Men always praise (but not always reasonably) the ancient times and find fault with the present; and they are such partisans of things past, that they celebrate not only that age which has been recalled to their memory by known writers, but those also (being now old) which they remember having seen in their youth. And when this opinion of theirs is false (as it is most of the times) I am persuaded the reasons by which they are led to such deception are various. And the first I believe is that the whole truth which would bring out the infamy of those times, and they amplify and magnify those others that could bring forth their glory. Moreover, the greater number of writers so obey the fortune of the winners that, in order to make their victories glorious, they not only exaggerate that which is gotten by their own virtu, but they also exaggerate the actions of the enemies; so that whoever afterwards is born in either of the two provinces, both the victorious and the defeated ones, has cause to marvel at those men and times, and is forced summarily to praise and love them. In addition to this, men hating things either from fear or envy, these two reasons for hating past events come to be extinguished, as they are not able to offend or give cause for envy of them. But the contrary happens with those things that are [presently] in operation and are seen, which because you have a complete knowledge of them as they are not in any way hidden from you; and knowing the good together with the many other things which are displeasing to you, you are constrained to judge the present more inferior than the past, although in truth the present might merit much more of that glory and fame; I do not discuss matters pertaining to the arts, which shine so much by themselves, which time cannot take away or add a little more glory which they merit by themselves; but I speak of those matters pertinent to the lives and customs of men, of which such clear evidences are not seen.
I repeat, therefore, that the custom of praising and blaming as mentioned above is true, but it is not true that you err in doing it. For sometimes of necessity our judgment is the truth, as human affairs are always in motion, either ascending or descending. And we see a City or a Province well-organized in its government by some excellent man, and for a time always progressing toward the better through the virtu of that organizer. He who is born in that state, and praises the past more than the present, deceives himself; and his deception is caused by those things mentioned above. But if they are born in that City or province after the time when it has begun to descend to its bad times, then he does not deceive himself. And in thinking of how these things go on, I judge that the world has always been in the same condition, and that there is as much good as there is bad in it; but this bad and good vary from province to province, as is seen by the historian of those ancient Kingdoms which varied from one another because of the variations in customs, while the world remained the same: the only difference was, that where virtu first found a place in Assyria, it then [moved] to Media, afterwards to Persia, and from there came to Italy and Rome: and if after the Roman Empire no other Empire followed which endured, and where the world kept together all its virtu, none the less it is seen to be scattered in many nations where people lived with virtu, as it was in the Kingdom of the Franks, the Kingdom of the Turks, that of the Soldan [of Egypt], and today the people of Germany, and before then that Saracen Sect which accomplished such great things and occupied so much of the world after having destroyed the Eastern Roman Empire. In all these provinces, therefore, after the Romans fell, the Sects possessed, and yet possess in part, that virtu which is desired and lauded with true praise. And whoever is born in them and praises the times past more than the present, may deceive himself: but whoever is born in Italy and Greece, and has not become either an Ultramontane in Italy or a Turk in Greece, has reason to find fault with his times and to praise the others, for in the past there are many things that make him marvel, but now there is not anything that will compensate for the extreme misery, infamy, and disgrace in these times where there is no observance of religion, of laws, or of military discipline, but are stained by every brutish reasoning. And these vices are even more detestable as they exist more in those who sit in the tribunals, commanding everyone, and desiring to be adored.
But returning to our argument, I say that, if the judgment of men is corrupt in deciding whether the present or the ancient age is better, in those things where because of their antiquity they cannot have a perfect knowledge as they have of their own times, the old men ought not to corrupt themselves in judging the times of their youth and their old age, they having known and seen the latter and the former equally. Which thing would be true if men throughout all the periods of their lives had the same judgment and the same appetites. But as these vary (although the times do not vary), things cannot appear the same to those men who have other appetites, other delights, and other considerations in their old age than in their youth. For as men wane (when they age) in strength but grow in judgment and prudence, so it is that those things which in their youth appeared supportable and good, will turn out (as they grow old) unsupportable and bad, and where they ought to blame their judgment, they blame the times. In addition to this, human appetites being insatiable (because by nature they have to be able to and want to desire everything, and to be able to effect little for themselves because of fortune), there arises a continuous discontent in the human mind, and a weariness of the things they possess; which makes them find fault with the present times, praise the past, and desire the future, although in doing this they are not moved by any reasonable cause. I do not know, therefore, whether I merit to be numbered among those who deceive themselves, if in these Discourses of mine I shall laud too much the times of the ancient Romans and censure ours. And truly, if the virtu that then reigned and the vice that now reigns should not be as clear as the Sun, I would be more restrained in talking, being apprehensive of falling into that deception of which I accuse others. But the matter being so manifest that everyone sees it, I shall be bold in saying openly that which I learned of those times and these, so that the minds of the young men who may read my writings can avoid the latter [evils] and imitate the [virtu] of the former, whenever fortune should give them the opportunity. For it is the office of a good man to show others that good which because of the malignity of the times and of fortune, he has not been able to accomplish, so that (many being capable) some of those more loved by Heaven can accomplish them.
And having in the discourses of the preceding book talked of the decisions made by the Romans pertinent to the internal affairs of the City, in this [book] we shall talk of that which the Roman people did pertinent to the aggrandizement of their Empire.
Many [authors], among whom is that most serious writer Plutarch, have had the opinion that the Roman people in acquiring the Empire were favored more by Fortune than by Virtu. And among other reasons which he cities, he says that, by the admission of that people, it can be shown that they ascribed all their victories to Fortune, as they had built more temples to Fortune than to any other God. And it seems that Livius joined in this opinion, for he rarely makes any Roman speak where he recounts [of] Virtu, without adding Fortune. Which thing I do not in any way agree with, nor do I believe also that it can be sustained. For if no other Republic will ever be found which has made the progress that Rome had, then I note that no Republic will ever be found which has been organized to be able to make such conquests as Rome. For it was the virtu of the armies that enabled her to acquire that Empire; and the order of proceeding and her own institutions founded by her first Legislator that enabled her to maintain the acquisitions, as will be narrated below in further discussion.
These [authors] also say that the fact of not ever engaging in two most important wars at the same time was due to the fortune and not the virtu of the Roman people; for they did riot engage in war with the Latins until they had so beaten the Samnites that the Romans had to engage in a war in defense of them: They did not combat with the Tuscans until they first subjugated the Latins, and had by frequent defeats almost completely enervated the Samnites: So that if these two powers had joined together (while they were fresh), without doubt it can easily be conjectured that the ruin of the Roman Republic would have ensued.
But however this thing may have been, it never did happen that they engaged in two most powerful wars at the same time; rather it appeared always that at the beginning of one the other would be extinguished, or in extinguishing one another would arise. Which is easily seen from the succession of wars engaged in by them; for, leaving aside the one they were engaged in before Rome was taken by the French [Gauls], it is seen that while they fought against the Equii and the Volscians, no other people (while these people were powerful) rose up against them. When these were subdued there arose the war against the Samnites, and although before that war was ended the Latin people rebelled against the Romans with their armies in subduing the insolence of the Latins. When these were subdued, the war against the Samnites sprung up again. When the Samnites were beaten through the many defeats inflicted on their forces, there arose the war against the Tuscans; which being composed, the Samnites again rose up when Pyrrhus crossed over into Italy, and as soon as he was beaten and driven back to Greece, the first war with the Carthaginians was kindled: and that war was hardly finished when all the Gauls from all sides of the Alps conspired against the Romans, but they were defeated with the greatest massacre between Popolonia and Pisa where the tower of San Vincenti stands today. After this war was finished, they did not have any war of much importance for a space of twenty years, for they did not fight with any others except the Ligurians and the remnants of the Gauls who were in Lombardy. And thus they remained until there arose the second Carthaginian war, which kept Italy occupied for sixteen years. When this war ended with the greatest glory, there arose the Macedonian war; [and] after this was finished there came that of Antiochus and Asia. After this victory, there did not remain in all the world either a Prince or a Republic that could, by itself or all together, oppose the Roman forces.
But whoever examines the succession of these wars, prior to that last victory, and the manner in which they were conducted, will see mixed with Fortune a very great Virtu and Prudence. So that if one should examine the cause of that [good] fortune, he will easily find it, for it is a most certain thing that as a Prince or a People arrives at so great a reputation, that any neighboring Princes or Peoples by themselves are afraid to assault him, and he has no fear of them, it will always happen that none of them will ever assault him except from necessity; so that it will almost be at the election of that powerful one to make war upon any of those neighbors as appears [advantageous] to him, and to quiet the others by his industry. These are quieted easily in part because they have respect for his power, and in part because they are deceived by those means which he used to put them to sleep: and other powerful ones who are distant and have no commerce with him, will look upon this as a remote thing which does not pertain to them. In which error they remain until the conflagration arrives next to them, for which, when it comes, they have no remedy to extinguish it except with their own forces, which then will not be enough as he has become most powerful.
I will leave to one side how the Samnites remained to see the Volscians and the Equii conquered by the Romans, and so as not to be too prolix I will make use of the Carthaginians who were of great power and of great reputation when the Romans were fighting with the Samnites and Tuscans; for they already held all Africa, Sardinia and Sicily, and had dominion in part of Spain. Which power of theirs, together with their being distant from the confines of the Roman people, caused them never to think of assaulting them, nor of succoring the Samnites and Tuscans; rather it made them do as is done in any power that grows, allying themselves with them [the Romans] in their favor and seeking their friendship. Nor did they see before this error was made, that the Romans having subdued all the peoples [placed] between them and the Carthaginians, begun to combat them for the Empire of Sicily and Spain. The same thing happened to the Gauls as to the Carthaginians, and also to Philip King of Macedonia and to Antiochus; and everyone of them believed (while the Roman people were occupied with others) that the others would overcome them, and then it would be time either by peace or war to defend themselves from [the Romans]. So that I believe that the [good] Fortune which the Romans had in these parts would be had by all those Princes who would proceed as the Romans and who would have that same Virtu as they had.
It would be well here in connection with this subject to show the course held by Roman people in entering the Provinces of others, of which we have talked about at length in our treatment of Principalities [Treatise on the Prince], for there we have debated this matter widely. I will only say this briefly, that they have always endeavored to have some friend in these new provinces who should be as a ladder or door to let them climb in, both to let them enter and as a means of keeping it; as was seen, that by means of the Capuans they entered Samnium, by means of the Camertines into Tuscany, by the Mamertines into Sicily, by the Saguntines into Spain, by Massinissa into Africa, by the Aetolians into Greece, by Eumences and other Princes into Asia, and by the Massilians and the Aeduans into Gaul. And thus they never lacked similar supports, both in order to be able to facilitate their enterprises of their acquiring provinces and in holding them. Which those people who observed them saw that they had less need of Fortune, than those people who do not make good observers. And so as to enable everyone to know better how much more Virtu enabled them to acquire that Empire than did Fortune, in the following chapter we will discuss the kind of people they had to combat and how obstinate they were in defending their liberty.
Nothing caused so much hard work for the Romans as the overcoming of the surrounding people and part of the distant Provinces, as the love many people in those times had for liberty; which they so obstinately defended but they would never have been subjugated except for the excessive virtu [of the Romans]. For, from many examples, it is known into what dangers they placed themselves in order to maintain or recover [their liberty], and what vengeance they practiced against those who had deprived them of it. It is also to be learned from the lessons of history what injury the people and the City received from such servitude. And, while in these times there is only one Province of which it can be said has in it free Cities, in ancient times in all the Provinces there existed many free people. It will be seen that in those times of which we speak at present, there were in Italy, from the Alps (which now divide Tuscany from Lombardy) up to the furthest [part] in Italy, many free peoples, such as were the Tuscans, the Romans, the Samnites, and many other people, who inhabited the remaining part of Italy. Nor is there ever any discussion whether there was any King outside those who reigned in Rome, and Porsenna, King of Tuscany, whose line was extinguished in a manner of which history does not speak. But it is indeed seen that in those times when the Romans went to besiege Veii, Tuscany was free, and so much did it enjoy its liberty and so hated the title of Prince, that when the Veientians created a King for the defense of Veii, and requested aid of the Tuscans against the Romans, they decided, after much consultation, not to give aid to the Veientians as long as they lived under the King, judging it not to be good to defend the country of those who already had subjected themselves to others. And it is easy to understand whence this affection arises in a people to live free, for it is seen from experience that Cities never increased either in dominion or wealth except while they had been free. And truly it is a marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Athens had arrived in the space of a hundred years after she had freed herself from the tyranny of Pisistratus. But above all, it is a more marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Rome arrived after it liberated itself from its Kings. The cause is easy to understand, for not the individual good, but the common good is what makes Cities great. And, without doubt, this common good is not observed except in Republics, because everything is done which makes for their benefit, and if it should turn to harm this or that individual, those for whom the said good is done are so many, that they can carry on against the interests of those few who should be harmed. The contrary happens when there is a Prince, where much of the time what he does for himself harms the City, and what is done for the City harms him. So that soon there arises a Tyranny over a free society, the least evil which results to that City is for it not to progress further, nor to grow further in power or wealth, but most of the times it rather happens that it turns backward. And if chance should cause that a Tyrant of virtu should spring up, who by his courage and virtu at arms expands his dominion, no usefulness would result to the Republic but only to be himself; for he cannot honor any of those citizens who are valiant and good over whom he tyrannizes, as he does not want to have to suspect them. Nor also can he subject those Cities which he acquires or make them tributary to the City of which he is the Tyrant, because he does not help himself in making them powerful, but it will help him greatly in keeping the State disunited, so that each town and each province should recognize him. So that he alone, and not his country, profits from his acquisitions. And whoever should want to confirm this opinion with infinite other arguments, let him read Xenophon’s treatise which he wrote on Tyranny.
It is no wonder, therefore, that the ancient people should have persecuted the Tyrants with so much hatred and should have loved living in freedom, and the name of Liberty so much esteemed by them; as happened when Hieronymus, nephew of Hiero the Syracusan, was killed in Syracuse; that when the news of his death came to his army, which was not very far from Syracuse, they at first begun to raise a tumult and take up arms against his killers; but when they heard that there was shouting of liberty in Syracuse, attracted by the name everyone became quiet, their ire against the Tyrannicides was quelled, and they thought of how a free government could be established in that City. It is also no wonder that the people took extraordinary vengeance against those who deprived them of liberty. Of which there have been many examples, but I intend to refer only to one which happened in Corcyra, a City of Greece, in the times of the Peloponnesian war, where, the Province being divided into two factions, of which the Athenians followed one, the Spartans the other, there arose then among the many other Cities a division among themselves, some following [the friendship of] Sparta, the the others [of] Athens: and it happened in the said City [Corcyra] that the nobles had prevailed and had taken away the liberty from the people; the populari [popular party] with the aid of the Athenians recovered its power, and, having laid hands on the nobility, put them into a prison capable of holding all of them; from which they took out eight or ten at one time under a pretext of sending them into exile in different places, but put them to death with [examples of] extreme cruelties. When the remainder became aware of this, they resolved if possible to escape that ignominious death, and arming themselves as [best] as they could, they fought with those who attempted to enter and defended the entrance to the prison; but when the people came together at this noise, they pulled down the upper part of that place, and suffocated them in the ruins. Many other similar notable and horrible cases occurred in the said Province, so that it is seen to be true that liberty is avenged with great energy when it is taken away than when it is only threatened [to be taken].
In thinking, therefore, of whence it should happen that in those ancient times the people were greater lovers of Liberty than in these times, I believe it results from the same reason which makes men presently less strong, which I believe is the difference between our education and that of the ancients, founded on the difference between our Religion and the ancients. For, as our Religion shows the truth and the true way [of life], it causes us to esteem less the honors of the world: while the Gentiles [Pagans] esteeming them greatly, and having placed the highest good in them, were more ferocious in their actions. Which can be observed from many of their institutions, beginning with the magnificence of their sacrifices [as compared] to the humility of ours, in which there is some pomp more delicate than magnificent, but no ferocious or energetic actions. Theirs did not lack pomp and magnificence of ceremony, but there was added the action of sacrifice full of blood and ferocity, the killing of many animals, which sight being terrible it rendered the men like unto it. In addition to this, the ancient Religion did not beatify men except those full of worldly glory, such as were the Captains of armies and Princes of Republics. Our Religion has glorified more humble and contemplative men rather than men of action. It also places the highest good in humility, lowliness, and contempt of human things: the other places it in the greatness of soul, the strength of body, and all the other things which make men very brave. And, if our Religion requires that there be strength [of soul] in you, it desires that you be more adept at suffering than in achieving great deeds.
This mode of living appears to me, therefore, to have rendered the world weak and a prey to wicked men, who can manage it securely, seeing that the great body of men, in order to go to Paradise, think more of enduring their beatings than in avenging them. And although it appears that the World has become effeminate and Heaven disarmed, yet this arises without doubt more from the baseness of men who have interpreted our Religion in accordance with Indolence and not in accordance with Virtu. For if they were to consider that it [our Religion] permits the exaltation and defense of the country, they would see that it desires that we love and honor her [our country], and that we prepare ourselves so that we can be able to defend her. This education and false interpretations, therefore, are the cause that in the world as many Republics are not seen in them that the people have as much love for liberty now as at that time. I believe, however, the reason for this rather to be, that the Roman Empire with its arms and greatness destroyed all the Republics and all civil institutions. And although that Empire was later dissolved, yet these Cities could not reunite themselves, nor reorganize their civil institutions, except in a very few places in that Empire.
But however it was, the Romans found a conspiracy in every smallest part of the world of Republics very well armed and most obstinate in the defense of their liberty. Which shows that the Roman people could never have overcome them without that rare and extreme virtu. And to give an example of one instance, the example of the Samnites suffices for me, which seems to be a marvelous one. And T. Livius admits that these [people] were so powerful and their arms so valiant, that, up to the time of the Consul Papirus Cursor, son of the first Papirus, for a period of forty six years, they were able to resist the Romans, despite the many defeats, destruction of Towns, and massacres suffered by their country. Especially as it is now seen that that country where there were so many Cities and so many men, is now almost uninhabited: and yet it was so well established and so powerful, that it was unconquerable except by Roman virtu. And it is an easy thing whence that order and disorder proceeded, for it all comes from their then living in freedom and now living in servitude. For all the towns and provinces which are free in every way (as was said above) make the greatest advances. For here greater populations are seen because marriages are more free and more desired by men, because everyone willingly procreates those children that he believes he is able to raise without being apprehensive that their patrimony will be taken away, and to know that they are not only born free and not slaves, but are also able through their own virtu to become Princes. They will see wealth multiplied more rapidly, both that which comes from the culture [of the soil] and that which comes from the arts, for everyone willingly multiplies those things and seek to acquire those goods whose acquisition he believes he can enjoy. Whence it results that men competing for both private and public betterment, both come to increase in a wondrous manner. The contrary of all these things happens in those countries which live in servitude, and the more the good customs are lacking, the more rigorous is the servitude. And the hardest of all servitudes is that of being subject to a Republic: the one, because it is more enduring and the possibility of escaping from it is missing: the other, because the final aim of a Republic is to enervate and weaken (in order to increase its own power) all the other states. Which a Prince who subjugates you does not do unless that Prince is some barbarous Prince, a destroyer of countries and dissipater of all human civilization, such as are oriental Princes: But if he has ordinary human feelings in him, most of the times he will love equally the Cities subject to him, and will leave them [enjoy] all their arts, and almost all their ancient institutions. So that if they cannot grow as if they were free, they will not be ruined even in servitude; servitude being understood as that in which Cities serve a foreigner, for of that to one of their own Citizens, we have spoken above.
