Chapter I: The Kinds of Principalities and the Means by Which They Are Acquired Machiavelli describes the different kinds of states, arguing that all states are either republics or principalities. Principalities can be divided into hereditary principalities and new principalities. New principalities are either completely new or new appendages to existing states. By fortune or strength, a prince can acquire a new principality with his own army or with the arms of others. Chapter II: Hereditary Principalities Chapter II is the first of three chapters focusing on methods to govern and maintain principalities. Machiavelli dismisses any discussion of republics, explaining that he has "discussed them at length on another occasion"-a reference to Book 1 of his Discourses.
Machiavelli notes that it is easier to govern a hereditary state than a new principality for two main reasons. First, those under the rule of such states are familiar with the prince's family and therefore accustomed to their rule. The natural prince only has to keep past institutions intact, while adapting these institutions to current events. Second, the natural disposition of subjects in a hereditary state is to love the ruling family, unless the prince commits some horrible act against his people.
Even if a strong outsider succeeds in conquering a prince's hereditary state, any setback the outsider encounters will allow the prince to reconquer the state. Chapter III: Mixed Principalities [M]en must be either pampered or annihilated. Machiavelli explains why maintaining a new principality is more difficult than maintaining a hereditary state. In the first place, people will willingly trade one recently arrived ruler for another, hoping that a new ruler will be better than the present one.
This expectation of improvement will induce people to take up arms against any relatively unestablished prince. Although the people may quickly realize that their revolt is ineffective, they will still create great disorder. Furthermore, when a prince takes over another prince's power, he finds himself in a tricky situation with regard to the people who put him in power. He cannot maintain the support of these people because he cannot fulfill all of their expectations that their situation will improve. But he also cannot deal too harshly with them because he is in their debt. Immediately after taking power, the prince is in danger of losing his newly gained principality.
When a prince successfully suppresses a revolt, however, the ruler can easily prevent further revolt by harshly punishing the rebels and decimating his opposition. The ruler can deal more harshly with his subjects in response to the revolt than he would be able to normally. It is much easier to maintain control over a new principality if the people share the same language and customs as the prince's own country. If this is the case, the prince has to do only two things. First, he must destroy the family of the former prince. Second, he must not change the principality's laws and taxes.
People will live quietly and peacefully so long as their old ways of life are undisturbed. New states that have different languages and customs from those of the prince are more difficult to maintain. One of the prince's most effective options is to take up residence in the new state. By living there, the prince can address problems quickly and efficiently. He can prevent the local officials from plundering his territory. The subjects will be in close contact with the prince.
Therefore, those who are inclined to be good will have more reason to show their allegiance to the prince and those who are inclined to be bad will have more reason to fear him. Invaders will think twice before attempting to take over the state. Another effective method of dealing with linguistic and cultural differences is to establish colonies in the new state. It is less expensive to establish colonies than to maintain military occupation, and colonialism only harms inhabitants who pose no threat to the prince because they are scattered and poor.
As a general rule, men must be either pampered or crushed. A prince should injure people only if he knows there is no threat of revenge. Setting up military bases throughout the new state will not effectively keep order. Instead, it will upset the people, and these people may turn into hostile enemies capable of causing great harm to the prince's regime.
A prince who has occupied a state in a foreign country should dominate the neighboring states. He should weaken the strong ones and ensure that no other strong foreign power invades a neighboring state. Weaker powers will naturally side with the strongest power as long as they cannot grow strong themselves. The prince must remain master of the whole country to keep control of the state he has conquered.
Princes should always act to solve problems before problems fully manifest themselves. Political disorders are easy to solve if the prince identifies them and acts early. If they are allowed to develop fully, it will be too late. Men naturally want to acquire more. When they succeed in acquiring more they are always praised, not condemned. But rulers who lack the ability to acquire, yet still try at the cost of their current state, should be condemned.
In order to hold a state, a prince must understand statecraft and warcraft. The two are intertwined. War can be avoided by suppressing disorder. However, one can never escape a war: war can only be postponed to the enemy's advantage. Chapter IV: Why Alexander's Successors Were Able to Keep Possession of Darius' Kingdom after Alexander's Death There are two ways to govern a principality.
