Renaissance: Niccolo Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei

995 (2 pages)
Download for Free
Important: This sample is for inspiration and reference only

The Renaissance fostered great people, art, and ideas, to say the least. A movement that arose within the period was humanism. Humanism emphasizes practice and scientific studies of human nature and relays the idea of man as the measure of all things. Humanism focuses on human rather divine and supernatural matters. During the Renaissance there was still a strong religious presence in society, and humanism and its promotion of secular ideas often conflicted with the church. However, many humanists did not practice such to rival or purposefully rival the church, but to incorporate wisdom of antiquity that would yield a more harmonious world. These same principles are conveyed by Niccolo Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei.

Most people are familiar with Machiavelli’s The Prince and the term “Machiavellian.” Such term carries a negative connotation and many would not believe that Machiavelli was a humanist, but a closer analysis of The Prince shows that he was. One of the main focuses of the book is that society should not be created based on how people imagine to be, but rather it should be based on truth and how they really are. He specifically states “It appears to me more appropriate to follow the real truth of a matter than the imagination of it”.

This idea of governing honestly rather ideally also works into Machiavelli’s notion that prince’s are not ordained by a God or a supernatural entity. In fact, no where in his book does he mention this theory. Even though he does not write about how prince becomes such, the absence of spiritual ordainment is just one of the values that conflicted with the church. Princes instead must follow the rules and understandings of human nature in order to effectively govern. Niccolo has a realistic view of humans and human nature, understanding that humans aspire to be better and greater, but that humans also possess less admirable characteristics. 

He understands that while a good ruler retains some positive traits, it is impossible for any human being, prince or not, to be entirely good. He introduces the approach that some negative qualities are necessary to rule effectively. When contemplating whether a Prince should be loved or feared, Machiavelli concludes “A wise Prince should establish himself on that which is in his own control and not in that of others; he must endeavour only to avoid hatred”. 

Again, Machiavelli does not use philosophy to justify this, rather his own observations and experiences. He mentions many famous rulers in history, including Ferdinand of Aragon, Julius Caeser, Alexander the Great, and others. Some of these rulers were ruthless and brutal, and they were worth mentioning not because they were unjust, but because they were strong. Unlike the traditional humanists at the time, Machiavelli attempts to draw conclusions about human nature from an unethical, but realistic, standpoint.

No time to compare samples?
Hire a Writer

✓Full confidentiality ✓No hidden charges ✓No plagiarism

Another humanist of the time was Galileo Galilei. He made astronomical contributions to what we know about space. He studied motion and materials, his observations and conclusions based off of experimentation. Another aspect of humanism is the notion that humans are limitless in their capacity for development, and in The Starry Messenger, Galileo provides just that. He is excited, yet humble about his observations of outer space and makes sure to mention “perchance other discoveries still more excellent will be made from time to time by me or by other observers..”. 

By saying this, Galileo understands that his discoveries are not the end all be all to outer space and that there is more to discover, whether it be him or someone else. This emphasizes the idea of humanism previously mentioned. With his telescope, he also accurately depicts the moon’s ruggedness, and even suggests that the craters are seas. He uses logical reasoning for this, comparing the Earth and Moon, saying “Indeed, I have never doubted that if the sphere of the Earth were seen from a distance, when flooded with the Sun’s rays, that part of the surface which is land would present itself to view as brighter, and that which is water as darker in comparison.” 

We now know that the moon does not have water on its surface, but his observations were rooted in logic rather than spirituality as we have seen so often in medieval works. Besides his observations of the moon, Galileo also mentions his discovery of stars that orbit Jupiter. In fact, he names them the Medicean stars as “the fame of Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Hercules, and the rest of the heroes by whose names the stars are called, will not fade until the extinction of the splendour of the constellations themselves”. 

But his discovery of these stars supports Copernicus’ heliocentric theory, which conflicted with the Church’s geocentric theory. Again, these theories were not created to target the Church’s teaching, but were created with logical reason and observation in order to better understand the world. There cannot be any argument made that Galileo was anti-Christian as he said in the beginning of the piece “But the Maker of the Stars himself seemed to direct me by clear reasons to assign these new planets to the famous name of your highness in preference to all others”. Like many humanists during that time, these scientific advancements were made not to conflict with Christianity, but to bridge the gap and to create a cordial existence between the two.

Without humanism during the Renaissance, Machiavelli, Galileo and others would not have made their monumental contributions to science, mathematics, and politics. Machiavelli, while difficult to recognize at first, was a humanist as he was able to effectively understand the dynamics of human nature. Along with his own observations of other important rulers, he was able to articulate this understanding for future princes to rule effectively. Galileo embodied the idea that humans were limitless in their capacity for development. Galileo not only held that true for himself, but for others as well. Using observations and scientific experimentation, Galileo made extremely significant discoveries that laid the foundation for future advances in astronomy and science.   

You can receive your plagiarism free paper on any topic in 3 hours!

*minimum deadline

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below

Copy to Clipboard
Renaissance: Niccolo Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei. (2022, February 23). WritingBros. Retrieved March 30, 2023, from
“Renaissance: Niccolo Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei.” WritingBros, 23 Feb. 2022,
Renaissance: Niccolo Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Mar. 2023].
Renaissance: Niccolo Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei [Internet]. WritingBros. 2022 Feb 23 [cited 2023 Mar 30]. Available from:
Copy to Clipboard

Need writing help?

You can always rely on us no matter what type of paper you need

Order My Paper

*No hidden charges