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 29 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 29 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to his SucceiTors, who thinkinQ- themlelves fecure
there, and at liberty to comimit any fort of violence
upon their fubjeds with impunity, gave themfelves up
to all manner of opprelTion and licentioufnefs, till they
became fo odious to every one, that they were prefent-
ly driven out of their dominions by the firfl enemy
that invaded them. So that the Citadel did them but
little good in time of war ; and in time of peace it did
them much harm ♦, becaufe, if it had never been
built, and they had been weak enough to have treated
their Subjeds with more afperity than they fhould
have done, they would foon have been made fenfible
of their error, and might have defided from it in
time : in which cafe, they would have been able to
make a more vigorous refiffance againfl the French,
whiift their Subjecls were yet well afFeded to them,
though they had had no Citadel to truft to, than they
did after they had forfeited the affeftion of the people,
notwithflanding they were pofTefled of that Fortrefs.
In (hort, nothing is more precarious than the afTitcance
that is expeded from fuch places j as they may be
Vol. III. X lofl.

3o6 Political Discourses upon Book 11.

iofl:, either by the venality of the Governor, or taken
by ftorm, or forced to furrender by famine.

But if a Prince is in hopes of recovering a City or
State that has been ioli, whiKl: fome Citadel or For-
trefs only fcill holds out for him, he will find himfelf
deceived, except he has a good army, and is able to,
engage thole that have taken it from h;m : in which
cale, he may make himfelf mader of it again, even if
he has no Fortrels there ; and much iooner too than
if he had •, as rhe inhabitant*^ will be more inclined to,
favour him, than if he had abufed andoppreiled them
without mercv, out of a vain confidence in that fccu-
rity. Experience, indeed, has clearly evinced that the
Caftle at Milan never was of the leaft fervice, either
to the Sforzas or ihe French, in time of diilrefs: but
on the contrary, that it proved the ruin of them both-,
as it made them negied the more fafe and honourable
iiieans of defending themfclves. Guidobaldo, Duke
of Urbino, the moll renowned Soldier of his time, was
driven out of his territories by Coefar Borgia-, but
happening to recover them, foon after, he ordered aH
the FcrtrefTes in that Sate to be demolifhcd, becaufe
he thought them rather prejudicial to him than other-
wife : for, as he was beloved by his Subjeds, he did
not care to difguft them -, and from his enemies, he.
found by experience, they could not feciire him with-
out a good army in the field. Pope Julius II. having
taken Bologna from the Bentivogli, buit a Cicadel
there, and put a Governor into it, who opprefiVd the
people to fuch a degree, that they foon rebelled, and
forced him out ot it : fo that it was fo far from doing
him any good, that it was the occafion of his lofing
that place, which he might eafily have kept, if there
had been no Citadel there, and he had treated the
people in a different manner. Niccolo da Caftello,
fathf r of the Vitelli, who had been deprived of his
dominions for a while, prcfently caufed two FortrclTes
to be pulled down, which' Pope Sixtus iV. had built
^hc-re, after he got poffcfilon of his Country again ;
as he put more confidence in the love of his people,


Chap. XXIV. The First Decad of Livy. ^07

than in Caftles and (Irong holds. But we liavc a more
recent and remarkable example of rhe infignincance,
or rather the mifchicf of building Fortrelies, and the
nccelTiryof denioliihing thein, which hapf/ened atGe-
Doa, in the year 1507 : for when tint City rebelled
againfl: Lewis XII. King of France, who was then
polTefied of it, he came thither in perfon with a power-
ful army, to reduce it to obedience ; which he .did,
and afterwards built the (Irongell Citadel that is
•known at prefent : for, beinc> fituatcd upon the poinc
of a rock clofe to the fea, itcommanded not only tlic
harbour, but the whole City, and was looked upon a-s
imipregnable. But afterwards, in the year 1512, whrn
the French were driver* out of Italy, and the Citadel of
'Genoa alone held out for them, the Gencefe, withouc
troublin£? ihemfcives about the Citadel, revolted af^ain,
and chofe OcStavian Fregola for their Governor, who
laid clofe fiege to it on every fide, and cut oIi all man-
ner of provifions and other necefTaries in fuch a man-
ner, that at the tnd of fixteen m.onths, it was forced to
furrender to him : after which (as it is generally faid)
he v^as advifed by many to keep it for his own fecurity
upon any emergency ; but he very wifely pulled ic
down, and chole rather to rely upon his ov/ngoodnefs,
^nci the afFcclion of his Fellow- citizens-, in confequcnce
of v^hich refolution, he has fupported himfclf in thd
Government of Genoa ever fince: and, thouoh a thou-
fand men where fuflicienc before to have turned ic
-iipfide down, he has, fmce that time, bravely defended
itfelf, againfl: an enemy that made an attempt upon
it, with an army of ten thou fand. Flence we fee, that
Oclavian fared not the worfe for demolifning the
Caflle, nor the Kina; of France the better for buildin<5-
It ; for when he marched into Italy with a good army,
he foon recovered Genoa, though he had not the Cita-
del I hen to truft to •, but Vv^hen he was not able to
bring an army into the field, he could not keep the
^town, though he was poilefied of the Citadel : fo that
as the King had been at a vafl expence in building
-it, the lofb of it was a great difgrace to him •, v/hereas

