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The Prince

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by Nicolo Machiavelli

Written c. 1505, published 1515

by Nicolo Machiavelli

Translated by W. K. Marriott

(New Translation by Dr. William Connell is now available,
see home page)



To the Magnificent Lorenzo Di Piero De' Medici:

Those who strive to obtain the good graces of a prince are
accustomed to come before him with such things as they hold most
precious, or in which they see him take most delight; whence one
often sees horses, arms, cloth of gold, precious stones, and
similar ornaments presented to princes, worthy of their greatness.

Desiring therefore to present myself to your Magnificence with
some testimony of my devotion towards you, I have not found among
my possessions anything which I hold more dear than, or value so
much as, the knowledge of the actions of great men, acquired by
long experience in contemporary affairs, and a continual study of
antiquity; which, having reflected upon it with great and
prolonged diligence, I now send, digested into a little volume, to
your Magnificence.

And although I may consider this work unworthy of your
countenance, nevertheless I trust much to your benignity that it
may be acceptable, seeing that it is not possible for me to make a
better gift than to offer you the opportunity of understanding in
the shortest time all that I have learnt in so many years, and
with so many troubles and dangers; which work I have not
embellished with swelling or magnificent words, nor stuffed with
rounded periods, nor with any extrinsic allurements or adornments
whatever, with which so many are accustomed to embellish their
works; for I have wished either that no honour should be given it,
or else that the truth of the matter and the weightiness of the
theme shall make it acceptable.

Nor do I hold with those who regard it as a presumption if a man
of low and humble condition dare to discuss and settle the
concerns of princes; because, just as those who draw landscapes
place themselves below in the plain to contemplate the nature of
the mountains and of lofty places, and in order to contemplate the
plains place themselves upon high mountains, even so to understand
the nature of the people it needs to be a prince, and to
understand that if princes it needs to be of the people.

Take then, your Magnificence, this little gift in the spirit in
which I send it; wherein, if it be diligently read and considered
by you, you will learn my extreme desire that you should attain
that greatness which fortune and your other attributes promise.
And if your Magnificence from the summit of your greatness will
sometimes turn your eyes to these lower regions, you will see how
unmeritedly I suffer a great and continued malignity of fortune.




All states, all powers, that have held and hold rule over men have
been and are either republics or principalities.

Principalities are either hereditary, in which the family has been
long established; or they are new.

The new are either entirely new, as was Milan to Francesco Sforza, or
they are, as it were, members annexed to the hereditary state of the
prince who has acquired them, as was the kingdom of Naples to that of
the King of Spain.

Such dominions thus acquired are either accustomed to live under a
prince, or to live in freedom; and are acquired either by the arms of
the prince himself, or of others, or else by fortune or by ability.



I will leave out all discussion on republics, inasmuch as in another
place I have written of them at length, and will address myself only
to principalities. In doing so I will keep to the order indicated
above, and discuss how such principalities are to be ruled and

I say at once there are fewer difficulties in holding hereditary
states, and those long accustomed to the family of their prince, than
new ones; for it is sufficient only not to transgress the customs of
his ancestors, and to deal prudently with circumstances as they arise,
for a prince of average powers to maintain himself in his state,
unless he be deprived of it by some extraordinary and excessive force;
and if he should be so deprived of it, whenever anything sinister
happens to the usurper, he will regain it.

We have in Italy, for example, the Duke of Ferrara, who could not have
withstood the attacks of the Venetians in '84, nor those of Pope
Julius in '10, unless he had been long established in his dominions.
For the hereditary prince has less cause and less necessity to offend;
hence it happens that he will be more loved; and unless extraordinary
vices cause him to be hated, it is reasonable to expect that his
subjects will be naturally well disposed towards him; and in the
antiquity and duration of his rule the memories and motives that make
for change are lost, for one change always leaves the toothing for



But the difficulties occur in a new principality. And firstly, if it
be not entirely new, but is, as it were, a member of a state which,
taken collectively, may be called composite, the changes arise chiefly
from an inherent difficulty which there is in all new principalities;
for men change their rulers willingly, hoping to better themselves,
and this hope induces them to take up arms against him who rules:
wherein they are deceived, because they afterwards find by experience
they have gone from bad to worse. This follows also on another natural
and common necessity, which always causes a new prince to burden those
who have submitted to him with his soldiery and with infinite other
hardships which he must put upon his new acquisition.

