Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XII.: of the different kinds of troops, and of mercenaries. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 2 (The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Thoughts of a Statesman)
CHAPTER XII.: of the different kinds of troops, and of mercenaries. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 2 (The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Thoughts of a Statesman) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 2.
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- The Prince.
- Niccolo Machiavelli to the Magnificent Lorenzo, Son of Piero De’ Medici.
- Chapter I.: How Many Kinds of Principalities There Are, and In What Manner They Are Acquired.
- Chapter II.: Of Hereditary Principalities.
- Chapter III.: Of Mixed Principalities.
- Chapter IV.: Why the Kingdom of Darius, Which Was Conquered By Alexander, Did Not Revolt Against the Successors of Alexander After His Death.
- Chapter V.: How Cities Or Principalities Are to Be Governed That Previous to Being Conquered Had Lived Under Their Own Laws.
- Chapter VI.: Of New Principalities That Have Been Acquired By the Valor of the Prince and By His Own Troops.
- Chapter VII.: Of New Principalities That Have Been Acquired By the Aid of Others and By Good Fortune.
- Chapter VIII.: Of Such As Have Achieved Sovereignty By Means of Crimes.
- Chapter IX.: Of Civil Principalities.
- Chapter X.: In What Manner the Power of All Principalities Should Be Measured.
- Chapter XI.: Of Ecclesiastical Principalities.
- Chapter XII.: Of the Different Kinds of Troops, and of Mercenaries.
- Chapter XIII.: Of Auxiliaries, and of Mixed and National Troops.
- Chapter XIV.: Of the Duties of a Prince In Relation to Military Matters.
- Chapter XV.: Of the Means By Which Men, and Especially Princes, Win Applause, Or Incur Censure.
- Chapter XVI.: Of Liberality and Parsimoniousness.
- Chapter XVII.: Of Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than Feared.
- Chapter XVIII.: In What Manner Princes Should Keep Their Faith.
- Chapter XIX.: A Prince Must Avoid Being Contemned and Hated.
- Chapter XX.: Whether the Erection of Fortresses, and Many Other Things Which Princes Often Do, Are Useful, Or Injurious.
- Chapter XXI.: How Princes Should Conduct Themselves to Acquire a Reputation.
- Chapter XXII.: Of the Ministers of Princes.
- Chapter XXIII.: How to Avoid Flatterers.
- Chapter XXIV.: The Reason Why the Princes of Italy Have Lost Their States.
- Chapter XXV.: Of the Influence of Fortune In Human Affairs, and How It May Be Counteracted.
- Chapter XXVI.: Exhortation to Deliver Italy From Foreign Barbarians.
- Discourses On the First Ten Books of Titus Livius.
- Niccolo Machiavelli to Zanobi Buondelmonte and Cosimo Rucellai, Greeting.
- First Book.
- Chapter I.: Of the Beginning of Cities In General, and Especially That of the City of Rome.
- Chapter II.: Of the Different Kinds of Republics, and of What Kind the Roman Republic Was.
- Chapter III.: Of the Events That Caused the Creation of Tribunes In Rome; Which Made the Republic More Perfect.
- Chapter IV.: The Disunion of the Senate and the People Renders the Republic of Rome Powerful and Free.
- Chapter V.: To Whom Can the Guardianship of Liberty More Safely Be Confided, to the Nobles Or to the People? and Which of the Two Have Most Cause For Creating Disturbances, Those Who Wish to Acquire, Or Those Who Desire to Conserve?
- Chapter VI.: Whether It Was Possible to Establish In Rome a Government Capable of Putting an End to the Enmities Existing Between the Nobles and the People.
- Chapter VII.: Showing How Necessary the Faculty of Accusation Is In a Republic For the Maintenance of Liberty.
- Chapter VIII.: In Proportion As Accusations Are Useful In a Republic, So Are Calumnies Pernicious.
- Chapter IX.: To Found a New Republic, Or to Reform Entirely the Old Institutions of an Existing One, Must Be the Work of One Man Only.
