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THE PRINCE, by Nicolo Machiavelli


by Nicolo Machiavelli

Written c. 1505, published 1515

translated by W. K. Marriott



ALL STATES, all powers, that have held and hold rule over men have been
and are either republics or principalities.

Principalities are either hereditary, in which the family has been long
established; or they are new.

The new are either entirely new, as was Milan to Francesco Sforza, or
they are, as it were, members annexed to the hereditary state of the
prince who has acquired them, as was the kingdom of Naples to that of
the King of Spain.

Such dominions thus acquired are either accustomed to live under a
prince, or to live in freedom; and are acquired either by the arms of
the prince himself, or of others, or else by fortune or by ability.



I WILL leave out all discussion on republics, inasmuch as in another
place I have written of them at length, [1] and will address myself only
to principalities. In doing so I will keep to the order indicated above,
and discuss how such principalities are to be ruled and preserved.

I say at once there are fewer difficulties in holding hereditary states,
and those long accustomed to the family of their prince, than new ones;
for it is sufficient only not to transgress the customs of his
ancestors, and to deal prudently with circumstances as they arise, for a
prince of average powers to maintain himself in his state, unless he be
deprived of it by some extraordinary and excessive force; and if he
should be so deprived of it, whenever anything sinister happens to the
usurper, he will regain it.

We have in Italy, for example, the Duke of Ferrara, who could not have
withstood the attacks of the Venetians in '84, nor those of Pope Julius
in '10, unless he had been long established in his dominions. For the
hereditary prince has less cause and less necessity to offend; hence it
happens that he will be more loved; and unless extraordinary vices cause
him to be hated, it is reasonable to expect that his subjects will be
naturally well disposed towards him; and in the antiquity and duration
of his rule the memories and motives that make for change are lost, for
one change always leaves the toothing for another.

1. Discourses.



BUT the difficulties occur in a new principality. And firstly, if it be
not entirely new, but is, as it were, a member of a state which, taken
collectively, may be called composite, the changes arise chiefly from an
inherent difficulty which there is in all new principalities; for men
change their rulers willingly, hoping to better themselves, and this
hope induces them to take up arms against him who rules: wherein they
are deceived, because they afterwards find by experience they have gone
from bad to worse. This follows also on another natural and common
necessity, which always causes a new prince to burden those who have
submitted to him with his soldiery and with infinite other hardships
which he must put upon his new acquisition.

In this way you have enemies in all those whom you have injured in
seizing that principality, and you are not able to keep those friends
who put you there because of your not being able to satisfy them in the
way they expected, and you cannot take strong measures against them,
feeling bound to them. For, although one may be very strong in armed
forces, yet in entering a province one has always need of the goodwill
of the natives.

For these reasons Louis XII, King of France, quickly occupied Milan, and
as quickly lost it; and to turn him out the first time it only needed
Lodovico's own forces; because those who had opened the gates to him,
finding themselves deceived in their hopes of future benefit, would not
endure the ill-treatment of the new prince. It is very true that, after
acquiring rebellious provinces a second time, they are not so lightly
lost afterwards, because the prince, with little reluctance, takes the
opportunity of the rebellion to punish the delinquents, to clear out the
suspects, and to strengthen himself in the weakest places. Thus to cause
France to lose Milan the first time it was enough for the Duke Lodovico
to raise insurrections on the borders; but to cause him to lose it a
second time it was necessary to bring the whole world against him, and
that his armies should be defeated and driven out of Italy; which
followed from the causes above mentioned.

Nevertheless Milan was taken from France both the first and the second
time. The general reasons for the first have been discussed; it remains
to name those for the second, and to see what resources he had, and what
any one in his situation would have had for maintaining himself more
securely in his acquisition than did the King of France.

Now I say that those dominions which, when acquired, are added to an
ancient state by him who acquires them, are either of the same country
and language, or they are not. When they are, it is easier to hold them,
especially when they have not been accustomed to self-government; and to
hold them securely it is enough to have destroyed the family of the
prince who was ruling them; because the two peoples, preserving in other
things the old conditions, and not being unlike in customs, will live
quietly together, as one has seen in Brittany, Burgundy, Gascony, and
Normandy, which have been bound to France for so long a time: and,
although there may be some difference in language, nevertheless the
customs are alike, and the people will easily be able to get on amongst
themselves. He who has annexed them, if he wishes to hold them, has only
to bear in mind two considerations: the one, that the family of their
former lord is extinguished; the other, that neither their laws nor
their taxes are altered, so that in a very short time they will become
entirely one body with the old principality.

But when states are acquired in a country differing in language,
customs, or laws, there are difficulties, and good fortune and great
energy are needed to hold them, and one of the greatest and most real
helps would be that he who has acquired them should go and reside there.
This would make his position more secure and durable, as it has made
that of the Turk in Greece, who, notwithstanding all the other measures
taken by him for holding that state, if he had not settled there, would
not have been able to keep it. Because, if one is on the spot, disorders
are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy them; but if one
is not at hand, they heard of only when they are one can no longer
remedy them. Besides this, the country is not pillaged by your
officials; the subjects are satisfied by prompt recourse to the prince;
thus, wishing to be good, they have more cause to love him, and wishing
to be otherwise, to fear him. He who would attack that state from the
outside must have the utmost caution; as long as the prince resides
there it can only be wrested from him with the greatest difficulty.

The other and better course is to send colonies to one or two places,
which may be as keys to that state, for it necessary either to do this
or else to keep there a great number of cavalry and infantry. A prince
does not spend much on colonies, for with little or no expense he can
send them out and keep them there, and he offends a minority only of the
citizens from whom he takes lands and houses to give them to the new
inhabitants; and those whom he offends, remaining poor and scattered,
are never able to injure him; whilst the rest being uninjured are easily
kept quiet, and at the same time are anxious not to err for fear it
should happen to them as it has to those who have been despoiled. In
conclusion, I say that these colonies are not costly, they are more
faithful, they injure less, and the injured, as has been said, being
poor and scattered, cannot hurt. Upon this, one has to remark that men
ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge
themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot;
therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a
kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.

But in maintaining armed men there in place of colonies one spends much
more, having to consume on the garrison all income from the state, so
that the acquisition turns into a loss, and many more are exasperated,
because the whole state is injured; through the shifting of the garrison
up and down all become acquainted with hardship, and all become hostile,
and they are enemies who, whilst beaten on their own ground, are yet
able to do hurt. For every reason, therefore, such guards are as useless
as a colony is useful.

Again, the prince who holds a country differing in the above respects
ought to make himself the head and defender of his powerful neighbours,
and to weaken the more powerful amongst them, taking care that no
foreigner as powerful as himself shall, by any accident, get a footing
there; for it will always happen that such a one will be introduced by
those who are discontented, either through excess of ambition or through
fear, as one has seen already. The Romans were brought into Greece by
the Aetolians; and in every other country where they obtained a footing
they were brought in by the inhabitants. And the usual course of affairs
is that, as soon as a powerful foreigner enters a country, all the
subject states are drawn to him, moved by the hatred which they feel
against the ruling power. So that in respect to these subject states he
has not to take any trouble to gain them over to himself, for the whole
of them quickly rally to the state which he has acquired there. He has
only to take care that they do not get hold of too much power and too
much authority, and then with his own forces, and with their goodwill,
he can easily keep down the more powerful of them, so as to remain
entirely master in the country. And he who does not properly manage this
business will soon lose what he has acquired, and whilst he does hold it
he will have endless difficulties and troubles.

The Romans, in the countries which they annexed, observed closely these
measures; they sent colonies and maintained friendly relations with the
minor powers, without increasing their strength; they kept down the
greater, and did not allow any strong foreign powers to gain authority.
Greece appears to me sufficient for an example. The Achaeans and
Aetolians were kept friendly by them, the kingdom of Macedonia was
humbled, Antiochus was driven out; yet the merits of the Achaeans and
Aetolians never secured for them permission to increase their power, nor
did the persuasions of Philip ever induce the Romans to be his friends
without first humbling him, nor did the influence of Antiochus make them
agree that he should retain any lordship over the country. Because the
Romans did in these instances what all prudent princes ought to do, who
have to regard not only present troubles, but also future ones, for
which they must prepare with every energy, because, when foreseen, it is
easy to remedy them; but if you wait until they approach, the medicine
is no longer in time because the malady has become incurable; for it
happens in this, as the physicians say it happens in hectic fever, that
in the beginning of the malady it is easy to cure but difficult to
detect, but in the course of time, not having been either detected or
treated in the beginning, it becomes easy to detect but difficult to
cure. Thus it happens in affairs of state, for when the evils that arise
have been foreseen (which it is only given to a wise man to see), they
can be quickly redressed, but when, through not having been foreseen,
they have been permitted to grow in a way that every one can see them.
there is no longer a remedy. Therefore, the Romans, foreseeing troubles,
dealt with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them
come to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only
put off to the advantage of others; moreover they wished to fight with
Philip and Antiochus in Greece so as not to have to do it in Italy; they
could have avoided both, but this they did not wish; nor did that ever
please them which is for ever in the mouths of the wise ones of our
time:-- Let us enjoy the benefits of the time -- but rather the benefits of
their own valour and prudence, for time drives everything before it, and
is able to bring with it good as well as evil, and evil as well as good.

But let us turn to France and inquire whether she has done any of the
things mentioned. I will speak of Louis [XII] (and not of Charles
[VIII]) as the one whose conduct is the better to be observed, he having
held possession of Italy for the longest period; and you will see that
he has done the opposite to those things which ought to be done to
retain a state composed of divers elements.

King Louis was brought into Italy by the ambition of the Venetians, who
desired to obtain half the state of Lombardy by his intervention. I will
not blame the course taken by the king, because, wishing to get a
foothold in Italy, and having no friends there -- seeing rather that
every door was shut to him owing to the conduct of Charles -- he was
forced to accept those friendships which he could get, and he would have
succeeded very quickly in his design if in other matters he had not made
some mistakes. The king, however, having acquired Lombardy, regained at
once the authority which Charles had lost: Genoa yielded; the
Florentines became his friends; the Marquess of Mantua, the Duke of
Ferrara, the Bentivoglio, my lady of Forli, the Lords of Faenza, of
Pesaro, of Rimini, of Camerino, of Piombino, the Lucchesi, the Pisans,
the Sienese -- everybody made advances to him to become his friend. Then
could the Venetians realize the rashness of the course taken by them,
which, in order that they might secure two towns in Lombardy, had made
the king master of two-thirds of Italy.

Let any one now consider with what little difficulty the king could have
maintained his position in Italy had he observed the rules above laid
down, and kept all his friends secure and protected; for although they
were numerous they were both weak and timid, some afraid of the Church,
some of the Venetians, and thus they would always have been forced to
stand in with him, and by their means he could easily have made himself
secure against those who remained powerful. But he was no sooner in
Milan than he did the contrary by assisting Pope Alexander to occupy the
Romagna. It never occurred to him that by this action he was weakening
himself, depriving himself of friends and those who had thrown
themselves into his lap, whilst he aggrandized the Church by adding much
temporal power to the spiritual, thus giving it great authority. And
having committed this prime error, he was obliged to follow it up, so
much so that, to put an end to the ambition of Alexander, and to prevent
his becoming the master of Tuscany, he was himself forced to come into

And as if it were not enough to have aggrandized the Church, and
deprived himself friends, he, wishing to have the kingdom of Naples,
divides it with the King of Spain, and where he was the prime arbiter of
Italy he takes an associate, so that the ambitious of that country and
the malcontents of his own should have where to shelter; and whereas he
could have left in the kingdom his own pensioner as king, he drove him
out, to put one there who was able to drive him, Louis, out in turn.

The wish to acquire is in truth very natural and common, and men always
do so when they can, and for this they will be praised not blamed; but
when they cannot do so, yet wish to do so by any means, then there is
folly and blame. Therefore, if France could have attacked Naples with
her own forces she ought to have done so; if she could not, then she
ought not to have divided it. And if the partition which she made with
the Venetians in Lombardy was justified by the excuse that by it she got
a foothold in Italy, this other partition merited blame, for it had not
the excuse of that necessity.

Therefore Louis made these five errors: he destroyed the minor powers,
he increased the strength of one of the greater powers in Italy, he
brought in a foreign power, he did not settle in the country, he did not
send colonies. Which errors, if he had lived, were not enough to injure
him had he not made a sixth by taking away their dominions from the
Venetians; because, had he not aggrandized the Church, nor brought Spain
into Italy, it would have been very reasonable and necessary to humble
them; but having first taken these steps, he ought never to have
consented to their ruin, for they, being powerful, would always have
kept off others from designs on Lombardy, to which the Venetians would
never have consented except to become masters themselves there; also
because the others would not wish to take Lombardy from France in order
to give it to the Venetians, and to run counter to both they would not
have had the courage.

And if any one should say: King Louis yielded the Romagna to Alexander
and the kingdom to Spain to avoid war, I answer for the reasons given
above that a blunder ought never be perpetrated to avoid war, because it
is not to be avoided, but is only deferred to your disadvantage. And if
another should allege the pledge which the king had given to the Pope
that he would assist him in the enterprise, in exchange for the
dissolution of his marriage and for the hat to Rouen, to that I reply
what I shall write later on concerning the faith of princes, and how it
ought to be kept.

Thus King Louis lost Lombardy by not having followed any of the
conditions observed by those who have taken possession of countries and
wished to retain them. Nor is there any miracle in this, but much that
is reasonable and quite natural. And on these matters I spoke at Nantes
with Rouen, when Valentino, [1] as Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope
Alexander, was usually called, occupied the Romagna, and on Cardinal
Rouen observing to me that the Italians did not understand war, I
replied to him that the French did not understand statecraft, meaning
that otherwise they would not have allowed the Church to reach such
greatness. And in fact it has been seen that the greatness of the Church
and of Spain in Italy has been caused by France, and her ruin may be
attributed to them. From this a general rule is drawn which never or
rarely fails: that he who is the cause of another becoming powerful is
ruined; because that predominancy has been brought about either by
astuteness or else by force, and both are distrusted by him who has been
raised to power.

1. So called -- in Italian -- from the duchy of Valentinois, conferred
on him by Louis XII.



CONSIDERING the difficulties which men have had to hold a newly acquired
state, some might wonder how, seeing that Alexander the Great became the
master of Asia in a few years, and died whilst it was yet scarcely
settled (whence it might appear reasonable that the whole empire would
have rebelled), nevertheless his successors maintained themselves, and
had to meet no other difficulty than that which arose among themselves
from their own ambitions.

I answer that the principalities of which one has record are found to be
governed in two different ways: either by a prince, with a body of
servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his
favour and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity
by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such barons
have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords and hold
them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by a prince
and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all
the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him, and if
they yield obedience to another they do it as to a minister and
official, and they do not bear him any particular affection.

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turk and the
King of France. The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one lord,
the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into sanjaks, he
sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he
chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient
body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them;
they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away
except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers both of these states
will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but,
once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the
difficulties in seizing the kingdom of the Turk are that the usurper
cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be
assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around
him. This arises from the reasons given above; for his ministers, being
all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and
one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted,
as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned.
Hence, he who attacks the Turk must bear in mind that he will find him
united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the
revolt of others; but, if once the Turk has been conquered, and routed
in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is
nothing to fear but the family of the prince, and, this being
exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no credit
with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them before his
victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because
one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom,
for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such men,
for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render the
victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with
infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from
those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated
the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves
the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are unable either
to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost whenever time brings
the opportunity.

