Judging the States’ Strength
According to Machiavelli, we could judge the strength of a principality from his ability of maintaining the state by himself. A strong state owns its army and provision to maintain itself, but a weak one would need others’ help to do it. But it is not applicable in an ecclesiastical principality, or the Catholic Church. For, being sustained by God, it is more easily maintained.
*Own army—the best choice; it’s better to lose with one’s native army than to win by others’.
*Mercenary arms – paid soldiers—disunited, undisciplined, faithless, because money was their only motive; while the captain only concerned for his own greatness.
*Auxiliaries—borrowing armies from neighbors—even more dangerous than mercenaries, for if they won, you would be their prisoner.
*Mixed—contains of own army and mercenaries or auxiliaries; still better than the last two, but much inferior than own army.
Qualities of a Prince
To succeed, a prince should spare much of his time to arm himself; by physical exercises, as well as reading histories. A prince should possess both good and bad qualities, so that he could use them accordingly when necessary; although he must not create a scandal.
*Generous vs miserly: As a prince, to be generous won’t be appreciated; and if overly done, it will exhaust your resources. Moreover, it will make your people greedy. However, you can be liberal (or considered to be it) when you are in process to become a prince. You can also be liberal when you don’t own your property, for it won’t harm your reputation. It’s better to be named miser than to be hated as a liberal.
*Merciful vs cruel: A good prince is better feared than loved—if one could not possess both equally—for love could change in difficult times, but not fear. Excessive clemency would raise disorders, while a little cruelty would make people more united and faithful. But the prince must avoid being hated although still feared. “Men love at their free will, but fear at the will of the prince.” seems very true!
*Trustworthy? or not?: A prince must be a lion and a fox at once; or at least to seem to have both qualities. He must know how to use both qualities; he mustn’t deviate from what is good, but be able to do evil when necessary.
*Avoid hatred: Do not deprive your people of their property and women; these will make them hate you. By avoiding hatred you would eliminate the chance of conspiracies, as it’s hard to conspire when people love you. As long as you keep the nobles content and the people satisfied (by establishing a parliament as a third judge, or make the military respect you), there will be little chance for conspiracy.
Prudence of a Prince
*Fortresses—could be useful or not, according to circumstances, but it is more important to not being hated by the people than to build fortresses.
*To gain reputation—a prince should pursue great enterprises and proof of prowess. Greatness in administration was important too. However a prince should choose side rather then being neutral; but never take a stronger force as an ally, for if he wins, you’ll be under his power. He should also reward those with merits and encourage citizens to safely pursue their trades.
*Picking ministers—is important, because you are judged first from choosing the right servant. A good minister should think of more your needs than his own. And the prince should honor and be kind to his minister to get his loyalty.
*To deal with flatterers—encourage them to speak the truth, but if they all speaks, it will deviate the prince. The best way is to have a council, so he’d only take counsel from no one except it; and they could only speak when he wish it. After that he must be determined with his decision, or else he would not be respected.
Chance of a Prince
*Italian Princes lost the states—first, because they had defect arms. Second, because either the people were hostile to them or they could not trust the nobility.
*Fortune: is it influential?—Fortune influences only half of our lives, while the rest depends on us. The problem is men’s nature towards circumstances is fixed; they succeed as long their nature conform the circumstances. A Prince should work harder and take more risks to succeed.
*To free Italian from barbarians—is Machiavelli’s advices to Medici family to conquer Italy using their own armies according to his analyses in this book.