The Prince

The Prince
Title: The Prince
Release Date: 2018-04-23
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Of all Machiavelli's works The Prince is undoubtedly the greatest;and a new English edition of it is likely to be welcome to all thosewho have not the advantage of reading it in the classical Italianoriginal.

For a true appreciation of Machiavelli, impossible in a brief Preface,I must refer the English reader to Macaulay's Essay on the Italianhistorian and statesman.[1] In it he will see how our Author's ideas andwork were wrongfully and wilfully misinterpreted by the very men who,while profiting by his wisdom, have with great ingratitude criticisedthe statesman and defamed his name, as that of the inventor of theworst political system ever imagined. Yet, as his whole life was anindefatigable and unremitting endeavour to secure for his nativeFlorence a good and popular government, and as he lost his great officeof Secretary to the Florentine Republic on account of his avowedliberal opinions, it is not only unjust but ridiculous to accuse him ofhelping tyrants to enslave the people. What he did was to show in themost deliberate and in the plainest way the arts by which free peopleswere made slaves; and, had his words of advice been always heeded, notyrant in Italy or elsewhere could have been successful in his policy.That he was not listened to, and his advice scorned and spurned, wasnot Machiavelli's fault.

Those who still share the opinion of his interested detractors shouldread his private correspondence with the leaders of liberal ideasin Italy—many of his letters being still left unpublished in theMS. Collection of Giuliano Ricci in the National Library, in theRiccardiana Library (No. 2467), in the Government Archives (Strozzi,Nos. 133 and 1028) of Florence, in the Barberini Library, and in theCollezione Gonnelli of the Palatine Library in Rome.



[1]"Machiavelli" by Thomas Babington Macaulay is available at ProjectGutenberg in Critical, Historical, and Miscellaneous Essays; Vol. 1,ebook 55901.]




1. The various kinds of Government and the ways by which they areestablished.

2. Of Hereditary Monarchies.

3. Of Mixed Monarchies.

4. Why the Kingdom of Darius, occupied by Alexander, did not rebelagainst the successors of the latter after his death.

5. The way to govern Cities or Dominions that, previous to beingoccupied, lived under their own Laws.

6. Of New Dominions which have been acquired by one's own Arms andPowers.

7. Of New Dominions acquired by the Power of others or by Fortune.

8. Of those who have attained the position of Prince by villainy.

9. Of the Civic Principality.

10. How the strength of all States should be measured.

11. Of Ecclesiastical Principalities.

12. The different kinds of Militia and Mercenary Soldiers.

13. Of Auxiliary, Mixed, and Native Troops

14. What the duties of a Prince are with regard to the Militia.

15. Of the things for which Men, and especially Princes, are praised orblamed.

16. Of Liberality and Niggardliness.

17. Of Cruelty and Clemency, and whether it is better to be loved orfeared.

18. In what way Princes must keep faith.

19. That we must avoid being despised and hated.

20. Whether Fortresses and other things which Princes often make areuseful or injurious.

21. How a Prince must act in order to gain reputation.

22. Of the Secretaries of Princes.

23. How Flatterers must be shunned.

24. Why the Princes of Italy have lost their States.

25. How much Fortune can do in human affairs, and how it may be opposed.

26. Exhortation to liberate Italy from the Barbarians.





It is customary for those who wish to gain the favour of a prince toendeavour to do so by offering him gifts of those things which theyhold most precious, or in which they know him to take especial delight.In this way princes are often presented with horses, arms, cloth ofgold, gems, and such-like ornaments worthy of their grandeur. In mydesire, however, to offer to Your Highness some humble testimony ofmy devotion, I have been unable to find among my possessions anythingwhich I hold so dear or esteem so highly as that knowledge of the deedsof great men which I have acquired through a long experience of modernevents and a constant study of the past.

The results of my long observations and reflections are recorded in thelittle volume which I now offer to Your Highness: and although I deemthis work unworthy of Your Highness's notice, yet my confidence in yourhumanity assures me that you will accept it, knowing that it is notin my power to offer you a greater gift than that of enabling you tounderstand in the shortest possible time all those things which I havelearnt through danger and suffering in the course of many years. I havenot sought to adorn my work with long phrases or high-sounding words orany of those allurements and ornaments with which many writers seek toembellish their books, as I desire no honour for my work but such asits truth and the gravity of its subject may justly deserve. Nor willit, I trust, be deemed presumptuous on the part of a man of humble andobscure condition to attempt to discuss and criticise the government ofprinces; for in the same way that landscape painters station themselvesin the valleys in order to draw mountains or elevated ground, andascend an eminence in order to get a good view of the plains, so itis necessary to be a prince to be able to know thoroughly the natureof a people, and to know the nature of princes one must be one of thepopulace.

