The Prince eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 149 pages of information about The Prince.
that without them it would be more difficult to lose it; the Bentivogli returning to Bologna came to a similar decision.  Fortresses, therefore, are useful or not according to circumstances; if they do you good in one way they injure you in another.  And this question can be reasoned thus:  the prince who has more to fear from the people than from foreigners ought to build fortresses, but he who has more to fear from foreigners than from the people ought to leave them alone.  The castle of Milan, built by Francesco Sforza, has made, and will make, more trouble for the house of Sforza than any other disorder in the state.  For this reason the best possible fortress is—­not to be hated by the people, because, although you may hold the fortresses, yet they will not save you if the people hate you, for there will never be wanting foreigners to assist a people who have taken arms against you.  It has not been seen in our times that such fortresses have been of use to any prince, unless to the Countess of Forli,(*) when the Count Girolamo, her consort, was killed; for by that means she was able to withstand the popular attack and wait for assistance from Milan, and thus recover her state; and the posture of affairs was such at that time that the foreigners could not assist the people.  But fortresses were of little value to her afterwards when Cesare Borgia attacked her, and when the people, her enemy, were allied with foreigners.  Therefore, it would have been safer for her, both then and before, not to have been hated by the people than to have had the fortresses.  All these things considered then, I shall praise him who builds fortresses as well as him who does not, and I shall blame whoever, trusting in them, cares little about being hated by the people.

(*) Catherine Sforza, a daughter of Galeazzo Sforza and Lucrezia Landriani, born 1463, died 1509.  It was to the Countess of Forli that Machiavelli was sent as envy on 1499.  A letter from Fortunati to the countess announces the appointment:  “I have been with the signori,” wrote Fortunati, “to learn whom they would send and when.  They tell me that Nicolo Machiavelli, a learned young Florentine noble, secretary to my Lords of the Ten, is to leave with me at once.”  Cf.  “Catherine Sforza,” by Count Pasolini, translated by P. Sylvester, 1898.

CHAPTER XXI —­ HOW A PRINCE SHOULD CONDUCT HIMSELF SO AS TO GAIN RENOWN

Nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and setting a fine example.  We have in our time Ferdinand of Aragon, the present King of Spain.  He can almost be called a new prince, because he has risen, by fame and glory, from being an insignificant king to be the foremost king in Christendom; and if you will consider his deeds you will find them all great and some of them extraordinary.  In the beginning of his reign he attacked Granada, and this enterprise was the foundation of his dominions. 

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The Prince from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.