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Niccolo Machiavelli
The Prince 07
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CHAPTER VII

CONCERNING NEW PRINCIPALITIES WHICH ARE ACQUIRED EITHER
BY THE ARMS OF OTHERS OR BY GOOD FORTUNE

Those who solely by good fortune become princes from being private
citizens have little trouble in rising, but much in keeping atop; they
have not any difficulties on the way up, because they fly, but they
have many when they reach the summit. Such are those to whom some
state is given either for money or by the favour of him who bestows
it; as happened to many in Greece, in the cities of Ionia and of the
Hellespont, where princes were made by Darius, in order that they
might hold the cities both for his security and his glory; as also
were those emperors who, by the corruption of the soldiers, from being
citizens came to empire. Such stand simply elevated upon the goodwill
and the fortune of him who has elevated them--two most inconstant and
unstable things. Neither have they the knowledge requisite for the
position; because, unless they are men of great worth and ability, it
is not reasonable to expect that they should know how to command,
having always lived in a private condition; besides, they cannot hold
it because they have not forces which they can keep friendly and
faithful.

States that rise unexpectedly, then, like all other things in nature
which are born and grow rapidly, cannot leave their foundations and
correspondencies[*] fixed in such a way that the first storm will not
overthrow them; unless, as is said, those who unexpectedly become
princes are men of so much ability that they know they have to be
prepared at once to hold that which fortune has thrown into their
laps, and that those foundations, which others have laid BEFORE they
became princes, they must lay AFTERWARDS.

[*] "Le radici e corrispondenze," their roots (i.e. foundations) and
correspondencies or relations with other states--a common meaning
of "correspondence" and "correspondency" in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries.

Concerning these two methods of rising to be a prince by ability or
fortune, I wish to adduce two examples within our own recollection,
and these are Francesco Sforza[*] and Cesare Borgia. Francesco, by
proper means and with great ability, from being a private person rose
to be Duke of Milan, and that which he had acquired with a thousand
anxieties he kept with little trouble. On the other hand, Cesare
Borgia, called by the people Duke Valentino, acquired his state during
the ascendancy of his father, and on its decline he lost it,
notwithstanding that he had taken every measure and done all that
ought to be done by a wise and able man to fix firmly his roots in the
states which the arms and fortunes of others had bestowed on him.

[*] Francesco Sforza, born 1401, died 1466. He married Bianca Maria
Visconti, a natural daughter of Filippo Visconti, the Duke of
Milan, on whose death he procured his own elevation to the duchy.
Machiavelli was the accredited agent of the Florentine Republic to
Cesare Borgia (1478-1507) during the transactions which led up to
the assassinations of the Orsini and Vitelli at Sinigalia, and
along with his letters to his chiefs in Florence he has left an
account, written ten years before "The Prince," of the proceedings
of the duke in his "Descritione del modo tenuto dal duca Valentino
nello ammazzare Vitellozzo Vitelli," etc., a translation of which
is appended to the present work.

Because, as is stated above, he who has not first laid his foundations
may be able with great ability to lay them afterwards, but they will
be laid with trouble to the architect and danger to the building. If,
therefore, all the steps taken by the duke be considered, it will be
seen that he laid solid foundations for his future power, and I do not
consider it superfluous to discuss them, because I do not know what
better precepts to give a new prince than the example of his actions;
and if his dispositions were of no avail, that was not his fault, but
the extraordinary and extreme malignity of fortune.

