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.
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.