Now if you will consider what was the nature of the government of
Darius, you will find it similar to the kingdom of the Turk, and
therefore it was only necessary for Alexander, first to overthrow him in
the field, and then to take the country from him. After which victory,
Darius being killed, the state remained secure to Alexander, for the
above reasons. And if his successors had been united they would have
enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there were no tumults raised
in the kingdom except those they provoked themselves.

But it is impossible to hold with such tranquillity states constituted
like that of France. Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the
Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities
there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them
endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the
power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away,
and the Romans then became secure possessors. And when fighting
afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself
his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed
there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated, none other
than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered no one will marvel at the ease with
which Alexander held the Empire of Asia, or at the difficulties which
others have had to keep an acquisition, such as Pyrrhus and many more;
this is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the
conqueror, but by the want of uniformity in the subject state.



WHENEVER those states which have been acquired as stated have been
accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom, there are three
courses for those who wish to hold them: the first is to ruin them, the
next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit them to live
under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an
oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you. Because such a government,
being created by the prince, knows that it cannot stand without his
friendship and interest, and does its utmost to support him; and
therefore he who would keep a city accustomed to freedom will hold it
more easily by the means of its own citizens than in any other way.

There are, for example, the Spartans and the Romans. The Spartans held
Athens and Thebes, establishing there an oligarchy, nevertheless they
lost them. The Romans, in order to hold Capua, Carthage, and Numantia,
dismantled them, and did not lose them. They wished to hold Greece as
the Spartans held it, making it free and permitting its laws, and did
not succeed. So to hold it they were compelled to dismantle many cities
in the country, for in truth there is no safe way to retain them
otherwise than by ruining them. And he who becomes master of a city
accustomed to freedom and does not destroy it, may expect to be
destroyed by it, for in rebellion it has always the watch-word of
liberty and its ancient privileges as a rallying point, which neither
time nor benefits will ever cause it to forget. And what ever you may do
or provide against, they never forget that name or their privileges
unless they are disunited or dispersed but at every chance they
immediately rally to them, as Pisa after the hundred years she had been
held in bondage by the Florentines.

But when cities or countries are accustomed to live under a prince, and
his family is exterminated, they, being on the one hand accustomed to
obey and on the other hand not having the old prince, cannot agree in
making one from amongst themselves, and they do not know how to govern
themselves. For this reason they are very slow to take up arms, and a
prince can gain them to himself and secure them much more easily. But in
republics there is more vitality, greater hatred, and more desire for
vengeance, which will never permit them to allow the memory of their
former liberty to rest; so that the safest way is to destroy them or to
reside there.



LET no one be surprised if, in speaking of entirely new principalities
as I shall do, I adduce the highest examples both of prince and of
state; because men, walking almost always in paths beaten by others, and
following by imitation their deeds, are yet unable to keep entirely to
the ways of others or attain to the power of those they imitate. A wise
man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate
those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal
theirs, at least it will savour of it. Let him act like the clever
archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet appears too far
distant, and knowing the limits to which the strength of their bow
attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach by their
strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with the aid of
so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach.

I say, therefore, that in entirely new principalities, where there is a
new prince, more or less difficulty is found in keeping them,
accordingly as there is more or less ability in him who has acquired the
state. Now, as the fact of becoming a prince from a private station
presupposes either ability or fortune, it is clear that one or other of
these two things will mitigate in some degree many difficulties.
Nevertheless, he who has relied least on fortune is established the
strongest. Further, it facilitates matters when the prince, having no
other state, is compelled to reside there in person.

But to come to those who, by their own ability and not through fortune,
have risen to be princes, I say that Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, Theseus, and
such like are the most excellent examples. And although one may not
discuss Moses, he having been a mere executor of the will of God, yet he
ought to be admired, if only for that favour which made him worthy to
speak with God. But in considering Cyrus and others who have acquired or
founded kingdoms, all will be found admirable; and if their particular
deeds and conduct shall be considered, they will not be found inferior
to those of Moses, although he had so great a preceptor. And in
examining their actions and lives one cannot see that they owed anything
to fortune beyond opportunity, which brought them the material to mould
into the form which seemed best to them. Without that opportunity their
powers of mind would have been extinguished, and without those powers
the opportunity would have come in vain.

It was necessary, therefore, to Moses that he should find the people of
Israel in Egypt enslaved and oppressed by the Egyptians, in order that
they should be disposed to follow him so as to be delivered out of
bondage. It was necessary that Romulus should not remain in Alba, and
that he should be abandoned at his birth, in order that he should become
King of Rome and founder of the fatherland. It was necessary that Cyrus
should find the Persians discontented with the government of the Medes,
and the Medes soft and effeminate through their long peace. Theseus
could not have shown his ability had he not found the Athenians
dispersed. These opportunities, therefore, made those men fortunate, and
their high ability enabled them to recognize the opportunity whereby
their country was ennobled and made famous.

Those who by valorous ways become princes, like these men, acquire a
principality with difficulty, but they keep it with ease. The
difficulties they have in acquiring it arise in part from the new rules
and methods which they are forced to introduce to establish their
government and its security. And it ought to be remembered that there is
nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or
more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction
of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all
those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm
defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises
partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and
partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new
things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens
that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they
do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise
that the prince is endangered along with them.

It is necessary, therefore, if we desire to discuss this matter
thoroughly, to inquire whether these innovators can rely on themselves
or have to depend on others: that is to say, whether, to consummate
their enterprise, have they to use prayers or can they use force? In the
first instance they always succeed badly, and never compass anything;
but when they can rely on themselves and use force, then they are rarely
endangered. Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the
unarmed ones have been destroyed. Besides the reasons mentioned, the
nature of the people is variable, and whilst it is easy to persuade
them, it is difficult to fix them in that persuasion. And thus it is
necessary to take such measures that, when they believe no longer, it
may be possible to make them believe by force.

If Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus had been unarmed they could not
have enforced their constitutions for long -- as happened in our time to
Fra Girolamo Savonarola, who was ruined with his new order of things
immediately the multitude believed in him no longer, and he had no means
of keeping steadfast those who believed or of making the unbelievers to
believe. Therefore such as these have great difficulties in consummating
their enterprise, for all their dangers are in the ascent, yet with
ability they will overcome them; but when these are overcome, and those
who envied them their success are exterminated, they will begin to be
respected, and they will continue afterwards powerful, secure, honoured,
and happy.

To these great examples I wish to add a lesser one; still it bears some
resemblance to them, and I wish it to suffice me for all of a like kind:
it is Hiero the Syracusan. This man rose from a private station to be
Prince of Syracuse, nor did he, either, owe anything to fortune but
opportunity; for the Syracusans, being oppressed, chose him for their
captain, afterwards he was rewarded by being made their prince. He was
of so great ability, even as a private citizen, that one who writes of
him says he wanted nothing but a kingdom to be a king. This man
abolished the old soldiery, organized the new, gave up old alliances,
made new ones; and as he had his own soldiers and allies, on such
foundations he was able to build any edifice: thus, whilst he had
endured much trouble in acquiring, he had but little in keeping.



THOSE who solely by good fortune become princes from being private
citizens have little trouble in rising, but much in keeping atop; they
have not any difficulties on the way up, because they fly, but they have
many when they reach the summit. Such are those to whom some state is
given either for money or by the favour of him who bestows it; as
happened to many in Greece, in the cities of Ionia and of the
Hellespont, where princes were made by Darius, in order that they might
hold the cities both for his security and his glory; as also were those
emperors who, by the corruption of the soldiers, from being citizens
came to empire. Such stand simply upon the goodwill and the fortune of
him who has elevated them -- two most inconstant and unstable things.
Neither have they the knowledge requisite for the position; because,
unless they are men of great worth and ability, it is not reasonable to
expect that they should know how to command, having always lived in a
private condition; besides, they cannot hold it because they have not
forces which they can keep friendly and faithful.

States that rise unexpectedly, then, like all other things in nature
which are born and grow rapidly, cannot have their foundations and
relations with other states fixed in such a way that the first storm
will not overthrow them; unless, as is said, those who unexpectedly
become princes are men of so much ability that they know they have to be
prepared at once to hold that which fortune has thrown into their laps,
and that those foundations, which others have laid before they became
princes, they must lay afterwards.

Concerning these two methods of rising to be a prince by ability or
fortune, I wish to adduce two examples within our own recollection, and
these are Francesco Sforza and Cesare Borgia. Francesco, by proper means
and with great ability, from being a private person rose to be Duke of
Milan, and that which he had acquired with a thousand anxieties he kept
with little trouble. On the other hand, Cesare Borgia, called by the
people Duke Valentino, acquired his state during the ascendancy of his
father, and on its decline he lost it, notwithstanding that he had taken
every measure and done all that ought to be done by a wise and able man
to fix firmly his roots in the states which the arms and fortunes of
others had bestowed on him.

Because, as is stated above, he who has not first laid his foundations
may be able with great ability to lay them afterwards, but they will be
laid with trouble to the architect and danger to the building. If,
therefore, all the steps taken by the duke be considered, it will be
seen that he laid solid foundations for his future power, and I do not
consider it superfluous to discuss them, because I do not know what
better precepts to give a new prince than the example of his actions;
and if his dispositions were of no avail, that was not his fault, but
the extraordinary and extreme malignity of fortune.

Alexander VI, in wishing to aggrandize the duke, his son, had many
immediate and prospective difficulties. Firstly, he did not see his way
to make him master of any state that was not a state of the Church; and
if he was willing to rob the Church he knew that the Duke of Milan and
the Venetians would not consent, because Faenza and Rimini were already
under the protection of the Venetians. Besides this, he saw the arms of
Italy, especially those by which he might have been assisted, in hands
that would fear the aggrandizement of the Pope, namely, the Orsini and
the Colonna and their following. It behoved him, therefore, to upset
this state of affairs and embroil the powers, so as to make himself
securely master of part of their states. This was easy for him to do,
because he found the Venetians, moved by other reasons, inclined to
bring back the French into Italy; he would not only not oppose this, but
he would render it more easy by dissolving the former marriage of King
Louis. Therefore the king came into Italy with the assistance of the
Venetians and the consent of Alexander. He was no sooner in Milan than
the Pope had soldiers from him for the attempt on the Romagna, which
yielded to him on the reputation of the king. The duke, therefore,
having acquired the Romagna and beaten the Colonna, while wishing to
hold that and to advance further, was hindered by two things: the one,
his forces did not appear loyal to him, the other, the goodwill of
France: that is to say, he feared that the forces of the Orsini, which
was using, would not stand to him, that not only might they hinder him
from winning more, but might themselves seize what he had won, and that
the King might also do the same. Of the Orsini he had a warning when,
after taking Faenza and attacking Bologna, he saw them go very
unwillingly to that attack. And as to the king, he learned his mind when
he himself, after taking the duchy of Urbino, attacked Tuscany, and the
king made him desist from that undertaking; hence the duke decided to
depend no more upon the arms and the luck of others.

For the first thing he weakened the Orsini and Colonna parties in Rome,
by gaining to himself all their adherents who were gentlemen, making
them his gentlemen, giving them good pay, and, according to their rank,
honouring them with office and command in such a way that in a few
months all attachment to the factions was destroyed and turned entirely
to the duke. After this he awaited an opportunity to crush the Orsini,
having scattered the adherents of the Colonna. This came to him soon and
he used it well; for the Orsini, perceiving at length that the
aggrandizement of the duke and the Church was ruin to them, called a
meeting at Magione, in the territory of Perugia. From this sprung the
rebellion at Urbino and the tumults in the Romagna, with endless dangers
to the duke, all of which he overcame with the help of the French.
Having restored his authority, not to leave it at risk by trusting
either to the French or other outside forces, he had recourse to his
wiles, and he knew so well how to conceal his mind that, by the
mediation of Signor Paolo [Orsini] -- whom the duke did not fail to
secure with all kinds of attention, giving him money, apparel, and
horses -- the Orsini were reconciled, so that their simplicity brought
them into his power at Sinigaglia. Having exterminated the leaders, and
turned their partisans into his friends, the duke had laid sufficiently
good foundations to his power, having all the Romagna and the duchy of
Urbino; and the people now beginning to appreciate their prosperity, he
gained them all over to himself. And as this point is worthy of notice,
and to be imitated by others, I am not willing to leave it out.

When the duke occupied the Romagna he found it under the rule of weak
masters, who rather plundered their subjects than ruled them, and gave
them more cause for disunion than for union, so that the country was
full of robbery, quarrels, and every kind of violence; and so, wishing
to bring back peace and obedience to authority, he considered it
necessary to give it a good governor. Thereupon he promoted Messer
Ramiro d'Orco [de Lorqua], a swift and cruel man, to whom he gave the
fullest power. This man in a short time restored peace and unity with
the greatest success. Afterwards the duke considered that it was not
advisable to confer such excessive authority, for he had no doubt but
that he would become odious, so he set up a court of judgment in the
country, under a most excellent president, wherein all cities had their
advocates. And because he knew that the past severity had caused some
hatred against himself, so, to clear himself in the minds of the people,
and gain them entirely to himself, he desired to show that, if any
cruelty had been practised, it had not originated with him, but in the
natural sternness of the minister. Under this pretence he took Ramiro,
and one morning caused him to be executed and left on the piazza at
Cesena with the block and a bloody knife at his side. The barbarity of
this spectacle caused the people to be at once satisfied and dismayed.

But let us return whence we started. I say that the duke, finding
himself now sufficiently powerful and partly secured from immediate
dangers by having armed himself in his own way, and having in a great
measure crushed those forces in his vicinity that could injure him if he
wished to proceed with his conquest, had next to consider France, for he
knew that the king, who too late was aware of his mistake, would not
support him. And from this time he began to seek new alliances and to
temporize with France in the expedition which she was making towards the
kingdom of Naples against the Spaniards who were besieging Gaeta. It was
his intention to secure himself against them, and this he would have
quickly accomplished had Alexander lived.

Such was his line of action as to present affairs. But as to the future
he had to fear, in the first place, that a new successor to the Church
might not be friendly to him and might seek to take from him that which
Alexander had given him, so he decided to act in four ways. Firstly, by
exterminating the families of those lords whom he had despoiled, so as
to take away that pretext from the Pope. Secondly, by winning to himself
all the gentlemen of Rome, so as to be able to curb the Pope with their
aid, as has been observed. Thirdly, by converting the college more to
himself. Fourthly, by acquiring so much power before the Pope should die
that he could by his own measures resist the first shock. Of these four
things, at the death of Alexander, he had accomplished three. For he had
killed as many of the dispossessed lords as he could lay hands on, and
few had escaped; he had won over the Roman gentlemen, and he had the
most numerous party in the college. And as to any fresh acquisition, he
intended to become master of Tuscany, for he already possessed Perugia
and Piombino, and Pisa was under his protection. And as he had no longer
to study France (for the French were already driven out of the kingdom
of Naples by the Spaniards, and in this way both were compelled to buy
his goodwill), he pounced down upon Pisa. After this, Lucca and Siena
yielded at once, partly through hatred and partly through fear of the
Florentines; and the Florentines would have had no remedy had he
continued to prosper, as he was prospering the year that Alexander died,
for he had acquired so much power and reputation that he would have
stood by himself, and no longer have depended on the luck and the forces
of others, but solely on his own power and ability.

