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

. (page 24 of 44)
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 24 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


troops, what can money do, of what account is an
advantageous fituation^ or the affection of Subjeds,
who v/ill quickly delert him when they find he is not
able to procedl them ? Every Mountain-, every Lake
or Sea, is paffable, and every Fortrefs (however im-
,pregn^ble foever it may be thought) is accefTible
where there are not proper forces to defend it : and as
for plenty of money and trealure, inllead of fecuring
a Scate^ it often expofes it 10 great danger, and fome-
times proves the caufe of its ruin, by tempting others
to -invade it: fo that nothins: can be more falfe and
abfurd than the common layin-g, that money is the finews
'{)f war, Quintus Curtius has however advanced this
opinion, in the account which he gives of the war be«
twixt Anti pater the Macedonian, and the King of
Sparta •, where be tells us that the latter was in fo
great want of money that he was forced to come to
an engagement v/ith the enemy upon fuch unequal
terms, that he was utterly routed : whereas, if he
could have avoided fighting but a few days, he would

R 4 have



248 Political DscouRSEs upoK Book IL

have received news of Alexander's death, and might
have gained a vtdiory without ftriking a flroke : but
as he had no money, and was afraid his troops would
defer: for want of pay, he was under a neceffity of
trying the fortune of a battle ; from' whence the above-
mentioned Author infers, that money is the finews of
war. 1'his Maxim, though founded neither upon
truth nor reafon, is neverthelefs in luch general vogue
at prefent, that feveral Princes (not very wife ones in-
deed) regulate their proceedings according to it •, not
confidering that if money alone could fupport and de^
fend them againft ail enemies and dangers, Darius
would not formerly have been conquered by Alex-
ander, nor the Greeks by the Romans, nor Duke
Charles * by the Swifs a little v/hile ago -, nor would
the Pope and the Florentines have met with any dif-
ficulty m reducing Francifco Maria, Nephew to Ju-
lius II. in the war of Urbino, which happened but the
other day. Yet all the above mentioned Princes and
States were fairly beaten by others who thought good
troops and not money were the Sinews of war. Crse-
fus King of Lydia having entertained Solon, the Athe-
nian Lawgiver, with many other fplendid and magni-
ficent fights, at laft took hirn to fee his Trealury,
which was full of filver and gold ; and afking him, " if
he did not think him exceedmg powerful," Solon an-
fwered, " he did not look upon him to be at all the
more powerful upon that account, becaufe war was
made with iron, and not with filver and gold ; and if
he (hould be invaded by any one that had more of the
former, he would foon be flripped of the latter."
Every body likevvife knows that when a vaft inunda-
tion of the Gauls poured themfelves into Greece and
other parts of Ana, after the death of Alexander the
Great, and fent Ambalfadbrs to conclude a treaty of
agreement with the King of Macedon, that Prince was
fo imprudent to fhew them the immenfe treafures he
was polTcHed of, in order to difplay his great power.



• Of Milan,

and



Chap. X. fJTHE FiRSt Dec ad of Livy. 249

and to difcourage them from attacking him : upon
which, the Gauls were fo impatient to enrich them-
felves with thole fpoils, that they declined any treaty
with him, and immediately fell upon his dominions
with fuch fury, that what he had principally confided
in for his fecurity and defence, proved the chief caufe
of his ruin. We might alio mention the more recent
example of the Venetians, who having accumulated a
vaft quantity of money, found fo little benefit from ic
when they had moll occafion for afiiilance, that being
attacked not long ago by the Emperor and Lewis XII.
of France, they preiently loll all their dominions upon
the Terra firma.

J fay then, that good Soldiers, and not money (ac-
cording to the vulgar opinion) are the Sinews of war :
for money alone is not fufficient to provide a good
armv; but a good army will always provide itfelf with
money. If the Romans had been fimple enough to
depend upon money only in their wars, the treafure
of the whole world would not have fufficed to carry
them through their vaft encerprizes abroad, and the
difficulties they met with at home : but as they availed
themft'lves chiefly of iron, they were fo far from want-
ing gold, that people who ilood in awe of their arms,
brought it in abundance to their own doors : and if
the above mentioned Xing of Sparta was necefiitated
by fcarcity of money to rilquea Battle, it was no more
than what has happened to feveral other Commanders
from different caufes. For it has often chanced thac
an army has been fo ftraitened for provilions, that it
muft either perilh by hunger or come to an engage-
ment : in which cafe the latter refolution has con-
flantly been taken, as the moil honourable, and in
which a general may pofiibiy be in fome meafure be-
friended by Fortune. Again, it frequently happens
that when a Commander has intelligence that the
enemy is going to be reinforced, he muft either en-
gage them immediately, or wait till their fuccours ar-
rive, and then be obliged fight them at a very great
difadvantage. Or laftly, it might fare with him as ic

did



%5P Political Discourses upon Book H.

did with Afdrubal, when he was iurpriftd by Claudius
Nero in the Country of the Piceni : in which circum-
(lances, he muft either retreat and be ruined without
any pofTibility of retrieve, or hazard a Battle as Af-
drubal did at all events, though with linlep.'^bability
of fuccefs.