The first involves a prince and appointed ministers. While the ministers help govern, everyone remains subservient to the prince. The second way involves a prince and nobles. Nobles are not appointed by the prince, but they benefit from their ancient lineage and have subjects of their own. Of both these scenarios, the prince is regarded as being much stronger if he uses ministers, since he is the only ruler in the country. It is much harder to take over a country if a prince uses ministers, because ministers have little incentive to be corrupted by foreign powers or to turn on their prince.
Furthermore, even if they were to turn against the prince, they would not be able to muster support from any subjects because they hold no personal loyalties. It is easier to conquer a country governed with the cooperation of nobles, because it is always possible to find a discontented noble eager for change. Moreover, nobles command the loyalty of their own subjects, so a corrupted noble will corrupt the support of his subjects. Although it is easier to take over a state ruled by nobles, it is much harder to maintain control of that state. In a state ruled by nobles, it is not enough to kill the former ruler's family, because the nobles will still be around to revolt. Holding onto a state with ministers is much easier, because it merely requires killing off the one prince and his family.
Machiavelli asserts that the rules he proposes are consistent with historical evidence, such as Alexander's successful conquest of Asia and the rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece. Chapter V: How to Govern Cities and Principalities That, Prior to Being Occupied, Lived Under Their Own Laws Machiavelli describes three ways to hold states that have been accustomed to living freely under their own laws. The first is to devastate them. The second is for the conqueror to occupy them.
The third is to allow the state to maintain its own laws, but to charge taxes and establish an oligarchy to keep the state friendly. The third option is advantageous because the newly imposed oligarchy will work hard to secure the authority of the conquering prince within the conquered state because it owes its existence to the prince and cannot survive without his support. Thus, as long as the goal is not to devastate the other state, it is easiest to rule it through the use of its own citizens. Complete destruction is the most certain way of securing a state that has been free in the past. A prince who does not take this route places himself in a position to be destroyed himself. No matter how long it has been since the state was acquired, rebellions will always revive the legacy of ancient institutions and notions of former liberty, even if the state has benefited from the prince's rule.
This sense of tradition will unify the people against the prince. On the other hand, cities or provinces that are accustomed to being ruled by a prince are easy to take over once the ruling family has been destroyed. People in such states are accustomed to obedience and do not know how to live in freedom without having someone to rule over them. Therefore, the new prince can win the province and hold onto it more easily. In republics (or former republics), sentiments of hatred and revenge against the conquering prince will run strong. There, the memories of ancient liberty never die, and so a prince will be better off destroying the republic or personally occupying the conquered state.
Chapter VI: Concerning New Principalities Acquired by One's Own Arms and Ability [P]eople are by nature changeable. It is easy to persuade them about some particular matter, but it is hard to hold them to that persuasion. Princes should strive to imitate the examples set by great rulers of the past, even if that means setting lofty goals. This way, if a prince fails to meet those lofty goals, his actions will nevertheless enhance his reputation as a great or powerful ruler. One way that rulers acquire states is through their own prowess, meaning their own abilities rather than the good fortune of noble birth, inheritance, or lucky circumstances. Relying on one's personal prowess is a very difficult method of acquiring a state.
However, a state acquired by a ruler's natural skill will prove easier to maintain control over. Examples of rulers who triumphed on the strength of their own powers include Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, and Theseus. Rulers who rely on prowess instead of fortune are generally more successful in holding power over states because they can meet the challenge of establishing a new order. Nothing is more dangerous or difficult than introducing a new order.
This is because those who benefited from the old order will fiercely oppose the prince who tries to introduce a new order, whereas those who stand to benefit from the imposition of a new order will offer only lukewarm support. A prince who relies on his ability to persuade others to support him will be unable to succeed against such opposition. However, a prince who relies on his own prowess and can "force the issue" will usually succeed. At times, "for[ing] the issue" might literally mean the use of force. This can be dangerous, but if the ruler succeeds in his use of force, he will become strong, secure, and respected. Chapter VII: Concerning New Principalities Acquired with the Arms and Fortunes of Others Sometimes private citizens become princes purely by good fortune.
