Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXIV.: fortresses are generally more injurious than useful. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 2 (The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Thoughts of a Statesman)
CHAPTER XXIV.: fortresses are generally more injurious than useful. - 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.
fortresses are generally more injurious than useful.
It may perhaps seem to the learned men of our time that the Romans acted without proper consideration when, in their desire to make sure of the people of Latium and of the city of Privernum, they did not build some fortresses there to serve as a check, and as a guaranty of their fidelity; especially as it is a general saying of our wiseacres in Florence that Pisa and other similar cities should be held by citadels. Doubtless, if the Romans had been of the same composition, they would have constructed fortresses; but as they were men of very different courage, judgment, and power, they did not build them. And so long as Rome was free, and adhered to her old customs and admirable constitution, they never built fortresses to hold either cities or countries which they had conquered, although they preserved some of the strong places which they found already existing. Seeing, then, the mode of proceeding of the Romans in this respect, and that of the princes of our present time, it seems to me proper to examine whether it is well to build fortresses, and whether they are of benefit or injury to him who builds them. We must consider, then, the object of fortresses, with reference to their serving as a means of defence against a foreign enemy as well as against one’s own subjects.
In the first case, I maintain they are unnecessary, and in the second decidedly injurious. I will begin by explaining why they are injurious in the second case, and therefore say that whenever either princes or republics are afraid lest their subjects should revolt, it results mainly from the hatred of the subjects on account of the bad treatment experienced from those who govern them; and this comes either from the belief that they can best be controlled by force, or from lack of sound judgment in governing them. And one of the things that induce the belief that they can be controlled by force is the possession of fortresses with which to menace them; and thus the ill treatment that engenders hatred in the subjects arises in great measure from the fact that the prince or republic hold the fortresses, which (if this be true) are therefore by far more injurious than useful. For in the first instance (as has been said) they cause you to be more violent and audacious towards your subjects; and next, they do not afford the security which you imagine; for all the measures of force and violence that you employ to hold a people amount to nothing, except these two: either you must keep a good army always ready to take the field, as the Romans did; or you must scatter, disorganize, and destroy the people so completely that they can in no way injure you; for, were you merely to improverish them, “the spoliated still have their arms”; if you disarm them, “their fury will serve them instead of arms”; if you kill the chiefs and continue to oppress the others, new chiefs will spring up like the heads of the Hydra. If you build fortresses they may serve in time of peace to encourage you to oppress your subjects; but in time of war they are most useless, because they will be assailed by the enemy as well as by your subjects, and cannot possibly resist both. And if ever they were useless, it is now in our day, on account of the power of artillery, in consequence of which small places, where you cannot retreat behind second intrenchments, cannot possibly be defended, as has been explained above.
I will discuss this subject in a more familiar manner. Prince or republic, you would either keep the people of your own city in check by means of fortresses, or you wish to hold a city that has been taken in war. I shall turn to the prince, and say to him that “nothing can be more useless than such a fortress for keeping your own citizens in check, for the reasons given above; for it will make you more prompt and regardless in oppressing them, which will expose you to ruin by exciting your subjects against you to that degree that you will not be able to defend the very citadel that has provoked it.” A good and wise prince, desirous of maintaining that character, and to avoid giving the opportunity to his sons to become oppressive, will never build fortresses, so that they may place their reliance upon the good will of their subjects, and not upon the strength of citadels. And although Count Francesco Sforza, who had become Duke of Milan, and was reputed a sagacious man, caused a citadel to be built at Milan, yet I maintain that in that respect he did not prove himself wise, for the result demonstrated that that citadel, so far from giving security to his heirs, proved their ruin; for in the belief that, being perfectly secure by the protection which this citadel afforded, they might with impunity outrage and oppress their citizens, they indulged in all sorts of violence, which made them so odious that they lost their state at the first attack of an enemy; and the citadel, which during peace had done them so much harm, was of no service in defending them in war. For if they had not had it, and had not unwisely treated their citizens so harshly, they would sooner have discovered their danger, and would have retreated; and would then have been able to resist the impetuous assault of the French more bravely without the citadel, but supported by the good will of their people, than with the citadel and the hostility of their people.