Whoever considers, therefore, all that which has been said, will not marvel at the power which the Samnites had while they were free, and at the weakness to which they came afterwards under servitude: and T. Livius gives testimony of this in many places, and mainly in the war with Hannibal, where he shows that when the Samnites were pressed by a legion of [Romans] who were at Nola, they sent Orators [Ambassadors] to Hannibal to beg him to succor them. Who in their speech said to him. that for a hundred years they had combatted the Romans with their own soldiers and their own Captains, and many times had sustained [battle against] two consular armies and two Consuls; but now they had arrived at such baseness that they were hardly able to defend themselves against the small Roman legion which was at Nola.
Crescit interea Roma Albae ruinis. [Rome grew on the ruins of Alba] Those who plan for a City to achieve great Empire ought with all industry to endeavor to make it full of inhabitants, for without this abundance of men, one can never succeed in making a City great. This is done in two ways, by love and by force. Through love, by keeping the ways open and secure for foreigners who should plan to come to live there. Through force, by destroying the neighboring Cities and sending their inhabitants to live in your City. Which was so greatly observed by Rome, that in the time of the sixth King of Rome, that there lived there eighty thousand men capable of bearing arms. For the Romans wanted to act according to the custom of the good cultivator, who, in order to make a plant grow and able to produce and mature its fruits, cuts off the first branches that it puts out, so that by retaining that virtu in the roots of that plant, they can in time grow more green and more fruitful. And that this method of aggrandizing and creating an Empire was necessary and good, is shown by the example of Sparta and Athens; which two Republics although well armed and regulated by excellent laws, none the less did not attain to the greatness of the Roman Empire, and Rome appeared more tumultuous and not as well regulated as those others. No other reason can be adduced for this than that mentioned above; for Rome, from having enlarged the population of the City in both those two ways, was enabled to put two hundred thousand men under arms, while Sparta and Athens were never able [to raise] twenty thousand each. Which resulted not from the site of Rome being more favorable than those of the other, but solely from the different mode of procedure. For Lycurgus, founder of the Spartan Republic, thinking that nothing could more easily dissolve its laws than the admixture of new inhabitants, did everything [he could] so that foreigners would not come to them; and in addition to not receiving them into their citizenship by marriage, and other commerce that makes men come together, ordered that in that Republic of his only leather money should be spent, in order to take away from everyone the desire to come there in order to bring in merchandise or some arts: of a kind so that the City could never increase its inhabitants. And because all our actions imitate nature, it is neither possible nor natural that a slender trunk should sustain a big branch. A small Republic, therefore, cannot conquer Cities or Republics which are larger and more valiant than it; and if it does conquer them, it happens then to them as to that tree that has its branches bigger than its trunk, which sustains it only with great effort with every little breeze that blows; such as is seen happened in Sparta, which had conquered all the Cities of Greece, but as soon as Thebes rebelled, all the others rebelled, and the trunk remained alone without branches. Which could not have happened to Rome, as it had its trunk so big that it could sustain any branch. This mode of proceeding therefore, together with others which will be mentioned below, made Rome great and most powerful. Which T. Livius points out in two [few] words, when he said: Rome grew while Alba was ruined.
Whoever has studied the ancient histories finds that Republics had three ways of expanding. One has been that which the ancient Tuscans observed, of being one league of many united Republics, where there is not any one before the other either in authority or in rank. And in acquiring other Cities they made them associates of themselves, as in a similar way the Swiss do in these times, and as the Achaens and Aetolians did in ancient times in Greece. And as the Romans had many wars with the Tuscans (in order to illustrate better the first method) I will extend myself in giving a particular account of them. Before the Roman Empire, the Tuscans were the most powerful people in Italy, both on land and on the sea, and although there is no particular history of their affairs, yet there is some small record and some signs of their greatness; and it is known that they sent a colony to the sea, above [north of] them, which they called Adria, which was so noble that it gave a name to that sea which the Latins also called the Adriatic. It is also known that their arms [authority] was obeyed from the Tiber up to the foot of the Alps which now encircle the greater part of Italy; notwithstanding that two hundred years before the Romans became so powerful that the said Tuscans lost the Dominion of that country which today is called Lombardy: which province had been seized by the Gauls, who, moved either by necessity or the sweetness of the fruits, and especially of the wine, came into Italy under their leader Bellovesus, and having defeated and driven out the inhabitants of the province, they settled there where they built many Cities, and they called that Province Gallia from the name they themselves had, which they kept until they were subjugated by the Romans. The Tuscans, then, lived in that equality and proceeded in their expansion through the first method which was mentioned above: and there were twelve Cities, among which were Clusium, Veii, Fiesole, Arezzo, Volterra, and others like them, which through a league governed their Empire; nor could they go outside of Italy with their acquisitions, a great part of which still remained intact [independent], for the reasons which will be mentioned below.
The other method is to make them associates; not so closely, however, that the position of commanding the seat of the Empire and the right of sovereignty should not remain with you; which method was observed by the Romans. The third method is to make subjects of them immediately and not associates, as did the Spartans and Athenians. Of which three methods this last is entirely useless as is seen was the case in the above mentioned two Republics, which were ruined for no other reason than from having acquired that dominion which they were unable to maintain. For to undertake the governing of Cities by violence, especially those which were accustomed to living in freedom, is a difficult and wearisome thing. And unless you are armed, and powerfully armed, you cannot either command or rule them. And to want to be thus established, it is necessary to make associates of them who would help in increasing the population of your City. And as these two Cities [Sparta and Athens] did not do either the one or the other, their method of procedure was useless. And because Rome, which is an example of the second method, did both things, she therefore rose to such exceeding power. And as she had been the only one to act thusly, so too she had been the only one to become so powerful; for she had created many associates throughout all Italy, who lived with them in many respects equally under the law, but on the other hand (as I said above) she always reserved for herself the seat of Empire and the right of command, so that these associates of hers came (without their being aware of it) through their own efforts and blood to subjugate themselves. For as soon as they begun to go beyond Italy with their armies to reduce other Kingdoms to Provinces, and to make for themselves subjects of those who, having been accustomed to live under Kings, did not care to be subjects, and from having Roman governors, and having been conquered by armies under Roman command, they recognized no one to be superior other than the Romans. So that those associates of Rome [who were] in Italy found themselves suddenly surrounded by Roman subjects and pressed by a very large City like Rome: and when they understood the deceit under which they had lived they were not in time to remedy it, for Rome had achieved so much authority with the [acquisition] of the external provinces, and so much power was to be found within themselves, the City having become greatly populated and well armed. And although these associates of hers conspired against her in order to avenge the injuries inflicted on them, they were defeated [in war] in a short time, worsening their condition; for from being associates they too became their subjects. This method of proceeding (as has been said) had been observed only by the Romans; and a Republic which wants to aggrandize itself cannot have any other method, for experience has not shown anything else more certain and more true.
The fore-mentioned method of creating Leagues, such as were the Tuscans, Achaians, and the Aetolians, and as are the Swiss today, is, after that of the Romans, the better method; for with it, it is not possible to expand greatly, but two benefits ensue: the one, that they are not easily drawn into war: the other, that that which you take you can easily hold. The reason they are not able to expand is that Republics are not united and have their seats in several places, which makes it difficult for them to consult and decide. It also makes them undesirous of dominating, for, as many Communities participating in that dominion, they do not value much such acquisitions as does a single Republic which hopes to enjoy it entirely by itself. In addition to this they are governed by a council, and it follows that they are tardier in every decision than those which come from those who live in the same circle. It is also seen from experience that such methods of procedure have a fixed limit, of which there is no example which indicates it has ever been transgressed; and this [limit] is the addition of twelve or fourteen communities, beyond which they cannot go, and as their defending themselves appears to them to be difficult they do not seek greater dominion, as much because necessity does not constrain them to have more power, as well as for not recognizing any usefulness in further acquisitions for the reason mentioned above: for they have to do one of two things: either to continue making additional associates for themselves, as this multitude would cause confusion, or they would have to make them subjects to themselves. And as they see the difficulty of this, and little usefulness in maintaining it, they see no value in it. When, therefore, they are come to such a great number that it appears to them they can live securely, they turn to two things: the one, to take up the protection of others who seek it, and by this means obtain money from each one, and which they can readily distribute among themselves: the other, is to become soldiers for others and accept a stipend from this Prince or that, who hires them for undertaking his enterprises, as is seen the Swiss do these days, and as one reads was done by the above mentioned ones. Of which Titus Livius gives testimony, where he tells of Philip, King of Macedon, coming to negotiate with Titus Quintus Flaminius, and discussing the accord in the presence of a Praetor of the Aetolians, the said Praetor in coming to talk with him, was by him reprimanded for avarice and infidelity, saying that the Aetolians were not ashamed to enlist in the military service for one, and then also send their men into the service of the enemy, so that many times the Aetolian ensigns were seen among the two opposing armies. We see, therefore, that this method of proceeding through leagues has always been the same, and has had the same results. It is also seen that the method of making [them] subjects has always been ineffective and to have produced little profit: and when they had carried this method too far, they were soon ruined. And if this method of making subjects is useless in armed Republics, it is even more useless in those which are unarmed, as the Republics of Italy have been in our times.
It is to be recognized, therefore, that the Romans had the certain method, which is so much more admirable as there was no example before Rome, and there has been no one who has imitated them since Rome. And as to leagues, only the Swiss and the league of Swabia are found to be the only ones which imitated them. And finally of this matter it will be said, so many institutions observed by Rome, pertinent to the events both internal as well as external, have not only not been imitated in our times, but have not been taken into account, being judged by some not to be true, by some impossible, by some not applicable and useless. So that by remaining in this ignorance we [Italy] are prey to anyone who has wanted to rule this province. But if the imitation of the Romans appeared difficult, that the ancient Tuscans ought not to appear so, especially by the present Tuscans. For if they could not acquire that power in Italy, which that method of procedure would have given them, they lived in security for a long time, with very much glory of Dominion and arms, and especially praise for their customs and Religion. Which power and glory was first diminished by the Gauls, and afterwards extinguished by the Romans: and was so completely extinguished, that, although two thousand years ago the power of the Tuscans was great, at present there is almost no memory. Which thing has made me think whence this oblivion of things arises, as will be discussed in the following chapter.
To those Philosophers who hold that the World has existed from eternity, I believe it is possible to reply, that, if such great antiquity was true, it would be reasonable that there should be some record of more than five thousand years, except it is seen that the records of those times have been destroyed from diverse causes: of which some were acts of men, some of Heaven. Those that are acts of men are the changes of the sects [religion] and of languages. Because, when a new sect springs up, that is, a new Religion, the first effort is (in order to give itself reputation) to extinguish the old; and if it happens that the establishers of the new sect are of different languages, they extinguish it [the old] easily. Which thing is known by observing the method which the Christian Religion employed against the Gentile [heathen] sect, which has cancelled all its institutions, all of its ceremonies, and extinguished every record of that ancient Theology. It is true that they did not succeed in entirely extinguishing the records of the things done by their excellent men, which has resulted from their having maintained the Latin language, which was done by force, having to write this new law in it. For if they could have written it in a new language, considering the other persecutions they suffered, none of the past events would have been recorded. And whoever reads the methods used by Saint Gregory and the other Heads of the Christian Religion, will see with what obstinacy they persecuted all the ancient memorials, burning the works of the Poets and Historians, ruining statues, and despoiling every thing else that gave any sign of antiquity. So that, if to this persecution they had added a new language, it would have been seen that in a very brief time everything [previous] would have been forgotten.
It is to be believed, therefore, that that which the Christian Religion wanted to do against the Gentile sect, the Gentiles did against that which preceded them. And as these sects changed two or three times in five or six thousand years, all memory of things done before that time are lost. And if, however, some signs of it were left, it would be considered a fabulous thing, and not to be given credence: as happened with the history of Diodorus Siculus, who although he gives account of forty or fifty thousand years, none the less it is reputed (as I believe it is ) a mendacious thing.
As to the causes that come from Heaven, they are those that extinguish the human race and reduce the inhabitants of parts of the world to a very few. And this results either from pestilence, or famine, or from an inundation of water; and the last is the most important, as much because it is the most universal, as because those who are saved are men of the mountains and rugged, who, not having any knowledge of antiquity, cannot leave it to posterity. And if among them there should be saved one who should have this knowledge, he would hide it or pervert it in his own way in order to create a reputation and name for himself; so that there remains to his successors only what he wanted to write, and nothing else. And that these inundations, pestilences, and famines, occur, I do not believe there is any doubt, not only because all histories are full of them, but also because the effects of these oblivious things are seen, and because it appears reasonable they should be; For in nature as in simple bodies, when there is an accumulation of much superfluous matter, it very often moves by itself and makes a purgation which is healthy to that body; and so it happens in this compound body of the human race, that when all the provinces are full of inhabitants so that they cannot live or go elsewhere in order to occupy and fill up all places, and when human astuteness and malignity has gone as far as they can go, it happens of necessity that the world purges itself in one of the three ways, so that men having been chastised and reduced in number, live more commodiously and become better. Tuscany, then, was once powerful, as was said above, full of Religion and Virtu had its own customs and its own national language; all of which was extinguished by the Roman power. So that (as was said) nothing remained of it but the memory of its name.
Having discussed how the Romans proceeded in their expansion, we will now discuss how they proceeded in making war, and it will be seen with how much prudence they deviated in all the actions from the universal methods of others, in order to make their road to supreme greatness easy. The intention of whoever makes war, whether by election or from ambition, is to acquire and maintain the acquisition, and to proceed in such a way so as to enrich themselves and not to impoverish the [conquered] country and his own country. It is necessary, therefore, both in the acquisition and in the maintenance, to take care not to spend [too much], rather to do every thing for the usefulness of his people. Whoever wants to do all these things must hold to the Roman conduct and method, which was first to make the war short and sharp, as the French say, for corning into the field with large armies, they dispatched all the wars they had with the Latins, Samnites, and Tuscans, in the briefest time. And if all those things they did from the beginning of Rome up to the siege of the Veienti were to be noted, it will be seen that they were all dispatched some in six, some in ten, some in twenty days; for this was their usage. As soon as war broke out, they went out with the armies to meet the enemy and quickly came to the engagement. Which, when they won it, the enemy (so that their countryside should not be completely laid waste) came to terms, and the Romans condemned them [to turn over] lands, which lands they converted into private possessions or consigned them to a colony, which, placed on the confines of those people, served as a guard to the Roman frontiers, with usefulness as well to those colonists who received those fields as to the people of Rome, who, without expense, maintained that guard. Nor could this method be more secure, more effectual, or more useful. For, as long as the enemy were not in the fields, that guard was enough; but as soon as they went out in force to oppress that Colony, the Romans also came out in force and came to an engagement with them, and having waged and won the battle, [and], having imposed heavier conditions on them, they returned home. Thus, little by little, they came to acquire reputation over them and strength within themselves [their state]. And they kept to this method up to the time of war when they changed the method of proceeding; which was after the siege of the Veienti, where, in order to be able to wage a long war, they ordered them to pay their soldiers, [and] which at first (since it was not necessary as the wars were short) they did not pay. And although the Romans gave them the money, and by virtue of which they were able to wage longer wars, and to keep them at a greater distance if necessity should keep them in the field longer, none the less they never varied from the original system of finishing them quickly, according to the place and time: nor did they ever vary from sending out of colonies. For, in the first system, the ambition of the Consuls contributed in making the wars short (in addition to the natural custom), who, being elected for one year, and six months of that year in quarters, wanted to finish the war in order to [have a] triumph. In the sending of colonies there was usefulness to them and resultant great convenience. They [the Romans] made a good distribution of booty, with which they were not as liberal as they were at first, as much because it did not appear to them to be so necessary (the soldiers receiving a stipend), as also because the booty being larger, they planned to enrich themselves of it so that the public should not be constrained to undertake the enterprises with the tributes from the City. Which system in a short time made their Treasury very rich. These two methods, therefore, of distributing the booty and of sending of colonies, caused Rome to be enriched by the wars while other unwise Princes and Republics were impoverished [by theirs]. And these were brought to such limits that a Consul did not think he could obtain a triumph unless, with his triumph, he could bring much gold and silver, and every other kind of booty into the Treasury.
Thus the Romans with the above described conditions and by finishing wars quickly, being satisfied by the length [of the wars] to massacre the enemy, and by defeating [their armies] and overrunning [their lands], and [making] accords to their advantage, always became richer and more powerful.
I believe it is very difficult to find out the truth as to how much land the Romans distributed per colonist. I believe they gave them more or less, according to the places where they sent the colonies. And I would judge that in any instance and in all places the distribution was small. First, in order to send a greater number of men assigned to guard that country: then, as they lived poorly at home it would not have been reasonable that they should desire that their men should live too abundantly outside.
And T. Livius says that, after taking Veii, they sent a colony there and distributed to each three and seven-twelfths [3 7/12] Jugeri of land, which in our measures are . . . [2 2/3 acres]. For, in addition to the above written things, they judged it was not the amount of land, but its good cultivation, that should suffice. It is necessary also that all the colonies have public fields where everyone could pasture their beasts, and forests where they could get wood to burn, without which things a colony cannot organize itself.
Since there has been discussed above the method of proceeding in war observed by the Romans and how the Tuscans were assaulted by the Gauls, it does not appear to me alien to the subject to discuss how two kinds of war are made. One is waged because of the ambitions of Princes or of a Republic that seek to extend their Empire, such as were the wars that Alexander the Great waged, and those that the Romans waged, and those which one power wages against another. While these wars are dangerous, they never drive all the inhabitants out of a province, but the obedience of the people is enough for the conqueror, and most of the times he leaves them to live with their laws, and always with their homes and possessions: The other kind of war is when an entire people with all their families are taken away from a place, necessitated either by famine or by war, and goes to seek a new seat in a new province, not in order to seek dominion over them as those others above, but to possess it absolutely; and to drive out or kill its old inhabitants. This kind of war is most cruel and most frightful. And of these wars Sallust discusses at the end of [the history] of Jugurtha, when he says that, after Jugurtha was defeated, movements of the Gauls coming into Italy were heard: where he [also] says that the Roman People had combatted with all the other peoples only as to who should dominate, but that with the Gauls they combatted for the [very] existence of each. For to a Prince or a Republic that assaults a province, it is enough to extinguish only those who command, but to these entire populations, it behooves them to extinguish everyone because they want to live on that which the others lived.
