Niccolò Machiavelli.

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nerals, over-run the Kingdom of Parthia for many
days together, with a fmall number of horfe, but a
good army of foot ; though the Parthians had a vaft '
army of horfe to oppofe them : CralTus, indeed, and
part of his forces were flain ; but Anthony came off
with great honour. Neverthelefs, it was clearly icsa
in that diitrefsful expedition, that Infantry are much
more fcJTviccable than Cavalry : for though they were


^<^2 Political Discourses upon Book II.

^n a plain open country, where there were very few
mountains, and Hill fewer rivers, to iupply them with
necelTary cover and other conveniencies, at a greac
diftance from the fea-coafl, and without any hopes of
relief ; yet Antliony conducted himfelf and his
forces fo well (to the great admiration of the Par-
thians themfelves) that their army of horfe, though
fo numeraus, never durd attack him : as to CrafTus,
whoever reads the hiftory of that war, will find that
he v/as rather trepanned by the f2lfeh^:»od than over-
come by the valour of the enemy, v iiO would not
venture to attack him in all his diftrefi'es, till they
had fir ft reduced him and his army to extreme want
snd mifery by hovering about him at a diftance, and
cutting Oif inllead of furnifhing thole fupplies which
they had promifed him.

But why ihould we go fo far back for proofs of the
fuperiority of Infantry, when we may have fo many
nearer home, and of more recent date ? Nine thou-
fand Swifs (as I faid in the lad Chapter) attacked an
army of ten thoufand horfe, and as many foot, en-
camped at Novara, and beat them without the afiift-
ance either of Cavalry or Artillery : for the horfe
could not come at them to do them any harm ; and
as to the foot they made light of them, becaufe they
were moftly Gafcons and very ill difciplined. Since
Vv'hich, twenry-fix thoufand Swifs had the courage to
march into the Milanefe after Francis I. the French
King, v/hofe army confided of twenty thoufand horfe
£nd forty thoufand foot, with an hundred pieces of
cannon : and if they did not beat the French, as they
had done at Novara, yet they fought them bravely
for two whole days together; and at laft, after they
were defeated, brought off above one half of their
army fafe. Marcus Attilius Regulus formerly oppof-
ed his Infantry, not only to the enemy's horfe, but
to their Elephants : and though indeed the fuccefs
did not anfwer his cxpeftation, yet it is a proof how
much conlidence he put in them, and that he thought
them equal co any undertaking : I fay again there-

Chap. XVIII. The First Decad of Livv,^ 285
fore, that a well difciplined body of Infantry cannot
be orokcn, but by another that is better : and that
to attempt i' is only fo much labour loft. In the time
of Philip Viiconti Duke of Milan, about fixteen
thouland Swifs marched into Lombardy ; againfl
"whom the Duke fenc his General Carmignuola with
a thouiand horfe and fome Infantry. 1 hat Com-
inander being unacouainted with their manner of
fighting, took it for granted that his horfe would
break them, at the firft attack : but finding they Hood
firm and impenetrable in their ranks, and having loft
a great many of his men, he was forced to retreat.
However, as he vv'as an able officer, and fertik in ex-
pedients to remedy any fudden misfortune, after he
had received a freih ibpply of forces, he went in pur-
fuit of the enemy again ; and coming up with them,
he caufed his Gens d' armes to difmounr, and placing
them in the front of his Infantry, he fell upon the
Swifs and prefently defeated them : for his Cuirafiiers
being then on foot, and armed at all points, ealily
broke int their ranks and made fuch a llaughter of
them, without receiving any damage themfelves, that
none of them efcaped, except fuch as Carmignuola,
out of his humanity, thought fit to ipare. Many, I
am certain, are fully perfuaded that foot are m.ore
vjfeful than horfe : yet fuch is the infatuation of the
prefent times, that neither the authority of ancient or
modern examples, nor the convidtion of their error,
is fufficient to make our Princes corred their miftakes,
and prevail upon them to acknowledge that in order
to reftore the credit of their Sold ery, it is necefTary
to revive the ancient difcipline, to keep troops of
their own, to encourage them, to put life and vicrour
into them, and to make them refpedable ; that fo
they in their turn may likewife refiect honour and re-
putation upon their Mafters. But fince they deviate
from thele Rules, and the others above mentioned ;
vhat little acquiHcions they happen to make, contri-
bute rather to the prejudice and diminution, than


2S4 Political Discourses upon Book II. '

aggrandizement of their States, as I fhall fhev/ pre*
icntly *.


fhai acquifuions made by Repuhlics zvhich are ill governed^
and contrary to the Model cf the Romajts, contribute
[email protected] their ruin^ injiead cf their exaltation.

