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The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli

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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 "sects" 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 any 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.

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