There are feveral caufes we fee whicli may force a
General to fight contrary to his defire and intention ;
and if want of money fometimes happens to be one,
it is not reafonable upon that account merely, to lay
that money alone is the finews of war, Vv'hen fo many
other circumfbmces and wants may reduce him to the
fame neceffity. I mufl therefore repeat what I faid
above, that money is not the finews of war, but good
forces : it is a necefTary article to be fure, but yet an
army willeafily find means to furmount the want of it;
for it is as impoffible that good Soldiers fhould want
money, as that money only ihould either make or pro-
cure good Soldiers. The truth of this is evident from
a thoufand pafTages in Hiftory, notwithdanding fome
one may obje<!it perhaps, that Pericles encouraged the
Athenians to engage in a war againft the united forces
of ail Peloponefus, by telling them they were fo ricli
and powerful, they could not fail of fuccefs. The
Athenians accordingly liflened to his advice: but
though their arms profpered for a while, they came
off with the woril: at lalt, and found to their coft that
all their money and power were not a match for the
valour and difcipline of the Spartan Veterans. A re-
iDarkable pafTage in Livy might ferve as a further
proof of my pofition, if any v;as yet wanting : for
propofing it as a queftion whether Alexander the
Great would have been able to conquer the Homans
if he had turned his arms upon Italy, he lays, there
are three things abfolutely necefTary to carry on a war
with vigour, good Soldiers, jiood Commanders^ and
good fortune; and then having confidered v^hich fid^
■was the more powerful i!i thoie three points, he con-
cludes his comparifon without faying fo much as one
word concerning money, it is probable that the

Cam-



Chap. XL The First Decad of Livy. 251

Campanians of whom we fpake in the lad chapter,
computed their ftrength by their riches, and not by
the croodnels of their troops, when at the folicitation
of the Sidicines, they took up arms in their favour
againft the Samnites : for after they had fo done they
were twice routed, and at laft forced to fubmic and
become tribuiary to the Romans, in order to fave
|;he^ilelves from utter ruin and flavery.



C H A P. XL

Ti^at it is imprUiknt to enter into an Alliance with a
Prince, whofe Repuiation is greater than his Strength.

LIVY has well exprefTed the error of the Sidicines in
tr'jflin^ :<> the afliftancvr of the Campanians, and
that ot the Campanians in thinking themfelves al^le
to dtfcnd them, '' Campani magis nomen in auxilium
Sidicinorum, fays he, qiiam vires ad prasiidium at-
tuleruiu. The Campanians brought more reputation
than ftrength to the relief of the Sidicines," From
whence we may obferve that Alliances contracted with
Princes who are either at too great a diftance, or too
weak, or cabarrafTed in their own affairs, are rather
honourable than fafe to thofe that confide in them.
Of this we have an exairple in the cafe of the Flo-
rentines, when they were invaded in the year 1479 by
the Pope and the King of Naples : for though they
were at that time in alliance with the King of France,
it was rather a credit than any material lervice to them :
and the very fame that happened to the Florentines
and Campanians, would happen to any other Italian
State that fhoula truft to the Emperor for fuccour
upon any emergency. The Campanians therefore
were guilty of a great error, in thinking their ftrengrh
more confiderable than it really was: but fuch is the
fplly of mankind, that they often undertake to pro-
tedt others, when they are not able to defend them-
fclyes : as the Tarentincs likewife did, who, when the

Roman



252 . Political Discourses UPON Book II.

Roman army had taken the field againft the Sam-
nites, fent AmbafTadors to acquaint the Roman Ge-
neral it was their pleafure there (hoiild a peace be-
twixt the two Srates, and that they would turn their
arms acyainll: which fide foever fhould refufe their me-
diation. But that General laughing at the imperti-
nence of the Embafn' commanded a charge to be
founded immediately in the prelence of the AmbafTa-
dors, and led on his troops to engage the enemy, fhew-
ing them by deeds and not by words, > what fort of
anfvver he thought they defer ved. Having now
pointed out fomiC errors which States fall into in de-
fending others, I fhall fay fomeching in the next
chapter, concerning the meafures they ought to pur-
fue for their own defence.