In truth, fortresses are of no advantage to you in any way, for they are lost either by the treachery of those who are put to guard them, or by the violence of the assailants, or by famine. And if you want to have any benefit from fortresses, and have them serve you in recovering the state that you may have lost, when the only thing that remains to you is the citadel, you must have an army with which you can attack the enemy that has dispossessed you of your state; and if you have such an army you would recover your state anyhow, even if there were no such citadel, — in fact, even more easily, for the people would be more friendly to you, because they would not have received bad treatment at your hands when you were relying upon your fortress. And experience has shown that the citadel of Milan was of no use, either to the Sforzas or to the French, in times of adversity for either the one or the other; but that it rather wrought harm and ruin to both, because in consequence of their reliance upon it they gave no thought to holding that state by means of more just and proper government. Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino, son of Frederick, who in his day was esteemed one of the most distinguished captains, was driven from his state by Cesar Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI. When afterwards in the course of events he regained his possessions, he caused all the fortresses in the state to be destroyed, because he believed them to be injurious. For, being beloved by his subjects, he did not need them on their account, and with regard to his enemies, he had seen that he could not hold them without an army in the field, and therefore he resolved to destroy them. Pope Julius II., after having driven the Bentivogli out of Bologna, built a citadel there, and then caused one of his governors to have some of the people assassinated. This caused a revolt, and the Pope quickly lost the citadel; so that it proved to have been of no use to him, but rather an injury, the more so as it might have been of some service had he borne himself differently towards the people. Niccolo da Castello, father of the Vitelli, having returned to his country whence he had been exiled, promptly razed two fortresses that had been built by Sixtus IV., deeming that it was only the good will of the people, and not the fortresses, that could maintain him in that state. But the most recent and most notable instance, and the one most fit to prove the futility of building and the advantage of destroying fortresses, is that which occurred at Genoa in our immediate time. It is well known that in 1507 Genoa revolted against Louis XII., king of France, who came with all his forces to recover that city, and, having succeeded in this, he caused the construction of the most formidable citadel that had ever been built; for owing to its situation and other circumstances, it seemed actually impregnable, being placed upon the point of a high hill that extended into the sea, called by the Genoese Codefa, and thus commanding the entire port of Genoa, and a considerable portion of the surrounding country. It happened afterwards, in the year 1512, that the French, being driven out of Italy, Genoa revolted in spite of the citadel (which remained in the hands of the French). The government was seized by Ottaviano Fregoso, who, after sixteen months of great effort, took the city by famine. Every one believed, and many advised, that he would preserve the citadel as a refuge in any event; but being a very sagacious man, and knowing that it was the good will of the people, and not fortresses, that maintain princes in their states, he had the citadel destroyed. And thus, instead of founding his state upon the strength of the fortress, but upon his valor and prudence, he has held it ever since to this day. And where formerly a thousand foot soldiers sufficed to overturn the government of Genoa, more than ten thousand could not now injure him; which shows that the destruction of the citadel did no more injure Ottaviano than the building of it protected the king of France; for when the latter was able to come into Italy at the head of an army, he recovered Genoa without the aid of a citadel; but without such an army he could not hold Genoa, although he had the support of a citadel, the building of which caused him great expense and its loss much disgrace, whilst to Ottaviano the taking of it brought much glory and its destruction great advantage.
But let us come now to republics that build fortresses, not within their own territory, but in that which they conquer. And if the example of France and Genoa does not suffice to expose the fallacy of this, the case of Florence and Pisa certainly will; for the Florentines built a citadel to hold that city, ignorant of the principle that to hold a city that had always hated everything that bore the name of Florentine, that had enjoyed free institutions, and that had resorted to rebellion as a refuge for liberty, it was necessary to follow the practice of the old Romans, either to convert her into an ally and associate, or to destroy her entirely. How much reliance can be placed upon fortresses was shown when King Charles came into Italy, to whom they all surrendered, either through the treachery of their governors, or from fear of a worse fate. If there had been no citadel the Florentines would not have based their hopes of holding Pisa upon this means, and the king of France never would have been able in that way to deprive the Florentines of that city. The means which they in that case would have employed to hold Pisa until then, would perhaps have sufficed to preserve it altogether, and certainly would have stood the test better than the citadel.
