Chapter 10

How The Strength Of All Principalities Should Be Measured Icon

September 25, 2021

Should a prince have so much power to support himself with his own resources?

Or should he always need the assistance of others?

  • “Self-reliant princes” are those who have plenty of men or money to raise an army sufficient to join battle for defense.
  • “Dependent princes” are those who always are forced to defend themselves by sheltering behind walls.

Dependent princes should provision and strengthen their towns, and not on try to defend the countryside. A prince will not be attacked carelessly if he:

  • protects his town well
  • manages the other concerns of his subjects as stated previously

Men are not eager for actions where the difficulties can be clearly seen. It is easy to see that attacking a well-protected town, with a loved leader, would be difficult.

The German cities are absolutely free. They own little of the country around them. They yield obedience to the king when it suits them.

They do not fear this or any power they may have near them, because they are protected in such a way that every one thinks the taking of them by direct attack would be drawn out and difficult.

They have proper ditches and walls, they have sufficient large guns and they always keep enough supplies in public store houses for one year’s eating, drinking, and fighting.

Beyond this, to keep the people quiet and without loss to the state, they always have the means of giving work to the community in those labours that are the life and strength of the city, and through the pursuit of which the people are supported. They also value military exercises, and moreover have many laws to support these exercises.

Therefore, a prince will not be attacked if he:

  • has a strong city
  • is not hated

Any attacker will only be driven off. The affairs of this world are so changeable. It is almost impossible to keep an army in the field for a year without being interfered with.

Some say that people who have property outside the city burnt will:

  • not remain patient
  • forget their prince due to their self-interest and long attack

I reply that a powerful and courageous prince will overcome all such difficulties by:

  • giving hope to his subjects that the evil will not last long
  • encouraging fear of the enemy’s cruelty.

At the same time, he should deal appropriately with those subjects who speak out too much.

The enemy would immediately burn and ruin the country when the spirits of the people are still hot and ready for the defence.

Therefore, the prince should not hesitate at such a time. If he delays, then spirits will cool and the damage is already done, and there is no longer any remedy.

Thus, the people by then are much readier to unite with their prince. This is because he appears to owe them a favour now that their houses have been burnt and their possessions ruined in his defence.

This is because it is in the nature of men to be bound by the benefits they confer as much as by those they receive. Therefore, if everything is well considered, it will not be difficult for a wise prince to keep the minds of his citizens strong and loyal from first to last when he continues to support and defend them.


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