The Romans had three of these most perilous wars. The first was when Rome was taken, which was occupied by those Gauls who had detached Lombardy (as was mentioned above) from the Tuscans and made it their seat: for which Titus Livius assigns two causes: The first, as was said above, that they were attracted by the sweetness of the fruits and wines of Italy, which were lacking in France: The second, that in that Kingdom of Gaul, men multiplied so fast that they were no longer able to feed them, [and] the Princes decided it should be necessary that a part of them should go some place to seek a new country. And having made such a decision, they elected as captains over those who should depart Bellovesus and Sicovesus, two Kings of the Gauls, of whom Bellovesus went into Italy and Sicovesus passed into Spain. From the passage of this Bellovesus there resulted the occupation of Lombardy, and hence the first war that the Gauls made against Rome. After this came that which they made after the first Carthaginian war, where they [the Romans] killed over two hundred thousand Gauls between Piombino and Pisa. The third was when the Teutons and Cimbrians came into Italy, who having overcome several Roman armies, were defeated by Marius. The Romans, therefore, won these three most perilous wars. And no little virtu was necessary to win them; for it is seen that when that Roman virtu was lost [and], those arms lost their ancient valor, that Empire was destroyed by similar people, such as were the Goths, Vandals, and the like, who occupied all the western Empire.
These people go out from their countries (as was said above) driven by necessity; and the necessity arises from famine, or war, and oppression, which in their own country is experienced by them, so that they are constrained to seek new land. And these such are sometimes of a great number, and then enter into the countries of others with violence, killing the inhabitants, taking possession of their goods, create a new Kingdom, and change the name of the province, as Moses did, and those people who occupied the Roman Empire. For these new names that exist in Italy and in the provinces, do not come from anything else than of having been thus named by the new occupiers, such as is Lombardy which was called Cisalpine Gaul, France which was called Transalpine Gaul, and now is called after the Franks, as those people were called who had occupied it; Slavonia was called Illyria, Hungary Pannonia, England Brittania, and many other provinces which have changed names, to recount which would be tedious. Moses also called that part of Syria occupied by him Judea. And as I have said above that sometimes such people are driven from their own seats because of war, whence they are constrained to seek new lands, I want to cite the example of the Maurusians, a most ancient people of Syria, who, hearing of the coming of the Hebrew people and judging not to be able to resist them, thought it better to save themselves and leave their own country, than to attempt to save it and lose themselves; and taking up their families, they went to Africa where they established themselves after driving out those inhabitants whom they found in that place. And thus those who were unable to defend their own country, were able to occupy that of others. And Procopius, who wrote of the war that Belisarius made against the Vandals, occupiers of Africa, refers to having read letters written on certain columns in the places that were inhabited by these Maurusians, which said: We Maurusians here fled from before Jesus the robber, son of Narva. Whence appeared the reason of their departure from Syria. These people, therefore, who have been driven out by an extreme necessity are most formidable, and if they are not confronted by good arms, will never be checked. But when those who are constrained to abandon their own country are not many, they are not as dangerous as those people who were discussed, for they are unable to use as much violence but must employ cunning in occupying some place, and having occupied it, to maintain themselves by way of friends and confederates: as is seen was done by Aeneas, and Dido, and the Massalians, and the like, all of whom were able to maintain themselves, with the consent of their neighbors.
The great numbers of people that went out, and are going out, are almost all from the country of Scythia, a cold and poor place, where, because there were a great number of men and the country of a kind which was unable to feed them, they are forced to go out, having many things which drive them out and none to retain them. And if in the past five hundred years it has not occurred that some of these people have not inundated any country, it arises from several reasons. The first, the great evacuation which that country made during the decline of the Empire, when more than thirty tribes left [Scythia]. The second is, that Germany and Hungary, whence also such people went out, have now improved their country so that they are able to live comfortably, that they are not necessitated to change places. On the other hand, their men being very warlike are a bastion in holding back the Scythians, who have the same boundary with them, from presuming to overcome or pass through them. And often times there occurred very great movements of Tartars, who were later checked by the Hungarians and the Poles, and they often boast that if it had not been for their arms, Italy and the Church would have many times felt the weight of the Tartar armies. And this I want to be enough concerning the people mentioned.
The cause which made war arise between the Romans and the Samnites who were in league for a long time, is a common cause which arises among all powerful Principalities. Which cause either arises by chance or is made to arise by those who desire to set a war in motion. That which arose between the Romans and the Samnites was by chance, for it was not the intention of the Samnites, in setting the war in motion against the Sidicians, and afterwards against the Campanians, to set it in motion against the Romans. But the Campanians being hard pressed and having recourse to Rome, beyond the thoughts of the Romans and the Samnites, the Campanians forced the Romans to take them to themselves as subjects of theirs, so that it appeared to them [the Romans] they could not honorably evade [the obligation] of defending them, and [hence] take up that war. For it indeed appeared reasonable to the Romans not to defend the Campanians as friends against the Samnites, who were their friends, but it seemed to them disgraceful not to defend them as subjects, even though voluntary ones, judging that if they did not undertake such defense, it would alienate all those who should plan to come under their dominion. And as the aim of Rome was Empire and Glory, and not Quiet, she could not refuse this enterprise.
This same cause gave beginning to the first war against the Carthaginians because of the defense of the Messenians in Sicily which the Romans undertook, which was also by chance. But the second war which afterwards arose between them was not by chance, for Hannibal the Carthaginian Captain assaulted the Saguntines friends of the Romans in Spain, not to injure them, but to move the Romans to arms, and to have occasion to combat them and pass into Italy. This method of kindling new wars has always been customary among Powers, and who have some respect for the faith [treaties] with others. For if I want to make war against a Prince, and have between us a signed treaty observed for a long time, I would assault a friend of his very own with some other pretext and justification, especially knowing that in assaulting his friend either he would resent it and I would obtain my intention of making war against him, or if he did not resent it, his weakness and unfaithfulness in not defending his ally will take away reputation from him, and to execute my designs more easily.
It ought to be noted, therefore, because of the dedication of the Campanians in setting the war in motion in the way mentioned above, that the best remedy which a City has, that is unable to defend itself, but wants to defend itself in whatever manner against anyone who should assault them: which is to give itself freely to whomever they design to defend them, as the Campanians did to the Romans, and the Florentines to King Robert of Naples, who, unwilling to defend them as friends, defended them afterwards as subjects against the forces of Castruccio of Lucca who was pressing them hard.
Because anyone can commence a war at his pleasure, but cannot so finish it, a Prince ought before he undertakes an enterprise to measure his forces, and govern himself in accordance with them. But he ought to have so much prudence as not to deceive himself of the two forces: and he will deceive himself every time when he measures it either by his money, or by the location [of his country], or by good will of his people, while on the other hand he lacks his own arms. For although the above things will increase his strength, [but] they will not give it to him, and of themselves are nothing, and will not be of benefit without trustworthy arms. For without them, great amounts of money will not suffice you, the strength of the country will not benefit you, and the faith and good will of men will not endure, as these cannot remain faithful to you if you are not able to defend them. Every mountain, every lake, every inaccessible place becomes a plain where strong defenders are lacking. Money alone, also, will not defend you, but causes you to be plundered more readily. Nor can that common opinion be more false which says that money is the sinew of war. Which sentence was said by Quintus Curtius in the war which existed between Antipater the Macedonian and the King of Sparta, where he narrates that because of a want of money the King of Sparta was obliged to come to battle and was routed, that if he had deferred the fight a few days the news of the death of Alexander in Greece would have arrived, whence he would have remained victor without fighting. But lacking money, and being apprehensive that, for the want of which, his army would abandon him, was constrained to try the fortune of battle. So that for this reason Quintus Curtius affirms money to be the sinew of war. Which opinion is alleged every day, and acted on by not so prudent Princes to whom it is enough to follow it: For relying on it, they believe it is enough to have much treasure to defend themselves, and do not think that if treasure should be enough to win, that Darius would have vanquished Alexander, the Greeks would have vanquished the Romans, and in our times Duke Charles would have vanquished the Swiss, and a few days ago the Pope and the Florentine together would not have had difficulty in defeating Francesco Maria, nephew of Julius II, in the war at Urbino. But all the above named were vanquished by those who esteemed not money, but good soldiers, as the sinew of war.
Among other things that Croesus, King of Lydia, showed to Solon the Athenian was a countless treasure: and asking what he thought his power to be, Solon answered that he did not judge him more powerful because of that, because war was made with iron and not gold, and that someone might come who had more iron than he and would take it away from him. In addition to this, when, after the death of Alexander the Great, a great multitude of Gauls passed into Greece and then into Asia, and the Gauls sent Ambassadors to the King of Macedonia to treat of certain accords, that King to show his power and to dismay them showed them much gold and silver: whence those Gauls who had already as good as signed the peace broke it, so much did the desire grow in them to take away that gold. And thus was that King despoiled by the very thing that he had accumulated for defense. The Venetians a few years ago also, having their Treasury full of treasure, lost the State without being able to be defended by it.
I say, therefore, that gold (as common opinion shouts) is not the sinew of war, but good soldiers; because gold is not sufficient to find good soldiers, but good soldiers are indeed sufficient to find gold. To the Romans (if they had wanted to make war more with money instead of with iron) it would not have been enough to have all the treasure of the world, considering the great enterprises that they made and the difficulties that they had to encounter. But making their wars with iron, they never suffered from want of gold, because it was brought, even up to their camps, by those who feared them. And if that King of Sparta, because of a dearth of money, had to try the fortune of battle, that which happened to him on account of money many times would have happened for other causes; for it has been seen that any army lacking provisions, and being obliged either to die of hunger or to engage in battle, will always take the side of fighting as being more honorable, and where fortune can in some way favor you. It has also happened many times that a Captain, seeing succor come to the army of his enemy, has preferred to come to an engagement with him at once and try the fortune of battle, rather than wait until he is reinforced and then have to fight him in any case under a thousand disadvantages. It has also been seen, how it happened to Hasdrubal when he was assaulted in the Marca [Metaurus River] by Claudius Nero, together with the other Roman Consul, that a Captain obliged either to fight or flee, always elects to fight, it seeming to him in this way, even if most doubtful, to be able to win, but in the other to lose in any case.
There are many necessities, therefore, which make a Captain choose the side of coming to battle against his will, among which sometimes it can be the dearth of money, but not for this ought money to be judged the sinew of war more than other things which induce men to a similar necessity. Repeating again, therefore, the sinew of war is not gold, but good soldiers. Money is indeed necessary in a secondary place, but it is a necessity that good soldiers by themselves will overcome; for it is impossible that good soldiers will lack money, as it is for money by itself to find good soldiers. Every history in a thousand places shows that which we say to be true, notwithstanding that Pericles had counselled the Athenians to make war with all the Peloponnesus, showing that they could win that war with perseverance and by the power of money. And although in that war the Athenians at times had prospered, in the end they lost, and the good counsels and good soldiers of Sparta were of more value than the perseverance and the money of Athens. But the testimony of Titus Livius is more direct than any other, where, discussing if Alexander the Great should have come into Italy, if he would have vanquished the Romans, he showed three things to be necessary for war, many and good soldiers, prudent Captains, and good fortune: where examining whether the Romans or Alexander should have prevailed in these things, afterwards makes his conclusion without ever mentioning money. The Campanians had, when they were requested by the Sidicians to take up arms of them against the Samnites, to measure their power by money and not by soldiers; for having undertaken the proceeding to aid them, after two defeats were constrained to make themselves tributaries of the Romans if they wanted to save themselves.
Titus Livius, wanting to show the error of the Sidicians in trusting to the aid of the Campanians, and the error of the Campanians in believing themselves able to defend them, could not say it with more forceful words, saying, The Campanians brought a greater name in aid of the Sidicians, than they did men for protecting them. Where it ought to be noted that leagues made with Princes who have neither the convenience of aiding you because of the remoteness of their location nor the strength to do so because of disorganization or other reasons of theirs, bring more notoriety than aid to those who trust in them: as happened in our times to the Florentines, when in one thousand four hundred seventy nine 1479 the Pope and the King of Naples assaulted them, that being friends of the King of France derived from that friendship more notoriety than protection; as also would happen to that Prince who should undertake some enterprise trusting himself to the Emperor Maximilian, because this is one of those friendships that would bring to whoever made it more notoriety than protection, as is said in this treatise of what that of the Campanians brought to the Sidicians.
¶ The Campanians, therefore, erred in this part by imagining themselves to have more strength than they had. And thus little prudence sometimes does to men, who not knowing how nor being able to defend themselves, want to undertake enterprises to defend others; as also the Tarentines did, who, when the Roman armies encountered the Samnites, sent ambassadors to the Roman Consul to make him understand that they wanted peace between those two people, and that they were ready to make war against the one that should refuse peace. So that the Consul, laughing at this proposition, in the presence of the ambassadors, had the [bugle] sound for battle and commanded his army to go and meet the enemy, showing the Tarentines by acts and not words of what a reply they were worthy.
¶ And having in the present chapter discussed the wrong proceedings which Princes undertake for the defense of others, in the following one I want to talk of those means they should undertake for their own defense.
I have heard from men much practiced in the things of war some time discuss whether, if there are two Princes of almost equal strength, if one more stalwart has declared war against the other, what would be the better proceeding for the other, either to await the enemy within his own boundaries, or to go out to meet him in his house and assault him. And I have heard reasons cited on every side. And those who defend the going out to assault the other, cite the counsel that Croesus gave to Cyrus when, having arrived at the confines of the Messagates to make war against them, their Queen Tamiri sent to say that they should select which of the two proceedings they wanted, either to enter her Kingdom where she would await him, or that he want her to come out to meet him: And the matter coming under discussion, Croesus, against the opinion of the others, said that he would go to meet her, saying that if he should vanquish her at a distance from her kingdom, he would not be able to take away her kingdom because she would have time to recover; but if he should vanquish her within her confines he could follow her in flight and, by not giving her time to recover, could take away her State from her. He also cites the counsel that Hannibal gave Antiochus when that king planned to make war against the Romans, where he showed that the Romans could not be beaten except in Italy, for there the others could avail themselves of the arms and the wealth of their friends; but whoever would combat them outside Italy and would leave Italy free to them, he would leave them that font which would never lack life in supplying strength where it was needed: and he concluded that Rome could be taken from the Romans easier than the Empire, and Italy before the other provinces. He also cites Agatocles, who, not being able to sustain the war at home, assaulted the Carthaginians who were waging it against him, and reduced them to ask for peace. He cites Scipio, who, to lift the war from Italy, assaulted Africa.
Those who speak to the contrary say that he who wants to inflict an evil on the enemy will draw him away from home. They cite the Athenians, who, as long as they made war convenient to their home, remained superior, but that when they went a distance with their armies into Sicily, lost their liberty. They cite the poetic fables where it is shown that Anteus, King of Libya, being assaulted by Hercules the Egyptian, was insuperable as long as he awaited him within the confines of his own kingdom, but as soon as he went off a distance, through the astuteness of Hercules, lost the State and his life. Whence a place is given to the fable of Anteus who, when [thrown] on the ground, recovered his strength from his mother which was the earth, and that Hercules, becoming aware of this, lifted him high [and] off the ground. They also cite modern judges. Everyone knows that Ferrando, King of Naples, was held to be a most wise Prince in his time, and when two years before his death, news came that the King of France, Charles VIII, wanted to come to assault him, after he had made preparations, but fell sick, and as he was approaching death, among other advices he left to his son Alfonso, was that he should await the enemy inside the Kingdom, and for nothing in thy world to withdraw his forces outside of his State, but should await him entirely within all his borders. Which [advice] was not observed by him, but sending an army into the Romagna, without a fight, lost it and the State. In addition to the instances described, the reasons that are cited in favor of every [both] side are: That he who assaults comes with more spirit than he who awaits, which makes the army more confident. In addition to this, many advantages are taken away from the enemy to be able to avail himself of his resources, [and] he will not be able to avail himself of those from his subjects who have been plundered; and as the enemy is in his house, the Lord is constrained to have more regard in extracting money from them and in overworking them, so that that font comes to dry up, as Hannibal says, which makes him able to sustain the war. In addition to this, his solders, because they find themselves in the countries of others, are more necessitated to fight, and that necessity makes virtu, as we have several times said.
On the other hand, it is said that in awaiting the enemy one waits with many advantages, for without any inconvenience you can cause great inconveniences of provisions and of every other thing which an army needs: You can better impede his designs because of the greater knowledge of the country you have than he: You can meet him with more strength because of being able to unite [concentrate] [your forces] easily, while he cannot take his all away from home: You can (if defeated) recover easily, as much because much can be saved of your army having places of refuge near, as well as reinforcements do not have to come from a distance, so that you come to risk all your forces but not all your fortune; but taking yourself to a distance you risk all your fortune but not all your strength. And there have been some who, in order better to weaken their enemy, have allowed him to enter several days [march] into their country and to take many Towns, so that by leaving garrisons everywhere his army is weakened, and then they are able to combat him the more easily.
But to say now what I think, I believe that this distinction ought to be made: either I have my country armed like the Romans and as the Swiss have, or I have it disarmed like the Carthaginians, and as have the Kings of France and the Italians. In this [latter] case the enemy ought to be kept distant from home, for your virtu being in money and not in men, whenever that [money] may be impeded to you, you are lost, and nothing will impede it to you as war at home. As an example, there are the Carthaginians, who, as long as they were undisturbed at home with their revenues, could make war against the Romans, but when they were assaulted [in their own country] they were unable to resist [even] Agathocles. The Florentines did not have any remedy against Castruccio, Lord of Lucca, because he waged war against them at home, so that they were obliged to give themselves (in order to be defended) to King Robert of Naples. But after the death of Castruccio, those same Florentines had the courage to assault the Duke of Milan in his home [territory] and work to take away his Kingdom. As much virtu as they showed in distant wars, just so much baseness [did they show] in nearby ones. But when Kingdoms are armed as Rome was armed and as the Swiss are, the more difficult are they to overcome the nearer you are to them. For these bodies [states] can unite more forces to resist an attack [impetus] than they are able to assault others. Nor am I moved in this case by the authority of Hannibal, because his passion and his interests make him say thusly to Antiochus. For if the Romans had experienced in Gaul three such defeats in so great a space of time as they had in Italy from Hannibal, without doubt they would have been beaten; for they would not have availed themselves of the remnants of the armies as they did in Italy, [and] could not have reorganized them with the same ease, nor could they have resisted the enemy with that same strength as they were able to. It has never been found that they ever sent outside armies of more than fifty thousand men in order to assault a province: but to defend themselves at home against the Gauls after the first Punic war, they put eighteen hundred thousand men under arms. Nor could they have put to rout those [Gauls] in Lombardy as they routed them in Tuscany, for they could not have led so great a force against so great a number of enemies at so great a distance, nor fight them with such advantage. The Cimbrians routed a Roman army in Germany; nor did the Romans have a remedy. But when they [Cimbrians] came into Italy and they [Romans] were able to put all their forces together, they destroyed them [Cimbrians]. The Swiss are. easily beaten when away from home where they cannot send more than thirty or forty thousand men, but it is very difficult to beat them at home where they are able to gather together a hundred thousand.
I conclude again, therefore, that that Prince who has his people armed and organized for war should always await a powerful and dangerous war [enemy] at home and not go out to meet it. But that [Prince] who has his subjects unarmed and the country unaccustomed to war, should always keep it as distant as he can. And thus one and the other (each in his own manner) will defend himself better.
