Discourses on Livy/Second Book/Chapters XII-XXII

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Discourses on Livy by Niccolò Machiavelli
Second Book (Chapters XII-XXII)

CHAPTER XII[edit]

IS IT BETTER, FEARING TO BE ASSAULTED, TO CARRY OUT OR AWAIT WAR

I have heard from men much practiced in the things of war some time discuss whether, if there are two Princes of almost equal strength, if one more stalwart has declared war against the other, what would be the better proceeding for the other, either to await the enemy within his own boundaries, or to go out to meet him in his house and assault him. And I have heard reasons cited on every side. And those who defend the going out to assault the other, cite the counsel that Croesus gave to Cyrus when, having arrived at the confines of the Messagates to make war against them, their Queen Tamiri sent to say that they should select which of the two proceedings they wanted, either to enter her Kingdom where she would await him, or that he want her to come out to meet him: And the matter coming under discussion, Croesus, against the opinion of the others, said that he would go to meet her, saying that if he should vanquish her at a distance from her kingdom, he would not be able to take away her kingdom because she would have time to recover; but if he should vanquish her within her confines he could follow her in flight and, by not giving her time to recover, could take away her State from her. He also cites the counsel that Hannibal gave Antiochus when that king planned to make war against the Romans, where he showed that the Romans could not be beaten except in Italy, for there the others could avail themselves of the arms and the wealth of their friends; but whoever would combat them outside Italy and would leave Italy free to them, he would leave them that font which would never lack life in supplying strength where it was needed: and he concluded that Rome could be taken from the Romans easier than the Empire, and Italy before the other provinces. He also cites Agatocles, who, not being able to sustain the war at home, assaulted the Carthaginians who were waging it against him, and reduced them to ask for peace. He cites Scipio, who, to lift the war from Italy, assaulted Africa.

Those who speak to the contrary say that he who wants to inflict an evil on the enemy will draw him away from home. They cite the Athenians, who, as long as they made war convenient to their home, remained superior, but that when they went a distance with their armies into Sicily, lost their liberty. They cite the poetic fables where it is shown that Anteus, King of Libya, being assaulted by Hercules the Egyptian, was insuperable as long as he awaited him within the confines of his own kingdom, but as soon as he went off a distance, through the astuteness of Hercules, lost the State and his life. Whence a place is given to the fable of Anteus who, when (thrown) on the ground, recovered his strength from his mother which was the earth, and that Hercules, becoming aware of this, lifted him high (and) off the ground. They also cite modern judges. Everyone knows that Ferrando, King of Naples, was held to be a most wise Prince in his time, and when two years before his death, news came that the King of France, Charles VIII, wanted to come to assault him, after he had made preparations, but fell sick, and as he was approaching death, among other advices he left to his son Alfonso, was that he should await the enemy inside the Kingdom, and for nothing in thy world to withdraw his forces outside of his State, but should await him entirely within all his borders. Which (advice) was not observed by him, but sending an army into the Romagna, without a fight, lost it and the State. In addition to the instances described, the reasons that are cited in favor of every (both) side are: That he who assaults comes with more spirit than he who awaits, which makes the army more confident. In addition to this, many advantages are taken away from the enemy to be able to avail himself of his resources, (and) he will not be able to avail himself of those from his subjects who have been plundered; and as the enemy is in his house, the Lord is constrained to have more regard in extracting money from them and in overworking them, so that that font comes to dry up, as Hannibal says, which makes him able to sustain the war. In addition to this, his solders, because they find themselves in the countries of others, are more necessitated to fight, and that necessity makes virtu, as we have several times said.

On the other hand, it is said that in awaiting the enemy one waits with many advantages, for without any inconvenience you can cause great inconveniences of provisions and of every other thing which an army needs: You can better impede his designs because of the greater knowledge of the country you have than he: You can meet him with more strength because of being able to unite (concentrate) (your forces) easily, while he cannot take his all away from home: You can ((if defeated)) recover easily, as much because much can be saved of your army having places of refuge near, as well as reinforcements do not have to come from a distance, so that you come to risk all your forces but not all your fortune; but taking yourself to a distance you risk all your fortune but not all your strength. And there have been some who, in order better to weaken their enemy, have allowed him to enter several days (march) into their country and to take many Towns, so that by leaving garrisons everywhere his army is weakened, and then they are able to combat him the more easily.

But to say now what I think, I believe that this distinction ought to be made: either I have my country armed like the Romans and as the Swiss have, or I have it disarmed like the Carthaginians, and as have the Kings of France and the Italians. In this (latter) case the enemy ought to be kept distant from home, for your virtu being in money and not in men, whenever that (money) may be impeded to you, you are lost, and nothing will impede it to you as war at home. As an example, there are the Carthaginians, who, as long as they were undisturbed at home with their revenues, could make war against the Romans, but when they were assaulted (in their own country) they were unable to resist (even) Agathocles. The Florentines did not have any remedy against Castruccio, Lord of Lucca, because he waged war against them at home, so that they were obliged to give themselves ((in order to be defended)) to King Robert of Naples. But after the death of Castruccio, those same Florentines had the courage to assault the Duke of Milan in his home (territory) and work to take away his Kingdom. As much virtu as they showed in distant wars, just so much baseness (did they show) in nearby ones. But when Kingdoms are armed as Rome was armed and as the Swiss are, the more difficult are they to overcome the nearer you are to them. For these bodies (states) can unite more forces to resist an attack (impetus) than they are able to assault others. Nor am I moved in this case by the authority of Hannibal, because his passion and his interests make him say thusly to Antiochus. For if the Romans had experienced in Gaul three such defeats in so great a space of time as they had in Italy from Hannibal, without doubt they would have been beaten; for they would not have availed themselves of the remnants of the armies as they did in Italy, (and) could not have reorganized them with the same ease, nor could they have resisted the enemy with that same strength as they were able to. It has never been found that they ever sent outside armies of more than fifty thousand men in order to assault a province: but to defend themselves at home against the Gauls after the first Punic war, they put eighteen hundred thousand men under arms. Nor could they have put to rout those (Gauls) in Lombardy as they routed them in Tuscany, for they could not have led so great a force against so great a number of enemies at so great a distance, nor fight them with such advantage. The Cimbrians routed a Roman army in Germany; nor did the Romans have a remedy. But when they (Cimbrians) came into Italy and they (Romans) were able to put all their forces together, they destroyed them (Cimbrians). The Swiss are. easily beaten when away from home where they cannot send more than thirty or forty thousand men, but it is very difficult to beat them at home where they are able to gather together a hundred thousand.

I conclude again, therefore, that that Prince who has his people armed and organized for war should always await a powerful and dangerous war (enemy) at home and not go out to meet it. But that (Prince) who has his subjects unarmed and the country unaccustomed to war, should always keep it as distant as he can. And thus one and the other ((each in his own manner)) will defend himself better.