CHAP. XIL

Whether^ upon the expeBation of a war^ it is letter to in"
■ vade the Enemy, or to fujtain an Invafion.

I HAVE heard it debated fometimes amongll able
and experienced Commanders, whether (when one
Prince has declared war againft another, and they are
both nearly equal in llrength) it is better for him that
has received fuch a declaration, to wait till he is at-
tacked, or to be beforehand with the enemy and carry
the war into his country. And indeed there is much
to be faid in fupport of both opinions. Thofe that
are for carrying the war into the Fnemy's country,
quote the advice which Crgefus gave Cyrus, when he
arrived upon the confines of the MelTagetae with a de-
lign to make war upon them, and Thomyris their
Queen ftnt to let him know, '' that if he pleafed he
might enter her dominions, and fhe would be ready
with her forces to receive him there ; or if he did not
like that, flie would snJvance to attack him where he
then was." Upon which, a Council being called,
Crasfus, in oppofition to all the reft of the Counfel-

lorsj



Chap. XII. The First Ditcad of LiVy. 253

Jors, advifed him to march diredlly ngainfl: her j for if
he fhoald defeat her at a dillance from home, he muft
not in that cafe hope to make himfelf Matter of her
kingdom, becaufe fhe would have time to recruit her
broken forces and make freili head againft him there :
but if he beat her in her own territories, they muft
certainly fall into his hands •, fince he might purfue
his vidlory in fuch a manner as to prevent her from
ever repairing the lofs. The Advocates on this fide
likewife alledge the counfel that Hannibal gave An -
tiochus, when that Prince had refolved to engage in
a war with the Romans, afTuring him, that if they
ever could be beaten it muft be in Italy, becaqfe there
an Invader might avail himfelf of their own arms^
their own monev, and their own allies ; but if he en-
tered the lifts with them any whtrre elfe, and fufFered
them-to continue unmolefted in Italy, he would leave
them a fource of fupplies that would never fail them
upon any occafion whatfoever ; and concluded with
telling him, that he might fooner difpofiefs them of
Rome itfclf, than of any other City, and of Italy
moreeafily than any other Province in their Empire *.
The condu6l of Agathocles the Sicilian, is alfo in-
ftanced upon this occafion, who being at war with the
Carthaginians, and not able to cope with them at
home, tranfported an army into Africa, where he fuc-
ceeded fo well, that he forced them to fue for peace :
and laflly, that of Scipio, who, to fave Italy, attacked
the lame people in their own country.

Thofe that take the other fide of the quefllon, main-
tain, on the contrary, that it is the beft way to drav/
the enemy to a diftance from his own dominions : in
fupport of which, they adduce the example of the
Athenians, who were always vi(5lor!OUS when the fe;ic
of war lav in their own counfv, but foon loft their
liberties af-er they removed it into Sicily. They like-
wife avail themfelves of the ftory of Antsus iht: Egyp-

• See this queftion fully dirciafled in PaoiQ Paruta's Political Dif-
courfes, book I. difc. v,

7 tian,



254 Political Discourses t;t>dN Book It^

tian, who being invaded by Hercules, King of Libya,
was invincible whilft he oppofed him at home ; buc
being drawn abroad by the artifice of his enemy, he
loft both his Kingdom and his life together. From
hence arofe the Fable of Antaeus, who being born of
the earth, received frefh vigour from his mother every
time he was thrown down in the conflidt he had with
Hercules; buc the latter being aware of that at laft,
lifted him up from the ground, and fqueezed him to
death betwixt his arms. As to modern inftances, fay
they, every one knows, that Ferdinand, King ot Na-
ples, who was efteemed a very wife Prince, being in-
formed about two years before he died, that Charles
theVIIIth of France defigned to invade his dominions,
made all necelTary difpofitions to receive him there :
but falling fick, he advifed his fon Alphonfoupon his
death-bed, to wait the arrival of the French in his own
Kingdom, and not be tempted to let his forces go out
of it upon any account whatfoever. The Son, how-
ever, paying no regard to this advice, fent an army
into Komagna, which being ruined there without
jftriking a ftroke, his Kingdom fell a Sacrifice to the
J'rench.