Such people buy their way into power, receive favors from someone else in power, or bribe soldiers. Such princes are weak not only because fortune can be capricious and unstable, but also because they do not know how to maintain their position. They do not have loyal troops who are devoted to them. They do not know how to deal with problems, command troops, or keep their power in the face of opposition. Princes who succeed on their own prowess have built a strong foundation for themselves. Princes who succeed due to the sway of fortune or the goodwill of others lack such a foundation from which to rule and will have difficulty building a foundation quickly enough to prevent power from slipping out of their hands.
Thus, although princes who rely on fortune reach their position easily, maintaining that position is extremely difficult. Laying a solid foundation is a crucial prerequisite for maintaining power. A prince must eliminate rival leaders and win the favor of their followers. Machiavelli cites the life of Cesare Borgia (also called Duke Valentino) as an example. The son of Pope Alexander VI, Borgia was a man of great courage and high intentions. He was made duke of Romagna through the good fortune that his father, as Pope Alexander VI, had amassed a great deal of power.
However, he was unable to maintain his rule, even though he made competent attempts to consolidate his new power. His efforts included the use of force in the strategic conquest of foreign lands. He tried to make himself loved and feared by his subjects. He wiped out disloyal troops and established a loyal army, and he maintained a friendly yet cautious relationship with other kings and princes. Despite all his efforts, he was unable to complete the consolidation of his power when his father died, and his good fortune was reversed.
He did, however, lay a strong foundation for future rule, as only a man of great prowess could. Chapter VIII: Concerning Those Who Become Princes by Evil Means Machiavelli continues to describe the ways that a man can become a prince. In addition to fortune and prowess, criminal acts or the approval of his fellow citizens can facilitate a man's rise to power. Those who come to power by crime often kill fellow citizens and betray friends.
They are "treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious." Princes who commit criminal acts can achieve power, but never glory. King Agathocles of Syracuse is an example of a man who rose to power through crime. Agathocles was a common citizen who joined the militia, rose to a leading rank in the army, and then assembled a meeting of the senate at which he ordered his men to kill all the senators and install him in power. Agathocles' reign was characterized by constant difficulties and threats to his power.
However, he withstood them and maintained his rule. Once in power, Agathocles proved as competent as any eminent commander, but the severity of the crimes he committed during his ascension preclude his being considered great. Cruelty, which is itself evil, can be used well if it is applied once at the outset, and then only employed in self-defense and ultimately used for the greater good of one's subjects. Regular and frequent perpetration of cruel actions earns a ruler infamy. If a prince comes to power by crime and wishes to be successful, he, like Agathocles, must only use cruelty in the first sense.
Therefore, when a prince decides to seize a state, he must determine how much injury to inflict. He needs to inflict this injury all at once and then refrain from further atrocities. In this way, his subjects will eventually forget the violence and cruelty. Gradually, resentment will fade, and the people will come to appreciate the resulting benefits of the prince's rule. Most important, a prince should be consistent in the way he treats his subjects. Chapter IX: Concerning the Civil Principality The other way a prince can come to power is through the favor of his fellow citizens.
Princes who rise through this route are heads of what Machiavelli calls constitutional principalities. Machiavelli argues that every city is populated by two groups of citizens: common people and nobles. The common people are naturally disposed to avoid domination and oppression by the nobles. The nobles are naturally disposed to dominate and oppress the common people. The opposition between the two groups results in the establishment of either a principality, a free city, or anarchy. The power to form a principality lies with either the nobles or the people.
If the nobles realize they cannot dominate the people, they will try to strengthen their position by making one of the nobles a prince. They hope to accomplish their own ends through the prince's authority. The people will follow the same course of action; if they realize they cannot withstand the nobles, they will make one of the people a prince and hope to be protected by the prince's authority. A prince placed in power by nobles will find it more difficult to maintain his position because those who surround him will consider themselves his equals and his selection as prince arbitrary. However, a prince created by the people stands alone at the top.
Not only are nobles much harder to satisfy than the people, they are less honest in their motives because they seek to oppress the people. The people, on the other hand, only seek to be left alone. If the people are hostile to the prince, the worst that can happen is desertion. However, if the nobles are hostile, the prince can expect both desertion and active opposition. Nobles are astute and cunning and always safeguard their interests. Nobles will either become dependent on the prince or remain independent of his control.