X 2 Fregofa,

3o8 Political Discourses upon Book If.

Fregofa, on ihe contrary, not only gained much rtpu-
tation by takinc, but ereat advantao:e by dcmolifhini'

It is now rime to fay fomerhing (as we propofed)
concerning Republics that buiid FortrefTes nor in liieir
own Country, but in places which they have con-
quereci : the inutility of which (if the example of the
French and Genoelc iufl: now mentioned be not thouahc
iufficient) may be fuiiy fhewn from that of the Flo-
rentines with regard to Fila ; where they had built
FortrefTes to keep the Citizens in Subjection, not con-
fiderin^ that the Pifans had alwavs been their declirtd
eneniie?, that they had been uled to live in freedom,
that they looked upon rebeihon as the only means
they had left of recovering their liberties •, and con-
fequently if the Florentines had a mind to prevent it,
they ought either to have made them their friends
and Fellovv'-citizens, or utterly to have extirpated tliem.
For it V. as plainly feen how httle thefe ftrong places
anfv^ered their expcflations, upon the arrival of Charles
Vill. in Italy, to whom they were prefently furren-
dered, either through the corruption or puhllanimity
of the Governors \ fo that if they had never been buiiu
at all, the Florentines could nc have trulied to them
only for the prefervation ofPila; nor could theKing
of France have othcrwife deprived them of it : tor the
methods they had taken to keep pofTefilon of it before,
would mod" probably have been lufficient to fecure it
at that time; at leaft (hey could not have been at-
tended with wfrfe conlequences.

1 conclude then, that it is dangerous to build For-
treflcs in order to keep one's own Country in lub-
jc6fion ; and that they are of no fervice in maintaining
pofTciTion of others that are conquered •, as may plainly
appear from the praflice and example of the Romans,
u'ho inftead of creeling Fortrefi'es in their new acqui-
fition.s, generally demoliflird iuch as they found there.
If it be objeCtea that Tarentum in ancient times, and
BreJcia not long ago, were recovered by means of
Fortrciics, after the people had rebelled againft their


Chap. XXTv". The First Decad of Lt/y. 309

Governors and feized upon thole places : I anfwer,
that Fabius Maxi r^us was foon after fenc to the relief
of the Citadel at Tarentnm (which (till adhered to the
Romans) with an army iufficient to have reduced the
town, even if there had ben no Citadel there : and if
there had not, he certainly would have found o:her
means of doing it. It appears then how little frvice
was expe6lcd from the Citadel, by their fending fo
great a man as Fabius with a Confular army to recover
Tarentum : and that he would have taken it without
any fuch ainftance, is manifeft from the example of
Capua, which that army retook alio, though there
v/as no Citadel there to befriend them. V/ith re>^ard
to Brefcia, it very feldom happens (tho'jgh it did
indeed in that rebellion) that a Fortrefs, which conti-
nues firti) to you after the town has rebelled, has a
good army near at hand to fuccour it, as the French
then had ; for Mcnfieur de Foix the King's General,
v/ho tlien lay with his forces at Bologna, being inform^
ed that Brefcia was lod, immediately marched thither,
and arriving there in three days, recovered it by the
help of the Caifle. It was not wholly owing to the
Citadel therefore that Brefcia was re-taken, but to the
vicinity anct expedition of Monfieur de Foix and his
army : fo that the authority of this example is not
fufficient to balance that of the others which have
been before adduced : for we have feen numbers of
FortreiTes taken and retaken in the wars that have
lately happened, not only in Fombardy and Romagna,
but in the Kingdom of Naples, and every other pare
of Italy, in the fame nianner that other town's and
Staees have been.

