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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the more cheerfully .they will throw themfelves into
your arms. To this lenity and moderation it was
owing that the Capuans defired the Romans to fend
them a Praetor: but if the latter had (hewn the leait
inclination to intermeddle in their affairs, or ofnciouQy
endeavoured to obtrude fuch a Magiftrare upon them,
they would prefently have taken alarm and driven him
back again.

But what occafion have we to go fo far as Rome or
Capua for examples of this kind ; when we have enow
in Tufcany ? It is well known that Piiloia ionn; ago

U Q volun^.

294 Political Discourses upon Book II.

voluntarily put itfelf under the protedion of the Flo-
rentines J and at the fame time what a bitter enmity
fubfifted betwixt the Florentines and the Fifans, the
Lucchefe^ and the Sienefe •, which diverfny of difpo-
fition did not proceed from the litcle value thePiftoians
fee upon their liberty in comparifon of the others, but
from the different behaviour of the Florentines, who
treated the former like brothers, and the latter like
enemies : upon which account, the Fiftoians willingly
fubmitted to their dominion •, whilfl: the others have
always taken every podible method to defend them-
felves againft them : but if the Florentines, inftead of
exafperating their neighbours by harfh ufage, had be-
haved in a gentle and friendly manner, they would
certainly have been Mailers of all Tufcany at this time.
It is not mv intention however to infer from what has
been here faid, thr*t one cuglu never to proceed wicK
rigour and force of arms upon fuch occafions : but that
they fhould be referved for the laft expedient, when aH
other means have failed. , • . ^

C H A P. xxir.

Thai men often err in the judgment they form concerning

things of great importance,

OW apt mankind are to err in their judgment,
is well known to thofe that have been much
converfant in Councils •, which if not conducted by
wife and able men, are often deceived and impofed
upon : and as fuch men have alv;ays m.any enemies ia
corrupt Commonwealths (efpecially in time of peace),
who oppofe them either out of envy or ambition, that
advice is mod commonly followed, whic his either falfe-
ly thought good, by an error of judgment common
enough to a majority, or given by felf-interefled men,
who have more regard to popularity, than the good
of the Public. But when the pernicious effects of
thefe counfels come to be difcovered in difficult and


Chap. XXII. The F^rst Decad of Livy. 295

xroublefome times, danger and diftrefs make It necef-
(ary to comply with fuch meafures as were recom-
mended, but reiedted and difcountenanced in the calm
and lunfhine of profperity -, as I fnall (hew more ac
large in another place. Several events Jikewife happen,
in judging of which, ^len of fmall experience in pub-
lick affairs may eafily be deceived -, as they are fre-
quently attended with fuch circumftances and proba-
bility of fuccefs, as may induce them to perfuade them-
felves, that the things which they fondly hope for, will
adually come to pafs. This is fully verified by the
advice which Numicius, the Praetor, gave the Latins,
after they had been defeated by the Romans ; and by
what was generally believed not many years ago, when
Francis I. King of France invaded Milan, and the
Swlfs defended it againft him.

After the death of Lewis XII. Francis of Angou-
Jeme fucceeded to the Crov/n, and being defirous to
recover poflefrion of Milan (which the Swifs had made
themfclves mafters of a few years before, by the aiTi-
ftance of Pope Julius II.) endeavoured to make fome
friends in Italy, to facilitate the accomplifhment of
his defigns : for which purpofe, befides the Venetians
(whom King Lewis had fecured before) he endeavoured
to gain over Leo X. and the Florentines to his intercfts ;
imagining he (hould then meet with little or no impe-
diment in that enterprize ; efpecially as the Spanifli
forces were at that time employed in Lonibardy, and
thofe of the Ernperor at Verona. The Pope, however
was not to be prevailed upon to comply with his folli-
icitations ; being perluadtd by his Council (as it is faid)
that if he ftood neuter, he might greatly ferve himfelf
by it : that it was not for the intereil of the Church, to
jhrow any more weight into the fcale, either of the
French or the Swifs : that in order to rcftore the liber-
ty of Italy, it wasneceflary to rid himfelf of them both;
that fmce he was not able to cope with either of them,
much lefs with both, as things then flood, he oug^ht to
lit ftill till one of them had utterly ruined the other,
and then tp call in the affiflance of his allies, and fall