A prince should honor and love those nobles who have become dependent on him. Nobles who remain independent are either timid or ambitious. Timid nobles are benign, but a prince should be wary of ambitious nobles, since they will become enemies in times of adversity. A prince created by the people must retain the people's friendship, a fairly easy task.
A prince created by the nobles must still try to win over the people's affection, because they can serve as protection from hostile nobles. Benevolence is the best way to maintain the mandate of the people. If people expect hostility from a prince but instead receive kindness and favors, they feel a great obligation to their prince. Principalities usually face difficulties when switching from a government with limited powers to one that is more absolute. To make this transition, a prince can either rule directly or through magistrates.
The prince is more vulnerable in the latter case because he is dependent on the will of his magistrates. In times of adversity, the magistrates may depose him through direct action against him, or simply by disobeying his orders. Moreover, if the magistrates do revolt, the prince will be unable to assume absolute power, because the people are accustomed to obeying the magistrates rather than the prince. In prosperous times, it is fashionable to declare allegiance to a prince.
But during times of danger, trusted men become scarce. A wise prince must find a way to ensure that his citizens are always dependent on his authority. Thus, they will always remain loyal. Chapter X: How the Strength of All Principalities Should Be Measured Although a prince should always aim to keep an army of equal size and strength as that of any aggressor, it is just as important to maintain defenses and fortifications. These defensive preparations not only provide security but also deter enemies from attacking. Some might argue that if an enemy lays siege to a fortified city, the people inside, upon witnessing their countryside pillaged and possessions destroyed, will turn against their prince.
But a prince who has made adequate defensive preparations can actually inspire his subjects during such times. To do so, he must convince the people that the hardships are only temporary and, more important, create feelings of patriotism and enthusiasm for the city's defense. This way, when the siege is over, the grateful and obliged people will love the prince all the more. Chapter XI: Concerning Ecclesiastical Principalities Ecclesiastical principalities, regions under the control of the Catholic Church, are different from other kinds of principalities.
Taking control of these principalities is difficult, requiring either unusual good fortune or prowess. Machiavelli sarcastically remarks that principles of religion, rather than governments, rule ecclesiastical principalities, so the prince does not even need to govern. Ecclesiastical principalities do not need to be defended, and their subjects require no administration. Nonetheless, these states are always secure and happy. Since these principalities are "sustained by higher powers which the human mind cannot comprehend," it would be presumptuous to delve further into why this is the case. It is useful, however, to look at how the Church has obtained its great temporal power.
Italy was once divided among the pope and the city-states of Venice, Naples, Milan, and Florence. Each of these powers was wary of the others and prevented the intervention of any foreign power. Papal power was fairly weak during this time, due to disagreement among the Roman barons and the short duration of papacies. But Popes Alexander VI and Julius II greatly increased the power of the Church by using armed force to weaken the other factions, accumulating wealth to strengthen the Church's own position, and nurturing factionalism within any remaining factions.
Thus, the current Church, under the leadership of Pope Leo X, has been made strong through the force of arms. It is now hoped that Pope Leo will use his goodness and virtue to maintain its power. Chapter XII: Concerning Various Kinds of Troops, and Especially Mercenaries All princes must build on strong foundations. The two essential components of a strong state are good laws and good armies. Good laws cannot exist without good armies. The presence of a good army, however, indicates the presence of good laws.
There are three types of armies: a prince's own troops, mercenary troops, and auxiliary troops. Mercenary and auxiliary troops are useless and dangerous. Mercenaries are "disunited, undisciplined, ambitious, and faithless." Because their only motivation is monetary, they are generally not effective in battle and have low morale. Mercenary commanders are either skilled or unskilled. Unskilled commanders are worthless, but skilled commanders cannot be trusted to suppress their own ambition. It is far more preferable for a prince to command his own army.
