to Russia, began to modernize the armed forces, and
launched domestic reforms. After concluding (1700) peace with the
Ottomans, Peter, in alliance with Denmark and the combined
Saxony-Poland, began the Northern War (1700– 1721) against Charles XII
of Sweden. Although disastrously defeated at first, he routed Charles
at Poltava in 1709 and by the Treaty of Nystad (1721) retained his
conquests of Ingermanland, Karelia, and Livonia.

Peter’s conquests in the south were less permanent. Azov was restored
to the Ottoman Empire in 1711; Derbent, Baku, and the southern coast
of the Caspian Sea, conquered in a war (1722–23) with Persia, were
soon lost again. In the east, Russia extended its control over part of
Siberia but failed to subjugate either Khiva or Bokhara. Peter’s first
diplomatic missions to China were unsuccessful but his efforts led to
the Treaty of Kyakhta (1727), which fixed the Russo-Chinese border and
established commercial relations. Peter’s interest in imperial
expansion led to the financing of the first voyage of Vitus Bering.

  Domestic Policy 

Peter had returned to Russia in 1698 at the news of a military revolt
allegedly instigated by Sophia Alekseyevna. He took drastic vengeance
on his opponents and forced Sophia into a convent. On the day after
his return, Peter personally cut off the beards of his nobles and
shortly thereafter ordered them to replace their long robes and
conical hats with Western dress. This attack on the symbols of old
Muscovy marked the beginning of Peter’s attempt to force Russia to
adopt European appearance and other features of Western culture. Most
of Peter’s reforms followed his predecessors’ tentative steps, but his
demonic pace and brutal methods created an impression of revolutionary

The reforms were sporadic and uncoordinated; many of them grew out of
the needs of Peter’s almost continuous warfare. He introduced
conscription on a territorial basis, enlarged and modernized the army,
founded and expanded the navy, and established technical schools to
train men for military service. To finance this huge military
establishment, he created state monopolies, introduced the first poll
tax, and placed levies on every conceivable item. Peter encouraged and
subsidized private industry and established state mines and factories
to provide adequate supplies of war materials. Peter reformed the
administrative machinery of the state. He introduced a supervisory
senate and a new system of central administration and tried to reform
provincial and local government.

Peter also attempted to subordinate all classes of Russian society to
the needs of the state. He enlarged the service nobility (the body of
nobles who owed service to the state), imposed further duties on it,
and forced the sons of nobles to attend technical schools. To control
the nobles he introduced the Table of Ranks, which established a
bureaucratic hierarchy in which promotion was based on merit rather
than on birth. The nobility’s economic position was strengthened by
changes in the laws of land tenure. The serfs (who paid the bulk of
taxes and made up most of the soldiery) were bound more securely to
their masters and to the land. Peter subordinated the church to the
state by replacing the patriarchate with a holy synod, headed by a lay
procurator appointed by the czar.

Peter introduced changes in manners and mores. The ban on beards and
Muscovite dress was extended to the entire male population, women were
released from their servile position, and attempts were made to
improve the manners of the court and administration. Peter sent many
Russians to be schooled in the West and was responsible for the
foundation (1725) of the Academy of Sciences. He reformed the calendar
and simplified the alphabet. The transfer of the capital from Moscow
to St. Petersburg, built on the swamps of Ingermanland at tremendous
human cost, was a dramatic symbol of Peter’s reforms. Although Peter
sought to enforce all his reforms with equal severity, he was unable
to eradicate the traditional corruption of officials or to impose
Western ways on the peasantry.

His reforms were often considered whimsical and sacrilegious and met
widespread opposition. The conservatives among the clergy accused him
of being the antichrist. The discontented looked to Peter’s son,
Alexis, who was eventually tried for treason on flimsy evidence and
was tortured to death (1718). In 1721, Peter had himself proclaimed
“emperor of all Russia.” In 1722 he declared the choice of a successor
to be dependent on the sovereign’s will; this decree (valid until the
reign of Paul I) preceded the coronation (1724) of his second wife as
Empress Catherine I. She was a Livonian peasant girl whom Peter had
made his mistress, then his wife (1712) after repudiating his first
consort. Her accession on Peter’s death was largely engineered by
Peter’s chief lieutenant and favorite, A. D. Menshikov. Although many
of Peter’s innovations were too hasty and arbitrary to be successful,
his reign was decisive in the long process of transforming medieval
Muscovy into modern Russia.