TO thefe ill grounded opinions, confirmed by the
abTurd pradice of this corrupted age, it is ow-
ino- that Princes never think of reforming; their er-
rors and reviving the ancient military difciphne.
V/ho could ever have perfuaded an Italian thirty years
aoro, that nine or ten thoufand well dilciplined foot
diuft attack ten thoufand horie and as many toot in
an open plain, and were able to beat them, as they '
adually did at Novara ; an inftance which I have
quoted more than once before ? For though Hiftory
abounds v;ith fuch examples, yet they either meet
with no credit at all ^ or if any one feems to believe
them, they never fail to object, that the armour now
made ufe of is fo much better than that of the an-
cients, that one fquadron of our Gens d'arms would
make an impreffon not only upon a body of foot,
but even upon a rock. With fuch fimple excufes
they deceive themfelves and impofe upon their own ^
judgment ; though they muft know that Lucullus
with a fmall arnr^'of Infantry, routed one of an hun-
dred and fifty thoufand horfe under the command of
Tic^ranes, in v^hich there was a great number of Cui-
rariiers armed exadly in the fame manner that ours
are at prefent. The weaknefs of thefe opinions
therefore, we have feen fully proved at the expence
of other nations alio, as appears from this example
in particular : and fince what is related in Hiftory
concerning the excellency of Infantry holds good, wc

Se'? the Art of War, Book II.


Chap. XIX. The First Decad of'Livy. 285

ought to give no lefs credit to what is recorded to the
advantage of feveral other ancient Inflitutions that
have be'^n recommended : in which cafe, both Princes
and Republics would find themfelves cxpofed to fewer
dangers, better able to fuftain any enemy, and noc
have the mortification of feeing their forces fo fre-
quently obliged to fly as they now do. And rhofe
who are at the head of a Commonwealth, would find
it much more eafy to accomplifli their purpofes, whe-
ther they defign to extend their dominion, or only to
maintain what they already pofTefs, if they were con-

-vinced, that to fill their country full of inhabitants,
to make allies and confederates rather than abfoiutc
flaves of the people they conquer, to eftabliHi Co-
lonies for the fecurity of what they have acquired, to
convert the fpoils of an enemy into funds for the ufe
the State, to annoy them with incurfions and field
battles, and not embarrafs themfelves with Sieges, to
make the Public rich, and private men poor, and to
employ all their care and attention to keep up good
military difcipline in full force, are the betl v/ays to
aggrandize a Republic and enlarge its Empire. But

, if thefe methods are not adopted, let them remem^
ber however, that any other will prove their ruin i
for which reafon, they ought to curb their ambition,
and (inftead of endeavouring to extend their domi*
nion) to turn their thoughts only upon regulating their
laws and interior polity in fuch a manner as may bed
enable them to defend themfelves and what they have
already got, like feveral free States in Germany, which,
by fo doing, have lived happily and undidurbed for
a lonof ccurte of years.

Neverthelefs (as I have faid elfewhere, in difcourf-
ing upon the dificrent conduA that is to be obferved
in order to eniarge dominion, from that whrrh is ne-
cefiTary only to fecure what has been acquired before)
it is impoflible that any Republic lliould continue long
quiet and enjoy its liberty and dominions, how fmall
foever, in tranq\]illity : for though it fhould not mo-
kll others, it will neyerthslefs be molelted by them :


2^6 Political Discourses upon BooklL'

and by being thus provoked, it will not only become
defirous, but lie under a neceifity of revenging itfelf
and reducing its neighbours : but if it fhould be ^o
fortunate as not to have any foreign enemies, it will
be fure to fall into facfbixjns and divifions at home, as
it always happens in fuch Governments. That the
free States in Germany have continued fo long in
peace and liberty, is owing to feme peculiar circum-
ftances in that country which are not to be found in
any other, and without which they could nop fubfift.
That part of Germany which 1 now fpeak of was
formerly fubjed to the Romans, like France and
Spain : but when the Roman State was upon the de-
cline, and the title of Empire transferred to Germany^
fon^.e of the moft powerful Cities in that Province tak-
ing advantage either of the pufillanimity or diftrefs of
the Emperors, (hook off their yoke, and others be-
came in a manner abfolutely free, on condition of
paying only a fmall annual tribute : fo that all the
States which were immediately fubjed to the Em-
perors and no other Prince, by degrees recovered
their liberty. It happened about the fame time that
feveral Corporations dependent upon the Duke of
i^uftria, as Fribourg ^^ the Swifs, and fome others,
revolted from him, and having re-eftabli(hed their
freedom, became fo ftrong and powerful in a fliors
time, that they not only defended themf^lves effec-
tually againft his utm.oft endeavours to reduce them
to obedience, but grew formidable to all their neigh-*
hours ; and thefe are now called the Swifs Cantons*
Germany then is divided betwixt the Emperor, the
Swifs, the Princes or Elecflors, and certain little Re-
publics called the Free States f : and the reafon that