Alexander the Sixth, in wishing to aggrandize the duke, his son, had
many immediate and prospective difficulties. Firstly, he did not see
his way to make him master of any state that was not a state of the
Church; and if he was willing to rob the Church he knew that the Duke
of Milan and the Venetians would not consent, because Faenza and
Rimini were already under the protection of the Venetians. Besides
this, he saw the arms of Italy, especially those by which he might
have been assisted, in hands that would fear the aggrandizement of the
Pope, namely, the Orsini and the Colonnesi and their following. It
behoved him, therefore, to upset this state of affairs and embroil the
powers, so as to make himself securely master of part of their states.
This was easy for him to do, because he found the Venetians, moved by
other reasons, inclined to bring back the French into Italy; he would
not only not oppose this, but he would render it more easy by
dissolving the former marriage of King Louis. Therefore the king came
into Italy with the assistance of the Venetians and the consent of
Alexander. He was no sooner in Milan than the Pope had soldiers from
him for the attempt on the Romagna, which yielded to him on the
reputation of the king. The duke, therefore, having acquired the
Romagna and beaten the Colonnesi, while wishing to hold that and to
advance further, was hindered by two things: the one, his forces did
not appear loyal to him, the other, the goodwill of France: that is to
say, he feared that the forces of the Orsini, which he was using,
would not stand to him, that not only might they hinder him from
winning more, but might themselves seize what he had won, and that the
king might also do the same. Of the Orsini he had a warning when,
after taking Faenza and attacking Bologna, he saw them go very
unwillingly to that attack. And as to the king, he learned his mind
when he himself, after taking the Duchy of Urbino, attacked Tuscany,
and the king made him desist from that undertaking; hence the duke
decided to depend no more upon the arms and the luck of others.

For the first thing he weakened the Orsini and Colonnesi parties in
Rome, by gaining to himself all their adherents who were gentlemen,
making them his gentlemen, giving them good pay, and, according to
their rank, honouring them with office and command in such a way that
in a few months all attachment to the factions was destroyed and
turned entirely to the duke. After this he awaited an opportunity to
crush the Orsini, having scattered the adherents of the Colonna house.
This came to him soon and he used it well; for the Orsini, perceiving
at length that the aggrandizement of the duke and the Church was ruin
to them, called a meeting of the Magione in Perugia. From this sprung
the rebellion at Urbino and the tumults in the Romagna, with endless
dangers to the duke, all of which he overcame with the help of the
French. Having restored his authority, not to leave it at risk by
trusting either to the French or other outside forces, he had recourse
to his wiles, and he knew so well how to conceal his mind that, by the
mediation of Signor Pagolo--whom the duke did not fail to secure with
all kinds of attention, giving him money, apparel, and horses--the
Orsini were reconciled, so that their simplicity brought them into his
power at Sinigalia.[*] Having exterminated the leaders, and turned
their partisans into his friends, the duke laid sufficiently good
foundations to his power, having all the Romagna and the Duchy of
Urbino; and the people now beginning to appreciate their prosperity,
he gained them all over to himself. And as this point is worthy of
notice, and to be imitated by others, I am not willing to leave it
out.

[*] Sinigalia, 31st December 1502.

When the duke occupied the Romagna he found it under the rule of weak
masters, who rather plundered their subjects than ruled them, and gave
them more cause for disunion than for union, so that the country was
full of robbery, quarrels, and every kind of violence; and so, wishing
to bring back peace and obedience to authority, he considered it
necessary to give it a good governor. Thereupon he promoted Messer
Ramiro d'Orco,[*] a swift and cruel man, to whom he gave the fullest
power. This man in a short time restored peace and unity with the
greatest success. Afterwards the duke considered that it was not
advisable to confer such excessive authority, for he had no doubt but
that he would become odious, so he set up a court of judgment in the
country, under a most excellent president, wherein all cities had
their advocates. And because he knew that the past severity had caused
some hatred against himself, so, to clear himself in the minds of the
people, and gain them entirely to himself, he desired to show that, if
any cruelty had been practised, it had not originated with him, but in
the natural sternness of the minister. Under this pretence he took
Ramiro, and one morning caused him to be executed and left on the
piazza at Cesena with the block and a bloody knife at his side. The
barbarity of this spectacle caused the people to be at once satisfied
and dismayed.

[*] Ramiro d'Orco. Ramiro de Lorqua.

But let us return whence we started. I say that the duke, finding
himself now sufficiently powerful and partly secured from immediate
dangers by having armed himself in his own way, and having in a great
measure crushed those forces in his vicinity that could injure him if
he wished to proceed with his conquest, had next to consider France,
for he knew that the king, who too late was aware of his mistake,
would not support him. And from this time he began to seek new
alliances and to temporize with France in the expedition which she was
making towards the kingdom of Naples against the Spaniards who were
besieging Gaeta. It was his intention to secure himself against them,
and this he would have quickly accomplished had Alexander lived.

