Machiavelli, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 456 pages of information about Machiavelli, Volume I.

How many sorts of Military discipline there are and touching Mercenary soldiers.

Having treated particularly of the qualities of those Principalities, which in the beginning I propounded to discourse upon, and considered in some part the reasons of their well and ill being, and shewd the waies whereby many have sought to gain, and hold them, it remains now that I speak in general of the offences and defences, that may chance in each of the forenamed.  We have formerly said that it is necessary for a Prince to have good foundations laid; otherwise it must needs be that he go to wrack.  The Principal foundations that all States have, as well new, as old, or mixt, are good laws, and good armes; and because there cannot be good laws, where there are not good armes; and where there are good armes, there must needs be good laws, I will omit to discourse of the laws, and speak of armes.  I say then that the armes, wherewithall a Prince defends his State, either are his own, or mercenary, or auxiliary, or mixt.  Those that are mercenary and auxiliar, are unprofitable, and dangerous, and if any one holds his State founded upon mercenary armes, he shall never be quiet, nor secure, because they are never well united, ambitious, and without discipline, treacherous, among their friends stour, among their enemies cowardly; they have no fear of God, nor keep any faith with men; and so long only defer they the doing of mischief, till the enemy comes to assul thee; and in time of peace thou art despoyled by them, in war by thy enemies:  the reason hereof is, because they have no other love, nor other cause to keep them in the field, but only a small stipend, which is not of force to make them willing to hazard their lives for thee:  they are willing indeed to be thy soldiers, till thou goest to fight; but then they fly, or run away; which thing would cost me but small pains to perswade; for the ruine of Italy hath not had any other cause now a dayes, than for that it hath these many years rely’d upon mercenary armes; which a good while since perhaps may have done some man some service, and among themselves they may have been thought valiant:  but so soon as any forrein enemy appeared, they quickly shewed what they were.  Whereupon Charles the King of France, without opposition, made himself master of all Italy:  and he that said, that the causes thereof were our faults, said true; but these were not those they beleeved, but what I have told; and because they were the Princes faults, they also have suffered the punishment.  I will fuller shew the infelicity of these armes.  The mercenary Captains are either very able men, or not:  if they be, thou canst not repose any trust in them:  for they will alwaies aspire unto their own proper advancements, either by suppressing of thee that art their Lord, or by suppressing of some one else quite out of thy purpose:  but if the Captain be not valorous, he ordinarily ruines thee:  and in case it be answered, that whoever shall have

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Machiavelli, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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