  Personality and Achievements 

Peter’s personal traits ranged from bestial cruelty and vice to the
most selfless devotion to Russia; his order to his troops at Poltava
read, “Remember that you are fighting not for Peter but for the
state.” Despite the convulsive fits that plagued him, he had a
bearlike constitution, was of gigantic stature, and possessed
herculean physical prowess. He drank himself into stupors and indulged
in all conceivable vices but could rouse himself at a moment’s notice,
and he was willing to undergo all the physical exertions and
privations that he exacted from his subjects.

Peter subordinated the lives and liberties of his subjects to his own
conception of the welfare of the state. Like many of his successors,
he concluded that ruthless reform was necessary to overcome Russia’s
backwardness. Peter remains one of the most controversial figures in
Russian history. Those who regard Russia as essentially European
praise him for his policy of Westernization, and others who consider
Russia a unique civilization attack him for turning Russia from its
special path of development. Those impressed by imperial expansion and
state and social reforms tend to regard Peter’s arbitrary and brutal
methods as necessary, while others appalled by his disregard of human
life conclude that the cost outweighed any gains.”

Neue Rheinische Zeitung No.

“We know how the so-called Great Elector (as if an elector could be
great!) committed his first treachery against Poland in that he,
Poland's ally against Sweden, suddenly went over to the Swedes, the
better to plunder Poland in the Peace of Oliva. [At the Peace of
Oliva, concluded between Sweden on the one side and Poland, Austria,
and Brandenburg on the other, on May 3, 1660, Poland finally
relinquished sovereignty over East Prussia. -- ed.]"
-note: 'ed.' is the editor of the page, not me!

"The Prussian Tradition"
A. The Great Elector

"Frederick William, the founder of the Prussian state, ruled for
almost a half century, from 1640 to 1688. He was the first great
Brandenhurg ruler, even overshadowing Albrecht the Bear, who first
established himself in the territory around Berlin. Frederick
William's accession ended five centuries of relative complacency. He
played a far larger role in the Westphalian Congress than his state
deserved, both in terms of size and role played in the war. The reason
was that he had a large army and displayed certain spiritual qualities
which impressed European rulers. Frederick William was determined to
defend his three widely scattered possessions:

the Duchy of Prussia, surrounded by Poland and part of it encumbered
by feudal law;
Cleve-Mark, subject to Dutch pressure; 
and Brandenhurg, subject to Swedish pressure in West Pomerania.

His primary policy centered on integration of these territories and
the overall protection of his realm. But territorial consolidation, no
matter how tantalizing, was only a dream, hampered by many obstacles.
Yet the Great Elector set the pace for the future and crystallized an
overriding goal for his successors. In the last analysis Frederick
William not only created the kingdom of Prussia (really his son did
it), but he was the unconscious protector of a renovated Germany.

The Great Elector was a staunch pillar of the Calvinist faith, which
became identified with the rising commercial class, turning their
faith outward rather than inward. Frederick William saw the importance
of trade and promoted it vigorously. He worked hard at his god-given
task of ruling. His ministers never controlled him, although foreign
ambassadors thought so and tried to bribe his ministers. He was given
to frequent outbursts, which made others doubt his reliability. He was
shifty in the Swedish-Polish war and his political opportunism also
showed up in his shifting position in the Dutch War of 1672.

He was a realist who contemplated his self-interest like most of his
contemporaries. He only had two important lapses from this policy. His
testament impaired the edifice he had built and his candidature for
the Polish throne in 1661 detracted from his job at home. The prospect
of a royal crown was tempting, but would not have helped him at home
since he would have had to convert to Catholicism. He was a patron of
the fine arts, collected books and antiquities and loved the chase at
the same time. Toward the end of his life he became pessimistic and
tended to isolate himself, nursing various physical ills.