But Alexander died five years after he had first drawn the sword. He
left the duke with the state of Romagna alone consolidated, with the
rest in the air, between two most powerful hostile armies, and sick unto
death. Yet there were in the duke such boldness and ability, and he knew
so well how men are to be won or lost, and so firm were the foundations
which in so short a time he had laid, that if he had not had those
armies on his back, or if he had been in good health, he would have
overcome all difficulties. And it is seen that his foundations were
good, for the Romagna awaited him for more than a month. In Rome,
although but half alive, he remained secure; and whilst the Baglioni,
the Vitelli, and the Orsini might come to Rome, they could not effect
anything against him. If he could not have made Pope him whom he wished,
at least the one whom he did not wish would not have been elected. But
if he had been in sound health at the death of Alexander, everything
would have been easy to him. On the day that Julius II was elected, he
told me that he had thought of everything that might occur at the death
of his father, and had provided a remedy for all, except that he had
never anticipated that, when the death did happen, he himself would be
on the point to die.

When all the actions of the duke are recalled, I do not know how to
blame him, but rather it appears to me, as I have said, that I ought to
offer him for imitation to all those who, by the fortune or the arms of
others, are raised to government. Because he, having a lofty spirit and
far-reaching aims, could not have regulated his conduct otherwise, and
only the shortness of the life of Alexander and his own sickness
frustrated his designs. Therefore, he who considers it necessary to
secure himself in his new principality, to win friends, to overcome
either by force or fraud, to make himself beloved and feared by the
people, to be followed and revered by the soldiers, to exterminate those
who have power or reason to hurt him, to change the old order of things
for new, to be severe and gracious, magnanimous and liberal, to destroy
a disloyal soldiery and to create new, to maintain friendship with kings
and princes in such a way that they must help him with zeal and offend
with caution, cannot find a more lively example than the actions of this

Only can he be blamed for the election of Julius II, in whom he made a
bad choice, because, as is said, not being able to elect a Pope to his
own mind, he could have hindered any other from being elected Pope; and
he ought never to have consented to the election of any cardinal whom he
had injured or who had cause to fear him if they became pontiffs. For
men injure either from fear or hatred. Those whom he had injured,
amongst others, were San Pietro ad Vincula, Colonna, San Giorgio, and
Ascanio. [1] Any one of the others, on becoming Pope, would have had to
fear him, Rouen and the Spaniards excepted; the latter from their
relationship and obligations, the former from his influence, the kingdom
of France having relations with him. Therefore, above everything, the
duke ought to have created a Spaniard Pope, and, failing him, he ought
to have consented to Rouen and not San Pietro ad Vincula. He who
believes that new benefits will cause great personages to forget old
injuries is deceived. Therefore, the duke erred in his choice, and it
was the cause of his ultimate ruin.

1. Julius II had been Cardinal of San Pietro ad Vincula; San Giorgio was
Raffaells Riaxis, and Ascanio was Cardinal Ascanio Sforza.



ALTHOUGH a prince may rise from a private station in two ways, neither
of which can be entirely attributed to fortune or genius, yet it is
manifest to me that I must not be silent on them, although one could be
more copiously treated when I discuss republics. These methods are when,
either by some wicked or nefarious ways, one ascends to the
principality, or when by the favour of his fellow-citizens a private
person becomes the prince of his country. And speaking of the first
method, it will be illustrated by two examples -- one ancient, the other
modern -- and without entering further into the subject, I consider
these two examples will suffice those who may be compelled to follow

Agathocles, the Sicilian, became King of Syracuse not only from a
private but from a low and abject position. This man, the son of a
potter, through all the changes in his fortunes always led an infamous
life. Nevertheless, he accompanied his infamies with so much ability of
mind and body that, having devoted himself to the military profession,
he rose through its ranks to be Praetor of Syracuse. Being established
in that position, and having deliberately resolved to make himself
prince and to seize by violence, without obligation to others, that
which had been conceded to him by assent, he came to an understanding
for this purpose with Hamilcar, the Carthaginian, who, with his army,
was fighting in Sicily. One morning he assembled the people and senate
of Syracuse, as if he had to discuss with them things relating to the
Republic, and at a given signal the soldiers killed all the senators and
the richest of the people; these dead, he seized and held the princedom
of that city without any civil commotion. And although he was twice
routed by the Carthaginians, and ultimately besieged, yet not only was
he able to defend his city, but leaving part of his men for its defence,
with the others he attacked Africa, and in a short time raised the siege
of Syracuse. The Carthaginians, reduced to extreme necessity, were
compelled to come to terms with Agathocles, and, leaving Sicily to him,
had to be content with the possession of Africa.

Therefore, he who considers the actions and the genius of this man will
see nothing, or little, which can be attributed to fortune, inasmuch as
he attained pre-eminence, as is shown above, not by the favour of any
one, but step by step in the military profession, which steps were
gained with a thousand troubles and perils, and were afterwards boldly
held by him with many hazards and dangers. Yet it cannot be called
talent to slay fellow-citizens, to deceive friends, to be without faith,
without mercy, without religion; such methods may gain empire, but not
glory. Still, if the courage of Agathocles in entering into and
extricating himself from dangers be considered, together with his
greatness of mind in enduring overcoming hardships, it cannot be seen
why he should be esteemed less than the most notable captain.
Nevertheless, his barbarous cruelty and inhumanity with infinite
wickednesses do not permit him to be celebrated among the most excellent
men. What he achieved cannot be attributed either to fortune or to

In our times, during the rule of Alexander VI, Oliverotto da Fermo,
having been left an orphan many years before, was brought up by his
maternal uncle, Giovanni Fogliani, and in the early days of his youth
sent to fight under Paolo Vitelli, that, being trained under his
discipline, he might attain some high position in the military
profession. After Paolo died, he fought under his brother Vitellozzo,
and in a very short time, being endowed with wit and a vigorous body and
mind, he became the first man in his profession. But it appearing to him
a paltry thing to serve under others, he resolved, with the aid of some
citizens of Fermo, to whom the slavery of their country was dearer than
its liberty, and with the help of the Vitelli, to seize Fermo. So he
wrote to Giovanni Fogliani that, having been away from home for many
years, he wished to visit him and his city, and in some measure to look
into his patrimony; and although he had not laboured to acquire anything
except honour, yet, in order that the citizens should see he had not
spent his time in vain, he desired to come honourably, so would be
accompanied by one hundred horsemen, his friends and retainers; and he
entreated Giovanni to arrange that he should be received honourably by
the citizens of Fermo, all of which would be not only to his honour, but
also to that of Giovanni himself, who had brought him up.

Giovanni, therefore, did not fail in any attentions due to his nephew,
and he caused him to be honourably received by the Fermans, and he
lodged him in his own house, where, having passed some days, and having
arranged what was necessary for his wicked designs, Oliverotto gave a
solemn banquet to which he invited Giovanni Fogliani and the chiefs of
Fermo. When the viands and all the other entertainments that are usual
in such banquets were finished, Oliverotto artfully began certain grave
discourses, speaking of the greatness of Pope Alexander and his son
Cesare, and of their enterprises, to which discourse Giovanni and others
answered; but he rose at once, saying that such matters ought to be
discussed in a more private place, and he betook himself to a chamber,
whither Giovanni and the rest of the citizens went in after him. No
sooner were they seated than soldiers issued from secret places and
slaughtered Giovanni and the rest. After these murders Oliverotto,
mounted on horseback, rode up and down the town and besieged the chief
magistrate in the palace, so that in fear the people were forced to obey
him, and to form a government, of which he made himself the prince. He
killed all the malcontents who were able to injure him, and strengthened
himself with new civil and military ordinances, in such a way that, in
the year during which he held the principality, not only was he secure
in the city of Fermo, but he had become formidable to all his
neighbours. And his destruction would have been as difficult as that of
Agathocles if he had not allowed himself to be overreached by Cesare
Borgia, who took him with the Orsini and Vitelli at Sinigaglia, as was
stated above. Thus one year after he had committed this parricide, he
was strangled, together with Vitellozzo, whom he had made his leader in
valour and wickedness.

Some may wonder how it can happen that Agathocles, and his like, after
infinite treacheries and cruelties, should live for long secure in his
country, and defend himself from external enemies, and never be
conspired against by his own citizens; seeing that many others, by means
of cruelty, have never been able even in peaceful times to hold the
state, still less in the doubtful times of war. I believe that this
follows from severities being badly or properly used. Those may be
called properly used, if of evil it is lawful to speak well, that are
applied at one blow and are necessary to one's security, and that are
not persisted in afterwards unless they can be turned to the advantage
of the subjects. The badly employed are those which, notwithstanding
they may be few in the commencement, multiply with time rather than
decrease. Those who practise the first system are able, by aid of God or
man, to mitigate in some degree their rule, as Agathocles did. It is
impossible for those who follow the other to maintain themselves.

Hence it is to be remarked that, in seizing a state, the usurper ought
to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him
to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat
them daily; and thus by not unsettling men he will be able to reassure
them, and win them to himself by benefits. He who does otherwise, either
from timidity or evil advice, is always compelled to keep the knife in
his hand; neither can he rely on his subjects, nor can they attach
themselves to him, owing to their continued and repeated wrongs. For
injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less,
they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that
the flavour of them may last longer.

And above all things, a prince ought to live amongst his people in such
a way that no unexpected circumstances, whether of good or evil, shall
make him change; because if the necessity for this comes in troubled
times, you are too late for harsh measures; and mild ones will not help
you, for they will be considered as forced from you, and no one will be
under any obligation to you for them.



BUT coming to the other point -- where a leading citizen becomes the
prince of his country, not by wickedness or any intolerable violence,
but by the favour of his fellow citizens -- this may be called a civil
principality: nor is genius or fortune altogether necessary to attain to
it, but rather a happy shrewdness. I say then that such a principality
is obtained either by the favour of the people or by the favour of the
nobles. Because in all cities these two distinct parties are found, and
from this it arises that the people do not wish to be ruled nor
oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles wish to rule and oppress the
people; and from these two opposite desires there arises in cities one
of three results, either a principality, self-government, or anarchy.

A principality is created either by the people or by the nobles,
accordingly as one or other of them has the opportunity; for the nobles,
seeing they cannot withstand the people, begin to cry up the reputation
of one of themselves, and they make him a prince, so that under his
shadow they can give vent to their ambitions. The people, finding they
cannot resist the nobles, also cry up the reputation of one of
themselves, and make him a prince so as to be defended by his authority.
He who obtains sovereignty by the assistance of the nobles maintains
himself with more difficulty than he who comes to it by the aid of the
people, because the former finds himself with many around him who
consider themselves his equals, and because of this he can neither rule
nor manage them to his liking. But he who reaches sovereignty by popular
favour finds himself alone, and has none around him, or few, who are not
prepared to obey him.

Besides this, one cannot by fair dealing, and without injury to others,
satisfy the nobles, but you can satisfy the people, for their object is
more righteous than that of the nobles, the latter wishing to oppress,
whilst the former only desire not to be oppressed. It is to be added
also that a prince can never secure himself against a hostile people,
because of their being too many, whilst from the nobles he can secure
himself, as they are few in number. The worst that a prince may expect
from a hostile people is to be abandoned by them; but from hostile
nobles he has not only to fear abandonment, but also that they will rise
against him; for they, being in these affairs more far-seeing and
astute, always come forward in time to save themselves, and to obtain
favours from him whom they expect to prevail. Further, the prince is
compelled to live always with the same people, but he can do well
without the same nobles, being able to make and unmake them daily, and
to give or take away authority when it pleases him.

Therefore, to make this point clearer, I say that the nobles ought to be
looked at mainly in two ways: that is to say, they either shape their
course in such a way as binds them entirely to your fortune, or they do
not. Those who so bind themselves, and are not rapacious, ought to be
honoured and loved; those who do not bind themselves may be dealt with
in two ways; they may fail to do this through pusillanimity and a
natural want of courage, in which case you ought to make use of them,
especially of those who are of good counsel; and thus, whilst in
prosperity you honour yourself, in adversity you have not to fear them.
But when for their own ambitious ends they shun binding themselves, it
is a token that they are giving more thought to themselves than to you,
and a prince ought to guard against such, and to fear them as if they
were open enemies, because in adversity they always help to ruin him.

Therefore, one who becomes a prince through the favour of the people
ought to keep them friendly, and this he can easily do seeing they only
ask not to be oppressed by him. But one who, in opposition to the
people, becomes a prince by the favour of the nobles, ought, above
everything, to seek to win the people over to himself, and this he may
easily do if he takes them under his protection. Because men, when they
receive good from him of whom they were expecting evil, are bound more
closely to their benefactor; thus the people quickly become more devoted
to him than if he had been raised to the principality by their favours;
and the prince can win their affections in many ways, but as these vary
according to the circumstances one cannot give fixed rules, so I omit
them; but, I repeat, it is necessary for a prince to have the people
friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity.

Nabis, Prince of the Spartans, sustained the attack of all Greece, and
of a victorious Roman army, and against them he defended his country and
his government; and for the overcoming of this peril it was only
necessary for him to make himself secure against a few, but this would
not have been sufficient if the people had been hostile. And do not let
any one impugn this statement with the trite proverb that 'He who builds
on the people, builds on the mud,' for this is true when a private
citizen makes a foundation there, and persuades himself that the people
will free him when he is oppressed by his enemies or by the magistrates;
wherein he would find himself very often deceived, as happened to the
Gracchi in Rome and to Messer Giorgio Scali in Florence. But granted a
prince who has established himself as above, who can command, and is a
man of courage, undismayed in adversity, who does not fail in other
qualifications, and who, by his resolution and energy, keeps the whole
people encouraged -- such a one will never find himself deceived in
them, and it will be shown that he has laid his foundations well.

These principalities are liable to danger when they are passing from the
civil to the absolute order of government, for such princes either rule
personally or through magistrates. In the latter case their government
is weaker and more insecure, because it rests entirely on the goodwill
of those citizens who are raised to the magistracy, and who, especially
in troubled times, can destroy the government with great ease, either by
intrigue or open defiance; and the prince has not the chance amid
tumults to exercise absolute authority, because the citizens and
subjects, accustomed to receive orders from magistrates, are not of a
mind to obey him amid these confusions, and there will always be in
doubtful times a scarcity of men whom he can trust. For such a prince
cannot rely upon what he observes in quiet times, when citizens had need
of the state, because then every one agrees with him; they all promise,
and when death is far distant they all wish to die for him; but in
troubled times, when the state has need of its citizens, then he finds
but few. And so much the more is this experiment dangerous, inasmuch as
it can only be tried once. Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a
course that his citizens will always in every sort and kind of
circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always
find them faithful.