y 4 "po^

2^6 Political Discourses upon Book IL

upon the Conqueror : that he could not have a fairer
opportunity than the prelenr, fince both their armies
were in the field, and his Holinefs's forces were in
fuch order and readinefs, that he might immediately
fend theni to the confines of Lonr.bardy to watch their
motions, under a pretence of guarding his own terri^
tories, but in reality to wait there till they had come
to a battle, which (confidering the bravery of the
troops on both fides) it was reafonable to fuppofe would
be a very bloody one, and muft leave even the Vidlor
in fuch a weak condition, that his Holinefs might foon
crufh him, and with great reputation to himfelf, be-
come no: only mafcer of Lombardy, but Arbiter of ail
Italy. But the event fhewc-d the futility of this coun-
fel : for the Swifs being defeated after a long and ob-
ftinate engagement, the forces ot the Pope and the
King of Spain, were fo far from daring to attack the
P'rench, that they had determined to fly -, but even
that would not have faved them, if either the huma-
nity, or coldnefs of the French King had not inclined
him to reft contented with that viftory, and to come
to an accommodation with the Pope. This advice,
therefore, though plaufible enough at firft fight, will
appear fimple and abfurd upon a nearer examination :
for, it feldom happen?, that he who gains a vidory
lofes many men -, thofe that he does lofe being killed
in battle, not in flight: and in the heat of the fight,
when armies are clofe engaged, many cannot fall,"be-
caufe fuch conflicts are generally foon over ; and, if
they ever chance to lair fo long, that great numbers
are flain, even on the fide of thofe that get the day, yet
fuch is the advantage that refuhs from the reputation
of a vidory, and the terror which it infpires, that ic
more than balances the lofs they fuftain by the death
of theirSoIdiers.

Whoever then fhall think fit to attack fuch an ar-
iTsy, upon a fuppofirion that is muO: be much weaken-
ed, will find himfelf egregioufly miftaken, unlefs his
ftrength be fuch, that he was able to have engaged it,
even before it had fullained any lofs at all : for, in


Chap. XXIII. The First Decad of Livv, 297

that cafe, indeed, he may have a chance to gain a
vidlory, as well as to be defeated, if he be a man of
condudl and abilities, and is befriended by fortune.
But an army that has been already flulhed vAih vido-
ry, will flill have the advantage ; as may appear from
the example of the Latins, when they had been beaten
by the Romans : for Numicius their Praetor, foon af-
ter the battle was over, run all up and down the coun-
try, exhorting them to fall upon the Romans again,
now they were fo much reduced by the late engage-
ment, and had gained nothing but the name of a vic-
tory, having in all other refpedts fuffered as much as
themfelves ; and alTuring his countrymen, that any
new attack, how feeble foever, v/ould certainly ruin
them. In confcquence of which, they raifed another
army, and attacked the Romans a lecond time : but
they foon paid dear for their credulity; for they were
utterly routed vvith great iofs, and treated in fuch a
manner as all thole deferve that iiften to fuch fooiiih


Tbtit the Fsmans always avoided taking a middle courfe^
when they had cccajim to pafs Judgment upon any cf
their Suhjedls.

*' TAM Latio is flatus erat rerum, (fays Livy) ut:
J neque pacem neque bellum pati pofTent. The
Latms were now reduced to fuch a condition than
they could neitlier make war, nor accept of peace."
A condition indeed, of all others, the mod miferable;
but fuch a one as every Prince or Commonwealth
mufl cf necefTuy labour under, that can neither fub-
mit to unreafonabie terms of accommodation on one
hand, nor carry on a war on the other, without either
delivering themfelves up as a prey to auxiliaries, or
being utterly ruined by the enemy. To this wretch-
ed alternative, they are reduced by evil counfels, and
by coming to a determination before they have duly


29^ Political Discourses upon Book II,

confidered their own (Irength, as we have faid before:
which confideration, if properly attended to, would
prevent them from falling into fuch diftrefs as the La
tins did, who made peace with the Ronians, when
they ought to have carried on the war, and declared
war againft them, when they fhould have continued
in peace ; fo that the friendfhip and enmity of the
Romans were equally prejudicial to them. The La-
tins then being reduced to the laft extremity by Man-
lius Torquatus, were afterwards totally fubdued by
Camillus, who obliged them to furrender at difcrc-
tion to the Romans, and not only put garrifons into
all their towns, but took hoftages from them : after
which he returned to Rome, and reported to the Se-
nate, that all Latium was in fubjedion tp them : and
as the judgment of the Senate upon this occafion, was
very remarkable, and worthy of being imitated by
other Princes in the like circumflances, I (hall here
quote the words which Livy puts into the mouth of
Camillus, when he made his report: from whence we
may further obferve, what methods the Romans pur-
fued in extending their dominion, and that in their
determinations they alv/ays avoided a middle wayj
and had recourfe to extremes : for the nature of eo-
vernment makes it neceflary to keep Subjecls upon
fuch a footing, and under fuch reftridions, that they
may either have no deiire, or at leaft no power to in-
jure or infult it. And this may be effeded either by
abfolutcly depriving them of all means to hurt you,
or by treating them with fuch lenity and tendernefs,
that they cannot wifh to change their condition. There
is no middle courfe that can be followed with fecu-
rity : and therefore, Camillus having propofed the
choice of thefe two expedients to the confideration of
the Senate, that wife body a6led according to them
both, as the circumflances of the different towns in
Latium required. His advice was as follows. «' Dii
immortales ita vos potentes hujus confilii fecerunt, uc
fit Latium, an non fit, in veflra manu pofuerint. Ita*
que pacem vobis, quod ad Latinos attiner, parare in


