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The Prince

by Nicolo Machiavelli

Translated by W. K. Marriott

March, 1998 [Etext #1232]
[Most recently updated: March 11, 2002]

The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Prince, by Nicolo Machiavelli
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The Prince

by Nicolo Machiavelli

Translated by W. K. Marriott

Etext prepared by John Bickers,
and others

Nicolo Machiavelli, born at Florence on 3rd
May 1469. From 1494 to 1512 held an official
post at Florence which included diplomatic
missions to various European courts.
Imprisoned in Florence, 1512; later exiled and
returned to San Casciano. Died at Florence on
22nd June 1527.


Nicolo Machiavelli was born at Florence on 3rd May 1469. He was the
second son of Bernardo di Nicolo Machiavelli, a lawyer of some repute,
and of Bartolommea di Stefano Nelli, his wife. Both parents were
members of the old Florentine nobility.

His life falls naturally into three periods, each of which singularly
enough constitutes a distinct and important era in the history of
Florence. His youth was concurrent with the greatness of Florence as
an Italian power under the guidance of Lorenzo de' Medici, Il
Magnifico. The downfall of the Medici in Florence occurred in 1494, in
which year Machiavelli entered the public service. During his official
career Florence was free under the government of a Republic, which
lasted until 1512, when the Medici returned to power, and Machiavelli
lost his office. The Medici again ruled Florence from 1512 until 1527,
when they were once more driven out. This was the period of
Machiavelli's literary activity and increasing influence; but he died,
within a few weeks of the expulsion of the Medici, on 22nd June 1527,
in his fifty-eighth year, without having regained office.

Aet. 1-25--1469-94

Although there is little recorded of the youth of Machiavelli, the
Florence of those days is so well known that the early environment of
this representative citizen may be easily imagined. Florence has been
described as a city with two opposite currents of life, one directed
by the fervent and austere Savonarola, the other by the splendour-
loving Lorenzo. Savonarola's influence upon the young Machiavelli must
have been slight, for although at one time he wielded immense power
over the fortunes of Florence, he only furnished Machiavelli with a
subject of a gibe in "The Prince," where he is cited as an example of
an unarmed prophet who came to a bad end. Whereas the magnificence of
the Medicean rule during the life of Lorenzo appeared to have
impressed Machiavelli strongly, for he frequently recurs to it in his
writings, and it is to Lorenzo's grandson that he dedicates "The

Machiavelli, in his "History of Florence," gives us a picture of the
young men among whom his youth was passed. He writes: "They were freer
than their forefathers in dress and living, and spent more in other
kinds of excesses, consuming their time and money in idleness, gaming,
and women; their chief aim was to appear well dressed and to speak
with wit and acuteness, whilst he who could wound others the most
cleverly was thought the wisest." In a letter to his son Guido,
Machiavelli shows why youth should avail itself of its opportunities
for study, and leads us to infer that his own youth had been so
occupied. He writes: "I have received your letter, which has given me
the greatest pleasure, especially because you tell me you are quite
restored in health, than which I could have no better news; for if God
grant life to you, and to me, I hope to make a good man of you if you
are willing to do your share." Then, writing of a new patron, he
continues: "This will turn out well for you, but it is necessary for
you to study; since, then, you have no longer the excuse of illness,
take pains to study letters and music, for you see what honour is done
to me for the little skill I have. Therefore, my son, if you wish to
please me, and to bring success and honour to yourself, do right and
study, because others will help you if you help yourself."

Aet. 25-43--1494-1512

The second period of Machiavelli's life was spent in the service of
the free Republic of Florence, which flourished, as stated above, from
the expulsion of the Medici in 1494 until their return in 1512. After
serving four years in one of the public offices he was appointed
Chancellor and Secretary to the Second Chancery, the Ten of Liberty
and Peace. Here we are on firm ground when dealing with the events of
Machiavelli's life, for during this time he took a leading part in the
affairs of the Republic, and we have its decrees, records, and
dispatches to guide us, as well as his own writings. A mere
recapitulation of a few of his transactions with the statesmen and
soldiers of his time gives a fair indication of his activities, and
supplies the sources from which he drew the experiences and characters
which illustrate "The Prince."

His first mission was in 1499 to Catherina Sforza, "my lady of Forli"
of "The Prince," from whose conduct and fate he drew the moral that it
is far better to earn the confidence of the people than to rely on
fortresses. This is a very noticeable principle in Machiavelli, and is
urged by him in many ways as a matter of vital importance to princes.

In 1500 he was sent to France to obtain terms from Louis XII for
continuing the war against Pisa: this king it was who, in his conduct
of affairs in Italy, committed the five capital errors in statecraft
summarized in "The Prince," and was consequently driven out. He, also,
it was who made the dissolution of his marriage a condition of support
to Pope Alexander VI; which leads Machiavelli to refer those who urge
that such promises should be kept to what he has written concerning
the faith of princes.

Machiavelli's public life was largely occupied with events arising out
of the ambitions of Pope Alexander VI and his son, Cesare Borgia, the
Duke Valentino, and these characters fill a large space of "The
Prince." Machiavelli never hesitates to cite the actions of the duke
for the benefit of usurpers who wish to keep the states they have
seized; he can, indeed, find no precepts to offer so good as the
pattern of Cesare Borgia's conduct, insomuch that Cesare is acclaimed
by some critics as the "hero" of "The Prince." Yet in "The Prince" the
duke is in point of fact cited as a type of the man who rises on the
fortune of others, and falls with them; who takes every course that
might be expected from a prudent man but the course which will save
him; who is prepared for all eventualities but the one which happens;
and who, when all his abilities fail to carry him through, exclaims
that it was not his fault, but an extraordinary and unforeseen

On the death of Pius III, in 1503, Machiavelli was sent to Rome to
watch the election of his successor, and there he saw Cesare Borgia
cheated into allowing the choice of the College to fall on Giuliano
delle Rovere (Julius II), who was one of the cardinals that had most
reason to fear the duke. Machiavelli, when commenting on this
election, says that he who thinks new favours will cause great
personages to forget old injuries deceives himself. Julius did not
rest until he had ruined Cesare.

It was to Julius II that Machiavelli was sent in 1506, when that
pontiff was commencing his enterprise against Bologna; which he
brought to a successful issue, as he did many of his other adventures,
owing chiefly to his impetuous character. It is in reference to Pope
Julius that Machiavelli moralizes on the resemblance between Fortune
and women, and concludes that it is the bold rather than the cautious
man that will win and hold them both.

It is impossible to follow here the varying fortunes of the Italian
states, which in 1507 were controlled by France, Spain, and Germany,
with results that have lasted to our day; we are concerned with those
events, and with the three great actors in them, so far only as they
impinge on the personality of Machiavelli. He had several meetings
with Louis XII of France, and his estimate of that monarch's character
has already been alluded to. Machiavelli has painted Ferdinand of
Aragon as the man who accomplished great things under the cloak of
religion, but who in reality had no mercy, faith, humanity, or
integrity; and who, had he allowed himself to be influenced by such
motives, would have been ruined. The Emperor Maximilian was one of the
most interesting men of the age, and his character has been drawn by
many hands; but Machiavelli, who was an envoy at his court in 1507-8,
reveals the secret of his many failures when he describes him as a
secretive man, without force of character--ignoring the human agencies
necessary to carry his schemes into effect, and never insisting on the
fulfilment of his wishes.

The remaining years of Machiavelli's official career were filled with
events arising out of the League of Cambrai, made in 1508 between the
three great European powers already mentioned and the pope, with the
object of crushing the Venetian Republic. This result was attained in
the battle of Vaila, when Venice lost in one day all that she had won
in eight hundred years. Florence had a difficult part to play during
these events, complicated as they were by the feud which broke out
between the pope and the French, because friendship with France had
dictated the entire policy of the Republic. When, in 1511, Julius II
finally formed the Holy League against France, and with the assistance
of the Swiss drove the French out of Italy, Florence lay at the mercy
of the Pope, and had to submit to his terms, one of which was that the
Medici should be restored. The return of the Medici to Florence on 1st
September 1512, and the consequent fall of the Republic, was the
signal for the dismissal of Machiavelli and his friends, and thus put
an end to his public career, for, as we have seen, he died without
regaining office.

Aet. 43-58--1512-27

On the return of the Medici, Machiavelli, who for a few weeks had
vainly hoped to retain his office under the new masters of Florence,
was dismissed by decree dated 7th November 1512. Shortly after this he
was accused of complicity in an abortive conspiracy against the
Medici, imprisoned, and put to the question by torture. The new
Medicean people, Leo X, procured his release, and he retired to his
small property at San Casciano, near Florence, where he devoted
himself to literature. In a letter to Francesco Vettori, dated 13th
December 1513, he has left a very interesting description of his life
at this period, which elucidates his methods and his motives in
writing "The Prince." After describing his daily occupations with his
family and neighbours, he writes: "The evening being come, I return
home and go to my study; at the entrance I pull off my peasant-
clothes, covered with dust and dirt, and put on my noble court dress,
and thus becomingly re-clothed I pass into the ancient courts of the
men of old, where, being lovingly received by them, I am fed with that
food which is mine alone; where I do not hesitate to speak with them,
and to ask for the reason of their actions, and they in their
benignity answer me; and for four hours I feel no weariness, I forget
every trouble, poverty does not dismay, death does not terrify me; I
am possessed entirely by those great men. And because Dante says:

Knowledge doth come of learning well retained,
Unfruitful else,

I have noted down what I have gained from their conversation, and have
composed a small work on 'Principalities,' where I pour myself out as
fully as I can in meditation on the subject, discussing what a
principality is, what kinds there are, how they can be acquired, how
they can be kept, why they are lost: and if any of my fancies ever
pleased you, this ought not to displease you: and to a prince,
especially to a new one, it should be welcome: therefore I dedicate it
to his Magnificence Giuliano. Filippo Casavecchio has seen it; he will
be able to tell you what is in it, and of the discourses I have had
with him; nevertheless, I am still enriching and polishing it."

The "little book" suffered many vicissitudes before attaining the form
in which it has reached us. Various mental influences were at work
during its composition; its title and patron were changed; and for
some unknown reason it was finally dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici.
Although Machiavelli discussed with Casavecchio whether it should be
sent or presented in person to the patron, there is no evidence that
Lorenzo ever received or even read it: he certainly never gave
Machiavelli any employment. Although it was plagiarized during
Machiavelli's lifetime, "The Prince" was never published by him, and
its text is still disputable.

Machiavelli concludes his letter to Vettori thus: "And as to this
little thing [his book], when it has been read it will be seen that
during the fifteen years I have given to the study of statecraft I
have neither slept nor idled; and men ought ever to desire to be
served by one who has reaped experience at the expense of others. And
of my loyalty none could doubt, because having always kept faith I
could not now learn how to break it; for he who has been faithful and
honest, as I have, cannot change his nature; and my poverty is a
witness to my honesty."

Before Machiavelli had got "The Prince" off his hands he commenced his
"Discourse on the First Decade of Titus Livius," which should be read
concurrently with "The Prince." These and several minor works occupied
him until the year 1518, when he accepted a small commission to look
after the affairs of some Florentine merchants at Genoa. In 1519 the
Medicean rulers of Florence granted a few political concessions to her
citizens, and Machiavelli with others was consulted upon a new
constitution under which the Great Council was to be restored; but on
one pretext or another it was not promulgated.

