Chapter 3 Notes from The Prince

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The Prince Chapter 3

Mixed principalities

New principalities and mixed principalities-new territories added to existing ones-face difficulties because the residents expect the new ruler to be better than the one before. Experience usually proves otherwise, as the new ruler must be wary of those he overthrows and at the same time, please those who brought him to power. These friendships are hard to satisfy because those who helped him come to power expect a lot in return. It is easier to hold on to power of a rebellious territory the second time around because the reinstated prince can use the rebellion as an excuse to implement stricter rule.

Newly conquered states may be from the same region and share the same language as the old territories or they may not. When they share a common culture and language, the new prince should establish his rule by extinguishing the line of former princes and maintaining the status quo, specifically the territories' laws and taxes. Then these new territories will be more quickly assimilated with the old territories.

When the customs and language are different, the ruling prince needs fortune and ability. The best strategy is for the prince to reside in the new territories so that he can quickly put down rebellions and instill loyalty or fear into his new subjects. A foreign prince is less likely to attack a territory when a prince is a resident. The next best strategy is to send out colonies or, in a less efficient case, a portion of the army into the conquered territories to maintain order and settle the state. The only drawback to this method is having to displace a few subjects in order to house the colonists or the army, but this is not a major concern because the displaced are usually poor and without much influence. Machiavelli coldly adds, "men must be either pampered or annihilated." (p. 16) If an army is sent, there is more potential for trouble because troops are more difficult to maintain and their presence causes resentment among the people.

Topic Tracking: Fortune 3
Topic Tracking: Virtue 3

A prince residing in a territory with different customs and language must be aware of protecting his weaker neighbors and weakening the powerful ones. Also, he must not allow a foe of equal strength to enter his territories. The Romans, for example, were able to conquer and expand because they often exploited the weaker parties within a territory by using them to overthrow the ruling power. Once in power, the Romans set up colonies, protected the weaker powers without increasing their strength, and weakened the powerful ones without getting rid of them. A wise prince should do likewise, always ready to remedy a situation before it is too late. Machiavelli likens the maladies of a state to the hectic fever. The disease, at its early stage, is easy to cure but hard to diagnose. At a later stage, it is easy to diagnose, but impossible to cure. Similarly, a problem within a state can be detected and dealt with early or else it can become impossible to remedy. Machiavelli praises the ancient Romans for quickly dealing with their problems instead of avoiding confrontations. Wise men counsel that one should enjoy the benefits of time, but according to Machiavelli, time is not always beneficial.

Topic Tracking: Power Politics 2

Machiavelli examines the case of King Louis XII of France, who invaded Italy in 1499. He suggests that the king made several mistakes. First, the king got rid of the weaker forces that originally sided with him; second, he strengthened the powerful (the Church); third, he brought in a strong partner (Spain); fourth, he did not reside in Italy; and fifth, he did not establish colonies. The French king could have prevented further defeat had he not reduced the power of the Venetians (a strong counter-force), who were essential in maintaining a balance of power. Machiavelli, having discussed these matters with a cardinal, re-emphasizes the fact that the French often make the political mistake of letting other forces, such as the Church or Spain, gain too much power while weakening the power of balancing forces. Machiavelli concludes with a general rule that he who causes another to become powerful ruins himself.

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