Chap. XXIII. The First Decad of Livy. 299

perpetuum, vel feviendo, vel ignofcendo poteftis.
Vultis crudeliter confulere in deditos vidofque ? Li-
cet delere omnc Latium. Vjiihis exemplo majoruai
augere rem Romanam, vi<5los in civitacem accipicndo ?
Materia crefcendi per fumm^m gloriam fuppeditar.
Certe id firmiflimum imperium eil, quo obediences
guadenr, liiortim igitur animos, dun^, expeclatione
iiupent, feu pxna, feu beneficio pra^occupari oportet:
i. e. The Gods have now put it in your power to de*
termine whether the Latins fhall be any longer a peo-
ple or not. It is in your own option efFedually to fecure
yourfelves from any further apprehenfions of that ene-
my, either by pardoning or punifhing them. If you
have a mind to proceed with rigour againft a people
that are vanqui(hed, and have fubmitted to you, they
lie at your mercy, and you may totally extinguilh the
very name of them if you pieafe •, but, if you rather
chufe to enlarge your Empire by fhcwing clemency,
and miaking the conquered your Subjects and friends,
as your Anceftors ufed to do, you have a noble op-
portunity of imitating their example with great glory
and advantage to yourfelves : for that Dominion is
built upon the fureft foundation, under which the
Subjeds live fecurely and contented. It is abfolutely
necefTary therefore, to take either one courfe or the
other ♦, and immediately too, whilft their minds are
yet flu(5luating betwixt hope and fear, and the uncer-
tainty of their doom prevents them from taking any
defperate refolution." The Senate, after fomc deli-
beration, determined to follow this advice, and hav-
ing made a particular enquiry into the behaviour of
every town in Latium, they fpared fome, and pu-
nifhed others : the inhabitants of thofe that were
fpared, were made free Citizens of Rome, and had
feveral other privileges, favours, and immunities
granted them, which effedually fecured their fidelity
and affedlJon •, but as to the others, fome of them
were totally demoliflied, fome had Colonies fent to
fettle amongft them, and others brought prifoners to
Rome 5 fo that they were difperfed in fuch a manner,


300 Political Discourses UPON Book II.

that they were for ever incapacitated to give the Ro*
ijians any more rroubje or difturbancc.

This was the method which the Romans always
took upon llich occafions ; and certainly it is worthy
of being imitated ,by all other dates. The Floren-
tines fhonld have 'adled thus in the year 1502, v/hen
Arezzo and all the Vale of Chiana rebelled againft
them ; for if they had, they might not only have-
firmly eftablifhed their dominion over them, but like-
viik have made Florence a great and ilourifhing State,
and taken Rich lands from the rebels as that City flood
in need of, for the fubfidence of its own inhabitants.
But they fim.ply took the middle w^ay betwixt the ex-
tremes of rigour and clem.ency, which is always dan-
gerous in fuch cafes : for, though they banifhed Tome
of the inhabitants, and put others to death, and de-
graded every man that was in ofHce or authority, yet
they left the City entire and untouched : and when
they were advifed to den:iolirn it, thofe who pretend-
ed to be the Vv'ifefl amongfl them, made anfwer, that
it wouki be a difgrace to their own Republic, and look
as if they were i'o weak that they could not keep it:
which is one of thofe arguments that feem to have
fome reafon in them, but in reality have none at all.
For by the fame rule, a Prince mufl not hang any vil-
lain, though ever {o notorious, becaufe it would be a
Hiame to have it thought he had not power enough to
bridle one raical, without putting him to death. But
thofe that are of this opinion ought to confider, that
when either particular men, or cTwhole City offend a
State, that State is under an abfolute necefTity of de-
llroying them for its own prefervation, and to deter
others from following their example : and as to any
refledions which fuch a manner of proceeding may
happen to occafion, it is-fufficient to fay, that it will
be more for the rep'-uaticn of a State to punifli de-
linquenrs, than to Ipatc them at its own peril : and
that a Government which does not do that fo effec-
tually, that they can never hurt it afterwards, will al-
ways be thought weak and pitiful..


