The Prince eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 173 pages of information about The Prince.

     (+) Messer Giorgio Scali.  This event is to be found in
     Machiavelli’s “Florentine History,” Book III.

These principalities are liable to danger when they are passing from the civil to the absolute order of government, for such princes either rule personally or through magistrates.  In the latter case their government is weaker and more insecure, because it rests entirely on the goodwill of those citizens who are raised to the magistracy, and who, especially in troubled times, can destroy the government with great ease, either by intrigue or open defiance; and the prince has not the chance amid tumults to exercise absolute authority, because the citizens and subjects, accustomed to receive orders from magistrates, are not of a mind to obey him amid these confusions, and there will always be in doubtful times a scarcity of men whom he can trust.  For such a prince cannot rely upon what he observes in quiet times, when citizens have need of the state, because then every one agrees with him; they all promise, and when death is far distant they all wish to die for him; but in troubled times, when the state has need of its citizens, then he finds but few.  And so much the more is this experiment dangerous, inasmuch as it can only be tried once.  Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always in every sort and kind of circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always find them faithful.


It is necessary to consider another point in examining the character of these principalities:  that is, whether a prince has such power that, in case of need, he can support himself with his own resources, or whether he has always need of the assistance of others.  And to make this quite clear I say that I consider those who are able to support themselves by their own resources who can, either by abundance of men or money, raise a sufficient army to join battle against any one who comes to attack them; and I consider those always to have need of others who cannot show themselves against the enemy in the field, but are forced to defend themselves by sheltering behind walls.  The first case has been discussed, but we will speak of it again should it recur.  In the second case one can say nothing except to encourage such princes to provision and fortify their towns, and not on any account to defend the country.  And whoever shall fortify his town well, and shall have managed the other concerns of his subjects in the way stated above, and to be often repeated, will never be attacked without great caution, for men are always adverse to enterprises where difficulties can be seen, and it will be seen not to be an easy thing to attack one who has his town well fortified, and is not hated by his people.

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The Prince from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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