Historically, dependence on mercenaries ruined Italy. During the breakup of Italy, which the Church supported in hopes of increasing its own stature, many townships hired mercenaries, because they had little experience in military matters. Because the mercenaries were more concerned with increasing their own prestige and status than with taking risks or accomplishing military objectives, the conflicts between these mercenary forces devolved into a series of ineffective, staged, pseudo-battles, ultimately degrading Italy's political and military might. Chapter XIII: Concerning Auxiliary, Mixed, and Native Forces Auxiliary troops-armies borrowed from a more powerful state-are as useless as mercenaries. Although they often fight well, a prince who calls on auxiliaries places himself in a no-win situation. If the auxiliaries fail, he is defenseless, whereas if the auxiliaries are successful, he still owes his victory to the power of another.
Auxiliary troops are often skilled and organized, yet their first loyalty is to another ruler. Thus, they pose an even more dangerous threat to the prince than mercenaries. If a prince does not command his own native troops, the principality can never be secure. Depending on outside armies is essentially the same as depending on good fortune. The use of auxiliaries and mercenaries is effective during prosperous times, but in times of adversity, reliance on borrowed troops, like reliance on fortune, is a perilous liability.
Chapter XIV: A Prince's Concern in Military Matters A prince must have no other objective, no other thought, nor take up any profession but that of war. The only thing a prince needs to study is the art of war. This is the primary discipline of the ruler. Mastery of this discipline can make even a common citizen a great ruler. The easiest way to lose a state is by neglecting the art of war. The best way to win a state is to be skilled in the art of war.
Machiavelli offers an analogy, asking us to picture two men: one armed, the other unarmed. It would not be reasonable to expect the armed man to obey the unarmed man. Nor would it be reasonable to expect the unarmed man to feel safe and secure if his servants are armed. The unarmed man will be suspicious of the armed man, and the armed man will feel contempt for the unarmed man, so cooperation will be impossible. A prince who does not understand warfare attempting to lead an army is like the unarmed man trying to lead the armed. The prince must spend all of his time studying the art of war.
This study is both a physical and mental process. The prince must train his body to hardships and learn to hunt wildlife. He must study geography and its effect on battle strategy. He must read history and study the actions of great leaders.
A prince must prepare rigorously during peacetime in order to be well prepared for wartime. Chapter XV: Concerning Things for Which Men, and Princes Especially, Are Praised or Censured Machiavelli turns the discussion from the strength of states and principalities to the correct behavior of the prince. Machiavelli admits that this subject has been treated by others, but he argues that an original set of practical rather than theoretical rules is needed. Other philosophers have conceived republics built upon an idealized notion of how men should live rather than how men actually live. But truth strays far from the expectations of imagined ideals. Specifically, men never live every part of their life virtuously.
A prince should not concern himself with living virtuously, but rather with acting so as to achieve the most practical benefit. In general, some personal characteristics will earn men praise, others condemnation. Courage, compassion, faith, craftiness, and generosity number among the qualities that receive praise. Cowardice, cruelty, stubbornness, and miserliness usually meet with condemnation. Ideally, a prince would possess all the qualities deemed "good" by other men.
But this expectation is unrealistic. A prince's first job is to safeguard the state, and harboring "bad" characteristics is sometimes necessary for this end. Such vices are truly evil if they endanger the state, but when vices are employed in the proper interests of the state, a prince must not be influenced by condemnation from other men. Chapter XVI: Liberality and Parsimony Of all the things he must guard against, hatred and contempt come first, and liberality leads to both.
Liberality, or generosity, is a quality that many men admire. But if a prince develops a reputation for generosity, he will ruin his state. A reputation for generosity requires outward lavishness, which eventually depletes all of the prince's resources. In the end, the prince will be forced to burden his people with excessive taxes in order to raise the money to maintain his reputation for generosity. Ultimately, the prince's liberality will make the people despise and resent him. Moreover, any prince who attempts to change his reputation for generosity will immediately develop a reputation for being a miser.
A parsimonious, or ungenerous, prince may be perceived as miserly in the beginning, but he will eventually earn a reputation for generosity. A prince who is thrifty and frugal will eventually have enough funds to defend against aggression and fund projects without having to tax the people unduly. In history, the actions of Pope Julius II, the present king of France, and the present king of Spain all support the view that parsimony enables the prince to accomplish great things. Some might argue that successful leaders have come to power and sustained their rule by virtue of their generosity, such as Caesar.