I believe it to be a most true thing that it rarely or never happens that men of little fortune come to high rank without force and without fraud, unless that rank to which others have come is not obtained either by gift or by heredity. Nor do I believe that force alone will ever be found to be enough; but it will be indeed found that fraud alone will be enough; as those will clearly see who read the life of Philip of Macedonia, that of Agathocles the Sicilian, and many such others, who from the lowest, or rather low, fortune have arrived either to a Kingdom or to very great Empires. Xenophon shows in his life of Cyrus this necessity to deceive, considering that the first expedition that he has Cyrus make against the King of Armenia is full of fraud, and that he makes him occupy his Kingdom by deceit and not by force. And he does not conclude anything else from such action except that to a Prince who wants to do great things, it is necessary to learn to deceive. In addition to this, he made Cyraxes, King of the Medes, his maternal uncle, to be deceived in so many ways, without which fraud he shows that Cyrus could not have achieved that greatness he attained. Nor do I believe anyone will ever be found of such fortune to have arrived at great Empire only by force and ingenuity, but indeed only by fraud, as did Giovanni Galeazzo in order to take away the State and Dominion of Lombardy from his uncle Messer Bernabo. And that which Princes are obliged to do at the beginning of their expansions, Republics are also obliged to do until they have become powerful so that force alone will be enough. And as Rome used every means, either by chance or by election, necessary to achieve greatness, she did not also hesitate to use this one [fraud]. Nor could she, in the beginning, use greater deceit than to take up the method discussed above by us to make associates for herself, because under this name she made them her slaves, as were the Latins, and other surrounding people. For first she availed herself of their arms to subdue the neighboring peoples and to take up the reputation of the State: after subduing them, she achieved such great expansion that she could beat everyone. And the Latins never became aware that they were wholly slaves until they saw two routs of the Samnites and [saw them] constrained to come to an accord. As this victory greatly increased the reputation of the Romans with the distant Princes, who heard the Roman name and not their arms, generating envy and suspicion in those who saw and felt those arms, among whom were the Latins. And so much was this envy and so powerful this fear, that not only the Latins, but the colonies they had in Latium, together with the Associates who had been defended a short time before, conspired against the Roman name. And the Latins began this war in the way mentioned above that the greater part of wars are begun, not by assaulting the Romans, but by defending the Sidicians against the Samnites, against whom the Samnites were making war with the permission of the Romans. And that it is true that the Latins began the war because they had recognized this deceit, is shown by T. Livius through the mouth of Annius Setinus, a Latin Praetor, who in their council said these words: If even now under the pretext of equal confederates, we can suffer servitude, etcetera.
It will be seen, therefore, that the Romans in their first expansions did not also lack using fraud; which has always been necessary for those to use who, from small beginnings, want to rise to sublime heights, which is less shameful when it is more concealed, as was this of the Romans.
Many times it is seen that humility not only does not benefit, but harms, especially when it is used by insolent men who, either from envy or for other reasons, have conceived a hatred against you. Of this our Historian gives proof on the occasion of the war between the Romans and the Latins. For when the Samnites complained to the Romans that the Latins had assaulted them, the Romans did not want to prohibit such a war to the Latins, desired not to irritate them; which not only did not irritate them, but made them become more spirited against them [Romans], and they discovered themselves as enemies more quickly. Of which, the words of the aforementioned Annius, the Latin Praetor, in that same council, attest, where he says: You have tried their patience in denying them military aid: why do you doubt this should excite them? Yet they have borne this pain. They have heard we are preparing an army against their confederates, the Samnites, yet have not moved from their City. Whence is there such modesty, except from their recognition of both our virility and theirs? It is very clearly recognized, therefore, by this text how much the patience of the Romans increased the arrogance of the Latins. And therefore a Prince ought never to forego his own rank, and ought never to forego anything by accord, wanting to forego it honorably, unless he is able or believes that he is able to hold it; for it is almost always better (matters having been brought to the point where you cannot forego it in the manner mentioned) to allow it to be taken away by force, rather than by fear of force; for if you permit it from fear, you do so in order to avoid war, but most of the times you do not avoid it, for he to whom you have from baseness conceded this, will not be satisfied, but will want to take other things away from you, and he will excite himself more against you esteeming you less: and on the other hand, in your favor you will find the defenders more cold, it appearing to them that you are either weak or a coward: but as soon as you discover the intention of the adversary, if you prepare your forces, even though they may be inferior to his, he will begin to respect you, [and] the other neighboring Princes will respect you more, and the desire to aid you will come to those (being armed by you) who, even if you gave yourself up, would never aid you.
This is what is learned when you have an enemy: but when you have several, to render to some of them some of your possessions, either to gain him over to yourself even though war should already have broken out, or to detach your enemies from the other confederates, is always a prudent proceeding.
In connection with this same matter and with the origin of the war between the Latins and the Romans it can be noted, that in all deliberations it is well to come to the point of what it is to be decided and not to be always ambiguous, nor to remain uncertain of the matter. Which is manifestly seen in the deliberation that the Latins held when they thought of alienating themselves from the Romans. For having foreseen this bad mood that had come upon the Latin people, the Romans in order to assure themselves of the matter and to see if they could regain those people to themselves without resorting to arms, made them understand that they should send eight Citizens to Rome, because they wanted to consult with them. The Latins, learning of this, and being conscious of many things done against the wishes of the Romans, called a council to arrange who should go to Rome and to give them the commission of what they should say: And while this was deliberated in the councils, their Praetor Annius said these words: I judge it to be most important for our interest, that we should think of what we shall do that what we shall say: when we have decided that, it will be easy to accommodate our words [the details of our counsels] to our acts. These words without doubt are very true, and ought to be of benefit to every Prince and every Republic; for words are not made to explain the ambiguity and incertitude of that which is to be done, but once the mind is fixed, and that which is to be done decided, it is an easy thing to find the words. I have the more willingly noted this part, as I have known many such indecisions to interfere with public actions, with damage and shame to our Republic: And this will always happen that in doubtful proceedings and where spirit is needed in making decisions, this ambiguity [indecision] will exist when these deliberations and decisions have to be made by weak men. Slow and late decisions are also not less harmful than ambiguous ones, especially when they have to decide in favor of some friend, for no person is helped by their lateness, and it injures oneself. Such decisions so made proceed from feebleness of spirit and strength or from the malignity of those who have to decide, who, moved by their own passion to want to ruin the State or to fulfill some desire of theirs, do not allow the deliberations to proceed, but impede and thwart them. For good citizens (even though they see a popular fad turning itself into a perilous course) never impede deliberations, especially when those matters cannot be delayed.
After the death of Hieronymus, Tyrant of Syracuse, while the war between the Carthaginians and the Romans was at its height, a dispute arose among the Syracusans whether they ought to follow the Roman friendship [alliance] or the Carthaginian. And so great was the ardor of the parties that they remained undecided, nor was any action taken, until at last Appolonides, one of the first men of Syracuse, with a speech [of his] full of prudence, showed that those who held the opinion to adhere to the Romans were not to be blamed, nor those who wanted to follow the Carthaginian side; but that it was right to detest that indecision and tardiness in taking up the proceeding, because he saw surely the proceeding had been undertaken [the decision made], whatever it might be, some good could be hoped for. Nor could T. Livius show better than in this case the damage done by remaining undecided. He shows it also in the case of the Latins, for the Lavinians seeking their aid against the Romans, they delayed so long in determining upon it that, when they had just gone out of the gate with forces to give them succor, the news arrived that the Latins were routed. Whence Milonius, their Praetor, said: This short march would cost us much with the Roman people: For if they had decided at once either to help or not to help the Latins, they would by not aiding them not have irritated the Romans; and by helping them, the aid being in time, they could by joining forces enable them to win; but by delaying, they would come to lose in any case, as happened to them.
And if the Florentines had noted this text, they would not have received so much injury or so much trouble from the French as they had in the passage of King Louis XII of France to make war against Lodovico, Duke of Milan, in Italy. For the King when he was considering such a passage sought to make an accord with the Florentines, and the ambassadors to the King made an accord with him that they would remain neutral, and that the King after coming into Italy should take their State under his protection, and gave the City one month to ratify it. This ratification was delayed by those who, because of little prudence, favored the affairs of Lodovico, so that the King having already achieved his victory, and the Florentines then wanting to ratify it, the ratification was not accepted, as he recognized that the friendship of the Florentines came by force and not voluntarily. Which cost the City of Florence much money, and was to lose them the State, as happened to them another time from similar causes. And that proceeding was so much more damnable because it did not even serve the Duke Lodovico, who, if he had won, would have shown more signs of enmity against the Florentines than did the King.
And although above in another chapter I have discussed the evil that results to a Republic from this weakness, none the less having a new opportunity for a new incident, I wanted to repeat it, especially as it seems to me a matter that ought to be noted by Republics similar to ours.
The most important engagement ever fought in any war with any nation by the Roman People, was that which they had with the Latin people during the Consulate of Torquatus and of Decius. As every reason would have it, just as by the loss of the battle the Latins became slaves, so too the Romans would have been slaves if they had not won. And Titus Livius is of this opinion, because on both sides he makes the armies equal in organization, in virtu, in obstinacy, and in numbers: the only difference he makes is that the Heads of the Roman army were of more virtu than those of the Latin army. It will also be seen that in the managing of this engagement, two incidents arose which had not arisen before, and that afterwards were rare examples; that of the two Consuls, in order to uphold the courage of the soldiers and keep them obedient to their command and more deliberate in action, one killed himself and the other his son. The equality which Titus Livius says existed in these armies resulted from their having fought together a long time, having the same language, the same discipline, and the same arms: For they held to the same manner in the order of battle, and the organizations and Heads of the organization had the same names: Being of equal strength and of equal virtu, it was therefore necessary that something extraordinary should arise which would make one more firm and obstinate than the other; in which obstinacy victory (as was said at another time) was contained; for so long as that endured in the breasts of those who combatted, no army will ever turn its back. And as it endured more in the breasts of the Romans than in the Latins, partly chance and partly the virtu of the Consuls gave rise that Torquatus had to kill his son and Decius himself.
In demonstrating this equality of strength, T. Livius shows the whole organization that the Romans had in the armies and in battles. As he has explained this at length, I will not otherwise repeat it; but I will discuss only that which I judge to be notable, and that which, because it is neglected by all Captains of these times, has caused many disorders in armies and battles. I say, then, that from the text of Livius it is gathered that the Roman armies were composed of three principal divisions, which in Tuscan can be called Ranks, and they named the first Astati, the second Principi, the third Triari, and each of these had its cavalry. In organizing a battle they put the Astati in front, directly behind in the second line they placed the Principi, and in the same manner in the third line they placed the Triari. The cavalry of all of these orders were placed to the right and the left of these three battalions, the ranks of which cavalry, from their shape and place, they called Alae [Wings], because they seemed like two wings of that body. They arranged the first ranks of the Astati, which were in the front and serried in a way that it could strike or sustain [the attack of] the enemy. The second line of the Principi (as it was not the first in combat, but was bound to support the first line when it was struck or hurled back), they did not make straight, but maintained its order open [thin] and of a kind so that it could receive within itself the first line, without disordering itself, whenever, pushed by the enemy, it should be necessary for them to retreat. The third line of the Triari was arranged even more open than the second, in order to receive within itself, if need be, the first two lines of Principi, and Astati. These three ranks thus deployed kindled the battle, and if the Astati were forced or overcome, they retreated into the open ranks of the Principi, and the two ranks being united together into one body rekindled the battle: if these were also forced or rebuffed, they both retired into the open ranks of the Triari, and all these ranks becoming one body, renewed the fight; where, if they were overcome (for not having further reinforcements) they lost the engagement. And as every time that this last rank of Triari became engaged, the army was in danger, and gave rise to that proverb, The matter has come to the Triari, which in Tuscan usage means to say, we have put up the last resource.
The captains of our times, having abandoned entirely the organization and no longer observing the ancient discipline, have thus abandoned this part which is not of little importance: for whoever arranges [his army] so as to be able to reorganize three times in an engagement, must have fortune inimical to him three times in order to lose, and must have [pitted] against him a virtu three times as adept to overcome him. But whoever cannot maintain himself against the first onrush (as the Christian armies are today) can lose easily, for every disorder, every half-way virtu, can take away the victory. And that which prevents our armies from being able to reorganize three times is to have lost the manner of receiving one rank into the other. Which arises because at present engagements are arranged with two defects: either their ranks are formed shoulder to shoulder, and make their battle line wide in front and thin in depth, which makes it very weak from having too few men in the depth of the ranks: or, in order to make it stronger, they reduce the ranks [in width of the front], in accordance as the Romans did; if the first rank is broken, there not being an arrangement to be received by the second, they will be entangled all together, and rout themselves; for if that front rank is pushed back, it will be hurled on the second; if the second rank wants to go forward, it is impeded by the first: Whence that the first being hurled upon the second, and the second on the third, there ensues so much confusion that the slightest accident often ruins an army.
In the battle at Ravenna, which was (according to our times) a very well-fought engagement, in which the Captain of the French forces, Monsignor De Foix, was killed, the Spanish and French armies were organized in one of the above mentioned methods, that is, that the one and the other army came with all its forces arranged shoulder to shoulder so as to have a wide front and little depth. And thus they always did when they had a large field as they had at Ravenna: for recognizing the disorder that is caused in retiring, when they put themselves all into one rank, they avoid it when they can by making the front wide, as has been said; but when the country is restricted, they remain in the disorder described above without thinking of a remedy. In similar disorder the cavalry rides through the enemy’s country, either for plunder or for some other purpose of war. And at Santo Regolo and elsewhere in the war against Pisa, where the Florentines were routed by the Pisans in the [time of the] war which existed between the Florentines and that City because of her rebellion, after the passage of Charles, King of France, into Italy; that ruin did not result from anything else than the friendly cavalry, which being in front and repulsed by the enemy, was thrown back into the Florentine infantry and broke it, whence all the remaining forces turned back: and Messer Criaco Del Borgo, Head of the Florentine infantry, has affirmed in my presence many times that he would never have been routed except for the cavalry of his friends. The Swiss who are masters of modern war, when they fought for the French, above all things they take care to put themselves on the side where the friendly cavalry, if it should be repulsed, will not be hurled back on them.
And although this thing would appear easy to understand and not easy to do, none the less there has not yet been found any of our contemporary Captains who have imitated the ancient order and corrected the modem one. And although they also divide their army into three parts, calling one part the Vanguard, the next the Battle Corps, and the last the Rearguard, they do not serve themselves of it other than to command them in their quarters; but in using it, it is a rare thing (as was said above) that they do to unite them all in one body, so that they all share the same fortune: And as many, to excuse their ignorance, allege that the violence of the artillery will not allow the same arrangements that the ancients had to be used in these times, I want to discuss this matter in the following chapter, and to examine whether the artillery impedes them so that it is not possible to use the ancient virtu.
In addition to the things written above, in considering how the many field fights, called in our times by the French word Engagements [Giornate], and by the Italians Deeds of arms, were fought by the Romans at diverse times, I have thought upon the general opinions of many, which hold that if artillery had existed in those days the Romans would not have been permitted to conquer provinces and make other people tributary to themselves as they did, nor would they in any way have been able to make such large acquisitions: They say also that because of these instrument of fire men are not able to use or show their virtu as they were able to anciently. And a third thing should be added that one now comes to the joining of battle with more difficulty than formerly, nor is it possible to maintain the same discipline as in those times, so that in time wars will be reduced to artillery [exchanges]. And as I judge it not to be outside this subject to discuss whether such opinions are true, and whether artillery has increased or diminished the strength of armies, and whether it gives or takes away opportunity to good Captains of acting with virtu.
I shall begin by speaking concerning the first opinion that the ancient Roman armies would not have made the conquests that they did if artillery had existed: Upon which in replying, I say that war is made either to defend oneself or to take the offensive: whence it must first be examined as to which of these two kinds of war make it [artillery] more useful or more damaging. And although there is something to say on both sides, none the less I believe that beyond comparison it does more damage to whoever defends himself than to whoever attacks. The reason I say this is that he who defends himself is either inside some fortified place or in a camp within a stockade: and if he is inside a town, either this town is small as are the greater part of the fortresses, or it is large: in the first case whoever defends himself is entirely lost, for the impetus of the artillery is such that a wall has not yet been found which is so strong that in a few days it will be battered down by it; and if whoever is inside does not have considerable space for retreat, and [cannot protect himself] with ditches and earthworks, he is lost, nor can he sustain the attack of the enemy who would then enter through the breach in the wall: nor will the artillery he has be of any benefit to him in this, for there is a maxim that where men attack in mass, the artillery will not stop them; and thus the fury of the Ultramontanes in the defense of their lands has never been resisted: the assaults of the Italians are easily resisted, as they go in battle, not in mass, but in small detachments, which by their own name are called Scaramouches [skirmishes]: and when they deliberately go in this disordered manner into a breach in a wall where there is artillery, they go to a certain death, for against them the artillery is of value: but when they go in a dense mass, and one pushes the other as they come to a break, if they are not impeded by ditches or earthworks, they enter in every place and artillery will not hold them: and if some are killed, they cannot be so many that they would impede the victory. That this is true has been recognized by the many conquests made by the Ultramontanes in Italy, and especially that of Brescia; for when that land rebelled against the French, and the fortress being still held by the King of France, the Venetians, in order to resist the attacks which could come from the town, had fortified all the road that descends from the fortress to the City with artillery, placing it in front and on the flanks and in every convenient place: of which Monsignor De Foix took no account, rather, with his squadron, he descended on foot, and passing through the midst of it [the artillery] occupied the City, nor from what was heard had he received any recordable damage. So that whoever defends himself in a small area (as was said) and finding the walls of his town breached, and does not have space to retreat with earthworks and ditches, and have to rely on artillery, will quickly be lost.
If you defend a large town and have the convenience of retreating, I none the less maintain beyond comparison that artillery is more useful to whoever is outside than to whoever is inside. First, because if you want artillery to harm those outside, you are necessitated to raise yourself with it above the level of the surrounding land, for being on the plain, every little embankment and earthwork that the enemy raises remains secure, and you cannot harm him, so that by having to raise it and draw it along the aisle between the walls, or in some other way raise it above the ground, you have two drawbacks: the first, that you cannot place artillery of the same size and power as those outside can bring to bear, as you are not able in a small place to handle large things: the other, no matter how well you can place it, you cannot make those earthworks trustworthy and secure in order to save the said artillery as those outside can do being on higher ground, and having that convenience and space which they themselves lacked: So that it is impossible to whoever defends a town to keep his artillery in elevated positions when those who are on the outside have plenty and powerful artillery: and if they have to place it in lower places, it becomes in large part useless, as has been said. So that the defense of a City is reduced to defending it with the same [manual] arms as was done anciently, and with small size artillery: from which little usefulness is derived (because of the small size artillery) unless there is a mine of disadvantages that counterweighs the advantage [of the artillery]: for in respect to that, the walls of the town are kept low and almost buried in the ditches, so that when the battle comes to hand to hand fighting, either because the walls are breached or the ditches filled up, those inside have many more disadvantages than they had before. And therefore (as was said above) these instruments benefit much more whoever besieges the towns that whoever is besieged.