In 1520 the Florentine merchants again had recourse to Machiavelli to
settle their difficulties with Lucca, but this year was chiefly
remarkable for his re-entry into Florentine literary society, where he
was much sought after, and also for the production of his "Art of
War." It was in the same year that he received a commission at the
instance of Cardinal de' Medici to write the "History of Florence," a
task which occupied him until 1525. His return to popular favour may
have determined the Medici to give him this employment, for an old
writer observes that "an able statesman out of work, like a huge
whale, will endeavour to overturn the ship unless he has an empty cask
to play with."

When the "History of Florence" was finished, Machiavelli took it to
Rome for presentation to his patron, Giuliano de' Medici, who had in
the meanwhile become pope under the title of Clement VII. It is
somewhat remarkable that, as, in 1513, Machiavelli had written "The
Prince" for the instruction of the Medici after they had just regained
power in Florence, so, in 1525, he dedicated the "History of Florence"
to the head of the family when its ruin was now at hand. In that year
the battle of Pavia destroyed the French rule in Italy, and left
Francis I a prisoner in the hands of his great rival, Charles V. This
was followed by the sack of Rome, upon the news of which the popular
party at Florence threw off the yoke of the Medici, who were once more

Machiavelli was absent from Florence at this time, but hastened his
return, hoping to secure his former office of secretary to the "Ten of
Liberty and Peace." Unhappily he was taken ill soon after he reached
Florence, where he died on 22nd June 1527.


No one can say where the bones of Machiavelli rest, but modern
Florence has decreed him a stately cenotaph in Santa Croce, by the
side of her most famous sons; recognizing that, whatever other nations
may have found in his works, Italy found in them the idea of her unity
and the germs of her renaissance among the nations of Europe. Whilst
it is idle to protest against the world-wide and evil signification of
his name, it may be pointed out that the harsh construction of his
doctrine which this sinister reputation implies was unknown to his own
day, and that the researches of recent times have enabled us to
interpret him more reasonably. It is due to these inquiries that the
shape of an "unholy necromancer," which so long haunted men's vision,
has begun to fade.

Machiavelli was undoubtedly a man of great observation, acuteness, and
industry; noting with appreciative eye whatever passed before him, and
with his supreme literary gift turning it to account in his enforced
retirement from affairs. He does not present himself, nor is he
depicted by his contemporaries, as a type of that rare combination,
the successful statesman and author, for he appears to have been only
moderately prosperous in his several embassies and political
employments. He was misled by Catherina Sforza, ignored by Louis XII,
overawed by Cesare Borgia; several of his embassies were quite barren
of results; his attempts to fortify Florence failed, and the soldiery
that he raised astonished everybody by their cowardice. In the conduct
of his own affairs he was timid and time-serving; he dared not appear
by the side of Soderini, to whom he owed so much, for fear of
compromising himself; his connection with the Medici was open to
suspicion, and Giuliano appears to have recognized his real forte when
he set him to write the "History of Florence," rather than employ him
in the state. And it is on the literary side of his character, and
there alone, that we find no weakness and no failure.

Although the light of almost four centuries has been focused on "The
Prince," its problems are still debatable and interesting, because
they are the eternal problems between the ruled and their rulers. Such
as they are, its ethics are those of Machiavelli's contemporaries; yet
they cannot be said to be out of date so long as the governments of
Europe rely on material rather than on moral forces. Its historical
incidents and personages become interesting by reason of the uses
which Machiavelli makes of them to illustrate his theories of
government and conduct.

Leaving out of consideration those maxims of state which still furnish
some European and eastern statesmen with principles of action, "The
Prince" is bestrewn with truths that can be proved at every turn. Men
are still the dupes of their simplicity and greed, as they were in the
days of Alexander VI. The cloak of religion still conceals the vices
which Machiavelli laid bare in the character of Ferdinand of Aragon.
Men will not look at things as they really are, but as they wish them
to be--and are ruined. In politics there are no perfectly safe
courses; prudence consists in choosing the least dangerous ones. Then
--to pass to a higher plane--Machiavelli reiterates that, although
crimes may win an empire, they do not win glory. Necessary wars are
just wars, and the arms of a nation are hallowed when it has no other
resource but to fight.

It is the cry of a far later day than Machiavelli's that government
should be elevated into a living moral force, capable of inspiring the
people with a just recognition of the fundamental principles of
society; to this "high argument" "The Prince" contributes but little.
Machiavelli always refused to write either of men or of governments
otherwise than as he found them, and he writes with such skill and
insight that his work is of abiding value. But what invests "The
Prince" with more than a merely artistic or historical interest is the
incontrovertible truth that it deals with the great principles which
still guide nations and rulers in their relationship with each other
and their neighbours.

In translating "The Prince" my aim has been to achieve at all costs an
exact literal rendering of the original, rather than a fluent
paraphrase adapted to the modern notions of style and expression.
Machiavelli was no facile phrasemonger; the conditions under which he
wrote obliged him to weigh every word; his themes were lofty, his
substance grave, his manner nobly plain and serious. "Quis eo fuit
unquam in partiundis rebus, in definiendis, in explanandis pressior?"
In "The Prince," it may be truly said, there is reason assignable, not
only for every word, but for the position of every word. To an
Englishman of Shakespeare's time the translation of such a treatise
was in some ways a comparatively easy task, for in those times the
genius of the English more nearly resembled that of the Italian
language; to the Englishman of to-day it is not so simple. To take a
single example: the word "intrattenere," employed by Machiavelli to
indicate the policy adopted by the Roman Senate towards the weaker
states of Greece, would by an Elizabethan be correctly rendered
"entertain," and every contemporary reader would understand what was
meant by saying that "Rome entertained the Aetolians and the Achaeans
without augmenting their power." But to-day such a phrase would seem
obsolete and ambiguous, if not unmeaning: we are compelled to say that
"Rome maintained friendly relations with the Aetolians," etc., using
four words to do the work of one. I have tried to preserve the pithy
brevity of the Italian so far as was consistent with an absolute
fidelity to the sense. If the result be an occasional asperity I can
only hope that the reader, in his eagerness to reach the author's
meaning, may overlook the roughness of the road that leads him to it.

The following is a list of the works of Machiavelli:

Principal works. Discorso sopra le cose di Pisa, 1499; Del modo di
trattare i popoli della Valdichiana ribellati, 1502; Del modo tenuto
dal duca Valentino nell' ammazzare Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da
Fermo, etc., 1502; Discorso sopra la provisione del danaro, 1502;
Decennale primo (poem in terza rima), 1506; Ritratti delle cose dell'
Alemagna, 1508-12; Decennale secondo, 1509; Ritratti delle cose di
Francia, 1510; Discorsi sopra la prima deca di T. Livio, 3 vols.,
1512-17; Il Principe, 1513; Andria, comedy translated from Terence,
1513 (?); Mandragola, prose comedy in five acts, with prologue in
verse, 1513; Della lingua (dialogue), 1514; Clizia, comedy in prose,
1515 (?); Belfagor arcidiavolo (novel), 1515; Asino d'oro (poem in
terza rima), 1517; Dell' arte della guerra, 1519-20; Discorso sopra il
riformare lo stato di Firenze, 1520; Sommario delle cose della citta
di Lucca, 1520; Vita di Castruccio Castracani da Lucca, 1520; Istorie
fiorentine, 8 books, 1521-5; Frammenti storici, 1525.

Other poems include Sonetti, Canzoni, Ottave, and Canti

Editions. Aldo, Venice, 1546; della Tertina, 1550; Cambiagi, Florence,
6 vols., 1782-5; dei Classici, Milan, 10 1813; Silvestri, 9 vols.,
1820-2; Passerini, Fanfani, Milanesi, 6 vols. only published, 1873-7.

Minor works. Ed. F. L. Polidori, 1852; Lettere familiari, ed. E.
Alvisi, 1883, 2 editions, one with excisions; Credited Writings, ed.
G. Canestrini, 1857; Letters to F. Vettori, see A. Ridolfi, Pensieri
intorno allo scopo di N. Machiavelli nel libro Il Principe, etc.; D.
Ferrara, The Private Correspondence of Nicolo Machiavelli, 1929.


To the Magnificent Lorenzo Di Piero De' Medici:

Those who strive to obtain the good graces of a prince are
accustomed to come before him with such things as they hold most
precious, or in which they see him take most delight; whence one
often sees horses, arms, cloth of gold, precious stones, and
similar ornaments presented to princes, worthy of their greatness.

Desiring therefore to present myself to your Magnificence with
some testimony of my devotion towards you, I have not found among
my possessions anything which I hold more dear than, or value so
much as, the knowledge of the actions of great men, acquired by
long experience in contemporary affairs, and a continual study of
antiquity; which, having reflected upon it with great and
prolonged diligence, I now send, digested into a little volume, to
your Magnificence.

And although I may consider this work unworthy of your
countenance, nevertheless I trust much to your benignity that it
may be acceptable, seeing that it is not possible for me to make a
better gift than to offer you the opportunity of understanding in
the shortest time all that I have learnt in so many years, and
with so many troubles and dangers; which work I have not
embellished with swelling or magnificent words, nor stuffed with
rounded periods, nor with any extrinsic allurements or adornments
whatever, with which so many are accustomed to embellish their
works; for I have wished either that no honour should be given it,
or else that the truth of the matter and the weightiness of the
theme shall make it acceptable.

Nor do I hold with those who regard it as a presumption if a man
of low and humble condition dare to discuss and settle the
concerns of princes; because, just as those who draw landscapes
place themselves below in the plain to contemplate the nature of
the mountains and of lofty places, and in order to contemplate the
plains place themselves upon high mountains, even so to understand
the nature of the people it needs to be a prince, and to
understand that if princes it needs to be of the people.

Take then, your Magnificence, this little gift in the spirit in
which I send it; wherein, if it be diligently read and considered
by you, you will learn my extreme desire that you should attain
that greatness which fortune and your other attributes promise.
And if your Magnificence from the summit of your greatness will
sometimes turn your eyes to these lower regions, you will see how
unmeritedly I suffer a great and continued malignity of fortune.




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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

[*] Duke Lodovico was Lodovico Moro, a son of Francesco Sforza, who
married Beatrice d'Este. He ruled over Milan from 1494 to 1500,
and died in 1510.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*] See remark in the introduction on the word "intrattenere."

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

[*] Louis XII, King of France, "The Father of the People," born 1462,
died 1515.

[+] Charles VIII, King of France, born 1470, died 1498.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*] Louis XII divorced his wife, Jeanne, daughter of Louis XI, and
married in 1499 Anne of Brittany, widow of Charles VIII, in order
to retain the Duchy of Brittany for the crown.

[+] The Archbishop of Rouen. He was Georges d'Amboise, created a
cardinal by Alexander VI. Born 1460, died 1510.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*] Hiero II, born about 307 B.C., died 216 B.C.



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

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

[*] "Le radici e corrispondenze," their roots (i.e. foundations) and
correspondencies or relations with other states--a common meaning
of "correspondence" and "correspondency" in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries.

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

[*] Francesco Sforza, born 1401, died 1466. He married Bianca Maria
Visconti, a natural daughter of Filippo Visconti, the Duke of
Milan, on whose death he procured his own elevation to the duchy.
Machiavelli was the accredited agent of the Florentine Republic to
Cesare Borgia (1478-1507) during the transactions which led up to
the assassinations of the Orsini and Vitelli at Sinigalia, and
along with his letters to his chiefs in Florence he has left an
account, written ten years before "The Prince," of the proceedings
of the duke in his "Descritione del modo tenuto dal duca Valentino
nello ammazzare Vitellozzo Vitelli," etc., a translation of which
is appended to the present work.

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

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

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

[*] Sinigalia, 31st December 1502.

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

[*] Ramiro d'Orco. Ramiro de Lorqua.

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

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

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

[*] Alexander VI died of fever, 18th August 1503.

