the prince

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^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: MACHIAVELLI'S LIFE Living from 1469 to 1527, Niccolo Machiavelli saw what we now consider the height of the Italian Renaissance--a period that produced some of Italy's greatest achievements in the arts and sciences, but that also produced horrible scandals and the establishment of foreign domination over the peninsula. Brought up while members of the powerful Medici family were masters of Florence, he studied the classics and learned to read and write in Latin. He also showed a keen interest in, and the ability to learn from, the world around him. He was a diplomat, a student of history, and a writer of comedy--and his sharp and unique insights changed the face of political science forever. Machiavelli was born in Florence on May 3, 1469. We first hear of him playing an active role in the affairs of his native city in 1498, when the government dominated by Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar whose puritanical views had influenced Florence for the preceding four years, fell from power. One of Savonarola's supporters who lost his position as a result was Alessandro Braccesi, head of the second chancery, an office responsible for all correspondence related to the administration of Florentine territories. At first the post was left unoccupied, but after a short delay the little known name of Niccolo Machiavelli was put forward as a possible replacement. He was only twenty-nine years old at the time and apparently had no previous administrative experience. His nomination was confirmed, however, and he was appointed second chancellor of the Florentine Republic. It was an enormous opportunity, and the experiences and insights he would gain in the post would be used later in writing The Prince. At the time Machiavelli entered public service, there were already well-established standards for filling major administrative positions in Florentine government. In addition to exhibiting diplomatic skill, civil servants were expected to display competence in the "humane disciplines." These disciplines had been derived from ancient Roman sources especially from the orator and statesman Cicero, who had written about the need for formal study of Latin, rhetoric, history, moral philosophy, and politics to prepare a student for professional service to the community. Ultimately, they were the ancestor of the "humanities," or liberal arts curriculum in contemporary education. The popularity of the humanistic ideals in Florentine government help explain how Machiavelli came to be appointed to a responsible government post at such an early age. His family, though neither rich nor aristocratic, were closely allied with the city's leading humanists. Machiavelli's father, Bernardo, a lawyer, was friendly with several distinguished humanist scholars, including Bartolomeo Scala, who at one time served as first chancellor of Florence and whose treatise On Laws and Legal Judgments (1483) was dedicated to Bernardo. We learn from Bernardo's diary that his son began formal education at the age of seven. Basically, this was the study of Latin, the language that was the passport to the world of humanistic learning. By the time Machiavelli was twelve he had graduated from primary school and was enrolled in private classes. Later, he was accepted at the University of Florence, where he received training in the humanities, literature, and sciences from Marcello Adriani, who succeeded Scala as first chancellor of Florence. Do you think these contacts help explain why young Machiavelli suddenly was awarded the government post in 1498? Adriani had taken over as first chancellor earlier in the same year, and it's reasonable to assume that he remembered the talents of his brilliant student when he was filling vacancies in the chancery. It is also possible that Machiavelli's father exerted some influence. Machiavelli's official position involved him in very important duties. The first and second chanceries both handled official correspondence dealing with Florence's domestic, foreign, and military affairs. As head of the second chancery, Machiavelli was also soon assigned the further job of secretary to the Ten of War, the committee responsible for Florence's diplomatic relations. This meant that in addition to his routine office duties, Machiavelli sometimes traveled abroad to act as spokesman for the Ten. In some respects, Machiavelli's government position resembles that of a modern diplomatic attache: a skilled and reliable official who sends to the home office detailed reports and observations on the affairs of foreign nations. During the next fourteen years, Machiavelli was sent on numerous diplomatic missions to France, Switzerland, and Germany. His observations abroad resulted in many of the ideas that form the basis for the major statements found in his political works. In The Prince, for example, Machiavelli comments at length on Germany's well-fortified cities and evaluates the weak leadership of the French king, Louis XII. DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS In June 1500, Machiavelli was in France at the court of Louis XII, negotiating for assistance in regaining Pisa, which had asserted its independence from Florence and tried to establish an independent city-state. It was in France that Machiavelli saw first-hand the weak leadership of the king he describes so clearly in The Prince. He also learned about the French Parliament and its difficulties in resolving power struggles between the hereditary nobles and the common people. When the mission to France ended in December of that year, Machiavelli hurried home. His father had died shortly before his departure, his sister had died while he was away, and his family affairs were in disorder. He spent the next two years mainly in and around Florence. It was during this time that he met Marietta Corsini, whom he married about August, 1501. She remains a shadowy figure in Machiavelli's life, but his frequent letters to her suggest his genuine fondness for her. For her part, she bore six children and suffered greatly from her husband's long absences and many infidelities. She outlived Machiavelli by a quarter of a century. In 1501 Machiavelli met Cesare Borgia, whom he often refers to in The Prince as a model for the political and military leader. Borgia was an illegitimate son of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. After the cardinal became Pope Alexander VI in 1492, he tried to use his position to advance the fortunes of his family. He gave Cesare the title of Duke of Romagna (an area in northeastern Italy), and Cesare launched a series of campaigns to carve out a territory to match his new title. He quickly overran nearby areas and then asked that an envoy be sent to hear his terms for a formal alliance with Florence. The man selected for this delicate negotiation was Machiavelli. Machiavelli's mission to Borgia's court lasted four months, during which he had many private discussions with the duke. Machiavelli later reported to his superiors in Florence that Borgia was "superhuman in his courage" and "capable of attaining anything he wants"--someone who "must now be regarded as a new power in Italy." (These observations, originally sent in a secret dispatch to the Ten of War, appear almost word for word in Machiavelli's description of Cesare in Chapter 7 of The Prince.) In 1507, Machiavelli arrived at the court of Maximilian I, who was Holy Roman Emperor, but who had not been crowned by the pope in Rome. Machiavelli persuaded the emperor not to march into Italy and have himself crowned in Rome. He considered the emperor to be inept, with scarcely any of the qualifications necessary for conducting effective government. Maximilian's basic weakness, according to Machiavelli, was a tendency to be "altogether too lax and credulous" and readily "influenced by every different opinion." (In Chapter 23 of The Prince, Machiavelli incorporates many of the same phrases to sketch an unflattering portrait of Maximilian as incompetent and indecisive.) When Machiavelli returned to Florence, he received permission from the city's governing council to create a special military board responsible for recruiting a militia, obtaining arms, and providing for the city's defense. When Florence was threatened in 1512 by the Spanish, who wished to restore the Medici family to power, Machiavelli mobilized an army of twelve thousand men to repel the invasion. However, his ill-equipped citizen-soldiers were unable to withstand the heavily armed, disciplined, and seasoned Spanish forces. RETURN OF THE MEDICI The Medici then reentered the city of Florence after an absence of eighteen years. Within weeks the free republic of Florence was dissolved in favor of an oligarchy--a government where ruling power belongs to a few--and the Medici family assumed absolute power. With the downfall of the republic, Machiavelli's own political career also collapsed. In November 1512, he was dismissed from his government post and forbidden to leave Florentine territory for a year. In February 1513 came another blow: Machiavelli was falsely accused of taking part in an unsuccessful conspiracy against the Medici and was imprisoned. The one responsible for Machiavelli's imprisonment--Lorenzo de' Medici, grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent--is the same person to whom Machiavelli dedicated The Prince. Do you think this explains why some readers believe the dedication was intended to help Machiavelli win a pardon and regain his position in the new government? Or do you think Machiavelli's dedication was meant to be ironic and sarcastic? Early in the same year, the Medici family scored its most impressive triumph when Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici was elected pope as Leo X. The election greatly strengthened the new regime in Florence. The city held public celebrations for nearly a week. The election of Leo X also prompted the government to declare an amnesty as part of the rejoicing, and Machiavelli was freed along with many other political prisoners. As soon as he was released, Machiavelli sought reappointment to his former government post. When his pleas went unanswered, he withdrew to his farm at Sant' Andrea. At the age of forty-three, he saw little prospect of reversing his fortunes now that the Medici held power. His letters from this period reveal a sense of despair and isolation. He reports that he is pondering the insights he acquired during the fifteen years he served the Florentine government. The outcome, he says, is that "I have composed a little book On Principalities." This "little book" was Machiavelli's masterpiece, The Prince. It was started in the second half of 1513 and completed by Christmas of that year. Machiavelli hoped that The Prince would bring him to the notice of the "Medici lords." One reason--as the dedication to the treatise makes clear--was his desire to offer the Medici "some proof" that he was still their loyal subject. His other concern was to emphasize that he was a man worth employing, an expert who might prove useful to them. But Machiavelli never won the trust of the Medici, and he was not restored to his official position. From 1513 to the time of his death in 1525, he wrote historical narratives (The History of Florence, 1525), satirical plays (Mandragola, 1518), political treatises (The Discourses, 1519), military manuals (The Art of War, 1520), biographies of political figures (Life of Castruccio Castracani, 1520), and poems. On June 21, 1525, Machiavelli fell ill and died. He was buried in the small churchyard at Santa Croce, where other great Florentine artists and thinkers, such as Michelangelo and Galileo, also rest. In the eighteenth century, the citizens of Florence erected a monument to his memory; the inscription is simply, "No praise can enhance such a great name." ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: MACHIAVELLI'S REPUTATION AND INFLUENCE Machiavelli's works, especially The Prince, have been widely read for more than four and a half centuries, and Machiavelli's name has been familiar to millions who never read his works. Mostly, he has been condemned as a preacher of political immorality. In Elizabethan England, he was conventionally seen as a diabolical figure. Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), in his play The Jew of Malta (1590?), brings him on the stage under the name "Machevill" and makes him say (Prologue, lines 14-20): I count religion but a childish toy, And hold there is no sin but ignorance. Birds of the air will tell of murders past. I am asham'd to hear such fooleries! Many will talk of title to a crown: What right had Caesar to the empery? Might first made kings.... Certainly, the reputation of Machiavelli in England contributed much to the notion that Renaissance Italy was a place where intrigue, treachery, and political violence were not only practiced almost continuously but also shamelessly justified by the invocation of evil principles. It has even been suggested (probably incorrectly) that the expression "Old Nick," meaning the devil, is derived from Machiavelli's first name, Niccolo. But within a century of Machiavelli's lifetime, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) expressed a different opinion: "We are much beholden to Machiavelli and others that wrote what men do, and not what they ought to do." The accurate perception of Machiavelli as a careful and honest observer of human conduct has increasingly led to a much more positive view of his significance and value. Although in the popular mind he still retains his sinister reputation--"Machiavellian" has after all passed into the language to refer to the use of unscrupulous or deceptive means to advance one's ends--most writers today regard him as one of the founders of modern political thought. The influential political theorist Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), author of Leviathan (1651), strongly echoes Machiavelli's conviction that human beings are naturally wicked and require strong government to keep them from harming each other and reducing society to ruin. Moreover, Machiavelli's method of supporting all his conclusions with examples drawn from history or from the public life of his own time makes him perhaps the most important forerunner of modern political science, and of the social sciences in general. In this respect, he had particular influence on Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755), author of The Spirit of Laws (1748). Has Machiavelli's influence on political activity equaled his influence on political thought? It has frequently been asserted by writers hostile to Machiavelli that rulers like Napoleon I and Adolf Hitler used The Prince as a kind of textbook to guide them in the pursuit of power. Most scholars, however, say this notion is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. Machiavelli's purpose was to describe the realities of political life--not to set up a school for tyrants. Certainly, many modern politicians have read The Prince, and no doubt they have learned something from it. But, if Machiavelli's exposition applies to nineteenth--or twentieth-century figures like Napoleon and Hitler, that is much more an indication of how well he understood the political dimensions of human nature than it is evidence that such figures learned their methods from him. On the other hand, there are two important areas of political life in which Machiavelli's influence is evident. First, Machiavelli was an ardent patriot. He lived at a time when Italy was divided into dozens of principalities and city-states, and his primary attachment was quite naturally to his own city-state of Florence. But Machiavelli's eloquent call, at the end of The Prince, for the liberation of all Italy from foreign invaders marked a major step forward in the evolution of national consciousness. It took a long time for his hopes to be realized. But in the nineteenth century, when Italy was finally unified and freed from foreign domination, Machiavelli came to be recognized as one of the prophets of modern patriotism. Second, Machiavelli has had great influence as a military thinker. In many ways, he is considered to be the founder of modern military science. His treatise The Art of War, it has been said, laid the foundations of modern tactics. More generally, his study in The Prince of the rational use of force to get, keep, or increase political power is a direct antecedent of the work of the great European military theorist Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), author of On War (1833). Also, Machiavelli's repeated call for a citizen army--and his practical work as a government official in trying to build such an army for Florence--anticipates the mass armies that, ever since the age of the French Revolution, have fought most wars of modern national states. History has shown that Machiavelli exercised a profound influence on generations of readers. In what way may he influence us? Certainly we can learn a great deal from him about the political nature of people and about the way that educated people in early modern times thought and felt. That is important and valuable. Machiavelli's significance also lies in his personal example as a man of the Renaissance. He was a man of action, a statesman, and a diplomat. He was also a man of letters, who showed that he could produce works that became classics in the fields of politics and history--and who even wrote a play (Mandragola) that some critics have called the greatest Italian comedy! He reflected constantly upon the experience of his busy public life to obtain the materials for his writings. At the same time, he drew upon his scholarly and literary reflections for the wisdom he needed to guide him through the difficult and sometimes dangerous tangle of worldly business. Thus he exemplifies the ideal of versatility, of the integration of thought and action, that was so valued by people during the Renaissance. This ideal of the "Renaissance man" can still be useful today, when many people feel their individuality is threatened by the tendency to specialize more and more narrowly. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: FORM AND STRUCTURE You can divide The Prince into four basic parts. The first part, Chapters 1 to 11, catalogues the different types of principalities, or monarchical governments, and the ways in which they may be established and maintained. The second part, Chapters 12 to 14, describes the role military power plays in safeguarding a prince's, or monarch's, power. The third part, Chapters 15 to 23, lists the general characteristics and personal qualities needed to be an effective ruler. The fourth part, Chapters 24 to 26, is both a historical glimpse of the political climate of Italy in Machiavelli's time, and an emotional appeal by Machiavelli for a future ruler (Lorenzo de' Medici, in Machiavelli's mind) who can unite the forces of Italy and liberate the country from foreign rule. Machiavelli states that his aims in writing The Prince are to describe standards of political behavior, to help the reader to understand these standards, and to explain new political strategies that will assist rulers in maintaining power. In keeping with these goals, The Prince is a collection of concrete maxims--warnings and injunctions voiced in regard to specific points of policy, rules of conduct for different types of emergencies, and explanations of tactical moves and countermoves. You may consider The Prince a political pamphlet, written to educate and instruct readers in the general nature of the proper rules of political conduct, political strategy, and the political process. Or, you may regard it as a "laudatory treatise," a flattering expression of praise dedicated to a well-known personality. You might even look upon it as an essay--though a rather long and detailed one--that discusses different aspects of one theme in separate chapters. That one theme is, of course, how to rule. Some readers find it helpful to think of The Prince as a series of long letters written as if to a friend and intended to share personal confidences and mutual concerns. If you view the book in this way, you will be less troubled by its abrupt transitions, scattered thoughts, and lack of chronological order. Remember, though, that the book was written hastily, and is famous more for the ideas it contains than for its style. The events, historical figures, and examples that Machiavelli cites in The Prince were well known to him. In many instances he is merely recording what he saw, heard, or experienced in his political travels abroad. Having considerable personal knowledge of Italian politics during the turbulent years he describes, Machiavelli can also be considered a historian, one who is personally acquainted with many of the historical facts he is recalling for the reader. Although, in the strictest sense, Machiavelli was not a political philosopher, he did attempt to discover an order in the political process. He examined politics the way a scientist might research a cure for cancer: by analyzing data, reviewing past histories, testing hypotheses, and maintaining detailed records. This spirit of scientific objectivity was characteristic of the Renaissance approach to critical inquiry. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: THEMES The following are themes of The Prince. Machiavelli wrote in the early sixteenth century, and in order to determine his relevance to government today you'll want to examine these themes, and others in The Prince, very closely. You'll want to consider whether Machiavelli accurately analyzed affairs in Renaissance Italy, and whether people and government have remained fundamentally similar--despite obvious surface changes--so that his analysis, if correct, remains helpful. People and government are all around you, so you have plenty of opportunities to test Machiavelli's theories. 1. HUMAN NATURE Machiavelli believed that human nature does not change. This is the reason why he is equally willing to illustrate his points with examples drawn from ancient times and from his own. Although he recognized that people sometimes possessed remarkable abilities and could do admirable things, he believed that people in general were ungrateful, insincere, anxious to look out for their own safety, and greedy for gain. Machiavelli's view of human nature was based on observation, but it also comes out of the medieval Christian tradition which taught that human nature was weakened and corrupted by Original Sin. Machiavelli did not suggest that human weaknesses made government impossible, but rather that government must take account of man's real nature and use his real qualities for its purposes. 2. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE IDEAL AND THE REAL Machiavelli remarked that many had written about imaginary republics and principalities in which ideal conditions existed, but that he was considering real political conditions, because he wanted to write something useful. He did not deny the attractiveness and praiseworthiness of traditional morality, but he pointed out that moral behavior can at times be a liability in politics. To the extent, then, that success in politics is desired, politics requires a different set of principles. Machiavelli asserted that it is good for the ruler to appear virtuous, and also to be virtuous, but that the ruler who intends to be successful must be prepared to do bad things on occasion, when political realities demand such actions. This ideal that political requirements may override moral considerations came later on to be known by the French expression raison d'etat ("reason of state"). 3 VIRTU A key to Machiavelli's concept of political success is the idea of virtu. This Italian word does not have the same significance as the related English word "virtue." It does not mean moral goodness, but rather strength, ability, courage, and vitality. Machiavelli believed that this quality of virtu was found in its highest form in the founders of new states, such as Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, and Theseus. In The Discourses he suggested that the maintenance of liberty in a republic depends on the virtu of the citizens. In The Prince, on the other hand, dealing with states that are governed by individual rulers, he asserted that political success depends on the virtu--the force of character--of the ruler himself. 4. FORTUNE In contrast to the idea of virtu stands the idea of fortune. Clearly, many considerations that affect the success or failure of our efforts are not dependent upon anything we do; people attribute them to Providence, to chance, or to luck. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, fortune was sometimes personified as an allegorical figure. It was also often represented by the symbol of a wheel, which, as it turns, carries people now to the heights of success, now to the depths of ruin. Although Machiavelli strongly advocated the application of intelligence and vigor in human affairs, he admitted that there is a side to life over which we have little or no control. An example is the prince's health: Machiavelli recalled that Cesare Borgia had said to him that he had taken precautions against every possible thing that might happen on the death of his father, Pope Alexander VI--but that he had never thought that, when his father died, he might be dying himself. In general, Machiavelli advocated boldness. In an image that offends modern readers, but that is certainly powerful, he said, "Fortune is a woman, and it is necessary, if you wish to master her, to conquer her by force." 5. QUALITIES OF THE RULER Borrowing an image from medieval animal fables, Machiavelli said that the ruler must be able to imitate both the lion and the fox. The bravery and strength of the lion will not be enough to enable the ruler to escape the traps set by his enemies; for that, the slyness of the fox is also needed. This is especially true of the new prince, who is in a very exposed position. Machiavelli admitted that Marcus Aurelius, the "philosopher King" (Roman emperor, 161-180 A.D.), who had been a virtuous and just ruler, had kept his throne. But Marcus Aurelius had become emperor by hereditary succession. Machiavelli offered Septimius Severus (Roman emperor, 193-211 A.D.) as an example of a new prince who effectively used the techniques of both the lion and the fox to maintain himself in power. 6. MILITARY FORCE Machiavelli declared that the chief--even the only--subject that was of importance to the ruler was the art of war. He held that the cultivation of this art was the chief means of gaining and keeping power, and that the neglect of this art was the chief means of losing power. It was a central belief of Machiavelli's that security could only be obtained by raising a body of troops within one's own country--loyal soldiers who would be defending their own homes and families. He particularly opposed the use of mercenary forces, or dependence on the help of foreign armies. He was also inclined to downgrade the importance of fortifications, remarking that "the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people." 7. PATRIOTISM Another theme of great importance to Machiavelli is patriotism. Machiavelli wrote at a time when French, Spanish, and German armies were seeking to gain control of Italy. He believed that the ruin of Italy had been caused by its own military weakness. He called on Lorenzo de' Medici, to whom he addressed his book, to free Italy from foreign domination. He devoted most of his work to the discussion of political and military methods, and it often sounds as though these methods are only means of attaining power as an end in itself. But Machiavelli hoped that the great Florentine family of the Medici would use power--and the full repertory of "Machiavellian" methods--to liberate his country. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: STYLE Although all translators of a work try to capture the basic ideas of the original, they often disagree over individual words, phrases, or even complete sentences. Such differences will sometimes provoke a discussion of what meaning was intended by the author, a discussion that may result in a better understanding of the original work. This is especially true in translations of The Prince. For example, in translating Machiavelli's discussion in Chapter 21 of the ways that a prince can win a good reputation, Paul de Alvarez renders the original words thus: "Nothing makes a prince so esteemed as when he does great enterprises, and gives by himself rare examples of his actions." Luigi Ricci, on the other hand, translates the same sentence more indirectly, not crediting the enterprises mentioned by Alvarez as the prince's responsibility: "Nothing causes a prince to be so much esteemed as great enterprises and giving proof of prowess." Kenneth Douglas translates the same sentence only slightly differently from the first two, but substitutes "schemes" for "enterprises": "Nothing of a prince is so valued as his grand schemes, or when he gives himself to noble actions." George Bull chooses still a third word when he translates the sentence: "Nothing brings a prince more prestige than great campaigns and striking demonstrations of his personal abilities." Notice how the differences between the words chosen by the different translators open up a variety of possible interpretations. Ricci and Alvarez use the most general term, "enterprises." Douglas substitutes "schemes," which is likely to suggest more underhanded behavior to the reader. But Bull, with the word "campaigns," directs the thrust of Machiavelli's statement more in the direction of military activity. It is important to realize that, while any competent translation of The Prince will give you the essential substance of what Machiavelli wrote, different translations will often have subtle differences of tone. One reason for this is that Machiavelli's "rhetorical" style--his use of figures of speech like metaphor, simile, and hyperbole (exaggerated language) to express his meaning--is often difficult to put into contemporary terms. Machiavelli's use of the rhetorical style of writing is an important consideration to keep in mind when you read The Prince. At certain points in the discussion, you may need to remind yourself that the figures of speech are literary devices used to emphasize a point. For example, Machiavelli's use of hyperbole, should not be taken literally in Chapter 26, when he exhorts Lorenzo de' Medici to act swiftly to drive foreign invaders from Italy and thereby earn the gratitude of the people: "Nor can I possibly express with what affection he would be received in all those provinces that have suffered so long from this inundation of foreign foes!--with what thirst for vengeance, with what persistent faith, with what devotion, and with what tears!" Machiavelli also makes significant political statements in his use of metaphors and maxims (wise proverbs). The most obvious metaphorical image is the use of the myth of Chiron in Chapter 18. The example of Chiron (who was a centaur--half man, half beast) is for Machiavelli a positive force that promotes a keen mind (man) and a strong will to survive (beast). Carrying the imagery further, Machiavelli suggests that the prince should have two sides to his "beast" nature: he should strive to be both a "lion" and a "fox" in his political posture. Maxims are another literary technique used in The Prince. These "golden rules" of political behavior and attitude are sprinkled throughout the book and help pinpoint Machiavelli's thought. One very practical piece of advice is found in Chapter 10, when he warns that "it will not be difficult for a prudent prince to keep the courage of his citizens in time of siege... provided there be no lack of provisions or means of defense." Machiavelli wrote The Prince hurriedly, in a burst of passion, and his rising and falling emotions are visible in his changing writing style. Much of the material in The Prince is presented in direct and simple language. With his carefully reasoned and logical arguments to sway the thoughtful reader, Machiavelli's political experience and his abilities as a scholar shine through; in these passages he is, in essence, a thoughtful and capable adviser counseling his leader. He can also be biting, sarcastic, as when he discusses the "virtues" of leaders who failed. You can almost feel his contempt at the stupidity of Louis XII, the French king who made blunder after blunder when dealing with foreign powers and territories. In striking contrast, there is the eloquence and poetic imagery of the last chapter, where Machiavelli makes an impassioned plea for patriotism, in the hopes of firing Lorenzo's enthusiasm for liberating Italy. Though the tone sometimes changes from passage to passage, the text flows naturally; it is as if Machiavelli is talking to you. What kind of conversationalist is he? A very skilled one, most would agree, because the different arguments--whether using scholarly, scientific analysis; stirring poetic eloquence; or cutting sarcasm--always seem to hit the mark. NOTE ON SEXISM Although Machiavelli's 450-year-old instructions are how a man can increase his power and become prince over all men, these terms should be considered only as the standard, general forms of address that existed in Machiavelli's day. If Machiavelli lived in the twentieth century, his writing would undoubtedly reflect modern usage; as a political realist, he'd be very much aware of the equal abilities of women. In fact, during his diplomatic career, Machiavelli had engaged in difficult negotiations with women as well as with men. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: POINT OF VIEW If you read the chapters carefully, you may notice that Machiavelli occasionally switches his point of view. Try to pay attention to the literary person in which he writes, because it may help you decide how to interpret the passage. When he uses the personal pronoun I--as in Chapter 14 when he says, "I say that on the side of the conspirator there is nothing but fear"--he is presenting himself as a knowledgeable expert who can give informed advice and make predictions based on experience. When he writes you--"You must know, then, that as soon as the Roman Empire began to lose its power... Italy became subdivided into a number of states" (Chapter 12)--he is addressing his intended reader, Lorenzo de' Medici, and is either imparting gentle reminders (to a "superior") of the historical past or stern judgments on the Italian present. And when he speaks of they--"They know not how to command, having never occupied any but private stations" (Chapter 7)--he is referring to past rulers, military leaders, or political figures who have failed in their use of authority and leadership. By keeping the "person" in mind as you read the book, you should find it easier to determine when Machiavelli is saying things he intends for Lorenzo's ear only, or when he's speaking to the general reader with references to specific events, episodes, or personalities that have helped fashion his own political views. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: DEDICATION The Prince begins with the author's dedication to Lorenzo de' Medici, grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Machiavelli appeals to Lorenzo with poetic images and flattery, calling him "your Magnificence" and asking that he look favorably on the book. He tells Lorenzo that, in this book, he is giving him his most valuable possession: the knowledge of government that he has gained from years of experience and study. NOTE: Dedications were customary when Machiavelli wrote. Leading artists frequently chose a powerful nobleman or government official to honor in this manner. Some readers, however, consider Machiavelli's praise of Lorenzo as unwarranted, and a thinly veiled attempt to be restored to public office or to have his banishment lifted. (Remember that Machiavelli's removal from office wasn't due to any fault of his own, but occurred because he was a high-ranking official of the government that the Medici overthrew.) You should examine the dedication closely and decide for yourself about Machiavelli's intent. If you believe he's making a calculated appeal to Lorenzo's pride, the chapters that follow may ring false. But if you think he's asking Lorenzo for an appointment to public office or for pardon, the chapters may take on new meaning for you, as Machiavelli spells out the specifics of his argument. Once you've finished the entire book, go back and reread the dedication, and see if your opinion's changed. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTERS 1 AND 2 The first two chapters of The Prince introduce types of rule common when Machiavelli wrote: republics and principalities. He points out that he has already discussed the role of republics--democratic states in which power rests with the citizens and their elected representatives--in an earlier work and asks you to consider now the subject of principalities. NOTE: A BALANCED VIEW OF THE PRINCE To fully understand Machiavelli's motives in writing The Prince, you need to be able to separate the man from the book. That this is not an easy task is evidenced by the poor public reputation Machiavelli has had through the centuries. To call someone Machiavellian is to call that person sinister, diabolical, without regard for human morality. You must remember that The Prince was written as a specific solution to a specific problem. In it, Machiavelli describes monarchy, yet that fact does not mean Machiavelli favored monarchy above all other forms of government. Florence had tried a republican form of government and had failed. The Medici were now in control, and Machiavelli was writing about current political realities. Actually, Machiavelli considered the Roman Republic a more admirable form of government than any monarchy. He wrote about republican regimes at length in Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy (1518?). Principalities are either hereditary or new. Hereditary principalities are those whose government has been in the family of a ruler, or prince, for a long time. New principalities are those that are entirely new, like Milan, or those that have been annexed to a state by the prince who acquires them--as the kingdom of Naples was to Spain during Machiavelli's time. Hereditary states, accustomed to their princes, are maintained with much less difficulty than new states. An example of a hereditary prince ruling his state is the Duke of Ferrara, who could not have resisted the assaults of the Venetians in 1484, nor those of Pope Julius II in 1510, had he not held the reins of power by hereditary right. A well-established prince, like the Duke of Ferrara, thus has less cause and less necessity for irritating his subjects; and it is reasonable to assume that he should be more popular than other princes. And unless extraordinary vices should cause him to be hated, he will naturally have the affection of his people. NOTE: USE OF HISTORICAL EXAMPLES Machiavelli takes many of his historical examples from contemporary rulers, politicians, and religious figures. Some commentators suggest that Machiavelli's use of well-known names and events is evidence that he's appealing to Lorenzo de' Medici's sense of national pride in order to win his favor. Consider this explanation as you interpret The Prince, but also be aware that Machiavelli's considerable political experience and travel abroad on diplomatic missions provided him with many examples of leadership that could have served as role models for the intended reader of the book. In reviewing the types of principalities outlined in Chapters 1 and 2, how would you describe the systems of government in the United States or Great Britain in terms of Machiavelli's political scheme? Would each fit easily into one of these types of principality? Consider this question carefully before reading further; it will help you strengthen your understanding of the distinctions critical to each of Machiavelli's categories. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 3 In Chapter 3, Machiavelli continues some of the arguments of the first two chapters and presents examples of principalities that are "mixed." Mixed principalities, those that include both old possessions of the ruler and newly acquired territories, are difficult to maintain and are subject to rebellion. Fighting may continue simply because freedom fighters rebel against foreign rule, or because the new prince is disliked by both his original followers and his conquered enemies. Thus, the new prince finds that his enemies include all those whom he has injured by seizing his new principality; at the same time, he may lose the friendship of those who aided him in the conquest, because he can't satisfy their expectations. To clarify his point of view, Machiavelli describes the historical situation of King Louis XII of France, who occupied Milan but could not win the support of its citizens despite their previous suffering under the harsh and cruel Italian prince Ludovico Sforza. So that the fickle and unpredictable nature of the people won't undermine a prince's quest for power, Machiavelli suggests possible strategies to ensure that a newly acquired principality can be governed with a minimum of effort. The tough but realistic strategies advanced show clearly Machiavelli's experience--drawn both from his study of history and from his years as a diplomat. Look at the strategies carefully. Do you think they would work? Do you think the American Revolution would have happened if King George III of England had followed Machiavelli's advice? NOTE: In the discussion so far Machiavelli has often referred to rebellion, force, and power. They will be discussed at length in the book, for they are essential ingredients in the Italian Renaissance world of power politics. Notice, also, that the principalities described so far depend on military superiority or the individual strength of forceful men. Is there any support for his views in recent history? Do you think the social and political upheavals of the late twentieth century in the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and other areas support Machiavelli's analysis? The Romans, Machiavelli observes, followed these strategies carefully in the territory they conquered. They established colonies there and assisted the feebler chiefs--whom the Romans could control--without increasing their power, while they humbled the stronger chiefs--whom they could not control. They also permitted no powerful foreigners to acquire influence there. Thus, says Machiavelli, the Romans did what all the wise princes ought to do: they not only took care of present troubles, but also tried to avoid future ones. Foreseen difficulties can be provided against; but when you wait for problems to become serious, you run the risk of letting them become so big you can no longer control them. And so it is with the affairs of state. The strategic errors made by Louis XII when he unsuccessfully invaded Italy are a good example. Louis XII accepted the invitation of Venice--a powerful and independent Italian city-state and the two powers combined forces to capture Lombardy. Then Louis XII rejected overtures for a treaty and alliance made by other Italian city-states and embarked on a personal journey of conquest. He made an ill-advised pledge to help Pope Alexander VI occupy Romagna and, by doing so, alienated his friends and supporters. When he later rejected the pope's request to become ruler of Tuscany, he created a strong rival and potential challenger to his rule. Not content with having snubbed the pope and with having alienated his own friends, Louis, in his eagerness to possess the kingdom of Naples, shared it with the king of Spain--who was powerful enough to drive him out later. Louis XII committed these five errors, says Machiavelli, and they cost him his power: He destroyed the weak; he increased the power of one already powerful in Italy; he established a very powerful stranger there; he did not go to reside in Italy himself; and he did not plant colonies there. These errors, however, would not have injured him during his lifetime had he not committed a sixth one by attempting to deprive the Venetians of their possessions--and thereby turning that powerful city against him. The decision to divide the kingdom of Naples with the Spaniards for the sake of avoiding a war alienated the Venetians who had helped Louis acquire his new kingdom. No prince, says Machiavelli, should ever submit to such an evil. For a war is never avoided; it is only deferred to one's own disadvantage and, as in the case of Louis XII, inevitable defeat. NOTE: THE ERRORS OF LOUIS XII The example of Louis XII was a very significant political fact for Machiavelli. He frequently returns to the example of Louis and his strategic errors as he points out the specific lessons to be learned from the mistakes of the French king. Machiavelli had known Louis XII personally. It might be helpful to your reading of The Prince to know that Cesare Borgia--Machiavelli's model prince--did follow the suggestions made here for the prince who acquires new principalities. Is Machiavelli, perhaps, trying to persuade Lorenzo to follow the blueprint of Cesare Borgia if he wishes to avoid the fate of Louis XII? Keep Cesare Borgia in mind as you begin to frame your own interpretation of the narrative that follows. It could help you to understand later references to him as a prince worthy of imitation. The chapter concludes with the first of Machiavelli's golden, or general, rules for political power (these maxims, or proverbs, are intended to guide a prince in his quest for power and are excellent summaries of Machiavelli's thoughts on acquiring and maintaining power.): The prince who causes another to become powerful thereby works his own ruin; for he has contributed to the power of the other either by his ability or force, and both the one and the other will be mistrusted by him whom he has thus made powerful. There are other golden rules sprinkled throughout the book; they are clear statements of Machiavelli's best advice. Look for them. Underline them in your copy. When you collect all the rules concerning absolute power, rule by force, military strength, and political ethics, you will have in hand a convenient summary of Machiavelli's major themes in The Prince. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 4 Now Machiavelli turns his attention to the contrast between two fundamentally different kinds of states. All principalities, says Machiavelli, have been governed in one of two ways: either by one absolute prince, to whom all others are completely subordinate--even the government ministers--or else by a prince and hereditary nobles, who hold their ranks not by the grace of the prince but by the antiquity of their lineage. (For a more detailed account of the role that ministers or advisers play in aiding a prince, see Chapters 22 and 23.) In those principalities that are governed by an absolute prince, the prince has far more power and authority. The best example of the first type of rule in Machiavelli's day was the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, which was governed by an absolute monarch, who divided the country into districts supervised by appointed governors who could be replaced at their master's pleasure. The best example of the second type of rule was France, whose king was surrounded by large numbers of ancient nobles who were recognized and acknowledged by the people as lords, and who were held in great affection by them. The nobles had their rank and hereditary rights, which the king couldn't take away without danger to himself. The Ottoman Empire, Machiavelli advises Lorenzo, would be difficult to conquer. A potential conqueror will not be invited into the country by any of the great nobles of the state, nor could he hope for a revolt by the ministers. Since they're all slaves and dependents of their master, it is difficult to corrupt them, and even if they are corrupted, they can't arouse the common people. Whoever attacks the Turks, therefore, must expect to find them united and must depend wholly upon his own forces, and not upon help from within the country. France, on the other hand, would be easier to conquer, because having won over some of the great nobles, the prince will have no difficulty in entering the country. But for the conqueror to maintain himself there afterward will involve infinite difficulties. Nor will it be enough merely to wipe out the family of the former ruler, because the great nobles will place themselves at the head of new resistance movements; and the conqueror, not being able either to satisfy them or to crush them, will quickly lose the country again. Machiavelli then shifts his focus to Alexander the Great, who conquered the kingdom of Darius of Persia in southwestern Asia between 331 and 327 B.C. Persia was a kingdom that resembled the Ottoman Empire, the reason why Alexander, a great strategist, decided to attack in full force. After the defeat of their absolute ruler, Darius, the people shifted their loyalties to Alexander, who ruled strongly and wisely, maintaining Darius's empire and expanding it even further into Asia. It was only after Alexander's death, in 323 B.C., that his enormous empire was divided into a number of separate states ruled by independent monarchs. Machiavelli blames Alexander's successors for the demise of the empire. If they had remained united they might also have enjoyed vast power at their ease, since there were no disturbances in the empire except those they created themselves. To reinforce his point of view, Machiavelli again cites the manner in which the Romans--his favorite example--dealt with similar problems in the territories they conquered. The frequent insurrections of Spain, France, and Greece against the Romans were due to the many petty princes that existed in those states. As long as the memory of those old princes endured, the Romans were never secure in their control over those regions. But once the families of those princes were extinguished, the Romans became secure possessors of the territories. As a result, even afterward, when the Romans fought among themselves, each of the parties was able to keep for itself the province where it had established regional authority. NOTE: ROLE OF VIOLENCE IN POLITICS Here, most readers agree, is one example of Machiavelli's patriotic efforts to persuade Lorenzo to act swiftly and draw up plans to conquer Italy, which, like France, was then divided among many states and was therefore an easy prey. (The unified Italy you know today was established in the nineteenth century.) When Machiavelli says that the Romans extinguished the families of the sovereigns when they captured new territory, he is carefully laying the foundation for his later discussion of the role that violence might play in power politics. Keep this in mind as you continue to read The Prince. While contemporary "civilized" politicians would, at least in public, resist much of what Machiavelli suggests in this chapter, it is still apparent that his examples have modern parallels. Consider the role that violence, murder, and terrorism play in many countries. Can you think of any country where civil war, rebellion, or revolution has prevented the achievement of national promise? Is your example similar to the Ottoman Empire, with a powerful ruler and his loyal ministers? Or is it similar to France, with a powerful ruler and his reliable barons, or local chieftains? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 5 A principality accustomed to liberty and to government under its own laws can be held by a prince in three different ways. First, the prince might destroy the entire province, as the Romans did when they leveled the city of Carthage after the Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.). Second, the prince might move his government to the conquered province and live there himself in order to maintain absolute authority over the region. Third, the prince might permit the province--if it pays him regular tribute--to continue to live under its own laws and to establish a government of the few who will keep the country friendly to him. Machiavelli then cites the classic examples of Sparta and Rome. Sparta, after conquering its chief rivals, Athens and Thebes, permitted each city to establish a friendly government. In time, however, both Athens and Thebes rebelled and drove the Spartans from their conquered territory. Rome, which also tried the Spartan experiment of a cooperative government when it ruled Greece later, soon discovered that the only way to maintain power was to destroy or completely subjugate those cities most likely to rebel. Whoever becomes master of a city that has been accustomed to liberty, and does not destroy it, says Machiavelli, must himself expect to be ruined by it. No matter what is done, or what precautions are taken, if the inhabitants are not separated and dispersed, they will revolt in the name of liberty and their ancient institutions--as was done by Pisa after having been held captive over one hundred years by the Florentines. But the situation is quite different with states that have been accustomed to live under one prince. When the line of the old prince is extinguished, the inhabitants, being accustomed to obey, yet having lost their hereditary sovereign, can't agree upon a new prince from among themselves; nor do they know how to live in liberty. Therefore, they'll be less prompt to take up arms, and the new prince will easily be able to gain their good will and to assure himself of their support. NOTE: PISA AS A SYMBOL OF LIBERTY Machiavelli's account of Pisa, national symbol of Italian independence and liberty, is especially significant here. In 1494, when Charles VIII of France invaded Italy, Pisa took advantage of the ensuing chaos and successfully rebelled against Florence, ending nearly a hundred years of Florentine domination. How does this supporting example influence your interpretation of what Machiavelli has said so far in the chapter? Is his purpose here, as some readers believe, to remind Lorenzo to proceed cautiously in dealing with freedom-loving city-states such as Pisa after he has won the battle for national unity? Or is Machiavelli's love for liberty, as exemplified by defiant Pisa, so strong that it emerges in this chapter as if to mockingly contradict his theories? Remember that Machiavelli has seen his beloved Italy overrun by foreign powers and has had to compromise his ideals to speak directly to the reality of sixteenth-century Italian politics. Look for a possible shift in his analysis as you continue to read. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 6 There are historical and classical examples of noble leaders who have gained new principalities by their courage and ability, rather than by the benevolent hand of good fortune. Machiavelli believes the study of these examples is important. His second golden rule advises: A wise man should ever follow the ways of great men and endeavor to imitate only such as have been most eminent; so that even if his merits do not quite equal theirs, yet that they may in some measure reflect their greatness. The examples of powerful princes who used their courage and ability--what Machiavelli calls their virtu--to advance their careers are drawn from history, and include Moses, Romulus (the legendary founder of Rome), Cyrus (founder of the Persian Empire), and Theseus (mythological king of Athens). According to Machiavelli, Moses, the biblical figure who liberated the Jews from Egypt, was fortunate that the people of Israel were slaves in his time, or they might not have chosen to follow him. Machiavelli skips over Moses fairly quickly because Christians would be likely to attribute his success, not to his own ability, but to the help he was believed to have received from God. Romulus was lucky that he was expelled from his native Alba, or he would not have become the founder of Rome in 753 B.C. Likewise, if the Persians had not been discontented with their Median rulers, Cyrus might never have gained power. Even Theseus was favored by the gods when the Athenians fled without engaging his advancing armies in combat. Each of these leaders was presented with unique opportunities, but could not have succeeded without also having exceptional personal ability. They had no other favor from fortune but opportunity, which gave them the material to mold into whatever form seemed to them best. It was these opportunities, therefore, that made these men fortunate; and it was their personal courage and talents that enabled them to recognize the opportunities by which their countries were made illustrious and happy. Those who by similar noble conduct become princes acquire their principalities with difficulty but maintain them with ease. The difficulties they experience in acquiring their principalities arise in part from the new ordinances and customs they are obliged to introduce to found their state and maintain their own security. When leaders depend upon their own strength, they rarely incur danger. Thus it was that the leaders who came with arms in hand were successful, while those who were not armed were ruined. Neither Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, nor Romulus would have been able to enforce their laws and institutions for any length of time if they had not been prepared to enforce them with arms. To further reinforce his point, Machiavelli introduces the story of Girolamo Savonarola. Savonarola was a Dominican friar who had much influence in Florence from 1494 until his death in 1498. Admired by the people, he was a reformer who advocated high standards of personal morality. However, Savonarola failed in his attempt to establish a new order of things as soon as the people ceased to believe in him. He didn't have the means to keep his believers firm in their faith, nor did he have the power to make skeptics believe. Without a powerful military to protect him, Savonarola was soon overthrown and his reforms were swept away. In contrast to Savonarola, Machiavelli cites Hiero II of Syracuse, a figure from the third-century. He began as a private citizen of considerable ability. After the people of his city, located on the coast of Sicily, made him ruler because of his demonstrated talents, Hiero disbanded the old military force and created a new one loyal to him. Then he abandoned his old allies and alliances. Although he had much trouble in winning a principality, once he had done so he had little difficulty in maintaining it. Here, Machiavelli declares, is an example of a prince who relies more on his own strength and ability, than on good fortune, to achieve his objectives. NOTE: The example of Savonarola is interesting. Machiavelli is said to have witnessed Savonarola's execution and to have openly wept. If Machiavelli were really the diabolical person that popular opinion considers him, would he have done this? It's also important here to understand Machiavelli's definition of fortune, especially when he later contrasts it with virtue. Fortune presents opportunities. A prince may be presented with several opportunities, but the superior prince will unhesitatingly take full advantage of each opportunity. "Strike while the iron is hot" is Machiavelli's advice. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 7 That Machiavelli should devote a considerable portion of this chapter to Cesare Borgia should not surprise you. He has alluded to Cesare in the first six chapters and here acknowledges that he knows no better lesson he could give a new prince than holding up to him the example of Cesare Borgia's conduct. To preface his long narrative on Cesare's career, Machiavelli first describes the position of Francesco Sforza. By legitimate means and natural ability, Sforza rose from being a private citizen to become Duke of Milan. Once he attained that position, it was very easy for him afterward to maintain it. On the other hand, Cesare, commonly called Duke Valentino, acquired his state by the good fortune of his father--but lost it when he no longer was sustained by that good fortune. NOTE: As you read the long historical description that follows, pay careful attention to Machiavelli's praise of Cesare as a perfect example of the prince who was wise, skillful, and worthy of imitation. The description is still valuable to us today because it paints an accurate picture of Machiavelli's Italy in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. It can also help you understand Machiavelli's political and personal views on individual freedom, the rights of a ruler, and political negotiations. Can you think of modern rulers who were in situations similar to Borgia's? This might help to clarify Machiavelli's point of view in holding up Cesare as a model. What strengths do you think Borgia and your examples exhibited in their rules? What weaknesses? Machiavelli's account of Cesare's rule mentions that Pope Alexander VI, Borgia's father, encountered many difficulties when he tried to use his power over the Church to help his illegitimate son. He couldn't grant him ecclesiastical states, because the other Italian city-states would object; and strong military forces were in the hands of the powerful Orsini and Colonna families, who were enemies of Alexander. The only solution, thought Alexander, was to disturb the existing order of things and to create chaos and civil conflict so that the powerful city-states that might oppose him would be too concerned for their own survival to object. Cesare urged his father to form an alliance with France's Louis XII. Venice unwittingly fell into the web of the conspiracy when it invited French protection, and Alexander sealed the alliance by agreeing to dissolve Louis's former marriage if he would lend French troops to aid in his son's conquest of the province of Romagna. All this political intrigue and strategic maneuvering by Alexander and Cesare reads like a modern mystery novel, with the major characters involved in disguise, deception, and ironic twists of plot. With the conquest of Romagna, Cesare finally had his own state. But he also inherited two problems in his quest to push his possessions still further: He doubted the loyalty of the Orsini troops who had helped him defeat the rival Colonna family and capture Romagna, and he didn't trust the French, who had a long history of betraying their allies and breaking alliances. Cesare moved swiftly to weaken the influence of both the Orsini and Colonna families. Using bribery, flattery, and political appointments to win over their followers, Cesare consolidated his power, while at the same time looking for an opportunity to crush the Orsini family. Finally, the Orsinis were subdued by Cesare and Alexander at Magione and then completely routed when the French joined the Borgias' Italian troops. Cesare ceremoniously assumed the role of duke of Romagna. Having conquered Romagna, Cesare found that the region was under the influence of a number of petty tyrants, and that it was infested with corruption, torn by crime, and given over to every sort of violence. One of his first acts to reestablish order was to appoint Remirro de Orco as governor. De Orco, a ruthless and energetic man, effectively crushed all opposition to Cesare's rule. After a while, however, Cesare began to fear that de Orco's cruelty might tarnish his own reputation. He therefore commissioned a tribunal to investigate de Orco's alleged crimes and cruelties. While the tribunal was gathering evidence of the governor's use of torture and violence, Cesare ordered his loyal followers to seize de Orco, cut him in half, and leave his body in the town square. Why do you think Cesare acted in this manner? According to Machiavelli, Borgia wished to show the people--to win their confidence--that if any cruelties had been practiced, they had not originated with him, but had resulted from the initiative of his minister. As the saga of Cesare continues, you now find that he was just consolidating his power when the ill winds of fortune struck: Cesare's father died and was succeeded by Pope Julius II, who was opposed to the Borgias. Cesare reacted immediately to save his threatened kingdom. He had already made plans for such a crisis, and was able to move quickly. His plan of action had involved four deliberate measures: First, he murdered all the families of those he had despoiled, to prevent the new pope from restoring them to their possessions. Second, he cultivated friendships and bribed priests in Rome who might be able to keep the pope in check. Third, he attempted to gain control of the College of Cardinals. These three steps had already been completed at the time of his father's death. When his father died, he took the fourth measure, which was to try to acquire enough power and possessions to resist the first attack of his enemies. At first there was little opposition to Cesare's daring plan. Julius II was still cementing his own support, the city-states were already weakened from fighting with Cesare, and France and Spain were now fighting each other to win the city of Milan. Against this bloody backdrop, Cesare was able to seize more Italian territory, plunder more city-states, and eliminate more of his opponents. With the death of his father, however, Cesare began to fail. The French and Spanish reconciled their differences, turned their forces toward Cesare's stronghold in Romagna, and mounted stiff challenges to Cesare's military forces in Tuscany. Julius's forces launched attacks against Cesare in Rome and in the smaller city-states surrounding his vast kingdom. Eventually, Cesare, in failing health, retreated to Spain, where he died. NOTE: Machiavelli paints a glowing portrait of Cesare's skill and leadership, but in doing so fails to describe this historical figure accurately. Cesare did, indeed, win many significant battles because of his abilities--but he also suffered more defeats than Machiavelli admits. With the exception of Romagna, he had to face almost constant civil unrest and rebellion throughout his territories. Because of his admiration for Cesare's accomplishments, Machiavelli fails to give due weight to the historical evidence. Do you think Borgia's failures call into question the validity of Machiavelli's blueprint for power? Upon reviewing Borgia's record, Machiavelli first asserts that he can't find fault with Cesare's rule. Endowed with great courage and having a lofty ambition, Cesare couldn't have acted otherwise under the circumstances. Upon reflection, however, perhaps Cesare can be blamed for the election of Julius II as pope. Although he couldn't have made a pope of his own liking, he could have hindered the election of a cardinal whom he had offended, or who, if he had been elected, would have had occasion to fear him. Remember, either fear or resentment makes men enemies. Cesare, then, in failing to prevent the election of Julius II, committed an error that proved the cause of his ultimate ruin. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 8 Chapter 8 develops Machiavelli's views that one may rise to power either by wicked or by devious means. To underscore his theme, Machiavelli describes in detail the careers of two infamous rulers--one from antiquity, the other a contemporary of Machiavelli--who used wickedness, revenge, and brutality to enhance their power. Agathocles of Sicily was poor; but he was ambitious as well as courageous and earned success as the leader of the local militia. He seized power in Syracuse in 316 B.C. by cunning and deception. Hiding his loyal soldiers in the town council, Agathocles summoned all the senators, nobles, and rich citizens of Syracuse to a supposedly crucial meeting. On a secret signal, his soldiers sprang from their hiding place and slaughtered the stunned guests. Then, Agathocles proclaimed himself king of Syracuse as he assumed absolute power. In the years of his reign, 316 to 289 B.C., Agathocles defended Syracuse against attack by the Carthaginians, then left a portion of his forces to sustain the battle, and crossed the sea with another force to attack Africa. Although Machiavelli praises Agathocles for his courage and valor, he doesn't consider him a great prince because all Agathocles gained was power, not the popular respect and admiration that should accompany a true prince's reign. He did achieve leadership through his high rank in the army, but he massacred his fellow citizens, betrayed his friends, and was devoid of good faith, mercy, and religion. His outrageous cruelty and inhumanity, together with his infinite crimes, keeps him from being classed with the celebrated rulers of history. The second example is Machiavelli's contemporary, Oliverotto da Fermo, who became ruler of Fermo in 1501. Oliverotto was abandoned as a child and raised by his uncle in a small province just outside Fermo. At an early age he was apprenticed to the brutal mercenary militia captain Paolo Vitelli. When Paolo died some years later, Oliverotto was promoted to the rank of captain in the militia because of his intelligence, physical strength, and fearlessness. Thinking it servile to take orders from others, Oliverotto planned to seize the city of Fermo and proclaim himself ruler. So, in the spring of 1501, he wrote his uncle that he was returning home for a visit, bringing with him a hundred of his loyal soldiers and horsemen. The homecoming of such a distinguished figure was celebrated with a magnificent feast, to which all local politicians and nobles were invited. At the height of the festivities, Oliverotto suggested that his uncle, Giovanni Fogliani, and the other guests retire to a parlor to discuss the greatness of Pope Alexander VI and his son Cesare Borgia. As the unsuspecting group entered the dimly lit parlor, Oliverotto's men butchered them. Having appointed his soldiers, horsemen, and friends to all the government positions left vacant by the murders, Oliverotto became the most feared prince in the region. He ruled Fermo, however, for only one year before he himself was murdered, for conspiring to overthrow Cesare Borgia. How is it that men like Agathocles and Oliverotto can live securely for any length of time in the countries whose freedom and liberty they have usurped? How can they defend themselves successfully against external enemies, without any attempts on the part of their enslaved citizens to conspire against them? The answer, according to Machiavelli, depends on the nature of the cruelties they have inflicted on their subjects. Some cruelties may have been committed in one lump sum from the ruler's necessity for self-protection--and may even have resulted in the public good. But other cruelties, at first rare, may have increased with time rather than ceasing altogether. Those rulers who adopted the first practice may--as the example of Agathocles suggests--with the help of God and man render some service to the state. But those who adopt the later course--as the example of Oliverotto suggests--can't possibly maintain themselves in their state for a long period of time. The lesson to be learned here is that when taking possession of a state the new ruler must execute his harsh measures at a single blow, so he doesn't have to repeat them every day. By not repeating them, a prince assures himself of the support of the inhabitants and then wins them over by bestowing benefits. In phrasing this argument, Machiavelli advances his third golden rule for maintaining power: Cruelties should be committed all at once, as in that way each separate one is less felt, and gives less offense; benefits, on the other hand, should be conferred one at a time, for in that way they will be more appreciated. Machiavelli concludes the chapter by saying that, above all, a prince should live on such terms with his subjects that no accident, either for good or for evil, should make him vary his conduct toward them. For when adverse times bring upon him the necessity for action, he will no longer have time to do evil; and the good he may do will not profit him, because it will be regarded as having been forced from him and therefore will bring him no thanks. NOTE: CRUELTY AND POLITICS Machiavelli's examples of men who come to power, however briefly, are not unusual even today. These men exploit the people, commit a rash of atrocities, and rely on deceit and murder to achieve their fleeting power. You should consider what Machiavelli's purpose might be in writing about such ways of achieving power. As you continue reading, note the specific examples, references, or allusions Machiavelli makes to the role of violence and brutality in the political process. Your thoughts here will put you in a better position to evaluate contemporary politics and to better relate to past or current leaders of countries who echo Machiavelli's analysis of the role cruelty might play in maintaining absolute power. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 9 Machiavelli now addresses those instances when a prominent citizen becomes prince of his country by the favor of his fellow citizens, not by treason or violence. This rise to power requires neither courage nor ability, but a keen shrewdness and the favor of either the people or the nobles. In every state, says Machiavelli, there will be found two different dispositions. This results from the fact that the people dislike being ruled and oppressed by the nobles, whereas the nobles seek to rule and oppress the people. And it is this diversity of feeling and interest that brings about one of three things: either a principality, or a government of liberty, or anarchy. A principality results either from the will of the people or from the will of the nobles; it depends on which prevails or has the opportunity to assume power. The nobles, seeing that they cannot oppose the people, turn to the influence and reputation of one of their own class; they make him a prince because they know he will be partial to their desires. The people, also, seeing that they cannot resist the nobles, turn to the influence and reputation of one man and make him a prince, so as to be protected by his authority. The prince who is brought to power by the aid of the nobles will have more difficulty in maintaining himself than the prince who arrives at that high station with the aid of the people. For the former finds himself surrounded by many who, in their opinion, are equal to him and for that reason he can neither command nor manage them in his own way. But a person who attains a principality by the favor of the people stands alone and has around him none, or very few, who will not lend him a ready obedience. In choosing to court the favor of the nobles or the people, a wise prince should consider which of the two groups better serves his objectives. For example, he cannot satisfy the nobles with honesty or without wrong to others--since the goal of the nobles is to oppress--but it is easy to satisfy the people, whose aims are more honest than those of the nobles, because the people only wish to be free from oppression. A prince can never assure himself of a people who are hostile to him, however, for they are too numerous, while the nobles, on the other hand, are few and it would be easy for a prince to make himself sure of them. In considering his political options, a prince should also realize that the worst that will happen when the people are unfriendly to him is that they will desert him, but when the nobles are hostile, he must fear not only desertion but also that they will actively turn against him. Either nobles shape their conduct to ally themselves entirely with a prince's fortunes, or else they do not. Those that attach themselves securely to a prince, if they are not greedy, should be honored and loved. Those who do not attach themselves to a prince may be regarded in two ways. First, if they are influenced by a natural lack of courage but have intelligence, a prince may use them in times of prosperity and not fear them in times of adversity. Second, if they are influenced by ambition, a prince should look upon them as open enemies; for when adversity comes, they will always turn against him and contribute to his ruin. Although there are risks involved in wooing both the nobles and the people, Machiavelli says that it's essential for a prince to possess the good will and affection of his people; otherwise, he'll be utterly without support in bad times. Nabis, prince of Sparta, learned this lesson well. He withstood the attacks of Greece and of a victorious Roman army, successfully defending his country with the loyal support of a few supporters. Therefore, says Machiavelli, no one should contradict his opinion on the subject of the prince's need to win the support of his people by quoting the trite saying that "he who relies upon the people builds upon quicksand." While this may be true when a private citizen places his faith and reliance upon the people, it's not true when a prince is in need of the people's assistance. NOTE: Machiavelli's views on dealing with the nobles and the people are probably the result of his own political experience. Remember that neither the Florentine nobles nor the government officials rallied to his cause when he was accused of treason and stripped of public office. Remember, also, that Machiavelli's views on the importance of popular support shift as his political argument shifts. Keep this in mind when you later read his opinions that the people are fickle, can't be trusted, and should never be relied upon to sustain a prince once he has achieved power. Machiavelli's suggestion here that the people should be wooed may be a subtle hint to Lorenzo that he'll need the popular support of the masses to retain power. A wise prince, Machiavelli concludes, will steadily pursue such a course that the citizens of his state will always feel the need of his authority and will therefore always prove faithful to him. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 10 Machiavelli now examines the natures of different principalities and considers whether a prince can be sufficiently powerful, in case of need, to sustain himself, or whether he's always obliged to depend upon others for his defense. Machiavelli here lays the foundation for his later exploration of the role of military power and the manner in which power may be measured. Machiavelli says those who are best able to defend themselves do so from an abundance of men and money as well as maintaining the loyalty of their people. They can put a well-equipped army into the field and meet anyone in open battle who may attempt to attack them. It behooves such princes to fortify the cities where they have their seat of government and to provide them with all necessary supplies. To support the military strategy for fortifying a city, Machiavelli cites the example of the Germans. German cities enjoy great liberties and are well fortified; the walls are thick, high, and amply supplied with artillery. Military arms and ammunitions are kept in public storehouses, as are supplies of food, drink, and medicine. Only a foolish prince would attempt to seize such a well-guarded and well-stocked city. And if such a city were besieged, there would also be on hand a year's supply of raw materials for those branches of industry by which the people are accustomed to make their living, and which are the nerve and life of the city. It's reasonable to suppose, Machiavelli continues, that the enemy will ravage and destroy the country immediately upon its arrival outside the fortified city. The prince need not be unduly apprehensive, however, because most of the damage that could hurt morale is done while the people are still enthusiastic and high-spirited. And by the time their enthusiasm has cooled somewhat, the people will be ready to stand by their prince, for they'll regard him as under obligation to them, their houses having been burned and their property ravaged in his defense. Machiavelli concludes this brief chapter with a practical golden rule on the role of fortifications in maintaining a prince's power: All things considered, then, it will not be difficult for a prudent prince to keep the courage of his citizens in time of siege, both in the beginning as well as afterward, provided there be no lack of provisions or means of defense. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 11 Chapter 11 concludes Machiavelli's treatment of the types of principalities and describes how ecclesiastical, or church, states may be obtained either by courage and talent or by good fortune. He also traces the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy in terms of its acquired power. Although ecclesiastical principalities are achieved through courage and talent or good fortune, they are sustained by the ancient laws of religion, which are so powerful and of such quality that the principalities maintain themselves no matter what their princes do. These are the only princes who have principalities without having to defend them and who have subjects without having to govern them. These ecclesiastical principalities, says Machiavelli, are the only ones that are secure and happy. Because they're under the direction of that supreme wisdom to which human minds cannot attain, and are sustained by the Divine Power, Machiavelli says that he prefers to abstain from discussing them, to avoid appearing foolish and presumptuous. NOTE: Some readers find this chapter patronizing to the Roman Catholic Church. Machiavelli's other works, especially The Discourses, reveal his hostility to the Church's political power. Why does he appear complimentary here? One reason may be his desire to win favor with the Church and, perhaps, to secure his own pardon. Pope Leo X, whom he mentions in the last paragraph of the chapter, was the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and the uncle of Lorenzo de' Medici to whom The Prince is addressed. Could this help to explain Machiavelli's praise? Later, Machiavelli displays a more characteristic attitude toward the Church, when he condemns it for not taking the lead in trying to unite Italy. (In fact, elements in the Church worked against political unification.) Look for his shifting point of view as you read the later chapters, and try to explain his conflicting attitude toward the Church. Machiavelli now turns his attention to the Catholic Church during the time of Alexander VI and examines some of the reasons why the Church became such a powerful influence. At the point in time where Machiavelli takes up his discussion, Italy was divided under the rule of five city-states: Rome, Naples, Milan, Venice, and Florence. No one city-state was powerful enough to conquer the other four, so they struggled constantly for supremacy. As a consequence, the pope lacked the ability to execute his rule as a powerful figure. Using the opportunity of the French invasion of Italy, however, and the leadership of his son, Cesare Borgia, Alexander VI succeeded where other popes had failed--showing, says Machiavelli, what a pope could accomplish with the money and power of the Church. He conquered territory and added to the Church's wealth. After Alexander's death, Cesare Borgia was unable to maintain his father's vast holdings, and the Church acquired them. Pope Julius II thus inherited a legacy of power, wealth, and influence that made his reign formidable. Julius not only continued the exploits of Alexander, but also went further. He resolved to acquire the city of Bologna, to ruin the Venetians, and to drive the French out of Italy--in all of which he succeeded. This was even more praiseworthy, asserts Machiavelli, inasmuch as he did these things not for his own glory but for that of the Church. Julius also restrained the Orsini and Colonna factions--who continued to resist papal power--within the limits in which he found them when he became pope. But Julius couldn't quiet the feuding cardinals of the Church. They stirred up rebel factions in Rome and elsewhere and forced the barons to protect them. Thus, says Machiavelli, the ambition of these prelates gave rise to the discord and turmoil that followed. Machiavelli concludes his review of the Roman Catholic Church--a topic he said he wouldn't discuss at the beginning of the chapter--by pointing out that its current leader, Pope Leo X, has profited by Alexander's legacy as well. It is Machiavelli's wish that Leo will be able to maintain the Church's power and influence and that he will make the Church greater and more venerable still by his goodness and other infinite virtues. NOTE: MACHIAVELLI AND RELIGION In The Discourses, Machiavelli says that the princes of the Church have failed to keep faith with the people. Although the city of Rome was still the nominal center of faith, the truth is that through the "bad example" of the Roman Church, the land "lost all piety and all religion." The outcome of what Machiavelli calls this "scandal" is that the Italians have become the most corrupt religious people in Europe. They've lost their liberties, forgotten how to defend themselves, and allowed their country to become "prey" to whomever wishes to assault her. In The Discourses Machiavelli also praises the pagan religion of the ancient Romans. Roman religion helped promote the cause of civic greatness and instill civic pride. It taught the people to prefer the good of their community to anything else and promoted the spirit of self-sacrifice in the interest of the state. The current climate of religion, on the other hand, says Machiavelli, has weakened society by glorifying humble men; by setting up as the greatest goods humility, misery, and contempt for all things human; and by placing no value in individual strength of body, grandeur of mind, or faith in common citizenship. The leaders of the Church whom Machiavelli mentions in The Prince to support his views on the Catholic Church's acquired power seemed more active as statesmen and military leaders than as priests. Machiavelli may have had an ulterior motive, therefore, in choosing them as examples. Alexander VI was Cesare Borgia's father; Leo X was the uncle of Lorenzo. But why choose Julius II? Julius, of all three popes, was alone able to use his power to drive out the French and suppress the rebellious city-states. Is Machiavelli holding up Julius's image as a reflection for Lorenzo? It would be another subtle hint from Machiavelli that Lorenzo must assert himself and move quickly to liberate Italy. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: TYPES OF PRINCIPALITIES DISCUSSED IN PART I The types of principalities and their general characteristics as discussed by Machiavelli in Part I are summarized here for your convenient reference. In the classifications that follow, notice the frequent reference to rebellion and military strength. These topics are discussed at length in Part II and are essential ingredients in Machiavelli's blueprint for maintaining a prince's authority. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: HEREDITARY Easy to maintain because the people are used to one family or person ruling them and will not want to change. Conservative policies are most favored. Status quo is defended. People seldom rebel. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: MIXED Difficult to maintain because rebellion is commonplace. Forceful and absolute policies are demanded. Foreign powers should be limited in number. Colonies should be established that link themselves to the ruler's home territory. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: NEW Maintained only by force. Only military power can prevent subsequent loss. Potential for abuse, cruelty, and loss of personal freedoms. Successful only if the people support them. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: ECCLESIASTICAL Difficult to acquire because they are church-related, but easy to maintain because the people are governed by religious laws. Rarely subject to rebellion or civil disobedience. Model of political stability. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: PART II Having discussed the general characteristics of principalities, the causes of their success or failure, and the means by which many have sought to acquire and maintain them, Machiavelli now proposes to discuss the ways princes can protect their territories. Chapters 12, 13, and 14, then, form the second part of his treatise and deal with the type of troops and military techniques needed to maintain a prince's power. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 12 The main foundations that all states--whether new, old, or mixed--must have are good laws and good armies. There can be no good laws where there are not good armies. In Machiavelli's view, there are four types of potential military force: mercenary, auxiliary, native, and mixed. Mercenary, or hired, troops are both useless and dangerous, he says. Mercenaries are disunited, ambitious, and undisciplined. They have no loyalty to a prince and serve only for their wages. Mercenary leaders, also, aren't to be trusted. They are either devious--in which case they plot for their own greatness--or incompetent--in which case they endanger a prince's chances for military success. The present ruin of Italy, says Machiavelli, may be attributed to the use of mercenary forces. His example to reinforce this point of view is the ease with which Charles VIII was able to conquer Italy, the troops hired to fight for Italy having fled as the French forces approached. NOTE: Machiavelli makes several references to Charles VIII to reinforce his views regarding mercenaries. The expression "taking Italy with a piece of chalk" was Machiavelli's analogy for the lamentable nature of Italian military power during his time. It meant that foreign powers could send an unarmed quartermaster ahead of the advancing invaders with a piece of chalk and mark the houses in which the foreign military were to be quartered when they entered a city. Machiavelli then asserts that princes achieve the greatest success in warfare when they themselves command the movements of their armies. Rome and Sparta, for example, maintained their liberties for centuries by having armies of their own. On the other hand, the Carthaginians were betrayed by their mercenary troops after the first war with Rome and came very near to subjugation; the trusting citizens of Thebes were deprived of their liberty by the foreign captain, Philip of Macedon; and the city of Milan was lost and later subjugated by the tyrant Francesco Sforza. In each of these cases, says Machiavelli, mercenary troops rebelled against their employers and deprived the people of their freedom. It was only good fortune that saved the people of Florence from being betrayed by mercenaries. (They killed their mercenary captain Paolo Vitelli before he could lead his troops against the city.) Machiavelli then takes a closer look at the Venetians and their military strategy. He finds that the results of their wars were secure and glorious as long as they confined themselves to their proper element, the sea. But when they engaged in wars on land, they no longer acted with their customary bravery, and adopted the habit of other Italian city-states of employing mercenaries. At first, there was no danger, because the Venetian reputation was great and their possessions on land small. Yet, when they sought to extend these possessions under the mercenary captain Carmignuola, they became aware of their error. Although they were aware that it was by Carmignuola's superior leadership that they had defeated the duke of Milan, on observing the captain's lukewarm attitude in the further conduct of the war, they concluded they could no longer hope for victory under his command. Still, they dared not dismiss him for fear of losing what they had gained; so for their own security they put him to death. After giving older examples of the Italian use of mercenaries, Machiavelli concludes by saying that hired armies do everything possible to avoid exposing themselves to fatigue or danger, that they never kill other mercenaries, and that they prefer to take prisoners who can afterward be liberated without ransom. These practices, warns Machiavelli, are permitted by their rules of warfare and are devised to avoid hardships and danger. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 13 In this chapter, Machiavelli addresses the role of auxiliary troops--those furnished by a powerful ally whom a prince can call upon for aid. Using an example fresh in his mind, Machiavelli retells the plight of Julius II, who took the risk of asking for assistance from auxiliary troops in his desire to expand his dominions. Fortunately for him, however, an incident occurred that saved him from the full effect of his bad decision. His Spanish auxiliaries, having been defeated by his enemies at Ravenna, were running away when the Swiss suddenly appeared on the battlefield and drove back the enemy. Because of this bit of luck, Julius escaped becoming a prisoner of either his enemies or his auxiliaries. Other notable examples of the unwise use of auxiliaries include the Florentines, who took a big risk by hiring French soldiers to wage battle for them against the city-state of Pisa (the French could just as easily have attacked the unarmed Florentines), and the emperor of Constantinople, who, to resist attacks by his neighbors, imported ten thousand troops to his territory only to have them later refuse to leave his country. The lesson to be learned from these examples is clear, asserts Machiavelli: if anyone wants to be defeated, let him employ auxiliary troops--for they are much more dangerous even than mercenaries. What, then, are the best troops for a prince to engage in protecting his principality? The wise prince, says Machiavelli, should rely exclusively upon his own native troops and should prefer defeat with them rather than victory with the troops of others. Native troops are comprised of citizens of the nation and thus are loyal to the state and the prince. They fight well because they are defending their own nation, freedom, and prince. NOTE: TAKING THE OFFENSIVE Although Machiavelli recognizes the significance of defense in maintaining a powerful military, in Chapters 12 to 14 his emphasis is on offensive warfare. In many ways his arguments for seizing the initiative in enlisting troops, developing war strategies, and stockpiling armaments suggest late twentieth-century dilemmas posed by the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. You need to remember, however, that The Prince is offered in part as a strategic blueprint for Lorenzo de' Medici. Machiavelli's point is that Lorenzo must take the initiative in building a Florentine army that is loyal, powerful, and well armed. Machiavelli also speaks with contempt about the use of mercenaries in military warfare in his Art of War. He blames them for the loss of personal liberty and political freedom and points to their cowardice when discussing battles lost or cities ravaged. He is also bitter toward the Swiss, blaming them for the Italian loss of morale in warfare. His observations may have been based on his experience as a former secretary of the republic of Florence, in which post he saw how unsuccessful mercenary troops were in helping Florence in its military campaign against the city-state of Pisa. The best example of the role that native troops might play in defending a prince, says Machiavelli, is to be found in the career of Cesare Borgia. Cesare began his conquest of Romagna by enlisting the aid of French auxiliary troops. When the French became a threat to his power, Cesare abandoned them and employed mercenaries. Neither the auxiliary forces nor the mercenaries proved reliable or useful, however, so Cesare finally engaged his own loyal subjects to conquer the greatest part of his new territory. When he had none but his own troops, his reputation increased steadily, and he was never more highly esteemed than when everyone saw that he was thoroughly master of his armies. Machiavelli also relates the story of Hiero of Syracuse. Having been made general of the army, Hiero quickly perceived that mercenary troops were not useful. It seemed to Hiero that he could neither keep nor dismiss them with safety, so he had them all put to death and cut to pieces. Afterward, he carried on the war exclusively with his own troops and won many battles in his quest for power. It is also possible to supplement native troops with mercenaries, resulting in "mixed" troops. But mixed troops, too, create problems. The addition of foreign troops frequently results in a loss of morale among the native troops, and may provoke bitter quarreling that undermines the spirit of the battle campaign. For example, Charles VII, father of Louis XI, king of France, delivered France from English rule by depending solely upon his own troops. He even organized regular companies of artillery, cavalry, and infantry. Later, however, his son disbanded the infantry and hired Swiss soldiers to replace them. By giving prominence to the Swiss, Louis disheartened his own troops and caused his mounted forces to depend on the support of the mercenaries. In time, the French began to think that they could not succeed without the Swiss. Later, the French could not even hold their own against the Swiss. France would have been invincible, says Machiavelli, if the military system established by Charles VII had been preserved and extended. But the shortsightedness of men leads them to adopt any measure that seems good at the moment, even though it has poison concealed within it. A prince who does not promptly recognize evils as they arise cannot therefore be called wise. Unfortunately, laments Machiavelli, this ability is rare. He concludes that no prince who does not have an army of his own can ever be secure, and that a prince will become wholly dependent upon fortune if in times of adversity he lacks the means to defend himself. A prince must therefore build his reputation of power on a strong army composed of his own subjects or citizens. He should also follow the example of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, and organize an army that exists only to serve the state and its prince. NOTE: THE NEED FOR LOYAL TROOPS You might have supposed that Machiavelli's ardor for native troops would have cooled as a result of their disastrous showing in 1512, the year before The Prince was written, when they were sent to defend the city of Prato but were brushed aside by the advancing Spanish infantry. In fact, however, Machiavelli's enthusiasm for native armies remained undiminished. In The Art of War (1520), he continues to use some of the arguments advanced in The Prince. The first part of The Art of War is given over to vindicating the "citizen army" against those who doubt its usefulness. You should also now better understand why Machiavelli felt so impressed by Cesare Borgia as a military commander. Machiavelli had been present when Cesare decided to eliminate his mercenary lieutenants and replace them with his own troops. This daring strategy appears to have had a decisive impact on the initial formation of Machiavelli's ideas. He refers to it as soon as he raises the question of military policy in Chapter 13, and treats it as an example of the measures that any ruler ought to adopt. Cesare is praised for having recognized that mercenaries are "uncertain and unfaithful," deserving to be mercilessly "wiped out." Machiavelli praises Cesare for having grasped the basic lesson that any new prince needs to learn if he wishes to maintain his principality: He must stop relying on fortune and foreign arms, raise "soldiers of his own," and make himself "sole master" of his own troops. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 14 Machiavelli's final arguments in Part II are concerned with the duties of a prince in relation to the art of war and the organization and discipline of his army. Knowing the art of warfare is all that is expected of a prince who commands. It not only maintains princes in their position, but also enables men born in private station to achieve a princely rank. The neglect of the art of war is the main cause for the loss of a prince's state, while a proficiency in it often enables a prince to acquire one. A good example of the latter is Francesco Sforza. Skilled in arms and warfare, Sforza rose from private station to be duke of Milan, but his descendants--by shunning the labors of arms and warfare--relapsed into the condition of private citizens. There are also other evils that will befall a prince who doesn't have a proper military force. A prince who is not master of the art of warfare can't be respected by his soldiers, nor can he depend upon them. Therefore, the practice of arms and warfare should always be uppermost in a prince's thoughts. He should also study the geography of his country and learn where the mountains rise and the valleys lie; he should know the nature of rivers and swamps. This knowledge helps a prince to understand how to defend his territory when he is attacked. A prince who lacks the knowledge of the methods of warfare also lacks the essentials that a commander of troops should possess. That knowledge teaches him where to find the enemy, how to select proper places for entrenchments, how to conduct armies, how to regulate marches and order battles. A prince may also gain considerable knowledge of warfare by reading history and studying the actions of eminent men. The prince should observe how distinguished men behaved in battle and should examine the causes of their victories and defeats, so that he may imitate the former and avoid the latter. But, above all, a prince should follow the example of whatever distinguished man he may have chosen for his model--assuming that someone has been especially praised and held up to him as glorious, and whose actions and exploits he should always bear in mind. Thus, says Machiavelli, it is told of Alexander the Great that he imitated Achilles, and of Julius Caesar that he had taken Alexander the Great for his model. NOTE: Machiavelli's arguments for a national military and its role in the art of warfare may well have appealed to Lorenzo. Lorenzo may also have been persuaded by Machiavelli's argument that a prince must prepare both his mind and his body for warfare, especially since Lorenzo fancied himself a model of mental and physical perfection. Although some of Machiavelli's arguments in these three chapters may strike you as dated, there are still significant modern parallels. Some political analysts would remark that Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba with strategies similar to those described in Machiavelli's account. Can you think of other meaningful examples of Machiavelli's views at work today, especially the role of auxiliary or mixed troops? Consider the role of the United Nations in helping to maintain peace. Keep your examples in mind as you continue to read The Prince. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: TYPES OF TROOPS DISCUSSED IN PART II The different types of troops, their characteristics, and the likely consequences of using them, as discussed by Machiavelli in Part II, are summarized here for your convenient reference. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: MERCENARY Fight for money. Sometimes disloyal, and never well-motivated. Often seek to avoid actually engaging in military action, in order to minimize casualties. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: AUXILIARY Serve another prince. Fight only because of an alliance, which is likely to prove temporary. If they are victorious, their victory will deliver the prince who depended on them into the power of his former ally. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: NATIVE Recruited from among the citizens themselves. Their motivation is strong because they are defending their own homes, families, and freedom. Their loyalty can be secured in the same way that the loyalty of one's other subjects is secured. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: MIXED Include native troops mixed with mercenaries or auxiliaries. Cannot escape the disadvantages of the latter two types. Also, dissension may arise between native and foreign units. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: PART III In the next nine chapters, Machiavelli outlines the basic characteristics of a successful prince, details the nature of leadership, describes the potential rewards resulting from power, and recommends criteria for choosing advisers. As you read these chapters, you may need to review the first two parts of the book, especially chapters 4, 8, and 10. Those three chapters present Machiavelli's initial arguments that are fully developed in Part III. Do you have the feeling that Machiavelli is revising his point of view in the later chapters, or is he just as confident as he appeared at the beginning of the book? What might account for any similarities or differences you have noticed? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 15 Machiavelli begins the discussion in Part III by pointing out that earlier writers have discussed the manner in which a prince ought to conduct himself toward his subjects and allies. He says that he will differ from the rules laid down by others who wrote before him, because his aim is to write something useful for his intended reader (Lorenzo de' Medici), rather than to follow the approach of previous authors who only "imagined" republics and principalities that never existed in reality. NOTE: Some of the previous writers who had described an ideal state or ruler included Plato, Polybius, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Dante. What makes Machiavelli's approach in The Prince different is that it's a direct and practical blueprint, avoiding purely theoretical issues. He limits himself to the topic of how things are, rather than speculating on how things might be. His examples are carefully drawn from personal, authentic experience and observation rather than from fanciful literary imagination. The result is an honest and frequently candid evaluation of politics, its relationship to ethics, and the rewards of power (as Machiavelli saw them in his own time). The manner in which men live, says Machiavelli, is so different from the way in which they ought to live that even a good man may be ruined. In discussing the manner in which a prince can avoid being ruined by the many who are evil, Machiavelli presents the fifth of his golden rules: A prince therefore who desires to maintain himself must learn to be not always good, but to be so or not as necessity may require. The significance of this rule lies in its suggestion that a prince who wishes only to be honest may himself come to ruin. In other words, Machiavelli warns the prince to take whatever steps might be necessary to achieve his objectives, and not to rely on high ideals alone. Although Machiavelli admits it would be praiseworthy for a prince to possess all good qualities, such an abundance would be contrary to human nature. Therefore, a prince should at least be prudent enough to know how to avoid those vices that would rob him of his state, and if possible, to guard against the vices likely to endanger it. It will be found, he says, that some things that seem like virtues will lead to ruin if you follow them, while others that appear to be vices will, if followed, result in well-being and safety. NOTE: MORALITY AND THE PRINCE Is Machiavelli suggesting in this chapter that evil men as well as good may profit from a reading of The Prince, or that it's impossible for a prince to be completely good or completely bad? Or is he simply being frank by saying that all men, even princes, are only human and there will be both good and bad traits in their character? It seems obvious in the Discourses that Machiavelli regrets that men are neither perfectly good nor wholly wicked, but prone to a middle course in their moral conduct. He does advance his belief that anything may be done if the welfare of the state is in danger, that cruelties in a prince may be justified if the ultimate aim is the restoration of order and the safety of society, and that it's permissible to deceive an enemy when such deceit preserves the state. And if a prince commits cruelty or dishonesty for the sake of the public welfare, Machiavelli's argument is that men do forgive him afterward, posterity does approve the act, and historians do accept and applaud it. You need to evaluate Machiavelli's views here and come to your own conclusion on these questions. Your interpretation here will influence your view of what follows, especially when Machiavelli describes in detail the true character of an ideal prince. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 16 In this chapter Machiavelli launches an assault on those "liberal" princes who spend vast sums of money on the arts, on elaborate monuments to themselves, or on foolish projects that don't benefit the state. As a consequence of their liberality, these princes find it necessary to subject the people to extraordinary burdens and heavy taxes, and to resort to all sorts of measures to obtain money. The people, of course, despise a liberal prince because his unwise extravagance offends many and benefits few. On the other hand, when a prince tries to reduce spending, he may be thought at first to be a miser. But the money saved through his prudence and economy allows his revenues to be sufficient to provide for defense in case of war and to engage in enterprises without burdening his people. NOTE: THE WISE USE OF FUNDS Machiavelli's insistence on economy in finances came at a time in Italian history when princes, popes, and political figures surrounded themselves with luxury and ostentation. They spent enormous sums of money on public monuments, artworks, and buildings. The Medici themselves were famous for this. Why would Machiavelli risk the displeasure of (he hoped) his patron by even mentioning that princes should reduce spending and curtail foolish waste? First, Machiavelli believed that politics are governed by economics. Extravagance consumed resources that a prince could better spend on building an army, gaining political power, and maintaining absolute power. Second, Machiavelli believed that the support of the people could be obtained by governmental economy. In recommending this economic policy, Machiavelli says that a prince should reject the praises of those few who would benefit from generosity, rather than hurt the many people who would have to pay for it. That's why it's beneficial to a prince to appear miserly: it spares him the hatred of the people. Machiavelli then points out recent examples of rulers who cultivated the image of being liberal, only to suffer ruin. He also examines those instances of rulers who were thought to be miserly, but who prospered instead. Pope Julius II, for example, who was thought of as liberal when he gained the papacy, did not afterward care to keep up that reputation in his war against the king of France. It was his long-continued economy, says Machiavelli, that enabled him to pay the expenses of his wars. A prince, then, who would avoid robbing his subjects, yet still be able to defend himself, shouldn't mind incurring the reputation of being a miser: In this case it would be one of those vices that enables him to maintain his state. To those who would assert that there have been many princes who achieved great things and were thought of as free-spenders, Machiavelli responds that a prince spends either his own wealth and that of his subjects, or the wealth of others. Of the first two he should be very sparing, but in dealing with the money of others he should spend liberally. The spending of other people's wealth, says Machiavelli, only increases a prince's reputation. It's only the spending of his own that is injurious to a prince. NOTE: SUCCESS AS THE FINAL MEASURE Machiavelli's views on favors, gifts, and spending should sound familiar to you. Think of twentieth-century examples of politicians, public figures, or even business leaders who give and receive the kinds of "kickbacks" and "payoffs" that Machiavelli describes. Consider, also, the role that public benefits, political contributions, and advertising might play in helping to sell--or to buy--a candidate. Machiavelli's views in this regard are as timely as the front page of the daily newspaper. It should also be pointed out that Machiavelli frequently equates success with results--and victories are recognizable, no matter what the cost may have been in money, lives, or property. No price is too high to pay for success. Once a prince undertakes a task, however, his success or failure cannot be judged by the initial outcome of events. It is only the whole spectrum of events in a prince's reign that must be taken into consideration before a final verdict is rendered. Machiavelli concludes his attack on spendthrift princes by saying that a prince should carefully guard against incurring the hatred and contempt of his subjects, and that liberality with money only brings one or the other. There is more wisdom in being called a miser, which may bring blame, but not hatred. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 17 This chapter is concerned with Machiavelli's answer to the question, Should a prince appear to be cruel or merciful in his quest for power? Machiavelli also discusses the nature of being "loved" and "feared" by the people and warns against the misuse of mercy. Some of Machiavelli's response is a restatement of views regarding the role of cruelty made in Chapter 8. Here, he again uses Cesare Borgia as the model to reveal the distinction between cruelty and mercy. Cesare was considered cruel, says Machiavelli, yet by his cruelty he united Romagna and brought order, peace, and loyalty to that region. If we carefully examine his course of actions, says Machiavelli, we find it much more merciful than the course the people of Florence took when, to escape the reputation of cruelty, they allowed Pistoria to be destroyed. A prince, therefore, shouldn't mind being thought cruel, especially when he can keep his subjects united and loyal. A few displays of severity will be more merciful than to allow, by an excess of mercy, disorders to occur. For these injure a whole community, while the executions ordered by a prince fall only upon a few individuals. A prince should recognize that any new ruler must act swiftly to consolidate power. In acting swiftly, however, he may create the impression that he is cruel-but that is to be expected. NOTE: The subjects of mercy and cruelty were favorite topics among the ancient Roman moralists. Seneca's essay "On Mercy" was the most celebrated treatment of the theme, and we may assume, in light of his interest in Roman and classical literature, that Machiavelli was familiar with it. According to Seneca, also a distinguished playwright known for his "blood and thunder" tragedies, a prince who is merciful will always show how reluctant he is to turn his hand to punishment. He'll resort to violence only when repeated wrongdoing has overcome his patience. Machiavelli, however, takes the opposite point of view. He says that if you begin by trying to be merciful--so that you "let evils continue"--and only turn to punishment after murders or plunder result, your conduct will be far less merciful than if you have the courage to begin by inflicting a little cruelty. A government should not worry about incurring reproaches for those actions which maintain public order. Machiavelli then turns his attention to a related question: Is it better for a prince to be loved or feared? It would be better to be both loved and feared at the same time, he says, but since that's difficult, it's safer to be feared than loved. In his view, people are generally ungrateful and fickle. As long as you shower favors and benefits upon them, they are loyal. They offer to give their blood, lives, or children--provided the necessity for it is far in the future. When necessity is at hand, they revolt. A prince who relies upon words from such people, without having provided for his own security, is ruined. Thus, friendships won by rewards rather than by greatness and nobility of soul are not real and cannot be depended upon in time of adversity. Besides, people have less hesitation in offending one who makes himself beloved than one who makes himself feared, for love holds by a bond that is broken whenever it's in the interest of the obliged party to break it. But fear holds by the apprehension of punishment, which never leaves men. In defending his point of view, which at first glance you may think is harsh, Machiavelli advances the sixth golden rule of The Prince to support his interpretation of human nature: And if you should be obliged to inflict capital punishment upon any one, then be sure to do so only when there is manifest cause and proper justification for it; and, above all things, abstain from taking people's property, for men will sooner forget the death of their fathers than the loss of their ancestral land. There will never be any lack of reasons for taking people's property, says Machiavelli, but finding reasons for taking life are not so easily found and are more readily exhausted. According to Machiavelli, when a prince is at the head of his army, it's necessary for him to disregard the reputation of cruelty--for without such severity no army can be kept together. Hannibal was able to command a large army and a vast empire, says Machiavelli, because he instilled fear of his cruelty in his followers. Without the reputation for inhuman cruelty, all his virtues would not have sufficed to produce that result. For example, Scipio, an outstanding captain in the Roman army, faced rebellion because of his excessive kindness and generosity, which allowed his soldiers more freedom than military discipline should permit. Had Scipio been living under the Roman Empire instead of the Republic, which tolerated mercy, Machiavelli suggests, his kindness and generosity would have been considered a fault rather than a virtue. NOTE: MACHIAVELLI'S VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE The classical answer to Machiavelli's question, "Is it better to be loved than feared?" had been furnished by Cicero in his "Moral Obligation." Cicero believed that "fear is but a poor safeguard of lasting power," while love "may be trusted to keep it safe forever." Again, Machiavelli disagrees with this outlook. Why? Perhaps because of his acute psychological analysis of human nature as he observed it in his time. He sees people as greedy, fickle, and treacherous. If people are corrupt and greedy for profit, Machiavelli argues, the wise prince should exploit those weaknesses to gain control over them. Subsequently, the successful prince can use fear to maintain power. As you continue reading, keep in mind the portrait of human nature that Machiavelli has sketched in this chapter. Given Machiavelli's views of human nature as seen in The Prince, you should more easily understand the power system he advocates to ensure political stability. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 18 To many readers, this is the most important chapter in The Prince. It contains Machiavelli's most specific recommendations on the actions a prince must employ to gain power, maintain good faith, and practice integrity rather than deceit. Some readers see the chapter as alarming, because Machiavelli spells out vices and crimes a prince may be permitted in pursuit of power. Machiavelli begins the discussion here by pointing out that there are only two ways of carrying on a contest. The first is to use the law to encourage proper conduct and rational thinking. The second is to use force to intimidate and frighten. The first is practiced by men, and the second by animals. Sometimes, when the first proves insufficient, it becomes necessary to resort to the second. To reinforce his view that a prince should know how to employ the natures of both man and beast, Machiavelli cites the example of Achilles, who is said to have been raised by Chiron, the centaur, half man and half beast. This is the most frequently quoted example in The Prince: It being necessary then for a prince to know well how to employ the nature of the beasts, he should be able to assume both that of the fox and that of the lion; for while the latter cannot escape the traps laid for him, the former cannot defend himself against the wolves. A prince should be a fox, to know the traps and snares; and a lion, to be able to frighten the wolves; for those who simply hold to the nature of the lion do not understand their business. Understanding this, says Machiavelli, a wise prince should not fulfill his pledges when their observance is contrary to his interests, or when the causes that induced him to pledge his faith no longer exist. If people were all good, this advice would not be helpful; but since people are naturally bad, and will not keep their faith with the prince, he should not keep his, either. In listing the characteristics of the prince who is both fox and lion, Machiavelli points out that the prince should be a great hypocrite and dissembler, for people are so simple and ready to respond to immediate necessity that the deceiver will never lack dupes. Pope Alexander VI, for example, was a master at using this technique to further his power. He deceived his followers, broke his pledges, and failed to keep his promises. Nevertheless, he was successful in his deceits because he knew the weaknesses of men. It's not necessary, then, for a prince to possess the generally admired qualities; it's only essential that he "seem" to have them. To have them all and to practice them constantly can be destructive. To appear to have them, however, is very useful. Therefore, it's sometimes necessary for a prince to have a versatile mind capable of easily changing with the winds of fortune. He should not swerve from good if possible, but he should know how to resort to evil if necessity demands it. NOTE: Machiavelli's rhetorical use of the myth of Chiron is not a typical reading of the ancient story. Traditionally, Chiron is used as an example of the harmony, or balance, that is possible when man is ruled by both reason and strength. The combination of man and beast, like the example of Chiron, is a positive force that promotes a keen mind (man) and a strong will to survive (beast). Machiavelli, however, uses the image of half man and half beast to defend the concept of cunning and brute force. You can guess that his interpretation is slanted toward reinforcing his own point of view. Some readers find it curious that this chapter makes only a fleeting reference to the role that religion might play in helping a prince maintain good faith. Machiavelli wrote at length about religion in The Discourses, but here he makes only brief and veiled references to the organized church. Is his reticence deliberate? Do you think he's suggesting that religion might be a threat to his political theory of absolute power because it unites the people in a common cause, thus making it more difficult for a prince to assume control of them? Think about these questions. Remember, though, that Machiavelli has already stated his belief that religion should be subordinate to the prince and the state, and that religion represents a powerful threat to a prince seeking absolute power. How would these thoughts have been received by Lorenzo, whose uncle was the pope? Does this help explain Machiavelli's apparent decision to skirt a discussion of religion in this chapter? Machiavelli also says it's important that a prince never say anything that does not reflect charity, integrity, humanity, uprightness, and piety. Of all these qualities, it's most important that a prince appear to be pious, because people usually judge more by what they see than by what they feel. Everybody sees what a prince seems to be, but few really know who he is. Therefore, a prince should look mainly to winning and to the successful maintenance of his state. The means he employs for this will always be considered honorable and will be praised by everybody. The common people are always taken in by appearances and by results--and it is the "vulgar" masses that constitute the world. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 19 This is the longest chapter of The Prince, and you should think of it as an elaboration of the preceding chapter. Machiavelli gives timely examples and references to explain his view that a prince must avoid being hated or despised. This chapter also serves as a major example of Machiavelli's views on leadership, and he lists some of the characteristics a prince should possess if he is to rule with authority. A prince becomes despised when he acquires the reputation of being inconsistent, frivolous, effeminate, cowardly, or irresolute. One way a prince can guard against this reputation is to display in all his actions grandeur, courage, gravity, and determination. In judging the private causes of his subjects, a prince's decisions should be irrevocable. Thus, he will maintain himself in such esteem that no one will think of deceiving or betraying him. There are only two things a prince has to fear, says Machiavelli: attempts against him by his own subjects and attacks by powerful foreigners. Against foreigners, he will be able to defend himself with good armies and good allies. And as long as his external affairs are kept quiet, his internal security will not be disturbed except by conspiracy. But even when at peace externally, a prince should be on guard to prevent his subjects from conspiring against him secretly. And not to be hated or scorned by the people is one of the best safeguards. When conspirators realize that the death of the prince will offend rather than conciliate the people, they will not dare to conspire against him. Experience proves, says Machiavelli, that although there have been many conspiracies, few have come to a good end. Conspirators can't act alone. Nor can they take associates except those who are malcontents--and once a plan of conspiracy is revealed to a malcontent, he may disclose the plan in the hope of gaining an advantage for himself. A conspirator has nothing on his side but fear, jealousy, and apprehension of punishment. The prince, on the other hand, has the majesty of sovereignty, the laws, and the support of his friends and the government to protect him. And if to this is added the good will of the people, it seems impossible that anyone would be rash enough to attempt a conspiracy against a prince. France is a good example of what he's talking about here. The founders of the French state recognized the basic need to secure the good will of the people, and they created a government that included a parliament of both nobles and common men. The parliament, however, limited the power and the influence of both the nobles and the people, because each had to agree to the other's demands. The parliament acted as a judge, so that, without reference to the king, it could keep in check the great (nobles) and favor the weak (people). NOTE: MACHIAVELLI AND GOVERNMENT In The Prince it may appear that Machiavelli sees no useful role for a system of government in which two legislative chambers share responsibility and authority, since this form of government inhibits decision making and limits the possibility for swift change. It may also be evident that Machiavelli would be suspicious of the checks-and-balances system, which could impede or slow down forceful leadership by a single individual. In The Discourses, however, Machiavelli suggests another point of view. After conducting his investigation of ancient constitutions, he perceived that the three constitutional forms--monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy--were inherently unstable and tended to generate cycles of corruption and decay. His alternative proposal was the establishment of a "mixed constitution," one in which the instabilities of the pure forms were corrected, while their strengths were combined--or, as he put it, one in which each keeps "watch over the other" in order to forestall both "the rich men's arrogance" and "the people's license." Although motivated by their own selfish interests, the factions will thus be induced to promote the public interest in their legislative acts--and the resulting laws will be in favor of liberty. Machiavelli's mention of the French parliament shows that he is familiar with the French government. He may have observed the parliament he describes while on diplomatic missions to France early in his career. The French parliament was initially composed of nobles, but in 1302 Philip the Fair began to admit middle-class citizens as members. Within several years the middle-class citizens were able to gain enough power in the parliament to reduce the authority of the nobles. Machiavelli, however, is not advocating a parliament for Italy in The Prince; his entire theory here is related to autocratic government--one-man, dictatorial rule by an all-powerful prince. Machiavelli uses the lives of some of the Roman emperors to support his theory that a prince must avoid being despised and hated. While in most principalities the prince has to contend only with the ambition of the nobles and the insolence of the people, the Roman emperors had to meet a third difficulty: the cruelty and greed of the soldiers. This added problem caused the ruin of many emperors because of the difficulty of trying to satisfy--at the same time--both the soldiers and the people. The people loved peace and for that reason admired princes who were peace-loving, whereas the soldiers loved princes with military spirit who were cruel, haughty and grasping. These emperors were ruined, says Machiavelli, because they didn't have the qualities necessary to restrain both the soldiers and the people. Most of them sought to satisfy the soldiers and cared little about the people. But this course of action was unavoidable. These princes, who had recently acquired their kingdoms, were in need of extraordinary favors and attached themselves more readily to the soldiers, who could help advance their success. For example, Pertinax had been made emperor contrary to the will of the army, which, accustomed to a life of unrestrained license, could not bear the orderly life to which Pertinax wished to limit them. Having thus incurred the hatred of the soldiers, whose disrespect was increased by his old age, Pertinax was murdered at the very outset of his reign. Likewise, Alexander Severus, who was so good it was said of him that during his fourteen years of reign no one was put to death without regular judicial proceedings, was also ruined. His problem, however, was being regarded as effeminate, for he allowed himself to be influenced by his mother. He became disrespected, the soldiers conspired against him, and he was killed. On the other hand, Septimius Severus possessed such valor that, although he imposed heavy burdens upon the people, he was able to reign undisturbed and happy--because he kept his soldiers as friends. His bravery, says Machiavelli, caused him to be so much admired both by his soldiers and by the people, that the latter were stupefied and astounded by him, while the soldiers were respectful and satisfied. Being both a fox and a lion, Severus persuaded the troops he commanded that it would be proper for them to go to Rome to avenge the death of the emperor Pertinax. Under this pretext, Severus moved his army to Rome and entered Italy before it was even known that he had started. On his arrival in Rome, the Senate, fearing his power, elected him emperor. After this beginning, Severus had only two difficulties to overcome before he could make himself supreme ruler. One was in the East, in Asia, where his rival, Niger, had proclaimed himself emperor. The other was in the western part of the kingdom, where Albinus, another rival, also aspired to be emperor. Realizing it was dangerous to declare himself the enemy of both simultaneously, Severus resolved to attack Niger and deceive Albinus. Therefore, he wrote to Albinus and offered to share power with him. At the same time, Severus attacked Niger in the eastern part of the kingdom. As soon as Niger had been defeated and killed, Severus complained in the Senate that Albinus, ungrateful for the benefits bestowed, had plotted treason and murder against him. Severus then went into France to seek Albinus, and deprived him not only of his state but of his life. However, although Severus combined the ferocity of the lion with the cunning of the fox, and was feared and respected by everyone, his son, Antoninus Caracalla, didn't learn from him very well. While possessed of certain qualities that at first made him admired by the people and popular with the soldiers, Antoninus's ferocity and cruelty were so great and unprecedented that he was eventually hated by everyone. On several occasions he caused large numbers of people in Rome to be put to death; at another time he killed nearly the entire population of Alexandria. Soon, he became feared even by his immediate attendants. He was finally killed by a soldier whose brother Antoninus had had executed. Machiavelli's observation here is that princes should be most careful not to offend seriously any of those who serve them or who surround them in the service of the state. Antoninus's mistake was that he had kept a man in his guard whose brother he had had killed. This was foolish and in the end proved his downfall, when the centurion killed him. The same fate befell Commodus, who had also inherited his princely rule from his father, Marcus Aurelius, a wise philosopher and kind ruler. But being of a cruel and undisciplined nature, Commodus began by allowing his army to commit immoralities upon the people. He also made himself contemptible in the eyes of his soldiers by disregarding his own dignity and fighting with gladiators in the arena. Because he was hated by the people and despised by the soldiers, a conspiracy arose against him and he was killed. Machiavelli also discusses at length the career of Maximinius, who succeeded Alexander Severus. Although Maximinius was a warlike man, he was of low origin, having once been a shepherd. He was also known for his many acts of ferocity, which were committed through his prefects, or chief magistrates, in Rome and elsewhere. Since he was despised because of his low origin and hated because of his cruelty, a conspiracy was formed against him in Africa, in the Senate, in Rome, and finally in all of Italy. His army joined in the conspiracy when they also tired of his harshness. Seeing that he had so many enemies, the army lost their fear of him and put him to death. NOTE: Machiavelli's extensive discussion of being despised and hated is worth your further consideration. Are his excessive elaboration and detailed examples--especially the threats of assassination--a veiled warning for Lorenzo to beware of actions that might undo him? Is Machiavelli afraid that Lorenzo's own life may be in danger? Does he think that Lorenzo may be afraid? Likewise, is Machiavelli's suggestion that Lorenzo maintain a strong and loyal military--an idea first explored in Chapter 8--calling attention to his lingering suspicion that Lorenzo may be despised or hated by the people, and must therefore be protected by powerful forces? In conclusion, Machiavelli says that whoever considers his discussion carefully will find that the ruin of the Roman emperors discussed was caused by either hatred or contempt. A prince who has only recently acquired his kingdom, therefore, cannot imitate the conduct of the wise Marcus Aurelius, nor is it always necessary for him to imitate that of the cunning Septimius Severus. He should learn, however, from Severus what is necessary to found a state and from Marcus what is proper and glorious for the preservation of a state already firmly established. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 20 The main topic of this chapter is the importance of arms and fortresses, or defenses, in helping a prince maintain power. Machiavelli also continues his argument of Chapter 19 that the best defense for a prince is the love of the people. Some princes, trying to secure their states, have disarmed their subjects; a few have kept their countries divided into different parties; others have purposely encouraged hatred against themselves; while others have endeavored to win the good will of those suspected of hostile feelings. Some princes have built fortresses, while others have demolished and razed those that already existed. It has never happened, however, that a new prince has disarmed his subjects. On the contrary, if a new prince finds his subjects unarmed he has armed them and in that way has made them his own. Arming those who were once suspect makes them faithful and also converts his subjects into partisans and supporters. And although a new prince cannot arm all his subjects, by giving certain advantages to those he does arm he secures himself against those who remain unarmed. But a prince who disarms his subjects will offend some by showing that he has no confidence in them, thus revealing that he suspects them either of cowardice or of lack of loyalty. This will cause them to hate the prince. And as the prince cannot remain in power without an armed force, he will have to resort to mercenaries to protect himself and his dominions. The dangers of using hired troops, Machiavelli reminds the reader, have already been spelled out in some detail. (See Chapter 12.) It used to be said that the way to hold the city-state of Pistoria was through party division, and that of Pisa, through fortresses. Although this may have been true in the times when the different powers of Italy were evenly balanced, Machiavelli says that such an approach wouldn't be productive at the present time. To the contrary, he asserts, cities divided against themselves are easily lost. Strong governments should never allow such division. They can be of advantage only in time of peace, when the subjects are more easily managed. But in time of war this approach only brings ruin. Princes only become great by overcoming the difficulties and opposition that spring up against them. For that reason, fortune causes enemies to arise and make attempts against a prince--to afford him the opportunity to overcome them and to allow him to rise higher on the very ladder his enemies have brought against him. Then Machiavelli addresses the belief that princes often experience more fidelity and devotion in the very men whom at the beginning of their reign they mistrusted. His observation is that those men who at the beginning of a prince's reign are hostile to him, but still need his support for their maintenance, will always be won over. They will be obliged to continue to serve him faithfully to help erase the bad opinion the prince had formed of them at the beginning of his reign. Thus, the prince will derive more useful service from these than from others who are overconfident of their security and who may serve the prince's interests negligently. Does this have any bearing on the situation Machiavelli was in, when he wrote The Prince? Machiavelli also advises a prince to carefully consider the reasons why those who favored his success did so. If it wasn't from a natural affection for him, but merely from their dissatisfaction with the previous government, then he'll have much trouble and difficulty in preserving their attachment or satisfying their expectations. It's much easier for a prince to win the friendship of those who were content with the former government--and therefore hostile to him--before his acquisition of power than to win favor with those malcontents who became his friends and supported his takeover. The general practice of princes had also been to build fortresses to serve as a curb and a check upon those who might make an attempt against the government. Fortresses could further serve as a secure place of refuge for the prince against attack. Although Machiavelli approves of this strategy because it was practiced by the ancients, he points out that fortresses may prove injurious to a prince. Speaking philosophically, Machiavelli says that a prince who fears his own people more than foreigners should build fortresses, but that a prince who fears strangers more than his own people should do without fortresses. To make his point clear, Machiavelli asserts that the best fortress a prince can possess is the affection of his people. Even if a prince has fortresses but is hated by the people, fortresses will not save him. Once a people has risen in arms against their prince, there will be no lack of strangers to aid them and bring the prince to ruin. NOTE: A more complete discussion of Machiavelli's views on fortresses and the military is found in his Art of War. In this book he concentrates on those strategies and tactics that are mistakes and bring "death and ruin" instead of victory. The result of his study is a list of advice and warnings related to the art of warfare. He says, for example, that it's imprudent and injurious to make either "hesitating decisions" or "slow and late ones"; that it's useless in time of war, and in peacetime actively harmful, to rely on fortresses as a principal system of defense; that it's the worst mistake of all "to refuse every agreement" when attacked by superior forces, and to try instead to win against the odds; and that "war is made with steel and not with gold." These are the practical lessons of warfare as taught by the Romans, and Machiavelli sketches them briefly in The Prince, as well. Can you think of modern parallels that suggest that Machiavelli's views on warfare and fortresses are still valid? What historical examples can you think of that support or further explain Machiavelli's point of view on warfare or fortresses? In his own time, says Machiavelli, he has seen only one example where a fortress had been of advantage to a ruler: Following the death of her husband, the countess of Forli used her fortress to escape the fury of the people while she waited for help from Milan to recover her state. Later, however, she was attacked by Cesare Borgia, who, with the aid of the people's hatred, was able to conquer her territory. She would have been better off, Machiavelli asserts, if she had not been hated by the people, than she was in possessing the castle. NOTE: Machiavelli's treatment of fortresses is as much a metaphor for the political climate of Italy in his time as it is a practical, strategic concern. Metaphorically speaking, could Machiavelli be encouraging the prince to rely more on public opinion and on the patriotism of his people than on expensive technology? This appears to be echoed in his admonition: "It is much better to have the love of the people, who will themselves become the protective fortress of the prince." Can you think of other metaphors related to fortresses that have modern significance? Consider, for example, the Communist nations that form the Eastern European bloc. What conclusions can you draw about a society that must build walls--real (the Berlin Wall) and metaphorical (the Iron Curtain)--to keep its people in? Think of the popular uprisings in Hungary in 1956, in Czechoslovakia in 1968, and in Poland in 1980. To what extent can a ruler rely on military strength to awe his people into submission? The Shah of Iran assembled the strongest military force in the Middle East; yet, as events proved, he lacked the popular support of his people. Despite his military might, he was easily overthrown in 1978-1979. The Shah's example seems to support Machiavelli's assertion that the best fortress of a prince is the love of his subjects. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 21 With this chapter, Machiavelli returns to the discussion begun in Chapter 18 on how to acquire a reputation, elaborating on why it is essential for a prince to undertake great enterprises and give a noble example in his own person. Machiavelli cites the example of Ferdinand of Spain, a new prince who conquered the Moors in Granada, attacked Africa, and then invaded Italy and France, At first, Ferdinand carried on these wars in a leisurely fashion, and without fear of opposition. He thereby kept his nobles occupied, and they paid no attention to the innovations introduced by the king. Ferdinand thus acquired a reputation and an influence over the nobles without their being aware of it. The money of the Church and the people allowed him to support his armies, and the long wars enabled him to lay a stable foundation for his military establishment. In addition, Ferdinand always used religion as a pretext for his actions and committed "pious cruelty" in driving the Muslim Moors from his kingdom. Thus, he was always planning great enterprises, which kept the minds of his subjects in a state of suspense and admiration. A prince, furthermore, is respected most when he shows himself to be either a true friend or a real enemy. To declare himself openly for or against another is always more creditable than to remain neutral. NOTE: THE MEASURE OF GREAT MEN Ferdinand is an example suggesting political power has no other function than to create order in a specific place and situation. The use of political power does not seek order and stability for the world at large, but only for one nation at the expense of others. Because success is judged exclusively by how well a ruler achieves a stable, orderly, dynamic, and victorious state, only attempts to lead one's nation to such a position can be used for a serious evaluation of the political leader's greatness. Glorious men, says Machiavelli in The Discourses, are those who successfully complete their attempts to vitalize their own societies, to strengthen them militarily, and to stabilize them politically. These rulers are those rare individuals who can translate their unique talents into actions that yield favorable results for the state. They make history by shaping the destiny of their nations. "Glory" is the prize of the prince's victory, and though it shines in posterity, its origins must be present during the prince's lifetime. To gain power is one thing; to win glory, another. Can you make such a clear distinction between power and glory? Does the pursuit of power distinguish great men from ordinary men? What examples can you advance that support Machiavelli's ideal that the "public good" that results from glory is more lasting than the private good that results from power? A prince should also show himself to be a lover of virtue, and should honor all who excel in any of the arts. He should encourage his citizens quietly to pursue their vocations--whether of commerce, agriculture, or any other productive or useful industry--and should provide rewards for those willing to do these things, and for all who strive to enlarge his city or state. Besides this, he should at suitable periods amuse his people with festivities and spectacles. He should, further, set an example of his humanity and magnificence, always preserving, however, the majesty of his dignity, which should never be absent under any circumstances. NOTE: CONDUCT OF A PRINCE Machiavelli may be directly addressing Lorenzo here with his lengthy list of the ways in which a prince should conduct himself to become respected and admired. Lorenzo is reported to have been a strikingly handsome, robust, and well-liked prince who enjoyed athletic contests and civic celebrations. But some of his political decisions had disturbed many Italians and made them question his ability as a leader. For example, he had twice remained neutral in recent Italian civil wars and had refused to join forces with several city-states in their fight for freedom. Could Machiavelli be subtly pointing out to Lorenzo that he should consider a more aggressive role if he's to drive the foreign invaders from Italy? But in judging the actions of a prince, where does one draw the line between timidity and discretion? Machiavelli warns the prince not to ally himself with stronger rulers. Consider the case of Italy's Benito Mussolini and Spain's Francisco Franco--both Fascist dictators and seemingly natural allies of Hitler's Germany. Yet, while Mussolini joined forces with Hitler during World War II, Franco remained neutral. Mussolini, a student of Machiavelli, acted decisively, but Germany and Italy lost the war and he was destroyed. Franco, it might seem, acted timidly, but he and his regime survived the war. Is Machiavelli overlooking here a quality in the ideal leader that may sometimes be more important than physical courage--namely, discretion? Machiavelli also seems to be suggesting that the powerful prince should mingle with his people, engage in common activities, play sports, and sponsor festivals and fairs that attract supporters. Does this sound like a familiar device to win friends and influence people? Think of contemporary politicians and leaders of industry who engage in similar activities to sell themselves to the public. While at first glance this practice may appear to be a harmless way of winning favor, is there a more serious or dangerous element involved in a leader freely mingling with the people? Consider, for example, recent attempted assassinations, kidnappings, and other acts of terrorism involving world leaders. What do you think Machiavelli would have to say about this? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTERS 22 AND 23 Chapters 22 and 23 are important for the suggestions Machiavelli makes regarding the ways a prince should select his advisers. If a prince's advisers are competent and faithful, the prince will be judged wise, because he knew how to discern their capacity and how to secure their fidelity. But if they prove otherwise, the opinion formed of a prince will be unfavorable, because he lacked good judgment in making the selection. In suggesting the types of advisers to choose, Machiavelli distinguishes between three kinds of intellect. The first intellect understands things by its own quickness of perception; it is this intellect that a prince should look for in selecting advisers. The second intellect understands things when they are explained by someone else; this intellect is also good. The third understands things neither by itself nor through the explanation of others; this intellect is useless. Whenever the prince sees that the adviser thinks more of himself than of the prince and that he seeks his own advantage more than that of the state, the prince may be sure that his adviser is not to be trusted. For a man who has the administration of the state in his hands should never think of himself, but only of the prince, and should never bring anything to his ruler's notice that does not relate to the interest of the government. On the other hand, the prince may secure the devotion of his advisers by binding himself to them with obligations. The prince should bestow riches and share honors and tasks, so that the abundance of honors and riches conferred by the prince will keep the adviser from desiring either from any other source. When the relations between a prince and his adviser are set up that way, says Machiavelli, the two will be able to rely on each other. If the relations between them are otherwise, then one or the other will surely come to a bad end. NOTE: In The Prince, Machiavelli takes great pains to spell out the differences between friends and flatterers, and warns of the dangers of placing personal friends in positions of influence. Do you think his description of trusted advisers is accurate? Do you think he gained his own position as head of the second chancery by personal influence or by ability? To test your own interpretation of Machiavelli's view, think of recent examples of "trusted advisers" whose appointment to high positions in government because of political favoritism or reward later resulted in embarrassment or censure for their leader. On the other hand, can you think of notable examples of trusted advisers whose appointment to public office has resulted in remarkable achievements in diplomacy, negotiations, or legislation? Is there a lesson to be learned here? What is it? In Chapter 23, Machiavelli describes how a prince learns to avoid flatterers. He begins by saying men are generally so pleased with themselves that it's with difficulty they escape from flatterers. In their efforts to avoid them, moreover, princes expose themselves to the risk of being scorned. There is, unfortunately, no way to guard against flattery other than to make people understand that they won't offend a prince by speaking the truth. But when all people feel free to speak the truth to a prince, they'll be apt to lack respect for him. A prudent prince, therefore, should follow a middle course, choosing for his close advisers only wise men, to whom he gives full power to tell him the truth. They should only be allowed to give him those opinions that he asks for, and no other. The prince should listen to his advisers' opinions, reflect upon them, and then form his own resolutions. He should also treat his advisers in such a manner that each is encouraged to always speak freely to him. Machiavelli cites a contemporary example to reinforce his analysis. Emperor Maximilian takes counsel with no one and yet never does anything in his own way, either. He never communicates his secrets nor takes advice. But when he attempts to carry out his plans and they become known, they are quickly opposed by those whom he has around him. Being easily influenced, the emperor is then diverted from his own resolves. Thus, Maximilian undoes one day what he has done the day before, and no one ever knows what he wants or plans to do from day to day. Maximilian's problem leads Machiavelli to propose that a prince should always take counsel--but only when he wants it, not when others wish to thrust it upon him. In fact, he says, a prince should discourage persons from offering him unsolicited advice. And he should show his anger if anyone should, for some reason, not tell him the truth. Those who imagine that a prince's wisdom is the result of the good counsel of those who surround him, rather than of his own natural gifts of wisdom, also deceive themselves. A prince who is not naturally wise cannot be well advised (unless he places himself entirely in the hands of one man who happens to be an adviser of uncommon ability). But even in such a case, Machiavelli warns, a prince might be well directed but would probably not last long before his adviser deprived him of his state. Even if the prince depends completely on a number of advisers, he will have similar problems, because his advisers will think only of their own advantage, and the prince will know neither how to discern nor how to correct their various suggestions. And things cannot be otherwise, says Machiavelli, because people will always naturally prove bad, unless necessity forces them to be good. Hence, he concludes this chapter with the admonition that good advisers, no matter where they come from, result wholly from the prince's own wisdom. The prince's wisdom, however, never results from good advisers. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: QUALITIES OF THE PRINCE DISCUSSED IN PART III The personal qualities of the successful prince, as discussed by Machiavelli in Part III, are summarized here for your convenient reference. In many ways, this is the core of The Prince. Machiavelli presents his recommendations in the form of a series of opposite alternatives. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: FREE-SPENDING OR TIGHTFISTED The prince who spends freely on building projects, patronage of the arts, and gifts to friends makes himself popular only with the few who receive the benefits. The tightfisted ruler wins more popularity because he doesn't tax his subjects as much. He also has more money to spend in military emergencies. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CRUEL OR KIND It is better to have a reputation for kindness than for cruelty, but cruelty (severity) is needed to maintain order. If a prince is cruel to a few criminals and malcontents, they alone suffer; if he is excessively "kind" and lets public order break down, everyone suffers from the increase in robbery and murder. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: LOVED OR FEARED A prince should be both loved and feared--but, if he must choose, it is better to be feared. But he must not make himself hated. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: DEPENDENT ON THE LOYALTY OF HIS SUBJECTS Despite the great importance of military power, a prince who bases his rule on building fortresses to overawe his subjects, like Francesco Sforza of Milan, cannot rule securely. A prince's best fortress is the loyalty of his subjects. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: ABLE TO USE ADVISERS AS TOOLS A prince needs able advisers. But, after he has taken counsel with them, he must make up his own mind about policy decisions. He should not accept unsolicited advice, and he should not let his advisers talk him into constantly changing his mind. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: PART IV The last three chapters of The Prince consist of Machiavelli's call to arms as he tries to persuade Lorenzo to seize the moment and move forward with ambitious plans. The patriotic strain is quite obvious here. Machiavelli cites past events to remind Lorenzo that Italy is doomed to failure and obscurity unless he acts swiftly. There is an almost religious fervor to the tone of Machiavelli's pleas, as he prays that Lorenzo will be able to profit from the lessons of past events, previous leaders, and his own skills to restore Italy to her former glory and rightful place in history. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 24 Up to this point in The Prince, Machiavelli has discussed generally the types of governments, princes, military strategies, and advisers that might serve any prince in a quest for power. In Chapter 24, he addresses the specific reasons why the different princes of Italy have lost their states. Machiavelli's careful and critical observation of Italian history repeats some of what he's said before. He tells Lorenzo that the actions of a new prince, like himself, will be regarded as if he were a hereditary one as long as he observes the rules spelled out in The Prince. Once his actions are known to be virtuous, he'll win the confidence and affection of more people than if he were of ancient heritage--since new rulers are watched much more closely than established rulers. When the people find that the ruler is good, they will be satisfied and will seek no other. In examining the conduct of those princes who lost their states--the king of Naples and the duke of Milan, among others--Machiavelli finds a common thread regarding their inability to keep an army in the field. He also finds that in some instances the people were hostile to the prince. In other instances a prince may have had the good will of the people but didn't know how to get along with the nobles. Therefore, says Machiavelli, those established princes who lost their kingdoms should not blame fortune for the loss, but should fault their own laziness and lack of energy. In peaceful times they never thought of the possibility of a change (it's a common defect of people in fair weather to take no thought of storms); afterward, when adversity overtook them, their first impulse was to flee rather than to defend themselves, in the hope that the people, disgusted with the insolence of the victors, would recall them. NOTE: FAILURE OF ITALY'S PAST LEADERS Machiavelli's final verdict on the leadership of Italy is a harsh judgment based upon personal observation and historical fact. History has taught, he says, that it's not "bad luck" that has kept Italy a prisoner under foreign rule. It's the blunders, misjudgments, and strategic errors that have resulted in military weakness and political chaos. This admission represents the point at which he regarded his contemporaries as most open to criticism. It's also the most important lesson that he drew for contemporary rulers from his study of ancient history: What they had failed to recognize was that they would have been far more successful if they had sought to adapt their personalities to the needs of the moment, instead of trying to reshape their times in the mold of their personalities. As in The Discourses, Machiavelli argues here that as long as men are more committed to their own ambitions than to the public interest, there will always be tendencies to favor selfish and petty ends, to sow the seeds of corruption in government, and to endanger individual liberty. Only a new prince, interested solely in restoring political stability and cultivating civic good, can deliver Italy from impending doom. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 25 Having laid the foundation for his patriotic call to arms in Chapter 24, Machiavelli now turns his attention to a review of the influence of fortune in human affairs, and to how it may be counteracted by a forceful and aggressive leader, one who possesses virtu. Machiavelli says that he's well aware that many have held, and continue to hold, the opinion that affairs of the world are much controlled by fortune and by divine power that human wisdom and foresight cannot modify them. Although Machiavelli admits that there is some truth to these notions of fortune and divine power, he also asserts that fortune is only partially responsible for the success or failure of men's actions. Free will--which allows men to make choices--also influences and directs men's actions: it actually encourages men to try to affect their own fortunes. NOTE: Machiavelli has already denied a role for good fortune in bringing a prince to power (see Chapter 15). Here, however, he is much more forceful and uncompromising in his views. He argues that men must try to alter the course of events if they're to succeed. The idea of virtu that he presents here is not the Christian virtue of passive acceptance of fate. Instead, Machiavelli asserts that man has the ability to mold his own destiny. In a more practical sense, Machiavelli is simply saying that the times are right for action, and, perhaps, that Lorenzo should seize the moment and not delay any longer. Even at the darkest hour in Italy's gloom, Machiavelli is at his most optimistic here. He counsels never to stop trying, and to pursue an active, aggressive course of action. Although he would never argue that recklessness is a virtue, he does encourage boldness and swift action. Again, his plea here is directed toward restoring the harmony and equilibrium of the state. In examining Italy from the viewpoint of the recommendations he proposes, Machiavelli sees that she is an open country without protection against foreign invasion. He also sees that if Italy had been protected with proper valor and wisdom--as Germany, Spain, and France had been protected against invasion--countless foreign subjugations would not have caused the great changes they did, or may not have even occurred at all. The same could be said of a prince's own fortune. The prince who relies entirely upon fortune, as Italy relied upon her inadequate defense and leadership, may be ruined depending on how fortune varies. But the prince who conforms his conduct to the spirit of the times, as Machiavelli hopes Lorenzo will, will prosper. To reinforce his view that the times are ripe now for immediate action, Machiavelli again points to the example of Pope Julius II. Julius always acted on impulse, often surprising his opponents with his daring and unpredictable moves. When, for example, he went to war against Bologna, neither Venice nor the king of Spain was prepared to react, because both had been caught by surprise. Thus, Julius was able to enlist the support of the king of France and win a significant victory for himself. Had he postponed his decision to do battle with the Venetians and the Spanish, he might have missed his chances for victory. Therefore, Machiavelli concludes, inasmuch as fortune is changeable, men who persist obstinately in their own ways will be successful only as long as those ways coincide with those of fortune. To make his point more directly, Machiavelli draws the analogy of fortune as a woman, an analogy that was popular in Italian literature at the time. Like a woman, he says, fortune is fragile, partial to the young, and easily seduced. But, if you wish to master her, you must use force: and you will see that she allows herself to be more easily vanquished by the rash and the violent than by those who proceed more slowly and coldly. As a woman, she favors youth more than age, for youth is less cautious and more energetic--and commands fortune with greater audacity. NOTE: Machiavelli's graphic image of fortune as a woman is drawn from familiar literature of the period. The poet Piccolomini in his "Dream of Fortune" had explored the same image and detailed the erotic overtones of the analogy. Machiavelli, however, implies that fortune may actually take a perverse pleasure in being roughly handled. Today we would regard this analogy as sexist and depraved. Is it especially intended to appeal to Lorenzo, the young and impetuous prince Machiavelli hopes to stimulate into action? Or is Machiavelli's point here a more practical one: that fortune must be confronted with firmness if men are to attain their highest goals? Consider the role that fortune plays in Machiavelli's advice to Lorenzo in the following chapter. It should help you to understand his plea for a prince to be the "redeemer" of Italy. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: CHAPTER 26 The last chapter serves as both a summary of Machiavelli's major thoughts and a final patriotic call for Lorenzo to seize the initiative and move swiftly to free Italy of foreign domination. Reviewing his previous discussions, and thinking the time is right for Italy to be led by a new prince, Machiavelli wishes that the opportunity to liberate Italy be given to a prudent and virtuous man who would establish a new form of government that would bring honor to himself and happiness to the people. He cites past examples of heroic leaders who heeded similar calls and rose to the heights of glorious victory: Moses, who came forth to lead the enslaved people of Israel to freedom and the Promised Land; Cyrus, who arose to free the Persians from their slavery to the Medes; and Theseus, who emerged to unite the Athenians. Now, he says, it's time for another heroic figure to step forward and save the Italians, who are in worse bondage than the Jews, more enslaved than the Persians, more scattered than the Athenians. Although there once had been someone who seemed ordained to redeem Italy (an allusion to Cesare Borgia?), he was checked by fortune--at the very peak of his career--and Italy remains today lifeless, waiting for someone else to heal her wounds. And there is no one at present in whom Italy could place more hope than in the house of Medici--which, with its virtue and fortune, is favored by both God and the Church. It will be an easy task to win, says Machiavelli, if Lorenzo will first carefully study the lives and actions of the three men just named. NOTE: The impassioned "exhortation" to liberty that concludes The Prince again underscores the role of virtu in Machiavelli's scheme of thought. He reverts to the leaders mentioned in Chapter 6 to imply that nothing less than a union of their astonishing abilities with the greatest good fortune and virtue will save Italy from destruction. He also adds that the "glorious family" of the Medici possesses all the qualities necessary for leadership. The obvious note of patriotism has led some readers to interpret the chapter as an open invitation to any prince or party capable of assuming power to seize the opportunity and attack the foreign intruders. Most readers, however, accept Machiavelli's effort in the concluding chapter as a sincere attempt to speak directly to Lorenzo, so that there is no misunderstanding about the author's call to arms. The use of poetry at the end, the biblical references, and the historical names only seem to enhance the urgent nature of his plea. The Italian people have great courage, he reminds Lorenzo, even if their leaders do not. Look at their duels and their encounters when there are but a few on either side, and discover how superior they have shown themselves to be in strength, dexterity, and ability. But when it comes to their armies, these qualities do not appear because of the inferiority of their leaders, who cannot command obedience from those versed in the art of war. That is why, Machiavelli warns Lorenzo, he will have to provide himself with a national army as the foundation of his enterprise. And Italian soldiers will become even better when they are united and know that they're led by their own prince, who will honor and support them. Machiavelli also points out that Lorenzo should remember from history that the infantry of both the Swiss and the Spaniards have noticeable defects, which would permit the newly organized Italian forces not only to resist them, but also perhaps to vanquish them. For example, the Spaniards cannot withstand the attack of cavalry, and the Swiss dread well-trained, resolute infantry. Machiavelli tells Lorenzo that, knowing these defects, he can organize a new system of infantry that will be effective against both. This is one of the things, he says, that will bring fame and greatness to a new prince. Having given his final advice, Machiavelli expresses the gratitude and love that all Italians will feel when their nation is finally liberated. The moment must not be allowed to pass, he repeats. With what thirst for vengeance, with what persistent faith, with what devotion, and with what tears, he says, the people will rush to greet Lorenzo when Italy is at last freed from these foreign foes! To seal his patriotic plea that Lorenzo help Italy recover its ancient fame, Machiavelli offers a stirring quotation from the beloved Italian poet Petrarch: Courage will take up arms Against the barbarian, and may the struggle be brief; For the valor of old is not yet extinguished In Italian hearts. NOTE: Although the final chapter is the most eloquent in The Prince, it is also one of the most misunderstood. The obvious change in style, especially the frequent use of imagery, has led some readers to suggest that it may have been added to the book as an afterthought some years later. Far more important, it seems, are the compassion and dignity that Machiavelli exhibits here. Who could fail to be motivated to action after being compared to Moses, or other well-known and revered heroic figures? This passionate tone in the last chapter is a glimpse beyond the cold, calculating portrait of Machiavelli seen in most of The Prince and is also an indication of how tragic the political situation in Italy had become. The nation was being ravaged by foreign invaders, such as the Swiss, the French, and the Spaniards, and the only salvation for the people would be the emergence of an imaginative and forceful leader who could appeal to all the factions of the Italian city-states and give the nation a common goal. Unfortunately, there was to be no such redeemer during Machiavelli's lifetime. The passionate handbook of the art of ruling dedicated to Lorenzo was apparently dismissed by the Medici. It is quite possible that Lorenzo never even read The Prince and that he died unaware of what Machiavelli had so carefully tried to spell out for him. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: GLOSSARY AGATHOCLES (361-289 B.C.) Potter's son, who through his special abilities became king of Syracuse. Machiavelli, however, considers him a villain. ALEXANDER THE GREAT (356-323 B.C.) One of Machiavelli's favorite historical examples of a successful and glorious prince. He conquered the kingdom of Darius of Persia. ALEXANDER SEVERUS (208-235 A.D.) Machiavelli's example of a weak prince, who was unduly influenced by his mother, hated by the people, and eventually murdered. AUXILIARY TROOPS Neighboring armies lent by powerful foreign princes in time of battle. Machiavelli regards them as highly dangerous. CESARE BORGIA (1475-1507) Model prince, who rose to power as the son of Pope Alexander VI. A brilliant tactical thinker, able leader, and cunning politician, Cesare Borgia fell victim to bad luck and lost his kingdom soon after his father's death. CHIRON Classical Greek mythological figure who was half-man and half-beast. Machiavelli employs this image to introduce his thesis that the prince must be both "fox" and "lion." ECCLESIASTICAL PRINCIPALITY Principality ruled by the Church and maintained by religious laws. The area around Rome, governed by the pope, was an ecclesiastical principality in Machiavelli's day. FERDINAND OF SPAIN (1452-1516) Machiavelli's example of a ruler who engaged in forceful foreign policies that resulted in absolute power. King Ferdinand drove the Moors out of Granada, attacked Africa, and invaded Italy and France simultaneously. FERMO City in central Italy, near the Adriatic Sea, part of the papal domain, 1538-1860. OLIVEROTTO DA FERMO Infamous prince, who ruled Fermo in 1501. He was murdered in 1502 for plotting to overthrow Cesare Borgia. FLORENCE City-state in central Italy, located on the Arno River and at the foot of the Apennines. Greatest cultural and artistic center of western Europe, fourteenth-sixteenth centuries. FORTUNE According to Machiavelli, luck that plays a pivotal role in the success or failure of a prince. GAETA Fortified seaport, located in central Italy on the Gulf of Gaeta. GOLDEN RULES Machiavelli's political maxims, or wise sayings, that summarize his major ideas and themes. HANNIBAL (247-183 B.C.) Leader of the Carthaginian army against Rome during the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.). HEREDITARY PRINCIPALITY Principality ruled by one person or one family for a prolonged period of time on the basis of an inherited right to power. LOMBARDY Region in northern Italy in the Italian Alps. It took its name from the fact that it was the center of the kingdom founded in the Po Valley by the Lombards, a German people who invaded Italy in the sixth century. LOUIS XII (1462-1515) Machiavelli's example of a ruler whose military blunders cost him an empire. Louis XII, king of France, lost the duchy of Milan through a series of tactical delays, foolish alliances, and weak supporting armies. MAXIMILIAN I (1459-1519) Holy Roman Emperor. Machiavelli's example of a ruler who surrounded himself with flatterers instead of able advisers and was soon distrusted by the people. LORENZO DE' MEDICI (1492-1519) Grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent and ruler of Florence when The Prince was written. Machiavelli dedicates the book to Lorenzo, whom he sees as a potentially glorious prince. MERCENARIES Hired armies that Machiavelli portrays as ambitious, undisciplined, and frequently cowardly in the face of attack. MILAN City in Lombardy, located in northern Italy. During the Renaissance, it was governed by the tyrannical Sforza family. The French sought to conquer Milan. MINISTERS Personal advisers to the prince. MIXED PRINCIPALITY Principality including both old and newly acquired provinces, subject to frequent rebellion and changes of leadership. MIXED TROOPS Armies composed of both mercenaries and national or local troops. Machiavelli describes mixed forces as disruptive, because they provoke bitter quarreling that undermines the spirit of a military campaign. NAPLES Seaport on the Bay of Naples. A scene of rivalry between France and Spain in Machiavelli's day. NATIVE TROOPS Armies formed by the citizens of a nation and loyal to the prince. Machiavelli considers them the best possible armies because they fight for their own freedom as well as for their prince. NEW PRINCIPALITY A principality formed by conquest and maintained only as long as a strong military can prevent its subsequent loss to another conqueror. REMIRRO D'ORCO The majordomo, or chief lieutenant, of Cesare Borgia. He was killed after he displayed excessive cruelty and brutality as commander of Romagna. Machiavelli cites him to show that by punishing (killing) him, Cesare Borgia tried to appear a humane prince. PETRARCH (1304-1374) Famous Italian poet. Machiavelli quotes several of his patriotic stanzas to conclude The Prince. PISA City-state in the province of Tuscany, in western Italy. Rebelled against Florentine rule 1494-1509; Machiavelli uses the image of Pisa in his writing to suggest that the love of freedom is so strong that a prince could never extinguish it by force alone. PISTORIA Surrounding province on the outskirts of Florence, seized by the Florentines in 1331. PRATO City located in Tuscany, in western Italy. Free Italian province in eleventh century; later under the control of Florence. Sacked by the Spaniards in 1512. ROMAGNA Under papal control until 1500. Seized by Cesare Borgia in 1501. ROME City in central Italy, along the Tiber River. The capital of the Roman Empire and the seat of the papacy. ROMULUS Legendary founder of Rome. GIROLAMO SAVONAROLA (1452-1498) Dominican friar who had much influence in Florence from 1494 to 1497. He advocated puritanical laws. He was eventually hanged and burned in the town square by the Florentines. SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS (146-211 A.D.) Roman Emperor. Machiavelli's example of a strong prince who was both a fox and a lion. He defeated his rivals, Niger and Albinus, using cunning and force. FRANCESCO SFORZA (1401-1466) Duke of Milan, who maintained a fiercely loyal army to defend himself. After his death, his descendants neglected the art of war and were overthrown. SICILY Largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, at the extreme southern point of the Italian peninsula. Syracuse was the leading city of ancient Sicily. THESEUS Greek mythological hero and king of Athens. VENICE Seaport in northeast Italy. A rich, powerful aristocratic republic in Machiavelli's time. VIRTU Machiavelli's term for personal strength and ability, the special talent of a prince to seize the opportunity of a given moment and assume absolute power. BERNABO VISCONTI (1323-1385) Ruler famous for his cruel methods of punishment, including torture. Machiavelli uses him as an example of how a prince can instill fear in the hearts of the people. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: MACHIAVELLI AS POLITICAL THINKER Supreme among the political thinkers of all time, Machiavelli, in common with the greatest politicians--who, like him, so resemble the artist in that their logic and their dogma are completely subordinate to their intuition--has what may literally be termed initial inner "illuminations," immediate, intuitive visions of events and their significance. -Federico Chabod, Machiavelli and the Renaissance, 1960 The Prince has been read as if it were a treatise on political theory, instead of being considered an impassioned answer to a particular historical situation. Admittedly, Machiavelli believed that historical situations repeat themselves, and that good solutions may also be repeated. This does not, however, alter the fact that The Prince was written at a time of grave national and personal crisis and must be understood in the light of such events. -A. J. Krailshmeimer, The Continental Renaissance, 1971 Machiavelli's intention was not the study or the creation of that particular science which we today call political science. It is important that we should come to his work as historians, not as theorists who hanker after synthesis. The science which he is regarded as having invented is a particular policy that he was commending for adoption by the practical statesman; or it was an element conditioning political action that he was subjecting to analysis. His teaching is a collection of concrete maxims--warnings and injunctions in regard to certain points of policy, rules of conduct for specified emergencies, and expositions of tactical moves. -Herbert Butterfield, The Statecraft of Machiavelli, 1962 ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: A NEGATIVE VIEW OF MACHIAVELLI Ever since Niccolo Machiavelli's day The Prince has been considered by some to be a diabolical production, and its author's name has been held synonymous with Satan (hence, according to Samuel Butler, "Old Nick"). Passages have been quoted out of context to prove their author depraved and immoral. Although such a practice is unfair and does not do justice to Machiavelli's whole thesis, it must be admitted that he exalts the state above the individual; that the most enthusiastic exponents of his theories have been Napoleon, Bismarck, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin; and that his state is exempt from the obligations of "religion" and "morality." -Buckner B. Trawick, World Literature, 1962 ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: ON POLITICS Machiavelli inevitably had a felt need for the formation and expression of the political will of the community. Despite the fact that he lived in and worked for one city-state while spending his leisure time pondering the fate of other city-states, Machiavelli has proven to be vitally relevant to those living in the era of the emergence and spread of the national-state system and the rich and tumultuous development of the internal political life of Western peoples; at least in part because of his insistence upon viewing the political life of a people as the highest expression of its culture. -Martin Fleisher, Machiavelli and the Nature of Political Thought, 1972 ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: ON RELIGION One significant way in which Machiavelli contributed to the new confidence in man was in his separation of politics from religion and his challenge to the secular authority of the Church. The human activity of politics, Machiavelli believed, can be isolated from other forms of activity and treated in its own autonomous terms. In a word politics can be divorced from theology, and government from religion. No longer is the state viewed as having a moral end or purpose. Its end is not the shaping of human souls, but the creation of conditions which would enable men to fulfill their basic desires of self-preservation, security, and happiness. Religion has the vital function of personal salvation, of serving as an important instrument of social control--a basis for civic virtue rather than moral virtue. -Anthony Parel, The Political Calculus, 1972 ^^^^^^^^^^ THE PRINCE: ON FORTUNE Machiavelli totally ignores the orthodox Christian injunction that a good ruler ought to avoid the temptations of worldly glory and wealth in order to be sure of attaining his heavenly rewards. On the contrary, it seems obvious to Machiavelli that the highest prizes for which men are bound to compete are "glory and riches"--the two finest gifts that Fortune has it in her to bestow. -Quentin Skinner, Machiavelli, 1981 THE END