Such was his line of action as to present affairs. But as to the
future he had to fear, in the first place, that a new successor to the
Church might not be friendly to him and might seek to take from him
that which Alexander had given him, so he decided to act in four ways.
Firstly, by exterminating the families of those lords whom he had
despoiled, so as to take away that pretext from the Pope. Secondly, by
winning to himself all the gentlemen of Rome, so as to be able to curb
the Pope with their aid, as has been observed. Thirdly, by converting
the college more to himself. Fourthly, by acquiring so much power
before the Pope should die that he could by his own measures resist
the first shock. Of these four things, at the death of Alexander, he
had accomplished three. For he had killed as many of the dispossessed
lords as he could lay hands on, and few had escaped; he had won over
the Roman gentlemen, and he had the most numerous party in the
college. And as to any fresh acquisition, he intended to become master
of Tuscany, for he already possessed Perugia and Piombino, and Pisa
was under his protection. And as he had no longer to study France (for
the French were already driven out of the kingdom of Naples by the
Spaniards, and in this way both were compelled to buy his goodwill),
he pounced down upon Pisa. After this, Lucca and Siena yielded at
once, partly through hatred and partly through fear of the
Florentines; and the Florentines would have had no remedy had he
continued to prosper, as he was prospering the year that Alexander
died, for he had acquired so much power and reputation that he would
have stood by himself, and no longer have depended on the luck and the
forces of others, but solely on his own power and ability.

But Alexander died five years after he had first drawn the sword. He
left the duke with the state of Romagna alone consolidated, with the
rest in the air, between two most powerful hostile armies, and sick
unto death. Yet there were in the duke such boldness and ability, and
he knew so well how men are to be won or lost, and so firm were the
foundations which in so short a time he had laid, that if he had not
had those armies on his back, or if he had been in good health, he
would have overcome all difficulties. And it is seen that his
foundations were good, for the Romagna awaited him for more than a
month. In Rome, although but half alive, he remained secure; and
whilst the Baglioni, the Vitelli, and the Orsini might come to Rome,
they could not effect anything against him. If he could not have made
Pope him whom he wished, at least the one whom he did not wish would
not have been elected. But if he had been in sound health at the death
of Alexander,[*] everything would have been different to him. On the
day that Julius the Second[+] was elected, he told me that he had
thought of everything that might occur at the death of his father, and
had provided a remedy for all, except that he had never anticipated
that, when the death did happen, he himself would be on the point to
die.

[*] Alexander VI died of fever, 18th August 1503.

[+] Julius II was Giuliano della Rovere, Cardinal of San Pietro ad
Vincula, born 1443, died 1513.

When all the actions of the duke are recalled, I do not know how to
blame him, but rather it appears to be, as I have said, that I ought
to offer him for imitation to all those who, by the fortune or the
arms of others, are raised to government. Because he, having a lofty
spirit and far-reaching aims, could not have regulated his conduct
otherwise, and only the shortness of the life of Alexander and his own
sickness frustrated his designs. Therefore, he who considers it
necessary to secure himself in his new principality, to win friends,
to overcome either by force or fraud, to make himself beloved and
feared by the people, to be followed and revered by the soldiers, to
exterminate those who have power or reason to hurt him, to change the
old order of things for new, to be severe and gracious, magnanimous
and liberal, to destroy a disloyal soldiery and to create new, to
maintain friendship with kings and princes in such a way that they
must help him with zeal and offend with caution, cannot find a more
lively example than the actions of this man.

Only can he be blamed for the election of Julius the Second, in whom
he made a bad choice, because, as is said, not being able to elect a
Pope to his own mind, he could have hindered any other from being
elected Pope; and he ought never to have consented to the election of
any cardinal whom he had injured or who had cause to fear him if they
became pontiffs. For men injure either from fear or hatred. Those whom
he had injured, amongst others, were San Pietro ad Vincula, Colonna,
San Giorgio, and Ascanio.[*] The rest, in becoming Pope, had to fear
him, Rouen and the Spaniards excepted; the latter from their
relationship and obligations, the former from his influence, the
kingdom of France having relations with him. Therefore, above
everything, the duke ought to have created a Spaniard Pope, and,
failing him, he ought to have consented to Rouen and not San Pietro ad
Vincula. He who believes that new benefits will cause great personages
to forget old injuries is deceived. Therefore, the duke erred in his
choice, and it was the cause of his ultimate ruin.

[*] San Giorgio is Raffaello Riario. Ascanio is Ascanio Sforza.


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