[+] Julius II was Giuliano della Rovere, Cardinal of San Pietro ad
Vincula, born 1443, died 1513.

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

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

[*] San Giorgio is Raffaello Riario. Ascanio is Ascanio Sforza.



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

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

[*] Agathocles the Sicilian, born 361 B.C., died 289 B.C.

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

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

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

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

[*] Mr Burd suggests that this word probably comes near the modern
equivalent of Machiavelli's thought when he speaks of "crudelta"
than the more obvious "cruelties."

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

[*] Nabis, tyrant of Sparta, conquered by the Romans under Flamininus
in 195 B.C.; killed 192 B.C.

[+] Messer Giorgio Scali. This event is to be found in Machiavelli's
"Florentine History," Book III.

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

[*] Charles VIII invaded Italy in 1494.

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

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

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



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

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

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

[*] "With chalk in hand," "col gesso." This is one of the bons mots of
Alexander VI, and refers to the ease with which Charles VIII
seized Italy, implying that it was only necessary for him to send
his quartermasters to chalk up the billets for his soldiers to
conquer the country. Cf. "The History of Henry VII," by Lord
Bacon: "King Charles had conquered the realm of Naples, and lost
it again, in a kind of a felicity of a dream. He passed the whole
length of Italy without resistance: so that it was true what Pope
Alexander was wont to say: That the Frenchmen came into Italy with
chalk in their hands, to mark up their lodgings, rather than with
swords to fight."

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

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

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

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

[*] Battle of Caravaggio, 15th September 1448.

[+] Johanna II of Naples, the widow of Ladislao, King of Naples.

[%] Giovanni Acuto. An English knight whose name was Sir John
Hawkwood. He fought in the English wars in France, and was
knighted by Edward III; afterwards he collected a body of troops
and went into Italy. These became the famous "White Company." He
took part in many wars, and died in Florence in 1394. He was born
about 1320 at Sible Hedingham, a village in Essex. He married
Domnia, a daughter of Bernabo Visconti.

[#] Carmignuola. Francesco Bussone, born at Carmagnola about 1390,
executed at Venice, 5th May 1432.

[&] Bartolomeo Colleoni of Bergamo; died 1457. Roberto of San
Severino; died fighting for Venice against Sigismund, Duke of
Austria, in 1487. "Primo capitano in Italia."--Machiavelli. Count
of Pitigliano; Nicolo Orsini, born 1442, died 1510.

[$] Battle of Vaila in 1509.

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

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

[*] Alberigo da Conio. Alberico da Barbiano, Count of Cunio in
Romagna. He was the leader of the famous "Company of St George,"
composed entirely of Italian soldiers. He died in 1409.



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

[*] Ferdinand V (F. II of Aragon and Sicily, F. III of Naples),
surnamed "The Catholic," born 1542, died 1516.

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

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

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

[*] Joannes Cantacuzenus, born 1300, died 1383.

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

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

I was not intending to go beyond Italian and recent examples, but I am
unwilling to leave out Hiero, the Syracusan, he being one of those I
have named above. This man, as I have said, made head of the army by
the Syracusans, soon found out that a mercenary soldiery, constituted
like our Italian condottieri, was of no use; and it appearing to him
that he could neither keep them not let them go, he had them all cut
to pieces, and afterwards made war with his own forces and not with

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

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

[*] Charles VII of France, surnamed "The Victorious," born 1403, died

[+] Louis XI, son of the above, born 1423, died 1483.

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

[*] "Many speakers to the House the other night in the debate on the
reduction of armaments seemed to show a most lamentable ignorance
of the conditions under which the British Empire maintains its
existence. When Mr Balfour replied to the allegations that the
Roman Empire sank under the weight of its military obligations, he
said that this was 'wholly unhistorical.' He might well have added
that the Roman power was at its zenith when every citizen
acknowledged his liability to fight for the State, but that it
began to decline as soon as this obligation was no longer
recognized."--Pall Mall Gazette, 15th May 1906.

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



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

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

Philopoemen,[*] Prince of the Achaeans, among other praises which
writers have bestowed on him, is commended because in time of peace he
never had anything in his mind but the rules of war; and when he was
in the country with friends, he often stopped and reasoned with them:
"If the enemy should be upon that hill, and we should find ourselves
here with our army, with whom would be the advantage? How should one
best advance to meet him, keeping the ranks? If we should wish to
retreat, how ought we to pursue?" And he would set forth to them, as
he went, all the chances that could befall an army; he would listen to
their opinion and state his, confirming it with reasons, so that by
these continual discussions there could never arise, in time of war,
any unexpected circumstances that he could not deal with.

[*] Philopoemen, "the last of the Greeks," born 252 B.C., died 183

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

[*] During the rioting between the Cancellieri and Panciatichi
factions in 1502 and 1503.

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

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

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

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

Christopher Pitt.

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

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

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

Returning to the question of being feared or loved, I come to the
conclusion that, men loving according to their own will and fearing
according to that of the prince, a wise prince should establish
himself on that which is in his own control and not in that of others;
he must endeavour only to avoid hatred, as is noted.



[*] "The present chapter has given greater offence than any other
portion of Machiavelli's writings." Burd, "Il Principe," p. 297.

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

[*] "Contesting," i.e. "striving for mastery." Mr Burd points out that
this passage is imitated directly from Cicero's "De Officiis":
"Nam cum sint duo genera decertandi, unum per disceptationem,
alterum per vim; cumque illud proprium sit hominis, hoc beluarum;
confugiendum est ad posterius, si uti non licet superiore."

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

[*] "Nondimanco sempre gli succederono gli inganni (ad votum)." The
words "ad votum" are omitted in the Testina addition, 1550.

Alexander never did what he said,
Cesare never said what he did.

Italian Proverb.

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

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

[*] "Contrary to fidelity" or "faith," "contro alla fede," and "tutto
fede," "altogether faithful," in the next paragraph. It is
noteworthy that these two phrases, "contro alla fede" and "tutto
fede," were omitted in the Testina edition, which was published
with the sanction of the papal authorities. It may be that the
meaning attached to the word "fede" was "the faith," i.e. the
Catholic creed, and not as rendered here "fidelity" and
"faithful." Observe that the word "religione" was suffered to
stand in the text of the Testina, being used to signify
indifferently every shade of belief, as witness "the religion," a
phrase inevitably employed to designate the Huguenot heresy. South
in his Sermon IX, p. 69, ed. 1843, comments on this passage as
follows: "That great patron and Coryphaeus of this tribe, Nicolo
Machiavel, laid down this for a master rule in his political
scheme: 'That the show of religion was helpful to the politician,
but the reality of it hurtful and pernicious.'"

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

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

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

[*] Ferdinand of Aragon. "When Machiavelli was writing 'The Prince' it
would have been clearly impossible to mention Ferdinand's name
here without giving offence." Burd's "Il Principe," p. 308.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*] Giovanni Bentivogli, born in Bologna 1438, died at Milan 1508. He
ruled Bologna from 1462 to 1506. Machiavelli's strong condemnation
of conspiracies may get its edge from his own very recent
experience (February 1513), when he had been arrested and tortured
for his alleged complicity in the Boscoli conspiracy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

[*] Catherine Sforza, a daughter of Galeazzo Sforza and Lucrezia
Landriani, born 1463, died 1509. It was to the Countess of Forli
that Machiavelli was sent as envy on 1499. A letter from Fortunati
to the countess announces the appointment: "I have been with the
signori," wrote Fortunati, "to learn whom they would send and
when. They tell me that Nicolo Machiavelli, a learned young
Florentine noble, secretary to my Lords of the Ten, is to leave
with me at once." Cf. "Catherine Sforza," by Count Pasolini,
translated by P. Sylvester, 1898.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*] "Guilds or societies," "in arti o in tribu." "Arti" were craft or
trade guilds, cf. Florio: "Arte . . . a whole company of any trade
in any city or corporation town." The guilds of Florence are most
admirably described by Mr Edgcumbe Staley in his work on the
subject (Methuen, 1906). Institutions of a somewhat similar
character, called "artel," exist in Russia to-day, cf. Sir
Mackenzie Wallace's "Russia," ed. 1905: "The sons . . . were
always during the working season members of an artel. In some of
the larger towns there are artels of a much more complex kind--
permanent associations, possessing large capital, and pecuniarily
responsible for the acts of the individual members." The word
"artel," despite its apparent similarity, has, Mr Aylmer Maude
assures me, no connection with "ars" or "arte." Its root is that
of the verb "rotisya," to bind oneself by an oath; and it is
generally admitted to be only another form of "rota," which now
signifies a "regimental company." In both words the underlying
idea is that of a body of men united by an oath. "Tribu" were
possibly gentile groups, united by common descent, and included
individuals connected by marriage. Perhaps our words "septs" or
"clans" would be most appropriate.



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

[*] Maximilian I, born in 1459, died 1519, Emperor of the Holy Roman
Empire. He married, first, Mary, daughter of Charles the Bold;
after her death, Bianca Sforza; and thus became involved in
Italian politics.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

[*] Frederick the Great was accustomed to say: "The older one gets the
more convinced one becomes that his Majesty King Chance does
three-quarters of the business of this miserable universe."
Sorel's "Eastern Question."

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

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

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

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

Pope Julius the Second went to work impetuously in all his affairs,
and found the times and circumstances conform so well to that line of
action that he always met with success. Consider his first enterprise
against Bologna, Messer Giovanni Bentivogli being still alive. The
Venetians were not agreeable to it, nor was the King of Spain, and he
had the enterprise still under discussion with the King of France;
nevertheless he personally entered upon the expedition with his
accustomed boldness and energy, a move which made Spain and the
Venetians stand irresolute and passive, the latter from fear, the
former from desire to recover the kingdom of Naples; on the other
hand, he drew after him the King of France, because that king, having
observed the movement, and desiring to make the Pope his friend so as
to humble the Venetians, found it impossible to refuse him. Therefore
Julius with his impetuous action accomplished what no other pontiff
with simple human wisdom could have done; for if he had waited in Rome
until he could get away, with his plans arranged and everything fixed,
as any other pontiff would have done, he would never have succeeded.
Because the King of France would have made a thousand excuses, and the
others would have raised a thousand fears.

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

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



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

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

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

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

[*] Giuliano de Medici. He had just been created a cardinal by Leo X.
In 1523 Giuliano was elected Pope, and took the title of Clement

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

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

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

[*] The battles of Il Taro, 1495; Alessandria, 1499; Capua, 1501;
Genoa, 1507; Vaila, 1509; Bologna, 1511; Mestri, 1513.

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Dacre, 1640.




The Duke Valentino had returned from Lombardy, where he had been to
clear himself with the King of France from the calumnies which had
been raised against him by the Florentines concerning the rebellion of
Arezzo and other towns in the Val di Chiana, and had arrived at Imola,
whence he intended with his army to enter upon the campaign against
Giovanni Bentivogli, the tyrant of Bologna: for he intended to bring
that city under his domination, and to make it the head of his
Romagnian duchy.

These matters coming to the knowledge of the Vitelli and Orsini and
their following, it appeared to them that the duke would become too
powerful, and it was feared that, having seized Bologna, he would seek
to destroy them in order that he might become supreme in Italy. Upon
this a meeting was called at Magione in the district of Perugia, to
which came the cardinal, Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina Orsini,
Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, Gianpagolo Baglioni, the
tyrant of Perugia, and Messer Antonio da Venafro, sent by Pandolfo
Petrucci, the Prince of Siena. Here were discussed the power and
courage of the duke and the necessity of curbing his ambitions, which
might otherwise bring danger to the rest of being ruined. And they
decided not to abandon the Bentivogli, but to strive to win over the
Florentines; and they send their men to one place and another,
promising to one party assistance and to another encouragement to
unite with them against the common enemy. This meeting was at once
reported throughout all Italy, and those who were discontented under
the duke, among whom were the people of Urbino, took hope of effecting
a revolution.

