Discourses on Livy, Book I, Niccolò Machiavelli

While The Prince is doubtless the most widely read of Machiavelli’s works, the Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy perhaps most honestly expresses his personal political beliefs and commitments, in particular, his republican sympathies. A minimal constitutional order is one in which subjects live securely (vivere sicuro), ruled by a strong government which holds in check the aspirations of both nobility and people, but is in turn balanced by other legal and institutional mechanisms. In a fully constitutional regime, however, the goal of the political order is the freedom of the community (vivere libero), created by the active participation of, and contention between, the nobility and the people.