We are to note, therefore, in connection with this submission of the Campanians, what has just now been said as to provoking another power to war; and also the remedy open to a State which, being unequal to its own defence, is prepared to go all lengths to ruin its assailant,—that remedy being to give itself up unreservedly to some one whom it selects for its defender; as the Campanians gave themselves up to the Romans, and as the Florentines gave themselves up to King Robert of Naples, who, after refusing to defend them as his friends against Castruccio of Lucca by whom they were hard pressed, defended them as his subjects.
Since any man may begin a war at his pleasure, but cannot at his pleasure bring it to a close, a prince before he engages in any warlike enterprise ought to measure his strength and govern himself accordingly. But he must be prudent enough not to deceive himself as to his strength, which he will always do, if he measure it by money, by advantage of position, or by the good-will of his subjects, while he is unprovided with an army of his own. These are things which may swell your strength but do not constitute it, being in themselves null and of no avail without an army on which you can depend.
Without such an army no amount of money will meet your wants, the natural strength of your country will not protect you, and the fidelity and attachment of your subjects will not endure, since it is impossible that they should continue true to you when you cannot defend them. Lakes, and mountains, and the most inaccessible strongholds, where valiant defenders are wanting, become no better than the level plain; and money, so far from being a safeguard, is more likely to leave you a prey to your enemy; since nothing can be falser than the vulgar opinion which affirms it to be the sinews of war.
This opinion is put forward by Quintus Curtius, where, in speaking of the war between Antipater the Macedonian and the King of Sparta, he relates that the latter, from want of money, was constrained to give battle and was defeated; whereas, could he have put off fighting for a few days the news of Alexander’s death would have reached Greece, and he might have had a victory without a battle. But lacking money, and fearing that on that account his soldiers might desert him, he was forced to hazard an engagement. It was for this reason that Quintus Curtius declared money to be the sinews of war, a maxim every day cited and acted upon by princes less wise than they should be. For building upon this, they think it enough for their defence to have laid up great treasures; not reflecting that were great treasures all that is needed for victory, Darius of old had conquered Alexander, the Greeks the Romans, and in our own times Charles of Burgundy the Swiss; while the pope and the Florentines together would have had little difficulty in defeating Francesco Maria, nephew of Pope Julius II., in the recent war of Urbino; and yet, in every one of these instances, the victory remained with him who held the sinews of war to consist, not in money, but in good soldiers.