But if Caesar had not been killed, he would have found that maintaining his rule required moderating his spending. In sum, generosity is self-defeating. Generosity uses up resources and prevents further generosity. While parsimony might lead to ignominy, generosity will eventually lead to hatred. Chapter XVII: Concerning Cruelty: Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than to Be Feared, or the Reverse Compassion, like generosity, is usually admired. But a prince must be careful that he does not show compassion unwisely.
If a prince is too compassionate, and does not adequately punish disloyal subjects, he creates an atmosphere of disorder, since his subjects take the liberty to do what they please-even to the extremes of murder and theft. Crime harms the entire community, whereas executions harm only the individuals who commit crimes. Some measure of cruelty is necessary to maintain order. But a prince should be careful in his exercise of cruelty, tempering it with humanity and prudence. Machiavelli then asks whether being feared or loved is preferable. Ideally, a prince should be both loved and feared, but this state of affairs is difficult to attain.
Forced to make a choice, it is much better to be feared than loved. This is because men, by nature, are "ungrateful, fickle, dissembling, anxious to flee danger, and covetous of gain." In times of remote danger, they are willing to take risks for their prince, but if the danger is real, they turn against their prince. It is easy to break a bond of love when the situation arises, but the fear of punishment is always effective, regardless of the situation. When inducing fear, however, a prince must be careful to avoid inducing hatred. A prince must make sure that any executions are properly justified.
Above all, a prince should never confiscate the property of his subjects or take their women, since this is most likely to breed hatred. If a prince must confiscate property, he must make sure he has a convincing reason. With one's army, however, there is no such thing as too much cruelty. Keeping an army disciplined and united requires cruelty, even inhuman cruelty. Chapter XVIII: In What Way Princes Should Keep Their Word Machiavelli acknowledges that a prince who honors his word is generally praised by others.
But historical experience demonstrates that princes achieve the most success when they are crafty, cunning, and able to trick others. There are two ways of fighting: by law or by force. Laws come naturally to men, force comes naturally to beasts. In order to succeed, the prince must learn how to fight both with laws and with force-he must become half man and half beast.
When a prince uses force, he acts like a beast. He must learn to act like two types of beasts: lions and foxes. A fox is defenseless against wolves; a lion is defenseless against traps. A prince must learn to act like both the fox and the lion: he must learn, like the fox, how to recognize traps and, like the lion, how to frighten off wolves. In dealing with people, a prince must break his promises when they put him at a disadvantage and when the reasons for which he made promises no longer exist. In any case, promises are never something on which a prince can rely, since men are by nature wretched and deceitful.
A prince should be a master of deception. However, a prince must be careful to exude a virtuous aura that belies his deceitful mind. Pope Alexander VI was one ruler who excelled at this art. A prince should present the appearance of being a compassionate, trustworthy, kind, guileless, and pious ruler. Of course, actually possessing all these virtues is neither possible nor desirable. But so long as a prince appears to act virtuously, most men will believe in his virtue.
If the populace believes the prince to be virtuous, it will be easier for him to maintain his state. Moreover, men will judge their prince solely on appearance and results. Thus, it doesn't matter to the people that a prince may occasionally employ evil to achieve his goal. So long as a prince appears virtuous and is successful in running the state, he will be regarded as virtuous. Chapter XIX: The Need to Avoid Contempt and Hatred A prince must avoid being hated and despised at all costs.
A prince may be criticized for a lack of virtue, but he will never be hated for it. However, a prince will be hated if he takes the property or women of his subjects. A prince must also avoid robbing his subjects of their honor. A prince will be despised if he has a reputation for being fickle, frivolous, effeminate, cowardly, or irresolute. If a prince is regarded highly by his subjects, he will be shielded from conspiracies and open attacks. A prince should worry about two things: internal insurrection from his subjects and external threats from foreign powers.
Defending against foreign enemies requires a strong army and good allies. A strong army always leads to good allies. A prince can defend against internal insurrection by making sure he is not hated or scorned by the people. This is a powerful defense against conspiracies.