May I trust, therefore, that Your Highness will accept this little giftin the spirit in which it is offered; and if Your Highness will deignto peruse it, you will recognise in it my ardent desire that you mayattain to that grandeur which fortune and your own merits presage foryou.

And should Your Highness gaze down from the summit of that eminencetowards this humble spot, you will recognise the great and unmeritedsufferings inflicted on me by a cruel fate.




All states and dominions which hold or have held sway over mankind areeither republics or monarchies. Monarchies are either hereditary ones,in which the rulers have been for many years of the same family, orelse they are those of recent foundation. The newly founded ones areeither entirely new, as was Milan to Francesco Sforza, or else theyare, as it were, new members grafted on to the hereditary possessionsof the prince that annexes them, as is the kingdom of Naples to theKing of Spain. The dominions thus acquired have either been previouslyaccustomed to the rule of another prince, or else have been freestates, and they are annexed either by force of arms of the prince, orof others, or else fall to him by good fortune or merit.



I will not here speak of republics, having already treated of themfully in another place. I will deal only with monarchies, and will showhow the various kinds described above can be governed and maintained.In the first place, in hereditary states accustomed to the reigningfamily the difficulty of maintaining them is far less than in newmonarchies; for it is sufficient not to exceed the ancestral usages,and to accommodate one's self to accidental circumstances; in this waysuch a prince, if of ordinary ability, will always be able to maintainhis position, unless some very exceptional and excessive force depriveshim of it; and even if he be thus deprived of it, on the slightestmisfortune happening to the new occupier, he will be able to regain it.

We have in Italy the example of the Duke of Ferrara, who was ableto withstand the assaults of the Venetians in the year '84, and ofPope Julius in the year '10, for no other reason than because of theantiquity of his family in that dominion. In as much as the legitimateprince has less cause and less necessity to give offence, it is onlynatural that he should be more loved; and, if no extraordinary vicesmake him hated, it is only reasonable for his subjects to be naturallyattached to him, the memories and causes of innovations being forgottenin the long period over which his rule has existed; whereas one changealways leaves the way prepared for the introduction of another.



But it is in the new monarchy that difficulties really exist. Firstly,if it is not entirely new, but a member as it were of a mixed state,its disorders spring at first from a natural difficulty which existsin all new dominions, because men change masters willingly, hoping tobetter themselves; and this belief makes them take arms against theirrulers, in which they are deceived, as experience shows them that theyhave gone from bad to worse. This is the result of another very naturalcause, which is the necessary harm inflicted on those over whom theprince obtains dominion, both by his soldiers and by an infinite numberof other injuries unavoidably caused by his occupation.

Thus you find enemies in all those whom you have injured by occupyingthat dominion, and you cannot maintain the friendship of those who havehelped you to obtain this possession, as you will not be able to fulfiltheir expectations, nor can you use strong measures with them, beingunder an obligation to them; for which reason, however strong yourarmies may be, you will always need the favour of the inhabitants totake possession of a province. It was from these causes that Louis XII.of France, though able to occupy Milan without trouble, immediatelylost it, and the forces of Ludovico alone were sufficient to take itfrom him the first time, for the inhabitants who had willingly openedtheir gates to him, finding themselves deluded in the hopes they hadcherished and not obtaining those benefits that they had anticipated,could not bear the vexatious rule of their new prince.

It is indeed true that, after reconquering the rebel territories theyare not so easily lost again, for the ruler is now, by the fact of therebellion, less averse to secure his position by punishing offenders,investigating any suspicious circumstances, and strengthening himselfin weak places. So that although the mere appearance of such a personas Duke Ludovico on the frontier was sufficient to cause France to loseMilan the first time, to make her lose her grip of it the second timewas only possible when all the world was against her, and after herenemies had been defeated and driven out of Italy; which was the resultof the causes above mentioned. Nevertheless it was taken from her boththe first and the second time. The general causes of the first losshave been already discussed; it remains now to be seen what were thecauses of the second loss and by what means France could have avoidedit, or what measures might have been taken by another ruler in thatposition which were not taken by the King of France. Be it observed,therefore, that those states which on annexation are united to apreviously existing state may or may not be of the same nationalityand language. If they are, it is very easy to hold them, especially ifthey are not accustomed to freedom; and to possess them securely itsuffices that the family of the princes which formerly governed thembe extinct. For the rest, their old condition not being disturbed, andthere being no dissimilarity of customs, the people settle down quietlyunder their new rulers, as is seen in the case of Burgundy, Brittany,Gascony, and Normandy, which have been so long united to France; andalthough there may be some slight differences of language, the customsof the people are nevertheless similar, and they can get along welltogether, and whoever obtains possession of them and wishes to retainthem must bear in mind two things: the one, that

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