As to the third case when you are in a camp within a stockade and you do not want to come to an engagement unless it is at your convenience or advantage, I say that in this case you do not ordinarily have a better remedy to defend yourself without fighting than what the ancients had, and some times you may have greater disadvantage on account of your artillery: For if the enemy turns on you and has even a small advantage of ground, as can easily happen, and finds himself higher than you, or that at his arrival you have not yet finished your earthworks and covered yourself well with them, he quickly dislodges you before you have any remedy and you are forced to go out of your fortress and come to battle. This happened to the Spaniards in the engagement at Ravenna, who, being entrenched between the river Ronco and an earthwork which was built insufficiently high, and the French having a slight advantage of terrain, were constrained by the artillery to leave their fortified place and come to battle. But suppose (as must often happen) that the location you have chosen for your camp is higher than the other side at the [time of] encounter, and that your earthworks are good and secure, so that owing to the site and your other preparations, the enemy does not dare to assault you, in this case he will resort to those means that the ancients resorted to when one, with his army, was in a position where he could not be attacked, that is, he will overrun the country, take or besiege lands friendly to you and impede your provisions; so that you will be forced by some necessity to dislodge him, and come to battle, where artillery (as will be mentioned below) will not be of much use. Considering, therefore, in what manner the Romans made war, and observing that almost all their wars were to attack others and not to defend themselves, it will be seen (if all the things said above were true) that they would have had even greater advantage, and would have made their conquests more easily, if they should have lived in those times [of the advent of artillery].
As to the second proposition, that men are not able to show their virtu as they could anciently because of the use of artillery, I say that it is true that where men have to expose themselves in small groups, that they are exposed to greater danger than when they had to scale [the walls of] a town or make similar assaults, where men did not have to act bunched together, but by themselves one after the other. It is also true that the Captains and Heads of the army are now subjected to the danger of death than at that time, as they can be reached by artillery in every place, and it is of no benefit to them to be in the rear ranks, and protected by their strongest men: None the less it is seen that the one and the other of these dangers rarely caused extraordinary damages, for well fortified towns are not scaled, nor do you go to assault them with feeble attacks, but in wanting to conquer them, the matter is reduced to a siege, as was done anciently. And even in those places that can be conquered by assault, the dangers are not much greater now then they were then, for even in that time there did not lack to the defenders of towns means for throwing [missiles], which (if they were not as furious [as cannon] is) had a similar effect in killing men. As to the death of Captains and Candottieri, in the twenty four years in which there have been wars in Italy in recent times, there have been fewer examples then there were in any ten years time [of war] of the ancients. For, outside of Count Lodovico Della Mirandola (who was killed at Ferrara when the Venetians assaulted that State a few years ago) and the Duke of Nemours (who was killed at Cirignuola), it never happened that any were killed by artillery, since Monsignor De Foix was killed at Ravenna by steel [sword] and not by fire. So that if men do not show their virtu individually, it is not the result of the artillery, but from poor discipline and weakness of the armies, which, lacking virtu collectively, are not able to show it in the [individual] parts.
As to the third proposition mentioned by some, that it is no longer possible to come to hand-to-hand fighting, and that wars will be entirely conducted through artillery, I say this opinion is entirely false, and will always be so held by those who would want to manage their armies according to the ancient virtu: For whoever wants to create a good army must, by real or feigned exercises, accustom his men to meet the enemy, and to come against him with sword in hand and to seize him bodily, and he must rely more upon the infantry than on cavalry, for the reasons which will be mentioned below. And when they rely on infantry and on the aforementioned means [of training], the artillery will become entirely useless; for the infantry in meeting the enemy can escape the blows of the artillery with greater ease than anciently they were able to escape from the attacks of elephants, from scythed chariots, and other obsolete means of attack which the Roman infantry had to encounter, [and] against which they always found a remedy: and they would have found it so much more readily against this [artillery], as the time in which artillery can harm you is much shorter than that in which the elephants and chariots could do harm. For these disorganized you in the midst of battle, while that [the artillery] only impedes you before the battle; which impediment is easily avoided by the infantry either the nature of the site covering them or by lying down on the ground during the firing. Even experience has shown this not to be necessary, especially when defending themselves from large artillery, which cannot be so [accurately] aimed, [and] either (if they are aimed high) they pass over you, or (if they are aimed low) they do not reach you. Then when you have come with the army to hand to hand [fighting], this becomes clearer than light that neither the large nor the small artillery can then harm you. For if he has the artillery in front, you capture it, and if he has it in the rear, he first harms his friend rather than you: even on the flank he cannot harm you so, that you cannot go up to capture them, and the result mentioned above [first] will happen.
Nor is this disputed very much, because the example of the Swiss has been seen, who in MDXIII 1513 at Novara, without artillery or cavalry, went to encounter the French army armed with artillery within their fortresses, and routed them without having any impediment from that artillery. And the reason is (in addition to the things mentioned above) that the artillery, to be well served, has need to be guarded either by walls, ditches, or earthworks: and that if it lacks one of these guards, it is captured or becomes useless, as happens in open field engagements and battles when it is defended only by men. On the flank it cannot be employed except in that manner that the ancients used their catapults, which they placed outside of the squadrons, so that they should fight outside of the ranks, and every time they were pressed by cavalry or others, they took refuge within the legions. Who employs it otherwise does not understand it well, and relies on something which can easily deceive him. And if the Turk by means of artillery gained the victory over the Sofi [Persians] and the Soldan [Egyptians], it resulted from no other virtu than from the unaccustomed noise which frightened their cavalry. I conclude, therefore, coming to the end of this discussion, that artillery is useful in an army when it is mixed with the ancient virtu, but, without that, it is most useless against a valorous army.
And it can be clearly demonstrated by many arguments and by many examples how much the Romans in all their military actions esteemed the foot soldier more than the cavalry, and based all the plans of their forces on them: as is seen by many examples, and among others that which occurred when they came to battle with the Latins next to Lake Regillo, where the Roman army already having given way, made their cavalry descend from their horses in order to succor their foot soldiers, and by that means renewed the battle and obtained the victory. Where it is manifestly seen that the Romans had more confidence in their men, when on foot, than maintaining them on horseback. They used this same means in many other battles, and they always found it an optimum remedy in their dangers. Nor is the opinion of Hannibal opposed to this who, when he saw in the engagement at Cannae that the Consuls made their horsemen descend on foot, making a mock of a like proceeding, said: Quam malem vinctos mini traderent equites, that is, I would have more concern if they would give them to me bound. Which opinion, although coming from the mouth of a most excellent man, none the less if we have to go back to authority, we ought to believe more if it came from a Roman Republic and from so many excellent Captains which she produced, than to one single Hannibal; although even without authorities, there are manifest reasons, for a man can go into many places on foot where he cannot go on horseback: you can teach him to preserve the ranks, and should they be broken, how to reform them, but it is difficult to make horses preserve the ranks, and when they are disturbed impossible to reform them: in addition to this, it will be found (as in men) that some horses have little spirit and some have much, and many times it happens that a spirited horse is ridden by a base man, and a timid horse by a spirited man, and however this disparity arises, uselessness and disorder result. Well disciplined infantry can easily break the cavalry but only with difficulty can they be routed by them. Which opinion is corroborated (in addition to many ancient and modern examples) by the authority of those who make regulations for civil affairs, where they show that at first wars were begun to be fought by cavalry, because [good] infantry was not yet been organized: but as soon as this was done, it was quickly recognized how much more useful these were then cavalry: However, the cavalry is necessary in armies for reconnaissance, to overrun and plunder the country, and to pursue the enemy when in flight, and to be a part of the opposition to the cavalry of the adversaries: but the foundation and the sinew of the army, and that which should be more esteemed, ought to be the infantry.
And among the faults of the Italian Princes who have made Italy slave to foreigners, there is none greater than to have taken into little account this organization [infantry], and to have turned all their attention to mounted troops. Which error arose from the malignity of the Heads, and from the ignorance of those who ruled the State: For during the past twenty five years the Italian military have been brought under men who did not have a State, but were as Captains [Soldiers] of fortune, whose main thought was how they should be able to maintain their reputation by their being armed, and the Princes disarmed. And as a large number of infantry could not continuously be paid by them, and not having subjects of whom they could avail themselves, and as a small number would not give them reputation, they turned to keeping cavalry; for two hundred or three hundred cavalry paid by a Condottiere maintained his reputation, and the payment was not such that it could not be met by men who had a State: and so that this should be facilitated and to maintain themselves in even greater reputation, they took away all the affection for and the reputation of the infantry, and transferred those to their cavalry; and so greatly increased this disorder, that the infantry was a minimum part of any of the largest armies. Which usage (together with many other disorders that accompanied it) made the Italian military so weak, that their province has been easily trampled on by all the Ultramontanes. This error of esteeming cavalry more than infantry is shown more openly by another Roman example. The Romans were besieging Sora, and a squadron of cavalry having gone out from the town to assault the camp, the Master of the Roman cavalry went to meet it with his cavalry, and coming breast to breast, chance would have it that in the first shock the Heads of both armies were killed; and the fight continued none the less, while [both sides] remained without direction, when the Romans in order to overcome the enemy more easily, dismounted and forced the cavalry (if they wanted to defend themselves) to do similarly, and with all this the Romans carried the victory.
This example could not be better in demonstrating how much greater virtu there is in the infantry than in the cavalry; for if in the other cases the Consuls made the Roman cavalry dismount, it was to succor the infantry which was suffering and in need of aid; but in this case they dismounted, not to succor the infantry, nor to fight with enemy infantry, but a combat of cavalry against cavalry, [and] not being able to overcome them on horseback, they judged that by dismounting they would be able more easily to overcome them. I want to conclude, therefore, that a well organized infantry cannot be overcome without the greatest difficulty, except by another infantry. Crassus and Marc Anthony overran the dominion of Parthia for many days with very few cavalry and many infantry, and encountered innumerable cavalry of the Parthians. Crassus with part of the army was killed, Marc Anthony saved himself with virtu. None the less, in this Roman affliction is seen how much the infantry prevailed against the cavalry; for being in a large country where mountains are rare, rivers rarer, distant from the sea, and far from all conveniences, none the less, in the judgment of the Parthians themselves, he saved himself skillfully; nor did the Parthian cavalry ever dare to try the discipline of his army. If Crassus were returned to you, whoever examines his actions carefully will see that he was rather deceived than overpowered, and never in his greatest straits did the Parthians dare to hurl themselves against him, rather they always went on flanking him and impeding his provisions, [and] by promising them to him and then not observing it, they reduced him to the last extremity.
I believe I should have to endure more hard work in persuading [the reader] how much more superior is the virtu of the infantry than that of the cavalry, except that there are many modern examples which render the fullest testimony. And it has been seen how nine thousand Swiss at Novara, mentioned above by us, went out and attacked ten thousand cavalry and as many infantry, and defeated them, for the cavalry could not attack them, and the infantry being forces composed for the most part of Gascons and ill-disciplined, they [the Swiss] esteemed them little. It has subsequently been seen how twenty six thousand Swiss went to encounter north of Milan the King of the French, Francis, who had with him twenty thousand cavalry, forty thousand infantry, and a hundred pieces of artillery; and if they did not win the engagement, as at Novara, they fought valiantly for two days, and though they were later routed, half of them were saved. Marcus Attilius Regulus attempted to resist with his infantry not only [the attack of] the cavalry, but the elephants: and if his design did not succeed, yet it not that the virtu of his infantry was not such that he did not have faith in them believing them capable of overcoming those difficulties. I repeat, therefore, that to want to overcome a disciplined infantry it is necessary to oppose them with a better disciplined infantry, otherwise one goes to a manifest defeat.
In the time of Filippo Visconti, Duke of Milan, about sixteen thousand Swiss descended into Lombardy, whence the Duke having at that time Carmignuola as his Captain, sent him with about a thousand cavalry and a few infantry to meet them. This man, not knowing their method of fighting, went to meet them with his cavalry presuming to be able to rout them quickly. But finding them immovable, having lost many of his men, he retired: and being a most valiant man, and knowing he had to take new proceeding in new events, reorganized his forces and went to meet them; and on coming to the engagement made all his men at arms dismount and go on foot, and placing them at the head of the infantry, went to attack the Swiss, who had no remedy [against them]. For the forces of Carmignuola being on foot and well armored, could easily enter between the ranks of the Swiss without suffering any injury, and having entered therein could easily attack them: So that of all that number, there remained only the part which was saved through the humanity of Carmignuola.
I believe that many recognize this difference in virtu that exists between the one and the other of these systems, but so great is the infelicity of these times, that neither the examples of the ancients or the moderns, nor the confession of error, is enough to cause the modern Princes to re-see things, and to make them think that to give reputation to the military of a Province or a State it is necessary to revive these insinuations [of the ancients], to keep them close to one, to give them reputation, to give them life, so that in return it may give him life and reputation: And as they deviate from these methods, so they deviate from the other methods mentioned above: whence there results that the acquisitions become harmful, not an aggrandizement, to a State, as will be told below.
This opinion contrary to the truth, founded upon those bad examples that have been introduced by these corrupt centuries of ours, causes men not to think of deviating from their accustomed habits. Would it have been possible to persuade an Italian of thirty years ago that ten thousand infantry could have attacked, in an open plain, ten thousand cavalry and as many more infantry, and with these not only to fight them, but to defeat them, as is seen in the example at Novara given by us many times? And although histories are full [of such examples], yet they would not have believed it; and if they had believed it, they would have said that in these times one is better armed, and that a squadron of men at arms would be more adept at charging a rock than a body of infantry: and thus with these erroneous arguments their judgment was corrupted, nor have they considered that Lucullus with few infantry routed one hundred and fifty thousand cavalry of [King] Tigranes, and that among those horsemen was a kind of cavalry entirely similar to our men at arms. And thus that fallacy was uncovered by the example of the Ultramontane forces: And as that which is narrated in histories is seen to be true in regard to infantry, so also ought all the other ancient institutions to be believed to be true and useful. And if this were believed, the Republics and Princes would have erred less, would have been stronger in opposing the attack that might come upon them, they would not have put their hope in flight, and those who had the government in their hands would have known better how to direct the manner of aggrandizement or the manner of preservation; and they would have believed that for the city to increase its inhabitants, to make associations for themselves and not subjects, to send colonies to guard the acquired countries, to make capital of the plunder, to subdue the enemy by incursions and engagements, and by sieges, to keep the public rich, the private citizen poor, to maintain military exercises with the greatest zeal, these are the ways to make a Republic great and to acquire Empire. And if these means of expanding did not please them, they would consider that acquisitions by any other means are the ruin of a Republic; and they would place a restraint to all ambition, regulating the internal affairs of the City well with laws and other customs, prohibiting conquests, and thinking only of defending themselves, and to keep the defenses well organized; as do the Republics of Germany, who, in this manner, live and have lived for a long time.
None the less (as I have said another time when discussing the difference that existed between being organized for conquest and being organized for preservation) it is impossible that a Republic succeeds in remaining quiet and enjoy its liberty and her limited confines; for even if she does not molest others, she will be molested: and from being molested there will arise the will and desire for conquest: and even if she should not have any outside enemies, she would find some at home, as it appears necessary to occur to all great Cities. And if the Republics of Germany could live in this fashion, and have been able to endure a long time, it arises from certain conditions that exist in that country which are not found elsewhere, without which they could not have maintained such a manner of living. That part of Germany of which I speak was subject to the Roman Empire, as was France and Spain: but when the decline of the Empire came afterwards, and the rule of that Empire reduced in that Province, the more powerful Cities begun (according to the weakness or necessity of the Emperors) to make themselves free, ransoming themselves from the Empire by reserving a small annual rent to it: so that little by little all those Cities which were held directly by the Emperor, and were not subject to any Prince, ransomed themselves in similar fashion. There occurred in these same times when these Cities were ransoming themselves, that certain Communities subject to the Duke of Austria rebelled against him, among which were Fribourg, the Swiss, and other like, which prospering from the beginning, gradually expanded little by little, that they did not return under the yoke of Austria, and became feared by their neighbors; and these are those whom we call Swiss. And therefore this Province is divided between the Swiss, Republics which they call Free Towns, Princes, and the Emperor. And the reason that among such a diversity of forms of government wars do not arise, or if they do arise they do not last long, is that this shadow of an Emperor, who, although he has no power, none the less he has so much reputation among them that he is their conciliator, and with his authority by interposing himself as a mediator, quickly extinguishes all trouble. And the major and longer wars that have occurred have been those that took place between the Swiss and the Duke of Austria: and although for many years past the Emperor and the Duke of Austria have been the same person, yet he has never been able to overcome the audacity of the Swiss, where there has never been a means of accord except by force: Nor has the rest of Germany given him much help, as much because the Communities do not want to injure those who want to live free as they do, as because those Princes [are unable to aid him] part of whom cannot because they are poor, part do not want to because they envy his power. These Communities therefore can live contentedly with their small dominions because they have no reason (in respect to the Imperial authority) of desiring a greater one: They can live united within their walls because they have an enemy nearby and who would take the opportunity to occupy them whenever they should have a discord. If this Province was constituted otherwise, it would behoove them to seek to expand and break their quiet existence.
And because elsewhere such conditions do not exist, this way of living cannot be adopted, and it is necessary either to expand by means of leagues, or to expand as the Romans did: And whoever governs otherwise seeks not his life, but his death and ruin, for in a thousand ways and for many reasons, the acquisitions are harmful; for he may very well extend his Empire, but not power; and whoever acquires Empire and not power together, comes to ruin. Whoever impoverishes himself in war cannot acquire power, even though he is victorious, for he puts in more than he draws out of the acquisitions; as the Venetians and Florentines have done, who have been much weaker when the one had Lombardy and the other Tuscany, than they were when the one was content with the [dominion of the] sea, and the other with six miles of boundaries. For all of this resulted from their having wanted to acquire but not to have known the means to do so: and they merit so much more blame as they had less excuse, having seen the methods which the Romans employed, and having been able to follow their example, while the Romans, without any example, through their prudence, knew how to find it by themselves. In addition to this, acquisitions sometimes do no little damage to any well ordered Republic when they acquire a City or a Province full of luxury, where those [indolent] habits can be picked up through intercourse they have with them, as happened to Rome first in the acquisition of Capua, and afterwards also to Hannibal. And if Capua had been further distant from the City [of Rome], and if the errors of the soldiers had not have prompt remedy, or if Rome had been in any part corrupted, that acquisition without doubt would have been the ruin of the Roman Republic: And Titus Livius bears witness of this with these words; Capua the instrument of all pleasures, the least conducive to military discipline, turned the spirit of the military away from the memory of their country. And truly similar Cities or Provinces avenge themselves against their conquerors without a fight and without bloodshed; for by transferring to them their own bad habits they expose them to being conquered by whoever assaults them. And Juvenal in his Satires could not have better understood this part, when he says that, because of the acquisitions of foreign lands, foreign customs had entered the breasts of the Romans, and in exchange for parsimony and other very excellent virtus, gluttony and luxury dwell there, and will avenge the conquered world. If, therefore, the conquest was to be pernicious to the Romans in the times when they proceeded with so much prudence and so much virtu, what then would it be to those who deviate from their methods? And what would it be, if in addition to the other errors they make (which have been discussed at length above), they avail themselves of mercenary or auxiliary soldiers? Whence often those injuries result which will be mentioned in the following chapter.