• The original fays, Filiborgo, Phillpfbourg, but that mufl be a mif-
take of the Authoi-.

f The Imperial Cities, or Hans-towns. The former are Sovereign
States, and fend their Deputies or Repreientatives to the General Diets
or Parliaments of the Empire. The latter are alfo Sovereign States,
not differing from the Imperial Cities at prefent, but were about two
liundred years ago allied or confederated for their mutual defence and
Xht pfOt«^tion of their trade, and at firft cgiu'ifted only of the great


chap. XIX, The First Decad of Livy. 2S7
fo few wars, and thofe of fliort connnuance, happea
betwixt States fo differenily conftiruted, is the refpect
that they all pay to the Emperor, who, though his
power is not very great, has lb much reputation and
authority amonglt them, that whenever any quarrel
arifes betwi.ft them, he inrerpofes as a Mediator, and
foon puts an end to it. The iharpeil and longelt wars-
in that Country have been betwixt the Swils and the
Dukes of Aufbria : and though the Title of Emperor
has been in the Houfe of Auftria for many years»
they never could get the better of the Swifs, nor
could any quarrel be ever decided betwixt them buc
by the fword : for the other States of Germany did
not furnifh the Emperors v^ith any afilflance in thofe
wars, becaufe the Free Cities rather favoured the Swifs
as being friends to liberty like themfelves ; and as tO'
the Princes, fome of them were fo poor that they
could not, and others fo jealous of the imperial power
that they would not contribute to make itftill greater;K
Thefe Communities therefore, live quietly and un>-
molefted in pofleffion of their own little territories*,
without encroaching upon thofe of others, being all
kept in peace by the authority of the Emperor : and
what makes them united at home is the apprehenfion
they are under from fo near an enemy, who would
not fail to take the opportunity of any divifions that
might happen amongil them, to reduce them into
fubjeftion to him, and deprive them of their liberties.
But if Germany was not thus balanced, fome of thefc
States would be endeavouring to enlarge their domi^
'nions, and confequently there muft foon be an end
of their tranquillity : and as no other Country is cir-
cumftanced in the fame manner, no other Republics
can enjoy the fame freedom -, and therefore thofe thac
find it necefTary to extend their territory at the expence
of their neighbours, muft either have recourfe to

Sea-Dort towns on the German Ocean or tlie Baltic Sea, and near the
niGuths of their great rivers: but afterwards tiiey took, many inland
Cities into their alliance, monopolized moit of the trade i-n Europe,
and were a formidable maritime^Povver.


2 88 Political Discourses upon Book II,

Leagues and Confederacies, or proceed as rhe Romans
did of old : whoever takes any orher courle, inftead of
aggrandizing his Country, will certainly ruin it. For
new conquelts are dangerous and prejudicial a thou-
fand ways; as a State may eafiiv enlarge its dominions
without increafing its ftrengJi; in which cafe ruin muft
inevitably eniue : and this happens when the expence
of an Enterprize exceeds the profit that refult? from it,
even though it is fuccefsful. Thus the Venetians were
much weaker when they became poiTefied ot Lom-
bardy, and the Florentines after they had conquered
all Tufcany, than when the former were concent with
the domiijion of the Adriatic, and the latter with a
territory that did not exceed fix miles in extent*; and
this was owing to their ambition of making acquifi-
tions, and not knowing how to maintain them: for
which they were the more inexcufable as they had the
example of the Romans immediately before their eyes,
and might have imitated them in the method which
that people obferved upon fuch occafions, if they had
not wifdom enough to flrike it out themfelves as the
Romans did. Btfides, fuch acquifitionsfometimes da
great mifchief even to well governed Commonwealths ;
for inftance, when the State conquered is voluptuous
and effeminate, and the conquerors catch the infedion
by their communication with its inhabitants ; as it
happened to the Romans firft, and afterwards to Han-
nibal, when they had made themfelves Matters of Ca-
pua : for if that City had lain fo near that the Soldiers
could not have been foon reclaimed, or if the Roman
State had been in any degree corrupted, without doubt
that conqueft would have proved the deftrudtion of
their Republic, as we may venture to affirm from what
Livy fays, " Jam tunc minime falubris militari difci-
plinse Capua, inft rumentum omnium voluptatum, de-
linitos militum animos avertit a memoriapatrise : Ca»
pua, at that time the nurfery of all foft pleafures, fa
relaxed the military difcipline, and debauched the

♦ Suppofing Florence to be the center of it at that time.