- Chapter X.: In Proportion As the Founders of a Republic Or Monarchy Are Entitled to Praise, So Do the Founders of a Tyranny Deserve Execration.
- Chapter XI.: Of the Religion of the Romans.
- Chapter XII.: The Importance of Giving Religion a Prominent Influence In a State, and How Italy Was Ruined Because She Failed In This Respect Through the Conduct of the Church of Rome.
- Chapter XIII.: How the Romans Availed of Religion to Preserve Order In Their City, and to Carry Out Their Enterprises and Suppress Disturbances.
- Chapter XIV.: The Romans Interpreted the Auspices According to Necessity, and Very Wisely Made Show of Observing Religion, Even When They Were Obliged In Reality to Disregard It; and If Any One Recklessly Disparaged It, He Was Punished.
- Chapter XV.: How the Samnites Resorted to Religion As an Extreme Remedy For Their Desperate Condition.
- Chapter XVI.: A People That Has Been Accustomed to Live Under a Prince Preserves Its Liberties With Difficulty, If By Accident It Has Become Free.
- Chapter XVII.: A Corrupt People That Becomes Free Can With Greatest Difficulty Maintain Its Liberty.
- Chapter XVIII.: How In a Corrupt State a Free Government May Be Maintained, Assuming That One Exists There Already; and How It Could Be Introduced, If None Had Previously Existed.
- Chapter XIX.: If an Able and Vigorous Prince Is Succeeded By a Feeble One, the Latter May For a Time Be Able to Maintain Himself; But If His Successor Be Also Weak, Then the Latter Will Not Be Able to Preserve His State.
- Chapter XX.: Two Continuous Successions of Able and Virtuous Princes Will Achieve Great Results; and As Well-constituted Republics Have, In the Nature of Things, a Succession of Virtuous Rulers, Their Acquisitions and Extension Will Consequently Be Very G
- Chapter XXI.: Princes and Republics Who Fail to Have National Armies Are Much to Be Blamed.
- Chapter XXII.: What We Should Note In the Case of the Three Roman Horatii and the Alban Curatii.
- Chapter XXIII.: One Should Never Risk One’s Whole Fortune Unless Supported By One’s Entire Forces, and Therefore the Mere Guarding of Passes Is Often Dangerous.
- Chapter XXIV.: Well-ordered Republics Establish Punishments and Rewards For Their Citizens, But Never Set Off One Against the Other.
- Chapter XXV.: Whoever Wishes to Reform an Existing Government In a Free State Should At Least Preserve the Semblance of the Old Forms.
- Chapter XXVI.: A New Prince In a City Or Province Conquered By Him Should Organize Everything Anew.
- Chapter XXVII.: Showing That Men Are Very Rarely Either Entirely Good Or Entirely Bad.
- Chapter XXVIII.: Why Rome Was Less Ungrateful to Her Citizens Than Athens.
- Chapter XXIX.: Which of the Two Is Most Ungrateful, a People Or a Prince.
- Chapter XXX.: How Princes and Republics Should Act to Avoid the Vice of Ingratitude, and How a Commander Or a Citizen Should Act So As Not to Expose Himself to It.
- Chapter XXXI.: Showing That the Roman Generals Were Never Severely Punished For Any Faults They Committed, Not Even When By Their Ignorance and Unfortunate Operations They Occasioned Serious Losses to the Republic.
- Chapter XXXII.: A Republic Or a Prince Should Not Defer Securing the Good Will of the People Until They Are Themselves In Difficulties.
- Chapter XXXIII.: When an Evil Has Sprung Up Within a State, Or Come Upon It From Without, It Is Safer to Temporize With It Rather Than to Attack It Violently.
- Chapter XXXIV.: The Authority of the Dictatorship Has Always Proved Beneficial to Rome, and Never Injurious; It Is the Authority Which Men Usurp, and Not That Which Is Given Them By the Free Suffrages of Their Fellow-citizens, That Is Dangerous to Civil L
- Chapter XXXV.: The Reason Why the Creation of Decemvirs In Rome Was Injurious to Liberty, Notwithstanding That They Were Created By the Free Suffrages of the People.