In this way you have enemies in all those whom you have injured in
seizing that principality, and you are not able to keep those friends
who put you there because of your not being able to satisfy them in
the way they expected, and you cannot take strong measures against
them, feeling bound to them. For, although one may be very strong in
armed forces, yet in entering a province one has always need of the
goodwill of the natives.

For these reasons Louis the Twelfth, King of France, quickly occupied
Milan, and as quickly lost it; and to turn him out the first time it
only needed Lodovico's own forces; because those who had opened the
gates to him, finding themselves deceived in their hopes of future
benefit, would not endure the ill-treatment of the new prince. It is
very true that, after acquiring rebellious provinces a second time,
they are not so lightly lost afterwards, because the prince, with
little reluctance, takes the opportunity of the rebellion to punish
the delinquents, to clear out the suspects, and to strengthen himself
in the weakest places. Thus to cause France to lose Milan the first
time it was enough for the Duke Lodovico[*] to raise insurrections on
the borders; but to cause him to lose it a second time it was
necessary to bring the whole world against him, and that his armies
should be defeated and driven out of Italy; which followed from the
causes above mentioned.

[*] Duke Lodovico was Lodovico Moro, a son of Francesco Sforza, who
married Beatrice d'Este. He ruled over Milan from 1494 to 1500,
and died in 1510.

Nevertheless Milan was taken from France both the first and the second
time. The general reasons for the first have been discussed; it
remains to name those for the second, and to see what resources he
had, and what any one in his situation would have had for maintaining
himself more securely in his acquisition than did the King of France.

Now I say that those dominions which, when acquired, are added to an
ancient state by him who acquires them, are either of the same country
and language, or they are not. When they are, it is easier to hold
them, especially when they have not been accustomed to self-
government; and to hold them securely it is enough to have destroyed
the family of the prince who was ruling them; because the two peoples,
preserving in other things the old conditions, and not being unlike in
customs, will live quietly together, as one has seen in Brittany,
Burgundy, Gascony, and Normandy, which have been bound to France for
so long a time: and, although there may be some difference in
language, nevertheless the customs are alike, and the people will
easily be able to get on amongst themselves. He who has annexed them,
if he wishes to hold them, has only to bear in mind two
considerations: the one, that the family of their former lord is
extinguished; the other, that neither their laws nor their taxes are
altered, so that in a very short time they will become entirely one
body with the old principality.

But when states are acquired in a country differing in language,
customs, or laws, there are difficulties, and good fortune and great
energy are needed to hold them, and one of the greatest and most real
helps would be that he who has acquired them should go and reside
there. This would make his position more secure and durable, as it has
made that of the Turk in Greece, who, notwithstanding all the other
measures taken by him for holding that state, if he had not settled
there, would not have been able to keep it. Because, if one is on the
spot, disorders are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy
them; but if one is not at hand, they are heard of only when they are
great, and then one can no longer remedy them. Besides this, the
country is not pillaged by your officials; the subjects are satisfied
by prompt recourse to the prince; thus, wishing to be good, they have
more cause to love him, and wishing to be otherwise, to fear him. He
who would attack that state from the outside must have the utmost
caution; as long as the prince resides there it can only be wrested
from him with the greatest difficulty.

