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It is more difficult, and so more admirable, to build a fine city than to demolish one. We observe, however, that the most prosperous cities are built by private citizens, simple men, but are demolished by the wrath of princes. All too often we go to more trouble and expense to demolish a town than would be needed to build a new one, and we fight wars with such extravagance, at such expense, and with such enthusiasm and diligence, that peace could have been preserved for a tenth of all that.
11 min read
It is better for the prince to be engaged in public duties than to spend his life hidden from sight. But whenever he goes out, he should take care that his face, his bearing, and above all his speech are such that they will set his people an example, bearing in mind that whatever he says or does will be seen by all and known to all.
6 min read
To a certain extent the marriage of princes is a private affair, but we must acknowledge that sometimes the whole course of events may come to depend almost entirely on this one point, so that what happened long ago to the Greeks and Trojans over Helen often happens to us. If a choice worthy of the prince is to be made, let a woman be chosen who is distinguished among her fellows by her honesty, modesty, and prudence, who will make an obedient wife for the best of princes, and will bear him children worthy of both parents and of their country. Whatever her parentage, she will be noble enough if she makes a good wife for a good prince.
4 min read
In making treaties, as in everything else, the good prince will pursue only the public interest. Otherwise, if they are arranged to benefit the princes at the expense of the people, they should be called conspiracies, not treaties. Anyone who acts like this makes one people into two, nobility and commons, and one of them profits only from the other’s loss; but where this happens, there is no state.
3 min read
What is the prince but a physician to the state? But it is not enough for a physician to have skilful assistants; he must himself be the most skilful and careful of all. Similarly, it is not enough for the prince to have virtuous magistrates; he must himself be the most virtuous of all, since it is he who chooses and corrects them.
4 min read
The good, wise, and upright prince is simply a sort of embodiment of the law. He will therefore spare no effort to enact the best possible laws, those most beneficial to the state, rather than a great number. A very small number of laws will be sufficient in a well-ordered state under a good prince and honest magistrates, and if things are otherwise, no amount of laws will suffice. When an incompetent doctor tries one remedy after another, his patients tend to suffer.
16 min read
If kindliness and generosity are the special glory of good princes, how can certain people lay claim to the title of prince when their whole policy is directed towards fostering their own interests at the expense of everyone else? The skilful and vigilant prince will therefore seek ways of helping everyone, and that does not mean simply by handing out gifts. He will assist some by his liberality and raise up others by his support; he will use his authority to restore those who are cast down and his advice to help others. In fact, he will be inclined to regard as wasted any day in which he has not used his power for good to help someone.
3 min read
Care must be taken meanwhile that discrepancies in wealth are not excessive: not that I would want anyone to be forcibly deprived of his goods, but some system should be operated to prevent the wealth of the many from being allocated to the few. Plato, for one, wants his citizens to be neither too rich nor on the other hand particularly poor, since the poor man is unable to make a social contribution while the rich man is unwilling to do so by using his own talents.
5 min read
For my part, I prefer a prince to be born and brought up among the people he is to rule, for mutual regard develops and consolidates best whenever good will springs from a natural source. The common people recoil from and hate the unknown even when it is good; and, conversely, evils that are familiar are sometimes held dear. This recommendation will bring two advantages: for not only will the prince be better disposed towards his people and altogether regard them more as his own, but also the people will support him more sincerely and more readily acknowledge him as their prince.
12 min read
Whenever the prince takes a book in his hands, let him do it not for the purpose of enjoyment but in order that he may get up from his reading a better man. Anyone who strives energetically to improve himself soon finds out how to do so. A considerable part of goodness is the wish to achieve it: for example, someone who recognizes in himself the disease of ambition or truculence or lust, who hates what he sees, and who opens a book looking for a remedy for his malady readily discovers how the affliction may be either banished or mitigated.
14 min read
Education of a Christian Prince. Introduction and Chapter 1: The Birth and Upbringing of a Christian Prince
On board ship, we do not give the helm to the one who has the noblest ancestry of the company, the greatest wealth, or the best looks, but to him who is most skilled in steering, most alert, and most reliable. Similarly, a kingdom is best entrusted to someone who is better endowed than the rest with the qualities of a king: namely wisdom, a sense of justice, personal restraint, foresight, and concern for the public well-being.
72 min read