Of new principalities that have been acquired by the aid of others and by good fortune

Those who by good fortune only rise from mere private station to the dignity of princes have but little trouble in achieving that elevation, for they fly there as it were on wings; but their difficulties begin after they have been placed in that high position. Such are those who acquire a state either by means of money, or by the favour of some powerful monarch who bestows it upon them. Many such instances occurred in Greece, in the cities of Ionia and of the Hellespont, where men were made princes by Darius so that they might hold those places for his security and glory. And such were those emperors who from having been mere private individuals attained the empire by corrupting the soldiery. These remain simply subject to the will and the fortune of those who bestowed greatness upon them, which are two most uncertain and variable things. And generally these men have neither the skill nor the power to maintain that high rank. They know not (for unless they are men of great genius and ability, it is not reasonable that they should know) how to command, having never occupied any but private stations; and they cannot, because they have no troops upon whose loyalty and attachment they can depend.

Moreover, states that spring up suddenly, like other things in nature that are born and attain their growth rapidly, cannot have those roots and supports that will protect them from destruction by the first unfavourable weather. Unless indeed, as has been said, those who have suddenly become princes are gifted with such ability that they quickly know how to prepare themselves for the preservation of that which fortune has cast into their lap, and afterwards to build up those foundations which others have laid before becoming princes.

In illustration of the one and the other of these two ways of becoming princes, by valour and ability, or by good fortune, I will adduce two examples from the time within our own memory; these are Francesco Sforza and Cesare Borgia. Francesco, by legitimate means and by great natural ability, rose from a private citizen to be Duke of Milan; and having attained that high position by a thousand efforts, it cost him but little trouble afterwards to maintain it. On the other hand, Cesare Borgia, commonly called Duke Valentino, acquired his state by the good fortune of his father, but lost it when no longer sustained by that good fortune; although he employed all the means and did all that a brave and prudent man can do to take root in that state which had been bestowed upon him by the arms and good fortune of another. For, as we have said above, he who does not lay the foundations for his power beforehand may be able by great ability and courage to do so afterwards; but it will be done with great trouble to the builder and with danger to the edifice.

If now we consider the whole course of the Duke Valentino, we shall see that he took pains to lay solid foundations for his future power; which I think it well to discuss. For I should not know what better lesson I could give to a new prince, than to hold up to him the example of the Duke Valentino's conduct. And if the measures which he adopted did not insure his final success, the fault was not his, for his failure was due to the extreme and extraordinary malignity of fortune. Pope Alexander VI in his efforts to aggrandise his son, the Duke Valentino, encountered many difficulties, immediate and prospective. In the first place he saw that there was no chance of making him master of any state, unless a state of the Church; and he knew that neither the Duke of Milan nor the Venetians would consent to that. Faenza and Rimini were already at that time under the protection of the Venetians; and the armies of Italy, especially those of which he could have availed himself, were in the hands of men who had cause to fear the power of the Pope, namely the Orsini, the Colonna [two noble Roman families] and their adherents; and therefore he could not rely upon them.

It became necessary therefore for Alexander to disturb the existing order of things, and to disorganise those states, in order to make himself safely master of them. And this it was easy for him to do; for he found the Venetians, influenced by other reasons, favourable to the return of the French into Italy; which not only he did not oppose, but facilitated by dissolving the former marriage of King Louis XII (so as to enable him to marry Ann of Brittany). The king thereupon entered Italy with the aid of the Venetians and the consent of Alexander; and no sooner was he in Milan than the Pope obtained troops from him to aid in the conquest of the Romagna, which was yielded to him through the influence of the king.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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