Niccolò Machiavelli.

The works of Nicholas Machiavel ... : translated from the originals : illustrated with notes, annotations, dissertations, and several new plans on the Art of war (Volume 3) online

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VOL. Ill,





Secretary of State to the Republic of Florence.
Tranflated from the Originals;



And feveral New Plans on the ART of WAR,


Late Vicar of Rollhern in Cheshire,

Tranflator of the Life of P O P E S I X T U S V. and
DAVILLA's Hiftory of the Civil Wars of France.





Printed for T. Davies, RufTel-Street, Covent-Garden ; J. Dodslev,
Pall- Mall } J. RoBSON, New Bond-Strect ; G. Robinson, Pater-
pofter-Rowi T. Becket, T. Cadell, and T. Evans, Strand.



to THE



The French Translation 'concerning the
, enfuing Discourses,

MACHIAVEL has been fo generally
decried, on account of the little re-
gard he is fuppofed to have fhewn to Reli-
gion and Morality in his writings, that a
good man perhaps might think himfelf in
fome danger of being corrupted ifhefhould
venture to read them. I confefs I was long
of that opinion myfelf, and therefore can-
not well tell how to blame others for it.
But after I had carefully perufed them,
and found fufficient reafon to alter my fen-
timents in that matter; I thought many
others might probably do the fame, and
that it would not be an unacceptable per-
formance to feveral perfons of worth and
candour, who do not underftand Italian,
Vol. III. a if


if I fhould furnifh them with the means
of reading Machiavers works, by tranflat-
ing them into the vulgar tongue ; that fo
they might have an opportunity not only
of undeceiving, but even of profitting
themfelves by the many admirable maxims
and inftrudlions they will find in them.
For indeed it is impoflible that any one,
who maturely confiders them, iliould not
be convinced of their excellence and uti-
lity, both in the management of State af-
fairs, and in the common tranfadlions of
life ; in one or other of which every man
has fome concern, and confequently will
find his account in perufing thefe writ-
ings. I might add, for my own j unifica-
tion, that having duly examined the rea-
fons, which have given rife to fo unfa-
vourable an opinion as hath been gene-
rally conceived of Machiavel, I find it
has rather been owing to prejudice than
any rational foundation : fince he feems to
have taken no greater liberties than fe-
veral other Hiftorians whofe writings have
never been objecfled to ; and, whilft he is
painting mankind in their true colours
(which is a matter of great confequence to
know) neither recommends their vices, or
enormities, or wicked maxims, as rules
of condudl and pracflice for the imitation



of others, in oppofition to Virtue and Mo-
rality. On the contrary, it is very ob-
fervable in the courfe of this work, which
chiefly treats of the foundation and go-
vernment of States, that the firft Princi-
ples he lays down for thofe purpofes, are
the fear of God, a love of unity and or-
der, honeft induilry, a ftricft regard to juf-
tice, good military difcipline, temperance, and
other rules for the prevention or fuppreffion
of idlenefs and luxury.

If this be the cafe then, MachiaveFs
writings muft be fadly tortured in order to
extract that poifon, which is fuppofed to
lurk in them. Let any one read thein
however without prepolTeflion, and inter-
pret them fairly as he ought to do, by
referring the feveral tf^aits to their pro-
per Charadters, and applying the different
Maxims to the Hypothefes he lays down,
and I am perfuaded he will foon diveffc
himfelf of the prejudice he had conceived
againft him. But if, inftead of that, he
detaches fome parts, and applies them to
others, where they neither are nor can be
applicable, if he puts a bad conftrndion
upon expreffions which will naturally ad-
mit of a good one, if he makes it his bu-
finefs to carp only at the wicked exam-

a 2 pies


pies that are quoted, the Author certainly
is not in that cafe worthy of cenfure,
but he that abufes him in fuch a man-
ner: at this rate it might be reckoned
dangerous to read any Hiftorian : becaufe
there are none, in whofe writings we may
not find maxims both avowed and prac-
tifed, that are at leaft as exceptionable as
thofe imputed to our Author. A man
mufl exclude himfelf from the world, if
he would avoid meeting with bad exam-
ples, even amongft people in high places^
and who pique themfelves upon their de-
votion. Have we not feen authors, and
thofe of great fame too, who have made
no fcruple of celebrating actions as holy^
which another man of common fenfe only
would have detefted as the moil: perfidious
and inhuman ? Have we not known Princes,
otherwife great and illuftrious, u'ho have
declared in their edidts, that they were
refolved to violate the privileges and im-
munities they had confirmed to their Sub-
jeds by the mod folemn oaths and pro-
mifes * ? Nay, they have been fo far from
being afhamed of fuch an infamous man-

