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The Prince

by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince

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Described both as a practical rule-book containing timeless precepts for the diplomat and as a handbook of evil, this work of great originality—based on first-hand experience—provides a remarkably uncompromising picture of the true nature of power.


Dedicatory Preface


How Many Kinds of Principalities There Are and the Way They Are Acquired


On Hereditary Principalities


On Mixed Principalities


Why the Kingdom of Darius, Occupied by Alexander, Did Not Rebel Against His Successors after the Death of Alexander


How Cities or Principalities Should Be Governed that Lived by Their Own Laws Before They Were Occupied


On New Principalities Acquired by One's Own Arms and Skill

And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.

This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.

Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.

It is necessary, therefore, if we desire to discuss this matter thoroughly, to inquire whether these innovators can rely on themselves or have to depend on others: that is to say, whether, to consummate their enterprise, have they to use prayers or can they use force?

In the first instance they always succeed badly, and never compass anything; but when they can rely on themselves and use force, then they are rarely endangered.

Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the unarmed ones have been destroyed.

Besides the reasons mentioned, the nature of the people is variable, and whilst it is easy to persuade them, it is difficult to fix them in that persuasion.

And thus it is necessary to take such measures that, when they believe no longer, it may be possible to make them believe by force.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince (p. 27). Fictionwise Classics. Kindle Edition.

On New Principalities Acquired with the Arms of Others and by Fortune


On Those Who Have Become Princes Through Wickedness


On the Civil Principality


How the Strength of All Principalities Should Be Measured


On Ecclesiastical Principalities


On the Various Kinds of Troops and Mercenary Soldiers


On Auxiliary, Mixed, and Citizen Soldiers


A Prince's Duty Concerning Military Matters


On Those Things for Which Men, and Particularly Princes, Are Praised or Blamed


On Generosity and Miserliness


On Cruelty and Mercy, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than To Be Feared or the Contrary


How a Prince Should Keep His Word


On Avoiding Being Despised and Hated


On Whether Fortresses and Many Things that Princes Employ Every Day Are Useful or Harmful


How a Prince Should Act to Acquire Esteem


On the Prince's Private Advisers

The choice of advisers is of no little import to a prince; and they are good or not, according to the wisdom of the prince.

The first thing one does to evaluate the wisdom of a ruler is to examine the men that he has around him;

and when they are capable and faithful one can always consider him wise,

for he has known how to recognize their ability and to keep them loyal;

but when they are otherwise one can always form a low impression of him;

for the first error he makes is made in this choice of advisers.

There was no one who knew Messer Antonio da Venafro, adviser of Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince of Siena, who did not judge Pandolfo to be a very worthy man for having him as his minister.

For there are three types of intelligence:

one understands on its own,

the second discerns what others understand,

the third neither understands by itself nor through the intelligence of others;

that first kind is most excellent,

the second excellent,

the third useless;

therefore, it was necessary that if Pandolfo's intelligence were not of the first sort it must have been of the second:

for, whenever a man has the intelligence

to recognize the good or the evil that a man does or says,

although he may not have original ideas of his own,

he recognizes the bad deeds and the good deeds of the adviser,

and he is able to praise the latter and to correct the others;

and the adviser cannot hope to deceive him and thus he maintains his good behaviour.




But as to how a prince may know the adviser, there is this way which never fails.

When you see that the adviser thinks more about himself than about you,

and that in all his deeds he seeks his own interests,

such a man as this will never be a good adviser

and you will never be able to trust him;

for a man who has the state of another in his hand must never think about himself

but always about his prince,

and he must never be concerned with anything that does not concern his prince.




And on the other hand, the prince should think of the adviser in order to keep him good —

honouring him, making him wealthy, putting him in his debt, giving him a share of the honours and the responsibilities —

so that the adviser sees that he cannot exist without the prince

and so his abundant wealth will not make him desire more riches,

or his many duties make him fear changes.

When, therefore, advisers and princes are of such a nature in their dealings with each other, they can have faith in each other; and when they are otherwise, the outcome will always be harmful either to the one or to the other.


On How to Avoid Flatterers


Why Italian Princes Have Lost Their States


On Fortune's Role in Human Affairs and How She Can Be Dealt With

It is not unknown to me
that many have held, and still hold, the opinion

that the things of this world
are, in a manner,

controlled by fortune
and by God,

that men with their wisdom,
cannot control them,
and on the contrary,

that men can have no remedy
whatsoever for them;

and for this reason
they might judge
that they need not
sweat much over such matters

but let them be governed by fate.

This opinion
has been more strongly held
in our own times

because of the great variation of affairs
that has been observed

and that is being observed
every day
which is beyond human conjecture.

Sometimes, as I think about these things,
I am inclined to their opinion
to a certain extent.

in order that our free will
be not extinguished,

I judge it to be true
that fortune is the arbiter
of one half of our actions,

but that she
still leaves the control
of the other half, or almost that, to us.

And I compare her to
one of those ruinous rivers
that, when they become enraged,
flood the plains,
tear down the trees and buildings,
taking up earth from one spot
and placing it upon another;
everyone flees from them,
everyone yields to their onslaught,
unable to oppose them in any way.

