Chapter 24

Why The Princes Of Italy Lost Their States Icon

September 20, 2021

The actions of a new prince are more critically observed than those of an hereditary one. When princes are seen to be capable, they gain more men and make them more loyal than ancient blood.

This is because men are attracted more by the present than by the past. When they find the present good, they enjoy it and seek no further. They will also strongly defend a prince if he does not fail them in other things.

Thus, it will be a double glory for him to:

  • have established a new principality, and enriched
  • strengthened it with good laws, good arms, good friends, and good leadership.

Similarly, it will be a double dishonour for someone who is born a prince to lose his state through a lack of wisdom.

The princes who have lost their states in Italy in our times are the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan, et al. They had:

  1. A common problem in regard to arms discussed earlier
  2. People hostile to them, or had friendly people who did not know how to secure the nobles

Without these problems, states that have enough power to keep an army in the field.

Philip of Macedon (not the father of Alexander the Great, but the one who was conquered by Titus Quintius) had a smaller state compared to the Romans and the Greeks who attacked him.

Yet, being a warlike man who knew how to attract the people and secure the nobles, he sustained the war against his enemies for many years. Even if he lost some of his cities in the end, nevertheless he retained the kingdom.

Therefore, our princes should not accuse fortune for the loss of their principalities after so many years’ possession, but rather their own laziness. In quiet times they never thought there could be change (it is a common weakness in people not to make any provision in the calm against the storm).

When afterwards the bad times came, they thought of running away and not of defending themselves. They hoped that the people, disgusted with the attitude of the conquerors, would call them back.

This course, when others fail, may be good, but it is very bad to have neglected all other possibilities for that. You should never wish to fall because you hoped to find someone later on to restore you.

This either does not happen or, if it does, it will not be good for your security. Being saved is of no use unless it is by your own efforts. The only reliable, certain, and lasting ways are those that depend on yourself and your courage.


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