- Chapter XXXVI.: Citizens Who Have Been Honored With the Higher Offices Should Not Disdain Less Important Ones.
- Chapter XXXVII.: What Troubles Resulted In Rome From the Enactment of the Agrarian Law, and How Very Wrong It Is to Make Laws That Are Retrospective and Contrary to Old Established Customs.
- Chapter XXXVIII.: Feeble Republics Are Irresolute, and Know Not How to Take a Decided Part; and Whenever They Do, It Is More the Result of Necessity Than of Choice.
- Chapter XXXIX.: The Same Accidents Often Happen to Different Peoples.
- Chapter Xl.: of the Creation of the Decemvirs In Rome, and What Is Noteworthy In It; and Where We Shall Consider Amongst Many Other Things How the Same Accidents May Save Or Ruin a Republic.
- Chapter Xli.: It Is Imprudent and Unprofitable Suddenly to Change From Humility to Pride, and From Gentleness to Cruelty.
- Chapter Xlii.: How Easily Men May Be Corrupted.
- Chapter Xliii.: Those Only Who Combat For Their Own Glory Are Good and Loyal Soldiers.
- Chapter Xliv.: a Multitude Without a Chief Is Useless; and It Is Not Well to Threaten Before Having the Power to Act.
- Chapter Xlv.: It Is a Bad Example Not to Observe the Laws, Especially On the Part of Those Who Have Made Them; and It Is Dangerous For Those Who Govern Cities to Harass the People With Constant Wrongs.
- Chapter Xlvi.: Men Rise From One Ambition to Another: First, They Seek to Secure Themselves Against Attack, and Then They Attack Others.
- Chapter Xlvii.: Although Men Are Apt to Deceive Themselves In General Matters, Yet They Rarely Do So In Particulars.
- Chapter Xlviii.: One of the Means of Preventing an Important Magistracy From Being Conferred Upon a Vile and Wicked Individual Is to Have It Applied For By One Still More Vile and Wicked, Or By the Most Noble and Deserving In the State.
- Chapter Xlix.: If Cities Which From Their Beginning Have Enjoyed Liberty, Like Rome, Have Found Difficulties In Devising Laws That Would Preserve Their Liberties, Those That Have Had Their Origin In Servitude Find It Impossible to Succeed In Making Such L
- Chapter L.: No Council Or Magistrate Should Have It In Their Power to Stop the Public Business of a City.
- Chapter Li.: a Republic Or a Prince Must Feign to Do of Their Own Liberality That to Which Necessity Compels Them.
- Chapter Lii.: There Is No Surer and Less Objectionable Mode of Repressing the Insolence of an Individual Ambitious of Power, Who Arises In a Republic, Than to Forestall Him In the Ways By Which He Expects to Arrive At That Power.
- Chapter Liii.: How By the Delusions of Seeming Good the People Are Often Misled to Desire Their Own Ruin; and How They Are Frequently Influenced By Great Hopes and Brave Promises.
- Chapter Liv.: How Much Influence a Great Man Has In Restraining an Excited Multitude.
- Chapter Lv.: Public Affairs Are Easily Managed In a City Where the Body of the People Is Not Corrupt; and Where Equality Exists, There No Principality Can Be Established; Nor Can a Republic Be Established Where There Is No Equality.
- Chapter Lvi.: the Occurrence of Important Events In Any City Or Country Is Generally Preceded By Signs and Portents, Or By Men Who Predict Them.
- Chapter Lvii.: the People As a Body Are Courageous, But Individually They Are Cowardly and Feeble.
- Chapter Lviii.: the People Are Wiser and More Constant Than Princes.
- Chapter Lix.: Leagues and Alliances With Republics Are More to Be Trusted Than Those With Princes.
- Chapter Lx.: How the Consulates and Some Other Magistracies Were Bestowed In Rome Without Regard to the Age of Persons.