But as to building ftrong places to defend your-
felf againft foreign enetnics, they are alfo unnecefTary
if you have a good army ; and if you have not, they
are- of no fervice at all : for a good army will be a
fufficient-fecuriry without any Forcreis •, but a Fortrefs
Vv'ithout fuch an army, v;ill fignify nothing ^. The

* There canr<ot be a fironger proof of this than in what happened
to the States G^iieral in the Isft Century, when fo many of their

X 2 truth

510 Political DiscouRSFS UPON Book If.

truth of this may be confirmed by the praftice and
condu6l of thoie people that have been moil remark-
able for their wifdom and policy, particolariy of the
Romans and Spartans-, the tormer of whom never
built any ForcrefTes ; and the latter trulling to their
own valour alone, carried the matter fo high, thae
they would not even fuffer their Capital to be walled
about, much lefs did tliey think of ereding Itrong
holds any vv'here elie. Accordingly a Spartan being
all'ied one day by an Athenian, '* whether he did not
think the walls of Athens very nne and flronp:. " '^ I
iliouidmuch approve of them, faid he, if the City was
inhabited by women only. " A State however that
has a good army, may reap Ibm.e little advantage from
a Fort or two near the Sea, if any part of its domi-
nions lie upon the coalv, as they may keep oif an'
enemy perhaps till its own forces can be got together;
though they are not altogether necefTary even in that
cafe. But when it has not a good army, Fortreffes
upon the S^ea coaft or Frontiers are either prejudicial,,
or at leaft unferviceable : prejudicial, becaufe they
are eafily taken, and once loft may be turned againft
you v or it they be (o ftrong that the enemy cannot
make themfelves Mafters of them, they may leave
them behind -, and then what fervice can they do ?
For wh'c-n a good army, that is not vigoroufly op-
pofed by another as good or better than itfelf, hap-
pens to enter into an enemy's country, it pays na
regard to the Tovvns and FortreHVs which it leaves
upon its back, as we fee from many inftances in
ancient Flillory, and from the example of Francifca
Maria not long a^o, who left tQn Cities behind him
that belonged to the enemy, and boldly marched on
to befiege Urbino, without giving himielf the leaft
troub-e about them.

A Prince therefore who has a good army will have
no occafion for Fortreffes 5 and he that has nor, ought

Hrong towns were taken in a very fnort lime, which had formerly
been fo retloubtable when iup^iorted by good armies under the com-
Riand of iYince Maurice,


Chap. XXIV. The First Decad of Livy. 311

not to build any : let it be his chief care to fortify
the place of his refidence as ftrongly as he can, to put
a good garrilon inro it, to keep his fubjecls in good
humour and well affeded to him ; that fo they may
defend hini againil any attack, till he can either ob-
tain honourable terms from the enemy, or receive
i"eiief from others : all other means being too expen-
five in time of peace, and ineffectual in war. So that
tonndering what has been faid, it will appear that the
Romans, who aAed wifely in all other refpeds, fliewed
rio itfs wifdom in their proceedings Vv^ith the Latins,
when they defpiied ForcrelTes, and had recourfe to
more prudent and generous niethods of fecuring


That it is imprudent to attack a pecpk who are divided
amongjl tbemfelves^ in exve^ation of conquering them
merely upon that account,

TH E animofities betwixt the Patricians and Ple-
beians began at laft to run fo high at Rome,
"that the Veientes and Hetrufci thought they had a
fair opportunity of utterly extinguifhing that Repub-
lic. Having raifed an army therefore, and made
an incurfion into the Roman territories, the Senate
fent out another to oppofe them under the command
of Cneius Manlius and Marcus Fabius, who encamp-
ing very near the enemy, were fo infulted with all
manner of taunts andabufive language, that the Ro-
man Soldiers forgetting all private quarrels and hatred
amongll themfelves, heartily united together, and
coming to an engagement with the enemy entirely
defeated them. From hence we may obferve how
apt w'e are to err in the judorment we form of things
(as bach been faid before *) and how often we are

* Sec Chap. xxii. of this Book.