CHAPTER XIII[edit]

THAT ONE COMES FROM THE BOTTOM TO A GREAT FORTUNE MORE BY FRAUD THAN BY FORCE

I believe it to be a most true thing that it rarely or never happens that men of little fortune come to high rank without force and without fraud, unless that rank to which others have come is not obtained either by gift or by heredity. Nor do I believe that force alone will ever be found to be enough; but it will be indeed found that fraud alone will be enough; as those will clearly see who read the life of Philip of Macedonia, that of Agathocles the Sicilian, and many such others, who from the lowest, or rather low, fortune have arrived either to a Kingdom or to very great Empires. Xenophon shows in his life of Cyrus this necessity to deceive, considering that the first expedition that he has Cyrus make against the King of Armenia is full of fraud, and that he makes him occupy his Kingdom by deceit and not by force. And he does not conclude anything else from such action except that to a Prince who wants to do great things, it is necessary to learn to deceive. In addition to this, he made Cyraxes, King of the Medes, his maternal uncle, to be deceived in so many ways, without which fraud he shows that Cyrus could not have achieved that greatness he attained. Nor do I believe anyone will ever be found of such fortune to have arrived at great Empire only by force and ingenuity, but indeed only by fraud, as did Giovanni Galeazzo in order to take away the State and Dominion of Lombardy from his uncle Messer Bernabo. And that which Princes are obliged to do at the beginning of their expansions, Republics are also obliged to do until they have become powerful so that force alone will be enough. And as Rome used every means, either by chance or by election, necessary to achieve greatness, she did not also hesitate to use this one (fraud). Nor could she, in the beginning, use greater deceit than to take up the method discussed above by us to make associates for herself, because under this name she made them her slaves, as were the Latins, and other surrounding people. For first she availed herself of their arms to subdue the neighboring peoples and to take up the reputation of the State: after subduing them, she achieved such great expansion that she could beat everyone. And the Latins never became aware that they were wholly slaves until they saw two routs of the Samnites and (saw them) constrained to come to an accord. As this victory greatly increased the reputation of the Romans with the distant Princes, who heard the Roman name and not their arms, generating envy and suspicion in those who saw and felt those arms, among whom were the Latins. And so much was this envy and so powerful this fear, that not only the Latins, but the colonies they had in Latium, together with the Associates who had been defended a short time before, conspired against the Roman name. And the Latins began this war in the way mentioned above that the greater part of wars are begun, not by assaulting the Romans, but by defending the Sidicians against the Samnites, against whom the Samnites were making war with the permission of the Romans. And that it is true that the Latins began the war because they had recognized this deceit, is shown by T. Livius through the mouth of Annius Setinus, a Latin Praetor, who in their council said these words: If even now under the pretext of equal confederates, we can suffer servitude, etcetera.

It will be seen, therefore, that the Romans in their first expansions did not also lack using fraud; which has always been necessary for those to use who, from small beginnings, want to rise to sublime heights, which is less shameful when it is more concealed, as was this of the Romans.

CHAPTER XIV[edit]

MEN OFTEN DECEIVE THEMSELVES BELIEVING THAT BY HUMILITY THEY OVERCOME HAUGHTINESS

Many times it is seen that humility not only does not benefit, but harms, especially when it is used by insolent men who, either from envy or for other reasons, have conceived a hatred against you. Of this our Historian gives proof on the occasion of the war between the Romans and the Latins. For when the Samnites complained to the Romans that the Latins had assaulted them, the Romans did not want to prohibit such a war to the Latins, desired not to irritate them; which not only did not irritate them, but made them become more spirited against them (Romans), and they discovered themselves as enemies more quickly. Of which, the words of the aforementioned Annius, the Latin Praetor, in that same council, attest, where he says: You have tried their patience in denying them military aid: why do you doubt this should excite them? Yet they have borne this pain. They have heard we are preparing an army against their confederates, the Samnites, yet have not moved from their City. Whence is there such modesty, except from their recognition of both our virility and theirs? It is very clearly recognized, therefore, by this text how much the patience of the Romans increased the arrogance of the Latins. And therefore a Prince ought never to forego his own rank, and ought never to forego anything by accord, wanting to forego it honorably, unless he is able or believes that he is able to hold it; for it is almost always better ((matters having been brought to the point where you cannot forego it in the manner mentioned)) to allow it to be taken away by force, rather than by fear of force; for if you permit it from fear, you do so in order to avoid war, but most of the times you do not avoid it, for he to whom you have from baseness conceded this, will not be satisfied, but will want to take other things away from you, and he will excite himself more against you esteeming you less: and on the other hand, in your favor you will find the defenders more cold, it appearing to them that you are either weak or a coward: but as soon as you discover the intention of the adversary, if you prepare your forces, even though they may be inferior to his, he will begin to respect you, (and) the other neighboring Princes will respect you more, and the desire to aid you will come to those ((being armed by you)) who, even if you gave yourself up, would never aid you.

This is what is learned when you have an enemy: but when you have several, to render to some of them some of your possessions, either to gain him over to yourself even though war should already have broken out, or to detach your enemies from the other confederates, is always a prudent proceeding.

CHAPTER XV[edit]

WEAK STATES ARE ALWAYS AMBIGUOUS IN THEIR RESOLUTIONS, AND WEAK DECISIONS ARE ALWAYS HARMFUL

In connection with this same matter and with the origin of the war between the Latins and the Romans it can be noted, that in all deliberations it is well to come to the point of what it is to be decided and not to be always ambiguous, nor to remain uncertain of the matter. Which is manifestly seen in the deliberation that the Latins held when they thought of alienating themselves from the Romans. For having foreseen this bad mood that had come upon the Latin people, the Romans in order to assure themselves of the matter and to see if they could regain those people to themselves without resorting to arms, made them understand that they should send eight Citizens to Rome, because they wanted to consult with them. The Latins, learning of this, and being conscious of many things done against the wishes of the Romans, called a council to arrange who should go to Rome and to give them the commission of what they should say: And while this was deliberated in the councils, their Praetor Annius said these words: I judge it to be most important for our interest, that we should think of what we shall do that what we shall say: when we have decided that, it will be easy to accommodate our words (the details of our counsels) to our acts. These words without doubt are very true, and ought to be of benefit to every Prince and every Republic; for words are not made to explain the ambiguity and incertitude of that which is to be done, but once the mind is fixed, and that which is to be done decided, it is an easy thing to find the words. I have the more willingly noted this part, as I have known many such indecisions to interfere with public actions, with damage and shame to our Republic: And this will always happen that in doubtful proceedings and where spirit is needed in making decisions, this ambiguity (indecision) will exist when these deliberations and decisions have to be made by weak men. Slow and late decisions are also not less harmful than ambiguous ones, especially when they have to decide in favor of some friend, for no person is helped by their lateness, and it injures oneself. Such decisions so made proceed from feebleness of spirit and strength or from the malignity of those who have to decide, who, moved by their own passion to want to ruin the State or to fulfill some desire of theirs, do not allow the deliberations to proceed, but impede and thwart them. For good citizens ((even though they see a popular fad turning itself into a perilous course)) never impede deliberations, especially when those matters cannot be delayed.

After the death of Hieronymus, Tyrant of Syracuse, while the war between the Carthaginians and the Romans was at its height, a dispute arose among the Syracusans whether they ought to follow the Roman friendship (alliance) or the Carthaginian. And so great was the ardor of the parties that they remained undecided, nor was any action taken, until at last Appolonides, one of the first men of Syracuse, with a speech (of his) full of prudence, showed that those who held the opinion to adhere to the Romans were not to be blamed, nor those who wanted to follow the Carthaginian side; but that it was right to detest that indecision and tardiness in taking up the proceeding, because he saw surely the proceeding had been undertaken (the decision made), whatever it might be, some good could be hoped for. Nor could T. Livius show better than in this case the damage done by remaining undecided. He shows it also in the case of the Latins, for the Lavinians seeking their aid against the Romans, they delayed so long in determining upon it that, when they had just gone out of the gate with forces to give them succor, the news arrived that the Latins were routed. Whence Milonius, their Praetor, said: This short march would cost us much with the Roman people: For if they had decided at once either to help or not to help the Latins, they would by not aiding them not have irritated the Romans; and by helping them, the aid being in time, they could by joining forces enable them to win; but by delaying, they would come to lose in any case, as happened to them.

