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The Prince

by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince

Amazon link: The Prince (The World's Classics)

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.

Nevertheless, 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.

But, 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

because 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.

Ile 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 to struggle with 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




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