X 4 difap

312 Political Discourses upoj^ Book IL

difappointed in obtaining our ends, by the very means
whereby we propoled to accomplilh them. The
Veientes fully expeded to have conquered the Romans
when they found thenrr fo difunited : in conlequence
of which opinion, they ventured upon a war vAth
them, which united one fide and ruined the other :
for as peace and idlenefs are, generally fpeaking, the
caufes of faction and difcord in Commonwealths ; fo
war and apprehenfion of danger mofi: commonly unite '
them again "^i and therefore if the Veientes had rightly
confidered the matter, the more thev law the Romans
embittered againft each other, the more cautious they
fhould have been of engaging in a war with them,
and taken very different methods to effedl their ruin.
They might have pretended a friendfliip to them, and
offered their n.editadon to compofe all differences be-
twixt the contending fadlions before they came to an
open rbpture : but when they had feen them once
heartily engaged together they fhould have givea
fome affiftance to the weaker fide, in order to keep
the flame alive till it confumed them both : but that
affiftance fhould not have been too confiderable, left
it might have occafioned a fufpicion that they had a
defign to crufli one fide as v;eli as the other, and
reduce them equally into fubjedion to themfelves .
for when fuch a part is well conduced, it almoft
always anfwers the purpofes of thofe that a6l it. To
this conduft it was owing that Piftoia fell into the
hands of the Florentines, as we have fliewn elfewhere:
for the Citizens there being divided into two parties,
the Florentines threw weight fometimes into one Scale,
and fometimes into the other, ;but in fuch a manner
as to keep them in a fort of equipoife) till both grew
fo weary of that factious fort of life, that they mutually
agreed to throw themfelvts into the arms of the Flo-

* Has not this been fometimes the cafe of Kingdoms as well as
Republics ? and have not the Britons (under good Princes) conltantly
united againlt any Invader, how much foever they were divided
before, either by the vile fuggeitions of fclf-intcrelted men to poifon
their houelt minds, or imaginaj y conceits of real danger ?


Chap. XXVI. The First Decad of Livv. 31^

rentines. They likewife made themfelves Mafters of
Siena by the fame arts, which would never otherwile
have become fubjedt to them •, I mean by fomenting
the fadions which raged there, and privately fending
both parties feeble fuccours, as they were wanted : for
if they had done it to any great degree, or in an open
manner, it would have excited a jealoufy of their
defigns and united both fides againft them. I mighc
likewife here add the example of Philip Vifconti,
Duke of Milan, vvho engaged in leveral wars with
theFlorentines, in hopes of fubduing them on accounc
of the inteftine divifions that reigned in their City:
but finding himfclf difappoiwted in that expedlation,
he laid, " the follies of the Florentines had coft him
above two millions of gold to no purpofe." The
Veientes therefore and the Hetrufci (as I faid before)
were guilty of a great and fatal error in their calcula-
tion ; as thofe v/ill always be who build upon the
fame bottom, and purfue the fame methods to reduce
any State into fubjedion to them.


That contemptuous and reproachful language, inftead of
doing a man any good, only fervss to provoke others and
make himfdf more hated.


T is a great fign of wifdom in a man to refrain
from threats and injurious language ; becaufe
inftead of doing an enemy harm, one of them puts
him more upon his guard, and the other ftill adds to
his rage, and makes him more adive in feekiog
revenge. Of this we have juft given an example in
the behaviour of the Veientes, who befides the enmity,
which is ufually incident to people that are at war,
could not forbear treating the Romans with particular
marks of contempt and reproach-, a thing which
ought not to be fufFered by any prudent commander :
becaufe there is nothing that exafperates an enemy fo


§14 Political Discourses UPON BooklL

much, or excites him more furioufly to revenge 5
nothing that does him lb little real damage, or your-
felf fo little good, as the mifchief generally falls upon
your own head.

To coniirm this, I {hall bring a remarkable proof
from an event that happened in Afia. Gabades the
Perfian, having laid fiege to Amida for a confiderable
time, and growing v/eary of it, as he made little or no
progrefs, refolved to raife it : but whilft he was decamp-
ing, the Garrifon exulting at his difgrace got up to
the top of the walls, and infulted him and his Soldiers
in the moll provoking terms, calling them cowards^
poltroons^ and all manner of opprobrious names : at
which Gabades was fo nettled that he changed his
refolution, and began the iiege afrefh with fo miUch
vigour and refentment that he took the town in a
few days after, and delivered it up to the rhercy of
his Soldiers. The fame thing happened tothe Veientes,
who, as I faid before, not being content with making
war upon the Romans in the common way, could noc
forbear going up to their very entrenchments to af-
front and abufe them, the confequence of which was,
that the Soldiers who were but little inclined to fight
before, grew fo outrageous that they compelled their
Generals to give them battle, in which the Veientes
were totally routed, and fulfered the punilhment they
had fo juftly deferved.

