Machiavelli’s views have been misinterpreted since his book was first written, people take him in the wrong way, and are offended by what he says. Careless readers take him in a completely wrong way, such as they think that he believes that the end justifies the means, that a leader should lie to the people, and that a ruler has to rule with force. In actuality, Machiavelli means no such thing, he says that there are times when the common good outweighs the means, and the morality of a rulers actions.
He also says that you cannot be loved by everyone, so try to be loved and feared at the same time, but of the two, choose to be feared. The Prince is considered to be one of the most important of nonfiction literature written in the history of mankind. It gave an accurate and truthful description of the method of governing. Machiavelli understands the importance of a military force, and that a country has to be kept in order, even if that means lying to the people to get them to fight against a common foe.
In Europe, the church was entangled in politics, and everything else, but Machiavelli suggests a secular state, which would allow the leader to do that which is necessary for the country and for his continued reign, though not necessarily moral. The ends do not justify the means, yet sometimes if the end is necessary for the continuation of a society, then the means do not have to be morally bound. A ruler cannot please everybody all the time, so therefore, he has to be cunning in order to maintain control. There are times when a ruler needs to lie to the populace, in order to reach a goal that is better in some way for the nation.
By tying the church to the government, people expected the government to behave morally, but often times, an entirely moral ruler will be overthrown. A ruler cannot show any weakness, or else he will no longer be feared enough to keep him in power, and he will be overthrown. In The Prince, Machiavelli asserts that it is best for a ruler to be both feared and loved, but if he cannot be both, it is much better to be feared. People are unlikely to overthrow a ruler that they fear, because they fear the punishments for failure.
If the ruler is not feared by the people, he will eventually upset enough of them that they will rise up against him, and they will overthrow him because of his perceived weakness. He believes that the state is completely separate from the rulers private life. No matter how immoral the ruler may be in private, only his public image is important. A ruler can be a sleazy person on their own time, and when not involved with matters of the state, but at any time when the leader is involved in politics and the state, you can not afford to injure the image of the ruler or else anarchy will develop.