Chapter 12 Notes from The Prince

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The Prince Chapter 12

Concerning various kinds of troops, and especially mercenaries

In having discussed the various types of principalities, Machiavelli turns to the ways a state can attack other territories or defend itself. Machiavelli writes:

"The two most essential foundations for any state, whether it be old or new, or both old and new, are sound laws and sound military forces. Now, since the absence of sound laws assures the absence of sound military forces, while the presence of sound military forces indicates the presence of sound laws as well, I shall forego a consideration of laws and discuss military forces instead." Chapter 12, pg. 46

A prince can either have his own forces or rely on mercenary or auxiliary forces. Mercenary forces are useless because they have no devotion to the prince. Because their only motivation is their wage, they are not reliable in the face of battle. Machiavelli attributes much of Italy's demise to its use of mercenary armies. Moreover, mercenary captains, if they are capable, should be feared because they usually seek glory for themselves. If the captain is not ambitious, then he is unreliable and should not be used in the first place. History has shown that princes with their own armies have accomplished great things. Machiavelli chronicles the demise of the Italian states and links it with their increased reliance upon mercenary armies. These armies, with their invented military code of avoiding hardships, have left Italy vulnerable to the attack of the French, Spanish, and Swiss troops.

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