- Second Book.
- Chapter I.: The Greatness of the Romans Was Due More to Their Valor and Ability Than to Good Fortune.
- Chapter II.: What Nations the Romans Had to Contend Against, and With What Obstinacy They Defended Their Liberty.
- Chapter III.: Rome Became Great By Ruining Her Neighboring Cities, and By Freely Admitting Strangers to Her Privileges and Honors.
- Chapter IV.: The Ancient Republics Employed Three Different Methods For Aggrandizing Themselves.
- Chapter V.: The Changes of Religion and of Languages, Together With the Occurrence of Deluges and Pestilences, Destroy the Record of Things.
- Chapter VI.: Of the Manner In Which the Romans Conducted Their Wars.
- Chapter VII.: How Much Land the Romans Allowed to Each Colonist.
- Chapter VIII.: The Reasons Why People Leave Their Own Country to Spread Over Others.
- Chapter IX.: What the Causes Are That Most Frequently Provoke War Between Sovereigns.
- Chapter X.: Money Is Not the Sinews of War, Although It Is Generally So Considered.
- Chapter XI.: It Is Not Wise to Form an Alliance With a Prince That Has More Reputation Than Power.
- Chapter XII.: Whether It Is Better, When Apprehending an Attack, to Await It At Home, Or to Carry the War Into the Enemy’s Country.
- Chapter XIII.: Cunning and Deceit Will Serve a Man Better Than Force to Rise From a Base Condition to Great Fortune.
- Chapter XIV.: Men Often Deceive Themselves In Believing That By Humility They Can Overcome Insolence.
- Chapter XV.: Feeble States Are Always Undecided In Their Resolves; and Slow Resolves Are Invariably Injurious.
- Chapter XVI.: Wherein the Military System Differs From That of the Ancients.
- Chapter XVII.: Of the Value of Artillery to Modern Armies, and Whether the General Opinion Respecting It Is Correct.
- Chapter XVIII.: According to the Authority of the Romans and the Example of Ancient Armies We Should Value Infantry More Than Cavalry.
- Chapter XIX.: Conquests Made By Republics That Are Not Well Constituted, and Do Not Follow In Their Conduct the Example of the Romans, Are More Conducive to Their Ruin Than to Their Advancement.
- Chapter XX.: Of the Dangers to Which Princes and Republics Are Exposed That Employ Auxiliary Or Mercenary Troops.
- Chapter XXI.: The First Prætor Sent By the Romans Anywhere Was to Capua, Four Hundred Years After They Began to Make War Upon That City.
- Chapter XXII.: How Often the Judgments of Men In Important Matters Are Erroneous.
- Chapter XXIII.: How Much the Romans Avoided Half-way Measures When They Had to Decide Upon the Fate of Their Subjects.
- Chapter XXIV.: Fortresses Are Generally More Injurious Than Useful.
- Chapter XXV.: It Is an Error to Take Advantage of the Internal Dissensions of a City, and to Attempt to Take Possession of It Whilst In That Condition.
- Chapter XXVI.: Contempt and Insults Engender Hatred Against Those Who Indulge In Them, Without Being of Any Advantage to Them.
- Chapter XXVII.: Wise Princes and Republics Should Content Themselves With Victory; For When They Aim At More, They Generally Lose.
- Chapter XXVIII.: How Dangerous It Is For a Republic Or a Prince Not to Avenge a Public Or a Private Injury.
- Chapter XXIX.: Fortune Blinds the Minds of Men When She Does Not Wish Them to Oppose Her Designs.
- Chapter XXX.: Republics and Princes That Are Really Powerful Do Not Purchase Alliances By Money, But By Their Valor and the Reputation of Their Armies.
- Chapter XXXI.: How Dangerous It Is to Trust to the Representations of Exiles.
- Chapter XXXII.: Of the Method Practised By the Romans In Taking Cities.
- Chapter XXXIII.: The Romans Left the Commanders of Their Armies Entirely Uncontrolled In Their Operations.
