[I]f someone has fortified his town well and, with regard to the governing of his subjects, has conducted himself as has been described above . . . he will always be attacked with great caution, for men are always enemies of undertakings whose difficulty is visible, nor can it ever appear easy to attack one whose town is strong and who is not hated by the people.

[T]he only thing remaining for us to do is to speak of ecclesiastical principalities, concerning which all the difficulties occur before one takes possession of them, for they are acquired either by ability [virtù] or through Fortune, and they are maintained without either, since they are sustained by the ancient institutions of religion, which are so powerful and of such a quality that they keep their princes in power no matter what they do or how they live. These princes alone have states and do not defend them[.]

Then came Alexander VI, who, of all the pontiffs who have ever existed, showed how much a pope with money and troops could accomplish, for by making Duke Valentino his instrument and seizing the opportunity provided by the French invasion, he did all those things that I discussed earlier . . . And although his intention was to make the duke, not the Church, great, nevertheless, what he did resulted in the greatness of the Church, which, after he died and the duke was destroyed, became the heir of his labors.