Thus it arose that, men's minds being thus unsettled, it was decided
by certain men of Urbino to seize the fortress of San Leo, which was
held for the duke, and which they captured by the following means. The
castellan was fortifying the rock and causing timber to be taken
there; so the conspirators watched, and when certain beams which were
being carried to the rock were upon the bridge, so that it was
prevented from being drawn up by those inside, they took the
opportunity of leaping upon the bridge and thence into the fortress.
Upon this capture being effected, the whole state rebelled and
recalled the old duke, being encouraged in this, not so much by the
capture of the fort, as by the Diet at Magione, from whom they
expected to get assistance.

Those who heard of the rebellion at Urbino thought they would not lose
the opportunity, and at once assembled their men so as to take any
town, should any remain in the hands of the duke in that state; and
they sent again to Florence to beg that republic to join with them in
destroying the common firebrand, showing that the risk was lessened
and that they ought not to wait for another opportunity.

But the Florentines, from hatred, for sundry reasons, of the Vitelli
and Orsini, not only would not ally themselves, but sent Nicolo
Machiavelli, their secretary, to offer shelter and assistance to the
duke against his enemies. The duke was found full of fear at Imola,
because, against everybody's expectation, his soldiers had at once
gone over to the enemy and he found himself disarmed and war at his
door. But recovering courage from the offers of the Florentines, he
decided to temporize before fighting with the few soldiers that
remained to him, and to negotiate for a reconciliation, and also to
get assistance. This latter he obtained in two ways, by sending to the
King of France for men and by enlisting men-at-arms and others whom he
turned into cavalry of a sort: to all he gave money.

Notwithstanding this, his enemies drew near to him, and approached
Fossombrone, where they encountered some men of the duke and, with the
aid of the Orsini and Vitelli, routed them. When this happened, the
duke resolved at once to see if he could not close the trouble with
offers of reconciliation, and being a most perfect dissembler he did
not fail in any practices to make the insurgents understand that he
wished every man who had acquired anything to keep it, as it was
enough for him to have the title of prince, whilst others might have
the principality.

And the duke succeeded so well in this that they sent Signor Pagolo to
him to negotiate for a reconciliation, and they brought their army to
a standstill. But the duke did not stop his preparations, and took
every care to provide himself with cavalry and infantry, and that such
preparations might not be apparent to the others, he sent his troops
in separate parties to every part of the Romagna. In the meanwhile
there came also to him five hundred French lancers, and although he
found himself sufficiently strong to take vengeance on his enemies in
open war, he considered that it would be safer and more advantageous
to outwit them, and for this reason he did not stop the work of

And that this might be effected the duke concluded a peace with them
in which he confirmed their former covenants; he gave them four
thousand ducats at once; he promised not to injure the Bentivogli; and
he formed an alliance with Giovanni; and moreover he would not force
them to come personally into his presence unless it pleased them to do
so. On the other hand, they promised to restore to him the duchy of
Urbino and other places seized by them, to serve him in all his
expeditions, and not to make war against or ally themselves with any
one without his permission.

This reconciliation being completed, Guido Ubaldo, the Duke of Urbino,
again fled to Venice, having first destroyed all the fortresses in his
state; because, trusting in the people, he did not wish that the
fortresses, which he did not think he could defend, should be held by
the enemy, since by these means a check would be kept upon his
friends. But the Duke Valentino, having completed this convention, and
dispersed his men throughout the Romagna, set out for Imola at the end
of November together with his French men-at-arms: thence he went to
Cesena, where he stayed some time to negotiate with the envoys of the
Vitelli and Orsini, who had assembled with their men in the duchy of
Urbino, as to the enterprise in which they should now take part; but
nothing being concluded, Oliverotto da Fermo was sent to propose that
if the duke wished to undertake an expedition against Tuscany they
were ready; if he did not wish it, then they would besiege Sinigalia.
To this the duke replied that he did not wish to enter into war with
Tuscany, and thus become hostile to the Florentines, but that he was
very willing to proceed against Sinigalia.

It happened that not long afterwards the town surrendered, but the
fortress would not yield to them because the castellan would not give
it up to any one but the duke in person; therefore they exhorted him
to come there. This appeared a good opportunity to the duke, as, being
invited by them, and not going of his own will, he would awaken no
suspicions. And the more to reassure them, he allowed all the French
men-at-arms who were with him in Lombardy to depart, except the
hundred lancers under Mons. di Candales, his brother-in-law. He left
Cesena about the middle of December, and went to Fano, and with the
utmost cunning and cleverness he persuaded the Vitelli and Orsini to
wait for him at Sinigalia, pointing out to them that any lack of
compliance would cast a doubt upon the sincerity and permanency of the
reconciliation, and that he was a man who wished to make use of the
arms and councils of his friends. But Vitellozzo remained very
stubborn, for the death of his brother warned him that he should not
offend a prince and afterwards trust him; nevertheless, persuaded by
Pagolo Orsini, whom the duke had corrupted with gifts and promises, he
agreed to wait.

Upon this the duke, before his departure from Fano, which was to be on
30th December 1502, communicated his designs to eight of his most
trusted followers, among whom were Don Michele and the Monsignor
d'Euna, who was afterwards cardinal; and he ordered that, as soon as
Vitellozzo, Pagolo Orsini, the Duke di Gravina, and Oliverotto should
arrive, his followers in pairs should take them one by one, entrusting
certain men to certain pairs, who should entertain them until they
reached Sinigalia; nor should they be permitted to leave until they
came to the duke's quarters, where they should be seized.

The duke afterwards ordered all his horsemen and infantry, of which
there were more than two thousand cavalry and ten thousand footmen, to
assemble by daybreak at the Metauro, a river five miles distant from
Fano, and await him there. He found himself, therefore, on the last
day of December at the Metauro with his men, and having sent a
cavalcade of about two hundred horsemen before him, he then moved
forward the infantry, whom he accompanied with the rest of the men-at-

Fano and Sinigalia are two cities of La Marca situate on the shore of
the Adriatic Sea, fifteen miles distant from each other, so that he
who goes towards Sinigalia has the mountains on his right hand, the
bases of which are touched by the sea in some places. The city of
Sinigalia is distant from the foot of the mountains a little more than
a bow-shot and from the shore about a mile. On the side opposite to
the city runs a little river which bathes that part of the walls
looking towards Fano, facing the high road. Thus he who draws near to
Sinigalia comes for a good space by road along the mountains, and
reaches the river which passes by Sinigalia. If he turns to his left
hand along the bank of it, and goes for the distance of a bow-shot, he
arrives at a bridge which crosses the river; he is then almost abreast
of the gate that leads into Sinigalia, not by a straight line, but
transversely. Before this gate there stands a collection of houses
with a square to which the bank of the river forms one side.

The Vitelli and Orsini having received orders to wait for the duke,
and to honour him in person, sent away their men to several castles
distant from Sinigalia about six miles, so that room could be made for
the men of the duke; and they left in Sinigalia only Oliverotto and
his band, which consisted of one thousand infantry and one hundred and
fifty horsemen, who were quartered in the suburb mentioned above.
Matters having been thus arranged, the Duke Valentino left for
Sinigalia, and when the leaders of the cavalry reached the bridge they
did not pass over, but having opened it, one portion wheeled towards
the river and the other towards the country, and a way was left in the
middle through which the infantry passed, without stopping, into the

Vitellozzo, Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina on mules, accompanied by a
few horsemen, went towards the duke; Vitellozo, unarmed and wearing a
cape lined with green, appeared very dejected, as if conscious of his
approaching death--a circumstance which, in view of the ability of the
man and his former fortune, caused some amazement. And it is said that
when he parted from his men before setting out for Sinigalia to meet
the duke he acted as if it were his last parting from them. He
recommended his house and its fortunes to his captains, and advised
his nephews that it was not the fortune of their house, but the
virtues of their fathers that should be kept in mind. These three,
therefore, came before the duke and saluted him respectfully, and were
received by him with goodwill; they were at once placed between those
who were commissioned to look after them.

But the duke noticing that Oliverotto, who had remained with his band
in Sinigalia, was missing--for Oliverotto was waiting in the square
before his quarters near the river, keeping his men in order and
drilling them--signalled with his eye to Don Michelle, to whom the
care of Oliverotto had been committed, that he should take measures
that Oliverotto should not escape. Therefore Don Michele rode off and
joined Oliverotto, telling him that it was not right to keep his men
out of their quarters, because these might be taken up by the men of
the duke; and he advised him to send them at once to their quarters
and to come himself to meet the duke. And Oliverotto, having taken
this advice, came before the duke, who, when he saw him, called to
him; and Oliverotto, having made his obeisance, joined the others.

So the whole party entered Sinigalia, dismounted at the duke's
quarters, and went with him into a secret chamber, where the duke made
them prisoners; he then mounted on horseback, and issued orders that
the men of Oliverotto and the Orsini should be stripped of their arms.
Those of Oliverotto, being at hand, were quickly settled, but those of
the Orsini and Vitelli, being at a distance, and having a presentiment
of the destruction of their masters, had time to prepare themselves,
and bearing in mind the valour and discipline of the Orsinian and
Vitellian houses, they stood together against the hostile forces of
the country and saved themselves.

But the duke's soldiers, not being content with having pillaged the
men of Oliverotto, began to sack Sinigalia, and if the duke had not
repressed this outrage by killing some of them they would have
completely sacked it. Night having come and the tumult being silenced,
the duke prepared to kill Vitellozzo and Oliverotto; he led them into
a room and caused them to be strangled. Neither of them used words in
keeping with their past lives: Vitellozzo prayed that he might ask of
the pope full pardon for his sins; Oliverotto cringed and laid the
blame for all injuries against the duke on Vitellozzo. Pagolo and the
Duke di Gravina Orsini were kept alive until the duke heard from Rome
that the pope had taken the Cardinal Orsino, the Archbishop of
Florence, and Messer Jacopo da Santa Croce. After which news, on 18th
January 1502, in the castle of Pieve, they also were strangled in the
same way.



And sent to his friends


It appears, dearest Zanobi and Luigi, a wonderful thing to those who
have considered the matter, that all men, or the larger number of
them, who have performed great deeds in the world, and excelled all
others in their day, have had their birth and beginning in baseness
and obscurity; or have been aggrieved by Fortune in some outrageous
way. They have either been exposed to the mercy of wild beasts, or
they have had so mean a parentage that in shame they have given
themselves out to be sons of Jove or of some other deity. It would be
wearisome to relate who these persons may have been because they are
well known to everybody, and, as such tales would not be particularly
edifying to those who read them, they are omitted. I believe that
these lowly beginnings of great men occur because Fortune is desirous
of showing to the world that such men owe much to her and little to
wisdom, because she begins to show her hand when wisdom can really
take no part in their career: thus all success must be attributed to
her. Castruccio Castracani of Lucca was one of those men who did great
deeds, if he is measured by the times in which he lived and the city
in which he was born; but, like many others, he was neither fortunate
nor distinguished in his birth, as the course of this history will
show. It appeared to be desirable to recall his memory, because I have
discerned in him such indications of valour and fortune as should make
him a great exemplar to men. I think also that I ought to call your
attention to his actions, because you of all men I know delight most
in noble deeds.

