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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jproper bounds by laws, might be effedually curbed
by the power of a Magiftrate, whofe authority fhould
in fome meafure refemble that pf a King : and to at-
tempt a reformation any other Vv^ay, would be an un-
dertaking that muft prove either vain and fruitlefs, or


to Political Discourses upoNT Book L

attended with great violence and cruelty. For if
Cleomenes lucceeded, as I have faid before, by cauf-
ing ail the Ephori to be killed, in order to take the
Government wholly upon hirrjfelf -, if Romulus puc
his Brother Remus, and Ticus Tatius the Sabine to
death for the fame purpofe, and afterwards made a
good ufe of their power-, it muft be obferved, that
the Subjeds of neither State were corrupted to fuch
a degree as thcfe of whom we have been fpeaking in
this Chapter : and therefore they were both enabled
to ef] e61; what they undertook, and to put a good face
iipoa it aifo when they had done.


^Fhen a good foundation is once laid, if a weak Prince
JJjould fucceed an able one, he may Jupport him f elf in the
Government : hut if one weak Prince fhoidd fucceed an-
ether, it is irA-poffihle to maintain any State.

IF we confider the abilities and conduct of Romu*
lus, Numa, and Tullus Hoftilius, the three firfi
Kings of Rome, we fhall find it was extremely fortu-
nate for that City that its firft King was courageous
and warlike, the fecond pacific and devout, and the
third of the fame (lamp v/ith Romulus, more inclined
to war than peace. For if a Prince was neceffary,
after the firlf Inftitution of Government there, who
(hould civilize and form the people to the duties of
Society, it was no lefs neceffary that he fliould be
fucceeded by another, who iliould be animated with
the fame valour and martial ipirit that Romulus was;
otherwife the Citizens v;ould have become effcininate,
and the City fallen a prey to its neighbours.

From hence we m.ay obfcrve, that if a Prince who
is not altogether fo valiant and enterprizing as another
whom he happens to fucceed, the State may Hill be
fupported by the merits of his PredcccfTor, and he
may enjoy the fruit of his labours : but if ii comes


Chap; XIX. The First Decad of Lrvv. 8h
to pafs that either he himfelf lives a long time, or is
not ibcceeded by another of the fame turn with the
firll, the State muft of courfe be ruined. On the
contrary, if a martial and courageous Prince fucceeds
one fimilar to himfelf, very great things are commonly
efFeded, and fuch as immortalize their names. David
without doubt diftinguifhed himfelf no lefs by feats
of arms, than by his piety and wifdom : and the con-
fequence was, that after he had i"ubdued all his ene-
mies, he left his Kingdom in peace to his Son Solo-
mon, who was enabled to fupport it ac all times by
the arts of peace only, and reigned happily, all his
life ; which v/as wholly owing to the virtues of his
Father. But it happened otherwife to Rehoboam,
who inheriting neither the valour of his Grandfather,
nor the wifdom of his Father, was hardly able to keep
polTefiion of a Sixth part of his Kingdom. Bajazet
II. Sultan of the Turks, though naturally more in-
clined to peace than war, ftiil maintained the acquifi-
tions that had been made by his father Mahomet 5^
who, iik€ David, having conquered all the neighbour-
ing States, left a large Empire to his Son, and fo well;
eflablilhed by his valour, that it might eafily be pre-
lerved firm and entire during his life, by pacific mea<^
fures alone. Neverthelefs, if Bajazet's Son Selim,
the prefenf Grand Seignor, had not been more like
his Grandfather than his Father, that Empire mult
have been ruined ^ but as it happens, he feems more
likely to excel his Grandfather than to- fall fhorc
of him.

From thefe examples we may fee tJiat a weak and
pufiUanimous Prince may fupport himfelf, provided
he fucceeds a warlike and enterprifing one : but if one
weak Prince immediately fucceeds another, it is im-^
pofTible any Government (hould fubfid ^ except, like
France, ic be fuppcrted by virtue of its ancient laws
and fundamental conlVttutions. By weak Princes, I
mt-an thofc that are not given to arms ; and Ihall con-
clude this difcourfe with obferving that the tranquil-
lity of Noma's reign,, which lafted many y<;ars, was