A conspirator will have the courage to proceed with his conspiracy only if he believes the people will be satisfied when he kills the ruler. But if the people would be outraged by the ruler's death, the conspirators will never have the gall to carry out the conspiracy. By default, conspiracies are at a disadvantage. They require the support of many people, each of whom faces severe punishment if the conspiracy is discovered. Furthermore, each of these people can profit richly by informing the prince about the conspiracy. A prince has on his side the entire government, his allies and the laws of the state.
If he secures the goodwill of the people, he seems invulnerable in the eyes of conspirators. Whenever possible, a prince should delegate the administration of unpopular laws to others and keep in his own power the distribution of favors. Sometimes it will not be possible to avoid being hated by some members of the populace. If it is not possible for the prince to avoid being hated, he must make it his first priority to escape the hatred of the most powerful parties. In many instances, this will mean ensuring good standing within the ranks of the military. But a prince should not worry too much about satisfying the demands of the troops, especially if it comes at the expense of the people.
A number of later Roman emperors were overthrown due to excessive cruelty performed for the sake of their army. The exception was Septimius Severus, who, emulating both lion and fox, overawed both his army and his people. Most present-day princes need not fear their armies and should be attentive to the people. Chapter XX: Whether Fortresses and Many Other Expedients That Princes Commonly Employ Are Useful or Not To defend against internal insurrection, princes have used a variety of strategies. Some have divided towns, some have disarmed the populace, some have tried to woo disloyal subjects, and others have built or destroyed fortresses. The effectiveness of each of these policies depends on the individual conditions, but a few generalizations can be made.
Historically, new princes have never prevented their subjects from having weapons. Arming subjects fosters loyalty among the people and defends the prince. Disarming subjects will breed distrust, which leads to civil animosity. But if a prince annexes a state, he must disarm his new subjects. He can allow his supporters in the new state to keep their arms, but eventually they must also be made weaker. The best arrangement is to have the prince's own soldiers occupying the new state.
However, weakening an annexed territory by encouraging factionalism only makes it more easily captured by foreigners, as the Venetians learned. Princes become great by defeating opposition. Thus, one way to enhance their stature is to cunningly foster opposition that can be easily overcome. Moreover, fostering subversion in a new state will help reveal the motives of potential conspirators. Some princes have chosen to build fortresses to curb rebellion. Others have destroyed them, in order to maintain control in newly acquired states.
The usefulness of fortresses depends on the specific circumstances. But a fortress will not be able to protect a prince if he is hated by his subjects. The issue is not whether a prince should build a fortress. Rather, a prince should not put all his trust in a fortress, neglecting the attitudes of his people. Chapter XXI: What a Prince Must Do to Be Esteemed Great enterprises and noble examples are two ways for a prince to earn prestige.
Examples of great campaigns include those of King Ferdinand of Spain, who skillfully used his military to attack Granada, Africa, Italy, and France. These campaigns focused his people's attention and prevented attacks against Ferdinand. Nobility can be achieved by the grand public display of rewards and punishments. Above all, princes should win a reputation for being men of outstanding ability.
A prince can also win prestige by declaring himself an ally of one side of a conflict. Neutrality alienates both the victor and the loser. The victor sees the neutral prince as a doubtful friend; the loser sees the neutral prince as weak coward. Someone who is not your friend will always request that you remain neutral, while a true friend will always ask you for your armed support. A prince can escape short-term danger through neutrality, but at the cost of long-term grief. Instead, a prince should boldly declare support for one side.
If the prince allies with someone stronger than himself, and this ally wins, then the prince protects himself through the alliance, because the victor will feel an obligation to the prince. If this stronger ally loses, at least the prince will win the protection and shelter of the ally. If the prince is stronger than either opponent, an alliance essentially means the destruction of one side through the help of another. If possible, a prince should avoid siding with an ally whose power is greater than his own. Victory in this situation will only put the prince at mercy of that ally. However, sometimes such an alliance is unavoidable.
Because of such instances, a prince should never believe that a completely safe course exists. Instead, he should assess the risks presented by all options and choose the least risky course of action. A prudent prince can assess threats and accept the lesser evil. A prince should encourage his citizens to excel in their occupations, and live their lives in peace. Thus, a prince should never discourage or excessively tax private acquisition or prosperous commerce. Instead, a prince should reward those who contribute to the overall prosperity of the state.
