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[I]n hereditary states accustomed to the family of their prince, there are far fewer difficulties in maintaining them than in new ones, for it is sufficient merely not to neglect ancient customs and to accommodate oneself to unexpected events. In this way, if such a prince is ordinarily industrious, he will always be able to maintain his state unless a very extraordinary and excessive force deprives him of it[.]
[M]en change rulers willingly, hoping to better their lot, and this belief makes them take arms against their ruler, but in this they are deceived, as their experience shows that things have become worse. This is the result of another very natural and ordinary necessity, which is that a new prince must always inflict harm on those over whom he rules . . . Thus you will find enemies in all those whom you have injured in occupying that principality . . . For this reason . . . one will always need the favor of the inhabitants to gain possession of a country.
The general rule is that as soon as a powerful outsider enters a country, all the less powerful inhabitants become his adherents, moved by the hatred they bear toward the person who used to rule them, so that with respect to these less powerful people, he will not have to put up with any trouble whatever in winning them over . . . He merely has to be careful that they do not acquire too much strength and authority[.]
[W]hen Cardinal Rouen said to me that the Italians did not understand anything about war, I relied that the French did not understand anything about statecraft, for if they had, they would never allow the Church to become so powerful. And experience has shown that the power of the Church and of Spain and Italy has been caused by France, and her ruin was caused by them. From this may be drawn a general rule which never, or rarely, fails: that whoever is the cause of another’s becoming powerful will come to ruin himself[.]
[W]hoever attacks the Turks must realize that he will find them united, and he should base his hopes more on his own strength than on others’ lack of unity. But once they are beaten and routed in battle so that they can no longer regroup their armies, one has nothing else to worry about except the family of the prince, and once that is extinguished, there is no one left to be feared, since the others have no credit with the people[.]
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Prince!