If I had not in another work of mine treated a length of how useless mercenary and auxiliary troops are, and how useful their own [national troops] are, I should extend myself in this discourse much more than I will: but having talked of it at length elsewhere, I shall be brief in this part. Nor did it seem to me I ought to pass it over entirely, having found in Titus Livius (as to auxiliary soldiers) so striking an example, for auxiliary soldiers are those which a Prince or a Republic send to your aid, captained and paid: and referring to the text of Titus Livius, I say, that the Romans at different places had routed two armies of the Samnites with their army which had been sent to the succor of the Capuans, and by this liberated the Capuans from that war which the Samnites made against them, [and] as they wanted to return to Rome, in order that the Capuans, who had been deprived of their garrisons should not become a prey again to the Samnites, left two legions in the country of Capua for their defense: Which legions, plunged into idleness, begun to delight themselves there, so that forgetting their country and the reverence due to Senate, decided to take up arms and make themselves lords of that country which they had defended with their virtu, it appearing to them that the inhabitants were not worthy to possess those things which they did not know how to defend. Which matter becoming known, it was suppressed and corrected by the Romans, as will be shown more fully where we will speak of conspiracies.
I say again, therefore, that of all the other kinds of soldiers the auxiliaries are the most harmful, because that Prince or that Republic which calls them to their aid have no authority over them, but only he who sends them has authority. For auxiliary soldiers are those who are sent you by a Prince, as I have said, under their captains, under their ensigns, and paid by them, as was this army that the Romans sent to Capua. Such soldiers as these, when they had won, most of the time plunder as well him who leads them as him against whom they are led; and they do so either from the malignity of the Prince who sends them or from their own ambition. And although the intention of the Romans was not to break the accord and convention which they had made with the Capuans, none the less the ease of attacking them appeared to those soldiers to be such, that it was able to persuade them to think of taking the town and the State from the Capuans. We could give many examples of this, but I deem it sufficient to cite that of the Rhegians, whose lives and city were taken away by a legion which the Romans had placed there as a guard. A Prince or a Republic ought, therefore, first to take up any other proceeding than to have recourse to bringing auxiliary forces into their State relying on them for its defense, for every pact, every convention (however hard) that they have with the enemy, will be much lighter than such a proceeding. And if past events are well read, and present ones discussed, it will be found that for one who has had a good ending, infinite others have been deceived. And an ambitious Prince or Republic cannot have a greater opportunity to occupy a City or a Province, than to be requested by it to send their armies to its defense. Therefore, he who is so ambitious that he calls for such aid not only to defend himself but to attack others as well, seeks to acquire that which he will not be able to hold, and which can easily be taken away from him by him from whom he acquired it. But the ambition of men is so great, that to gratify a present desire, do not think of the evil which, in a short time, will result from it. Nor do the ancient examples move him, as well in this as in the other matters discussed; for if they were moved by them, they would see how much more the liberality they show their neighbors, and the less desirous they are of occupying them, so much the more they throw themselves into your arms, as will be told below through the example of the Capuans.
It has been discussed at length above, how the Romans differed in their manner of proceeding in their acquisitions from those who in the present time expand their jurisdiction; and how they left [the people of] those lands which they did not destroy living with their laws, including even those who had surrendered to them, not as associates, but as subjects, and how they did not leave in them any sign of the authority [Empire] of the Roman people, but obligated them to some conditions, which so long as they were observed by them, they would maintain them in their state and dignity. And it is known that these methods were observed until they went outside of Italy and commenced to reduce Kingdoms and States into Provinces. There is no clearer example of this than that of the Praetors sent by them to any place was to Capua; whom they sent, not because of their ambition, but because they had been requested by the Capuans, who (there being discord among them) judged it necessary to have a Roman Citizen within that City who would restore order and re-unify them. From this example, [and] moved and constrained by a similar necessity, the people of Antium also requested a Praetor from them. And T. Livius says of this incident and [commenting] on this new method of ruling, That they promised not only arms, but Roman justice. It is seen, therefore, how much this facilitated Roman expansion; for those Cities mainly that are accustomed to living free or to govern themselves by their own citizens, remain more quiet and content under a government they do not see (even though it may have some inconvenience in itself) than under one which they see every day, as it would appear to them they would be reproached by their servitude every day. Another advantage also results to the Prince who, not having at hand his ministers, judges and magistrates to render both civil and criminal decisions in that City, [and] no sentence being able ever to be pronounced which will bring censure or infamy upon the Prince, in this manner, comes to escape many causes of calumny and hatred.
¶ And that this is the truth, in addition to the ancient examples which could be cited, there is one recent example in Italy. For (everyone knows) Genoa having been occupied by the French many times, the King always (except at the present time) has sent a French Governor who governs in his name. Only at present has he allowed that City to be governed by itself and by a Genoese governor, not by election of the King, but because necessity so ordained. And without doubt, if it were to be examined as to which of these two methods gives more security to the King from the Rule [Empire] over it, and more contentedness to that people, without doubt this latter method would be approved. In addition to this, men will so much more readily throw themselves into your arms the less you appear disposed to subjugate them, and so much less will they fear you in connection with their liberty as you are more humane and affable with them. This affability and liberality made the Capuans have recourse to request the Praetor from the Romans: that if the Romans had shown the slightest desire to send one, they would quickly have become jealous and would have kept their distance from them [Romans].
¶ But what need is there to go to Capua and Rome for examples, when we have them in Florence and Tuscany? Everyone knows how the City of Pistoia a long time ago came voluntarily under the Florentine Empire [Dominion]. Everyone also knows how much enmity there has existed between the Florentines, the Pisans, the Lucchese, and the Sienese; and this difference in spirit has not arisen because the Pistoians do not value their liberty as the others or do not esteem themselves as much as the others, but because the Florentines have always borne themselves toward them [the Pistoians] as brothers, and like enemies towards the others. It was this that caused the Pistoians to have run voluntarily under their Dominion, and the others to have used, and still use, every force not to come under them. And doubtless, if the Florentines either by means of leagues or by rendering them aid, had cultivated instead of frightening their neighbors, at this hour they would have been Lords of Tuscany. I do not judge by this that arms and force are not to be employed, but that they ought to be reserved as the last resort where and when other means are not enough.
Those who have found themselves witnesses of the deliberations of men have observed, and still observe, how often the opinions of men are erroneous; which many times, if they are not decided by very excellent men, are contrary to all truth. And because excellent men in corrupt Republics (especially in quiet times) are frowned upon both from envy and from other reasons of ambition, it follows that a common deception [error] is judged good, or it is put forward by men who want favors more readily for themselves than for the general good. When this error, in times of adversity, is discovered, then from necessity refuge is sought among those who in times of quiet were almost forgotten, as will be discussed in full in its proper place. Certain events also arise where men who do not have a great amount of experience of things are easily deceived, for they have in them that incident which resembles so many similar actions which are true as to make that one believed, [and] upon cases such as this men are persuaded. These things have been said of that [error] which the Praetor Numicus (when the Latins were routed by the Romans) persuaded them, and of that [error] which a few years ago was believed by many, when Francis I, King of France, attempted the conquest of Milan, which was defended by the Swiss.
¶ I say, therefore, that after the death of Louis XII, and Francis of Angouleme succeeded to the kingdom of France, and when he desired to restore to the kingdom the Duchy of Milan, which a few years before was occupied by the Swiss, through the help of Pope Julius II, desired to obtain aid in Italy which should facilitate the enterprise for him; and, in addition to the Venetians whom King Louis and gained over to himself, attempted to regain the Florentines and Pope Leo X, deeming his enterprise would be easier any time he should have regained those people to himself, inasmuch as the forces of the King of Spain were in Lombardy, and the other forces of the Emperor were in Verona. Pope Leo did not yield to the desires of the king, but was persuaded by those who counselled him (according as it was said) to remain neutral, showing him that certain victory consisted in this proceeding, for the Church not to have either the King [of France] or the Swiss too powerful in Italy; but if he wanted to bring it [the Church] to its ancient liberty, it was necessary to liberate her from the servitude of the one and the other. And because it was not possible to overcome one and the other, or each one separately, or both together, it would be best that one should overcome the other, and that the Church with her friends should attack the one that remained victor. And it was impossible to find a better opportunity than the present, as the one and the other were in the field, and the Pope had his forces organized so as to be able to show himself on the borders of Lombardy and near to both armies, under pretext of wanting to guard his possessions; and where he could remain until an engagement should take place, which reasonably (both armies being of equal virtu) ought to be bloody for both parties, and leave the victor so debilitated that it would be easy for the Pope to assail him and rout him, and thus he would, with great glory to himself, to remain Lord of Lombardy and arbiter of all Italy. And how much this opinion was wrong is to be seen from the result, for the Swiss were defeated after a long fight, and the forces of the Pope and of Spain did not presume to assault the victors, but prepared for flight: which also would not have done them good if it had not been for the humanity or indifference of the [French] King, who did not seek a second victory, but it sufficed him to make an accord with the Church.
This advice was based on certain reasons which at a distance appear true, but are entirely alien to the truth. For it rarely happens that the victor loses many of his soldiers, because the victor loses only those who die in battle, none by flight; and in the ardor of the combat, when men have turned to face one another, only a few fall, especially because very often it only lasts a short time: and even if it did last a long time and many of the victors should die, the reputation which follows the victory and the terror which it brings with it, are such that it greatly outweighs the injury which the death of his soldiers causes the victor to endure. So that an army, which in the belief that he has been weakened, should go and meet him, will find itself deceived, unless the army should be such as to be able to have combatted with him at any time, even before the victory. In this case it is possible to win or lose according to its fortune and virtu; but that one which should have first fought, and won, will have rather the advantage over the other. This was recognized for certain by the experience of the Latins and by the error that the Praetor Numicus committed, and by the injuries which those people suffered who believed him, when (after the Romans had defeated the Latins) he shouted throughout all the country of Latium now was the time to assault the Romans weakened by the fight they had had with them, and that only the name of victory remained to the Romans, inasmuch as all the other injuries they had suffered were as though they had been defeated, and that any little force that should assault them anew would destroy them. Whence those people who believed him raised a new army, but were quickly routed, and suffered those injuries which those people always suffer who hold similar opinions.
Such was the state of things in Latium, that they could endure neither peace nor war. Of all the happy and unhappy states to which a Prince or a Republic can be reduced is to come to such terms that they cannot accept peace or sustain war; to which those are reduced who are oppressed too much by the conditions of the peace, and who, on the other hand, (wanting to make war) would have to throw themselves as prey to those who aid them, or to remain prey to the enemy. And all this comes from evil counsels and from the bad procedure of not having well measured their strength, as was said above. For that Republic or that Prince which should measure them well, will only with difficulty be brought to that condition which the Latins were brought, who made an accord with the Romans when they ought not to have, and declared war when they ought not to have, and thus they knew how to manage so that the enmity and friendship of the Romans were equally damaging to them. The Latins were therefore overcome and afflicted in the extreme, first by Manlius Torquatus, and afterwards by Camillus, who having constrained them to give themselves up and put themselves into the arms of the Romans, and having placed guards throughout the towns of Latium, and having taken hostages from all, returned to Rome and reported to the Senate that all Latium was in the hands of the Roman people. And as this judgment was notable and merits being observed so as to be able to be imitated when similar opportunities are given to Princes, I want to cite the words which Livius placed in the mouth of Camillus, which give witness both of the manner which the Romans held in expanding and how in the judgments of the State they always avoided half-way measures and turned to extremes. For a government consists only in so holding the subjects that they cannot or ought not want to injure you. This is done either by assuring yourself entirely by taking away from them all means of harming you, or by benefiting them so that it would not be reasonable that they would have a desire for any change of fortune. Which is entirely understood, first from the proposition of Camillus, and then by the judgment given by the Senate upon it. His words were these: The immortal Gods caused you to go where you were able to by these counsels, placing in your hands whether Latium should exist. Therefore, you can prepare a peace in perpetuity in relation to the Latins, either by violence or forgiveness. Will you proceed cruelly against those whom you conquered and who gave themselves up to you? If so, you are at liberty to destroy all Latium. Will you rather by example desire to increase the power of the Roman Republic by accepting those whom you have overcome into your citizenship? If so, you have the opportunity for a most glorious increase. Certainly that Empire is more firm which enjoys obedience. While, therefore, their minds are in a stupor and in suspense, it behooves you to assure yourselves either through punishment or benefits. This proposition was followed by the decision of the Senate which was in accordance with the words of the Consul, so that going from town to town which were of importance, they either bestowed benefits on them or destroyed them, granting to the beneficiaries exemptions and privileges, giving them Citizenship, and assuring them in every way: the others they destroyed their towns, colonies were sent there, [the inhabitants] transferred to Rome, and so dispersing them that they could never by arms or by counsel injure Rome.
Nor did they [the Romans] ever employ neutral means in these matters of moment (as I have said). Princes ought to imitate this judgment, and the Florentines ought to have adopted this course when, in MDII 1502 Arezzo and all the Val Di Chiana rebelled: which if they had done so, they would have secured their Empire and greatly increased the City of Florence, and given her those fields which she lacked in order to live. But they employed that middle way, which is most pernicious in the judging of men, so that they exiled part of the Aretini, and a part they condemned to death, and they deprived all of them of their honors and their ancient ranks in the City, but left the City entire. And when any Citizen in their deliberations advised that Arezzo should be destroyed, those who were deemed more wise said that it would be of little honor to the Republic to destroy her, as it would appear that Florence lacked the strength to hold her: which reasons are of those which appear to be, but are not, true; for by this same reason a parricide, a criminal, or an infamous person would not be put to death, as it would be a shame for that Prince to show that he did not have the power to be able to restrain a solitary man, And those who have similar opinions do not see, that individual men, and a whole City, will some times so sin against a State, that as an example to others, and for his own security, a Prince has no other remedy but to destroy them. And honor consists in being able and knowing when and how to castigate them, not in being able with a thousand dangers to hold them, for the Prince who does not castigate evil-doers in a way that he can no longer do evil, is held to be either ignorant or cowardly. This judgment which the Romans gave when it was necessary, is also confirmed by the sentence given against the Privernati. Where from the text of Livius, two things ought to be noted: the one, that which is mentioned above that subjects ought to given benefits or destroyed: the other, how much the generosity of spirit and speaking the truth helps, especially when it is spoken in the presence of prudent men. The Roman Senate had assembled to judge the Privernati, who had rebelled, but were later by force returned to the Roman obedience. Many Citizens had been sent by the people of Privernatum to beg pardon from the Senate, and when they had come into their presence, one of them was asked by a Senator, what punishment do you think the Privernati merit? To which the Privernate replied, That which those who feel themselves worthy of liberty merit. To which the Consul replied, If we remit your punishment, what peace can we hope to have with you? To which that man responded, A faithful and perpetual one, if you give us a good one; if a bad one, only a day-by-day one. Whence, although many were displeased, the wiser part of the Senate said, This was the voice of free and virile people, and they could not believe that it is possible for that people, or an individual, would otherwise remain in a condition that was punishment to them, except if it resulted from necessity. Peace would be trustful where it was made voluntarily, and not from a position where servitude is prevalent where it is hopeless to look for good faith. And after these words they decided that the Privernati should be Roman Citizens, and they honored them with the privileges of their society, saying: Those who think of nothing except liberty are here worthy of being Romans. So much did this true and generous response [of the Privernati] please those generous spirits [Romans]; for any other response would have been false and cowardly. And those who believe men to be otherwise (especially if these are accustomed to be, or appeared to be, free) deceive themselves, and under this deception take up proceedings that are neither good in themselves nor satisfactory to them [who are affected by it]. From which there often results rebellions and the ruin of States.
But to return to our discussion, I conclude, both from this and from the judgment given to the Latins, when a City, powerful and accustomed to living free, is to be judged, it must be either destroyed or caressed, otherwise every judgment is vain; and above all the middle-way course ought to be avoided, which is pernicious, as it was to the Samnites when they had enveloped the Romans at the Caudine forks, and when they did not want to follow the advice of that old man who counselled them that they should allow the Romans to go honorably, or to kill them all; but by taking a middle way, disarming them and putting them under the yoke, they allowed them to go full of ignominy and anger. So that a little afterwards, to their harm, they realized how useful the sentence of that old man had been and how harmful was their decision, as will be discussed more fully in its place.
It may perhaps appear to these sages of our times as something not well considered, that the Romans in wanting to assure themselves of the people of Latium and of the City of Privernum, did not think of building some fortresses there, which would be a restraint to hold them faithful; especially as there was a saying in Florence alleged by our wise men, that Pisa and other similar Cities ought to be held by fortresses. And truly, if the Romans had been like them, they would have thought to build them: but as they were of another virtu, of another judgment, of another power, they did not build them. And so long as Rome lived free and followed her institutions and virtuous constitutions, they never built one to hold either a City or a province, but they did save some that had already been built. Whence seeing the mode of proceeding of the Romans in this regard, and that of the Princes in our times, it appears to me proper to put into consideration whether it is good to build fortresses, or whether they are harmful Or useful to him who builds them. It ought to be considered, therefore, whether fortresses are built for defending oneself from the enemy or to defend oneself form one’s subjects.
In the first case they are not necessary, in the second harmful. And I will begin by giving the reason why in the second case they are harmful, I say that that Prince or that Republic which is afraid of its subjects and of their rebelling, it results first from the fact that that fear arises from the hate which the subjects have for them, and the hate they have of the treatment given them. The ill treatment results either from the belief of being able to hold them by force, or from the little prudence of those who govern them; and one of the things that makes them believe they are able to force them, is to have their fortresses near them: for the ill treatment that is the cause of hatred, arises in good part because of that Prince or that Republic have the fortresses, which (if this is true) are much more harmful by far than useful: For firstly (as has been said) they cause you to be more audacious and more violent toward your subjects: afterwards there is not that internal security of which you persuade yourself, as all the strength and violence that is employed in holding a people are nothing, except these two: either you have always to place a good army in the field, as the Romans had, or you must disperse them, extinguish them, disorganize them, and so destroy them that they are not able to come together to attack you; for if you impoverish them, the despoiled ones will win their arms: if you disarm them, fury will serve as arms: if you kill the Captains and continue to injure the others, the Heads will spring up as those of the Hydra: if you build fortresses, they are useful in times of peace because they give you more courage to do evil to them, but in times of war most useless because they will be assaulted by the enemy and by your subjects, nor is it possible that they can resist the one and the other. And if ever they were useless, they are now in our times on account of artillery, because of which the small places, where moreover you cannot retire behind earthworks, are impossible to defend, as we discussed above.