- Third Book.
- Chapter I.: To Insure a Long Existence to Religious Sects Or Republics, It Is Necessary Frequently to Bring Them Back to Their Original Principles.
- Chapter II.: It May At Times Be the Highest Wisdom to Simulate Folly.
- Chapter III.: To Preserve the Newly Recovered Liberty In Rome, It Was Necessary That the Sons of Brutus Should Have Been Executed.
- Chapter IV.: A Prince Cannot Live Securely In a State So Long As Those Live Whom He Has Deprived of It.
- Chapter V.: Of the Causes That Make a King Lose the Throne Which He Has Inherited.
- Chapter VI.: Of Conspiracies.
- Chapter VII.: The Reasons Why the Transitions From Liberty to Servitude and From Servitude to Liberty Are At Times Effected Without Bloodshed, and At Other Times Are Most Sanguinary.
- Chapter VIII.: Whoever Wishes to Change the Government of a Republic Should First Consider Well Its Existing Condition.
- Chapter IX.: Whoever Desires Constant Success Must Change His Conduct With the Times.
- Chapter X.: A General Cannot Avoid a Battle When the Enemy Is Resolved Upon It At All Hazards.
- Chapter XI.: Whoever Has to Contend Against Many Enemies May Nevertheless Overcome Them, Though He Be Inferior In Power, Provided He Is Able to Resist Their First Efforts.
- Chapter XII.: A Skilful General Should Endeavor By All Means In His Power to Place His Soldiers In the Position of Being Obliged to Fight, and As Far As Possible Relieve the Enemy of Such Necessity.
- Chapter XIII.: Whether an Able Commander With a Feeble Army, Or a Good Army With an Incompetent Commander, Is Most to Be Relied Upon.
- Chapter XIV.: Of the Effect of New Stratagems and Unexpected Cries In the Midst of Battle.
- Chapter XV.: An Army Should Have But One Chief: a Greater Number Is Detrimental.
- Chapter XVI.: In Times of Difficulty Men of Merit Are Sought After, But In Easy Times It Is Not Men of Merit, But Such As Have Riches and Powerful Relations, That Are Most In Favor.
- Chapter XVII.: A Person Who Has Been Offended Should Not Be Intrusted With an Important Administration and Government.
- Chapter XVIII.: Nothing Is More Worthy of the Attention of a Good General Than to Endeavor to Penetrate the Designs of the Enemy.
- Chapter XIX.: Whether Gentle Or Rigorous Measures Are Preferable In Governing the Multitude.
- Chapter XX.: An Act of Humanity Prevailed More With the Faliscians Than All the Power of Rome.
- Chapter XXI.: Why Hannibal By a Course of Conduct the Very Opposite of That of Scipio Yet Achieved the Same Success In Italy As the Latter Did In Spain.
- Chapter XXII.: How Manlius Torquatus By Harshness, and Valerius Corvinus By Gentleness, Acquired Equal Glory.
- Chapter XXIII.: The Reasons Why Camillus Was Banished From Rome.
- Chapter XXIV.: The Prolongation of Military Commands Caused Rome the Loss of Her Liberty.
- Chapter XXV.: Of the Poverty of Cincinnatus, and That of Many Other Roman Citizens.
- Chapter XXVI.: How States Are Ruined On Account of Women.
- Chapter XXVII.: Of the Means For Restoring Union In a City, and of the Common Error Which Supposes That a City Must Be Kept Divided For the Purpose of Preserving Authority.
- Chapter XXVIII.: The Actions of Citizens Should Be Watched, For Often Such As Seem Virtuous Conceal the Beginning of Tyranny.
- Chapter XXIX.: The Faults of the People Spring From the Faults of Their Rulers.
- Chapter XXX.: A Citizen Who Desires to Employ His Authority In a Republic For Some Public Good Must First of All Suppress All Feeling of Envy: and How to Organize the Defence of a City On the Approach of an Enemy.
