The Prince | Study Guide

Niccolò Machiavelli

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The Prince | Chapter 24 : Why the Italians Have Lost Their States | Summary

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Summary

Machiavelli discusses two examples of Italian princes from his own time who lost their states. He argues that both the King of Naples and the Duke of Milan organized their militaries incorrectly and did not properly manage the attitudes of their subjects. These two princes are compared to a prince of the ancient world, Philip of Macedon. Fortune was not in his favor, as his domain was attacked by a more powerful military force. However, Machiavelli states that Philip's military and diplomatic ability allowed him to maintain most of his domain despite the odds against him. Given this comparison, Machiavelli argues that the losses of the Italian princes cannot be attributed to bad luck. Instead, their lack of preparedness and laziness are to blame. These princes were not ready for the violent times that upset the long rule of their families.

Analysis

This criticism is likely aimed at the Medici family directly. Recall that most of Machiavelli's life was spent under a republican government that overthrew the Medici family. At the time The Prince was written, the Medici had only recently regained the city of Florence. Pointing this out, Machiavelli no doubt hopes to make the Medici listen to his advice.

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