Chapter 4 Notes from The Prince

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The Prince Chapter 4

Why Alexander's successors were able to keep possession of Darius' kingdom after Alexander's death

Given that newly acquired states are difficult to control, Machiavelli discusses how the successors of Alexander the Great in the Asiatic lands were able to retain power after his death. Machiavelli identifies two ways of governing a principality. One way is for a single prince to rule over the whole territory with ministers and functionaries acting as his servants, as is the case in Turkey. The other way is for a prince to rule along with barons who hold inherited positions and have their own loyal subjects, as is the case in France. Machiavelli points out that the Kingdom of the Turks would be difficult to conquer because in order to win, one must mount a battle against a strong, united force. But once defeated, it would be easy to keep because the new conqueror needs only to extinguish the ruling family, the source of the kingdom's unity. The Kingdom of France, on the other hand, would be easy to conquer, but difficult to keep. To defeat France, one needs only to find a discontented baron, among many, who is willing to be an ally, but once in power, a conquering prince will find a host of problems to deal with. In a state like France, a prince is never free from having to please friends and extinguish enemies.

The Asiatic lands conquered by Alexander was like the Turkish government, therefore, it was easy to control even after the emperor's death. The Romans, on the other hand, experienced difficulties controlling territories with governments similar to the French. Therefore, one can assess the likelihood of a prince's success in controlling a newly acquired principality by the type of government the territory has had. This is as much a determining factor of success or failure as the prince's abilities.

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