- Chapter XXXI.: Great Men and Powerful Republics Preserve an Equal Dignity and Courage In Prosperity and Adversity.
- Chapter XXXII.: Of the Means Adopted By Some to Prevent a Peace.
- Chapter XXXIII.: To Insure Victory the Troops Must Have Confidence In Themselves As Well As In Their Commander.
- Chapter XXXIV.: How the Reputation of a Citizen and the Public Voice and Opinion Secure Him Popular Favor; and Whether the People Or Princes Show Most Judgment In the Choice of Magistrates.
- Chapter XXXV.: Of the Danger of Being Prominent In Counselling Any Enterprise, and How That Danger Increases With the Importance of Such Enterprise.
- Chapter XXXVI.: The Reason Why the Gauls Have Been and Are Still Looked Upon At the Beginning of a Combat As More Than Men, and Afterwards As Less Than Women.
- Chapter XXXVII.: Whether Skirmishes Are Necessary Before Coming to a General Action, and How to Know a New Enemy If Skirmishes Are Dispensed With.
- Chapter XXXVIII.: What Qualities a Commander Should Possess to Secure the Confidence of His Army.
- Chapter XXXIX.: A General Should Possess a Perfect Knowledge of the Localities Where He Is Carrying On a War.
- Chapter Xl.: Deceit In the Conduct of a War Is Meritorious.
- Chapter Xli.: One’s Country Must Be Defended, Whether With Glory Or With Shame; It Must Be Defended Anyhow.
- Chapter Xlii.: Promises Exacted By Force Need Not Be Observed.
- Chapter Xliii.: Natives of the Same Country Preserve For All Time the Same Characteristics.
- Chapter Xliv.: Impetuosity and Audacity Often Achieve What Ordinary Means Fail to Attain.
- Chapter Xlv.: Whether It Is Better In Battle to Await the Shock of the Enemy, and Then to Attack Him, Or to Assail Him First With Impetuosity.
- Chapter Xlvi.: the Reasons Why the Same Family In a City Always Preserves the Same Characteristics.
- Chapter Xlvii.: Love of Country Should Make a Good Citizen Forget Private Wrongs.
- Chapter Xlviii.: Any Manifest Error On the Part of an Enemy Should Make Us Suspect Some Stratagem.
- Chapter Xlix.: a Republic That Desires to Maintain Her Liberties Needs Daily Fresh Precautions: It Was By Such Merits That Fabius Obtained the Surname of Maximus.
- Thoughts of a Statesman.
- Prefatory Note.
- Niccolo Machiavelli to His Son Bernardo.
- Chapter I.: Religion.
- Chapter II.: Peace and War.
- Chapter III.: The Admirable Law of Nations Born With Christianity.
- Chapter IV.: Vices That Have Made the Great the Prey of the Small.
- Chapter V.: Laws.
- Chapter VI.: Justice.
- Chapter VII.: Public Charges.
- Chapter VIII.: Of Agriculture, Commerce, Population, Luxury, and Supplies.
- Chapter IX.: The Evils of Idleness.
- Chapter X.: Ill Effects of a Corrupt Government.
- Chapter XI.: Notable Precepts and Maxims.
- Chapter XII.: Beautiful Example of a Good Father of a Family.
- Chapter XIII.: The Good Prince.
- Chapter XIV.: Of the Ministers.
- Chapter XV.: The Tyrant Prince.
- Chapter XVI.: Praise and Safety of the Good Prince, and Infamy and Danger of the Tyrant.
of the different kinds of troops, and of mercenaries.
Having discussed in detail the characteristics of all those kinds of principalities of which I proposed at the outset to treat, and having examined to some extent the causes of their success or failure, and explained the means by which many have sought to acquire and maintain them, it remains for me now to discuss generally the means of offence and defence which such princes may have to employ, under the various circumstances above referred to.