All wife Generals and Governors of States fhould
lludioufly endeavour therefore to prevent the people
under their command from reviling and reproaching
each other, or even an enemy : for with regard to the
latter, fuch confequences mud naturally enfue as
have been juft now related ; and ftill worfe in refpect
to themfelves, if not anticipated by fuch precautions
as have always been ufed by prudent men. The le-
gions which v/ere left by the Romans for the fecurity
of Capua, having formed a defign to make themfelves
Mailers of that State (as I fhall fliew more at large
in another place) grew feditious and mutinied : but
being reduced to reafon by Valerius Corvinus,amonglt

8 other

Chap. XXVJ. The First Decad of Livy. ^15

other methods which he took to quiet them, he firict-
ly enjoined every one, upon the fevered penalties, ne-
ver to upbraid any of ihofe Soldiers with their pall
behaviour. liberius Gracchus having a body of
Slaves in his army (whom the Romans were obliged
to employ in their wars vvith Hannibal for want of
other men) forbade all the reil: of his Soldiers, on pain
of death, to reproach any of them en account of their
former ferviiude : fo dangerous did the . Romans
think it to fuffer any refledlions on the infirmities or
misfortune of others ; as they well knew nothing
could be more provoking than fuch taunts, whether
fpoken in earned or in jeil, efpecially if they fhould
have any foundation in truth. Tacitus therefore fays
very juftly, " facetiae afperas, quando nin-iium ex vero
traxere, acrem fui memor;am relinquunt : When
Jokes border too near upon Truth, they leave flings
behind them *.

* '* At Sieges and elfewhere ffays Montaigne, book I. chap, xlvii,
of his Eflays) where occafion draws ns near to the enemy, we willingly
fuffer our men to brave, intuit, and affront them with all forts of in-
jurious language; and not without fome colour of reafon : for it i$
of no little confequence to take from them all hopes of mercy and cora-
pontion, by reprefenting to them, that there is no favour to be e^^pef^-
ed from an enemy they have (b incenled, nor any other remedy left
but a vi61ory. And yet Viieilius (or rather the Lieutenants who com-
manded in his abfence) found themillves deceived in this point: for
in an engagement with Oiho's army, whcfe Soldiers were unaccuf-
tomed to war, and effeminated witti the delights of the City, he i'o
nettled them at lall with injurious language and reproaching them
with cowardice and the regret tliey felt at ieavins^ their niiltreifes and
foft entei tainraents behind ihem at Rome, that he infpired them with
a refentment which no exhortations could produce, and drew thofc
tipon his back himfelf, whom their own Commanders could not pu4]l
upon him befoie. And indeed, when reproaches touch the quick, it
may well be expe(Sed that he who went but coolly to work in behaU
of his Princ*, will proceed with another temper when the quariei is
his own."


3i5 Political Discourses upon Book 11,


That wife Princes and well-governed Republics cnght to
be contented with vi^ory : fince others that grafp at
more, are often lofers by it,

PPROBRIOUS and reproachful language to an
_ enemy, is commonly owing to the iniblence of
thofe who have either gained a vidory or make them-
felves fure of one ; which hopes^ though ohen vain
and ill grounded, occafion errors both m their words
and adlions : for when once they oiti poircliion of the
underftanding, they tranfport men beyond the bounds
of reafon, and frequently make them lofe the oppor-
tunity of obtaining a certain good, by flattering them-
felves with the expectation of fomething better which
is precarious and uncertain. Now fince this is a mat-
ter that is worthy of ferious confideration, as men
are fometimes milled by fuch fallacious hopes, to the

freat prejudice of their afi:airs, it may not be amifs,
think, to illuftrate what I have here advanced, by
fome inflances both from ancient and m.odern Hillory,
which feem more proper for that purpofe, than rea-
foning and argumentation. After Hannibal had de-
feated the Romans at the battle of Cann^, he fenc
Meffengers to Carthage with the news of his victory,
and to defire fupplies : upon which, the Senate deli-
berating what was to be done, Hanno, an old and
experienced man, advifed them to make a prudent
ufe of their vidtory, and come to an accommodation
with the Romans, as they might do, now they had
beat them, upon more honourable and advantageous
terms than they could expecl if they (hould chance
to be beaten themfelves : and confidering they had
ihewn the Romans they were able to cope with them,
they Ihould not be tempted, he faid, to run the rifque
of lofing what they had got, by the hopes of gaining
fomething more. This advice, however, was not lif-


Chap. XXVII. The First Decad of Livv. ^17

tefied to, though the expedience of it was afterwards
acknowledged when it was too late,

Alexander the Great, having conquered all the Eaft,
except the Republic of 1 yre, (a powerful and opu-
lent City in thofe timrSj^ and fituated, like Venice,
upon the Sea) the Tyrians confidering his power, fenc
Anibaffadors to inform him, they vvere ready to fub-
mit to him and become his good and faithful fubjcdls,
provided they might be excufcd from admitting ei-

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 29 of 44)