But although they are of such a nature,
it does not follow that
when the weather is calm
we cannot take precautions
with embankments and dikes,
so that when they rise up again
either the waters will be channelled off
or their impetus will not be either so unchecked
or so damaging.

The same things happen
where fortune is concerned:

she shows her force
where there is no organized strength
to resist her;

and she directs her impact
there where she knows that dikes and embankments
are not constructed to hold her.

And if you consider Italy,
the seat of these changes
and the nation which has
set them in motion,

you will see a country
without embankments
and without a single bastion:

for if she were defended by
the necessary forces,

like Germany, Spain, and France,

either this flood
would not have produced the great changes
that it has
or it would not have come upon us at all.

And this
I consider enough to say about fortune
in general terms.




limiting myself more to particulars,

I say that one sees
a prince prosper today
and come to ruin tomorrow
without having seen him change his character
or any of the reasons
that have been discussed at length earlier;

that is, that a prince
who relies completely upon fortune
will come to ruin
as soon as she changes;

I also believe
that the man
who adapts his course of action
to the nature of the times
will succeed

and, likewise,
that the man who sets his course of action
out of tune with the times
will come to grief.

For one can observe
that men, in the affairs

which lead them to the end
that they seek —
that is, glory and wealth —

proceed in different ways;

one by caution,
another with impetuousness;

one through violence,
another with guile;

one with patience,
another with its opposite;

and each one by these various means
can attain his goals.

And we also see,
in the case of two cautious men,

that one reaches his goal

while the other does not;

and, likewise, two men equally succeed

using two different means,

one being cautious

and the other impetuous:

this arises from
nothing else than
the nature of the times

that either suit
or do not suit
their course of action.

From this results that which I have said,
that two men,
working in opposite ways,

can produce the same outcome;

and of two men
working in the same fashion
one achieves his goal
and the other does not.

On this also depends
the variation of what is good;

for, if a man governs himself
with caution and patience,

and the times and conditions
are turning in such a way
that his policy is a good one,

he will prosper;

but if the times and conditions change,

he will be ruined

he does not change
his method of procedure.

Nor is there to be found
a man so prudent

that he knows how to adapt himself to this,


because he cannot deviate from that
to which he is by nature inclined

and also because he cannot be persuaded
to depart from a path,

having always prospered by following it.

And therefore the cautious man,

when it is time to act impetuously,

does not know how to do so,

and he is ruined;

but if he had changed his conduct
with the times,

fortune would not have changed.




Pope Julius II acted impetuously
in all his affairs,

and he found the times and conditions so apt

to this course of action
that he always achieved successful results.

Consider the first campaign
he waged against Bologna
while Messer Giovanni Bentivogli was still alive.

Venetians were unhappy about it;
so was the King of Spain;
Julius still had negotiations going on about it
with France;
and nevertheless,
he started personally on this expedition
with his usual ferocity
and lack of caution.

Such a move
kept Spain and the Venetians at bay,
the latter out of fear

and the former
out of a desire
to regain the entire Kingdom of Naples;

and at the same time
it drew the King of France
into the affair,

for when the King,
saw that the Pope
had already made this move,

he judged that he could not
deny him the use of his troops

without obviously harming him,

since he wanted his friendship
in order to defeat the Venetians.

And therefore Julius achieved
with his impetuous action
what no other pontiff
would ever have achieved
with the greatest of human wisdom;

for, if he had waited to leave Rome
with agreements settled
and things in order,
as any other pontiff might have done,

he would never have succeeded,
because the King of France
would have found a thousand excuses

and the others
would have aroused in him a thousand fears.

I wish to leave unmentioned his other deeds,
which were all similar
and which were all successful.

And the brevity of his life
did not let him experience the opposite,

since if times
which necessitated caution
had come
his ruin would have followed from it:

for never
would he have deviated
from those methods
to which his nature inclined him.




I conclude, therefore, that since fortune changes

and men remain set in their ways,

men will succeed
when the two are in harmony

and fail
when they are not in accord.

I am certainly convinced of this:
that it is better
to be impetuous
than cautious,
because fortune is a woman,
and it is necessary,
in order to
keep her down,
to beat her
and ill-use her.

And it is seen
that she more often
allows herself to be taken over by men
who are impetuous
than by those who make cold advances;
and then, being a woman,
she is always the friend of young men,
for they are less cautious,
more aggressive,
and they command her
with more audacity


An Exhortation to Liberate Italy From the Barbarians


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence;

it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker



The shift from manual workers
who do as they are being told
either by the task or by the boss —

TO knowledge workers
who have to manage themselves

profoundly challenges social structure


Managing Oneself (PDF) is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” …

“It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities:
Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life),

and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context



More than anything else,

the individual
has to take more responsibility
for himself or herself,
rather than depend on the company.”


“Making a living is no longer enough
‘Work’ has to make a life .” continue

finding and selecting the pieces of the puzzle


The Second Curve




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving relentlessly toward unimagined futures.



What’s the next effective action on the road ahead




It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then working out a plan for coping with what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise.

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