The Prince Chapter 26
An exhortation to free Italy from the hands of the barbarians
Machiavelli believes that the time is ripe for a determined prince to restore former glory to Italy and free her from the bondage of barbarian cruelty. Just as great leaders of the past won glory by taking it upon themselves to meet their nation's desperate needs, Machiavelli urges the prince, Lorenzo de' Medici, to take up the endeavor because all the signs point to his success. (The Medici family held great political clout, including control of the papacy). Before, a certain prince seemed to have all the necessary qualities to become Italy's savior, but in the end, fortune undid his labors. Machiavelli is referring to Cesare Borgia, who almost succeeded in uniting Italy, but failed to do so because of ill health. Machiavelli writes that the prince, on the other hand, is destined for glory just as long as he follows the model of former great princes. Italians are not lacking in courage or skill in battle. What they need is a capable leader who is worthy of the people's respect and admiration. Italian troops are capable in individual combat, but have done poorly in wars because of the lack of qualified leaders. Machiavelli emphasizes again that the prince should command and keep his own army. He is convinced that with new military weapons and strategy, an Italian army can defeat any of the other formidable armies-the Spanish, Swiss, German, and French. They all have their exploitable weakness. Machiavelli writes with much emotion:
"I cannot describe with how much love, with what thirst for revenge, with what resolute loyalty, with what tenderness, with what tears he would be received in all those provinces which have endured these foreign hordes. What gates would be closed to him? What people would deny him obedience? Whose envy would oppose him? What Italian would withhold his allegiance?" Chapter 26, pg. 90
Machiavelli challenges the prince to save Italy from the control of the barbarians. He concludes by quoting a line from a poem by Petrarch that takes glory in Italian might.