But there are other arguments befides thefe, which
might be urged on each (ide. For, it may be faid in
favour of the Invader, that he fhews more refolution
than he that (lays till he is attacked at home-, which
certainly mud infpire his forces with great confidences
that he deprives the enemy of many fuccours and ad-
vantages, which he might otherwife make ufe of to
his prejudice ; for when his country is laid wafte, and
hisfubjefts fo plundered and harraffed, that he cannot
tell how to exad any frefh fuppiies, all refources arc
cut 'off, the Magazines are exhaufled, and the foun-
tain being dried up (as Hannibal faid) the ftreams
mull of courfc foonfail, fo that he will not be able to
fupport the war for want of provifions : and laftly,
that the Invaders being in an enemy's country, and
under a ne^efTity of lighting for their daily fuftenance,
that necePiity, (if there were no other n:iotives) will

make



Chap. XIL The First Degad of Livt. 255

make them not only refolute and courageous, but del-
perate, as we have faid elfewhere. On the other hand
it may be faid, that he who is invaded has thefe ad-
vantages : in the firft place, he has it in his power to di-
ftreis the enemy greatly in point of provifions, and many
other thing's without which an army cannot fubfift : in
the next, he may often fruUrate his dcfigns by being
fo much better acquainted with the nature of the
country: he may likewife bring more forces into the
field, as he will be able to coliccl all that he has into
one body there if he pleafes, though he could not
tranfport them all into another country; and that if he
ihould chance to lole a battle, he may foon repair the
iofs and face his enemy again, as many of his troops
will find means to efcape to places of fafety not far
off, and other recruits may prefently be drawn toge-
ther from th-e neighbouring towns: lo that in this cafe
you venture but part of your fortune, upon the whole
of your force : whereas in the other, you hazard your
whole fortune upon part of yourflrength only. Some
have fuffered an enemy not only to advance two or
three days march into their country, but to take feve-
ral towns, that fo when their army was weakened by
leaving garrifons in them all, they mi«ght be engaged
with m.ore probability of fuccefs.

But to fpeak my own opinion of the matter, I think
this diftindlion ought to be made. Your people are
either warlike and well difciplined, as the Romans
were formerly and the Swifs are at prefent ; or they
are otherwife, like the Carthaginians of old, and the
French and Italians in thefe times. In the latter cafe
endeavour by all means to keep an enemy at a dif-
tance : becaufe your ftrength confiiling chiefly in your
revenues, and not in the confidence you have in your
Subjects, whenever your revenues are interrupted or
cut off, you are certainly undone : and nothing con-
tributes more fpeedily and efFed;ually to this, than a
war in your own country. In proof of this, we might
produce the example of the Carthaginians, who were
ftrong enough to cope with the Ramans whilft their
S revenues



2^6 Political Discourses upo^^ Book IL

revenues continued entire and undifturbed ; but when
they were attacked at home, they could not make
head even againft Agathocles. The Florentines,
likewife, though they could not fecure themfelves
againft Caftruccio Caftracani, Lord of Lucca, when
he carried the war into their country, by any other
means than becoming fubjed to Robert, King of Na-
ples •, yet had courage enough after Caftruccio was
dead, to attack the Duke of Milan in his own domi-
nions, with a defign to have deprived him of them ;
fo courageous were they when they made war abroad,
and fo pufillanimous when it was brought to their own
doors. But if your country is in a good pofture of
defence, and your people warlike and well armed, like
the Romans in former times, and the Swifs at this
day, the nearer an enemy approaches, the harder he
muft find it to fubdue you : for in fuch a cafe, you
will be able to raife more forces to defend yourfelf,
' than you pofTibly could have done to invade others.
The advice therefore which Hannibal crave Antiochus
upon the like occafion is not much to be regarded, as
it proceeded from refentment and felf-intereft : for if
the Romans had received three fuch defeats in Gaul,
and in fo fhort a time as they did from Hannibal in
Italy, without doubt they would have been utterly
ruined-, fince they could neither have availed them-
felves of the remainder of their forces, nor had an op-
portunity of repairing their lofTes, nor of exerting their
utmoft ftrength and refources, as they did at home.
For we do not find that they ever fent out an army
that confifted of above fifty thoufand men to conquer
any State abroad •, but when they were invaded by
the Gauls after the conclufion of the firft Punic war,
the forces they raifed amounted to eighteen hundred
thoufand : nor could they have beaten the fame peo-
ple afterwards whilft they remained in I.^ombardy, as
they did when they had advanced into Tufcany : be-
caufe they would not have been able to oppofe them
with the fame force or the fame advantages at fuch a

' * diftance.