Chap. XX. The First Decad of Livv. 289

minds of the Soldiers, that they totally forgot their
love and duty to their own Country." And indeed
fuch Ciiies or Provinces fufiiciently revenge themfelves
upon thofe that conquer them, wifhout blows or efFu-
fion of blood : for as the corruption fpreads, and at
kft becomes sencral, it enervates them to fuch a de-
gree that they muft in the end become a prey to any
one that attacks them \ as Juvenal vvell remarks in one
of his Satires, when he is fpeaking of the change of
manners in Rome, the luxury and many other vices
which their conquefts had introduced there in the room
of that temperance, frugality, and other excellent vir-
tues, for which they had been fo remarkable before.

Ssevior arm is
Luxuria incubuic vidlumque ulcifcitur orbem.

What arms could ne'er efrcdl:, dire Luxury
Has done at laft, t' avenge the conquer'd world.

Sat. VI. 291, 292.

If then fuch an acauifition had almofl efFe6ted the
ruin of the Romans, notwithftandingtheirgreatwifdoni
and virtue ; v/hat mufl become of thofe States that are
weak and corrupt ; and befides their other errors and
ill condud, (which I have mentioned above) employ
either mercenary or auxiliary troops, the folly and
dangerof which I fhali make the Subject of the next


lli'w dangerous It is for any Prinre or Repuhlic to
employ either Auxiliary or Mercenary forces.

F I had not difcuffed this point at large in another
part of my works, I Hiould have dwelt longer upon
it in this place than I defign to do at prefent ^. But

* See Ch:ip. xii xiii. xiv. of the Prince, Pol. Difc. book. I. chap. xxi.
xliil. and the Aft ot War, book I.

Vol. III. U as

290 Political Discourses upon Book IL

as 1 have met with a moil remarkable inftance in Livy
how dangerous itis to employ AuxiHaries, I cannot pais
it over without fome notice. By Auxiliaries^ I mean
fuch troops as one State fends to the fuccour of an- .
other, under Olncers of its own, and in its own pay.

That Hiilorian informs us, that after the Komansr
had defeated the Samnites in two battles at different
places, with the forces which they fent to the relief of
the Capuans, and thereby put an end to the war be-
twixt thofe two people, they left two Legions in the
territory of Gapua to fecure it from any further danger
or apprehenfion of the enemy, after the reft of their
forces had returned to Rome. But thofe Legions fink-
ing into indolence and fafcinated by effeminate delights,
began not only to lay afide all remenfibrance of their
own Country and the reverence they ov/ed to the Sa^
nate, but to think of fetting up for themfelves, and
feizing upon the Country which they had defended,-
and which they thought the inhabitants no longer wor-
thy to enjoy, fmce they were not able to prote6t it»
This confpiracy however being timely difcovered by
the Roman Government, was fooa fupprelTed, as v;e
fc\d\\ relate more fully when we come to difcourfe of

I fay again therefore, that of all troops Auxiliaries
are the moft dangerous •, becaufe neither the Soldiers
tior the Officers receiving any pay from you^ bvit from
the Prince or State by whom they are fent, like the
Legions that were leftatCapua, they have little or nc^'
regard either to your intereft or authority : and as foon
as the war is over, if it ends fuccefsfully, they often
plunder thole that employ them, v;ith as little cere-
mony as they did thofe whom they were lent to fight
againft : which is owing fometimes to their own ava-
rice or ambition, and fometimes to that of vheir iVla-
fiers. The Romans had no defign to violate the league
they were in with the Capuans : but their Soldiers
imagining it would be a very eafy matter to feize upon
that State themfelvfs, adually determined upon it.
I could cite many other milances of this kind, but let


