Valentino, p.6

Valentino, page 6



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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 had the people 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.

  [*] Nabis, tyrant of Sparta, conquered by the Romans under Flamininus

  in 195 B.C.; killed 192 B.C.

  [+] Messer Giorgio Scali. This event is to be found in Machiavelli's

  "Florentine History," Book III.

  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 have 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 who 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


  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 the 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 will 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 ancient

  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; and 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 Colonnesi, 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, 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 people should almost destroy the

  Colonnesi, 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.

  [*] Charles VIII invaded Italy in 1494.

  Alexander the Sixth 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 of 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 Colonnesi 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.

  [*] Pope Leo X was the Cardinal de' Medici.



  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 foreign
ers came they showed

  what they were. Thus it was that Charles, King of France, was allowed

  to seize Italy with chalk in hand;[*] 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.

  [*] "With chalk in hand," "col gesso." This is one of the bons mots of

  Alexander VI, and refers to the ease with which Charles VIII

  seized Italy, implying that it was only necessary for him to send

  his quartermasters to chalk up the billets for his soldiers to

  conquer the country. Cf. "The History of Henry VII," by Lord

  Bacon: "King Charles had conquered the realm of Naples, and lost

  it again, in a kind of a felicity of a dream. He passed the whole

  length of Italy without resistance: so that it was true what Pope

  Alexander was wont to say: That the Frenchmen came into Italy with

  chalk in their hands, to mark up their lodgings, rather than with

  swords to fight."

  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 a 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 liberty.

  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,[%]

  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

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