Chap. XIIF. The First Decad of Livy. 257

diflancc *. The Cimbri gave the Romans fuch aa
overthrow in Germany, that they never could make
head againft them in that country afterwards : but
when they penetrated into Italy, where the Romans
were enabled co employ their whole force againd them,
thfy were foon vanquifhed and driven back agair.
The Swifs may eafily be conquered abroad, becaule
they cannot fend an army ot above thirty or forty
thoufand men at moft into a foreign country ; but ic
is no eafy matter to get the better of them at home,
where they can afifemble at leaft an hundred dioufand
effedlive men. I fay again therefore, that a Prince
v;hofe country is in a good pufture of defence, and his
fubjeds well armed and inured to war, fnould always
receive a powerful and dangerous enemy at homiC ;
and never ftir out of his own dominions to meet him.
But if his country is open, and hisfubjetts unacquainted
with arms, let him endeavour by all means to keep
his. enemy as far oif as he poffibly can. And thus by
ading according to thefc circumftances, he will be
bcfl able to defend himfelf in either cafe.



CHAP. XIII.

That men more frcqiiend-; advance themfdves hy guile and

artifice tba?i hy force,

T very feldom or never happens that men of low
condition advance themfelves to any confiderable
height of grandeur, without having recourfe both to
fraud and violence ; unlefs they fucceed to it by do-
nation, or right of inheritance. Nor do I know of
any inffance in which violence alone has been fuffi-
cient for that purpofe \ though many might be enu-
merated wherein it has been effected folcly by fraud
and deceit, as will plainly appear to any one that reads
the lives of Philip of Macedon, Agathocles the Si-

* See Chap. viii. of this book.

Vol. hi. S cilian.



2^3 Political Discourses upon Book II.

cilian, and others like them, who raifed themfelves
from a private, or rather bafe and abjedt condition, to
rule over great Kingdoms and Empires. Xenophon
in the life of Cyrus jQiews the necefTity of artifice •,
for the firii expedition which that Prince is there fup-
pofed to make againft the King of Armenia is full of
^viles, and the fuccefs of it entirely owing to fraud
and cunning without any mixture of force. From
whence one may reafonably conclude that he thinks it
neceifary for a Prince who would efFed great things,
that he fhould learn to deceive. Bcfides which, he
reprelents him as deceiving Cyaxares, King of Media,
his Uncle by the mother's fide, in many inltances •,
and infinuates that without fo doing, he never could
have attained to that height of greatnefs which he af-
terwards did *. In fliort, 1 am firmly perluaded that

* Upon this pafTage Daeres fays, " becaufe this whole chapter tends
to fhew how necefiary guile is lor a Prince's advantage, and it is again
recommended by precept in MachiavePs treatile of a Prince, I cannot
but take notice that here he is blameable. *' Dolus, an virtus, quis
in hofte requirat ?" is not meant " de dole maio," fuppofed by Ma«
chiavel in his Prince, chap. xix. where he perfviades a Prince to ufe the
Lyon's force and the Foxe's crafte. To bee able in all military flrata-
gems and fleights to circumvent an enemy is one of the moft requiiite
and notable parts in a commander ; provided there be no breach of
faith nor oath violated : for as TuUy fays, " eit jus jurandum affirma-
tio religiofa : quod autem affirmare, quali Deo telle, promiferis, id te-
nendum eft." It is much unworthy of a Prince (lays a worthy late
author) to falfify his word either to an enemy or fubje6t ; and the more
villanie is it to ufe covert fraud than open violence, becaufe the
enemy lyes more open by giving credit to his faith j ** 8c fraus dillrin-
git, non difolvit, perjurium.*' And with how much more folemnity
rrinces oaths are ordinarily taken, methinks fo much the more fince- ■
litie ought they to cai ry with them, having drawn together many !
eyes and ears as witneHes of their truth or fallhood. I fliall conclude
then with Tacitus in the fourth of his Annals, " Ceteris mortalibus
' in eo ftant coniilia, quod fibi conducere putant j principum diverfa
fors eft, quibus prxeipua rerum ad famam dirigenda." Let us hear
honeft Montaigne upon this matter. " As to this virtue of hypocrify
and dilfimulatjon, which is now fo much in requeft, (lays he, book II»
chap. xvii. of his Elfays, I mortally hate it j and of all vices find none
that Ihews fo much bafenefsand meannefs of Spirit. 'Tis a cowardly
and fervile humour for a man to hide and difguife hirnlell under a vi-
zard, and not dare to ftiew himfelf what he is. By this our follower
are trained up to treachery} for being brought up to fpcak what h
not true, they make no confcience of a lye. A generous heart ought
not to give the lye to its own thoughts, but will make itlelf leea
within, where all is good, or at leait humane. Ariftotle leputes it



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 24 of 44)