Summary of The Prince by Machiavelli
| Chapters 1 to 7 | Chapters 8 to 15 | Chapters 16 to 20 | Chapters 21 to 26
Chapter 1 to Chapter 7
Republics or principalities hold power and rule over people.
Principalities are either hereditary, or they are new.
The prince only deals with how principalities should be ruled and preserved
An inherited principalilty is easier to rule than a new one - all you have to do is not break their
People change their rules willingly, in the hope that the new ruler will be better than the current one.
Out of necessity the current prince also burdens his people in establishing a new principality.
The current prince also made enemies with those that were injured in seizing the principality.
Even if you have a strong army you still need the goodwill of the people to keep a principality.
It is easy to lose a new principality because a new prince can not immediately reward those that helped him. As soon as a principality is won, you should get rid of the rebels and strenghten yourself in your weakest places.
Principalities in your country and of the same language as your country are easier to hold than if they are not.
It is even easier to hold if this principality has not been used to self-government.
When taking over a principality you only have to do two things, kill the previous prince and his whole family and do not change the current laws and taxes.
Taking over a principality in a country that differs from your language, customs and laws are much more difficult. The best way to make this easier is to go and stay in this principality.
When you are on the spot, problems are easily spotted and fixed before they get out of hand.
You can also prevent you officials from plundering the country.
It is difficult to take over a principality if its prince stays there - in the principality.
You can also send colonies to principalities to help holding it. Sending cavalry and infantry is much more expensive.
Colonies are more faithful to you and it injures the people less than cavalry.
People should be treated well or be crushed. If you injure someone only lightly they can still take revenge, if you crush them they can not revenge.
Armed men just consume the states income. Colonies are the best option.
A prince should be careful that a foreiger does not come and get more power than he has. Neighboring states not taken over should not be allowed to become too powerful. The prince must remain the master of the whole country. If you do not do this, you will be taken over, or otherwise you will constantly have power struggle difficulties.
Sensible princes should prepare for the future too. Minor problems should be addressed immediately before it gets out of hand.
To foresee problems is difficult, but when you see future problems, act to fix this at once.
Keep your weak and powerless friends secure and protected. They will then come to you for help.
You should not weaken yourself, especially by helping other to become more powerful.
It is natural for men to want to acquire. If they do they are praised. If they are unable to acquire, they get stupid.
It is easy to understand that when you do not observe these rules, after you take a principality, you will lose it.
To hold a principality a prince must understand statecraft and warcarft.
"he who is the cause of another becoming powerful is ruined"
??? for the hat to Rouen
A principality is either governed by a prince and servants or by a prince and barons. Barons rule their states.
If a prince rules using servants he is regarded much higher because he is the only ruler in the country.
Countries with one prince and servants are difficult to take over. Everyone is supporting the prince - they can not help you in your takeover. Servants do not have the people following them, so if you corrupt them, they can not help you.
Once you take over such a country and you kill the prince and his familty, is is easy to rule: there is no one with power to fear.
A country with barons is much easier to take over - there is always some barons that are unhappy about something that you can win over. Such people make a takeover easier, but makes it more difficult to hold afterwards.
If you know these rules, it is easy to understand why someone holds onto an empire, while another prince loses an empire. Holding a state has more to do with uniformity in a state than with the ability of the prince.
There are three ways to handle a state that has been used to being free, living under their own laws.
go and stay there in person
permit them to live under their own laws, establish your own small government there
Having such a small government run by you has its advantages - they support you because they cannot live without your support.
A prince that holds a city by keeping it free, will hold it more easily than by any other means.
If you do not ruin a city used to freedom, they will want to regain their freedom and therefore stand in unity against you. You must ruin them, or go and stay there ruling them.
Cities or countries used to being ruled is easy to overtake and to become the new ruler.
A wise prince should immitate and follow in the footsteps of other great leaders before him. Imitation will not equal you with their abilities.
Princes should aim very high, if they hit a target much lower, it was still worth it to aim high.
A prince has much less difficulty in holding a principality he won by his own ability than a prince that got a principality by good fortune. If you stay in your new principality, it is easier to keep than if you were to try and rule it from afar.
Princes with high abilities can recognize opportunities and take advantage of it - because of their abilities.
Nothing is more dangerous, difficult and uncertain than too introduce a new order of things.
Your enemies will be those that had greatest advantage from the old order of things. Those people that will not benefit from your new order of things, will not support it enthusiastically.
When you introduce a new order of things, those hostile to you will have their reasons to attack you and your defenders will not be enthusiastic to defend you.
If you want to introduce a new order of things, praying and relying on others does not work. You should only rely on yourself and use force. It might be easy to persuade people, but to keep them persuaded, you might have to use force.
You must be able to keep the multitude of people to believe.
Dangers and difficulties are in the establishing of new enterprises only. Once established, you will be secure, powerful, honoured and happy.
To rise to the top by fortune is easy, to stay at the top after fortune has left you is difficult.
You must have the necessary knowledge and ability to be a prince, you can not buy it.
Becoming a prince overnight lack the necessary foundations when difficulities are encountered.
If not laid no foundations before you became prince, you must still lay these foundations afterwards. This is very dangerous and difficult to do.
You can become a prince through fortune or through your abilities.
One of the best pieces of advice for a new prince - lay your solid foundations beforehand.
You should weaken others by letting their followers follow you. Do this by paying them well and honouring them appropriately (according to rank).
Scatter the followers of others.
It is worthy to note that one way to lay your foundations is to eliminate the leaders, make their followers your friends by helping them prosper.
When rulers plunder their followers, rather than rule well, the country is full of violence, robbery and fights - there is no union.
Win all gentlemen over to yourself.
Some features of good foundations are: boldness, ability, laying firm foundations fast.
Alexander is an excellent example of all the following actions necessary to secure a new principality:
- win friends
- overcome by force or fraud
- make yourself loved and feared by people
- be followed and admired by his soldiers
- eliminate those with the power or reason to hurt you
- change from the old ways to your new order of things
- be strict and generous as required
- destroy disloyal soldiers, establish loyal soldiers
- have friends in princes and kings that help you with enthusiasm, and are careful not to differ from you
People hurt others out of fear or hatred.
Summary of Chapters 8 to 15
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