And if the Florentines had noted this text, they would not have received so much injury or so much trouble from the French as they had in the passage of King Louis XII of France to make war against Lodovico, Duke of Milan, in Italy. For the King when he was considering such a passage sought to make an accord with the Florentines, and the ambassadors to the King made an accord with him that they would remain neutral, and that the King after coming into Italy should take their State under his protection, and gave the City one month to ratify it. This ratification was delayed by those who, because of little prudence, favored the affairs of Lodovico, so that the King having already achieved his victory, and the Florentines then wanting to ratify it, the ratification was not accepted, as he recognized that the friendship of the Florentines came by force and not voluntarily. Which cost the City of Florence much money, and was to lose them the State, as happened to them another time from similar causes. And that proceeding was so much more damnable because it did not even serve the Duke Lodovico, who, if he had won, would have shown more signs of enmity against the Florentines than did the King.

And although above in another chapter I have discussed the evil that results to a Republic from this weakness, none the less having a new opportunity for a new incident, I wanted to repeat it, especially as it seems to me a matter that ought to be noted by Republics similar to ours.

CHAPTER XVI[edit]

HOW MUCH THE SOLDIERS IN OUR TIMES ARE DIFFERENT FROM THE ANCIENT ORGANIZATION

The most important engagement ever fought in any war with any nation by the Roman People, was that which they had with the Latin people during the Consulate of Torquatus and of Decius. As every reason would have it, just as by the loss of the battle the Latins became slaves, so too the Romans would have been slaves if they had not won. And Titus Livius is of this opinion, because on both sides he makes the armies equal in organization, in virtu, in obstinacy, and in numbers: the only difference he makes is that the Heads of the Roman army were of more virtu than those of the Latin army. It will also be seen that in the managing of this engagement, two incidents arose which had not arisen before, and that afterwards were rare examples; that of the two Consuls, in order to uphold the courage of the soldiers and keep them obedient to their command and more deliberate in action, one killed himself and the other his son. The equality which Titus Livius says existed in these armies resulted from their having fought together a long time, having the same language, the same discipline, and the same arms: For they held to the same manner in the order of battle, and the organizations and Heads of the organization had the same names: Being of equal strength and of equal virtu, it was therefore necessary that something extraordinary should arise which would make one more firm and obstinate than the other; in which obstinacy victory ((as was said at another time)) was contained; for so long as that endured in the breasts of those who combatted, no army will ever turn its back. And as it endured more in the breasts of the Romans than in the Latins, partly chance and partly the virtu of the Consuls gave rise that Torquatus had to kill his son and Decius himself.

In demonstrating this equality of strength, T. Livius shows the whole organization that the Romans had in the armies and in battles. As he has explained this at length, I will not otherwise repeat it; but I will discuss only that which I judge to be notable, and that which, because it is neglected by all Captains of these times, has caused many disorders in armies and battles. I say, then, that from the text of Livius it is gathered that the Roman armies were composed of three principal divisions, which in Tuscan can be called Ranks, and they named the first Astati, the second Principi, the third Triari, and each of these had its cavalry. In organizing a battle they put the Astati in front, directly behind in the second line they placed the Principi, and in the same manner in the third line they placed the Triari. The cavalry of all of these orders were placed to the right and the left of these three battalions, the ranks of which cavalry, from their shape and place, they called Alae (Wings), because they seemed like two wings of that body. They arranged the first ranks of the Astati, which were in the front and serried in a way that it could strike or sustain (the attack of) the enemy. The second line of the Principi ((as it was not the first in combat, but was bound to support the first line when it was struck or hurled back)), they did not make straight, but maintained its order open (thin) and of a kind so that it could receive within itself the first line, without disordering itself, whenever, pushed by the enemy, it should be necessary for them to retreat. The third line of the Triari was arranged even more open than the second, in order to receive within itself, if need be, the first two lines of Principi, and Astati. These three ranks thus deployed kindled the battle, and if the Astati were forced or overcome, they retreated into the open ranks of the Principi, and the two ranks being united together into one body rekindled the battle: if these were also forced or rebuffed, they both retired into the open ranks of the Triari, and all these ranks becoming one body, renewed the fight; where, if they were overcome ((for not having further reinforcements)) they lost the engagement. And as every time that this last rank of Triari became engaged, the army was in danger, and gave rise to that proverb, The matter has come to the Triari, which in Tuscan usage means to say, we have put up the last resource.

The captains of our times, having abandoned entirely the organization and no longer observing the ancient discipline, have thus abandoned this part which is not of little importance: for whoever arranges (his army) so as to be able to reorganize three times in an engagement, must have fortune inimical to him three times in order to lose, and must have (pitted) against him a virtu three times as adept to overcome him. But whoever cannot maintain himself against the first onrush ((as the Christian armies are today)) can lose easily, for every disorder, every half-way virtu, can take away the victory. And that which prevents our armies from being able to reorganize three times is to have lost the manner of receiving one rank into the other. Which arises because at present engagements are arranged with two defects: either their ranks are formed shoulder to shoulder, and make their battle line wide in front and thin in depth, which makes it very weak from having too few men in the depth of the ranks: or, in order to make it stronger, they reduce the ranks (in width of the front), in accordance as the Romans did; if the first rank is broken, there not being an arrangement to be received by the second, they will be entangled all together, and rout themselves; for if that front rank is pushed back, it will be hurled on the second; if the second rank wants to go forward, it is impeded by the first: Whence that the first being hurled upon the second, and the second on the third, there ensues so much confusion that the slightest accident often ruins an army.

In the battle at Ravenna, which was ((according to our times)) a very well-fought engagement, in which the Captain of the French forces, Monsignor De Foix, was killed, the Spanish and French armies were organized in one of the above mentioned methods, that is, that the one and the other army came with all its forces arranged shoulder to shoulder so as to have a wide front and little depth. And thus they always did when they had a large field as they had at Ravenna: for recognizing the disorder that is caused in retiring, when they put themselves all into one rank, they avoid it when they can by making the front wide, as has been said; but when the country is restricted, they remain in the disorder described above without thinking of a remedy. In similar disorder the cavalry rides through the enemy's country, either for plunder or for some other purpose of war. And at Santo Regolo and elsewhere in the war against Pisa, where the Florentines were routed by the Pisans in the (time of the) war which existed between the Florentines and that City because of her rebellion, after the passage of Charles, King of France, into Italy; that ruin did not result from anything else than the friendly cavalry, which being in front and repulsed by the enemy, was thrown back into the Florentine infantry and broke it, whence all the remaining forces turned back: and Messer Criaco Del Borgo, Head of the Florentine infantry, has affirmed in my presence many times that he would never have been routed except for the cavalry of his friends. The Swiss who are masters of modern war, when they fought for the French, above all things they take care to put themselves on the side where the friendly cavalry, if it should be repulsed, will not be hurled back on them.