Vol. III. , G owin^

82 Political Discourses upon Rook IV

owing to the warlike Spirit of Romulus •, which being
revived in Tullus Hoftiiius, the third King^ procured
him the fame degree of reputation, Tullus was fuc-
ceeded by Ancus Martius, a Prince of fuch a difpofi-
tion that he knew how to fupporc the State either by
the arts of peace or war '■',- In the beginning of
his reign he was inclined ta pacific meafures ; but
when he perceived that his neighbours judged from
thence, that he was effeminate, and made little account
of him, he thought it necefTary for the prefervation of
his Kingdom, to convince them of the contrary, by
following the (leps of Romulus rather than of Numa,
Let it be obferved therefore by all Princes, that thofe,^
who imitate Numa, may chance either to keep or lofe
their dominions, according to the difference of the
times and eircumftances of thing;s : but fuch as follow
the example of Romulus, and arm themfelves like
him, with prudence and valour, will be able to main-

♦ It rauft be owned that Machiavel has given us a curious Analyfis,
or Inveftigation of tli^ fifil Principles of the Roman Government, ac-
cording to the account he receives of their polity from the Hirtoriaa
he comments upon. Ri't if the Hiftory of the Seven Kings of Rome
reds upon no better a foundation than that of the Seven Champions
of Chriftenuom, as fome authors of great reputation have not fcrupled
to aflert, then all that has been faid by fo many writers concerning
the remarkable good fortune of Rome, in having fo many fucceeding
Princes of fuch particular difpofitions as were exactly fuited to the
times, and abfolutely neceffary for the eftablifnment of an infant
State, muit ftand for nothing ; Livy's Hiftory itfelf muft then be looked
upon in no other light than that of a Romance, or ** a uelj invented
*' flam,'* and confequently the magnificent Superftrudure which the
Florentine has ere«5led upon it, of courfe fall to the ground. What
pity it is that fuch great and generous anions, and fuch noble fpeeches
as we meet with in almolt every page of that Hiltorian 5 clothed with
fo many brilliant circumftances, and related in fo lively a manner,
that one would be apt to imagine he had either feen or heard them
done and fpoken himlelf, or at lead had them from fomebody elfe that
did, (liould, after all, prove not to have one word of truth in them,
but to be cooked up only for perfons that probably never exifted i
What a (hame that fuch " Fathers ot Hiltory,' ?.s they are fometimes
called, fhould more jultly deferve the name of " the Fathers of lies 1"
But fuch is^the jri-voUty (if I may be indulged that \\'ord) of all Hif-
tory, efpecially of thole that are mofr folemn, and appear mod fpe-
cious and piaufible. A mortifying confideration indeed I who can
forbear fluking his head, and crying out with the Poet,

O Curas i\oniinum, & quantum in rebus inane I
Or lather with the Italians,

Se non e vero, e beu trovato ?


Ghap. XX. The First Decad of Livy: 7i§

tain their State in all times and circumftances ; except
they are overpov/ered by fome extraordinary and ir-
refiftible force. It may then be looked upon as cer-
tain, that it the third King of Rome had not been a
warlike Prince, and one that knew how to retrieve the
declining reputation of that State by dint of arms, it
iiever could (or with very great difficulty at leaft) have
acquired fuch a degree of ftrength and firmnefs, nor
have effe6led the prodigious things it afterwards did.
It mud be owned however, that whilfl it continued
tinder a Monarchical Government, it was liable ta
the double danger of being ruined either by the weak- ^
fiefs of one Prince, or the ferocity and tyranny of


nat if one martini Prince fitcceeds^ anothet^ they ?nay do
very great things : and that as well governed Republics
muft of neceffity have virtuous men to condu5i them^ their
conquefis and acquifillons will be proportionable to tbeif

AFTER the Romans had abolifiied Monarchy,
they were no longer expofed to the dangers
abovementioned, v/hich they had been fubjedt: to be-
fore, under every King, whether he was pacific and
gentle, or fierce and warlike. For the Sovereign
power was vefted in Confuls, who arrived at that dig-
nity, neither by right of fuccefTion or inheritance, nor
by fraud or violence of any kind ; but by the free fuf-
frages of their fellovz-citizens, and therefore were al-
ways perfons of diilinguiihed merit and valour. So
that the State, availing itfelf of a long fucceffion of
virtuous men, arrived at its higheft pitch of grandeur
m the fame number of years that it had been governed
by kings. And no wonder, Vvhen v/e fee that even
two great Princes (one fucceeding the other) are fuiii'-
cient to conquer the world ; as Philip of Macedon^

Q 2 and

?% Political Discourses upon Book h

and his Son Alexander did. If this was pofTible in a
Monarchy, furely it is much more fo in a Republic,
which has it in its power to eled: not only two, but an
infinite number of fuch men in a continual and unin^
terrupted fuccefllon to one another r fo that a fuccef-
fion of this kind may eafily be eflablifhed and kept up
in a well governed Commonwealth ^,


T'hcfe Princes and Republics are highly to he blamed that
have not trocps of their own -}-.