• The French Tranflator, Mondeut Tetard, who was
a Proteftarit Refugee, may be fuppofed to allude here to
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Lewis XIV. in
tiie year 1685.



ner of proceeding, that they have thought
themfelves worthy of all praife, and rec-
koned it amongfi: the moft meritorious adlions
of their life. This aftonifhing deprava-
tion of the human heart is not' indeed
altogether a new thing, though it is in a
manner peculiar to the latter ages of
Chriftianity, to give flaming and magni-
ficent titles to a Prince who v/ould have
been abhorred in the primitive times.
What muft any one think, if we were
here to recite the reafcns affigned for
Canonizing Lewis IX. a Prince natural-
ly inclined to be good, it mud be con-
feffed, but corrupted by the monks to
fuch a degree, as to perfecute the poor
Albigenfes in the moft bloody and un-
merciful manner ? What fliall we fay of
the fplendid title of Holy Office^ that is
given to a Tribunal, the maxims and
pradice of which are fufficient to in-
fpire any one with horror that only hears
them related ? It is certain that the very
word things we meet with in Machiavel
are far from being at fuch variance with
humanity and morality, as thefe holy mat-
ters^ which fo many weak people reverence,
with a prejudice ten thoufand times more
dangerous than what can arife from the te-
nets of the Florentine Politician.

a 3 But


But fomebody perhaps may fay, whence
then proceeds this general prepofleffion
againfl: an author, who, I maintain, has
not -tranfgreired the bounds of decency
and moderation -, whilft many others that
have exceeded them are looked upon with
a favourable eye ; and even young people
are allowed to read Tacitus, who in
point of morality very often ilands in
need of corredion : whereas the Holy In-
qutjition excommunicates all thofe that read
Machiavel ? To which I anfwer, that in
this cafe his Accufers are his Judges : for
he has touched upon the vices of Monks
and other Prieils in fuch a manner, that
it is no wonder if they do not love him.
Every one knows that thefe perfons have
the artifice to cover their own private
interefcs under the veil of Religion, and
fight their enemies with confecrated arm.s,
Machiavel therefore with them is a He-
retic, an abandoned, profligate, dangerous
fellow, for daring to prefent the world
with fuch a pidture of the Holy Roman
Church 'y which being founded only upon
the prejudices of the multitude, will not
fuffer its Myfteries to be developed with
impunity: it is making a cruel war upon
it, thus to expofe its fecrets, and ftrip
oft the difguife of its Priefls. But if one
was to ilrike out all the paffages in the



writings of this great Politician which bear
hard upon them ^ thofe very people, who
are now his bittereft enemies, would then
be the loudefl: in his praife. As the com-
mon Reader however is likely to be the
moft difinterefled Judge, we fliall leave
the matter to his decifion, without faying
any thing further to bias his opinion in
this caufe. For the reft, Machiavel in-
deed fometlmes lets himfelf loofe upon
the Ultramontanes. At the head of this
work he treats the French and Germans
as perfidious, rapacious Barbarians, 6cc. as
if the Italians furpaffed all other peo-
ple in point of probity, generofity, and
humanity. But he may appear in fome
meafure pardonable even in this refpedl,
when we confider the cruel treatment his
country met with from thofe nations. Few
people love their Conquerors ; and for that
reafon, we may fuppofe, he fpeaks fo harfhly
of Charles VIII. whom other Hiftorians men-
tion with great honour, confidering him as a
young Prince. But to fpeak truth, it feems
as if the Italians, and particularly the Flo-
rentines, have no more reafon than the Ultra-
montane Princes to boaft of Sincerity, difin-
tereftednefs^ or politenefs in any of the quar-
rels they were ever engaged in with the latter.
This, however, ought not to difguft any one,
or deter him from reading fo ufeful a work.

a 4 Every


Every Author has his faults ; and Machiavel
is not entirely exempt from them. The fame
may be faid of what he relates concerning the
ancient Gauls and their neighbours : fince
neither Caefar nor Tacitus reprefent thofe
Ultramontanes in fo unfavourable a light as
our Author has done.










