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The Prince
By: Nicolò Machiavelli
Major Topic: Politics
Minor Topic: Diplomacy

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         Chapter Twelve

         Machiavelli now turns to discussing matters of war. In particular the various kinds of soldiery.

         The most important foundations of a state are good laws and good arms. Good laws need good arms to maintain them and bad laws are not made if there are good arms in the state.

         The arms of which a prince uses to defend his dominion can fall into four categories: 1) his own citizens, 2) mercenaries, 3) auxiliaries (soldier lent by another prince) or 4) a mixture of these.

         Mercenaries and auxiliaries are the worst. Mercenaries are worthless because they do not bring any safety or security. They are dangerous because they are likely to be ambitious, untrustworthy, cowardly and because in peace time they rob the principality. During war time they let the enemy ravage the principality.

         All this is due to the nature of their character. Mercenaries are paid to fight but money is never worth anything in death. Therefore they will promise to fight when the fight is far away but find some excuse not to fight when the fight is close by. Consider further that if a mercenary captain is skilled and resourceful he is likely to covet the prince's position thereby ruining the prince. If the captain is not skilled nor resourceful then the prince is ruined on the battlefield.

         If a fight is unavoidable then the prince should be the captain with his own citizens as lieutenants.


         Chapter Thirteen

         Auxiliaries can be very good soldiers in their own right but they are always an impediment to the prince who relies on them. For if they lose, the princes loses; if they win, the prince is their captive. Auxiliaries are more perilous than mercenaries because they are united and obedient to another prince. Therefore, a prince has to worry about the cowardliness of mercenaries and the courage of auxiliaries.

         A prudent prince will avoid mercenaries and auxiliaries and use his own forces. Both mercenaries and auxiliaries are better together than alone but still they are inadequate when compared to an army made up of the dominion's own subjects, citizens or dependents. If a prince cannot see the deficiency of mercenaries and auxiliaries then he is not wise and is unlikely to ever be secure. A principality without its own forces is dependent on good fortune to survive. Good fortune, because it is so fickle, is not a good foundation for security. Only by having its own forces can a principality be secure.


         Chapter Fourteen

         War is the prince's trade. A prince should continuously and forever be studying everything and anything about the art of war. A prince who neglects this art does so at his own peril. Further, if a man aspires to be a prince he too must never stop thinking about war.

         A prince who is unarmed either in knowledge or in weapons is despised. For there is no comparison between the armed and the unarmed. The armed will never yield to the unarmed.

         A prince should think of war like an addict takes to his addiction. There are two ways to do this: 1) by action and 2) by study.

         Thought action the prince must maintain his exercise by keeping his men organized and well trained and by hunting. In this way the prince familiarizes himself with warfare maneuvers and the lay of the land.

         Through study the prince must read history and study the actions of widely known and esteemed men. In this way a prince can learn from the mistakes of others and can imitate the success of great men.

         One good rule for a prince is to never be idle. But to always be increasing his mental and physical resources.


Added on: 2010-05-29 06:59:52
Text Crawl by: James Jeff McLaren
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