This was the age of the Baroque, the fading symbols of the
Renaissance, which invigorated the Catholic Church and absolute
monarchy. The pope ruled as an absolute monarch in the church. Louis
XIV gave his rule a gallically flavored papal baroque.
Brandenburg-Prussia was ripe to express itself in Baroque terms as
well. Frederick William was an absolute ruler in every sense. He
dominated the nobility, repressed the bourgeoisie, and wholly
submerged the peasantry. The court was lavish and his Schloss in
Berlin was a showpiece. But the most important exhibit of the
Brandenburg Baroque was the elector himself. He was a kind of earthly
Jove. A kind of myth developed around the Elector that he was the
embodiment of law, upholding the state, yet very human and
characterized by patriarchal kindliness. The initiative was reserved
to tho state. The law confirmed its empire over consenting subjects
and the subjects asserted their moral freedom by their voluntary
subjection to the law.”

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001.
"Frederick William, elector of Brandenburg"

“At his accession the scattered lands of the Hohenzollern were
devastated and depopulated by the Thirty Years War and occupied by
Swedish troops. Frederick William immediately negotiated an armistice
with Sweden and then turned to building his military strength.
Beginning with few resources and no dependable troops, he raised an
efficient army. At the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty
Years War, he received E Pomerania and several other territories.
Frederick William subsequently joined Sweden in its war against Poland
(1655–60) but deserted the Swedes after Russia and Denmark entered the
war. In a treaty with Poland (1657) he obtained recognition of his
sovereignty over Prussia, previously held as a fief of the Polish
crown. Now allied against Sweden, he gained W Pomerania, but was
deprived of it by the Peace of Oliva (1660). In succeeding years
Frederick William continued in his attempt to consolidate his widely
scattered lands, at the same time trying to avoid French or Hapsburg
domination. In the Dutch War of 1672–78 he achieved his objective of
uniting all of Pomerania, but was forced to give up his conquest as a
result of the peace between France and the Holy Roman Empire.
Nevertheless, his prestige was enormously enhanced by his brilliant
victory at Fehrbellin (1675) over France’s Swedish allies. Frederick
William laid the foundation of the Prussian state by repressing the
estates, strengthening central administration, husbanding the
resources of his lands, improving communication, and building the
army. His son became king of Prussia as Frederick I.”


Peter the Great appears to me to have been very much the Machiavellian
– he breaks and forms alliances as it suits his country, and punishes
severely those who disobey him. He had no loyalty to anyone or
anything except Russia, and demonstrated that he is more than capable
of terrifying wolves and of finding the voices and sources of dissent
within his own State. He was crafty like the fox, surprising Bishop
Burnet with his hidden knowledge and playing States off against one
another for his own advantage. I would say he was a Lion and a Fox to
a very large extent – let down of course by his drinking and his
temper, neither of which display a large amount of self-control.

Frederick William was most definitely more Lion than Fox, as
demonstrated by the small empire he built and the way in which he
managed to get his State back in order after the Thirty Years War. He
also displayed elements of Foxiness (I just wanted to use that word,
sorry!) with his desertion of Sweden as soon as Russia and Denmark
provided a challenge, and his switching of alliances as soon as was

On balance I’d say Peter the Great and Frederick William were both
Lions and Foxes, but Peter was definitely the bigger Lion and
Frederick was the Foxiest!


I realise that the above is an incredibly large amount of information
to work through, but since you asked such a pricey question I wanted
to give you ‘more than enough’. If I have failed in this undertaking,
please ask for clarification before you rate my answer. I’d be more
than happy to provide further research if I am able, and to comment on
any conclusions you may have reached.

Best wishes,

Search terms '+Machiavelli +Prince +Text' '+Peter +Great +policies' 
sky3d-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Euporean History
From: shananigans-ga on 02 Nov 2002 20:00 PST
Could other researchers please note that I have formulated an answer
to this question (I have had it locked), but my computer is playing up
a bit and I am temporarily unable to post it.

Subject: Re: Euporean History
From: shananigans-ga on 02 Nov 2002 20:07 PST
Exactly what went wrong was, I locked the question and accidentally
shut the google window. So although it's 'me' who has the question
locked, I can't actually get in to answer it because I have to re-lock
it. I hope that makes sense.

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