Nicolo Machiavelli (1513)

The Prince

Written: 1513;
Translated: by W. K. Marriott March, 1998;
Source: The Project Gutenberg: Etext prepared by John Bickers, and Bonnie Sala;
HTML Mark-Up: Andy Blunden.


To the Magnificent Lorenzo Di Piero De’ Medici:

Those who strive to obtain the good graces of a prince are accustomed to come before him with such things as they hold most precious, or in which they see him take most delight; whence one often sees horses, arms, cloth of gold, precious stones, and similar ornaments presented to princes, worthy of their greatness.

Desiring therefore to present myself to your Magnificence with some testimony of my devotion towards you, I have not found among my possessions anything which I hold more dear than, or value so much as, the knowledge of the actions of great men, acquired by long experience in contemporary affairs, and a continual study of antiquity; which, having reflected upon it with great and prolonged diligence, I now send, digested into a little volume, to your Magnificence.

And although I may consider this work unworthy of your countenance, nevertheless I trust much to your benignity that it may be acceptable, seeing that it is not possible for me to make a better gift than to offer you the opportunity of understanding in the shortest time all that I have learnt in so many years, and with so many troubles and dangers; which work I have not embellished with swelling or magnificent words, nor stuffed with rounded periods, nor with any extrinsic allurements or adornments whatever, with which so many are accustomed to embellish their works; for I have wished either that no honour should be given it, or else that the truth of the matter and the weightiness of the theme shall make it acceptable.

Nor do I hold with those who regard it as a presumption if a man of low and humble condition dare to discuss and settle the concerns of princes; because, just as those who draw landscapes place themselves below in the plain to contemplate the nature of the mountains and of lofty places, and in order to contemplate the plains place themselves upon high mountains, even so to understand the nature of the people it needs to be a prince, and to understand that if princes it needs to be of the people.

Take then, your Magnificence, this little gift in the spirit in which I send it; wherein, if it be diligently read and considered by you, you will learn my extreme desire that you should attain that greatness which fortune and your other attributes promise. And if your Magnificence from the summit of your greatness will sometimes turn your eyes to these lower regions, you will see how unmeritedly I suffer a great and continued malignity of fortune.

Table of Contents

Chapter I: How Many Kinds of Principalities there are, and By What Means they are Acquired
Chapter II: Concerning Hereditary Principalities
Chapter III: Concerning Mixed Principalities
Chapter IV: Why the Kingdom of Darius, Conquered by Alexander, Did Not Rebel Against the Successors of Alexander at his Death
Chapter V: Concerning the way to Govern Cities or Principalities which Lived Under their Own Laws before they were Annexed
Chapter VI: Concerning New Principalities which are Acquired by One’s Own Arms and Ability
Chapter VII: Concerning New Principalities which are Acquired either by the Arms of Others or by Good Fortune
Chapter VIII: Concerning those who have Obtained a Principality by Wickedness
Chapter IX: Concerning a Civil Principality
Chapter X: Concerning the way in which the Strength of all Principalities ought to be Measured
Chapter XI: Concerning Ecclesiastical Principalities
Chapter XII: How Many Kinds of Soldiery There are, and Concerning Mercenaries
Chapter XIII: Concerning Auxiliaries, Mixed Soldiery, And One’s Own
Chapter XIV: That which concerns a Prince on the Subject of the Art of War
Chapter XV: Concerning Things for which Men, and especially Princes, are Praised or Blamed
Chapter XVI: Concerning Liberality and Meanness
Chapter XVII: Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and whether it is Better to be Loved than Feared
Chapter XVIII: Concerning the Way in which Princes should Keep Faith
Chapter XIX: That One should Avoid being Despised and Hated
Chapter XX: Are Fortresses, and Many other Things to which Princes often Resort, Advantageous or Hurtful?
Chapter XXI: How a Prince Should Conduct himself so as to Gain Renown
Chapter XXII: Concerning the Secretaries of Princes
Chapter XXIII: How Flatterers should be Avoided
Chapter XXIV: Why the Princes of Italy have Lost their States
Chapter XXV: What Fortune can Effect in Human Affairs and How to Withstand Her
Chapter XXVI: An Exhortation to Liberate Italy from the Barbarians