And although this thing would appear easy to understand and not easy to do, none the less there has not yet been found any of our contemporary Captains who have imitated the ancient order and corrected the modem one. And although they also divide their army into three parts, calling one part the Vanguard, the next the Battle Corps, and the last the Rearguard, they do not serve themselves of it other than to command them in their quarters; but in using it, it is a rare thing ((as was said above)) that they do to unite them all in one body, so that they all share the same fortune: And as many, to excuse their ignorance, allege that the violence of the artillery will not allow the same arrangements that the ancients had to be used in these times, I want to discuss this matter in the following chapter, and to examine whether the artillery impedes them so that it is not possible to use the ancient virtu.

CHAPTER XVII[edit]

HOW MUCH THE ARMY OUGHT TO ESTEEM THE ARTILLERY IN THE PRESENT TIMES, AND IF THAT OPINION THAT IS GENERALLY HAD OF IT IS TRUE

In addition to the things written above, in considering how the many field fights, called in our times by the French word Engagements (Giornate), and by the Italians Deeds of arms, were fought by the Romans at diverse times, I have thought upon the general opinions of many, which hold that if artillery had existed in those days the Romans would not have been permitted to conquer provinces and make other people tributary to themselves as they did, nor would they in any way have been able to make such large acquisitions: They say also that because of these instrument of fire men are not able to use or show their virtu as they were able to anciently. And a third thing should be added that one now comes to the joining of battle with more difficulty than formerly, nor is it possible to maintain the same discipline as in those times, so that in time wars will be reduced to artillery (exchanges). And as I judge it not to be outside this subject to discuss whether such opinions are true, and whether artillery has increased or diminished the strength of armies, and whether it gives or takes away opportunity to good Captains of acting with virtu.

I shall begin by speaking concerning the first opinion that the ancient Roman armies would not have made the conquests that they did if artillery had existed: Upon which in replying, I say that war is made either to defend oneself or to take the offensive: whence it must first be examined as to which of these two kinds of war make it (artillery) more useful or more damaging. And although there is something to say on both sides, none the less I believe that beyond comparison it does more damage to whoever defends himself than to whoever attacks. The reason I say this is that he who defends himself is either inside some fortified place or in a camp within a stockade: and if he is inside a town, either this town is small as are the greater part of the fortresses, or it is large: in the first case whoever defends himself is entirely lost, for the impetus of the artillery is such that a wall has not yet been found which is so strong that in a few days it will be battered down by it; and if whoever is inside does not have considerable space for retreat, and (cannot protect himself) with ditches and earthworks, he is lost, nor can he sustain the attack of the enemy who would then enter through the breach in the wall: nor will the artillery he has be of any benefit to him in this, for there is a maxim that where men attack in mass, the artillery will not stop them; and thus the fury of the Ultramontanes in the defense of their lands has never been resisted: the assaults of the Italians are easily resisted, as they go in battle, not in mass, but in small detachments, which by their own name are called Scaramouches (skirmishes): and when they deliberately go in this disordered manner into a breach in a wall where there is artillery, they go to a certain death, for against them the artillery is of value: but when they go in a dense mass, and one pushes the other as they come to a break, if they are not impeded by ditches or earthworks, they enter in every place and artillery will not hold them: and if some are killed, they cannot be so many that they would impede the victory. That this is true has been recognized by the many conquests made by the Ultramontanes in Italy, and especially that of Brescia; for when that land rebelled against the French, and the fortress being still held by the King of France, the Venetians, in order to resist the attacks which could come from the town, had fortified all the road that descends from the fortress to the City with artillery, placing it in front and on the flanks and in every convenient place: of which Monsignor De Foix took no account, rather, with his squadron, he descended on foot, and passing through the midst of it (the artillery) occupied the City, nor from what was heard had he received any recordable damage. So that whoever defends himself in a small area ((as was said)) and finding the walls of his town breached, and does not have space to retreat with earthworks and ditches, and have to rely on artillery, will quickly be lost.

If you defend a large town and have the convenience of retreating, I none the less maintain beyond comparison that artillery is more useful to whoever is outside than to whoever is inside. First, because if you want artillery to harm those outside, you are necessitated to raise yourself with it above the level of the surrounding land, for being on the plain, every little embankment and earthwork that the enemy raises remains secure, and you cannot harm him, so that by having to raise it and draw it along the aisle between the walls, or in some other way raise it above the ground, you have two drawbacks: the first, that you cannot place artillery of the same size and power as those outside can bring to bear, as you are not able in a small place to handle large things: the other, no matter how well you can place it, you cannot make those earthworks trustworthy and secure in order to save the said artillery as those outside can do being on higher ground, and having that convenience and space which they themselves lacked: So that it is impossible to whoever defends a town to keep his artillery in elevated positions when those who are on the outside have plenty and powerful artillery: and if they have to place it in lower places, it becomes in large part useless, as has been said. So that the defense of a City is reduced to defending it with the same (manual) arms as was done anciently, and with small size artillery: from which little usefulness is derived ((because of the small size artillery)) unless there is a mine of disadvantages that counterweighs the advantage (of the artillery): for in respect to that, the walls of the town are kept low and almost buried in the ditches, so that when the battle comes to hand to hand fighting, either because the walls are breached or the ditches filled up, those inside have many more disadvantages than they had before. And therefore ((as was said above)) these instruments benefit much more whoever besieges the towns that whoever is besieged.

As to the third case when you are in a camp within a stockade and you do not want to come to an engagement unless it is at your convenience or advantage, I say that in this case you do not ordinarily have a better remedy to defend yourself without fighting than what the ancients had, and some times you may have greater disadvantage on account of your artillery: For if the enemy turns on you and has even a small advantage of ground, as can easily happen, and finds himself higher than you, or that at his arrival you have not yet finished your earthworks and covered yourself well with them, he quickly dislodges you before you have any remedy and you are forced to go out of your fortress and come to battle. This happened to the Spaniards in the engagement at Ravenna, who, being entrenched between the river Ronco and an earthwork which was built insufficiently high, and the French having a slight advantage of terrain, were constrained by the artillery to leave their fortified place and come to battle. But suppose ((as must often happen)) that the location you have chosen for your camp is higher than the other side at the (time of) encounter, and that your earthworks are good and secure, so that owing to the site and your other preparations, the enemy does not dare to assault you, in this case he will resort to those means that the ancients resorted to when one, with his army, was in a position where he could not be attacked, that is, he will overrun the country, take or besiege lands friendly to you and impede your provisions; so that you will be forced by some necessity to dislodge him, and come to battle, where artillery ((as will be mentioned below)) will not be of much use. Considering, therefore, in what manner the Romans made war, and observing that almost all their wars were to attack others and not to defend themselves, it will be seen ((if all the things said above were true)) that they would have had even greater advantage, and would have made their conquests more easily, if they should have lived in those times (of the advent of artillery).