The family of Castracani was formerly numbered among the noble
families of Lucca, but in the days of which I speak it had somewhat
fallen in estate, as so often happens in this world. To this family
was born a son Antonio, who became a priest of the order of San
Michele of Lucca, and for this reason was honoured with the title of
Messer Antonio. He had an only sister, who had been married to
Buonaccorso Cenami, but Buonaccorso dying she became a widow, and not
wishing to marry again went to live with her brother. Messer Antonio
had a vineyard behind the house where he resided, and as it was
bounded on all sides by gardens, any person could have access to it
without difficulty. One morning, shortly after sunrise, Madonna
Dianora, as the sister of Messer Antonio was called, had occasion to
go into the vineyard as usual to gather herbs for seasoning the
dinner, and hearing a slight rustling among the leaves of a vine she
turned her eyes in that direction, and heard something resembling the
cry of an infant. Whereupon she went towards it, and saw the hands and
face of a baby who was lying enveloped in the leaves and who seemed to
be crying for its mother. Partly wondering and partly fearing, yet
full of compassion, she lifted it up and carried it to the house,
where she washed it and clothed it with clean linen as is customary,
and showed it to Messer Antonio when he returned home. When he heard
what had happened and saw the child he was not less surprised or
compassionate than his sister. They discussed between themselves what
should be done, and seeing that he was priest and that she had no
children, they finally determined to bring it up. They had a nurse for
it, and it was reared and loved as if it were their own child. They
baptized it, and gave it the name of Castruccio after their father. As
the years passed Castruccio grew very handsome, and gave evidence of
wit and discretion, and learnt with a quickness beyond his years those
lessons which Messer Antonio imparted to him. Messer Antonio intended
to make a priest of him, and in time would have inducted him into his
canonry and other benefices, and all his instruction was given with
this object; but Antonio discovered that the character of Castruccio
was quite unfitted for the priesthood. As soon as Castruccio reached
the age of fourteen he began to take less notice of the chiding of
Messer Antonio and Madonna Dianora and no longer to fear them; he left
off reading ecclesiastical books, and turned to playing with arms,
delighting in nothing so much as in learning their uses, and in
running, leaping, and wrestling with other boys. In all exercises he
far excelled his companions in courage and bodily strength, and if at
any time he did turn to books, only those pleased him which told of
wars and the mighty deeds of men. Messer Antonio beheld all this with
vexation and sorrow.

There lived in the city of Lucca a gentleman of the Guinigi family,
named Messer Francesco, whose profession was arms and who in riches,
bodily strength, and valour excelled all other men in Lucca. He had
often fought under the command of the Visconti of Milan, and as a
Ghibelline was the valued leader of that party in Lucca. This
gentleman resided in Lucca and was accustomed to assemble with others
most mornings and evenings under the balcony of the Podesta, which is
at the top of the square of San Michele, the finest square in Lucca,
and he had often seen Castruccio taking part with other children of
the street in those games of which I have spoken. Noticing that
Castruccio far excelled the other boys, and that he appeared to
exercise a royal authority over them, and that they loved and obeyed
him, Messer Francesco became greatly desirous of learning who he was.
Being informed of the circumstances of the bringing up of Castruccio
he felt a greater desire to have him near to him. Therefore he called
him one day and asked him whether he would more willingly live in the
house of a gentleman, where he would learn to ride horses and use
arms, or in the house of a priest, where he would learn nothing but
masses and the services of the Church. Messer Francesco could see that
it pleased Castruccio greatly to hear horses and arms spoken of, even
though he stood silent, blushing modestly; but being encouraged by
Messer Francesco to speak, he answered that, if his master were
agreeable, nothing would please him more than to give up his priestly
studies and take up those of a soldier. This reply delighted Messer
Francesco, and in a very short time he obtained the consent of Messer
Antonio, who was driven to yield by his knowledge of the nature of the
lad, and the fear that he would not be able to hold him much longer.

Thus Castruccio passed from the house of Messer Antonio the priest to
the house of Messer Francesco Guinigi the soldier, and it was
astonishing to find that in a very short time he manifested all that
virtue and bearing which we are accustomed to associate with a true
gentleman. In the first place he became an accomplished horseman, and
could manage with ease the most fiery charger, and in all jousts and
tournaments, although still a youth, he was observed beyond all
others, and he excelled in all exercises of strength and dexterity.
But what enhanced so much the charm of these accomplishments, was the
delightful modesty which enabled him to avoid offence in either act or
word to others, for he was deferential to the great men, modest with
his equals, and courteous to his inferiors. These gifts made him
beloved, not only by all the Guinigi family, but by all Lucca. When
Castruccio had reached his eighteenth year, the Ghibellines were
driven from Pavia by the Guelphs, and Messer Francesco was sent by the
Visconti to assist the Ghibellines, and with him went Castruccio, in
charge of his forces. Castruccio gave ample proof of his prudence and
courage in this expedition, acquiring greater reputation than any
other captain, and his name and fame were known, not only in Pavia,
but throughout all Lombardy.

Castruccio, having returned to Lucca in far higher estimation that he
left it, did not omit to use all the means in his power to gain as
many friends as he could, neglecting none of those arts which are
necessary for that purpose. About this time Messer Francesco died,
leaving a son thirteen years of age named Pagolo, and having appointed
Castruccio to be his son's tutor and administrator of his estate.
Before he died Francesco called Castruccio to him, and prayed him to
show Pagolo that goodwill which he (Francesco) had always shown to
HIM, and to render to the son the gratitude which he had not been able
to repay to the father. Upon the death of Francesco, Castruccio became
the governor and tutor of Pagolo, which increased enormously his power
and position, and created a certain amount of envy against him in
Lucca in place of the former universal goodwill, for many men
suspected him of harbouring tyrannical intentions. Among these the
leading man was Giorgio degli Opizi, the head of the Guelph party.
This man hoped after the death of Messer Francesco to become the chief
man in Lucca, but it seemed to him that Castruccio, with the great
abilities which he already showed, and holding the position of
governor, deprived him of his opportunity; therefore he began to sow
those seeds which should rob Castruccio of his eminence. Castruccio at
first treated this with scorn, but afterwards he grew alarmed,
thinking that Messer Giorgio might be able to bring him into disgrace
with the deputy of King Ruberto of Naples and have him driven out of

The Lord of Pisa at that time was Uguccione of the Faggiuola of
Arezzo, who being in the first place elected their captain afterwards
became their lord. There resided in Paris some exiled Ghibellines from
Lucca, with whom Castruccio held communications with the object of
effecting their restoration by the help of Uguccione. Castruccio also
brought into his plans friends from Lucca who would not endure the
authority of the Opizi. Having fixed upon a plan to be followed,
Castruccio cautiously fortified the tower of the Onesti, filling it
with supplies and munitions of war, in order that it might stand a
siege for a few days in case of need. When the night came which had
been agreed upon with Uguccione, who had occupied the plain between
the mountains and Pisa with many men, the signal was given, and
without being observed Uguccione approached the gate of San Piero and
set fire to the portcullis. Castruccio raised a great uproar within
the city, calling the people to arms and forcing open the gate from
his side. Uguccione entered with his men, poured through the town, and
killed Messer Giorgio with all his family and many of his friends and
supporters. The governor was driven out, and the government reformed
according to the wishes of Uguccione, to the detriment of the city,
because it was found that more than one hundred families were exiled
at that time. Of those who fled, part went to Florence and part to
Pistoia, which city was the headquarters of the Guelph party, and for
this reason it became most hostile to Uguccione and the Lucchese.

As it now appeared to the Florentines and others of the Guelph party
that the Ghibellines absorbed too much power in Tuscany, they
determined to restore the exiled Guelphs to Lucca. They assembled a
large army in the Val di Nievole, and seized Montecatini; from thence
they marched to Montecarlo, in order to secure the free passage into
Lucca. Upon this Uguccione assembled his Pisan and Lucchese forces,
and with a number of German cavalry which he drew out of Lombardy, he
moved against the quarters of the Florentines, who upon the appearance
of the enemy withdrew from Montecarlo, and posted themselves between
Montecatini and Pescia. Uguccione now took up a position near to
Montecarlo, and within about two miles of the enemy, and slight
skirmishes between the horse of both parties were of daily occurrence.
Owing to the illness of Uguccione, the Pisans and Lucchese delayed
coming to battle with the enemy. Uguccione, finding himself growing
worse, went to Montecarlo to be cured, and left the command of the
army in the hands of Castruccio. This change brought about the ruin of
the Guelphs, who, thinking that the hostile army having lost its
captain had lost its head, grew over-confident. Castruccio observed
this, and allowed some days to pass in order to encourage this belief;
he also showed signs of fear, and did not allow any of the munitions
of the camp to be used. On the other side, the Guelphs grew more
insolent the more they saw these evidences of fear, and every day they
drew out in the order of battle in front of the army of Castruccio.
Presently, deeming that the enemy was sufficiently emboldened, and
having mastered their tactics, he decided to join battle with them.
First he spoke a few words of encouragement to his soldiers, and
pointed out to them the certainty of victory if they would but obey
his commands. Castruccio had noticed how the enemy had placed all his
best troops in the centre of the line of battle, and his less reliable
men on the wings of the army; whereupon he did exactly the opposite,
putting his most valiant men on the flanks, while those on whom he
could not so strongly rely he moved to the centre. Observing this
order of battle, he drew out of his lines and quickly came in sight of
the hostile army, who, as usual, had come in their insolence to defy
him. He then commanded his centre squadrons to march slowly, whilst he
moved rapidly forward those on the wings. Thus, when they came into
contact with the enemy, only the wings of the two armies became
engaged, whilst the center battalions remained out of action, for
these two portions of the line of battle were separated from each
other by a long interval and thus unable to reach each other. By this
expedient the more valiant part of Castruccio's men were opposed to
the weaker part of the enemy's troops, and the most efficient men of
the enemy were disengaged; and thus the Florentines were unable to
fight with those who were arrayed opposite to them, or to give any
assistance to their own flanks. So, without much difficulty,
Castruccio put the enemy to flight on both flanks, and the centre
battalions took to flight when they found themselves exposed to
attack, without having a chance of displaying their valour. The defeat
was complete, and the loss in men very heavy, there being more than
ten thousand men killed with many officers and knights of the Guelph
party in Tuscany, and also many princes who had come to help them,
among whom were Piero, the brother of King Ruberto, and Carlo, his
nephew, and Filippo, the lord of Taranto. On the part of Castruccio
the loss did not amount to more than three hundred men, among whom was
Francesco, the son of Uguccione, who, being young and rash, was killed
in the first onset.

This victory so greatly increased the reputation of Castruccio that
Uguccione conceived some jealousy and suspicion of him, because it
appeared to Uguccione that this victory had given him no increase of
power, but rather than diminished it. Being of this mind, he only
waited for an opportunity to give effect to it. This occurred on the
death of Pier Agnolo Micheli, a man of great repute and abilities in
Lucca, the murderer of whom fled to the house of Castruccio for
refuge. On the sergeants of the captain going to arrest the murderer,
they were driven off by Castruccio, and the murderer escaped. This
affair coming to the knowledge of Uguccione, who was than at Pisa, it
appeared to him a proper opportunity to punish Castruccio. He
therefore sent for his son Neri, who was the governor of Lucca, and
commissioned him to take Castruccio prisoner at a banquet and put him
to death. Castruccio, fearing no evil, went to the governor in a
friendly way, was entertained at supper, and then thrown into prison.
But Neri, fearing to put him to death lest the people should be
incensed, kept him alive, in order to hear further from his father
concerning his intentions. Ugucionne cursed the hesitation and
cowardice of his son, and at once set out from Pisa to Lucca with four
hundred horsemen to finish the business in his own way; but he had not
yet reached the baths when the Pisans rebelled and put his deputy to
death and created Count Gaddo della Gherardesca their lord. Before
Uguccione reached Lucca he heard of the occurrences at Pisa, but it
did not appear wise to him to turn back, lest the Lucchese with the
example of Pisa before them should close their gates against him. But
the Lucchese, having heard of what had happened at Pisa, availed
themselves of this opportunity to demand the liberation of Castruccio,
notwithstanding that Uguccione had arrived in their city. They first
began to speak of it in private circles, afterwards openly in the
squares and streets; then they raised a tumult, and with arms in their
hands went to Uguccione and demanded that Castruccio should be set at
liberty. Uguccione, fearing that worse might happen, released him from
prison. Whereupon Castruccio gathered his friends around him, and with
the help of the people attacked Uguccione; who, finding he had no
resource but in flight, rode away with his friends to Lombardy, to the
lords of Scale, where he died in poverty.