IF any Princes or Republics in thefe times have not
forces of their own, fufficient either to defend
themfelves, or attack their enemies, they ought to
take the fhame to themfelves : fmce it is plain, from,
the example of TuHus Hoftilius, that fuch a defei^
is not owing to any want of men that are fit to bear
arms, but to their own fault in negleding to inure
their fubjedls to the exercife of them. For, when
Tullus fucceeded to the Kingdom, the Romans hav-
ing been forty years in peace, he could not find a
man in his dominions who had ever been a Soldier.
Neverthelels, as he determined to engage in a war,
he wifely refoived not to employ either the Saninites,
or Tufcans, or any other Mercenaries, but to avail
himfelf of his own Subjedls : and fuch were his mili-
tary abilities, that he foon made them excellent fol-
diers. And, it is mod certain, that if there are not
foldiers, wherever there are men enow, it is entirely
to be imputed either to the negl'gence or incapacity

* A Commonwealth may certainly boaft one advantage, which he-
reditary Kingdoms have not. In Commonwealths, the Sovereign is
neither too young nor too oid, and has neither the infirmities of child-
hood, nor thole of old age. But Kingdoms have not that happinels ;
they experience at one time the diforders of a minority, at another^
the wild heat of youthful blood, and at another, the tardinlfs and
weight of declining years.

t See the jzth, 13th and 14th Chapters of the Prince,


'Chap. XXI. The First Decad of Livy. 85

of the Government, and not to any defe6l in nature,
or peculiarity in the Country where they live ; of
which we have a very recent proof : for every body
knows, that when the King of England invaded
France a little while ago, he had not a man in his ar-
my who was not his own Subjed; yet though that
nation had not been at war for the fpace of thirty
years before, nor was there either an officer or private
man in thofe troops, who had ever feen the face of an
enemy ; yet they were not afraid to make a defcenc
upon a Kingdom, where there were fo many experi-
enced Generals and fuch numbers of well difciplined
forces, who had ferved for many years together in
the Italian wars. This was wholly ov/ing to the wif-
dom of the Prince, and the good order and military
exercifekept up in that Kingdom : where they never
ceafe to difcipline their troops and make them ready
for war, even in time of the moft profound peace *.
After Pelopidas and Epaminondas had refcued their
countrymen, the Thebans, from the fubjedion they
were under to the Spartans, and faw they were be-
come abjed and fpiritlefs by a long courfe of fervi-
tude ; yet, fuch were the abilities and courage of

* Upon this paHage, tlve Autlior of the '* Eftimate, &c.'" fays as
follows, vcl. II. feft. vii. " If the Principles maintained in this work
*• be true, the defeft of valour in a national Militia, wiil not lie
*' amongfl: the private Men, but the Officers. And indeed, who can
ferioufly believe that thofe Ge-ntlemen that find the attendance up-
on a Q^iarter SefTions for the fervice of their Country, too fcvere a
burden of duty upon their enervated bodies and minds, will vigo-
rouiiy undertake and go through the dangers and fatigues of war-
*' like Service ? It mull therefore ne expedled, as a certain event, that;
** a Militia will, on its firi\ inllitution, and for a long time be ufelefs.
** But this is not faid with a view to difcourage the Eitablifhment, but
*' only to prevent groundlefs expeftations, which bein? difappointed
*' in the fi;il laifiog of the Militia, might lead the nation into a he-
" lief, that the inftitution could never be ufeful. This, therefore,
is no reafon why a Militia {hould not be fet on foot, but rather a
good realbn for its fpeedy eltal).i(hment ; becaufe the continued ex-
ercife of a Militia, if undertaken with that vigour and ferious in-
tention which it deferves, is perh:ips rhe molt promifing means of
rekindling bv fti>w degrees the nr.liiary Spirit amongft us. As a
jationai encouragement to the hopes of the nation, let us cail our
eyes back upon former, and hear the jodgmentof a great
*' foreignrr." He theii quotes this paflage from Machiavel.— The
King ot England abovementioned was Henry Vil.



3 thofe

1S§ Political Discourses upon Book L

thofe two chiefs, that they foon re-e(lablifhed military
difcipline amongft that people, and revived their an-
cient valour to fuch a degree, that they not only
piarched boldly into the field againft the Spartan ar-
imy, but utterly defeated it. Upon which, the hif-
torian that relates this, remarks, that it was plainly
feen from the condud: of thefe two Generals, that
Soldiers were not born at Sparta alone, but were foon
to be raifed in every country where there v;cre men^
provided ^ny one could be found that would be at
|he pains of difciplining and training them up to
arms. The juftnefs of which remark rs fully con-
firmed by the example of TuUus Hoftilius, who pre-
fently made excellent Soldiers of a raw multitude ;
as is well obferyed and expreffed by Virgil in the foU
lowing lines.

