Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was one of the most important thinkers of the
Renaissance. He was for a time in the employ of the government of Florence, but
when the republican government was overthrown and the Medici restored to
power, Machiavelli lost his job. Finding himself unemployed, he turned to writing.
He wrote comedies, poetry and histories. But the work for which he is most
(1512/1513). It was originally dedicated Lorenzo de'Medici,
but was not published during his lifetime.
Chapter XVII is of special significance, be sure to read at
least that section.)
That Which Concerns A Prince On The Subject Of The Art Of War
A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his
study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to
him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born
princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And,
on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of
arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect
this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art.
Francesco Sforza, through being martial, from a private person became Duke of
Milan; and the sons, through avoiding the hardships and troubles of arms, from
dukes became private persons. For among other evils which being unarmed
brings you, it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies
against which a prince ought to guard himself, as is shown later on. Because
there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not
reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is
unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be secure among armed servants.
Because, there being in the one disdain and in the other suspicion, it is not
possible for them to work well together. And therefore a prince who does not
understand the art of war, over and above the other misfortunes already
mentioned, cannot be respected by his soldiers, nor can he rely on them. He
ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and in
peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in war; this he can do in
two ways, the one by action, the other by study.
As regards action, he ought above all things to keep his men well organized and
drilled, to follow incessantly the chase, by which he accustoms his body to
hardships, and learns something of the nature of localities, and gets to find out
how the mountains rise, how the valleys open out, how the plains lie, and to
understand the nature of rivers and marshes, and in all this to take the greatest
care. Which knowledge is useful in two ways. Firstly, he learns to know his