But Castruccio from being a prisoner became almost a prince in Lucca,
and he carried himself so discreetly with his friends and the people
that they appointed him captain of their army for one year. Having
obtained this, and wishing to gain renown in war, he planned the
recovery of the many towns which had rebelled after the departure of
Uguccione, and with the help of the Pisans, with whom he had concluded
a treaty, he marched to Serezzana. To capture this place he
constructed a fort against it, which is called to-day Zerezzanello; in
the course of two months Castruccio captured the town. With the
reputation gained at that siege, he rapidly seized Massa, Carrara, and
Lavenza, and in a short time had overrun the whole of Lunigiana. In
order to close the pass which leads from Lombardy to Lunigiana, he
besieged Pontremoli and wrested it from the hands of Messer Anastagio
Palavicini, who was the lord of it. After this victory he returned to
Lucca, and was welcomed by the whole people. And now Castruccio,
deeming it imprudent any longer to defer making himself a prince, got
himself created the lord of Lucca by the help of Pazzino del Poggio,
Puccinello dal Portico, Francesco Boccansacchi, and Cecco Guinigi, all
of whom he had corrupted; and he was afterwards solemnly and
deliberately elected prince by the people. At this time Frederick of
Bavaria, the King of the Romans, came into Italy to assume the
Imperial crown, and Castruccio, in order that he might make friends
with him, met him at the head of five hundred horsemen. Castruccio had
left as his deputy in Lucca, Pagolo Guinigi, who was held in high
estimation, because of the people's love for the memory of his father.
Castruccio was received in great honour by Frederick, and many
privileges were conferred upon him, and he was appointed the emperor's
lieutenant in Tuscany. At this time the Pisans were in great fear of
Gaddo della Gherardesca, whom they had driven out of Pisa, and they
had recourse for assistance to Frederick. Frederick created Castruccio
the lord of Pisa, and the Pisans, in dread of the Guelph party, and
particularly of the Florentines, were constrained to accept him as
their lord.

Frederick, having appointed a governor in Rome to watch his Italian
affairs, returned to Germany. All the Tuscan and Lombardian
Ghibellines, who followed the imperial lead, had recourse to
Castruccio for help and counsel, and all promised him the governorship
of his country, if enabled to recover it with his assistance. Among
these exiles were Matteo Guidi, Nardo Scolari, Lapo Uberti, Gerozzo
Nardi, and Piero Buonaccorsi, all exiled Florentines and Ghibellines.
Castruccio had the secret intention of becoming the master of all
Tuscany by the aid of these men and of his own forces; and in order to
gain greater weight in affairs, he entered into a league with Messer
Matteo Visconti, the Prince of Milan, and organized for him the forces
of his city and the country districts. As Lucca had five gates, he
divided his own country districts into five parts, which he supplied
with arms, and enrolled the men under captains and ensigns, so that he
could quickly bring into the field twenty thousand soldiers, without
those whom he could summon to his assistance from Pisa. While he
surrounded himself with these forces and allies, it happened at Messer
Matteo Visconti was attacked by the Guelphs of Piacenza, who had
driven out the Ghibellines with the assistance of a Florentine army
and the King Ruberto. Messer Matteo called upon Castruccio to invade
the Florentines in their own territories, so that, being attacked at
home, they should be compelled to draw their army out of Lombardy in
order to defend themselves. Castruccio invaded the Valdarno, and
seized Fucecchio and San Miniato, inflicting immense damage upon the
country. Whereupon the Florentines recalled their army, which had
scarcely reached Tuscany, when Castruccio was forced by other
necessities to return to Lucca.

There resided in the city of Lucca the Poggio family, who were so
powerful that they could not only elevate Castruccio, but even advance
him to the dignity of prince; and it appearing to them they had not
received such rewards for their services as they deserved, they
incited other families to rebel and to drive Castruccio out of Lucca.
They found their opportunity one morning, and arming themselves, they
set upon the lieutenant whom Castruccio had left to maintain order and
killed him. They endeavoured to raise the people in revolt, but
Stefano di Poggio, a peaceable old man who had taken no hand in the
rebellion, intervened and compelled them by his authority to lay down
their arms; and he offered to be their mediator with Castruccio to
obtain from him what they desired. Therefore they laid down their arms
with no greater intelligence than they had taken them up. Castruccio,
having heard the news of what had happened at Lucca, at once put
Pagolo Guinigi in command of the army, and with a troop of cavalry set
out for home. Contrary to his expectations, he found the rebellion at
an end, yet he posted his men in the most advantageous places
throughout the city. As it appeared to Stefano that Castruccio ought
to be very much obliged to him, he sought him out, and without saying
anything on his own behalf, for he did not recognize any need for
doing so, he begged Castruccio to pardon the other members of his
family by reason of their youth, their former friendships, and the
obligations which Castruccio was under to their house. To this
Castruccio graciously responded, and begged Stefano to reassure
himself, declaring that it gave him more pleasure to find the tumult
at an end than it had ever caused him anxiety to hear of its
inception. He encouraged Stefano to bring his family to him, saying
that he thanked God for having given him the opportunity of showing
his clemency and liberality. Upon the word of Stefano and Castruccio
they surrendered, and with Stefano were immediately thrown into prison
and put to death. Meanwhile the Florentines had recovered San Miniato,
whereupon it seemed advisable to Castruccio to make peace, as it did
not appear to him that he was sufficiently secure at Lucca to leave
him. He approached the Florentines with the proposal of a truce, which
they readily entertained, for they were weary of the war, and desirous
of getting rid of the expenses of it. A treaty was concluded with them
for two years, by which both parties agreed to keep the conquests they
had made. Castruccio thus released from this trouble, turned his
attention to affairs in Lucca, and in order that he should not again
be subject to the perils from which he had just escaped, he, under
various pretences and reasons, first wiped out all those who by their
ambition might aspire to the principality; not sparing one of them,
but depriving them of country and property, and those whom he had in
his hands of life also, stating that he had found by experience that
none of them were to be trusted. Then for his further security he
raised a fortress in Lucca with the stones of the towers of those whom
he had killed or hunted out of the state.

Whilst Castruccio made peace with the Florentines, and strengthened
his position in Lucca, he neglected no opportunity, short of open war,
of increasing his importance elsewhere. It appeared to him that if he
could get possession of Pistoia, he would have one foot in Florence,
which was his great desire. He, therefore, in various ways made
friends with the mountaineers, and worked matters so in Pistoia that
both parties confided their secrets to him. Pistoia was divided, as it
always had been, into the Bianchi and Neri parties; the head of the
Bianchi was Bastiano di Possente, and of the Neri, Jacopo da Gia. Each
of these men held secret communications with Castruccio, and each
desired to drive the other out of the city; and, after many
threatenings, they came to blows. Jacopo fortified himself at the
Florentine gate, Bastiano at that of the Lucchese side of the city;
both trusted more in Castruccio than in the Florentines, because they
believed that Castruccio was far more ready and willing to fight than
the Florentines, and they both sent to him for assistance. He gave
promises to both, saying to Bastiano that he would come in person, and
to Jacopo that he would send his pupil, Pagolo Guinigi. At the
appointed time he sent forward Pagolo by way of Pisa, and went himself
direct to Pistoia; at midnight both of them met outside the city, and
both were admitted as friends. Thus the two leaders entered, and at a
signal given by Castruccio, one killed Jacopo da Gia, and the other
Bastiano di Possente, and both took prisoners or killed the partisans
of either faction. Without further opposition Pistoia passed into the
hands of Castruccio, who, having forced the Signoria to leave the
palace, compelled the people to yield obedience to him, making them
many promises and remitting their old debts. The countryside flocked
to the city to see the new prince, and all were filled with hope and
quickly settled down, influenced in a great measure by his great

About this time great disturbances arose in Rome, owing to the
dearness of living which was caused by the absence of the pontiff at
Avignon. The German governor, Enrico, was much blamed for what
happened--murders and tumults following each other daily, without his
being able to put an end to them. This caused Enrico much anxiety lest
the Romans should call in Ruberto, the King of Naples, who would drive
the Germans out of the city, and bring back the Pope. Having no nearer
friend to whom he could apply for help than Castruccio, he sent to
him, begging him not only to give him assistance, but also to come in
person to Rome. Castruccio considered that he ought not to hesitate to
render the emperor this service, because he believed that he himself
would not be safe if at any time the emperor ceased to hold Rome.
Leaving Pagolo Guinigi in command at Lucca, Castruccio set out for
Rome with six hundred horsemen, where he was received by Enrico with
the greatest distinction. In a short time the presence of Castruccio
obtained such respect for the emperor that, without bloodshed or
violence, good order was restored, chiefly by reason of Castruccio
having sent by sea from the country round Pisa large quantities of
corn, and thus removed the source of the trouble. When he had
chastised some of the Roman leaders, and admonished others, voluntary
obedience was rendered to Enrico. Castruccio received many honours,
and was made a Roman senator. This dignity was assumed with the
greatest pomp, Castruccio being clothed in a brocaded toga, which had
the following words embroidered on its front: "I am what God wills."
Whilst on the back was: "What God desires shall be."

During this time the Florentines, who were much enraged that
Castruccio should have seized Pistoia during the truce, considered how
they could tempt the city to rebel, to do which they thought would not
be difficult in his absence. Among the exiled Pistoians in Florence
were Baldo Cecchi and Jacopo Baldini, both men of leading and ready to
face danger. These men kept up communications with their friends in
Pistoia, and with the aid of the Florentines entered the city by
night, and after driving out some of Castruccio's officials and
partisans, and killing others, they restored the city to its freedom.
The news of this greatly angered Castruccio, and taking leave of
Enrico, he pressed on in great haste to Pistoia. When the Florentines
heard of his return, knowing that he would lose no time, they decided
to intercept him with their forces in the Val di Nievole, under the
belief that by doing so they would cut off his road to Pistoia.
Assembling a great army of the supporters of the Guelph cause, the
Florentines entered the Pistoian territories. On the other hand,
Castruccio reached Montecarlo with his army; and having heard where
the Florentines' lay, he decided not to encounter it in the plains of
Pistoia, nor to await it in the plains of Pescia, but, as far as he
possibly could, to attack it boldly in the Pass of Serravalle. He
believed that if he succeeded in this design, victory was assured,
although he was informed that the Florentines had thirty thousand men,
whilst he had only twelve thousand. Although he had every confidence
in his own abilities and the valour of his troops, yet he hesitated to
attack his enemy in the open lest he should be overwhelmed by numbers.
Serravalle is a castle between Pescia and Pistoia, situated on a hill
which blocks the Val di Nievole, not in the exact pass, but about a
bowshot beyond; the pass itself is in places narrow and steep, whilst
in general it ascends gently, but is still narrow, especially at the
summit where the waters divide, so that twenty men side by side could
hold it. The lord of Serravalle was Manfred, a German, who, before
Castruccio became lord of Pistoia, had been allowed to remain in
possession of the castle, it being common to the Lucchese and the
Pistoians, and unclaimed by either--neither of them wishing to
displace Manfred as long as he kept his promise of neutrality, and
came under obligations to no one. For these reasons, and also because
the castle was well fortified, he had always been able to maintain his
position. It was here that Castruccio had determined to fall upon his
enemy, for here his few men would have the advantage, and there was no
fear lest, seeing the large masses of the hostile force before they
became engaged, they should not stand. As soon as this trouble with
Florence arose, Castruccio saw the immense advantage which possession
of this castle would give him, and having an intimate friendship with
a resident in the castle, he managed matters so with him that four
hundred of his men were to be admitted into the castle the night
before the attack on the Florentines, and the castellan put to death.