We have said how necessary it is for a prince to lay solid foundations for his power, as without such he would inevitably be ruined. The main foundations which all states must have, whether new, or old, or mixed, are good laws and good armies. And as there can be no good laws where there are not good armies, so the laws will be apt to be good where the armies are so. I will therefore leave the question of the laws, and confine myself to that of the armies. I say, then, that the armies with which a prince defends his state are either his own, or they are mercenaries or auxiliaries, or they are mixed. Mercenary and auxiliary troops are both useless and dangerous; and if any one attempts to found his state upon mercenaries, it will never be stable or secure; for they are disunited, ambitious, and without discipline, — faithless, and braggarts amongst friends, but amongst enemies cowards, and have neither fear of God nor good faith with men; so that the ruin of the prince who depends on them will be deferred only just so long as attack is delayed; and in peace he will be spoliated by his mercenaries, and in war by his enemies. The reason of all this is, that mercenary troops are not influenced by affection, or by any other consideration except their small stipend, which is not enough to make them willing to die for you. They are ready to serve you as soldiers so long as you are at peace; but when war comes, they will either run away or march off. There is no difficulty in demonstrating the truth of this; for the present ruin of Italy can be attributed to nothing else but to the fact that she has for many years depended upon mercenary armies, who for a time had some success, and seemed brave enough amongst themselves, but so soon as a foreign enemy came they showed what stuff they were made of. This was the reason why Charles VIII., king of France, was allowed to take Italy with scarcely an effort, and as it were with merely a piece of chalk. Those who assert that our misfortunes were caused by our own faults speak the truth; but these faults were not such as are generally supposed to have been the cause, but those rather which I have pointed out; and as it was the princes who committed these faults, so they also suffered the penalties.
I will demonstrate more fully the unhappy consequences of employing mercenary armies. Their commanders are either competent, or they are not; if they are, then you cannot trust them, because their chief aim will always be their own aggrandizement, either by imposing upon you, who are their employer, or by oppressing others beyond your intentions; and if they are incompetent, then they will certainly hasten your ruin. If now you meet these remarks by saying that the same will be the case with every commander, whether of mercenary troops or others, I reply, that, inasmuch as armies are employed either by princes or by republics, the prince should always in person perform the duty of commanding his army, and a republic should send one of her own citizens to command her troops, and in case he should not be successful, then they must change him; but if he is victorious, then they must be careful to keep him within the law, so that he may not exceed his powers. Experience has shown that princes as well as republics achieve the greatest success in war when they themselves direct the movements of their own armies, whilst mercenary troops do nothing but damage; and that a republic that has armies of her own is much less easily subjected to servitude by one of her own citizens, than one that depends upon foreign troops.
Thus Rome and Sparta maintained their liberties for many centuries by having armies of their own; the Swiss are most thoroughly armed, and consequently enjoy the greatest independence and liberty. The Carthaginians, on the other hand, furnish an example of the danger of employing mercenaries, for they came very near being subjugated by them at the close of the first war with Rome, although they had appointed some of their own citizens as commanders. After the death of Epaminondas, the Thebans made Philip of Macedon commander of their army, who after having been victorious deprived the Thebans of their liberty. The Milanese, after the death of Duke Philip, employed Francesco Sforza against the Venetians; after having defeated them at Caravaggio, he combined with them to subjugate his employers, the Milanese. The father of Francesco Sforza, who was commander in the service of Queen Joanna of Naples, suddenly left her entirely without troops, in consequence of which she was compelled to throw herself upon the protection of the king of Aragon, to save her kingdom. And if the Venetians and the Florentines formerly extended their dominions by means of mercenaries, and without their commanders attempting to make themselves princes of the country, but rather defending it loyally, I can only say that the Florentines were greatly favored by fortune in that respect. For of the valiant captains whose ambition they might have feared, some were not victorious, some never met an enemy, and others directed their ambition elsewhere. Amongst those who were not victorious was Giovanni Aguto, whose good faith was never put to the test, he having been unsuccessful in the field; although it will be generally admitted that, had he been successful, the Florentines would have been at his mercy. The Sforzas and the Bracceschi were always opposed to each other, which caused Francesco to direct his ambition towards Lombardy, whilst Braccio turned his towards the Church and the kingdom of Naples.