IF the prefent I here fend you, my dear
friends, is not anfwerable to the ob-
ligations you have laid upon me, it is
the beft, however, I am able to offer
you in my circumftances, as it contains
all the political knovi^ledge I have col-
lected from much reading, and long ex-
perience in the affairs of the world. Your
ufual Candour, therefore, I am perfuad-
ed, will not fuffer you to expedl more
than I am able to give ; though, per-
haps, you will find juft caufe to be dif-
gufted at the poverty of my ftyle, as
well as at feme errors of judgment, which

I may

X M A C H I A V E L's

I may probably be guilty of in the courfe
of my reafonings. Should that be the
cafe, I cannot tell whether you will not
be as blameable for tirging me to un-
dertake a taik, which I fhould othervvife
never have attempted, as I fhall be for
not executing it in a better manner. Ac-
cept it, however, I befeech you, like friends,
who always confider the good intention of the
giver, rather than the value of the gift ;
and believe me, when I affure you, it
gives me a particular fatisfa£lion to re-
fleS, that how much foever I may have erred
in other points, I have adled with judg-
ment in infcribing thefe Difcourfes to you :
for, as I am more obliged to you than any
other perfons in the world, it (hews fomc
gratitude for the favours I have received at
your hands.

It is true, I deviate in this from the cuf-
tom of moft authors, who generally dedi-
cate their works to feme Prince, and, ei-
ther out of ambition or avarice, bafely ex-
tol him to the fkies for the pradice of
5 every


,«very virtue, when perhaps his vices de-
ferve the utmoft; deteftation. But as I v^as
determined to avoid all fufpicion of flattery,
I have made choice of perfons to patronize
my v^orks, who, though not Princes in re-
ality, yet highly deferve to be fo, for
their numberlefs good qualities; notoffuch
as have it adually in their power to heap
riches and honours upon me, but of thofe
that I know would not fail to do it, if they
were as able as they were willing. For to
judge rightly of things, we certainly ought
to fiiew a greater degree of efteeni and re-
gard for thofe that have it in their will, than
for others that only have it in their power
to be liberal ; and to refped fuch as are wor-
thy of a fovereignty, more than thofe that
poffefs one without worth. Thus, Hiflo-
rians who praife Hiero the Syracufan, though
but a private man, feem to make little ac-
count of Perfes the Macedonian, notwith-
ftanding he v/as a Prince; becaufe Hiero
wanted nothinjy but a crown to make him a
King, and Perfes had no other qualification
to entitle him to that dignity, Vouchfafe,


xii MACHIAVEL's, &c.

then, my dear Friends, to accept this work
(fuch as it is), fince I undertook it at your own
requeft; and if this part fhall have the good
fortune to meet with your approbation, I
will proceed in it, according to my promife.



author's introduction.

WHEN I confider what veneration is
(hewn to Antiquity, how often it
happens (to omit other inftances) that aa
immenfe price is given by the curious for a
fragment of an old ftatue, either to adora
their cabinets, or to ferve as a model for fta-
tuaries to copy after in works of that kind ;
and what pains thofe artifls take to come up
to their pattern : on the other hand, when I
obferve that the great and illuftrious exariiples
of feveral ancient Kingdoms and Republics
which are recorded in Hiflcry, that the noble
deeds of former Kings, Generals, Citizens,
Legiflators, and others, v.hohave confecrated
their labours to the fervice and glory of their
country, are now rather admired than imi-
tated, and indeed, fo far from being followed
by any one, that almoft every body is indif-
ferent about them to fuch a degree, that there
feem to be hardly any traces left amongft us
of the virtue of the Ancients, I cannot help
being both furprifed and concerned at it ;
and fo much the more, when I have taken no-
tice, that in civil differences, as well as in the
various maladies that are incident to mankind,



we always have recourfe to fuch decifions and
prefcriptions as have been handed down to
us from our Anceftors. For, in fad:, the
Civil Law is nothing more than a collec-
tion of determinations and decrees, that have
been made by ancient Lawyers, which be-
ing now digefled into due order and method,
ferve as precedents to dired: our magiftrates
at this day in the diftribution of juftice. And
what is the knowledge of Medicine, but the
refult of former experience delivered down
from the Profeffors of it in old times ; and
by which our Phyficians at prefent regulate
their pradlice ? But in forming a Republic,
in fupporting a State, in governing a King-
dom, in difciplining an Army, in conducting
a War, in extending an Empire, there is
now neither Prince, nor Republic, nor Ge-
neral, nor eminent Citizen, that feems to
pay the lead regard to the examples of An-
tiquity upon fuch occafions.— 1 cannot