Castruccio, having prepared everything, had now to encourage the
Florentines to persist in their desire to carry the seat of war away
from Pistoia into the Val di Nievole, therefore he did not move his
army from Montecarlo. Thus the Florentines hurried on until they
reached their encampment under Serravalle, intending to cross the hill
on the following morning. In the meantime, Castruccio had seized the
castle at night, had also moved his army from Montecarlo, and marching
from thence at midnight in dead silence, had reached the foot of
Serravalle: thus he and the Florentines commenced the ascent of the
hill at the same time in the morning. Castruccio sent forward his
infantry by the main road, and a troop of four hundred horsemen by a
path on the left towards the castle. The Florentines sent forward four
hundred cavalry ahead of their army which was following, never
expecting to find Castruccio in possession of the hill, nor were they
aware of his having seized the castle. Thus it happened that the
Florentine horsemen mounting the hill were completely taken by
surprise when they discovered the infantry of Castruccio, and so close
were they upon it they had scarcely time to pull down their visors. It
was a case of unready soldiers being attacked by ready, and they were
assailed with such vigour that with difficulty they could hold their
own, although some few of them got through. When the noise of the
fighting reached the Florentine camp below, it was filled with
confusion. The cavalry and infantry became inextricably mixed: the
captains were unable to get their men either backward or forward,
owing to the narrowness of the pass, and amid all this tumult no one
knew what ought to be done or what could be done. In a short time the
cavalry who were engaged with the enemy's infantry were scattered or
killed without having made any effective defence because of their
unfortunate position, although in sheer desperation they had offered a
stout resistance. Retreat had been impossible, with the mountains on
both flanks, whilst in front were their enemies, and in the rear their
friends. When Castruccio saw that his men were unable to strike a
decisive blow at the enemy and put them to flight, he sent one
thousand infantrymen round by the castle, with orders to join the four
hundred horsemen he had previously dispatched there, and commanded the
whole force to fall upon the flank of the enemy. These orders they
carried out with such fury that the Florentines could not sustain the
attack, but gave way, and were soon in full retreat--conquered more by
their unfortunate position than by the valour of their enemy. Those in
the rear turned towards Pistoia, and spread through the plains, each
man seeking only his own safety. The defeat was complete and very
sanguinary. Many captains were taken prisoners, among whom were
Bandini dei Rossi, Francesco Brunelleschi, and Giovanni della Tosa,
all Florentine noblemen, with many Tuscans and Neapolitans who fought
on the Florentine side, having been sent by King Ruberto to assist the
Guelphs. Immediately the Pistoians heard of this defeat they drove out
the friends of the Guelphs, and surrendered to Castruccio. He was not
content with occupying Prato and all the castles on the plains on both
sides of the Arno, but marched his army into the plain of Peretola,
about two miles from Florence. Here he remained many days, dividing
the spoils, and celebrating his victory with feasts and games, holding
horse races, and foot races for men and women. He also struck medals
in commemoration of the defeat of the Florentines. He endeavoured to
corrupt some of the citizens of Florence, who were to open the city
gates at night; but the conspiracy was discovered, and the
participators in it taken and beheaded, among whom were Tommaso
Lupacci and Lambertuccio Frescobaldi. This defeat caused the
Florentines great anxiety, and despairing of preserving their liberty,
they sent envoys to King Ruberto of Naples, offering him the dominion
of their city; and he, knowing of what immense importance the
maintenance of the Guelph cause was to him, accepted it. He agreed
with the Florentines to receive from them a yearly tribute of two
hundred thousand florins, and he send his son Carlo to Florence with
four thousand horsemen.

Shortly after this the Florentines were relieved in some degree of the
pressure of Castruccio's army, owing to his being compelled to leave
his positions before Florence and march on Pisa, in order to suppress
a conspiracy that had been raised against him by Benedetto Lanfranchi,
one of the first men in Pisa, who could not endure that his fatherland
should be under the dominion of the Lucchese. He had formed this
conspiracy, intending to seize the citadel, kill the partisans of
Castruccio, and drive out the garrison. As, however, in a conspiracy
paucity of numbers is essential to secrecy, so for its execution a few
are not sufficient, and in seeking more adherents to his conspiracy
Lanfranchi encountered a person who revealed the design to Castruccio.
This betrayal cannot be passed by without severe reproach to Bonifacio
Cerchi and Giovanni Guidi, two Florentine exiles who were suffering
their banishment in Pisa. Thereupon Castruccio seized Benedetto and
put him to death, and beheaded many other noble citizens, and drove
their families into exile. It now appeared to Castruccio that both
Pisa and Pistoia were thoroughly disaffected; he employed much thought
and energy upon securing his position there, and this gave the
Florentines their opportunity to reorganize their army, and to await
the coming of Carlo, the son of the King of Naples. When Carlo arrived
they decided to lose no more time, and assembled a great army of more
than thirty thousand infantry and ten thousand cavalry--having called
to their aid every Guelph there was in Italy. They consulted whether
they should attack Pistoia or Pisa first, and decided that it would be
better to march on the latter--a course, owing to the recent
conspiracy, more likely to succeed, and of more advantage to them,
because they believed that the surrender of Pistoia would follow the
acquisition of Pisa.

In the early part of May 1328, the Florentines put in motion this army
and quickly occupied Lastra, Signa, Montelupo, and Empoli, passing
from thence on to San Miniato. When Castruccio heard of the enormous
army which the Florentines were sending against him, he was in no
degree alarmed, believing that the time had now arrived when Fortune
would deliver the empire of Tuscany into his hands, for he had no
reason to think that his enemy would make a better fight, or had
better prospects of success, than at Pisa or Serravalle. He assembled
twenty thousand foot soldiers and four thousand horsemen, and with
this army went to Fucecchio, whilst he sent Pagolo Guinigi to Pisa
with five thousand infantry. Fucecchio has a stronger position than
any other town in the Pisan district, owing to its situation between
the rivers Arno and Gusciana and its slight elevation above the
surrounding plain. Moreover, the enemy could not hinder its being
victualled unless they divided their forces, nor could they approach
it either from the direction of Lucca or Pisa, nor could they get
through to Pisa, or attack Castruccio's forces except at a
disadvantage. In one case they would find themselves placed between
his two armies, the one under his own command and the other under
Pagolo, and in the other case they would have to cross the Arno to get
to close quarters with the enemy, an undertaking of great hazard. In
order to tempt the Florentines to take this latter course, Castruccio
withdrew his men from the banks of the river and placed them under the
walls of Fucecchio, leaving a wide expanse of land between them and
the river.

The Florentines, having occupied San Miniato, held a council of war to
decide whether they should attack Pisa or the army of Castruccio, and,
having weighed the difficulties of both courses, they decided upon the
latter. The river Arno was at that time low enough to be fordable, yet
the water reached to the shoulders of the infantrymen and to the
saddles of the horsemen. On the morning of 10 June 1328, the
Florentines commenced the battle by ordering forward a number of
cavalry and ten thousand infantry. Castruccio, whose plan of action
was fixed, and who well knew what to do, at once attacked the
Florentines with five thousand infantry and three thousand horsemen,
not allowing them to issue from the river before he charged them; he
also sent one thousand light infantry up the river bank, and the same
number down the Arno. The infantry of the Florentines were so much
impeded by their arms and the water that they were not able to mount
the banks of the river, whilst the cavalry had made the passage of the
river more difficult for the others, by reason of the few who had
crossed having broken up the bed of the river, and this being deep
with mud, many of the horses rolled over with their riders and many of
them had stuck so fast that they could not move. When the Florentine
captains saw the difficulties their men were meeting, they withdrew
them and moved higher up the river, hoping to find the river bed less
treacherous and the banks more adapted for landing. These men were met
at the bank by the forces which Castruccio had already sent forward,
who, being light armed with bucklers and javelins in their hands, let
fly with tremendous shouts into the faces and bodies of the cavalry.
The horses, alarmed by the noise and the wounds, would not move
forward, and trampled each other in great confusion. The fight between
the men of Castruccio and those of the enemy who succeeded in crossing
was sharp and terrible; both sides fought with the utmost desperation
and neither would yield. The soldiers of Castruccio fought to drive
the others back into the river, whilst the Florentines strove to get a
footing on land in order to make room for the others pressing forward,
who if they could but get out of the water would be able to fight, and
in this obstinate conflict they were urged on by their captains.
Castruccio shouted to his men that these were the same enemies whom
they had before conquered at Serravalle, whilst the Florentines
reproached each other that the many should be overcome by the few. At
length Castruccio, seeing how long the battle had lasted, and that
both his men and the enemy were utterly exhausted, and that both sides
had many killed and wounded, pushed forward another body of infantry
to take up a position at the rear of those who were fighting; he then
commanded these latter to open their ranks as if they intended to
retreat, and one part of them to turn to the right and another to the
left. This cleared a space of which the Florentines at once took
advantage, and thus gained possession of a portion of the battlefield.
But when these tired soldiers found themselves at close quarters with
Castruccio's reserves they could not stand against them and at once
fell back into the river. The cavalry of either side had not as yet
gained any decisive advantage over the other, because Castruccio,
knowing his inferiority in this arm, had commanded his leaders only to
stand on the defensive against the attacks of their adversaries, as he
hoped that when he had overcome the infantry he would be able to make
short work of the cavalry. This fell out as he had hoped, for when he
saw the Florentine army driven back across the river he ordered the
remainder of his infantry to attack the cavalry of the enemy. This
they did with lance and javelin, and, joined by their own cavalry,
fell upon the enemy with the greatest fury and soon put him to flight.
The Florentine captains, having seen the difficulty their cavalry had
met with in crossing the river, had attempted to make their infantry
cross lower down the river, in order to attack the flanks of
Castruccio's army. But here, also, the banks were steep and already
lined by the men of Castruccio, and this movement was quite useless.
Thus the Florentines were so completely defeated at all points that
scarcely a third of them escaped, and Castruccio was again covered
with glory. Many captains were taken prisoners, and Carlo, the son of
King Ruberto, with Michelagnolo Falconi and Taddeo degli Albizzi, the
Florentine commissioners, fled to Empoli. If the spoils were great,
the slaughter was infinitely greater, as might be expected in such a
battle. Of the Florentines there fell twenty thousand two hundred and
thirty-one men, whilst Castruccio lost one thousand five hundred and
seventy men.