Chap. XX. The First Decad of Livy. 291
one more fufHce, namely that of the Regini *, who
were not only plundered and dirpofTcfired of their terri-
tories, but malTacred by a Legion which the Romans
had fent to defend them. A Prince then had better
have recourfe to any other expedient than Auxiliaries,
efpecially when he is to depend chiefly upon them for
his fecurity : for any terms that he can obtain from an
enemy, how hard foever, will be lefs prejudicial to him
than fuch fuccours. Indeed if we either read the Hif -
tory of former times, or confider the prefent with due
attention, we Ihall find a thoufand infiances wherein
they have proved fatal, for one in which they ever did
any fervice to thofe that employed them. An ambi-
tious Prince or Commonwealth therefore cannot b(i
furnifhed with a fairer opportunity of m.aking them-
felves mailers of another State, than by being follicited
to fend fuch troops to its afiiftance : for he that is fo
indifcreet as to call in Auxiliaries not only for his own
defence, but to conquer others, endeavours to make
acqiiifitions which he cannot keep any longer than they
pleafe to let him ; becaufe they can eafily take them
away from him again whenever they have a mind.
But fo blind is the ambition of fome men, that if they
can but gratify their prefent appetites, they never think
of the inconveniencies that mud probably foon enfue :
whereas if they would reflev^ upon the inftances which
we have quoted from ancient Hillory to confirm this
point as well as fome others infifted upon in thefe Dif-
courfes, they would be convinced that the mure gene-
rofity Princes or Republics Ihew to their neighbours,
and the lefs inclination to injure or diflrefs them, the
"more ready they will be to throw themitlves into their
arms, as we fhall prove in the next Chapter, from the
example of the Capuans.

* The inhabitants of Rhegium, now called Reggio, a town in Ca-
labria, almoil oppolite to Meriina. There is another town of the fame
iiaine in Lombardy belonging to the Duke of Modena. •


2^2 Political Discourses upon Book 11,

c K A P. xxr.

The firjl Prcstor the Remans ever fent abroad^ was tst
Capuay four hundred years after they firjl began to
make war,

J E have already fliewh at large how different
the methods which the Romans took to enlarge
their Empire, were from thole that are now piufued
for the fame purpofe ; and how they fuffered thole
States which they did not utterly deilroy, to enjoy their
former liberty, and to live under their own laws -, even
fuch as Vv'ere not joined with them as Confederates, but
had fubmitted to be their Subjeds ; and that without
any orher mark of their dominion over them than fome
few conditions, upon the obfervation of which, they
were protected in their ancient rights and privileges.
This method they followed till they carried their arms
into foreign couniries, and began to reduce the States
and Kingdoms which they conquered into Provinces
fubjedl to their Empire •, as may plainly appear from
the example of the firftPra^cor they ever .lent to any
place (which was to Capua) not out of any ambitious
defign, but becaufe it was follicited by the Capuans,
who had fallen out amongft themfelves, and werede-
iirous to have fome Roman Citizen of authority to
compofe tneir quarrels and reduce them to good order.
This example was foon follov/ed by the inhabitants of
Antium, who being in the like circumuances, volun-
tarily fubmitted to receive a Roman Magiflrate for the
fame purpofes : upon which new method of acquiring
dominion Livy fays, "Qiiod jam non folum arma, {^'iX
jura Romana pollebant : that the Romans now began
to extend their Empire not only by the valour of their
arms, but by the reputation of their Laws." We fee
therefore how much this manner of proceeding contri-
buted to aggrandize their State : for Republics, in
T^articular, that have been ufcd to live in freedom, and


Chap. XXI. The First Decad of Livy. 293

\jnder the government of their own Countrymen, fub-
mic with more husfzdiion to Mailers that are at a dif-
tance (though upon terms that may be fomewhat hard)
than to others that are nearer at hand, and would, they
think, be continually upbraiding ihem with their de«
pendence. There is likewife another advantage refult-
ing from this -, for as the Sovereign does not employ
GHicers of thisovv^n immediate appointm,enc in the ad-
miniftrar.ion of julVice, whatever fentence may be given
cither in civil or capital caufes, cannot excite any
odium againft the Supreme power ; which therefore
exempts it from thofe calumnies and reproaches thaC
muft often ariie from fuch decifions, whether they
bejufl: or unjuft. The truth of this may plainly ap-
pear not only from feveral pafTages in ancient Hiftory,
but from an occurrence Vv'hich lately happened in Italy.
Every one knows that as often as the French ipade
themfcives mailers of Genoa (which has been feveral
times), the King of France always yfed to fend fome-
body thither to govern it in his name : but at prefcnt
he fuffers it (rather out of neceffity than choice) to be
governed by a Genoefe, eledled by his Fellow-citizens :
and v/ithout doubt, whoever confiders which of thefe
two ways befl fecures their obedience to the King, and
is mod: agreeable to the inhabitants, mud needs deter-
mine in favour of the latter. Befides, the lefs inclined
you feem to didrefs men, the lefs apprehenOon they-
will have of your depriving them of their liberties ;
and the more huniane and gentle you fhew yourfelf

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