IT IS necessary to consider another point in examining the character of
these principalities: that is, whether a prince has such power that, in
case of need, he can support himself with his own resources, or whether
he has always need of the assistance of others. And to make this quite
clear I say that I consider those are able to support themselves by
their own resources who can, either by abundance of men or money, raise
a sufficient army to join battle against any one who comes to attack
them; and I consider those always to have need of others who cannot show
themselves against the enemy in the field, but are forced to defend
themselves by sheltering behind walls. The first case has been
discussed, but we will speak of it again should it recur. In the second
case one can say nothing except to encourage such princes to provision
and fortify their towns, and not on any account to defend the country.
And whoever shall fortify his town well, and shall have managed the
other concerns of his subjects in the way stated above, and to be often
repeated, will never be attacked without great caution, for men are
always adverse to enterprises where difficulties can be seen, and it
will be seen not to be an easy thing to attack one who has his town well
fortified, and is not hated by his people.

The cities of Germany are absolutely free, they own but little country
around them, and they yield obedience to the emperor when it suits them,
nor do they fear this or any other power they may have near them,
because they are fortified in such a way that every one thinks the
taking of them by assault would be tedious and difficult, seeing they
have proper ditches and walls, they have sufficient artillery, and they
always keep in public depots enough for one year's eating, drinking, and
firing. And beyond this, to keep the people quiet and without loss to
the state, they always have the means of giving work to the community in
those labours that are the life and strength of the city, and on the
pursuit of which the people are supported; they also hold military
exercises in repute, and moreover have many ordinances to uphold them.

Therefore, a prince who has a strong city, and had not made himself
odious, will not be attacked, or if any one should attack he will only
be driven off with disgrace; again, because that affairs of this world
are so changeable, it is almost impossible to keep an army a whole year
in the field without being interfered with. And whoever should reply: If
the people have property outside the city, and see it burnt, they will
not remain patient, and the long siege and self-interest will make them
forget their prince; to this I answer that a powerful and courageous
prince will overcome all such difficulties by giving at one time hope to
his subjects that the evil will not be for long, at another time fear of
the cruelty of the enemy, then preserving himself adroitly from those
subjects who seem to him to be too bold.

Further, the enemy would naturally on his arrival at once burn and ruin
the country at the time when the spirits of the people are still hot and
ready for the defence; and, therefore, so much the less ought the prince
to hesitate; because after a time, when spirits have cooled, the damage
is already done, the ills are incurred, and there is no longer any
remedy; and therefore they are so much the more ready to unite with
their prince, he appearing to be under obligations to them now that
their houses have been burnt and their possessions ruined in his
defence. For it is the nature of men to be bound by the benefits they
confer as much as by those they receive. Therefore, if everything is
well considered, it wilt not be difficult for a wise prince to keep the
minds of his citizens steadfast from first to last, when he does not
fail to support and defend them.



IT ONLY remains now to speak of ecclesiastical principalities, touching
which all difficulties are prior to getting possession, because they are
acquired either by capacity or good fortune, and they can be held
without either; for they are sustained by the ordinances of religion,
which are so all-powerful, and of such a character that the
principalities may be held no matter how their princes behave and live.
These princes alone have states and do not defend them, they have
subjects and do not rule them; and the states, although unguarded, are
not taken from them, and the subjects, although not ruled, do not care,
and they have neither the desire nor the ability to alienate themselves.
Such principalities only are secure and happy. But being upheld by
powers, to which the human mind cannot reach, I shall speak no more of
them, because, being exalted and maintained by God, it would be the act
of a presumptuous and rash man to discuss them.

Nevertheless, if any one should ask of me how comes it that the Church
has attained such greatness in temporal power, seeing that from
Alexander backwards the Italian potentates (not only those who have been
called potentates, but every baron and lord, though the smallest) have
valued the temporal power very slightly -- yet now a king of France
trembles before it, and it has been able to drive him from Italy, and to
ruin the Venetians -- although this may be very manifest, it does not
appear to me superfluous to recall it in some measure to memory.

Before Charles, King of France, passed into Italy, this country was
under the dominion of the Pope, the Venetians, the King of Naples, the
Duke of Milan, and the Florentines. These potentates had two principal
anxieties: the one, that no foreigner should enter Italy under arms; the
other, that none of themselves should seize more territory. Those about
whom there was the most anxiety were the Pope and the Venetians. To
restrain the Venetians the union of all the others was necessary, as it
was for the defence of Ferrara; and to keep down the Pope they made use
of the barons of Rome, who, being divided into two factions, Orsini and
Colonna, had always a pretext for disorder, and, standing with arms in
their hands under the eyes of the Pontiff, kept the pontificate weak and
powerless. And although there might arise sometimes a courageous pope,
such as Sixtus [IV], yet neither fortune nor wisdom could rid him of
these annoyances. And the short life of a pope is also a cause of
weakness; for in the ten years, which is the average life of a pope, he
can with difficulty lower one of the factions; and if, so to speak, one
pope should almost destroy the Colonna, another would arise hostile to
the Orsini, who would support their opponents, and yet would not have
time to ruin the Orsini. This was the reason why the temporal powers of
the pope were little esteemed in Italy.

Alexander VI arose afterwards, who of all the pontiffs that have ever
been showed how a pope with both money and arms was able to prevail; and
through the instrumentality of the Duke Valentino, and by reason of the
entry of the French, he brought about all those things which I have
discussed above in the actions of the duke. And although his intention
was not to aggrandize the Church, but the duke, nevertheless, what he
did contributed to the greatness of the Church, which, after his death
and the ruin of the duke, became the heir to all his labours.

Pope Julius came afterwards and found the Church strong, possessing all
the Romagna, the barons of Rome reduced to impotence, and, through the
chastisements Alexander, the factions wiped out; he also found the way
open to accumulate money in a manner such as had never been practised
before Alexander's time. Such things Julius not only followed, but
improved upon, and he intended to gain Bologna, to ruin the Venetians,
and to drive the French out of Italy. All of these enterprises prospered
with him, and so much the more to his credit, inasmuch as he did
everything to strengthen the Church and not any private person. He kept
also the Orsini and Colonna factions within the bounds in which he found
them; and although there was among them some mind to make disturbance,
nevertheless he held two things firm: the one, the greatness of the
church, with which he terrified them; and the other, not allowing them
to have their own cardinals, who caused the disorders among them. For
whenever these factions have their cardinals they do not remain quiet
for long, because cardinals foster the factions in Rome and out of it,
and the barons are compelled to support them, and thus from the
ambitions of prelates arise disorders and tumults among the barons. For
these reasons his Holiness Pope Leo found the pontificate most powerful,
and it is to be hoped that, if others made it great in arms, he will
make it still greater and more venerated by his goodness and infinite
other virtues.



HAVING discoursed particularly on the characteristics of such
principalities as in the beginning I proposed to discuss, and having
considered in some degree the causes of their being good or bad, and
having shown the methods by which many have sought to acquire them and
to hold them, it now remains for me to discuss generally the means of
offence and defence which belong to each of them.

We have seen above how necessary it is for a prince to have his
foundations well laid, otherwise it follows of necessity he will go to
ruin. The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or
composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws
where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well
armed they have good laws. I shall leave the laws out of the discussion
and shall speak of the arms.

I say, therefore, that the arms with which a prince defends his state
are either his own, or they are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or mixed.
Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds
his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for
they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful,
valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the
fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so
long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by
the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for
keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to
make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your
soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take
themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble
to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by
resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they
formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet
when the foreigners came they showed what they were. Thus it was that
Charles, King of France, was allowed to seize Italy with chalk in hand;
[1] and he who told us that our sins were the cause of it told the
truth, but they were not the sins he imagined, but those which I have
related. And as they were the sins of princes, it is the princes who
have also suffered the penalty.

I wish to demonstrate further the infelicity of these arms. The
mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are,
you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own
greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others
contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you are
ruined in the usual way.

And if it be urged that whoever is armed will act in the same way,
whether mercenary or not, I reply that when arms have to be resorted to,
either by a prince or a republic, then the prince ought to go in person
and perform the duty of captain; the republic has to send its citizens,
and when one is sent who does not turn out satisfactorily, it ought to
recall him, and when one is worthy, to hold him by the laws so that he
does not leave the command. And experience has shown princes and
republics, single-handed, making the greatest progress, and mercenaries
doing nothing except damage; and it is more difficult to bring a
republic, armed with its own arms, under the sway of one of its citizens
than it is to bring one armed with foreign arms. Rome and Sparta stood
for many ages armed and free. The Switzers are completely armed and
quite free.

Of ancient mercenaries, for example, there are the Carthaginians, who
were oppressed by their mercenary soldiers after the first war with the
Romans, although the Carthaginians had their own citizens for captains.
After the death of Epaminondas, Philip of Macedon was made captain of
their soldiers by the Thebans, and after victory he took away their

Duke Filippo being dead, the Milanese enlisted Francesco Sforza against
the Venetians, and he, having overcome the enemy at Caravaggio, allied
himself with them to crush the Milanese, his masters. His father,
Sforza, having been engaged by Queen Johanna of Naples, left her
unprotected, so that she was forced to throw herself into the arms of
the King of Aragon, in order to save her kingdom. And if the Venetians
and Florentines formerly extended their dominions by these arms, and yet
their captains did not make themselves princes, but have defended them,
I reply that the Florentines in this case have been favoured by chance,
for of the able captains, of whom they might have stood in fear, some
have not conquered, some have been opposed, and others have turned their
ambitions elsewhere. One who did not conquer was Giovanni Acuto, [2] and
since he did not conquer his fidelity cannot be proved; but every one
will acknowledge that, had he conquered, the Florentines would have
stood at his discretion. Sforza had the Bracceschi always against him,
so they watched each other. Francesco turned his ambition to Lombardy;
Braccio against the Church and the kingdom of Naples. But let us come to
that which happened a short while ago. The Florentines appointed as
their captain Paolo Vitelli, a most prudent man, who from a private
position had risen to the greatest renown. If this man had taken Pisa,
nobody can deny that it would have been proper for the Florentines to
keep in with him, for if he became the soldier of their enemies they had
no means of resisting, and if they held to him they must obey him. The
Venetians, if their achievements are considered, will be seen to have
acted safely and gloriously so long as they sent to war their own men,
when with armed gentlemen and plebeians they did valiantly. This was
before they turned to enterprises on land, but when they began to fight
on land they forsook this virtue and followed the custom of Italy. And
in the beginning of their expansion on land, through not having much
territory, and because of their great reputation, they had not much to
fear from their captains; but when they expanded, as under Carmignola,
they had a taste of this mistake; for, having found him a most valiant
man (they beat the Duke of Milan under his leadership), and, on the
other hand, knowing how lukewarm he was in the war, they feared they
would no longer conquer under him, and for this reason they were not
willing, nor were they able, to let him go; and so, not to lose again
that which they had acquired, they were compelled, in order to secure
themselves, to murder him. They had afterwards for their captains
Bartolomeo da Bergamo, Roberto da San Severino, the Count of Pitigliano,
and the like, under whom they had to dread loss and not gain, as
happened afterwards at Vaila, where in one battle they lost that which
in eight hundred years they had acquired with so much trouble. Because
from such arms conquests come but slowly, long delayed and
inconsiderable, but the losses sudden and portentous.

And as with these examples I have reached Italy, which has been ruled
for many years by mercenaries, I wish to discuss them more seriously, in
order that, having seen their rise and progress, one may be better
prepared to counteract them. You must understand that the empire has
recently come to be repudiated in Italy, that the Pope has acquired more
temporal power, and that Italy has been divided up into more states, for
the reason that many of the great cities took up arms against their
nobles, who, formerly favoured by the emperor, were oppressing them,
whilst the Church was favouring them so as to gain authority in temporal
power: in many others their citizens became princes. From this it came
to pass that Italy fell partly into the hands of the Church and of
republics, and, the Church consisting of priests and the republic of
citizens unaccustomed to arms, both commenced to enlist foreigners.

The first who gave renown to this soldiery was Alberigo da Conio, a
native of the Romagna. From the school of this man sprang, among others,
Braccio and Sforza, who in their time were the arbiters of Italy. After
these came all the other captains who till now have directed the arms of
Italy; and the end of all their valour has been, that she has been
overrun by Charles, robbed by Louis, ravaged by Ferdinand, and insulted
by the Switzers. The principle that has guided them has been, first, to
lower the credit of infantry so that they might increase their own. They
did this because, subsisting on their pay and without territory, they
were unable to support many soldiers, and a few infantry did not give
them any authority; so they were led to employ cavalry, with a moderate
force of which they were maintained and honoured; and affairs were
brought to such a pass that, in an army of twenty thousand soldiers,
there were not to be found two thousand foot soldiers. They had, besides
this, used every art to lessen fatigue and danger to themselves and
their soldiers, not killing in the fray, but taking prisoners and
liberating without ransom. They did not attack towns at night, nor did
the garrisons of the towns attack encampments at night; they did not
surround the camp either with stockade or ditch, nor did they campaign
in the winter. All these things were permitted by their military rules,
and devised by them to avoid, as I have said, both fatigue and dangers;
thus they have brought Italy to slavery and contempt.

1. With which to chalk up the billets for his soldiers.

2. As Sir John Hawkwood, the English leader of mercenaries, was called
by the Italians.



AUXILIARIES, which are the other useless arm, are employed when a prince
is called in with his forces to aid and defend, as was done by Pope
Julius in the most recent times; for he, having, in the enterprise
against Ferrara, had poor proof of his mercenaries, turned to
auxiliaries, and stipulated with Ferdinand, King of Spain, for his
assistance with men and arms. These arms may be useful and good in
themselves, but for him who calls them in they are always
disadvantageous; for losing, one is undone, and winning, one is their

And although ancient histories may be full of examples, I do not wish to
leave this recent one of Pope Julius II, the peril of which cannot fall
to be perceived; for he, wishing to get Ferrara, threw himself entirely
into the hands of the foreigner. But his good fortune brought about a
third event, so that he did not reap the fruit of his rash choice;
because, having auxiliaries routed at Ravenna, and the Switzers having
risen and driven out the conquerors (against all expectation, both his
and others), it so came to pass that he did not become prisoner to his
enemies, they having fled, nor to his auxiliaries, he having conquered
by other arms than theirs.

The Florentines, being entirely without arms, sent ten thousand
Frenchmen to take Pisa, whereby they ran more danger than at any other
time of their troubles.

The Emperor of Constantinople, to oppose his neighbours, sent ten
thousand Turks into Greece, who, on the war being finished, were not
willing to quit; this was the beginning of the servitude of Greece to
the infidels.

Therefore, let him who has no desire to conquer make use of these arms,
for they are much more hazardous than mercenaries, because with them the
ruin is ready made; they are all united, all yield obedience to others;
but with mercenaries, when they have conquered, more time and better
opportunities are needed to injure you; they are not all of one
community, they are found and paid by you, and a third party, which you
have made their head, is not able all at once to assume enough authority
to injure you. In conclusion, in mercenaries dastardy is most dangerous;
in auxiliaries, valour. The wise prince, therefore, has always avoided
these arms and turned to his own; and has been willing rather to lose
with them than to conquer with others, not deeming that a real victory
which is gained with the arms of others.