But Fortune growing envious of the glory of Castruccio took away his
life just at the time when she should have preserved it, and thus
ruined all those plans which for so long a time he had worked to carry
into effect, and in the successful prosecution of which nothing but
death could have stopped him. Castruccio was in the thick of the
battle the whole of the day; and when the end of it came, although
fatigued and overheated, he stood at the gate of Fucecchio to welcome
his men on their return from victory and personally thank them. He was
also on the watch for any attempt of the enemy to retrieve the
fortunes of the day; he being of the opinion that it was the duty of a
good general to be the first man in the saddle and the last out of it.
Here Castruccio stood exposed to a wind which often rises at midday on
the banks of the Arno, and which is often very unhealthy; from this he
took a chill, of which he thought nothing, as he was accustomed to
such troubles; but it was the cause of his death. On the following
night he was attacked with high fever, which increased so rapidly that
the doctors saw it must prove fatal. Castruccio, therefore, called
Pagolo Guinigi to him, and addressed him as follows:

"If I could have believed that Fortune would have cut me off in the
midst of the career which was leading to that glory which all my
successes promised, I should have laboured less, and I should have
left thee, if a smaller state, at least with fewer enemies and perils,
because I should have been content with the governorships of Lucca and
Pisa. I should neither have subjugated the Pistoians, nor outraged the
Florentines with so many injuries. But I would have made both these
peoples my friends, and I should have lived, if no longer, at least
more peacefully, and have left you a state without a doubt smaller,
but one more secure and established on a surer foundation. But
Fortune, who insists upon having the arbitrament of human affairs, did
not endow me with sufficient judgment to recognize this from the
first, nor the time to surmount it. Thou hast heard, for many have
told thee, and I have never concealed it, how I entered the house of
thy father whilst yet a boy--a stranger to all those ambitions which
every generous soul should feel--and how I was brought up by him, and
loved as though I had been born of his blood; how under his governance
I learned to be valiant and capable of availing myself of all that
fortune, of which thou hast been witness. When thy good father came to
die, he committed thee and all his possessions to my care, and I have
brought thee up with that love, and increased thy estate with that
care, which I was bound to show. And in order that thou shouldst not
only possess the estate which thy father left, but also that which my
fortune and abilities have gained, I have never married, so that the
love of children should never deflect my mind from that gratitude
which I owed to the children of thy father. Thus I leave thee a vast
estate, of which I am well content, but I am deeply concerned,
inasmuch as I leave it thee unsettled and insecure. Thou hast the city
of Lucca on thy hands, which will never rest contented under they
government. Thou hast also Pisa, where the men are of nature
changeable and unreliable, who, although they may be sometimes held in
subjection, yet they will ever disdain to serve under a Lucchese.
Pistoia is also disloyal to thee, she being eaten up with factions and
deeply incensed against thy family by reason of the wrongs recently
inflicted upon them. Thou hast for neighbours the offended
Florentines, injured by us in a thousand ways, but not utterly
destroyed, who will hail the news of my death with more delight than
they would the acquisition of all Tuscany. In the Emperor and in the
princes of Milan thou canst place no reliance, for they are far
distant, slow, and their help is very long in coming. Therefore, thou
hast no hope in anything but in thine own abilities, and in the memory
of my valour, and in the prestige which this latest victory has
brought thee; which, as thou knowest how to use it with prudence, will
assist thee to come to terms with the Florentines, who, as they are
suffering under this great defeat, should be inclined to listen to
thee. And whereas I have sought to make them my enemies, because I
believed that war with them would conduce to my power and glory, thou
hast every inducement to make friends of them, because their alliance
will bring thee advantages and security. It is of the greatest
important in this world that a man should know himself, and the
measure of his own strength and means; and he who knows that he has
not a genius for fighting must learn how to govern by the arts of
peace. And it will be well for thee to rule they conduct by my
counsel, and to learn in this way to enjoy what my life-work and
dangers have gained; and in this thou wilt easily succeed when thou
hast learnt to believe that what I have told thee is true. And thou
wilt be doubly indebted to me, in that I have left thee this realm and
have taught thee how to keep it."

After this there came to Castruccio those citizens of Pisa, Pistoia,
and Lucca, who had been fighting at his side, and whilst recommending
Pagolo to them, and making them swear obedience to him as his
successor, he died. He left a happy memory to those who had known him,
and no prince of those times was ever loved with such devotion as he
was. His obsequies were celebrated with every sign of mourning, and he
was buried in San Francesco at Lucca. Fortune was not so friendly to
Pagolo Guinigi as she had been to Castruccio, for he had not the
abilities. Not long after the death of Castruccio, Pagolo lost Pisa,
and then Pistoia, and only with difficulty held on to Lucca. This
latter city continued in the family of Guinigi until the time of the
great-grandson of Pagolo.

From what has been related here it will be seen that Castruccio was a
man of exceptional abilities, not only measured by men of his own
time, but also by those of an earlier date. In stature he was above
the ordinary height, and perfectly proportioned. He was of a gracious
presence, and he welcomed men with such urbanity that those who spoke
with him rarely left him displeased. His hair was inclined to be red,
and he wore it cut short above the ears, and, whether it rained or
snowed, he always went without a hat. He was delightful among friends,
but terrible to his enemies; just to his subjects; ready to play false
with the unfaithful, and willing to overcome by fraud those whom he
desired to subdue, because he was wont to say that it was the victory
that brought the glory, not the methods of achieving it. No one was
bolder in facing danger, none more prudent in extricating himself. He
was accustomed to say that men ought to attempt everything and fear
nothing; that God is a lover of strong men, because one always sees
that the weak are chastised by the strong. He was also wonderfully
sharp or biting though courteous in his answers; and as he did not
look for any indulgence in this way of speaking from others, so he was
not angered with others did not show it to him. It has often happened
that he has listened quietly when others have spoken sharply to him,
as on the following occasions. He had caused a ducat to be given for a
partridge, and was taken to task for doing so by a friend, to whom
Castruccio had said: "You would not have given more than a penny."
"That is true," answered the friend. Then said Castruccio to him: "A
ducat is much less to me." Having about him a flatterer on whom he had
spat to show that he scorned him, the flatterer said to him:
"Fisherman are willing to let the waters of the sea saturate them in
order that they make take a few little fishes, and I allow myself to
be wetted by spittle that I may catch a whale"; and this was not only
heard by Castruccio with patience but rewarded. When told by a priest
that it was wicked for him to live so sumptuously, Castruccio said:
"If that be a vice than you should not fare so splendidly at the
feasts of our saints." Passing through a street he saw a young man as
he came out of a house of ill fame blush at being seen by Castruccio,
and said to him: "Thou shouldst not be ashamed when thou comest out,
but when thou goest into such places." A friend gave him a very
curiously tied knot to undo and was told: "Fool, do you think that I
wish to untie a thing which gave so much trouble to fasten."
Castruccio said to one who professed to be a philosopher: "You are
like the dogs who always run after those who will give them the best
to eat," and was answered: "We are rather like the doctors who go to
the houses of those who have the greatest need of them." Going by
water from Pisa to Leghorn, Castruccio was much disturbed by a
dangerous storm that sprang up, and was reproached for cowardice by
one of those with him, who said that he did not fear anything.
Castruccio answered that he did not wonder at that, since every man
valued his soul for what is was worth. Being asked by one what he
ought to do to gain estimation, he said: "When thou goest to a banquet
take care that thou dost not seat one piece of wood upon another." To
a person who was boasting that he had read many things, Castruccio
said: "He knows better than to boast of remembering many things."
Someone bragged that he could drink much without becoming intoxicated.
Castruccio replied: "An ox does the same." Castruccio was acquainted
with a girl with whom he had intimate relations, and being blamed by a
friend who told him that it was undignified for him to be taken in by
a woman, he said: "She has not taken me in, I have taken her." Being
also blamed for eating very dainty foods, he answered: "Thou dost not
spend as much as I do?" and being told that it was true, he continued:
"Then thou art more avaricious than I am gluttonous." Being invited by
Taddeo Bernardi, a very rich and splendid citizen of Luca, to supper,
he went to the house and was shown by Taddeo into a chamber hung with
silk and paved with fine stones representing flowers and foliage of
the most beautiful colouring. Castruccio gathered some saliva in his
mouth and spat it out upon Taddeo, and seeing him much disturbed by
this, said to him: "I knew not where to spit in order to offend thee
less." Being asked how Caesar died he said: "God willing I will die as
he did." Being one night in the house of one of his gentlemen where
many ladies were assembled, he was reproved by one of his friends for
dancing and amusing himself with them more than was usual in one of
his station, so he said: "He who is considered wise by day will not be
considered a fool at night." A person came to demand a favour of
Castruccio, and thinking he was not listening to his plea threw
himself on his knees to the ground, and being sharply reproved by
Castruccio, said: "Thou art the reason of my acting thus for thou hast
thy ears in thy feet," whereupon he obtained double the favour he had
asked. Castruccio used to say that the way to hell was an easy one,
seeing that it was in a downward direction and you travelled
blindfolded. Being asked a favour by one who used many superfluous
words, he said to him: "When you have another request to make, send
someone else to make it." Having been wearied by a similar man with a
long oration who wound up by saying: "Perhaps I have fatigued you by
speaking so long," Castruccio said: "You have not, because I have not
listened to a word you said." He used to say of one who had been a
beautiful child and who afterwards became a fine man, that he was
dangerous, because he first took the husbands from the wives and now
he took the wives from their husbands. To an envious man who laughed,
he said: "Do you laugh because you are successful or because another
is unfortunate?" Whilst he was still in the charge of Messer Francesco
Guinigi, one of his companions said to him: "What shall I give you if
you will let me give you a blow on the nose?" Castruccio answered: "A
helmet." Having put to death a citizen of Lucca who had been
instrumental in raising him to power, and being told that he had done
wrong to kill one of his old friends, he answered that people deceived
themselves; he had only killed a new enemy. Castruccio praised greatly
those men who intended to take a wife and then did not do so, saying
that they were like men who said they would go to sea, and then
refused when the time came. He said that it always struck him with
surprise that whilst men in buying an earthen or glass vase would
sound it first to learn if it were good, yet in choosing a wife they
were content with only looking at her. He was once asked in what
manner he would wish to be buried when he died, and answered: "With
the face turned downwards, for I know when I am gone this country will
be turned upside down." On being asked if it had ever occurred to him
to become a friar in order to save his soul, he answered that it had
not, because it appeared strange to him that Fra Lazerone should go to
Paradise and Uguccione della Faggiuola to the Inferno. He was once
asked when should a man eat to preserve his health, and replied: "If
the man be rich let him eat when he is hungry; if he be poor, then
when he can." Seeing on of his gentlemen make a member of his family
lace him up, he said to him: "I pray God that you will let him feed
you also." Seeing that someone had written upon his house in Latin the
words: "May God preserve this house from the wicked," he said, "The
owner must never go in." Passing through one of the streets he saw a
small house with a very large door, and remarked: "That house will fly
through the door." He was having a discussion with the ambassador of
the King of Naples concerning the property of some banished nobles,
when a dispute arose between them, and the ambassador asked him if he
had no fear of the king. "Is this king of yours a bad man or a good
one?" asked Castruccio, and was told that he was a good one, whereupon
he said, "Why should you suggest that I should be afraid of a good

I could recount many other stories of his sayings both witty and
weighty, but I think that the above will be sufficient testimony to
his high qualities. He lived forty-four years, and was in every way a
prince. And as he was surrounded by many evidences of his good
fortune, so he also desired to have near him some memorials of his bad
fortune; therefore the manacles with which he was chained in prison
are to be seen to this day fixed up in the tower of his residence,
where they were placed by him to testify for ever to his days of
adversity. As in his life he was inferior neither to Philip of
Macedon, the father of Alexander, nor to Scipio of Rome, so he died in
the same year of his age as they did, and he would doubtless have
excelled both of them had Fortune decreed that he should be born, not
in Lucca, but in Macedonia or Rome.

End of the Project Gutenberg Etext of The Prince, Etc.,by Machiavelli

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