In Arts de gouverner. From the medieval “regimen” to the concept of government, Michel Senellart sees Machiavelli as the first author to have theorized the confrontation between the people and the government.
Until then, the metaphor of the shepherd and his flock, or that of the family, was predominant.
Except that for Machiavelli, the government must protect itself from its subjects, who constitute a threat.
A relationship of hostility between the prince and his people perceived (…) as a permanent threat: it is through this new figure, since the end of the Middle Ages, of the dangerous people that the conversion of the government into domination is carried out.
Michel Senellart, Arts de gouverner
If this vision of Michel Senellart is attractive, it must, however, be taken with caution. Indeed, in Machiavelli’s Prince, the people play with the ruler. It is, moreover, the part of the exam questions which is the least dangerous, because it is more constant, and enamored of freedom rather than of power.