Such rewards might include annual city-wide festivals and personal visits with guilds and family groups. Chapter XXII: Concerning the Prince's Ministers The selection of ministers is a critical task because ministers give visitors their first impression of the prince. Wise and loyal ministers contribute to the image of a wise prince. Inversely, incompetent and disloyal ministers give the prince the image of incompetence. There are three types of intellect that men can possess: the ability to understand things independently, the ability to appreciate another person's ability to understand things, and the ability to do neither. The first kind is best, the second acceptable, and the third useless.
If a prince possesses at least the second kind of intellect, he can judge whether his ministers' actions are good or bad. If a minister thinks more of himself than of the prince and does everything for personal profit, then he is a bad minister. A prince should recognize this state of affairs. Good ministers, however, should be rewarded to maintain their loyalty.
Rewards can be paid in money, honor, and expanded responsibilities. It is crucial for a prince to have a confident relationship with his ministers. Chapter XXIII: How to Avoid Flatterers Flatterers present a danger to any ruler because it is natural for powerful men to become self-absorbed. The best way to defend against such people is to convince them that you are not offended by the truth. But if everyone can speak to the prince, the prince will lose respect. A prince should allow only wise advisers to speak with him, and only when he specifically requests their advice.
A prince should not listen to anyone else and should be firm in his decisions. Vacillation will lead to a loss of respect. A prince must always seek advice. But he must seek it only when he wants it, not when others thrust it upon him. Most important, a prince must always be skeptical about the advice he receives, constantly questioning and probing. If he ever discovers that someone is concealing the truth from him, he must punish that person severely.
In the end, no matter how intelligent a prince's advisers might be, a prince is doomed if he lacks intelligence of his own. Wise princes should be honored for good actions proceeding from good advice. Chapter XXIV: Why the Princes of Italy Have Lost Their States Machiavelli suggests that any new prince who successfully follows the advice found in The Prince will enjoy the stability of a hereditary prince, since men are more aware of the present than of the past. A number of Italian princes have lost their states through their own military faults. They fled when they should have fought, expecting their subjects to call them back. These princes failed because of their own incompetence and not as a result of a string of bad luck.
They took too much comfort in prosperous times, never anticipating danger. When they were conquered, they hoped that the people would revolt and recall them. But it is always folly to depend upon others for security. A prince's best defense is his own valor. Chapter XXV: Concerning the Influence of Fortune in Human Affairs, and the Manner in Which It Is to Be Resisted Although it is often thought that fortune controls human affairs, fortune controls only half of one's actions, while free will determines the other half. Fortune is like a flooding river: it is only dangerous when men have not built dykes against it beforehand.
Italy has not built dykes, and as a result has experienced tumultuous upheaval. Germany, Spain, and France have taken better care and have reaped the benefits of stability. As fortune varies, one man may succeed and another fail, even if they both follow the same path. Times and circumstances change, so a prince must adjust to them in order to remain successful; however, men tend to stay on the course that has brought them success in the past. Circumstances allowed Julius II to act impetuously, but if he had lived longer, he would have been ruined when circumstances changed. On the whole, however, impetuosity surpasses caution.
Fortune favors energetic youth over cautious age. Chapter XXVI: An Exhortation to Free Italy from the Hands of the Barbarians Italy's current disarray favors the emergence of a new prince who will bring happiness to the Italian people. Until recently, there had been one who seemed ordained by heaven to redeem Italy. But a string of bad luck has prevented such an outcome.
Lorenzo de' Medici is Italy's best hope. If he has learned from the great men named in The Prince, the salvation of Italy will not be difficult. For though those men were great, they were still only men, with no greater opportunities or grace than Lorenzo's own. Past wars and princes have failed to strengthen Italy because its military system was old and defective.
To succeed, Lorenzo must create a national army. The Italian people are good fighters; only their leaders have failed. Lorenzo's army needs both good cavalry and infantry to defeat the Spaniards and the Swiss. Should a prince ever succeed in redeeming Italy, he would receive unending glory and be embraced in all the provinces with love.