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Machiavelli The Prince

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Chapters IÐ'-IV - THE PRINCE

Summary Ð'-- Chapter I: The Kinds of Principalities and the Means by Which They Are Acquired

Machiavelli describes the different kinds of states, arguing that all states are either republics or principalities. Principalities can be divided into hereditary principalities and new principalities. New principalities are either completely new or new appendages to existing states. By fortune or strength, a prince can acquire a new principality with his own army or with the arms of others.

Summary Ð'-- Chapter II: Hereditary Principalities

Chapter II is the first of three chapters focusing on methods to govern and maintain principalities. Machiavelli dismisses any discussion of republics, explaining that he has "discussed them at length on another occasion"Ð'--a reference to Book 1 of his Discourses.

Machiavelli notes that it is easier to govern a hereditary state than a new principality for two main reasons. First, those under the rule of such states are familiar with the prince's family and are therefore accustomed to their rule. The natural prince only has to keep past institutions intact, while adapting these institutions to current events. Second, the natural disposition of subjects in a hereditary state is to love the ruling family, unless the prince commits some horrible act against his people. Even if a strong outsider succeeds in conquering a prince's hereditary state, any setback the outsider encounters will allow the prince to reconquer the state.

Summary Ð'-- Chapter III: Mixed Principalities

Machiavelli explains why maintaining a new principality is more difficult than maintaining a hereditary state. In the first place, people will willingly trade one recently arrived ruler for another, hoping that a new ruler will be better than the present one. This expectation of improvement will induce people to take up arms against any relatively unestablished prince. Although the people may quickly realize that their revolt is ineffective, they will still create great disorder. Furthermore, when a prince takes over another prince's domain, he finds himself in a tricky situation with regard to the people who put him in power. He cannot maintain the support of these people because he cannot fulfill all of their expectations that their situation will improve. But he also cannot deal too harshly with them because he is in their debt. Immediately after taking power, the prince is in danger of losing his newly gained principality.

When a prince successfully suppresses a revolt, however, the ruler can easily prevent further revolt by harshly punishing the rebels and decimating his opposition. The ruler can deal more harshly with his subjects in response to the revolt than he would be able to normally.

It is much easier to maintain control over a new principality if the people share the same language and customs as the prince's own country. If this is the case, the prince has to do only two things: destroy the family of the former prince, and maintain the principality's laws and taxes. People will live quietly and peacefully so long as their old ways of life are undisturbed.

New states that have different languages and customs from those of the prince are more difficult to maintain. One of the prince's most effective options is to take up residence in the new state. By living there, the prince can address problems quickly and efficiently. He can prevent the local officials from plundering his territory. The subjects will be in close contact with the prince. Therefore, those who are inclined to be good will have more reason to show their allegiance to the prince and those who are inclined to be bad will have more reason to fear him. Invaders will think twice before attempting to take over the state.

Another effective method of dealing with linguistic and cultural differences is to establish colonies in the new state. It is less expensive to establish colonies than to maintain military occupation, and colonialism only harms inhabitants who pose no threat to the prince because they are scattered and poor. As a general rule, men must be either pampered or crushed. A prince should injure people only if he knows there is no threat of revenge. Setting up military bases throughout the new state will not effectively keep order. Instead, it will upset the people, and these people may turn into hostile enemies capable of causing great harm to the prince's regime.

A prince who has occupied a state in a foreign country should dominate the neighboring states. He should weaken the strong ones and ensure that no other strong foreign power invades a neighboring state. Weaker powers will naturally side with the strongest power as long as they cannot grow strong themselves. The prince must remain master of the whole country to keep control of the state he has conquered.

Princes should always act to solve problems before problems fully manifest themselves. Political disorders are easy to solve if the prince identifies them and acts early. If they are allowed to develop fully, it will be too late.

Men naturally want to acquire more. When they succeed in acquiring more they are always praised, not condemned. But rulers who lack the ability to acquire, yet still try at the cost of their current state, should be condemned.

In order to hold a state, a prince must understand statecraft and warcraft. The two are intertwined. War can be avoided by suppressing disorder. However, one can never escape a war: war can only be postponed to the enemy's advantage.

Summary Ð'-- Chapter IV: Why Alexander's Successors Were Able to Keep Possession of Darius' Kingdom after Alexander's Death

There are two ways to govern a principality. The first involves a prince and appointed ministers. While the ministers help govern, everyone remains subservient to the prince. The second way involves a prince and nobles. Nobles are not appointed by the prince, but they benefit from their ancient lineage and have subjects of their own. Of both these scenarios, the prince is regarded as being much stronger if he uses ministers, since he is the only ruler in the country.

It is much harder to take over a country if a prince uses ministers, because ministers have little incentive to be corrupted by foreign powers or to turn on their prince. Furthermore, even if they were to turn against the prince, they would not be able to muster support from any subjects because they hold no personal loyalties. It is easier to conquer a country governed with the cooperation of nobles, because finding a discontented noble eager

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