As to the second proposition, that men are not able to show their virtu as they could anciently because of the use of artillery, I say that it is true that where men have to expose themselves in small groups, that they are exposed to greater danger than when they had to scale (the walls of) a town or make similar assaults, where men did not have to act bunched together, but by themselves one after the other. It is also true that the Captains and Heads of the army are now subjected to the danger of death than at that time, as they can be reached by artillery in every place, and it is of no benefit to them to be in the rear ranks, and protected by their strongest men: None the less it is seen that the one and the other of these dangers rarely caused extraordinary damages, for well fortified towns are not scaled, nor do you go to assault them with feeble attacks, but in wanting to conquer them, the matter is reduced to a siege, as was done anciently. And even in those places that can be conquered by assault, the dangers are not much greater now then they were then, for even in that time there did not lack to the defenders of towns means for throwing (missiles), which ((if they were not as furious (as cannon) is)) had a similar effect in killing men. As to the death of Captains and Candottieri, in the twenty four years in which there have been wars in Italy in recent times, there have been fewer examples then there were in any ten years time (of war) of the ancients. For, outside of Count Lodovico Della Mirandola ((who was killed at Ferrara when the Venetians assaulted that State a few years ago)) and the Duke of Nemours ((who was killed at Cirignuola)), it never happened that any were killed by artillery, since Monsignor De Foix was killed at Ravenna by steel (sword) and not by fire. So that if men do not show their virtu individually, it is not the result of the artillery, but from poor discipline and weakness of the armies, which, lacking virtu collectively, are not able to show it in the (individual) parts.

As to the third proposition mentioned by some, that it is no longer possible to come to hand-to-hand fighting, and that wars will be entirely conducted through artillery, I say this opinion is entirely false, and will always be so held by those who would want to manage their armies according to the ancient virtu: For whoever wants to create a good army must, by real or feigned exercises, accustom his men to meet the enemy, and to come against him with sword in hand and to seize him bodily, and he must rely more upon the infantry than on cavalry, for the reasons which will be mentioned below. And when they rely on infantry and on the aforementioned means (of training), the artillery will become entirely useless; for the infantry in meeting the enemy can escape the blows of the artillery with greater ease than anciently they were able to escape from the attacks of elephants, from scythed chariots, and other obsolete means of attack which the Roman infantry had to encounter, (and) against which they always found a remedy: and they would have found it so much more readily against this (artillery), as the time in which artillery can harm you is much shorter than that in which the elephants and chariots could do harm. For these disorganized you in the midst of battle, while that (the artillery) only impedes you before the battle; which impediment is easily avoided by the infantry either the nature of the site covering them or by lying down on the ground during the firing. Even experience has shown this not to be necessary, especially when defending themselves from large artillery, which cannot be so (accurately) aimed, (and) either ((if they are aimed high)) they pass over you, or ((if they are aimed low)) they do not reach you. Then when you have come with the army to hand to hand (fighting), this becomes clearer than light that neither the large nor the small artillery can then harm you. For if he has the artillery in front, you capture it, and if he has it in the rear, he first harms his friend rather than you: even on the flank he cannot harm you so, that you cannot go up to capture them, and the result mentioned above (first) will happen.

Nor is this disputed very much, because the example of the Swiss has been seen, who in MDXIII (1513) at Novara, without artillery or cavalry, went to encounter the French army armed with artillery within their fortresses, and routed them without having any impediment from that artillery. And the reason is ((in addition to the things mentioned above)) that the artillery, to be well served, has need to be guarded either by walls, ditches, or earthworks: and that if it lacks one of these guards, it is captured or becomes useless, as happens in open field engagements and battles when it is defended only by men. On the flank it cannot be employed except in that manner that the ancients used their catapults, which they placed outside of the squadrons, so that they should fight outside of the ranks, and every time they were pressed by cavalry or others, they took refuge within the legions. Who employs it otherwise does not understand it well, and relies on something which can easily deceive him. And if the Turk by means of artillery gained the victory over the Sofi (Persians) and the Soldan (Egyptians), it resulted from no other virtu than from the unaccustomed noise which frightened their cavalry. I conclude, therefore, coming to the end of this discussion, that artillery is useful in an army when it is mixed with the ancient virtu, but, without that, it is most useless against a valorous army.

CHAPTER XVIII[edit]

THAT BECAUSE OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE ROMANS AND BY THE EXAMPLE OF ANCIENT ARMIES, THE INFANTRY OUGHT TO BE MORE ESTEEMED THAN CAVALRY

And it can be clearly demonstrated by many arguments and by many examples how much the Romans in all their military actions esteemed the foot soldier more than the cavalry, and based all the plans of their forces on them: as is seen by many examples, and among others that which occurred when they came to battle with the Latins next to Lake Regillo, where the Roman army already having given way, made their cavalry descend from their horses in order to succor their foot soldiers, and by that means renewed the battle and obtained the victory. Where it is manifestly seen that the Romans had more confidence in their men, when on foot, than maintaining them on horseback. They used this same means in many other battles, and they always found it an optimum remedy in their dangers. Nor is the opinion of Hannibal opposed to this who, when he saw in the engagement at Cannae that the Consuls made their horsemen descend on foot, making a mock of a like proceeding, said: Quam malem vinctos mini traderent equites, that is, I would have more concern if they would give them to me bound. Which opinion, although coming from the mouth of a most excellent man, none the less if we have to go back to authority, we ought to believe more if it came from a Roman Republic and from so many excellent Captains which she produced, than to one single Hannibal; although even without authorities, there are manifest reasons, for a man can go into many places on foot where he cannot go on horseback: you can teach him to preserve the ranks, and should they be broken, how to reform them, but it is difficult to make horses preserve the ranks, and when they are disturbed impossible to reform them: in addition to this, it will be found ((as in men)) that some horses have little spirit and some have much, and many times it happens that a spirited horse is ridden by a base man, and a timid horse by a spirited man, and however this disparity arises, uselessness and disorder result. Well disciplined infantry can easily break the cavalry but only with difficulty can they be routed by them. Which opinion is corroborated ((in addition to many ancient and modern examples)) by the authority of those who make regulations for civil affairs, where they show that at first wars were begun to be fought by cavalry, because (good) infantry was not yet been organized: but as soon as this was done, it was quickly recognized how much more useful these were then cavalry: However, the cavalry is necessary in armies for reconnaissance, to overrun and plunder the country, and to pursue the enemy when in flight, and to be a part of the opposition to the cavalry of the adversaries: but the foundation and the sinew of the army, and that which should be more esteemed, ought to be the infantry.

And among the faults of the Italian Princes who have made Italy slave to foreigners, there is none greater than to have taken into little account this organization (infantry), and to have turned all their attention to mounted troops. Which error arose from the malignity of the Heads, and from the ignorance of those who ruled the State: For during the past twenty five years the Italian military have been brought under men who did not have a State, but were as Captains (Soldiers) of fortune, whose main thought was how they should be able to maintain their reputation by their being armed, and the Princes disarmed. And as a large number of infantry could not continuously be paid by them, and not having subjects of whom they could avail themselves, and as a small number would not give them reputation, they turned to keeping cavalry; for two hundred or three hundred cavalry paid by a Condottiere maintained his reputation, and the payment was not such that it could not be met by men who had a State: and so that this should be facilitated and to maintain themselves in even greater reputation, they took away all the affection for and the reputation of the infantry, and transferred those to their cavalry; and so greatly increased this disorder, that the infantry was a minimum part of any of the largest armies. Which usage ((together with many other disorders that accompanied it)) made the Italian military so weak, that their province has been easily trampled on by all the Ultramontanes. This error of esteeming cavalry more than infantry is shown more openly by another Roman example. The Romans were besieging Sora, and a squadron of cavalry having gone out from the town to assault the camp, the Master of the Roman cavalry went to meet it with his cavalry, and coming breast to breast, chance would have it that in the first shock the Heads of both armies were killed; and the fight continued none the less, while (both sides) remained without direction, when the Romans in order to overcome the enemy more easily, dismounted and forced the cavalry ((if they wanted to defend themselves)) to do similarly, and with all this the Romans carried the victory.