perfuade myfelf, however, that this proceeds
fo much from the effeminacy which the mo-
dern way of education has introduced into ,
the world, or yet from the diforder which an
idle and luxurious m.anner of living has occa-
fioned in many ftates and provinces in Chrif-
tendom in particular, as from a want of being
fufficiently converfant in Hifrory, or at leall
from an inattention to the precepts and ex-


amples it lays before us : to which it is ow-
ing, that few people underftand them, fewer
flill find any true relifli or pleafure in read-
ing them, and of thofe very few, perhaps here
and there one, may be delighted for a while,,
with the recital of the many ftrange accidents
and occurrences he meets with, but without
any further thought or defign of improving
himfelf by them -, from an imagination that
the great examples he there fees, are not only
difficult, but impoflible to be equalled : as
if the ftars had changed their courfe, and
not only the Elements, but even mankind
themfelves, had loft their priftine vigour, and
degenerated from what they were in former

Being defirous, therefore, to undeceive thofe
that may poiTibly have fallen into this error,
I thought the beft method I could take for
that purpofe, would be to write fuch a com-
ment upon thofe books of Livy's Roman Hif-
tory, which have been fpared us by the ma-
levolence of time, as might beft conduce to
make them clearly underftood, and moft pro-
fitable to the reader, by exhibiting to view
the courfe of ancient and modern times and
circumftances ; that fo they may reap that
advantage from thefe Difcourfes, which ought
to be the true and only end of reading Hif-
tory. And though indeed this is an arduous


xvi THE AUTHOR'S, &c.

undertaking, yet with the afSftance of thofc
that encouraged me to embark in it, I am
not altogether without hope that I fhall
be able to acquit myfelf in fuch a manner,
as may, in fome meafure, anfwer the end








Concerning the Origin cf Cities in general^ and that of

Rome in 'particular,

WHOEVER examines the Origin of the City
of Rome, in what manner, and by what laws
it was governed, will find no great reafon to wonder
that it preferved its virtue for lo many ages, and that
it afterwards acquired fo vaft a dominion. As I in-
tend therefore co fay fomethins of its Origin in the
firft place, i mud premife that all Cities are founded
either by natives of the Country where xhty are
fituated, or by foreigners. The firft happens when
the inhabitants, being dilperfed or feparared into little
communities, cannot live in fecuritv : as no one of
them of itfelf would be able to make a fufficient de-
fence, if it fhoula be alfaulted by. an enemy ^ nor
would it have time in cafe of a fudden attai k to unite
with others for that purpofe. But fuppofing that
could be efFeded, they muft ftili be obliged to aban-
VoL. III. B ' doo

2 Political Discourses upom Book I.

don many of their habitations and pofieflions to the
mercy of the Enemy ; to avoid fuch dangers, they
commonly agree at laft either of their own accord, or
by the advice of fome perfon of the greatcft authority
amongfl; them, to unite and live together in fome one
place chofen by general confent, where they may
mutually furnifh each other with the neceffaries and
conveniences of life, and make better provifion for
their common fafety- In this manner, Athens and
Venice, amongft many others, were founded at firft;
the former under the authority of Thefeus, and by
people who before had been fcattered and difperfed
at a diftance from each other; the latter by fuch as
had fled into certain little Ifles at the extremity of the
Adriatic, (to avoid the miferies which were daily oc-
cafioned in Italy, by the continual irruption of Barba-
rians after the declenfion of the Roman empire) where
they lived together under no particular governor, though
they agreed to obferve certain laws which feemed abfo-
lutely neceflary for their future fupporc and eftablifh-
ment. And in this they fucceeded fo well from the
long repofe they enjoyed in that ficuation, (being fe-
parated from the continent, and not liable to be an-
noyed by an Enemy who had no fhips to invade them)
that from this fmall beginning they at lad arrived at
that prodigious degree of power and grandeur in
which we fee the Venetians at prefent ^.