I shall never hesitate to cite Cesare Borgia and his actions. This duke
entered the Romagna with auxiliaries, taking there only French soldiers,
and with them he captured Imola and Forli; but afterwards, such forces
not appearing to him reliable, he turned to mercenaries, discerning less
danger in them, and enlisted the Orsini and Vitelli; whom presently, on
handling and finding them doubtful, unfaithful, and dangerous, he
destroyed and turned to his own men. And the difference between one and
the other of these forces can easily be seen when one considers the
difference there was in the reputation of the duke, when he had the
French, when he had the Orsini and Vitelli, and when he relied on his
own soldiers, on whose fidelity he could always count and found it ever
increasing; he was never esteemed more highly than when every one saw
that he was complete master of his own forces.

I was not intending to go beyond Italian and recent examples, but I am
unwilling to leave out Hiero, the Syracusan, he being one of those I
have named above. This man, as I have said, made head of the army by the
Syracusans, soon found out that a mercenary soldiery, constituted like
our Italian condottieri, was of no use; and it appearing to him that he
could neither keep them nor let them go, he had them all cut to pieces,
and afterwards made war with his own forces and not with aliens.

I wish also to recall to memory an instance from the Old Testament
applicable to this subject. David offered himself to Saul to fight with
Goliath, the Philistine champion, and, to give him courage, Saul armed
him with his own weapons; which David rejected as soon as he had them on
his back, saying he could make no use of them, and that he wished to
meet the enemy with his sling and his knife. In conclusion, the arms of
others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down, or they bind
you fast.

Charles VII, the father of King Louis XI, having by good fortune and
valour liberated France from the English, recognized the necessity of
being armed with forces of his own, and he established in his kingdom
ordinances concerning men-at-arms and infantry. Afterwards his son, King
Louis, abolished the infantry and began to enlist the Switzers, which
mistake, followed by others, is, as is now seen, a source of peril to
that kingdom; because, having raised the reputation of the Switzers, he
has entirely diminished the value of his own arms, for he has destroyed
the infantry altogether; and his men-at-arms he has subordinated to
others, for, being as they are so accustomed to fight along with
Switzers, it does not appear that they can now conquer without them.
Hence it arises that the French cannot stand against the Switzers, and
without the Switzers they do not come off well against others. The
armies of the French have thus become mixed, partly mercenary and partly
national, both of which arms together are much better than mercenaries
alone or auxiliaries alone, yet much inferior to one's own forces. And
this example proves it, the kingdom of France would be unconquerable if
the ordinance of Charles had been enlarged or maintained.

But the scanty wisdom of man, on entering into an affair which looks
well at first, cannot discern the poison that is hidden in it, as I have
said above of hectic fevers. Therefore, if he who rules a principality
cannot recognize evils until they are upon him, he is not truly wise;
and this insight is given to few. And if the first disaster to the Roman
Empire should be examined, it will be found to have commenced only with
the enlisting of the Goths; because from that time the vigour of the
Roman Empire began to decline, and all that valour which had raised it
passed away to others.

I conclude, therefore, that no principality is secure without having its
own forces; on the contrary, it is entirely dependent on good fortune,
not having the valour which in adversity would defend it. And it has
always been the opinion and judgment of wise men that nothing can be so
uncertain or unstable as fame or power not founded on its own strength.
And one's own forces are those which are composed either of subjects,
citizens, or dependants; all others are mercenaries or auxiliaries. And
the way to take ready one's own forces will be easily found if the rules
suggested by me shall be reflected upon, and if one will consider how
Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, and many republics and
princes have armed and organized themselves, to which rules I entirely
commit myself.



A PRINCE ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else
for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the
sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it
not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to
rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is
seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have
lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect
this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the
art. Francesco Sforza, through being martial, from a private person
became Duke of Milan; and the sons, through avoiding the hardships and
troubles of arms, from dukes became private persons. For among other
evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised, and
this is one of those ignominies against which a prince ought to guard
himself, as is shown later on. Because there is nothing proportionate
between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who
is armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that
the unarmed man should be secure among armed servants. Because, there
being in the one disdain and in the other suspicion, it is not possible
for them to work well together. And therefore a prince who does not
understand the art of war, over and above the other misfortunes already
mentioned, cannot be respected by his soldiers, nor can he rely on them.
He ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of
war, and in peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in
war; this he can do in two ways, the one by action, the other by study.

As regards action, he ought above all things to keep his men well
organized and drilled, to follow incessantly the chase, by which he
accustoms his body to hardships, and learns something of the nature of
localities, and gets to find out how the mountains rise, how the valleys
open out, how the plains lie, and to understand the nature of rivers and
marshes, and in all this to take the greatest care. Which knowledge is
useful in two ways. Firstly, he learns to know his country, and is
better able to undertake its defence; afterwards, by means of the
knowledge and observation of that locality, he understands with ease any
other which it may be necessary for him to study hereafter; because the
hills, valleys, and plains, and rivers and marshes that are, for
instance, in Tuscany, have a certain resemblance to those of other
countries, so that with a knowledge of the aspect of one country one can
easily arrive at a knowledge of others. And the prince that lacks this
skill lacks the essential which it is desirable that a captain should
possess, for it teaches him to surprise his enemy, to select quarters,
to lead armies, to array the battle, to besiege towns to advantage.

Philopoemen, Prince of the Achaeans, among other praises which writers
have bestowed on him, is commended because in time of peace he never had
anything in his mind but the rules of war; and when he was in the
country with friends, he often stopped and reasoned with them: "If the
enemy should be upon that hill, and we should find ourselves here with
our army, with whom would be the advantage? How should one best advance
to meet him, keeping the ranks? If we should wish to retreat, how ought
we to set about it? If they should retreat, how ought we to pursue?" And
he would set forth to them, as he went, all the chances that could
befall an army; he would listen to their opinion and state his,
confirming it with reasons, so that by these continual discussions there
could never arise, in time of war, any unexpected circumstances that he
could deal with.

But to exercise the intellect the prince should read histories, and
study there the actions of illustrious men, to see how they have borne
themselves in war, to examine the causes of their victories and defeat,
so as to avoid the latter and imitate the former; and above all do as an
illustrious man did, who took as an exemplar one who had been praised
and famous before him, and whose achievements and deeds he always kept
in his mind, as it is said Alexander the Great imitated Achilles, Caesar
Alexander, Scipio Cyrus. And whoever reads the life of Cyrus, written by
Xenophon, will recognize afterwards in the life of Scipio how that
imitation was his glory, and how in chastity, affability, humanity, and
liberality Scipio conformed to those things which have been written of
Cyrus by Xenophon. A wise prince ought to observe some such rules, and
never in peaceful times stand idle, but increase his resources with
industry in such a way that they may be available to him in adversity,
so that if fortune changes it may find him prepared to resist her blows.



IT REMAINS now to see what ought to be the rules of conduct for a prince
towards subject and friends. And as I know that many have written on
this point, I expect I shall be considered presumptuous in mentioning it
again, especially as in discussing it I shall depart from the methods of
other people. But, it being my intention to write a thing which shall be
useful to him who apprehends it, it appears to me more appropriate to
follow up the real truth of a matter than the imagination of it; for
many have pictured republics and principalities which in fact have never
been known or seen, because how one lives is so far distant from how one
ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be
done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation; for a man who
wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with
what destroys him among so much that is evil.

Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how
to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.
Therefore, putting on one side imaginary things concerning a prince, and
discussing those which are real, I say that all men when they are spoken
of, and chiefly princes for being more highly placed, are remarkable for
some of those qualities which bring them either blame or praise; and
thus it is that one is reputed liberal, another miserly, using a Tuscan
term (because an avaricious person in our language is still he who
desires to possess by robbery, whilst we call one miserly who deprives
himself too much of the use of his own); one is reputed generous, one
rapacious; one cruel, one compassionate; one faithless, another
faithful; one effeminate and cowardly, another bold and brave; one
affable, another haughty; one lascivious, another chaste; one sincere,
another cunning; one hard, another easy; one grave, another frivolous;
one religious, another unbelieving, and the like. And I know that every
one will confess that it would be most praiseworthy in a prince to
exhibit all the above qualities that are considered good; but because
they can neither be entirely possessed nor observed, for human
conditions do not permit it, it is necessary for him to be sufficiently
prudent that he may know how to avoid the reproach of those vices which
would lose him his state; and also to keep himself, if it be possible,
from those which would not lose him it; but this not being possible, he
may with less hesitation abandon himself to them. And again, he need not
make himself uneasy at incurring a reproach for those vices without
which the state can only be saved with difficulty, for if everything is
considered carefully, it will be found that something which looks like
virtue, if followed, would be his ruin; whilst something else, which
looks like vice, yet followed brings him security and prosperity.



COMMENCING then with the first of the above-named characteristics, I say
that it would be well to be reputed liberal. Nevertheless, liberality
exercised in a way that does not bring you the reputation for it,
injures you; for if one exercises it honestly and as it should be
exercised, it may not become known, and you will not avoid the reproach
of its opposite. Therefore, any one wishing to maintain among men the
name of liberal is obliged to avoid no attribute of magnificence; so
that a prince thus inclined will consume in such acts all his property,
and will be compelled in the end, if he wish to maintain the name of
liberal, to unduly weigh down his people, and tax them, and do
everything he can to get money. This will soon make him odious to his
subjects, and becoming poor he will be little valued by any one; thus,
with his liberality, having offended many and rewarded few, he is
affected by the very first trouble and imperilled by whatever may be the
first danger; recognizing this himself, and wishing to draw back from
it, he runs at once into the reproach of being miserly.

Therefore, a prince, not being able to exercise this virtue of
liberality in such a way that it is recognized, except to his cost, if
he is wise he ought not to fear the reputation of being mean, for in
time he will come to be more considered than if liberal, seeing that
with his economy his revenues are enough, that he can defend himself
against all attacks, and is able to engage in enterprises without
burdening his people; thus it comes to pass that he exercises liberality
towards all from whom he does not take, who are numberless, and meanness
towards those to whom he does not give, who are few.

We have not seen great things done in our time except by those who have
been considered mean; the rest have failed. Pope Julius the Second was
assisted in reaching the papacy by a reputation for liberality, yet he
did not strive afterwards to keep it up, when he made war on the King of
France; and he made many wars without imposing any extraordinary tax on
his subjects, for he supplied his additional expenses out of his long
thriftiness. The present King of Spain would not have undertaken or
conquered in so many enterprises if he had been reputed liberal. A
prince, therefore, provided that he has not to rob his subjects, that he
can defend himself, that he does not become poor and abject, that he is
not forced to become rapacious, ought to hold of little account a
reputation for being mean, for it is one of those vices which will
enable him to govern.

And if any one should say: Caesar obtained empire by liberality, and
many others have reached the highest positions by having been liberal,
and by being considered so, I answer: Either you are a prince in fact,
or in a way to become one. In the first case this liberality is
dangerous, in the second it is very necessary to be considered liberal;
and Caesar was one of those who wished to become pre-eminent in Rome;
but if he had survived after becoming so, and had not moderated his
expenses, he would have destroyed his government. And if any one should
reply: Many have been princes, and have done great things with armies,
who have been considered very liberal, I reply: Either a prince spends
that which is his own or his subjects' or else that of others. In the
first case he ought to be sparing, in the second he ought not to neglect
any opportunity for liberality. And to the price who goes forth with his
army, supporting it by pillage, sack, and extortion, handling that which
belongs to others, this liberality is necessary, otherwise he would not
be followed by soldiers. And of that which is neither yours nor your
subjects' you can be a ready giver, as were Cyrus, Caesar, and
Alexander; because it does not take away your reputation if you squander
that of others, but adds to it; it is only squandering your own that
injures you.

And there is nothing wastes so rapidly as liberality, for even whilst
you exercise it you lose the power to do so, and so become either poor
or despised, or else, in avoiding poverty, rapacious and hated. And a
prince should guard himself, above all things, against being despised
and hated; and liberality leads you to both. Therefore it is wiser to
have a reputation for meanness which brings reproach without hatred,
than to be compelled through seeking a reputation for liberality to
incur a name for rapacity which begets reproach with hatred.



COMING now to the other qualities mentioned above, I say that every
prince ought to desire to be considered clement and not cruel.
Nevertheless he ought to take care not to misuse this clemency. Cesare
Borgia was considered cruel; notwithstanding, his cruelty reconciled the
Romagna, unified it, and restored it to peace and loyalty. And if this
be rightly considered, he will be seen to have been much more merciful
than the Florentine people, who, to avoid a reputation for cruelty,
permitted Pistoia to be destroyed. Therefore a prince, so long as he
keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of
cruelty; because with a few examples he will be more merciful than those
who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise, from which follow
murders or robberies; for these are wont to injure the whole people,
whilst those executions which originate with a prince offend the
individual only.

And of all princes, it is impossible for the new prince to avoid the
imputation of cruelty, owing to new states being full of dangers. Hence
Virgil, through the mouth of Dido, excuses the inhumanity of her reign
owing to its being new, saying:

Res dura, et regni novitas me talia cogunt
Moliri, et late fines custode tueri. [1]

Nevertheless he ought to be slow to believe and to act, nor should he
himself show fear, but proceed in a temperate manner with prudence and
humanity, so that too much confidence may not make him incautious and
too much distrust render him intolerable.

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than
feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to
be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is
much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be
dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that
they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as
you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood,
property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far
distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince
who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other
precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by
payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be
earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied
upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one
who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which,
owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their
advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never

Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he
does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well
being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as he
abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their
women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of
someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause,
but above all things he must keep his hands off the property of others,
because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss
of their patrimony. Besides, pretexts for taking away the property are
never wanting; for he who has once begun to live by robbery will always
find pretexts for seizing what belongs to others; but reasons for taking
life, on the contrary, are more difficult to find and sooner lapse. But
when a prince is with his army, and has under control a multitude of
soldiers, then it is quite necessary for him to disregard the reputation
of cruelty, for without it he would never hold his army united or
disposed to its duties.

Among the wonderful deeds of Hannibal this one is enumerated: that
having led an enormous army, composed of many various races of men, to
fight in foreign lands, no dissensions arose either among them or
against the prince, whether in his bad or in his good fortune. This
arose from nothing else than his inhuman cruelty, which, with his
boundless valour, made him revered and terrible in the sight of his
soldiers, but without that cruelty, his other virtues were not
sufficient to produce this effect. And shortsighted writers admire his
deeds from one point of view and from another condemn the principal
cause of them. That it is true his other virtues would not have been
sufficient for him may be proved by the case of Scipio, that most
excellent man, not of his own times but within the memory of man,
against whom, nevertheless, his army rebelled in Spain; this arose from
nothing but his too great forbearance, which gave his soldiers more
licence than is consistent with military discipline. For this he was
upbraided in the Senate by Fabius Maximus, and called the corrupter of
the Roman soldiery. The Locrians were laid waste by a legate of Scipio,
yet they were not avenged by him, nor was the insolence of the legate
punished, owing entirely to his easy nature. Insomuch that someone in
the Senate, wishing to excuse him, said there were many men who knew
much better how not to err than to correct the errors of others. This
disposition, if he had been continued in the command, would have
destroyed in time the fame and glory of Scipio; but, he being under the
control of the Senate, this injurious characteristic not only concealed
itself, but contributed to his glory.