But let us come now to occurrences of more recent date. The Florentines had conferred the command of their troops upon Paolo Vitelli, a soldier of the greatest ability, who had risen from private station to the highest post and reputation. No one will deny that, if he had succeeded in taking Pisa, the Florentines would have been obliged to submit to him; for had he gone over to the enemy, they would have been helpless, and if they kept him they would have been obliged to submit to his terms.
If now we look at the Venetians, we shall find that they carried on their wars securely and gloriously so long as they confined themselves to their proper element, the water, where they conducted their operations most bravely with their nobles and their own people. But when they engaged in wars on land, they no longer acted with their customary bravery, and adopted the habit of the other Italian states of employing mercenary troops. And although at the beginning of the growth of their dominion on land they had no occasion to have any serious apprehensions of their commanders, because their own reputation was great and their possessions on land small, yet when they extended these, which was under the captaincy of Carmignuola, they became sensible of their error. For although they were aware that it was by his superior conduct that they had defeated the Duke of Milan, yet on observing his lukewarmness in the further conduct of the war, they concluded that they could no longer hope for victory under his command. Still they dared not dismiss him for fear of losing what they had gained, and therefore they deemed it necessary for their own security to put him to death.
After that, the Venetians employed as generals of their forces Bartolommeo da Bergamo, Ruberto da San Severino, the Count Pittigliano, and the like, with whom they had reason rather to apprehend losses than to expect successes; as indeed happened afterwards at Vaila, where in one battle they lost what had taken them eight hundred years of great labor to acquire; for with this kind of troops acquisitions are feeble and slow, whilst losses are quick and extraordinary.
Having thus far confined my examples to Italy, which has been for many years controlled by mercenary armies, I will now go back to an earlier period in discussing this subject; so that, having seen the origin and progress of the system, it may be the more effectually corrected. You must know, then, that in the earlier times, so soon as the Roman Empire began to lose its power and credit in Italy, and when the Pope acquired more influence in temporal matters, Italy became subdivided into a number of states. Many of the large cities took up arms against their nobles, who, encouraged by the Emperor, had kept them oppressed. The Church, by way of increasing her own influence in temporal matters, favored this revolt of the cities against their nobles. In many other cities the supreme power was usurped by some of their own citizens, who made themselves princes of the same. Thus it was that Italy, as it were, passed under the dominion of the Church and certain republics. And as these citizens and prelates were not accustomed to the management of armies, they began to hire foreigners for this purpose. The first who brought this sort of military into high repute was Alberigo da Como, a native of the Romagna. It was under his discipline that Braccio and Sforza were trained, and these in turn became the arbiters of Italy. They were succeeded by all those others who up to our time have led the armies of Italy; and the result of all their valor was that she was overrun by the French under Charles VIII., ravaged and plundered by Louis XII., oppressed by Ferdinand of Spain, and insulted and vituperated by the Swiss.
The course which these mercenary leaders pursued for the purpose of giving reputation and credit to their own mounted forces was, first, to decry and destroy the reputation of the infantry of the several states. They did this because, having no territorial possessions of their own, and being mere soldiers of fortune, they could achieve no reputation by means of a small body of infantry, and for a larger force they could not furnish subsistence. And therefore they confined themselves to cavalry, a smaller force of which enabled them the more readily to gain success and credit, and was at the same time more easily subsisted. In this way they brought matters to that point, that in an army of twenty thousand there were not over two thousand infantry.
Moreover, they used all means and ingenuity to avoid exposing themselves and their men to great fatigue and danger, and never killing each other in their encounters, but merely taking prisoners, who were afterwards liberated without ransom. They never make any night attacks when besieging a place, nor did the besieged make any night sorties; they never properly intrenched their camps, and never kept the field in winter. All these practices were permitted by their rules of war, which were devised by them expressly, as we have said, to avoid hardships and danger; so that Italy was brought to shame and slavery by this system of employing mercenary troops.