In the fecond cafe, that is, when a City is founded
by foreigners, it is done either by fuch as are entirely
free, or dependent on others ; as by Colonies, for
inftancc, which are fent out by fome Prince or Com-
mon-wealth, either to difburdcn their own territories
when they are too full of inhabitants, or to keep
polTefTion at little or no expence of fome Country
they have newly conquered, (many of which the Ro-
mans planted in every part of their Empire) or per-
haps by fome Prince, not with any defign to refide

• This was vvriten when that Commonwealth was in the Zenith of
its glory, and before it was humbled by the famous League of Cam-
fcray. It is now in very diilcrent circumlbnces. See the Idiftory
of Florence, Book I,

8 there

Chap. I. The First Decad of Livy. 5

there himfelf, but for his glory and reputation, as
Alexandria was built by Alexander the Great. But
thefe Cities, not being free in their Original, feldom
attain to that degree of eminence as to become Capi-
tals of Kingdoms or Empires. Of this kind was
Florence, which (whether built by the Soldiers of
Sylla, or perhaps by the inhabitants of the mountains
about Fiefole *, who, being encouraged by the long
peace which the world enjoyed under the reign of
Auguftus, left their faftnefTes, and came to live upoa
the banks of the Arno) was certainly founded under
the Roman Empire, and therefore could never raife
itfelf from fuch a beginning to any greater height,
than its Sovereign was pleaied to allow of.

The founders of Cities may be faid to be free,
when a people either quit their native country volun-
tarily, or are forced out of it by peftilence, famine,
or war, to feek new habitations under the conduct of
fome Prince or other leaders of their own. And
thefe muft either inhabit fuch Cities as they find ready
built in the country they get pofTefTion of, as Mofes
did ; or they mull: build new ones like i?ineas. In
the latter cafe, the Condu(5lor of the undertaking has
the greater opportunity of difplaying his abilities ; on
which the future good or bad fortune of the City
chiefly depends : and thofe abilities are diftinguifli-
able principally in two points : firft in the choice of a
convenient fituation, and next in making good laws.
Now fince fome men betake ihemfelvt-s to labour
through mere necelTity, and others only by choice,
and it always happens that there is more virtue in
thofe countries where labour cannot poffibly be dif-
pcnfed with, than in others where there is more room
for choice, it feems worthy of confideration whether
it is not the bed Vv^ay to build in a barren country ;
that fo, when men are obliged to work hard and can-
not afford to be idle, they may live more united ; for
the poverty of a country is feldom the occafion of

• See the Hiftory of Florence, Book II. at the beginning.

- B 2 dif-

4 Political Discourses upoit Book I.'

diflenfions : in proof of which, we might alledge if
neceflary the concord of the Ragufans, as well as of
the inhabitants of fome other cities that have been
built in fuch fituations. And without doubt fuch a
choice would be both a very prudent and advantage-
ous one, if men could be content with their own,
and not covet the poflefiions of others. But fince the
depravity of human nature is fuch, that it is impofTiblc
for any one to live in fecurity, unlefs he fortifies him-
felf with power, it is better to build in a fertile
country, where plenty of all things will make the in-
habitants increafe, and enable them not only to de-
fend themfelves againfl any attack, but to humble
thofe that fhouid dare to oppofe their rifing fortune.
As for the idlenefs which fuch abundance may occafion,
it may be prevented by proper laws, according to the
example of feveral wife Legiflators, who, having
lived in fuch pleafant and fruitful countries as na-
turally incline men to be lazy and unfit for honed
induftry, have always obviated the inconveniencies
which otherwife muil have happened, by laying thole
citizens who were defigned for Soldiers, under a ne-
ceiFity of ufng hard labour and exercife, which ren-
dered them better Soldiers than thofe who had been
bred up in rough and barren countries. Of this, the
Kingdom of Egypt may ferve for an example; which,
though one of the mod delightful countries in the
World, availed itfelf however of wife laws and re-
Itridions in fuch a manner, that it produced many
brave and excellent men, whofe adlions, if the me-
mory of them had not been almoft extinguiilied
by time, would have been more extolled than thofe of
Alexander the Great, and feveral others which are
ftiil held in fo much admiration*'^ For whoever
confiders the Government of the Soldans, the dilci-
pline of the Mamalucs and the reft of their Soldiery,
before they were conquered by Selim the Grand Turk,

* Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona
Multi, led onines illacr> mahiles
Urgentur, ignotic^ue lon^i
Ncfle. Hor. Book III. Ode ix.


Chap. I. • The First Decad of Livy; ij

will find many admirable regulations with regard to
their forces ^ from whence ic may eafily be perceived
how apprehenfive they were of their being enervated
by that idlenefs to which the benignity of the climate
mull naturally have inclined them, if it had not been

Online LibraryNiccolò MachiavelliThe works of Nicholas Machiavel ... : translated from the originals : illustrated with notes, annotations, dissertations, and several new plans on the Art of war (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 44)