This example could not be better in demonstrating how much greater virtu there is in the infantry than in the cavalry; for if in the other cases the Consuls made the Roman cavalry dismount, it was to succor the infantry which was suffering and in need of aid; but in this case they dismounted, not to succor the infantry, nor to fight with enemy infantry, but a combat of cavalry against cavalry, (and) not being able to overcome them on horseback, they judged that by dismounting they would be able more easily to overcome them. I want to conclude, therefore, that a well organized infantry cannot be overcome without the greatest difficulty, except by another infantry. Crassus and Marc Anthony overran the dominion of Parthia for many days with very few cavalry and many infantry, and encountered innumerable cavalry of the Parthians. Crassus with part of the army was killed, Marc Anthony saved himself with virtu. None the less, in this Roman affliction is seen how much the infantry prevailed against the cavalry; for being in a large country where mountains are rare, rivers rarer, distant from the sea, and far from all conveniences, none the less, in the judgment of the Parthians themselves, he saved himself skillfully; nor did the Parthian cavalry ever dare to try the discipline of his army. If Crassus were returned to you, whoever examines his actions carefully will see that he was rather deceived than overpowered, and never in his greatest straits did the Parthians dare to hurl themselves against him, rather they always went on flanking him and impeding his provisions, (and) by promising them to him and then not observing it, they reduced him to the last extremity.

I believe I should have to endure more hard work in persuading (the reader) how much more superior is the virtu of the infantry than that of the cavalry, except that there are many modern examples which render the fullest testimony. And it has been seen how nine thousand Swiss at Novara, mentioned above by us, went out and attacked ten thousand cavalry and as many infantry, and defeated them, for the cavalry could not attack them, and the infantry being forces composed for the most part of Gascons and ill-disciplined, they (the Swiss) esteemed them little. It has subsequently been seen how twenty six thousand Swiss went to encounter north of Milan the King of the French, Francis, who had with him twenty thousand cavalry, forty thousand infantry, and a hundred pieces of artillery; and if they did not win the engagement, as at Novara, they fought valiantly for two days, and though they were later routed, half of them were saved. Marcus Attilius Regulus attempted to resist with his infantry not only (the attack of) the cavalry, but the elephants: and if his design did not succeed, yet it not that the virtu of his infantry was not such that he did not have faith in them believing them capable of overcoming those difficulties. I repeat, therefore, that to want to overcome a disciplined infantry it is necessary to oppose them with a better disciplined infantry, otherwise one goes to a manifest defeat.

In the time of Filippo Visconti, Duke of Milan, about sixteen thousand Swiss descended into Lombardy, whence the Duke having at that time Carmignuola as his Captain, sent him with about a thousand cavalry and a few infantry to meet them. This man, not knowing their method of fighting, went to meet them with his cavalry presuming to be able to rout them quickly. But finding them immovable, having lost many of his men, he retired: and being a most valiant man, and knowing he had to take new proceeding in new events, reorganized his forces and went to meet them; and on coming to the engagement made all his men at arms dismount and go on foot, and placing them at the head of the infantry, went to attack the Swiss, who had no remedy (against them). For the forces of Carmignuola being on foot and well armored, could easily enter between the ranks of the Swiss without suffering any injury, and having entered therein could easily attack them: So that of all that number, there remained only the part which was saved through the humanity of Carmignuola.

I believe that many recognize this difference in virtu that exists between the one and the other of these systems, but so great is the infelicity of these times, that neither the examples of the ancients or the moderns, nor the confession of error, is enough to cause the modern Princes to re-see things, and to make them think that to give reputation to the military of a Province or a State it is necessary to revive these insinuations (of the ancients), to keep them close to one, to give them reputation, to give them life, so that in return it may give him life and reputation: And as they deviate from these methods, so they deviate from the other methods mentioned above: whence there results that the acquisitions become harmful, not an aggrandizement, to a State, as will be told below.

CHAPTER XIX[edit]

THAT ACQUISITIONS IN REPUBLICS NOT WELL ORGANIZED AND THAT DO NOT PROCEED ACCORDING TO ROMAN VIRTU, ARE THE RUIN AND NOT THE EXALTATION OF THEM

This opinion contrary to the truth, founded upon those bad examples that have been introduced by these corrupt centuries of ours, causes men not to think of deviating from their accustomed habits. Would it have been possible to persuade an Italian of thirty years ago that ten thousand infantry could have attacked, in an open plain, ten thousand cavalry and as many more infantry, and with these not only to fight them, but to defeat them, as is seen in the example at Novara given by us many times? And although histories are full (of such examples), yet they would not have believed it; and if they had believed it, they would have said that in these times one is better armed, and that a squadron of men at arms would be more adept at charging a rock than a body of infantry: and thus with these erroneous arguments their judgment was corrupted, nor have they considered that Lucullus with few infantry routed one hundred and fifty thousand cavalry of (King) Tigranes, and that among those horsemen was a kind of cavalry entirely similar to our men at arms. And thus that fallacy was uncovered by the example of the Ultramontane forces: And as that which is narrated in histories is seen to be true in regard to infantry, so also ought all the other ancient institutions to be believed to be true and useful. And if this were believed, the Republics and Princes would have erred less, would have been stronger in opposing the attack that might come upon them, they would not have put their hope in flight, and those who had the government in their hands would have known better how to direct the manner of aggrandizement or the manner of preservation; and they would have believed that for the city to increase its inhabitants, to make associations for themselves and not subjects, to send colonies to guard the acquired countries, to make capital of the plunder, to subdue the enemy by incursions and engagements, and by sieges, to keep the public rich, the private citizen poor, to maintain military exercises with the greatest zeal, these are the ways to make a Republic great and to acquire Empire. And if these means of expanding did not please them, they would consider that acquisitions by any other means are the ruin of a Republic; and they would place a restraint to all ambition, regulating the internal affairs of the City well with laws and other customs, prohibiting conquests, and thinking only of defending themselves, and to keep the defenses well organized; as do the Republics of Germany, who, in this manner, live and have lived for a long time.

