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The Prince

Niccolò Machiavelli

Chapters XX–XXIII

Chapters XVIII–XIX

Chapters XX–XXIII, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary — Chapter XX: Whether Fortresses and Many Other Expedients That Princes Commonly Employ Are Useful or Not

To defend against internal insurrection, princes have used a variety of strategies. Some have divided towns, some have disarmed the populace, some have tried to woo disloyal subjects, and others have built or destroyed fortresses. The effectiveness of each of these policies depends on the individual conditions, but a few generalizations can be made.

Historically, new princes have never prevented their subjects from having weapons. Arming subjects fosters loyalty among the people and defends the prince. Disarming subjects will breed distrust, which leads to civil animosity. But if a prince annexes a state, he must disarm his new subjects. He can allow his supporters in the new state to keep their arms, but eventually they must also be made weaker. The best arrangement is to have the prince’s own soldiers occupying the new state. However, weakening an annexed territory by encouraging factionalism only makes it more easily captured by foreigners, as the Venetians learned.

Princes become great by defeating opposition. Thus, one way they can enhance their stature is to cunningly foster opposition that can be easily overcome. Moreover, fostering subversion in a new state will help reveal the motives of potential conspirators.

Some princes have chosen to build fortresses to curb rebellion. Others have destroyed them, in order to maintain control in newly acquired states. The usefulness of fortresses depends on the specific circumstances. But a fortress will not be able to protect a prince if he is hated by his subjects. The issue is not whether a prince should build a fortress. Rather, a prince should not put all his trust in a fortress, neglecting the attitudes of his people.

Summary — Chapter XXI: What a Prince Must Do to Be Esteemed

Great enterprises and noble examples are two ways for a prince to earn prestige. Examples of great campaigns include those of King Ferdinand of Spain, who skillfully used his military to attack Granada, Africa, Italy, and France. These campaigns focused his people’s attention and prevented attacks against Ferdinand.

Nobility can be achieved by the grand public display of rewards and punishments. Above all, princes should win a reputation for being men of outstanding ability.

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Mixed Up

by PinguZ45, January 29, 2014

It's supposed to be able to ward of wolves like a lion and recognize traps like a fox. Sorry, just a minor correction


2 out of 2 people found this helpful

Hobbes was NOT a monarchist

by Ultra_Vires, May 01, 2014

Hobbes was not a monarchist; this is stated in the introduction written by C.B MacPhearson in Hobbes' Leviathan. It's true he wanted order, but calling him a Monarchist is wrong; he merely advocated a SOVREIGN. He alienated Monarchists by claiming that divine rule was NOT a legitimate form of governance.

"He preached obedience, that is to say, he set out the rational grounds for obedience, to whatever political authority actually exercised power at the time. But his doctrine was not calculated to please any of those who successively ... Read more


12 out of 16 people found this helpful

I spent a few hours on this, on chapter 3 Machiavelli summary

by anon_2223130183, November 30, 2014

On chapter 3;

"A prince should injure people only if he knows there is no threat of revenge."


I disagree with this, as I believe this sentence meant something else, as in to prevent/oppress, or avo... Read more


2 out of 2 people found this helpful

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