Refidefque movebit
Tullus in arma viros, & jam defueta triumphis
Agmina, &c» JEn, VI. 8136

Him Tullus next in dignity fucceeds,
An acEtive Prince, and prone to martial deeds.
He (hall his troops for glorious fields prepare,
Difus*d to toils and triumphs of the war.



lij^ai is 20 le olferved frcm the Combat betwixt the three _ %
Horatii of PyOme^ and the three Curiatii of Alba,

Y the articles of a convention betwixt Tullus
Hoftilius King of Rome, and Metius Dictator
of Alba, who had been at war together, it was agreed,
that three of each fide fl:i0uld decide the quarrel in a
Combat ; and that if the three Romans got the better
of the three Albans, the latter State fliould become
fubjeft to the former, and conrrarywiie. For which

furpofe, three brothers of ihe Horatian family being
■ ■ ■ - appointed

Chap. XXIT. The First Decad of Livy. ^7

appointed by the Romans, and three brothers of the
Curiatian by the Albans, as their Champions, to end
the difpute ; it happened that all three on the Alban
fide were killed, and only one on the Roman was left
alive. But the furviving Horatian returning in tri-
umph to Rome, with the fpoils of his Antagonids
upon his back, amongft which was a cloke that had
been curioufly wrought by his own Sifter, who was
-efpoufed to one of the Curiatii ; and chancing to meet
that Sifler in his way back to the City, flie could not
;he]p buifcing into tears at the death of her lover,
which provoked him to fuch a degree, that he imme-
diately killed her. For this facl, however, he was
brought to a trial •, but acquitted after long debate :
and at laft;^ more through the interceflion of his fa-
ther, than any confideration of his own merit ■^.

From hence, there are three things to be obferved.
In the firft place, that no State ought to ilake its all
upon a part of its forces only : in the next, that in a
well ordered governtiient a man's merits and crimes
ought not to be balanced againft: each other : and
laftly, that it is imprudent to enter into any engage-
ments, where the performance of them is, or ought
■to be doubted of. For liberty is a thing of fuch im-
portance to every State, that no one can reafonably
imagine, that either of the two abovementioned would
long have continued quiet after they had been reduced
into fubjedlion, by the ill fuccefs only of three of their
own fubjedts.

This plainly appears from the fubfequent condudt
of Metius, who, though he acknoV^ledged himfelf
fubdued after the Horatii had got the better of the
Curatii, and promifed obedience to Tullus as his So-
vereign ; yet, in the firlt expedition which the Ro-
mans afterwards undertook ag^ainft: the Veientes, he
fhewed, that he regretted the lofs he had fuftained by
the rafh covenant he had lately made, and would have
■deceived Tullus, if he could. But as I have elfe-

, • Livy, lib. I. cap. xxvi.

G 4 where

Political Discourses upon Book h

^hcre difcufled this point more at large *, 1 {hall on-
ly fpeak of the two firft in the two following Chap-


S'bat a State ought net to venture its all upon a fart of
its forces only: upon which account^ it is often of great
prejudice to defend paffes.

HE furely can never be thought a wife man who
rifques his vvhole fortune, without exerting his
latmofl efforts at the fame time. And yet, this has
been done at various times and in different manners.
As firft, by adiing like Tullus Hoftiiius and Metius^
■when they com>mitted the whole fortune and happi-
nefs of themfelves, theiv Country., and of fo many
brave men as each of them had in their rerpe6t:ive ar-
mies, to the valour and fortune of three of their fub-
jeds alone, who were but a very trifiing part of their
fl:rength : not confidering that by fuch a manner of
proceeding, all the pains which their Anceflors had
taken, in founding and forming thofe States, to efta-
blifh liberty upon the firmeft bottom, and to enable
their Succeffors to defend it, were rendered vain and
ineffcflual, by putting it in the power of fo few to
iofe it : which was certainly an adl of extreme rafh-
jiefs and imprudence.

Thofe likewife are guilty of the fame error, who,
upon the approach of an Enemy, rifque all upon the
defence of certain paffes and ftrong holds : for this is
almoft always a very dangerous plan, except it can be
conveniently done with ail their forces ; in which cafe,
without doubt, fuch a ftcp ought to be taken : but if
thofe places are either fo barren or fo ftrait that they
can neither fupport nor contain all their forces, it may
prove of fatal confequence. What induces me to
fhink fo is, the example of fuch as having been in-

* See the i8th Cliapter of the Prince, and the 41 f: and Azd Chapters
f;? the third book of thele Dircouiics.


