The Prince, written by Niccolo Machiavelli, is a series of letters of advice to future rulers. Machiavelli discussed many topics and choices in The Prince, all having to do with being a successful prince. The main topic, however, was the ultimate goal of the prince; to rule successfully and have a peaceful, prosperous kingdom. How to reach this can be determined through Machiavelli’s explanation of warfare, proper etiquette of the prince, and the prince’s ideal situation.
“A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his studies, than war and its rules and discipline…” (Ch. XIV) Machiavelli stressed throughout The Prince that a strong army is required in order to rule a powerful kingdom successfully. “The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws.” (Ch. XII) Machiavelli believed that warcraft and statecraft are intertwined; because war can be avoided by suppressing disorder among the kingdom. “And whoever shall fortify his town well … will never be attacked with great caution…” (Ch. X) Princes should aim to keep an army of both size and strength, but also maintain defenses and fortifications to intimidate those who are looking to attack.
Machiavelli also offered advice for those in war. He stated that war cannot be escaped, only postponed; which would only give the enemy an advantage. And when under attack, the prince should spark patriotism and a will to fight in his citizens. They will then stay with the prince, which will leave him with more love from his subjects. The prince needs to inspire his people to stay loyal.
Although Machiavelli put much importance on the art of war, he explained that there are limits as to being excessively aggressive. “Yet it cannot be called talent to slay fellow citizens, to deceive friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; such methods may gain empire, but not glory.” (Ch. VIII) Princes that come to power through evil means will not be victorious in the long run. When a prince is overly aggressive or gains power by doing bad things, it compromises the most effective fighting force; his army. Subjects won’t appreciate or trust the king, causing internal problems. The army may be strong, but they will only fight each other if there are internal problems in the kingdom.
The type of army a prince has also affects how successful his reign will be. Machiavelli prefers that a prince uses his own troops rather than mercenaries or auxiliary troops. Machiavelli regarded to the mercenaries and auxiliaries as “useless and dangerous… disunited, ambitious, and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, and cowardly before men.” (Ch. XII) These types of armies may also compromise the fighting force; Machiavelli used Italy as an example. Their mercenaries were too concerned with their own status instead of accomplishing military objectives. This resulted in the degrading of Italy’s political and military might.
The behavior of the prince is very important to his success. “..I say that all men they are spoken of… are remarkable for some of those qualities which bring either blame or praise; and thus it is that one is reputed liberal, another miserly; one is reputed generous, one rapacious; one compassionate; one faithless; another faithful; one effeminate and cowardly, another bold and brave; one affable, another haughty; one lascivious, another chaste; one hard, another easy; one grave, another frivolous; one religious, another unbelieving, and the like.” (Ch. XV) The prince will be judged, but it is unrealistic to hold every bad quality against him. It is better to be an ungenerous prince rather than a generous one. “Nevertheless, liberality exercised in a way that does not bring you the reputation for it, injures…