Of auxiliaries, and of mixed and national troops

Auxiliary troops, which are the other kind which I have characterised in the preceding chapter as useless, are such as are furnished by a powerful ally whom a prince calls upon to come with his troops to aid and defend him; as was done quite lately by Pope Julius II, who, having had sad proof of the inefficiency of mercenaries in his attempt upon Ferrara, resorted to auxiliaries, and arranged with Ferdinand of Spain to send his armies to his assistance.

Troops of this kind may be useful and good in themselves, but they are always dangerous for him who calls them to his aid; for if defeated, he remains undone, and if victorious, then he is in their power like a prisoner. And although I could adduce numerous examples of this from ancient history, yet I will here cite that of Pope Julius II, which is still fresh in our minds, and whose conduct in that respect could not well have been more imprudent than what it was. For, wishing to take Ferrara, he placed himself entirely in the hands of a foreigner. Fortunately for him, however, an incident occurred which saved him from the full effect of his bad selection; for his auxiliaries having been defeated at Ravenna, the Swiss suddenly appeared on the field and put the victors to ignominious flight. And thus Julius II escaped becoming prisoner either to his enemies who had fled, or to his auxiliaries; for the enemy's defeat was not due to their assistance, but to that of others.

The Florentines, having no army of their own, and wishing to get possession of Pisa, employed for that purpose ten thousand French troops, and were involved in greater danger by them than they had ever experienced from any other difficulty. The Emperor of Constantinople, by way of resisting the attacks of his neighbours, put ten thousand troops into Greece, who at the termination of the war refused to leave the country again; and this was the beginning of the subjection of Greece to the infidels.

Whoever, then, desires not to be victorious, let him employ auxiliary troops, for they are much more dangerous even than mercenaries. For your ruin is certain with auxiliaries, who are all united in their obedience to another; whilst mercenaries, even after victory, need more time and greater opportunity to injure you, for they are not one homogeneous body, and have been selected by yourself and are in your pay, and their commander being appointed by you, he cannot so quickly gain sufficient influence over these troops to enable him to injure you. In short, with mercenaries the danger lies in their cowardice and bad faith; whilst with auxiliaries their valour constitutes the danger.

A wise prince, therefore, should ever avoid employing either one of them, and should rely exclusively upon his own troops, and should prefer defeat with them rather than victory with the troops of others, with whom no real victory can ever be won. In proof of this, I shall not hesitate again to cite the conduct of Cesare Borgia. This duke entered the Romagna with auxiliaries, taking there only French troops, with whom he took Imola and Fourli. But thinking afterwards that these troops were not reliable, he had recourse to mercenaries, whom he deemed less dangerous, and engaged the Orsini and the Vitelli. These, however, proved themselves by their conduct to be uncertain, faithless, and dangerous; and therefore the duke destroyed them, and then relied upon his own troops exclusively. The difference between the one and the other of these troops is easily seen when we look at the reputation of the Duke Valentino at the time when he employed the Orsini and the Vitelli, and when he had none but his own troops; for then his credit increased steadily, and the duke was never more highly esteemed than when every one saw that he was thoroughly master of his armies.

I did not intend to depart from Italian and recent instances, and yet I cannot leave unnoticed the case of Hiero of Syracuse, being one of those to whom I have referred before. Having been made general of the Syracusan army, as before stated, he quickly perceived that mercenary troops were not useful, their commanders being appointed in a similar manner as our Italian condottieri. And as it seemed to Hiero that he could neither keep nor dismiss them with safety, he had them all put to death and cut to pieces, and thenceforth carried on the war exclusively with troops of his own.

I will also recall to memory an illustration from the Old Testament applicable to this subject. David having offered to go and fight the Philistine bully, Goliath, Saul, by way of encouraging David, gave him his own arms and armour, which David however declined, after having tried them, saying that he could not make

  By PanEris using Melati.

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