The Prince - Deepstash
The Prince

Xarikleia 's Key Ideas from The Prince
by Niccolò Machiavelli

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

I do not mean to be presumptuous or to play a low or vile character desiring to discuss the role and governance of a Prince, but, as those who, in picturing the country, place themselves from low on the plain to view the mountains and the heights, and similarly, those who want to view the lowlands do so from high on the mountain, so it is that to know the nature of a people, one needs to be a Prince, and to know the nature of a Prince, one needs to be of the people.

NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

A natural Prince with a long hereditary line is less likely to give offense; he is more likely to be appreciated; and if he is not given to vices that make him hated, it is pretty usual for him to be held in his subjects' affections.

Tradition and custom of rule dim the memory and the causes of the original rise to power.

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

Note that you have to be either soft or harsh, because men take offense easily at small insults, but they can't react against harsh measures.

When you offend someone, be sure they are incapable of revenge.

NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

It is a fact of life that, as soon as a powerful foreigner enters a province, all those who are weaker flock to his side motivated by envy of the chief put over them.

So, in regard to lesser lords, a new Prince has no trouble lining them up […] He just has to be careful they don't take too much power and authority.

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

What the doctors say about behavior is true here too, that in the beginning of something bad it is easy to cure although difficult to know it, but with time, not having recognized or treated it, it becomes easy to know but hard to cure. It is the same with affairs of state: spotting something wrong quickly (which takes prudence), one cures it quickly. But if, not recognizing what is going on, things are left to fester so everybody sees them, then there is no remedy.

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

It is quite natural and ordinary for a Prince to want to expand his rule, and when they do, if they can, they are praised and not blamed.

But when they are unsuccessful, but still want to do it, here lies the error and the fault.

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

One can draw a general rule from this, which rarely fails—whoever helps someone else to power gets ruined.

The reason is that it takes industry or force to make someone powerful, and both of these are suspect in the mind of the one who becomes powerful.

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

One must remember that Principalities are governed in two different ways— either by a Prince whom all serve as ministers who thanks to a concession help to govern the realm, or by a Prince and his Barons who, not by appointment, but by heredity, hold that rank. Such Barons have their own states and underlings who recognize and hold them in affection. Those states that are governed by a Prince and his servants are centralized with more authority, because nobody else in the province is viewed as more power or higher.

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In the case of occupied states that have been used to living with their own laws in liberty, there are 3 modes of holding them: first, to ruin them; second, go live personally in them; third, let them live according to their laws […] and creating a faithful oligarchy that will keep the state friendly. Such an oligarchy knows that the Prince created the state and they know they are dependent on his friendship and power and do everything they can to maintain it. It is easier to preserve a city by allowing it to live in liberty according to the customs of its citizens than by any other method.

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

[But] there is no sure method of pressing cities except by ruining them. Whoever takes a city used to living in liberty according to its own customs and does not ruin it, risks being ruined by it.

This is because the city can always rebel in the name of liberty and its ancient customs, none of which are ever forgotten with time no matter how much largesse.

No matter what one does, if you don't disband the citizenry and immediately eradicate the customs and traditions, they come back to haunt you.

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NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI

When the city is used to living under a Prince but the line is extinguished, [the citizens] are used to obeying on the one hand, and on the other hand, their old Prince is gone. They can neither agree among themselves nor can they live in freedom. This makes them likely to take arms; a new Prince can more easily take over and secure his reign.

In Republics, there is more life, more hate, more desire for revenge. You can’t leave them alone and you can’t allow the memory of the old liberty. The safest way to deal with them is ruin them and then live there.

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IDEAS CURATED BY

xarikleia

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CURATOR'S NOTE

Those who have read Machiavelli in depth have positive opinions; those who have not read his works have negative opinions. When he suggests guiding principles for a Prince concerning his land and people, the principles are not anchored in Machiavelli, the man, but in Machiavelli, the scientist. Because those principles are revealed through his science, we should judge him by the science he’s discovered and not by the truths discovered through that science, because too often those truths are not to our liking.

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