Returning to the question of being feared or loved, I come to the
conclusion that, men loving according to their own will and fearing
according to that of the prince, 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, as is noted.

1. ...against my will, my fate,
A throne unsettled, and an infant state,
Bid me defend my realms with all my pow'rs,
And guard with these severities my shores.



EVERY one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and
to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience
has been that those princes who have done great things have held good
faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect
of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on
their word. You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by
the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the
second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it
is necessary to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary
for a prince to understand how to avail himself of the beast and the
man. This has been figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers,
who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to
the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline;
which means solely that, as they had for a teacher one who was half
beast and half man, so it is necessary for a prince to know how to make
use of both natures, and that one without the other is not durable. A
prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought
to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself
against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves.
Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion
to terrify the wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not
understand what they are about. Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought
he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and
when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men
were entirely good this precept would not hold, but because they are
bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe
it with them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate
reasons to excuse this nonobservance. Of this endless modern examples
could be given, showing how many treaties and engagements have been made
void and of no effect through the faithlessness of princes; and he who
has known best how to employ the fox has succeeded best.

But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic,
and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and
so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will
always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent
example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander VI did nothing else but
deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he always found
victims; for there never was a man who had greater power in asserting,
or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet would observe it
less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded according to his wishes,
because he well understood this side of mankind.

Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities
I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And
I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe
them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear
merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a
mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and
know how to change to the opposite.

And you have to understand this, that a prince, especially a new one,
cannot observe all those things for which men are esteemed, being often
forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to faith,
friendship, humanity, and religion. Therefore it is necessary for him to
have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations
of fortune force it, yet, as I have said above, not to diverge from the
good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to
set about it.

For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything
slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five
qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether
merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious. There is nothing
more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men
judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to
everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees
what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare
not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty
of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and
especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges
by the result.

For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding
his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be
praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing
seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the
vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground
to rest on.

One prince [1] of the present time, whom it is not well to name, never
preaches anything else but peace and good faith, and to both he is most
hostile, and either, if he had kept it, would have deprived him of
reputation and kingdom many a time.

1. Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.



Now, concerning the characteristics of which mention is made above, I
have spoken of the more important ones, the others I wish to discuss
briefly under this generality, that the prince must consider, as has
been in part said before, how to avoid those things which will make him
hated or contemptible; and as often as he shall have succeeded he will
have fulfilled his part, and he need not fear any danger in other

It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious,
and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from
both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor
honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to
contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many

It makes him contemptible to be considered fickle, frivolous,
effeminate, mean-spirited, irresolute, from all of which a prince should
guard himself as from a rock; and he should endeavour to show in his
actions greatness, courage, gravity, and fortitude; and in his private
dealings with his subjects let him show that his judgments are
irrevocable, and maintain himself in such reputation that no one can
hope either to deceive him or to get round him.

That prince is highly esteemed who conveys this impression of himself,
and he who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against; for,
provided it is well known that he is an excellent man and revered by his
people, he can only be attacked with difficulty. For this reason a
prince ought to have two fears, one from within, on account of his
subjects, the other from without, on account of external powers. From
the latter he is defended by being well armed and having good allies,
and if he is well armed he will have good friends, and affairs will
always remain quiet within when they are quiet without, unless they
should have been already disturbed by conspiracy; and even should
affairs outside be disturbed, if he has carried out his preparations and
has lived as I have said, as long as he does not despair, he will resist
every attack, as I said Nabis the Spartan did.

But concerning his subjects, when affairs outside are disturbed he has
only to fear that they will conspire secretly, from which a prince can
easily secure himself by avoiding being hated and despised, and by
keeping the people satisfied with him, which it is most necessary for
him to accomplish, as I said above at length. And one of the most
efficacious remedies that a prince can have against conspiracies is not
to be hated and despised by the people, for he who conspires against a
prince always expects to please them by his removal; but when the
conspirator can only look forward to offending them, he will not have
the courage to take such a course, for the difficulties that confront a
conspirator are infinite. And as experience shows, many have been the
conspiracies, but few have been successful; because he who conspires
cannot act alone, nor can he take a companion except from those whom he
believes to be malcontents, and as soon as you have opened your mind to
a malcontent you have given him the material with which to content
himself, for by denouncing you he can look for every advantage; so that,
seeing the gain from this course to be assured, and seeing the other to
be doubtful and full of dangers, he must be a very rare friend, or a
thoroughly obstinate enemy of the prince, to keep faith with you.

And, to reduce the matter into a small compass, I say that, on the side
of the conspirator, there is nothing but fear, jealousy, prospect of
punishment to terrify him; but on the side of the prince there is the
majesty of the principality, the laws, the protection of friends and the
state to defend him; so that, adding to all these things the popular
goodwill, it is impossible that any one should be so rash as to
conspire. For whereas in general the conspirator has to fear before the
execution of his plot, in this case he has also to fear the sequel to
the crime; because on account of it he has the people for an enemy, and
thus cannot hope for any escape.

Endless examples could be given on this subject, but I will be content
with one, brought to pass within the memory of our fathers. Messer
Annibale Bentivoglio, who was prince in Bologna (grandfather of the
present Annibale), having been murdered by the Canneschi, who had
conspired against him, not one of his family survived but Messer
Giovanni, who was in childhood: immediately after his assassination the
people rose and murdered all the Canneschi. This sprung from the popular
goodwill which the house of Bentivoglio enjoyed in those days in
Bologna; which was so great that, although none remained there after the
death of Annibale who were able to rule the state, the Bolognese, having
information that there was one of the Bentivoglio family in Florence,
who up to that time had been considered the son of a blacksmith, sent to
Florence for him and gave him the government of their city, and it was
ruled by him until Messer Giovanni came in due course to the government.

For this reason I consider that a prince ought to reckon conspiracies of
little account when his people hold him in esteem; but when it is
hostile to him, and bears hatred towards him, he ought to fear
everything and everybody. And well-ordered states and wise princes have
taken every care not to drive the nobles to desperation, and to keep the
people satisfied and contented, for this is one of the most important
objects a prince can have.

Among the best ordered and governed kingdoms of our times is France, and
in it are found many good institutions on which depend the liberty and
security of the king; of these the first is the parliament and its
authority, because he who founded the kingdom, knowing the ambition of
the nobility and their boldness, considered that a bit in their mouths
would be necessary to hold them in; and, on the other side, knowing the
hatred of the people, founded in fear, against the nobles, he wished to
protect them, yet he was not anxious for this to be the particular care
of the king; therefore, to take away the reproach which he would be
liable to from the nobles for favouring the people, and from the people
for favouring the nobles, he set up an arbiter, who should be one who
could beat down the great and favour the lesser without reproach to the
king. Neither could you have a better or a more prudent arrangement, or
a greater source of security to the king and kingdom. From this one can
draw another important conclusion, that princes ought to leave affairs
of reproach to the management of others, and keep those of grace in
their own hands. And further, I consider that a prince ought to cherish
the nobles, but not so as to make himself hated by the people.

It may appear, perhaps, to some who have examined the lives and deaths
of the Roman emperors that many of them would be an example contrary to
my opinion, seeing that some of them lived nobly and showed great
qualities of soul, nevertheless they have lost their empire or have been
killed by subjects who have conspired against them. Wishing, therefore,
to answer these objections, I will recall the characters of some of the
emperors, and will show that the causes of their ruin were not different
to those alleged by me; at the same time I will only submit for
consideration those things that are noteworthy to him who studies the
affairs of those times.

It seems to me sufficient to take all those emperors who succeeded to
the empire from Marcus the philosopher down to Maximinus; they were
Marcus and his son Commodus, Pertinax, Julian, Severus and his son
Antoninus Caracalla, Macrinus, Heliogabalus, Alexander, and Maximinus.

There is first to note that, whereas in other principalities the
ambition of the nobles and the insolence of the people only have to be
contended with, the Roman emperors had a third difficulty in having to
put up with the cruelty and avarice of their soldiers, a matter so beset
with difficulties that it was the ruin of many; for it was a hard thing
to give satisfaction both to soldiers and people; because the people
loved peace, and for this reason they loved the unaspiring prince,
whilst the soldiers loved the warlike prince who was bold, cruel, and
rapacious, which qualities they were quite willing he should exercise
upon the people, so that they could get double pay and give vent to
their greed and cruelty. Hence it arose that those emperors were always
overthrown who, either by birth or training, had no great authority, and
most of them, especially those who came new to the principality,
recognizing the difficulty of these two opposing humours, were inclined
to give satisfaction to the soldiers, caring little about injuring the
people. Which course was necessary, because, as princes cannot help
being hated by someone, they ought, in the first place, to avoid being
hated by every one, and when they cannot compass this, they ought to
endeavour with the utmost diligence to avoid the hatred of the most
powerful. Therefore, those emperors who through inexperience had need of
special favour adhered more readily to the soldiers than to the people;
a course which turned out advantageous to them or not, accordingly as
the prince knew how to maintain authority over them.

From these causes it arose that Marcus [Aurelius], Pertinax, and
Alexander, being all men of modest life, lovers of justice, enemies to
cruelty, humane, and benignant, came to a sad end except Marcus; he
alone lived and died honoured, because he had succeeded to the throne by
hereditary title, and owed nothing either to the soldiers or the people;
and afterwards, being possessed of many virtues which made him
respected, he always kept both orders in their places whilst he lived,
and was neither hated nor despised.

But Pertinax was created emperor against the wishes of the soldiers,
who, being accustomed to live licentiously under Commodus, could not
endure the honest life to which Pertinax wished to reduce them; thus,
having given cause for hatred, to which hatred there was added contempt
for his old age, he was overthrown at the very beginning of his
administration. And here it should be noted that hatred is acquired as
much by good works as by bad ones, therefore, as I said before, a prince
wishing to keep his state is very often forced to do evil; for when that
body is corrupt whom you think you have need of to maintain yourself --
it may be either the people or the soldiers or the nobles -- you have to
submit to its humours and to gratify them, and then good works will do
you harm.

But let us come to Alexander, who was a man of such great goodness, that
among the other praises which are accorded him is this, that in the
fourteen years he held the empire no one was ever put to death by him
unjudged; nevertheless, being considered effeminate and a man who
allowed himself to be governed by his mother, he became despised, the
army conspired against him, and murdered him.

Turning now to the opposite characters of Commodus, Severus, Antoninus
Caracalla, and Maximinus, you will find them all cruel and rapacious --
men who, to satisfy their soldiers, did not hesitate to commit every
kind of iniquity against the people; and all, except Severus, came to a
bad end; but in Severus there was so much valour that, keeping the
soldiers friendly, although the people were oppressed by him, he reigned
successfully; for his valour made him so much admired in the sight of
the soldiers and people that the latter were kept in a way astonished
and awed and the former respectful and satisfied. And because the
actions of this man, as a new prince, were great, I wish to show briefly
that he knew well how to counterfeit the fox and the lion, which
natures, as I said above, it is necessary for a prince to imitate.

Knowing the sloth of the Emperor Julian, he persuaded the army in
Sclavonia, of which he was captain, that it would be right to go to Rome
and avenge the death of Pertinax, who had been killed by the praetorian
soldiers; and under this pretext, without appearing to aspire to the
throne, he moved the army on Rome, and reached Italy before it was known
that he had started. On his arrival at Rome, the Senate, through fear,
elected him emperor and killed Julian. After this there remained for
Severus, who wished to make himself master of the whole empire, two
difficulties; one in Asia, where Niger, head of the Asiatic army, had
caused himself to be proclaimed emperor; the other in the west where
Albinus was, who also aspired to the throne. And as he considered it
dangerous to declare himself hostile to both, he decided to attack Niger
and to deceive Albinus. To the latter he wrote that, being elected
emperor by the Senate, he was willing to share that dignity with him and
sent him the title of Caesar; and, moreover, that the Senate had made
Albinus his colleague; which things were accepted by Albinus as true.
But after Severus had conquered and killed Niger, and settled oriental
affairs, he returned to Rome and complained to the Senate that Albinus,
little recognizing the benefits that he had received from him, had by
treachery sought to murder him, and for this ingratitude he was
compelled to punish him. Afterwards he sought him out in France, and
took from him his government and life. He who will, therefore, carefully
examine the actions of this man will find him a most valiant lion and a
most cunning fox; he will find him feared and respected by every one,
and not hated by the army; and it need not be wondered at that he, the
new man, well, because his supreme renown always protected him from that
hatred which the people might have conceived against him for his

But his son Antoninus was a most eminent man, and had very excellent
qualities, which made him admirable in the sight of the people and
acceptable to the soldiers, for he was a warlike man, most enduring of
fatigue, a despiser of all delicate food and other luxuries, which
caused him to be beloved by the armies. Nevertheless, his ferocity and
cruelties were so great and so unheard of that, after endless single
murders, he killed a large number of the people of Rome and all those of
Alexandria. He became hated by the whole world, and also feared by those
he had around him, to such an extent that he was murdered in the midst
of his army by a centurion. And here it must be noted that such-like
deaths, which are deliberately inflicted with a resolved and desperate
courage, cannot be avoided by princes, because any one who does not fear
to die can inflict them; but a prince may fear them the less because
they are very rare; he has only to be careful not to do any grave injury
to those whom he employs or has around him in the service of the state.
Antoninus had not taken this care, but had contumeliously killed a
brother of that centurion, whom also he daily threatened, yet retained
in his bodyguard; which, as it turned out, was a rash thing to do, and
proved the emperor's ruin.

But let us come to Commodus, to whom it should have been very easy to
hold the empire, for, being the son of Marcus, he had inherited it, and
he had only to follow in the footsteps of his father to please his
people and soldiers; but, being by nature cruel and brutal, he gave
himself up to amusing the soldiers and corrupting them, so that he might
indulge his rapacity upon the people; on the other hand, not maintaining
his dignity, often descending to the theatre to compete with gladiators,
and doing other vile things, little worthy of the imperial majesty, he
fell into contempt with the soldiers, and being hated by one party and
despised by the other, he was conspired against and killed.

It remains to discuss the character of Maximinus. He was a very warlike
man, and the armies, being disgusted with the effeminacy of Alexander,
of whom I have already spoken, killed him and elected Maximinus to the
throne. This he did not possess for long, for two things made him hated
and despised; the one, his having kept sheep in Thrace, which brought
him into contempt (it being well known to all, and considered a great
indignity by every one), and the other, his having at the accession to
his dominions deferred going to Rome and taking possession of the
imperial seat; he had also gained a reputation for the utmost ferocity
by having, through his prefects in Rome and elsewhere in the empire,
practised many cruelties, so that the whole world was moved to anger at
the meanness of his birth and to fear at his barbarity. First Africa
rebelled, then the Senate with all the people of Rome, and all Italy
conspired against him, to which may be added his own army: this latter,
besieging Aquileia and meeting with difficulties in taking it, were
disgusted with his cruelties, and fearing him less when they found so
many against him, murdered him.

