Book Notes Chapter 7 Notes from The Prince

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The Prince Chapter 7

Concerning new principalities acquired with the arms and fortunes of others

Machiavelli turns his attention to private citizens who acquire principalities through fortune, such as through a bestowed gift or bribery. These so-called princes make no effort in acquiring power, but they inevitably face many difficulties in preserving it. Without a loyal army or any traditions to stand on, a prince of a new state that relies on fortune does not have a good chance of surviving. In reviewing the two ways of becoming a prince, either through ability or fortune, Machiavelli offers two illustrations. Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, is an example of a prince who rose to power through his abilities. He maintained his power with ease because he had to overcome many obstacles in establishing his state. Cesare Borgia, or Duke Valentino, is an example of one who acquired his position and territory through fortune-by inheriting it from his father, Pope Alexander VI. But he lost it through fortune as well, although he did everything right. Using Cesare Borgia's life as a case study, Machiavelli constructs an interesting argument-that ultimate success is dependent upon both ability and fortune. Cesare Borgia is the model prince that all other princes who come to power by fortune should imitate. Machiavelli writes:

"Therefore, if you are a prince in possession of a newly acquired state and deem it necessary to guard against your enemies, to gain allies, to win either by force or fraud, to be loved and feared by your subjects, to be respected and obeyed by your troops, to annihilate those who can or must attack you, to reform and modernize old institutions, to be severe yet cordial, magnanimous and liberal, to abolish a disloyal militia and create a new one, to preserve the friendship of kings and princes in such a way that they will either favor you graciously or oppose you cautiously-then for such purposes you will not find fresher examples to follow than the actions of this man." Chapter 7, pg. 34

Topic Tracking: Fortune 5
Topic Tracking: Virtue 5

Aside from the mistake of supporting the election of a new pope who would eventually come to haunt him, Cesare Borgia did everything right and would have prevailed had it not been for the untimely death of his father and his own failing health.

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