None the less ((as I have said another time when discussing the difference that existed between being organized for conquest and being organized for preservation)) it is impossible that a Republic succeeds in remaining quiet and enjoy its liberty and her limited confines; for even if she does not molest others, she will be molested: and from being molested there will arise the will and desire for conquest: and even if she should not have any outside enemies, she would find some at home, as it appears necessary to occur to all great Cities. And if the Republics of Germany could live in this fashion, and have been able to endure a long time, it arises from certain conditions that exist in that country which are not found elsewhere, without which they could not have maintained such a manner of living. That part of Germany of which I speak was subject to the Roman Empire, as was France and Spain: but when the decline of the Empire came afterwards, and the rule of that Empire reduced in that Province, the more powerful Cities begun ((according to the weakness or necessity of the Emperors)) to make themselves free, ransoming themselves from the Empire by reserving a small annual rent to it: so that little by little all those Cities which were held directly by the Emperor, and were not subject to any Prince, ransomed themselves in similar fashion. There occurred in these same times when these Cities were ransoming themselves, that certain Communities subject to the Duke of Austria rebelled against him, among which were Fribourg, the Swiss, and other like, which prospering from the beginning, gradually expanded little by little, that they did not return under the yoke of Austria, and became feared by their neighbors; and these are those whom we call Swiss. And therefore this Province is divided between the Swiss, Republics which they call Free Towns, Princes, and the Emperor. And the reason that among such a diversity of forms of government wars do not arise, or if they do arise they do not last long, is that this shadow of an Emperor, who, although he has no power, none the less he has so much reputation among them that he is their conciliator, and with his authority by interposing himself as a mediator, quickly extinguishes all trouble. And the major and longer wars that have occurred have been those that took place between the Swiss and the Duke of Austria: and although for many years past the Emperor and the Duke of Austria have been the same person, yet he has never been able to overcome the audacity of the Swiss, where there has never been a means of accord except by force: Nor has the rest of Germany given him much help, as much because the Communities do not want to injure those who want to live free as they do, as because those Princes (are unable to aid him) part of whom cannot because they are poor, part do not want to because they envy his power. These Communities therefore can live contentedly with their small dominions because they have no reason ((in respect to the Imperial authority)) of desiring a greater one: They can live united within their walls because they have an enemy nearby and who would take the opportunity to occupy them whenever they should have a discord. If this Province was constituted otherwise, it would behoove them to seek to expand and break their quiet existence.

And because elsewhere such conditions do not exist, this way of living cannot be adopted, and it is necessary either to expand by means of leagues, or to expand as the Romans did: And whoever governs otherwise seeks not his life, but his death and ruin, for in a thousand ways and for many reasons, the acquisitions are harmful; for he may very well extend his Empire, but not power; and whoever acquires Empire and not power together, comes to ruin. Whoever impoverishes himself in war cannot acquire power, even though he is victorious, for he puts in more than he draws out of the acquisitions; as the Venetians and Florentines have done, who have been much weaker when the one had Lombardy and the other Tuscany, than they were when the one was content with the (dominion of the) sea, and the other with six miles of boundaries. For all of this resulted from their having wanted to acquire but not to have known the means to do so: and they merit so much more blame as they had less excuse, having seen the methods which the Romans employed, and having been able to follow their example, while the Romans, without any example, through their prudence, knew how to find it by themselves. In addition to this, acquisitions sometimes do no little damage to any well ordered Republic when they acquire a City or a Province full of luxury, where those (indolent) habits can be picked up through intercourse they have with them, as happened to Rome first in the acquisition of Capua, and afterwards also to Hannibal. And if Capua had been further distant from the City (of Rome), and if the errors of the soldiers had not have prompt remedy, or if Rome had been in any part corrupted, that acquisition without doubt would have been the ruin of the Roman Republic: And Titus Livius bears witness of this with these words; Capua the instrument of all pleasures, the least conducive to military discipline, turned the spirit of the military away from the memory of their country. And truly similar Cities or Provinces avenge themselves against their conquerors without a fight and without bloodshed; for by transferring to them their own bad habits they expose them to being conquered by whoever assaults them. And Juvenal in his Satires could not have better understood this part, when he says that, because of the acquisitions of foreign lands, foreign customs had entered the breasts of the Romans, and in exchange for parsimony and other very excellent virtus, gluttony and luxury dwell there, and will avenge the conquered world. If, therefore, the conquest was to be pernicious to the Romans in the times when they proceeded with so much prudence and so much virtu, what then would it be to those who deviate from their methods? And what would it be, if in addition to the other errors they make ((which have been discussed at length above)), they avail themselves of mercenary or auxiliary soldiers? Whence often those injuries result which will be mentioned in the following chapter.

CHAPTER XX[edit]

WHAT PERILS ARE BROUGHT TO THAT PRINCE OR THAT REPUBLIC WHICH AVAILS ITSELF OF AUXILIARY AND MERCENARY TROOPS

If I had not in another work of mine treated a length of how useless mercenary and auxiliary troops are, and how useful their own (national troops) are, I should extend myself in this discourse much more than I will: but having talked of it at length elsewhere, I shall be brief in this part. Nor did it seem to me I ought to pass it over entirely, having found in Titus Livius ((as to auxiliary soldiers)) so striking an example, for auxiliary soldiers are those which a Prince or a Republic send to your aid, captained and paid: and referring to the text of Titus Livius, I say, that the Romans at different places had routed two armies of the Samnites with their army which had been sent to the succor of the Capuans, and by this liberated the Capuans from that war which the Samnites made against them, (and) as they wanted to return to Rome, in order that the Capuans, who had been deprived of their garrisons should not become a prey again to the Samnites, left two legions in the country of Capua for their defense: Which legions, plunged into idleness, begun to delight themselves there, so that forgetting their country and the reverence due to Senate, decided to take up arms and make themselves lords of that country which they had defended with their virtu, it appearing to them that the inhabitants were not worthy to possess those things which they did not know how to defend. Which matter becoming known, it was suppressed and corrected by the Romans, as will be shown more fully where we will speak of conspiracies.

I say again, therefore, that of all the other kinds of soldiers the auxiliaries are the most harmful, because that Prince or that Republic which calls them to their aid have no authority over them, but only he who sends them has authority. For auxiliary soldiers are those who are sent you by a Prince, as I have said, under their captains, under their ensigns, and paid by them, as was this army that the Romans sent to Capua. Such soldiers as these, when they had won, most of the time plunder as well him who leads them as him against whom they are led; and they do so either from the malignity of the Prince who sends them or from their own ambition. And although the intention of the Romans was not to break the accord and convention which they had made with the Capuans, none the less the ease of attacking them appeared to those soldiers to be such, that it was able to persuade them to think of taking the town and the State from the Capuans. We could give many examples of this, but I deem it sufficient to cite that of the Rhegians, whose lives and city were taken away by a legion which the Romans had placed there as a guard. A Prince or a Republic ought, therefore, first to take up any other proceeding than to have recourse to bringing auxiliary forces into their State relying on them for its defense, for every pact, every convention ((however hard)) that they have with the enemy, will be much lighter than such a proceeding. And if past events are well read, and present ones discussed, it will be found that for one who has had a good ending, infinite others have been deceived. And an ambitious Prince or Republic cannot have a greater opportunity to occupy a City or a Province, than to be requested by it to send their armies to its defense. Therefore, he who is so ambitious that he calls for such aid not only to defend himself but to attack others as well, seeks to acquire that which he will not be able to hold, and which can easily be taken away from him by him from whom he acquired it. But the ambition of men is so great, that to gratify a present desire, do not think of the evil which, in a short time, will result from it. Nor do the ancient examples move him, as well in this as in the other matters discussed; for if they were moved by them, they would see how much more the liberality they show their neighbors, and the less desirous they are of occupying them, so much the more they throw themselves into your arms, as will be told below through the example of the Capuans.