Chap. XXIII. The First Decad of Livy.' ^9
^adcd by a powerful enemy, who, though their coun-
try was furrounded with mountains, never offered to
make any (land againft them in the pafles upon thofc
mountains, but always either advanced to meet them,
or waited for them in fome fuch plain and open pare
of the country nearer home, as they thought would
bed fuit their purpole. The reafons of which have
been already afTigned : for, as they could not poft
any confiderable number of men to guard thofe pafTes,
becaufe there would neither be provifions fufficient to
fupport them lono; there, nor room enough to hold
many foldiers, it would not be poflible to refifl: a nu-
merous army that came to attack them : but the ene-
my may march in as large a body as they pleafe, be-
caufe it is not their intention to ftay in that place, but
to pafs it as foon as they can, and be gone •, whereas,
a great number of the other fide cannot wait long for
them, in thofe barren and (trait places •, which yet,
perhaps, they would find neceffary from the uncer-
tainty of the Enemy's arrival. So that when that pafs
is abandoned, which you had hoped to maintain, and
upon which you and your Soldiers chiefly depended,
both your own Subjedts, and the reft of your army
will be fo difpirited, that you Vv^ill be ruined without
^riking a flroke, by having flaked your all upon part
of your llr-ength only.

Every one knows what difficulties Hannibal en-
countered, when he pafTed the Alps, which divide
France from Lombardy, and afterwards thofe moun-
tains that feparate Lombardy and Tufcany : and yet
the Romans waited for him firft upon the Tefino, and
afterwards upon the plains of Arezzo, chufing rather
to venture an engagement with him in the field, where
their army mig-ht have fome chance to defeat the Ene-
my, than to lead it into places where it was fure to
perifh through want and other inconveniencies. And
if we read Hiftory with care and attention, we fhall
find that very few good Generals ever thoug-ht of de-
fendirg fuch pafTes ; not only for the reafons already
given, bur becaufe it is impoflible to fecure them all ;


90 Political DiscouHSES UPON Book J.

both the mountains and plains having their by-roads^
as well as thofe that are common and ufually frequent-
ed : and though ftrangers, perhaps, may not know
them, yet the people of the country are well acquaint-
ed with them, and always ready enough to fhew to
thofe who defire to elude all oppofuion ; of which we
had a remarkable example, no longer ago than the
year 1515. When Francis' I. King of France, had
formed a defign to invade Italy, in order to recover
the State of Milan : the chief objedion that was
urged by fuch as oppofed it, was, that the Swifs
would obftrud his paiTage over the mountains. But
experience afterwards ihewed the futility of that ob-
jection : for the King turning out of the common
foad, in which the Swifs had ftrongly fortified two or
three pafles, and taking a by-way that they knew no-
thing of, arrived in Italy ciofe upon their backs, be-
fore they heard any thing of his pafTage : at which
they were fo difmayed, that they quitted thofe polls
and retired into Milan ; and the Lombards, finding
themfelves deceived in their opinion that the French
would be (lopped in the mountains, prefently fubmit-
jtcd to them..


^hat well governed Republics appoint proper rewards and
punijhments^ according to the merits or demerits of their
Citizens^ and never balance one againft the other.

VERY great, to be fure, was the merits of the
furviving brother of the Horatii ; as he alone
had conquered the Curiatii, and faved his Country :
great likewife was the crime he committed afterwards
in killing his Sifter ; at which the Romans were fo
offended, that they brought him to a trial for it,
notwithilanding his fervices were of fuch imporcance,
and the fenfe of them fo frclb upon their minds. Now,
this perhaps, may feem to thofe that confidcr the mat-

Chap. XXIV. The First Decad OF Livy, ^f

ter but fuperficially, a piece of the higheft ingrati-
tude in that people : but whoever weighs it more ma-
turelyj and duly refledls how neceflary a thing jullice
is in every Republic, and how impartially it ought to
he adminiftered, will rather be apt to blame them for
acquitting, than for having brought him to a trial.
For no well governed Commonwealth ever cancels the
demerit of its Citizens, on account of their merit ;
but having appropriated rewards to the one, and pe-
nalties to the other ; and having recompenfed a man
for doing well ; if he afterwards does ill, it punifhes
him according to the nature of his crime, without
any regard to his former good a6lions. Where thefe
ordinances are ftriv^tly obferved, a State may preferve
its liberties a long time ; but where they are ncglecl-
ed, it will loon fail to ruin : for, if a man who has
done his Country fome fignal ferv^e, fhould expedb
not only to be honoured and rewarded for it, but to

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