I want to discuss this manner more tritely. Either you, a Prince, want to keep the people of the City in restraint with these fortresses, or you, a Prince or a Republic, want to keep a City in restraint that has been occupied in war. I want to turn to the Prince, and I say to him that such fortresses cannot be more useless to him in holding his Citizens in restraint for the reasons given above, for it makes you more prompt and less regardful in oppressing them, and that oppression will expose you to your ruin and will excite them so, that that fortress which is the reason for it cannot afterwards defend you; so that a wise and good Prince, in order to keep himself good and not give cause to his sons to dare to become bad, will never build fortresses, so that they will rely, not upon the fortresses, but on the good will of men. And if Count Francesco Sforza who had become Duke of Milan was reputed wise and none the less built fortresses in Milan, I say that in this case he was not wise, and the result has shown that that fortress was harmful and not a security to his heirs: for judging that through the medium of it to live securely, and to be able to oppress their Citizens and subjects, they indulged in all kinds of violence, so that they became so hated as described above, that they lost the State as soon as the enemy assaulted them: nor did that fortress defend them, nor did they have any usefulness for them in war, and in peace had done them much harm: for if they had not had them, and if because of little prudence they had not treated their Citizens harshly, they would have discovered the peril more quickly, and would have retreated, and would then have been able to resist the impetus of the French more courageously with friendly subjects and without a fortress, than with hostile subjects, and with the fortress, which do you no good in any way, for either they [fortresses] are lost through the treachery of those who guard them, or because of the violence of those who assault it, or by famine.
And if you want them to do you any good and to help you in recovering a lost State, where only the fortress remains to you, it behooves you to have an army with which you can assault those who have driven you out; and if you have the army you would recover the State in any case, [and] even more [easily] if the fortress did not exist, and so much more easily as men would be more friendly than they were to you, for you had maltreated them because of the pride of having the fortress. And from experience it has been seen that this fortress of Milan was of no usefulness either to the Sforza or to the French in times of adversity for the one or the other; rather it brought much harm and ruin to both, not having given thought because of it to more honest means of holding that State. Guidobaldo Duke of Urbino, son of Frederick, who is his time was an esteemed Captain, was driven out of his State by Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI; when afterwards because of an incident that had arisen he returned there, he caused all the fortresses that existed in that province to be destroyed, judging them to be injurious. For he being beloved by men, did not need them on their account, and with regard to his enemies, he had seen that he could not defend them; as they needed an army in the field to defend them, he resolved to destroy them. Pope Julius, after having driven out the Bentivogli from Bologna, built a fortress in that City, and afterwards had those people assassinated by one his Governors: so that that people rebelled, and the Pope quickly lost the fortress; and thus the fortress did him no good, but injury, and the more so, that by conducting himself otherwise it could have done him good. Niccolo Da Costello, father of the Vitelli, returning to his country when he had been exiled, quickly razed two fortresses that Pope Sixtus IV had built, judging that the good will people, not the fortresses, would keep him in that State. But of all the other examples, the most recent and the most notable in every way, and apt to show the uselessness of building them and the usefulness of destroying them, is that of Genoa which ensued in the most recent time. Everyone knows that in MDVII 1507 Genoa rebelled against Louis XII, King of France, who had come in person with all his forces to recover it, and having recovered it, he had a fortress built stronger than all others known up to the present time; it was impregnable because of its location and other circumstances, being placed on the apex of a hill that extended into the sea, called Codefa by the Genoese, and by means of this he commanded all the port and great part of the town of Genoa. Afterwards in the year MDVII 1512 it happened that the French forces were driven out of Italy, Genoa rebelled notwithstanding the fortress, and Ottaviano Fregoso seized the State, who, after sixteen months and with every industry, captured it by starvation. And everyone believed, and many counselled him, that he should preserve it as a refuge in any event: but being a most prudent man, [and] knowing that the good will of men and not fortresses maintained Princes in their States, destroyed it. And thus without founding his State on the fortress, but on his virtu and prudence, he has held it and still holds it. And where before only a thousand infantry usually were enough to overturn the State of Genoa, his adversaries have assaulted him with ten thousand and have not been able to harm him. It will be seen from this, therefore, that the destruction of the fortress did no more harm Ottaviano, than the building of it protected the King of France. For when he was able to come into Italy with his army, he was able to recover Genoa without the fortress being there; but without the army he could not come into Genoa even though he had a fortress there. For him, therefore, it was an expense to do [build] it and a disgrace to lose it: To Ottaviano the recovery of it was glorious and the destruction of it useful.
But let us come to the Republics which build fortresses, not within their own country, but inside the towns they acquire. And if the example given of France and Genoa are not enough to demonstrate the fallacy of this, those of Florence and Pisa will be enough for me; for the Florentines build fortresses in order to hold that City, and did not understand that to hold a City which was always hostile to Florentine rule, had lived in freedom, and had resorted to rebellion as a refuge for liberty, it was necessary in wanting to observe the old Roman method, either to make her an associate or to destroy her: for the virtu of fortresses is seen in the coming of King Charles, to whom they all surrendered, either through the treachery of those who guarded it, or from fear of a greater evil: for if there had not been one, the Florentines never would have based their holding Pisa on it, and the King [of France] could never in that manner have deprived the Florentines of that City: and the means by which they had maintained it up to that time would perhaps have been sufficient to preserve it, and without doubt would have stood the test better than the fortress.
I conclude, therefore, that to hold one’s own country a fortress is injurious and to hold towns that are acquired fortresses are useless: And I want the authority of the Romans to be enough [for me], who razed the walls of those towns which they wanted to hold, having taken them by violent means, and never rebuilt them. And if anyone should cite in opposition to this opinion that [example] of Tarantum in ancient times and of Brescia in modern times, both of which places were recovered from their rebellious subjects by means of fortresses, I reply, that for the recovery of Tarantum Fabius Maximus was sent at the beginning of the year with the entire army, who would have been more apt to have recovered it if there had not been a fortress: for although Fabius had used that means, if there had not been this means [fortress], he would have used other means which would have had the same result. And I do not know of what usefulness a fortress may be, if in the recovery of a town, a consular army with Fabius Maximus for its Captain is needed to recover it: And that the Romans would have recovered it in any event, is seen by the example of Capua where there was no fortress, and which they reacquired through the virtu of the army. But let us come to Brescia. I say that there rarely occurs that which occurred in that rebellion, that while the fortress remains in your power (the town having revolted) you should have a large army [and] nearby as was that of the French: for Monsignor De Foix, Captain of the King, being with his army at Bologna and learning of the loss of Brescia recovered the town by means of the fortress. The fortress of Brescia, therefore, (in order to be of benefit) also needed a Monsignor De Foix, and a French army which had to succor it in three days: Hence this example in contrast to opposite examples is not enough, for many fortresses have been taken and retaken in wars of our times, by the same fortune as field campaigns [have taken and retaken], not only in Lombardy, but also in the Romagna, in the Kingdom of Naples, and throughout all parts of Italy.
But as to building fortresses in order to defend oneself from external enemies, I say that they are not necessary to those people, or to those Kingdoms that have good armies, and are useless to those who do not have good armies: for good armies without fortresses are sufficient to defend themselves, and fortresses without good armies cannot defend you. And this is seen from the experience of those who are held to be excellent as governors and in other things, as was the case with the Romans and the Spartans; for if the Romans did not build fortresses, the Spartans not only abstained from building them, but even did not permit the City to have walls, because they wanted [to rely on] the personal virtu of their men to defend them, [and] not some other means of defense. When, therefore, a Spartan was asked by an Athenian whether the walls of Athens appeared beautiful to him, he replied “yes, if the [City] was inhabited by women”.
The Prince, therefore, who has good armies, may have on the frontiers of his State, or on the sea, some fortresses that could resist the enemy for some days until he could be checked; this may sometimes be a useful thing, but is not a necessary one. But when the Prince does not have a good army, then having fortresses throughout his State or at the frontiers, are either injurious or useless to him: injurious, because he loses them easily, and when they have been lost they are turned [make war] against him; or even if they should be so strong that that enemy cannot occupy them, they are left behind by the enemy army, and are of no benefit; for good armies, unless they are confronted by equally brave ones, enter into enemy country regardless of the City or fortress which they leave behind, as is seen in ancient histories; and as Francesco Maria did, who in recent times, in order to assault Urbino, left ten enemy Cities behind him, without taking any account of them. That Prince, therefore, who can raise a good army, can do without building fortresses: He who does not have a good army, ought not to build. He ought indeed to fortify the City where he lives, and keep it fortified, and keep the Citizens of that City well disposed, in order to be able to sustain an enemy attack so that he can [keep it] free by an accord or by external aid. All other plans are an expense in times of peace, and useless in times of war. And thus whoever considers all that I have said, will recognize the Romans as wise in all their other institutions, as they were prudent in their judgments concerning the Latins and the Privernati, where, not thinking of fortresses, they assured themselves of these people by wiser and more virtuous means.
There was so much disunity within the Roman Republic between the Plebs and the Nobility that the Veienti together with the Etruscans (through the medium of such disunion) thought they could extinguish the name of Rome. And having raised an army and made incursions upon the fields of Rome, the Senate sent Gnaius Manilus and M. Fabius against them, [and] when they had led their army near the army of the Veienti, the Veienti did not cease both with assaults and insults to attack and abuse the Roman name; and so great was their temerity and insolence that, from being disunited the Romans became united, and coming to battle they defeated and routed them. It will be seen, therefore, how much men deceive themselves (as we discussed above) in adopting some course, and how many times they believe they can gain a thing and lose it. The Veienti believed that by assaulting the Romans when they were disunited, they could defeat them, but that assault was the cause of the unification of them [the Romans] and of their [the Veienti] ruin. For the cause of disunity in Republics most of the times is due to idleness and peace; the cause of unity is fear and war. And, therefore, if the Veienti had been wise, the more disunited they saw the Romans, the more they would have kept war away from them, and sought to oppress them by the arts of peace. The way to do this is to gain the confidence of the people of that City which is disunited, and to manage to become arbiters between the parties, as long as they did not come to arms. But if they come to arms, to give light aid to the weaker party, as much to keep up the war longer and make them consume themselves, as well not to make them wholly apprehensive because of your large forces that you should want to oppress them and become their Prince. And if this part is well carried out it will always almost happen that you will obtain the object which you had presupposed. The City of Pistoia (as I have said in other discussions and on other matters) did not come to the Republic of Florence with other arts than this; for she being divided, and the Florentines favoring first the one party, and then the other, without caring for either, brought her to such terms that, weary of her tumultuous existence, she came to throw herself spontaneously into the arms of Florence. The City of Siena has never changed her State with the help of the Florentines unless that help has been weak and small. For when it has been strong and large, they caused that City to become united in defense of the existing government. I want to add another example to those written above. Filippo Visconti, Duke of Milan, often made war against the Florentines, relying on their disunity, and always was the loser. So that he had to say, lamenting his enterprise, that the follies of the Florentines had made him spend two millions in gold uselessly.
The Veienti and the Tuscans, therefore, (as was said above) were deceived by this opinion, and were in the end defeated by the Romans in one engagement. And thus in the future anyone who believes he can subjugate a people in a similar manner and for similar reasons will be deceived.
I believe that it is one of the great signs of prudence which men exhibit in abstaining from threatening and injuring anyone with words, for neither the one and the other takes away strength from the enemy; but the one makes him more cautious, and the other causes him to have greater hatred against you, and with more industry to think of injuring you. This is seen from the example of the Veienti of whom discussion was had in the above chapter, who added the opprobrium of words to the injury of war against the Romans, from which every prudent Captain ought to make his soldiers abstain, as they are things which inflame and excite the enemy to revenge, and in no way impede him (as has been said) in attacking you, so that they are all as arms turned against you. A notable example of which occurred in Asia, where Gabades, Captain of the Persians, having for a long time besieged Amida, and becoming weary of the siege, decided to depart, and having already broken up his camp, all the inhabitants of the town came upon the walls; and having become haughty from [the thought] of victory, did not omit assailing them with every kind of injury, vituperating them, accusing and reproaching them for their cowardice and poltroonery. Irritated by this, Gabades changed his counsel and returned to the siege, and so great was his indignation at this injury, that in a few days he took and sacked it. And the same thing happened to the Veienti, to whom (as has been said) it was not enough to make war against the Romans, but they also had to vituperate them with words, and went up to the very stockade of their camp to speak their insults, irritating them more with words than with arms: and those soldiers who at first fought unwillingly, constrained the Consuls to enkindle the battle, so that the Veienti suffered the punishment for their contumacy as was mentioned previously. Good Princes [Leaders] of the army and good Governors of a Republic, therefore, have to take every convenient means that these injuries and reproaches are not used either by their Citizens or their army, either among themselves or against the enemy, for then there arises those inconveniences mentioned above; and among themselves, it would be even worse unless they are stopped, as prudent men have always stopped them. The Roman legions left at Capua having conspired against the Capuans, as will be narrated in its proper place, and this conspiracy having given rise to sedition, which was later quelled by Valerius Corvinus, among the other stipulations of the convention that was made, was that they ordained the greatest penalties against those who should ever reprove any of those soldiers with that sedition. Tiberius Gracchus, who in the war against Hannibal, was made Captain over a certain number of slaves whom the Romans had armed because of the scarcity of men, ordered among the first things that the capital penalty [be inflicted] on whoever should reproach any of them with their [previous] servitude. So much did the Romans think this was a harmful thing (as has been said above) to treat men with contempt and reproach them with any disgrace, because there is nothing that so excites their spirit and generates greater indignation, that whether true or false, it is said: For harsh statements, even when they have the least truth in them, leave their harshness in the memory.
The use of dishonorable words against an enemy arises most of the times from the insolence that victory, or the false hope of victory, gives you; which false hope makes men err not only in their words, but also in their deeds. For when this [false] hope enters the hearts of men, it makes them go beyond the mark, and often lose that opportunity of obtaining a certain good, hoping to obtain an uncertain better. And because this is a matter that merits consideration, this deception that exists in men and very often causing damage to their State, it appears to me it ought to be demonstrated in detail by ancient and modem examples, as it cannot be so clearly demonstrated by arguments. After Hannibal and defeated the Romans at Cannae, he sent his ambassadors to the Carthaginians to announce the victory and request their support. This was discussed in the Senate as to what should be done. Hanno, an old and prudent Carthaginian Citizen advised that they should use this victory wisely in making peace with the Romans, for, having won, they were able to do so with more favorable conditions than they would expect [to make them] after a defeat; for the intentions of the Carthaginians ought to be to show the Romans that it was enough for them in combatting them, to have obtained a victory for themselves and not to seek to lose it in the hope of a greater one. This proceeding was not taken, but later when the opportunity was lost, it was well recognized by the Carthaginian Senate to have been a wise one. After Alexander the Great had already conquered all the Orient, the Republic of Tyre (noble and powerful in those times for having their City situated on water like the Venetians), seeing the greatness of Alexander, sent ambassadors to tell him they wanted to be his good servants and to render him that obedience he wanted, but that they were not ready to accept him or his forces in their land. Whereupon Alexander, indignant that a City should close those doors that all the world had opened to him, rebuffed them, and, not accepting their conditions, went to besiege them. The town was situated in water and very well supplied with provisions and the other munitions necessary for defense, so that Alexander saw after four months [of siege] that taking the City would take away more time and glory from him that many other acquisitions had not taken away, decided to try for an accord and concede to them that which they themselves had asked. But those people of Tyre having become haughty, not only did not want to accept the accord, but killed whoever came to present it. At which Alexander being indignant, he exerted himself with so much strength to its extinction that he took and destroyed it, and killed or made slave its people. In the year 1502 a Spanish army came into the Florentine dominion to reinstate the Medici in Florence and to tax the City, they being called there by its Citizens who had given them hope that, as soon as they had entered the Florentine dominion, they would take up arms in their favor; and having entered the plain and not discovering anyone, and having a scarcity of provisions, they attempted an accord: which the people of Florence, having become haughty, did not accept; when there resulted the loss of Prato and the ruin of that State [Florence]. Princes who are attacked cannot make a greater error, therefore, especially when the assault is made by men who are far more powerful than they, than to refuse any accord, and especially when it is offered; for it would never be offered so harshly that it will not be in some way good for those who accept it, and they will in a way have obtained a part of the victory. For it should have been enough for the people of Tyre that Alexander had accepted those conditions which he at first refused, and it should have been a great enough victory for them that they had with arms in hand made so great a man condescend to their will. It should also have been enough for the Florentine people, and it would have been a great victory for them, if the Spanish army had yielded in something to their will, and not fulfill all things of theirs, for the intention of that army was to change the State in Florence, to take it away from its attachment to, France, and extract money from it. If of the three things, they [Spaniards] should have obtained the last two, and there should have remained to the [Florentine] people the first, that of saving their State, there would have remained within each one some honor and satisfaction and the people ought not to have cared for the other two things, as long as they existed free; nor ought they (even if they should have seen a greater and almost certain victory) to have wanted to put any part of it [their liberty] to the discretion of fortune, as this was their last resource, which no prudent man would ever risk except from necessity.
Hannibal departed from Italy where he had been for sixteen glorious years, recalled by the Carthaginians to succor his own country; he found Hasdrubal and Syphax broken, the Kingdom of Numida lost, Carthage restricted between the confines of its walls, and no other refuge remaining but he and his army: and knowing that this was the last resource of his country, he did not want to place it in jeopardy without first having tried every other remedy, and was not ashamed to ask for peace, judging that if his country had any remedy, it was in it [peace] and not in war; which afterwards having been refused, he did not hesitate to combat (and to be defeated), judging he might have [a chance to] win, or if he lost, to lose gloriously. And if Hannibal who had so much virtu and had his army intact, sought peace first rather than a battle, when he saw that losing it his country would be enslaved, what ought someone else with less virtu and less experience than he do? But men make this error of not knowing where to place the limits to their hopes, and by relying on these without otherwise measuring their resources, they are ruined.
That which indignation makes men do, is easily recognized as that which happened to the Romans when they sent the three Fabii as ambassadors to the Gauls who had come to assault Tuscany, and Clusium in particular. For the people of Clusium having sent to Rome for aid, the Romans sent Ambassadors to the Gauls that in the name of the Roman people they should signify to them to abstain from making war against the Tuscans: These ambassadors, being more accustomed to act than to speak, having arrived there as the Gauls and Tuscans were engaged in battle, put themselves among the first in combatting against them: Whence there arose that, being recognized by them [the Gauls], all the indignation that they had against the Tuscans turned against the Romans. This indignation became greater, because the Gauls having complained to the Roman Senate through their Ambassadors of this injury, and asked that in satisfaction for the harm done that the three above-mentioned Fabii should be turned over to them; not only were they not delivered to them or in any way castigated, but when the Comitii assembled, they were made Tribunes with consular powers. So that the Gauls seeing those men honored who ought to have been punished, took it all to be to their disparagement and ignominy, and, excited by anger and indignation, went to assault Rome, and captured it all except the Campidoglio [Capitol]. This ruin to the Romans resulted only from their own non-observance of justice, for their Ambassadors having sinned against the law of nations, instead of being castigated were honored.