Chap. XXIII. The First Decad of Ltvv. 301
How properly the Romans acled upon fuch ccca-
fions, may likewife appear from the example of the
Privernates : from which we may obferve, in the fird
place, that people who are conquered, fhouid either
be treated with great lenity and indulgence, or to-
tally cut off, as I faid before -, and in the next, wha£
a powerful imprefTion generofiiy, franknefs, and fpeak-
,jng truth, make upon the minds of wiie and good
men. The Roman Senate, as Livy informs us, was
aflembled to confider in what manner they fliould treac
the Privernates, who had rebelled againft them, buc
were then reduced to obedience by force of arms :
but the people of Priverncm having fent feverai of
their Citizens to make their fubmifijon, and implore
pardon, one of them being introduced ^o the Senate,
was afked, " Quam psenam meriros Privernates cen-
feret ? what fort of puniComent he thought his Fel-
low-citizens deferved ?" made anfv/er, " Earn quam
mercntur qui fe iiberrate dignos cenfcnt : fuch as
thofe deferve who think themfelves worthy of liber-
ty." Being afked again, " Quid fi pxnam remitti-
mus vobis, qualem nos pacem vobifcum habituros
fperemus ? Suppofe \we fhouki pardon you this time,
how will you behave yourfclves for the future r" he
repHed, *' Si bonam dederitis, & fidelem & perpe-
tuam ; fi malam haud diurturnam: well and dutiful-
ly, if you grant us good terms : if not, vve fhali loon
do the fam^e again." Upon which, the .wifer part of
the Senate declared, " Se audiviiTe vocem et liberi
ci viri, nee credi pofie ilium populum, aut hominem,
denique in ea conditione cujus eum pj^niteat diutius
quam necefie fit manfurum. Ibi pacem cHi^ fidam,
ubi voluntaril pacati fine, ncque eo loco ubi fervitu-
tem elTe velint, fidam fperandani efi^c : That he had
fpoken like a brave and tree man •, that it was not to
be expeded that any particular perfon, much lefs a
whole people, would fubmit to lead a life that v;as
grievous to them, any longer than they were com-
pelled to it by invincible necefiity ^ that no terms
could be long or faithfully oblcrved, v>'hich were not


302 Political DiscotjR^Es upon Book II,

voluntarily and cheerfully agreed to and accepted ;
nor was it to be imagined that any people would con-
tinue (teddy in their allegiance and affection, if they
were reduced to flavery.'* Upon v.'hich it was re-
folved, that the Privernates fhould be incorporated
into the Roman State, and honoured with all the pri-
vileges that were enjoyed by their ov/n Citizens and
Subjedls, '' Eos demum qui nihil pr^terquam de li-
bertate cogitant, dignos elTe qui Romani fiant-, fjnce
thofe whofe chief care was to preferve their liberties,
were worthy of being Romans." Such was the effect
of thefe frank and bold anfwers, upon great and ge-
nerous men, who would have defpifed any other fort
of reply as mean and inilncere : and thofe will gene-
rally find themfelves deceived, who judge otherwife
of mankind, efpecially of fuch people as have either
been adlualiy ufed to live in liberty, or at lead have
thought themfelves free : in confequence of which
error, they muft naturally take fuch meafures as will
prejudice themfelves, and be grievous to others, which
commonly ends in rebellion, and the ruin of a State.

It appears then from the method which the Ro-
mans took with the Latins and inhabitants of Priver-
num, that when the fate of a conquered people, which
have been powerful and accuftomed to liberty, is to
be decided, it is the bell way either to exterminate
them entirely, ox to treat them in fuch a manner, as
to make them your firm and faithful friends ; other-
wife you are doing nothing : but, above all things a
middle courfe is to be avoided, becaufe it is the mod:
dangerous ; as the Samnites experienced to their coft,
when, after they had hemmed in the Romans at the
FurcseCaudinse, they would not lifben to the counlel
of an old officer, who advifed them either to difmits
them with honour, or to knock them all on the head:
but as they took a middle way, and not only difarm-
cd, but made them pafs under the yoke, they fent
them away fo full of (hame and refenrment, that
they foon after had fufiicient caufe to repent they had
not taken the old man's advice, inftead of ailing in


Chap. XXIV. The First Decad of Livy. 30^
the manner they did upon that occafion, as we (hall
Ihew more at large in anoiher place.