CHAPTER XXI[edit]

THE FIRST PRAETOR WHICH THE ROMANS SENT ANY PLACE WAS THE CAPUA, FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AFTER THEY HAD BEGUN TO MAKE WAR (AGAINST THAT CITY)

It has been discussed at length above, how the Romans differed in their manner of proceeding in their acquisitions from those who in the present time expand their jurisdiction; and how they left (the people of) those lands which they did not destroy living with their laws, including even those who had surrendered to them, not as associates, but as subjects, and how they did not leave in them any sign of the authority (Empire) of the Roman people, but obligated them to some conditions, which so long as they were observed by them, they would maintain them in their state and dignity. And it is known that these methods were observed until they went outside of Italy and commenced to reduce Kingdoms and States into Provinces. There is no clearer example of this than that of the Praetors sent by them to any place was to Capua; whom they sent, not because of their ambition, but because they had been requested by the Capuans, who ((there being discord among them)) judged it necessary to have a Roman Citizen within that City who would restore order and re-unify them. From this example, (and) moved and constrained by a similar necessity, the people of Antium also requested a Praetor from them. And T. Livius says of this incident and (commenting) on this new method of ruling, That they promised not only arms, but Roman justice. It is seen, therefore, how much this facilitated Roman expansion; for those Cities mainly that are accustomed to living free or to govern themselves by their own citizens, remain more quiet and content under a government they do not see ((even though it may have some inconvenience in itself)) than under one which they see every day, as it would appear to them they would be reproached by their servitude every day. Another advantage also results to the Prince who, not having at hand his ministers, judges and magistrates to render both civil and criminal decisions in that City, (and) no sentence being able ever to be pronounced which will bring censure or infamy upon the Prince, in this manner, comes to escape many causes of calumny and hatred.

¶ And that this is the truth, in addition to the ancient examples which could be cited, there is one recent example in Italy. For ((everyone knows)) Genoa having been occupied by the French many times, the King always ((except at the present time)) has sent a French Governor who governs in his name. Only at present has he allowed that City to be governed by itself and by a Genoese governor, not by election of the King, but because necessity so ordained. And without doubt, if it were to be examined as to which of these two methods gives more security to the King from the Rule (Empire) over it, and more contentedness to that people, without doubt this latter method would be approved. In addition to this, men will so much more readily throw themselves into your arms the less you appear disposed to subjugate them, and so much less will they fear you in connection with their liberty as you are more humane and affable with them. This affability and liberality made the Capuans have recourse to request the Praetor from the Romans: that if the Romans had shown the slightest desire to send one, they would quickly have become jealous and would have kept their distance from them (Romans).

¶ But what need is there to go to Capua and Rome for examples, when we have them in Florence and Tuscany? Everyone knows how the City of Pistoia a long time ago came voluntarily under the Florentine Empire (Dominion). Everyone also knows how much enmity there has existed between the Florentines, the Pisans, the Lucchese, and the Sienese; and this difference in spirit has not arisen because the Pistoians do not value their liberty as the others or do not esteem themselves as much as the others, but because the Florentines have always borne themselves toward them (the Pistoians) as brothers, and like enemies towards the others. It was this that caused the Pistoians to have run voluntarily under their Dominion, and the others to have used, and still use, every force not to come under them. And doubtless, if the Florentines either by means of leagues or by rendering them aid, had cultivated instead of frightening their neighbors, at this hour they would have been Lords of Tuscany. I do not judge by this that arms and force are not to be employed, but that they ought to be reserved as the last resort where and when other means are not enough.

CHAPTER XXII[edit]

HOW OFTEN THE OPINIONS OF MEN IN JUDGING THINGS (TO BE) GREAT ARE FALSE

Those who have found themselves witnesses of the deliberations of men have observed, and still observe, how often the opinions of men are erroneous; which many times, if they are not decided by very excellent men, are contrary to all truth. And because excellent men in corrupt Republics ((especially in quiet times)) are frowned upon both from envy and from other reasons of ambition, it follows that a common deception (error) is judged good, or it is put forward by men who want favors more readily for themselves than for the general good. When this error, in times of adversity, is discovered, then from necessity refuge is sought among those who in times of quiet were almost forgotten, as will be discussed in full in its proper place. Certain events also arise where men who do not have a great amount of experience of things are easily deceived, for they have in them that incident which resembles so many similar actions which are true as to make that one believed, (and) upon cases such as this men are persuaded. These things have been said of that (error) which the Praetor Numicus ((when the Latins were routed by the Romans)) persuaded them, and of that (error) which a few years ago was believed by many, when Francis I, King of France, attempted the conquest of Milan, which was defended by the Swiss.

¶ I say, therefore, that after the death of Louis XII, and Francis of Angouleme succeeded to the kingdom of France, and when he desired to restore to the kingdom the Duchy of Milan, which a few years before was occupied by the Swiss, through the help of Pope Julius II, desired to obtain aid in Italy which should facilitate the enterprise for him; and, in addition to the Venetians whom King Louis and gained over to himself, attempted to regain the Florentines and Pope Leo X, deeming his enterprise would be easier any time he should have regained those people to himself, inasmuch as the forces of the King of Spain were in Lombardy, and the other forces of the Emperor were in Verona. Pope Leo did not yield to the desires of the king, but was persuaded by those who counselled him ((according as it was said)) to remain neutral, showing him that certain victory consisted in this proceeding, for the Church not to have either the King (of France) or the Swiss too powerful in Italy; but if he wanted to bring it (the Church) to its ancient liberty, it was necessary to liberate her from the servitude of the one and the other. And because it was not possible to overcome one and the other, or each one separately, or both together, it would be best that one should overcome the other, and that the Church with her friends should attack the one that remained victor. And it was impossible to find a better opportunity than the present, as the one and the other were in the field, and the Pope had his forces organized so as to be able to show himself on the borders of Lombardy and near to both armies, under pretext of wanting to guard his possessions; and where he could remain until an engagement should take place, which reasonably ((both armies being of equal virtu)) ought to be bloody for both parties, and leave the victor so debilitated that it would be easy for the Pope to assail him and rout him, and thus he would, with great glory to himself, to remain Lord of Lombardy and arbiter of all Italy. And how much this opinion was wrong is to be seen from the result, for the Swiss were defeated after a long fight, and the forces of the Pope and of Spain did not presume to assault the victors, but prepared for flight: which also would not have done them good if it had not been for the humanity or indifference of the (French) King, who did not seek a second victory, but it sufficed him to make an accord with the Church.

This advice was based on certain reasons which at a distance appear true, but are entirely alien to the truth. For it rarely happens that the victor loses many of his soldiers, because the victor loses only those who die in battle, none by flight; and in the ardor of the combat, when men have turned to face one another, only a few fall, especially because very often it only lasts a short time: and even if it did last a long time and many of the victors should die, the reputation which follows the victory and the terror which it brings with it, are such that it greatly outweighs the injury which the death of his soldiers causes the victor to endure. So that an army, which in the belief that he has been weakened, should go and meet him, will find itself deceived, unless the army should be such as to be able to have combatted with him at any time, even before the victory. In this case it is possible to win or lose according to its fortune and virtu; but that one which should have first fought, and won, will have rather the advantage over the other. This was recognized for certain by the experience of the Latins and by the error that the Praetor Numicus committed, and by the injuries which those people suffered who believed him, when ((after the Romans had defeated the Latins)) he shouted throughout all the country of Latium now was the time to assault the Romans weakened by the fight they had had with them, and that only the name of victory remained to the Romans, inasmuch as all the other injuries they had suffered were as though they had been defeated, and that any little force that should assault them anew would destroy them. Whence those people who believed him raised a new army, but were quickly routed, and suffered those injuries which those people always suffer who hold similar opinions.