Auxiliary Troops

Troops borrowed from other nations to fight for a prince. Organized and effective in battle, they nonetheless have loyalties to their home state.

Composite Principality

A principality that is either newly created or annexed from another power. These principalities can differ in their culture, language, and attitudes in relation to the prince, since he is an unfamiliar ruler. These principalities pose the most difficulties.

Ecclesiastical Principalities

A principality technically under the rulership of a prince, but nonetheless strongly dominated by the Church.

Hereditary Principality

A principality ruled by a prince whose family has controlled the principality for several generations. Hereditary principalities, according to Machiavelli, are generally easy to rule and maintain.

Mercenary Troops

Troops that are paid to perform a service for the prince. Because they have no loyalty to the prince, and money is their only inducement to fight, they are unreliable as a means of defense. They will be unwilling to die in battle and therefore will not fight vigorously.

Native Troops

Broad term to describe the native army of a principality, consisting of countrymen and commanded either by a prince himself or a confidant.


A localized territory or region ruled by a prince (or princess), from which the term is derived. A prince may rule more than one principality. All principalities can be grouped under the general category of “state.” A principality is ruled autocratically and is therefore distinguished from a republic, the only other type of state. For the most part, the advice found in The Prince is geared toward principalities, although the book does reference republics in some cases.


The ability to conquer and govern. Machiavelli uses this term as the opposite of “fortune.”


A state not ruled by a monarch or prince but headed by elected officials accountable to a larger citizenry. Machiavelli distinguishes a republic from a principality, which the bulk of The Prince takes as its subject.