Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE credits
In 1513 the Florentine humanists Niccolò Machiavelli composed one of the most famous, but also ambiguously interpret, work in the history of politics, Il Principe. Machiavelli´s book The Prince revealed the true nature of politics in Italy in the beginning of the sixteenth century and gives very straightforward advice on how to act to become a successful and powerful political being. Machiavelli´s creation and insights in the reality of politics have be much discredited and condemned in its lack of moral consideration and violent nature. Still it has been read under the centuries with a fascination and eager to understand the structure of power and how to master it. My purpose with this study is to apply this Machiavellian idea of the capable prince on to the earlier research of the Swedish duke Karl, later on King Karl IX. My study falls therefore into the field of historiography. With this in mind the title of the study is: Will of Iron and Fists of steel. Karl´s way to power from a Machiavellian perspective of the prince.
This study is focusing on the turbulent years of 1599 and 1600, a period of which great domestic tension in the Swedish kingdom exploded in an outburst of violence. In the midst of this political maelstrom stood Karl as the director and main participant of the events, with an iron will and fists of iron he defeated his opponents and took control over the state. The earlier research is on certain points concordant in their descriptions in how Karl obtained the ultimate political power in the Swedish kingdom. With a ruthless use of military means and a far-reaching moral pragmatism the duke’s most prominent political enemies systematically was persecuted and killed. The previous research is also, more or less, concurrent to the fact that Karl had a bad and unstable temper mixed with a burning desire for vengeance.
From the previous research I have drawn the conclusion that in some areas Karl did fulfil the requirements to be called a Machiavellian ideal prince, above all in his ability of exploit the opportunity to gain absolute power and how he effectively dominated the politic with military means. Although it cannot be stated that Karl fulfilled the Machiavellian ideal to its fullest. His bad temper and revengeful state of mind hindered him from be in charge of more delicate situations. The final judgement of Karl is illustrated very well with Machiavelli´s bestial metaphors; the duke was as strong and daring as a lion, both as a political being and in personality, what he lacked was the coolness and cunning of the fox.
2011. , 51 p.