'^hat Fortrejfes generally do a Stale more harm than good,

IT may feem ftrange, perhaps, to the wife men of
our times, that the Romans never thought of
buildmg Fortrefles to keep the Latins in obedience 5
cfpecially, as it is a maxim with our Florentine Poli-
ticians, that Pifa and other fuch States mutl be kept
in rubjedtion by that means : and indeed, if the Ro-
mans had beeii like them, it is probable they would
have built Fortreffes ; bur, as they were of a very
different caft, and not only much braver, but wi{er.:»
and more powerful, they thought fit lo let it alone*
For whilil they enjoyed their liberties, and adhered
to their excellent maxims and inilitutions, they never
eredled any flrong places to maintain polleffion of fuch
Cities cr Provinces as they had reduced ; though they
fometimes left thofe landing which they found there.
When v/e compare this method of proceeding with
the pradice of thefe times, it feems worthy of exa-
mination, v/hether fuch places are of more fervice or
differvice to thofe that build them.

It mufi be confidered then, that the end propofed
by fuch people as build FortreiTes, is cither to defend
themfelves againft their own Subjedis, or their ene-
mies j but in the former cafe they are prejudicial, and
in the latter unneceiTary. For, if a Prince is afraid
t)f his Subjects rebelling againd him, it mud be be-
caufe he is hated by them ; which hatred proceeds
from ill treatment ; and than ill-treatment, either from
a perluafion that he may govern them arbitrarily, or
from fome other indifcretion. Now, one of the rea-
fons that induce him to think and adt in this manner,
is, that they are bridled with Fortreffes : fo that the
harlli ufage, which is the caufe cf their difaffeclion,


304 Political Discourses upon Book II,

is chiefly owing to the confidence he puts in thofe
flrong holds, which therefore he will find much more
prejudicial than lerviceable to him. For, in the firft
place, they tempt him, as I juft now faid, to treat
his Subjefts with much more rigoar than he would
otherwife dare to do; and in the next, there is not To
rhuch fecurity in them as he vainly perfuades himfelfr
for all the violent and forcible meafures he can make
life of to over-awe his people, will fignify nothing, ex-
cept he either has a good Handing army always at
hand (as the Romans ufed to have) or thinks fit to
cut off fome, feparate others, and difperfe the re -
mainder in fuch a manner, that they can never afTcm-
ble again to do him any mifchief : for though he
fhould ftrip them of their properties, " Spoliatis ar-
ma fuperfunt; they will ftill find arms:" and if he
difarms them once, *' furor arma miniilrat; revenge
Yf'iW foon furnifh them with other weapons :" if he
puts the Chiefs to death, others will foon fpring up
in their room, like Hydra's heads : if he builds For-
trefies, they may krvt his turn, perhaps, in time of
peace, and prompt him to opprels his Subjcds with
lefs referve : but fhould a war break out, they will
do him no lervice •, for when they are affaulted by his

. own people, and a foreign enemy at the fame time, it
is impofTible they fiiould hold out againft them both.
If then they were fo infignificant in former times,

; furely they mud be much more fo fince the invention
of Artillery, againft the fury of which no Fortrefs can
long defend itfelf, v/here the befieged have neither
room to caft up new works within, when the old ones
are battered down, nor any other place to retire into,
as we have fhewn elfewhere *.

But to enter into a further difcufTion of this matter.
Let us fuppofe that a Prince wifhes to govern his own
people with a high hand, or that either a Prince or a
Republic intend keeping a State which they had

• See the Pj Ince, chap. xx. and the Art of War, book vii. and Pao*
Ja Paiuta's Political DilcouiTes, book IL Difc. viii.


Chap. XXIV. The First Decad OF LivY. 305

taken from an enemy, in ilrifl rubjedion, by building
Fortrefles in it. As to a Prince, who is defirous of
keeping his Subjecls in awe, I fay, that inilead of
anfv/ering that end, they will be of great prejudice to
him, for the reafons above mentioned ; btcaufe they
will embolden him to opprefs them, and that oppref-
.fion will prove his ruin, as it will exafperate them to
foch a degree, that the FoftrefTes which are the prin-
<:ipal caufe of it, cannot pofiibly proted: him againft
their rage. A good and wife Prince therefore, who
would not lay either himfelf or his pollerity under any
temptation to abufe their Subjecfls, and become Ty-
rants, will never build Fortrefles amongii them, but de-
pend altogether upon their fidelity and aftl-clion, v/hich
^re a mudi better fecurity. Count Franrifco Siorza,
though accounted a wife man, built a Citadel at Mi-
lan, after he became Duke of that place ; but in than
he did not fhew much wifdom, as the confequence
fully proved -, for it afterwards was of great prejudice

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 28 of 44)