I conclude, then, that to hold one’s own country fortresses are injurious, and to hold conquered territory they are useless. The authority of the Romans is enough for me: they razed the strong places in the countries which they wished to hold, and never built any new ones. And if the example of Tarentum in ancient times, and that of Brescia in modern times, be quoted in opposition to my opinion, both of which places were recovered from their revolted inhabitants by means of their citadels, I reply, that for the recovery of Tarentum Fabius Maximus was sent at the beginning of the year with the entire army, and he would have succeeded in retaking that city independent of the citadel, although he made use of it; for if the citadel had not existed, he would have found other means of accomplishing the same end. And truly I do not see of what sort of advantage a fortress can be, if to recover possession of your country it is necessary to send a consular army with a Fabius Maximus to command it. That the Romans would have retaken Tarentum anyhow is proved by the example of Capua, where there was no citadel, and which they recovered by the mere valor of their army. But let us come to Brescia. I say that it rarely happens, as it did in this case, that when a city revolts, and whilst the citadel remains in your hands, you should have a powerful army near at hand, like that of the French; for Gaston de Foix was with his army at Bologna, and the moment he heard of the loss of Brescia he marched his army there, and, having arrived, recovered the place by means of the citadel. But the citadel of Brescia to be thus of service needed a Gaston de Foix with the French army to come to its support within three days. Thus this example does not suffice to controvert the instances I have adduced; for a number of fortresses have been taken and retaken in the wars of our times, according as the one or the other party were the stronger or the weaker in the field; not only in Lombardy, but also in the Romagna, in the kingdom of Naples, and in fact throughout all Italy. But as to the building of fortresses for defence against foreign enemies, I say that they are not needed by those peoples or kingdoms that have good armies; for good armies suffice for their defence without fortresses, but fortresses without good armies are incompetent for defence. Experience proves this to be the case with those who manage their government and other affairs well, as was the case with the Romans and Spartans; for whilst the Romans built no fortresses, the Spartans not only refrained from doing so, but even did not permit their city to be protected by walls, for they wanted to rely solely upon the valor of their men for their defence, and upon no other means. And therefore when a Spartan was asked by an Athenian whether he did not think the walls of Athens admirable, he replied, “Yes, if the city were inhabited by women.”
The prince, then, who has a good army, may have upon his frontiers, or on the sea, some fortresses that may for some days hold an enemy in check, to enable the prince to gather his forces; such fortresses may occasionally be useful to him, but not necessary. But when the prince has not a good army, then fortresses whether within his territory or upon the frontiers are either injurious or useless to him; injurious, because they are easily lost, and when lost are turned against him; and even if they are so strong that the enemy cannot take them, he will march by with his army and leave them in the rear; and thus they are of no benefit, for good armies, unless opposed by equally powerful ones, march into the enemy’s country regardless of cities or fortresses, which they leave in their rear. We have many instances of this in ancient history; and Francesco Maria did the same thing quite recently, when, marching to attack Urbino, he left ten hostile cities behind him without paying the least attention to them. A prince then, who can raise a good army, need not build any fortresses; and one who cannot should not build any. It is proper enough that he should fortify the city in which he resides, so as to be able to resist the first shock of an enemy, and to afford himself the time to negotiate, or to obtain aid from without for his relief; but anything more is mere waste of money in time of peace, and useless in time of war. And thus whoever reflects upon all I have said upon the subject will see that the same wisdom which inspired the Romans in all other matters equally guided them in their decisions respecting the Latins and the Privernati, when, instead of relying upon fortresses, they secured the allegiance of these people by wiser and more magnanimous means.