It is to be considered, therefore, how much every Republic and every Prince ought to be careful in making a similar injury, not only against an entire people, but even to an individual. For if a man is greatly offended either by the public or by a private citizen, and is not avenged according to his satisfaction, if he lives in a Republic he will seek to avenge himself even with their ruin, if he lives under a Prince and has any courage within himself, he will never remain quiet until in some way he should have revenged himself against him, even though he may see in it his own ruin. To verify this, there is no better or truer example than that of Philip of Macedonia, father of Alexander. This man had in his court Pausanias, a beautiful and noble youth, of whom Attalus, one of the chief men close to Philip was enamored; and having several times sought that he should consent [to his desires], but finding him opposed to such things, decided to obtain by deceit and force that which he was unable to obtain by other means. And he gave a grand banquet at which Pausanias and many other noble Barons were gathered; after each one was full of viands and wine, he caused Pausanias to be seized, and brought to a retired place; and he not only gave vent to his libido by force, but also to shame him still more, caused him to be abused in a similar fashion by many others. Pausanias complained of this injury many times to Philip, who for a time kept him in the hope of avenging him, but not only did he not avenge him, but promoted Attalus to the governship of a Province of Greece: Whence Pausanias seeing his enemy honored and not castigated, turned all his indignation not against him who had injured him, but against Phillip who had not avenged him; and one morning during the solemn nuptial of the daughter of Phillip to Alexander of Epirus, while Phillip was going to the Temple to celebrate them, between the two Alexanders, his son and son-in-law, he [Pausanias] killed him. Which example is very similar to that of the Romans, should be noted by anyone who governs, that he ought never to underestimate a man so as to believe (adding injury on injury) that he whom he has injured does not think of avenging himself, even with every danger and injury to himself.
If we consider well how human affairs proceed, many times many events will be seen to arise and accidents happen against which the Heavens have not entirely desired that they should be provided. And if this of which I speak happened at Rome where there was so much virtu, so much religion, and so much order, it is no wonder that it should happen much more often in a City or a Province which lacks the above mentioned attributes. And as this case in point is most remarkable in demonstrating the power of Heaven over human affairs, T. Livius relates it at length and in the most effective language, saying that Heaven, wanting some means to have the Romans know its power, first made those Fabii err who had gone as ambassadors to the Gauls, and through whose deeds excited them to make war against Rome: Afterward it ordained that, to reprimand them for that war, nothing should be done in Rome worthy of the Roman people, having first ordained that Camillus, who alone could be the remedy for so much evil, was sent into exile at Ardea; afterwards when the Gauls were approaching Rome, those people who had many times before created a Dictator in order to check the attacks of the Volscians and other neighboring enemies, did not create one when the Gauls came. Also they were slow and without extraordinary diligence in making their selection of soldiers, and were so slow in taking up arms, that only with great effort were they in time to meet the Gauls on the river Allia, ten miles distant from Rome. Here the Tribunes established their camp without any of the customary diligence, without first examining the place, not circumscribing it with ditches and palisades, and not using any human or divine remedy. And in the order of battle, they made the ranks open and weak, so that neither the soldiers nor the Captains did anything worthy of the Roman discipline. They fought them without any bloodshed, for they fled before they had been assaulted; and the greater part went off to Veii, the remainder retreated to Rome, where they entered the Capitol without entering even their own homes; so that the Senate with no thought of defending Rome (any more than the others) did not close its gates, [and] a part of them fled, another part entered the Capitol with the others. In defending it [the Capitol], however, they did employ some non-tumultuous methods, for they did not burden it with useless people, they supplied it with all the grain they could so as to be able to endure a siege, and of the useless crowd of old men and women and children, the greater part fled to the surrounding towns, the rest remained in Rome a prey to the Gauls. So that whoever had read of the things done by that people so many years before, and then should read of the events of those times, could in no way believe that it was the same people. And T. Livius who had told us of all the above mentioned troubles, concludes by saying: Fortune thus blinds the minds, when she does not want them to resist her power.
Nor can this conclusion be more true. Whence men who ordinarily live in great adversity or prosperity merit less praise or less blame, for most of the time it will be seen that they have been brought to ruin or to greatness by some great expedient which Heaven has caused, giving them the opportunity or depriving them of the ability to work with virtu. Fortune indeed does this, when she wants to bring some great things, she selects a man of much spirit and much virtu, that he will recognize those opportunities she offers. So too in the same way, when she wants to bring some great ruin, she promotes men who can do such ruin. And if anyone should be able to resist her, she either kills him or deprives him of all the faculties of being able to do any good. From this text it is to be clearly recognized how fortune, in order to make Rome greater and bring her to that greatness that she arrived at, judged it was necessary to beat her (as will be discussed at length in the beginning of the next book) but did not want to ruin her entirely. And because of this, it is seen that she caused Camillus to be exiled and not killed, caused Rome to be taken but not the Capitol, ordained that the Romans should not think of any good thing in preparing Rome [for the attack], but should not lack any good preparation for the defense of the Capitol. She caused (as Rome was to be taken) that the greater part of the soldiers who were defeated at the Allia to go to Veii, and thus cut off all means for the defense of the City of Rome. And yet in ordaining this, she prepared everything for her recovery, having conducted an entire Roman army to Veii, and Camillus to Ardea, in order to be able to raise a large band under a Captain unstained by any ignominy of defeat and completely dedicated to the recovery of his country.
We might cite some modern example in confirmation of the things mentioned here, but as I judge it unnecessary, (this one being able to satisfy anyone) I shall omit it. I indeed reaffirm this to be most true (according as is seen from all histories) that men can second fortune but not oppose her, they can develop her designs but not defeat them. They ought never to abandon themselves; because not knowing her aims, [and] the devious and unknown ways she takes, they always have hope; and in hoping, not to abandon themselves no matter in what [ill] fortune or trouble they find themselves.
The Romans were besieged in the Capitol, and although they awaited succor from Veii and from Camillus, being driven by hunger, they came to terms with the Gauls to ransom themselves with a certain amount of gold, but while making these terms (the gold already being weighed) Camillus arrived with his army, which fortune caused (as the historian says) so that the Romans should not live under an aura of ransom. Which occurrence not only is more noteworthy in this instance, but more so in the course of events of this Republic, where it is seen that they never acquired lands by means of money, but always through the virtu of their army. Which I do not believe ever to have happened with any other Republic.
And among the other signs by which the power of a State is recognized, is to see how it lives with its neighbors; and if it is governed in a way that the neighbors (so as to have them friendly) are its pensioners, then it is a certain sign that that State is powerful: But when these said neighbors (although inferior to it) draw money from it, then it is a great sign of its weakness. Let anyone read all the Roman histories and he will see that the Massalians, the Aeduans, the Rhodians, Hiero the Syracusan, Eumene and the Kings of Massinissa, who all lived near to the confines of the Roman Empire, in order to have its friendship, agreed to contribute to its needs and expenses by tribute, not seeking any other return from it than to be defended. On the other hand, it will be seen in weak States, and beginning with our own Florence in times past in the period of her greatest reputation, that there was not a petty Lord in the Romagna who did not get a pension from her, and in addition she gave one to the Perugini, the Castellani, and all her other neighbors. But if this City had been armed and strong, everything would have proceeded oppositely, for everyone in order to have her protection would have given money to her, and sought, not to sell their friendship, but to purchase hers. Nor are the Florentines to be seen alone in this baseness, but the Venetians and the King of France, who with so great a Kingdom lives tributary to the Swiss and the King of England. All of which resulted from having disarmed their people, and because that King and the others mentioned above desired rather to enjoy a present usefulness of being able to plunder the people, and to avoid an imaginary rather than a real peril, than to do things which would have assured them and made their States happy in perpetuity. Such baseness, if it sometimes produces some quiet, is in times of necessity the cause of irreparable harm and ruin.
And it would be lengthy to recount how many times the Florentines, and the Venetians, and this Kingdom [of France] have bought themselves off in wars, and how many times they subjected themselves to an ignominy to which the Romans were subjected only one time. It would be lengthy to recount how many lands the Florentines and the Venetians have purchased, in which disorders were seen afterwards, and that the things acquired with gold cannot be defended with iron. The Romans continued in this high-minded existence as long as they lived free, but when they came under the Emperors, and the Emperors commenced to be bad, and to love the shade more than the sun, they too begun to buy off now the Parthians, now the Germans, now other neighboring peoples, which was the beginning of the ruin of so great an Empire. Such troubles proceeded, therefore, from having disarmed its own people, from which an even greater evil results, that the more the enemy comes near, so much more will he find you weak. For whoever lives in the manner mentioned above, ill treats those subjects who are in the interior of his Empire so as to obtain men who can hold the enemy at the frontiers. From this there arises that to keep the enemy more distant he has to give subsidies to these Lords and peoples who are near their borders. Whence there arises that these States so paid make a little resistance at their frontiers, but as soon as the enemy has passed, they do not have any advantage. And they do not see that this mode of proceeding of theirs is against every good institution. For the heart and the vital parts of the body have to be kept armored, and not its extremities, for without these it is possible to live, but when the former are injured, it is possible to die: And these States have their hearts unarmored but their hands and feet armored. The disorders which have been caused to Florence have been seen, and can be seen, every day, that as soon as an army passes the frontiers and enters near the heart, no further remedy is to be found. In the last few years the Venetians afforded similar proof, and if their City had not been surrounded by water, their end would have been seen. This experience has not often been seen in France because that Kingdom is so great that it has few enemies who are superior. None the less, when the English in MDXIII 1513 assaulted that Kingdom, all that Province trembled, and the King himself and everyone else believed that only one defeat would take away the State.
The contrary happened to the Romans, for the more the enemy approached Rome, so much more he found that City powerful to resist him. And it is seen in the coming of Hannibal into Italy, that after three defeats and after so many captains and soldiers were killed, they were able not only to sustain the enemy, but to win the war. All of which resulted from her having the heart well armored and holding little account of the extremities. For the foundation of their State was in the people of Rome, the Latin people, and the other lands allied in Italy, and their Colonies, from which they drew so many soldiers sufficient for then to conquer and hold the world. And that this is true is seen from the question that Hanno the Carthaginian put to those Ambassadors of Hannibal after the battle at Cannae, who having magnified the things done by Hannibal, were asked by Hanno if anyone had come from the Roman people to ask for peace, and if any towns of the Latins or any of the Colonies had rebelled against the Romans: and when they replied negatively, Hanno replied; This war is yet as full as before.
It will be seen therefore, both from this discussion and from what we have said elsewhere several times, how much difference there is in the proceedings of present Republics from the ancient ones. Because of this every day are seen astonishing losses and remarkable conquest, for where men have little virtu, fortune greatly shows her power, and as she varies it, Republics and States change often, and they will always change until there springs up one who is a great lover of antiquity who is able to rule so that she has no reason at every revolution of the sun to show how powerful she can be.
And it does not appear to me to be foreign to this subject to discuss among other matters how dangerous a thing it is to believe those who have been driven out of their country, these being matters that are acted upon each day by those who govern States; and I am especially able to demonstrate this by a memorable example given by T. Livius in his history, even though it may be outside his subject. When Alexander the Great crossed with his army into Asia, Alexander of Epirus, his brother-in-law and uncle, came with his forces into Italy, having been called there by the exiled Lucanians, who had given him the hope that he could through their means occupy all that province. Whence he, upon their faith and hope, having come into Italy, was killed by them, because they had been promised a return to their Country by the Citizens if they would kill him. It ought to be considered, therefore, how vain are the faith and promises of those who find themselves deprived of their country. For, as to their faith, it has to be borne in mind that anytime they can return to their country by other means than yours, they will leave you and look to the other, notwithstanding whatever promises they had made you. As to their vain hopes and promises, such is the extreme desire in them to return home, that they naturally believe many things that are false and add many others by art, so that between those they believe and those they say they believe, they fill you with hope, so that relying on them you will incur expenses in vain, or you undertake an enterprise in which you ruin yourself. The previously mentioned example of Alexander is enough for me, but in addition, that of Themistocles, the Athenian, who, having been declared a rebel, fled to Darius in Asia, where he promised him so much if he should want to assault Greece, that Darius turned to that enterprise. Themistocles, not being able to observe these promises, he poisoned himself, either from shame or from fear of punishment. And if this error was made by Themistocles, a most excellent man, it ought to be considered how much more those men err who, because of less virtu, allow themselves to be drawn by their desires and passions. A Prince, therefore, ought to go slowly in undertaking an enterprise upon the representations of an exile, for most of the times he will be left either with shame or very grave injury. And as the taking of towns rarely succeeds by deceit or by intelligence others within may have, it does not appear outside the subject to discuss it in the following chapter, adding some account of how many ways the Romans acquired them.
The Romans being very often at war, they always did so with every advantage, both as to expense and as to every other thing that it required. From this arose the fact that they guarded against the taking of towns by siege, as they judged this method to be of such an expense and so much trouble that it surpassed by far any usefulness that they could draw from the acquisition: and because of this they thought that it would be better and more useful to subjugate a town by any other means than besieging it: whence there are very few examples of sieges made by them in so many wars and in so many years. Their mode of taking Cities, therefore, was either by assault or by voluntary surrender. The capture by assault was either by force or by open violence, or by force mixed with fraud: the open violence was either by assault without piercing the walls (which they called attacking the city in crown fashion) because they surrounded the City with the entire army, as when Scipio took New Carthage in Spain; or if this assault was not enough they addressed themselves to breeching the walls with rams or with other machines of war of theirs; or they made a mine and by means of it entered the City, by which method they took the City from the Veienti: or in order to be at the same level with those who defended the walls, they made towers of wood: or they made embankments of earth placed against the outside of the walls in order to come to a height above them. In the first case those who were defending the towns against these assaults were exposed to the greatest peril quickly from being assaulted on all sides and had the greatest doubts of being able to remedy this, because they needed to have many defenders in every place, [and] those they had were not numerous enough to be able to substitute for or relieve those in every place, or if they were able to do so, they were not all of equal courage to resist; and if the fight was lost on any one side, all the rest were lost. It happened, therefore, (as I have said) that this mode [of assault] many times was a happy success. But if it did not succeed at the first [try], they did not repeat it much, as it was a dangerous method for the army, for defending themselves over so much space, everything was left weak so as to be unable to resist a sortie that those inside might make, and also it would fatigue the soldiers and cause disorder: so that they attempted this method only one time and by surprise. As to the breaking down of walls, it was opposed as in the present time by repairs; and to resist the mines they made counter mines, and through which they opposed the enemy either with arms or other means, among which was this that they filled barrels with feathers which they set on fire while burning they put them into the mine, so that the smoke and the smell impeded the entrance to the enemy: and if they assaulted them with towers, they endeavored to ruin them by fire. And as to earth embankments, they broke the wall down where the embankment leaned against it, drawing inside the earth which those outside were heaping, so that placing earth outside and taking it away from inside, the embankment did not grow. These means of attack cannot be attempted for long, and [if not successful] the siege must be abandoned and other means sought to win the war, as did Scipio, when he entered Attica, having assaulted Utica and not succeeding in taking it, he betook himself from the field and sought to break the Carthaginian army, or rather to turn to [regular] sieges as he did at Veii, Capua, Carthage, Jerusalem, and similar towns which they occupied by sieges.
As to the acquisition of towns by stealth and violence, (as happened at Palepolis, where the Romans occupied it by treating secretly with those within) this kind of conquest was tried by the Romans and many others, but few succeeded: the reason is, that every least impediment disrupts the design, and impediments come easily. For the conspiracy is discovered before the deed happens, which is done without much difficulty, as much from the treachery of those to whom it is communicated, as from the difficulty of carrying it out, having to come together with enemies or under some pretext with those with whom it is not permitted to speak. But if the conspiracy is not discovered in its progress, then thousand difficulties spring up in putting it into execution. For if you arrive before the designated time or if you arrive after, everything is spoiled. If a furtive noise is raised, as the geese at the Capitol, if a customary order is broken, every least least error and every least fault made, will ruin the enterprise. Added to this is the darkness of the night which puts more fear into those who are engaged in those dangerous things. And the greater part of men who are engaged in similar enterprises being unacquainted with the situation of the country or the places where they are sent, are confounded, become afraid, and will turn back at every least unforeseen accident. And every false imagining acts to make them put themselves in flight. Nor has anyone ever been found who was more successful in these fraudulent and nocturnal expeditions than Aratus of Sicyon, who was as valiant in these as he was pusillanimous in expeditions carried out openly and in daylight. Which can be attributed rather to some occult virtu which he possessed, than to any natural faculty in achieving success. Of these attempts, many are projected, few are put to the test, and very few succeed.
As to the acquisition of Towns through surrender, they give up either voluntarily, or by force. The willingness arises either from some extrinsic necessity that constrains them to find refuge under you, as did Capua to the Romans, or from the desire to be well governed, being attracted by the good government which that Prince bestows on those who have voluntarily placed themselves in his arms, as were the Rhodians, the Massileans, and other such Citizens, who gave themselves to the Roman People. As to forced surrenders, this force results either from a long siege (as was said above), or from a continuous pressure from incursions, depredations, and other ill treatment; which in wanting to avoid, a City surrenders. Of all the methods mentioned, the Romans employed this last more than any others, and during more than four hundred and fifty years of harassing their neighbors with routs and incursions, and then by means of accords obtained reputation over them, as we have discussed at another time. And they always relied on this method, even though they tried all others, which they found more dangerous or useless. For in a siege it is the length of time and expense; in open assault it is doubtful and dangerous; in a conspiracy it is uncertitude. And they [the Romans] saw that by one rout of an enemy army they acquired a Kingdom in a day, but in taking an obstinate City by siege, they consumed many.
I think that (reading this history of Livius and wanting to profit) all the methods of procedure of the Roman People and Senate should be considered. And among other things that merit consideration, is to see with what authority they sent out their Consuls, Dictators, and other Captains of armies; from which it is seen that the authority was very great, as the Senate did not reserve to itself anything other than the authority to declare new wars, to confirm peace [treaties], and left everything else to the arbitration power of the Consul. For once a war was decided on by the People and the Senate (for instance against the Latins) they remitted all the rest to the discretion of the Consul, who could either make an engagement or not make it, and lay siege to this or that town as seemed proper to him. Which things are verified by many examples, and especially by that which occurred in the expedition against the Tuscans. For Fabius, the Consul, having defeated them near Sutrium, and planning afterwards to pass with the army through the Ciminian forest and go to Tuscany, not only did not counsel with the Senate, but did not even give them any notice, even though war was to be waged in a new unknown, and dangerous country. Further witness of this is given by the decisions which were made by the Senate on learning of this, who, when they had heard of the victory Fabius had won, and fearful that he might take up the proceeding of passing through the said forest into Tuscany, judging that it would not be well to attempt that [war] and run that risk, sent Legates to Fabius to make him understand he should not cross into Tuscany; but when they arrived he had already crossed over, and had obtained this victory, so that in place of being impeders of the war, they returned as messengers of the conquest and the glory that was obtained.
And whoever considers well this method will see it is most prudently employed, for if the Senate had wanted the Consul to proceed in the war from hand to hand according to that which they committed to him, they would have made him [Fabius] less circumspect and more slow; for it would not have seemed to him that the glory of the battle should be all his, but as being shared by the Senate, by whose counsels he had been governed. In addition to this the Senate would have obligated itself to want to advise on a matter that they could not have understood; for notwithstanding that there many of them who were men most expert in war, none the less not being in that place, and not knowing the infinite particulars that are necessary to be known to want to counsel well, infinite errors (by counselling) would have been made. And because of this, they wanted the Consul to make decisions by himself and that the glory should be all his, the love of which they judged should be a restraint as well as a rule in making him conduct himself well.
This part is more willingly noted by me, because I see that the Republics of present times, as the Venetian and the Florentine, have understood it otherwise, and if their Captains, Providers, or Commissioners have to place [a battery of] artillery, they want to know and counsel about it. Which system merits the same praise as [their conduct] in other things merit, which all together have brought about the conditions that are found at present.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:11