I do not wish to discuss Heliogabalus, Macrinus, or Julian, who, being
thoroughly contemptible, were quickly wiped out; but I will bring this
discourse to a conclusion by saying that princes in our times have this
difficulty of giving inordinate satisfaction to their soldiers in a far
less degree, because, notwithstanding one has to give them some
indulgence, that is soon done; none of these princes have armies that
are veterans in the governance and administration of provinces, as were
the armies of the Roman Empire; and whereas it was then more necessary
to give satisfaction to the soldiers than to the people, it is now more
necessary to all princes, except the Turk and the Soldan, to satisfy the
people rather than the soldiers, because the people are the more

From the above I have excepted the Turk, who always keeps round him
twelve infantry and fifteen thousand cavalry on which depend the
security and strength of the kingdom, and it is necessary that, putting
aside every consideration for the people, he should keep them his
friends. The kingdom of the Soldan is similar; being entirely in the
hands of soldiers, follows again that, without regard to the people, he
must keep them his friends. But you must note that the state of the
Soldan is unlike all other principalities, for the reason that it is
like the Christian pontificate, which cannot be called either an
hereditary or a newly formed principality; because the sons of the old
prince not the heirs, but he who is elected to that position by those
who have authority, and the sons remain only noblemen. And this being an
ancient custom, it cannot be called a new principality, because there
are none of those difficulties in it that are met with in new ones; for
although the prince is new, the constitution of the state is old, and it
is framed so as to receive him as if he were its hereditary lord.

But returning to the subject of our discourse, I say that whoever will
consider it will acknowledge that either hatred or contempt has been
fatal to the above-named emperors, and it will be recognized also how it
happened that, a number of them acting in one way and a number in
another, only one in each way came to a happy end and the rest to
unhappy ones. Because it would have been useless and dangerous for
Pertinax and Alexander, being new princes, to imitate Marcus, who was
heir to the principality; and likewise it would have been utterly
destructive to Caracalla, Commodus, and Maximinus to have imitated
Severus, they not having sufficient valour to enable them to tread in
his footsteps. Therefore a prince, new to the principality, cannot
imitate the actions of Marcus, nor, again, is it necessary to follow
those of Severus, but he ought to take from Severus those parts which
are necessary to found his state, and from Marcus those which are proper
and glorious to keep a state that may already be stable and firm.



1. SOME princes, so as to hold securely the state, have disarmed their
subjects; others have kept their subject towns by factions; others have
fostered enmities against themselves; others have laid themselves out to
gain over those whom they distrusted in the beginning of their
governments; some have built fortresses; some have overthrown and
destroyed them. And although one cannot give a final judgment on all one
of these things unless one possesses the particulars of those states in
which a decision has to be made, nevertheless I will speak as
comprehensively as the matter of itself will admit.

2. There never was a new prince who has disarmed his subjects; rather
when he has found them disarmed he has always armed them, because, by
arming them, those arms become yours, those men who were distrusted
become faithful, and those who were faithful are kept so, and your
subjects become your adherents. And whereas all subjects cannot be
armed, yet when those whom you do arm are benefited, the others can be
handled more freely, and this difference in their treatment, which they
quite understand, makes the former your dependants, and the latter,
considering it to be necessary that those who have the most danger and
service should have the most reward, excuse you. But when you disarm
them, you at once offend them by showing that you distrust them, either
for cowardice or for want of loyalty, and either of these opinions
breeds hatred against you. And because you cannot remain unarmed, it
follows that you turn to mercenaries, which are of the character already
shown; even if they should be good they would not be sufficient to
defend you against powerful enemies and distrusted subjects. Therefore,
as I have said, a new prince in a new principality has always
distributed arms. Histories are full of examples. But when a prince
acquires a new state, which he adds as a province to his old one, then
it is necessary to disarm the men of that state, except those who have
been his adherents in acquiring it; and these again, with time and
opportunity, should be rendered soft and effeminate; and matters should
be managed in such a way that all the armed men in the state shall be
your own soldiers who in your old state were living near you.

3. Our forefathers, and those who were reckoned wise, were accustomed to
say that it was necessary to hold Pistoia by factions and Pisa by
fortresses; and with this idea they fostered quarrels in some of their
tributary towns so as to keep possession of them the more easily. This
may have been well enough in those times when Italy was in a way
balanced, but I do not believe that it can be accepted as a precept for
to-day, because I do not believe that factions can ever be of use;
rather it is certain that when the enemy comes upon you in divided
cities you are quickly lost, because the weakest party will always
assist the outside forces and the other will not be able to resist. The
Venetians, moved, as I believe, by the above reasons, fostered the
Guelph and Ghibelline factions in their tributary cities; and although
they never allowed them to come to bloodshed, yet they nursed these
disputes amongst them, so that the citizens, distracted by their
differences, should not unite against them. Which, as we saw, did not
afterwards turn out as expected, because, after the rout at Vaila, one
party at once took courage and seized the state. Such methods argue,
therefore, weakness in the prince, because these factions will never be
permitted in a vigorous principality; such methods for enabling one the
more easily to manage subjects are only useful in times of peace, but if
war comes this policy proves fallacious.

4. Without doubt princes become great when they overcome the
difficulties and obstacles by which they are confronted, and therefore
fortune, especially when she desires to make a new prince great, who has
a greater necessity to earn renown than an hereditary one, causes
enemies to arise and form designs against him, in order that he may have
the opportunity of overcoming them, and by them to mount higher, as by a
ladder which his enemies have raised. For this reason many consider that
a wise prince, when he has the opportunity, ought with craft to foster
some animosity against himself, so that, having crushed it, his renown
may rise higher.

5. Princes, especially new ones, have found more fidelity and assistance
in those men who in the beginning of their rule were distrusted than
among those who in the beginning were trusted. Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince
of Siena, ruled his state more by those who had been distrusted than by
others. But on this question one cannot speak generally, for it varies
so much with the individual; I will only say this, that those men who at
the commencement of a princedom have been hostile, if they are of a
description to need assistance to support themselves, can always be
gained over with the greatest ease, and they will be tightly held to
serve the prince with fidelity, inasmuch as they know it to be very
necessary for them to cancel by deeds the bad impression which he had
formed of them; and thus the prince always extracts more profit from
them than from those who, serving him in too much security, may neglect
his affairs. And since the matter demands it, I must not fail to warn a
prince, who by means of secret favours has acquired a new state, that he
must well consider the reasons which induced those to favour him who did
so; and if it be not a natural affection towards him, but only
discontent with their government, then he will only keep them friendly
with great trouble and difficulty, for it will be impossible to satisfy
them. And weighing well the reasons for this in those examples which can
be taken from ancient and modern affairs, we shall find that it is
easier for the prince to make friends of those men who were contented
under the former government, and are therefore his enemies, than of
those who, being discontented with it, were favourable to him and
encouraged him to seize it.

6. It has been a custom with princes, in order to hold their states more
securely, to build fortresses that may serve as a bridle and bit to
those who might design to work against them, and as a place of refuge
from a first attack. I praise this system because it has been made use
of formerly. Notwithstanding that, Messer Nicolo Vitelli in our times
has been seen to demolish two fortresses in Citta di Castello so that he
might keep that state; Guidubaldo, Duke of Urbino, on returning to his
dominion, whence he had been driven by Cesare Borgia, razed to the
foundations all the fortresses in that province, and considered that
without them it would be more difficult to lose it; the Bentivoglio
returning to Bologna came to a similar decision. Fortresses, therefore,
are useful or not according to circumstances; if they do you good in one
way they injure you in another. And this question can be reasoned thus:
the prince who has more to fear from the people than from foreigners
ought to build fortresses, but he who has more to fear from foreigners
than from the people ought to leave them alone. The castle of Milan,
built by Francesco Sforza, has made, and will make, more trouble for the
house of Sforza than any other disorder in the state. For this reason
the best possible fortress is -- not to be hated by the people, because,
although you may hold the fortresses, yet they will not save you if the
people hate you, for there will never be wanting foreigners to assist a
people who have taken arms against you. It has not been seen in our
times that such fortresses have been of use to any prince, unless to the
Countess of Forli, when the Count Girolamo, her consort, was killed; for
by that means she was able to withstand the popular attack and wait for
assistance from Milan, and thus recover her state; and the posture of
affairs was such at that time that the foreigners could not assist the
people. But fortresses were of little value to her afterwards when
Cesare Borgia attacked her, and when the people, her enemy, were allied
with foreigners. Therefore it would have been safer for her, both then
and before, not to have been hated by the people than to have had the
fortresses. All these things considered then, I shall praise him who
builds fortresses as well as him who does not, and I shall blame
whoever, trusting in them, cares little about being hated by the people.



NOTHING makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and setting
a fine example. We have in our time Ferdinand of Aragon, the present
King of Spain. He can almost be called a new prince, because he has
risen, by fame and glory, from being an insignificant king to be the
foremost king in Christendom; and if you will consider his deeds you
will find them all great and some of them extraordinary. In the
beginning of his reign he attacked Granada, and this enterprise was the
foundation of his dominions. He did this quietly at first and without
any fear of hindrance, for he held the minds of the barons of Castile
occupied in thinking of the war and not anticipating any innovations;
thus they did not perceive that by these means he was acquiring power
and authority over them. He was able with the money of the Church and of
the people to sustain his armies, and by that long war to lay the
foundation for the military skill which has since distinguished him.
Further, always using religion as a plea, so as to undertake greater
schemes, he devoted himself with a pious cruelty to driving out and
clearing his kingdom of the Moors; nor could there be a more admirable
example, nor one more rare. Under this same cloak he assailed Africa, he
came down on Italy, he has finally attacked France; and thus his
achievements and designs have always been great, and have kept the minds
of his people in suspense and admiration and occupied with the issue of
them. And his actions have arisen in such a way, one out of the other,
that men have never been given time to work steadily against him.

Again, it much assists a prince to set unusual examples in internal
affairs, similar to those which are related of Messer Bernabo da Milano,
who, when he had the opportunity, by any one in civil life doing some
extraordinary thing, either good or bad, would take some method of
rewarding or punishing him, which would be much spoken about. And a
prince ought, above all things, always to endeavour in every action to
gain for himself the reputation of being a great and remarkable man.

A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a
downright enemy, that to say, when, without any reservation, he declares
himself in favour of one party against the other; which course will
always be more advantageous than standing neutral; because if two of
your powerful neighbours come to blows, they are of such a character
that, if one of them conquers, you have either to fear him or not. In
either case it will always be more advantageous for you to declare
yourself and to make war strenuously; because, in the first case, if you
do not declare yourself, you will invariably fall a prey to the
conqueror, to the pleasure and satisfaction of him who has been
conquered, and you will have no reasons to offer, nor anything to
protect or to shelter you. Because he who conquers does not want
doubtful friends who will not aid him in the time of trial; and he who
loses will not harbour you because you did not willingly, sword in hand,
court his fate.

Antiochus went into Greece, being sent for by the Aetolians to drive out
the Romans. He sent envoys to the Achaeans, who were friends of the
Romans, exhorting them to remain neutral; and on the other hand the
Romans urged them to take up arms. This question came to be discussed in
the council of the Achaeans, where the legate of Antiochus urged them to
stand neutral. To this the Roman legate answered: "As for that which has
been said, that it is better and more advantageous for your state not to
interfere in our war, nothing can be more erroneous; because by not
interfering you will be left, without favour or consideration, the
guerdon of the conqueror." Thus it will always happen that he who is not
your friend will demand your neutrality, whilst he who is your friend
will entreat you to declare yourself with arms. And irresolute princes,
to avoid present dangers, generally follow the neutral path, and are
generally ruined. But when a prince declares himself gallantly in favour
of one side, if the party with whom he allies himself conquers, although
the victor may be powerful and may have him at his mercy, yet he is
indebted to him, and there is established a bond of amity; and men are
never so shameless as to become a monument of ingratitude by oppressing
you. Victories after all are never so complete that the victor must not
show some regard, especially to justice. But if he with whom you ally
yourself loses, you may be sheltered by him, and whilst he is able he
may aid you, and you become companions in a fortune that may rise again.

In the second case, when those who fight are of such a character that
you have no anxiety as to who may conquer, so much the more is it
greater prudence to be allied, because you assist at the destruction of
one by the aid of another who, if he had been wise, would have saved
him; and conquering, as it is impossible that he should not with your
assistance, he remains at your discretion. And here it is to be noted
that a prince ought to take care never to make an alliance with one more
powerful than himself for the purpose of attacking others, unless
necessity compels him, as is said above; because if he conquers you are
at his discretion, and princes ought to avoid as much as possible being
at the discretion of any one. The Venetians joined with France against
the Duke of Milan, and this alliance, which caused their ruin, could
have been avoided. But when it cannot be avoided, as happened to the
Florentines when the Pope and Spain sent armies to attack Lombardy, then
in such a case, for the above reasons, the prince ought to favour one of
the parties.

Never let any Government imagine that it can choose perfectly safe
courses; rather let it expect to have to take very doubtful ones,
because it is found in ordinary affairs that one never seeks to avoid
one trouble without running into another; but prudence consists in
knowing how to distinguish the character of troubles, and for choice to
take the lesser evil.

A prince ought also to show himself a patron of ability, and to honour
the proficient in every art. At the same time he should encourage his
citizens to practise their callings peaceably, both in commerce and
agriculture, and in every other following, so that the one should not be
deterred from improving his possessions for fear lest they be taken away
from him or another from opening up trade for fear of taxes; but the
prince ought to offer rewards to whoever wishes to do these things and
designs in any way to honour his city or state.

Further, he ought to entertain the people with festivals and spectacles
at convenient seasons of the year; and as every city is divided into
guilds or into societies, he ought to hold such bodies in esteem, and
associate with them sometimes, and show himself an example of courtesy
and liberality; nevertheless, always maintaining the majesty of his
rank, for this he must never consent to abate in anything.



THE choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they
are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the
first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is
by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and
faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to
recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are
otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error
which he made was in choosing them.

There were none who knew Messer Antonio da Venafro as the servant of
Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince of Siena, who would not consider Pandolfo to
be a very clever man in having Venafro for his servant. Because there
are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself;
another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which
neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is
the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless. Therefore,
it follows necessarily that, if Pandolfo was not in the first rank, he
was in the second, for whenever one has judgment to know good or bad
when it is said and done, although he himself may not have the
initiative, yet he can recognize the good and the bad in his servant,
and the one he can praise and the other correct; thus the servant cannot
hope to deceive him, and is kept honest.

But to enable a prince to form an opinion of his servant there is one
test which never falls; when you see the servant thinking more of his
own interests than of yours, and seeking inwardly his own profit in
everything, such a man will never make a good servant, nor will you ever
be able to trust him; because he who has the state of another in his
hands ought never to think of himself, but always of his prince, and
never pay any attention to matters in which the prince is not concerned.

On the other to keep his servant honest the prince ought to study him,
honouring him, enriching him, doing him kindnesses, sharing with him the
honours and cares; and at the same time let him see that he cannot stand
alone, so that many honours not make him desire more, many riches make
him wish for more, and that many cares may make him dread changes. When,
therefore, servants, and princes towards servants, are thus disposed,
they can trust each other, but when it is otherwise, the end will always
be disastrous for either one or the other.



