Concerning Ecclesiastical Principalities.
There remains now only that we treat of the Ecclesiastical Principalities, about which all the difficulties are before they are gotten: for they are attained to either by vertue, or Fortune; and without the one or the other they are held: for they are maintaind by orders inveterated in the religion, all which are so powerfull and of such nature, that they maintain their Princes in their dominions in what manner soever they proceed and live. These only have an Estate and defend it not; have subjects and govern them not; and yet their States because undefended, are not taken from them; nor their subjects, though not govern’d, care not, think not, neither are able to aliene themselves from them. These Principalities then are only happy and secure: but they being sustained by superior causes, whereunto humane understanding reaches not, I will not meddle with them: for being set up and maintained by God, it would be the part of a presumptuous and rash man to enter into discourse of them. Yet if any man should ask me whence it proceeds, that the Church in temporal power hath attaind to such greatness, seeing that till the time of Alexander the sixt, the Italian Potentates, and not only they who are entituled the potentates, but every Baron and Lord though of the meanest condition in regard of the temporality, made but small account of it; and now a King of France trembles at the power thereof; and it hath been able to drive him out of Italy, and ruine the Venetians; and however this be well known, me thinks it is not superstitious in some part to recall it to memory. Before that Charles King of France past into Italy, this countrey was under the rule of the Pope, Venetians, the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan, and the Florentines. These Potentates took two things principally to their care; the one, that no forreiner should invade Italy; the other that no one of them should inlarge their State. They, against whom this care was most taken, were the Pope and the Venetians; and to restrain the Venetians, there needed the union of all the rest, as it was in the defence of Ferrara; and to keep the Pope low,