I DO NOT wish to leave out an important branch of this subject, for it
is a danger from which princes are with difficulty preserved, unless
they are very careful and discriminating. It is that of flatterers, of
whom courts arc full, because men are so self-complacent in their own
affairs, and in a way so deceived in them, that they are preserved with
difficulty from this pest, and if they wish to defend themselves they
run the danger of falling into contempt. Because there is no other way
of guarding oneself from flatterers except letting men understand that
to tell you the truth does not offend you; but when every one may tell
you the truth, respect for you abates.

Therefore a wise prince ought to hold a third course by choosing the
wise men in his state, and giving to them only the liberty of speaking
the truth to him, and then only of those things of which he inquires,
and of none others; but he ought to question them upon everything, and
listen to their opinions, and afterwards form his own conclusions. With
these councillors, separately and collectively, he ought to carry
himself in such a way that each of them should know that, the more
freely he shall speak, the more he shall be preferred; outside of these,
he should listen to no one, pursue the thing resolved on, and be
steadfast in his resolutions. He who does otherwise is either overthrown
by flatterers, or is so often changed by varying opinions that he falls
into contempt.

I wish on this subject to adduce a modern example. Fra Luca, the man of
affairs to Maximilian, the present emperor, speaking of his majesty,
said: He consulted with no one, yet never got his own way in anything.
This arose because of his following a practice the opposite to the
above; for the emperor is a secretive man -- he does not communicate his
designs to any one, nor does he receive opinions on them. But as in
carrying them into effect they become revealed and known, they are at
once obstructed by those men whom he has around him, and he, being
pliant, is diverted from them. Hence it follows that those things he
does one day he undoes the next, and no one ever understands what he
wishes or intends to do, and no one can rely on his resolutions.

A prince, therefore, ought always to take counsel, but only when he
wishes and not when others wish; he ought rather to discourage every one
from offering advice unless he asks it; but, however, he ought to be a
constant inquirer, and afterwards a patient listener concerning the
things of which he inquired; also, on learning that any one, on any
consideration, has not told him the truth, he should let his anger be

And if there are some who think that a prince who conveys an impression
of his wisdom is not so through his own ability, but through the good
advisers that he has around him, beyond doubt they are deceived, because
this is an axiom which never fails: that a prince who is not wise
himself will never take good advice, unless by chance he has yielded his
affairs entirely to one person who happens to be a very prudent man. In
this case indeed he may be well governed, but it would not be for long,
because such a governor would in a short time take away his state from

But if a prince who is not experienced should take counsel from more
than one he will never get united counsels, nor will he know how to
unite them. Each of the counsellors will think of his own interests, and
the prince will not know how to control them or to see through them. And
they are not to be found otherwise, because men will always prove untrue
to you unless they are kept honest by constraint. Therefore it must be
inferred that good counsels, whencesoever they come, are born of the
wisdom of the prince, and not the wisdom of the prince from good



THE previous suggestions, carefully observed, will enable a new prince
to appear well established, and render him at once more secure and fixed
in the state than if he had been long seated there. For the actions of a
new prince are more narrowly observed than those of an hereditary one,
and when they are seen to be able they gain more men and bind far
tighter than ancient blood; because men are attracted more by the
present than by the past, and when they find the present good they enjoy
it and seek no further; they will also make the utmost defence for a
prince if he fails them not in other things. Thus it will be a double
glory to him to have established a new principality, and adorned and
strengthened it with good laws, good arms, good allies, and with a good
example; so will it be a double disgrace to him who, born a prince,
shall lose his state by want of wisdom.

And if those seigniors are considered who have lost their states in
Italy in our times, such as the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan, and
others, there will be found in them, firstly, one common defect in
regard to arms from the causes which have been discussed at length; in
the next place, some one of them will be seen, either to have had the
people hostile, or if he has had the people friendly, he has not known
how to secure the nobles. In the absence of these defects states that
have power enough to keep an army in the field cannot be lost.

Philip of Macedon, not the father of Alexander the Great, but he who was
conquered by Titus Quintius, had not much territory compared to the
greatness of the Romans and of Greece who attacked him, yet being a
warlike man who knew how to attract the people and secure the nobles, he
sustained the war against his enemies for many years, and if in the end
he lost the dominion of some cities, nevertheless he retained the

Therefore, do not let our princes accuse fortune for the loss of their
principalities after so many years' possession, but rather their own
sloth, because in quiet times they never thought there could be a change
(it is a common defect in man not to make any provision in the calm
against the tempest), and when afterwards the bad times came they
thought of flight and not of defending themselves, and they hoped that
the people, disgusted with the insolence of the conquerors, would recall
them. This course, when others fail, may be good, but it is very bad to
have neglected all other expedients for that, since you would never wish
to fall because you trusted to be able to find someone later on to
restore you. This again either does not happen, or, if it does, it will
not be for your security, because that deliverance is of no avail which
does not depend upon yourself; those only are reliable, certain, and
durable that depend on yourself and your valour.



IT is not unknown to me how many men have had, and still have, the
opinion that the affairs of the world are in such wise governed by
fortune and by God that men with their wisdom cannot direct them and
that no one can even help them; and because of this they would have us
believe that it is not necessary to labour much in affairs, but to let
chance govern them. This opinion has been more credited in our times
because of the great changes in affairs which have been seen, and may
still be seen, every day, beyond all human conjecture. Sometimes
pondering over this, I am in some degree inclined to their opinion.
Nevertheless, not to extinguish our free will, I hold it to be true that
Fortune is the arbiter of one-half of our actions, but that she still
leaves us to direct the other half, or perhaps a little less.

I compare her to one of those raging rivers, which when in flood
overflows the plains, sweeping away trees and buildings, bearing away
the soil from place to place; everything flies before it, all yield to
its violence, without being able in any way to withstand it; and yet,
though its nature be such, it does not follow therefore that men, when
the weather becomes fair, shall not make provision, both with defences
and barriers, in such a manner that, rising again, the waters may pass
away by canal, and their force be neither so unrestrained nor so
dangerous. So it happens with fortune, who shows her power where valour
has not prepared to resist her, and thither she turns her forces where
she knows that barriers and defences have not been raised to constrain

And if you will consider Italy, which is the seat of these changes, and
which has given to them their impulse, you will see it to be an open
country without barriers and without any defence. For if it had been
defended by proper valour, as are Germany, Spain, and France, either
this invasion would not have made the great changes it has made or it
would not have come at all. And this I consider enough to say concerning
resistance to fortune in general.

But confining myself more to the particular, I say that a prince may be
seen happy to-day and ruined to-morrow without having shown any change
of disposition or character. This, I believe, arises firstly from causes
that have already been discussed at length, namely, that the prince who
relies entirely upon fortune is lost when it changes. I believe also
that he will be successful who directs his actions according to the
spirit of the times, and that he whose actions do not accord with the
times will not be successful. Because men are seen, in affairs that lead
to the end which every man has before him, namely, glory and riches, to
get there by various methods; one with caution, another with haste; one
by force, another by skill; one by patience, another by its opposite;
and each one succeeds in reaching the goal by a different method. One
can also see of two cautious men the one attain his end, the other fail;
and similarly, two men by different observances are equally successful,
the one being cautious, the other impetuous; all this arises from
nothing else than whether or not they conform in their methods to the
spirit of the times. This follows from what I have said, that two men
working differently bring about the same effect, and of two working
similarly, one attains his object and the other does not.

Changes in estate also issue from this, for if, to one who governs
himself with caution and patience, times and affairs converge in such a
way that his administration is successful, his fortune is made; but if
times and affairs change, he is ruined if he does not change his course
of action. But a man is not often found sufficiently circumspect to know
how to accommodate himself to the change, both because he cannot deviate
from what nature inclines him to, and also because, having always
prospered by acting in one way, he cannot be persuaded that it is well
to leave it; and, therefore, the cautious man, when it is time to turn
adventurous, does not know how to do it, hence he is ruined; but had he
changed his conduct with the times fortune would not have changed.

Pope Julius II went to work impetuously in all his affairs, and found
the times and circumstances conform so well to that line of action that
he always met with success. Consider his first enterprise against
Bologna, Messer Giovanni Bentivogli being still alive. The Venetians
were not agreeable to it, nor was the King of Spain, and he had the
enterprise still under discussion with the King of France; nevertheless
he personally entered upon the expedition with his accustomed boldness
and energy, a move which made Spain and the Venetians stand irresolute
and passive, the latter from fear, the former from desire to recover all
the kingdom of Naples; on the other hand, he drew after him the King of
France, because that king, having observed the movement, and desiring to
make the Pope his friend so as to humble the Venetians, found it
impossible to refuse him soldiers without manifestly offending him.
Therefore Julius with his impetuous action accomplished what no other
pontiff with simple human wisdom could have done; for if he had waited
in Rome until he could get away, with his plans arranged and everything
fixed, as any other pontiff would have done, he would never have
succeeded. Because the King of France would have made a thousand
excuses, and the others would have raised a thousand fears.

I will leave his other actions alone, as they were all alike, and they
all succeeded, for the shortness of his life did not let him experience
the contrary; but if circumstances had arisen which required him to go
cautiously, his ruin would have followed, because he would never have
deviated from those ways to which nature inclined him.

I conclude therefore that, fortune being changeful and mankind steadfast
in their ways, so long as the two are in agreement men are successful,
but unsuccessful when they fall out. For my part I consider that it is
better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and
if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her;
and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous
rather than by those who go to work more coldly. She is, therefore,
always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less
cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her.



HAVING carefully considered the subject of the above discourses, and
wondering within myself whether the present times were propitious to a
new prince, and whether there were the elements that would give an
opportunity to a wise and virtuous one to introduce a new order of
things which would do honour to him and good to the people of this
country, it appears to me that so many things concur to favour a new
prince that I never knew a time more fit than the present.

And if, as I said, it was necessary that the people of Israel should be
captive so as to make manifest the ability of Moses; that the Persians
should be oppressed by the Medes so as to discover the greatness of the
soul of Cyrus; and that the Athenians should be dispersed to illustrate
the capabilities of Theseus: then at the present time, in order to
discover the virtue of an Italian spirit, it was necessary that Italy
should be reduced to the extremity she is now in, that she should be
more enslaved than the Hebrews, more oppressed than the Persians, more
scattered than the Athenians; without head, without order, beaten,
despoiled, torn, overrun; and to have endured every kind of desolation.

Although lately some spark may have been shown by one, which made us
think he was ordained by God for our redemption, nevertheless it was
afterwards seen, in the height of his career, that fortune rejected him;
so that Italy, left as without life, waits for him who shall yet heal
her wounds and put an end to the ravaging and plundering of Lombardy, to
the swindling and taxing of the kingdom and of Tuscany, and cleanse
those sores that for long have festered. It is seen how she entreats God
to send someone who shall deliver her from these wrongs and barbarous
insolencies. It is seen also that she is ready and willing to follow a
banner if only someone will raise it.

Nor is there to be seen at present one in whom she can place more hope
than in your illustrious house, with its valour and fortune, favoured by
God and by the Church of which it is now the chief, and which could be
made the head of this redemption. This will not be difficult if you will
recall to yourself the actions and lives of the men I have named. And
although they were great and wonderful men, yet they were men, and each
one of them had no more opportunity than the present offers, for their
enterprises were neither more just nor easier than this, nor was God
more their friend than He is yours.

With us there is great justice, because that war is just which is
necessary, and arms are hallowed when there is no other hope but in
them. Here there is the greatest willingness, and where the willingness
is great the difficulties cannot be great if you will only follow those
men to whom I have directed your attention. Further than this, how
extraordinarily the ways of God have been manifested beyond example: the
sea is divided, a cloud has led the way, the rock has poured forth
water, it has rained manna, everything has contributed to your
greatness; you ought to do the rest. God is not willing to do
everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory
which belongs to us.

And it is not to be wondered at if none of the above-named Italians have
been able to accomplish all that is expected from your illustrious
house; and if in so many revolutions in Italy, and in so many campaigns,
it has always appeared as if military virtue were exhausted, this has
happened because the old order of things was not good, and none of us
have known how to find a new one. And nothing honours a man more than to
establish new laws and new ordinances when he himself was newly risen.
Such things when they are well founded and dignified will make him
revered and admired, and in Italy there are not wanting opportunities to
bring such into use in every form.

Here there is great valour in the limbs whilst it fails in the head.
Look attentively at the duels and the hand-to-hand combats, how superior
the Italians are in strength, dexterity, and subtlety. But when it comes
to armies they do not bear comparison, and this springs entirely from
the insufficiency of the leaders, since those who are capable are not
obedient, and each one seems to himself to know, there having never been
any one so distinguished above the rest, either by valour or fortune,
that others would yield to him. Hence it is that for so long a time, and
during so much fighting in the past twenty years, whenever there has
been an army wholly Italian, it has always given a poor account of
itself; as witness Taro, Alessandria, Capua, Genoa, Vaila, Bologna,

If, therefore, your illustrious house wishes to follow those remarkable
men who have redeemed their country, it is necessary before all things,
as a true foundation for every enterprise, to be provided with your own
forces, because there can be no more faithful, truer, or better
soldiers. And although singly they are good, altogether they will be
much better when they find themselves commanded by their prince,
honoured by him, and maintained at his expense. Therefore it is
necessary to be prepared with such arms, so that you can be defended
against foreigners by Italian valour.

And although Swiss and Spanish infantry may be considered very
formidable, nevertheless there is a defect in both, by reason of which a
third order would not only be able to oppose them, but might be relied
upon to overthrow them. For the Spaniards cannot resist cavalry, and the
Switzers are afraid of infantry whenever they encounter them in close
combat. Owing to this, as has been and may again be seen, the Spaniards
are unable to resist French cavalry, and the Switzers are overthrown by
infantry. And although a complete proof of this latter cannot be shown,
nevertheless there was some evidence of it at the battle of Ravenna,
when the Spanish infantry were confronted by German battalions, who
follow the same tactics as the Swiss; when the Spaniards, by agility of
body and with the aid of their shields, got in under the pikes of the
Germans and stood out of danger, able to attack, while the Germans stood
helpless, and, if the cavalry had not dashed up, all would have been
over with them. It is possible, therefore, knowing the defects of both
these infantries, to invent a new one, which will resist cavalry and not
be afraid of infantry; this need not create a new order of arms, but a
variation upon the old. And these are the kind of improvements which
confer reputation and power upon a new prince.

This opportunity, therefore, ought not to be allowed to pass for letting
Italy at last see her liberator appear. Nor can one express the love
with which he would be received in all those provinces which have
suffered so much from these foreign scourings, with what thirst for
revenge, with what stubborn faith, with what devotion, with what tears.
What door would be closed to him? Who would refuse obedience to him?
What envy would hinder him? What Italian would refuse him homage? To all
of us this barbarous dominion stinks. Let, therefore, your illustrious
house take up this charge with that courage and hope with which all just
enterprises are undertaken, so that under its standard our native
country may be ennobled, and under its auspices may be verified that
saying of Petrarch:

Virtu contro al Furore
Prendera l'arme, e fia il combatter corto:
Che l'antico valore
Negli italici cuor non e ancor morto. [1]

1. Virtue against fury shall advance the fight,
And it i' th' combat soon shall put to flight;
For the old Roman, valour is not dead,
Nor in th' Italians' breasts extinguished.


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