The other and better course is to send colonies to one or two places,
which may be as keys to that state, for it is necessary either to do
this or else to keep there a great number of cavalry and infantry. A
prince does not spend much on colonies, for with little or no expense
he can send them out and keep them there, and he offends a minority
only of the citizens from whom he takes lands and houses to give them
to the new inhabitants; and those whom he offends, remaining poor and
scattered, are never able to injure him; whilst the rest being
uninjured are easily kept quiet, and at the same time are anxious not
to err for fear it should happen to them as it has to those who have
been despoiled. In conclusion, I say that these colonies are not
costly, they are more faithful, they injure less, and the injured, as
has been said, being poor and scattered, cannot hurt. Upon this, one
has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed,
because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more
serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a
man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of

But in maintaining armed men there in place of colonies one spends
much more, having to consume on the garrison all the income from the
state, so that the acquisition turns into a loss, and many more are
exasperated, because the whole state is injured; through the shifting
of the garrison up and down all become acquainted with hardship, and
all become hostile, and they are enemies who, whilst beaten on their
own ground, are yet able to do hurt. For every reason, therefore, such
guards are as useless as a colony is useful.

Again, the prince who holds a country differing in the above respects
ought to make himself the head and defender of his less powerful
neighbours, and to weaken the more powerful amongst them, taking care
that no foreigner as powerful as himself shall, by any accident, get a
footing there; for it will always happen that such a one will be
introduced by those who are discontented, either through excess of
ambition or through fear, as one has seen already. The Romans were
brought into Greece by the Aetolians; and in every other country where
they obtained a footing they were brought in by the inhabitants. And
the usual course of affairs is that, as soon as a powerful foreigner
enters a country, all the subject states are drawn to him, moved by
the hatred which they feel against the ruling power. So that in
respect to those subject states he has not to take any trouble to gain
them over to himself, for the whole of them quickly rally to the state
which he has acquired there. He has only to take care that they do not
get hold of too much power and too much authority, and then with his
own forces, and with their goodwill, he can easily keep down the more
powerful of them, so as to remain entirely master in the country. And
he who does not properly manage this business will soon lose what he
has acquired, and whilst he does hold it he will have endless
difficulties and troubles.

The Romans, in the countries which they annexed, observed closely
these measures; they sent colonies and maintained friendly relations
with[*] the minor powers, without increasing their strength; they kept
down the greater, and did not allow any strong foreign powers to gain
authority. Greece appears to me sufficient for an example. The
Achaeans and Aetolians were kept friendly by them, the kingdom of
Macedonia was humbled, Antiochus was driven out; yet the merits of the
Achaeans and Aetolians never secured for them permission to increase
their power, nor did the persuasions of Philip ever induce the Romans
to be his friends without first humbling him, nor did the influence of
Antiochus make them agree that he should retain any lordship over the
country. Because the Romans did in these instances what all prudent
princes ought to do, who have to regard not only present troubles, but
also future ones, for which they must prepare with every energy,
because, when foreseen, it is easy to remedy them; but if you wait
until they approach, the medicine is no longer in time because the
malady has become incurable; for it happens in this, as the physicians
say it happens in hectic fever, that in the beginning of the malady it
is easy to cure but difficult to detect, but in the course of time,
not having been either detected or treated in the beginning, it
becomes easy to detect but difficult to cure. This it happens in
affairs of state, for when the evils that arise have been foreseen
(which it is only given to a wise man to see), they can be quickly
redressed, but when, through not having been foreseen, they have been
permitted to grow in a way that every one can see them, there is no
longer a remedy. Therefore, the Romans, foreseeing troubles, dealt
with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them come
to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only to
be put off to the advantage of others; moreover they wished to fight
with Philip and Antiochus in Greece so as not to have to do it in
Italy; they could have avoided both, but this they did not wish; nor
did that ever please them which is for ever in the mouths of the wise
ones of our time:--Let us enjoy the benefits of the time--but rather
the benefits of their own valour and prudence, for time drives
everything before it, and is able to bring with it good as well as
evil, and evil as well as good.

[*] See remark in the introduction on the word "intrattenere."

But let us turn to France and inquire whether she has done any of the
things mentioned. I will speak of Louis[*] (and not of Charles[+]) as
the one whose conduct is the better to be observed, he having held
possession of Italy for the longest period; and you will see that he
has done the opposite to those things which ought to be done to retain
a state composed of divers elements.

[*] Louis XII, King of France, "The Father of the People," born 1462,
died 1515.

[+] Charles VIII, King of France, born 1470, died 1498.

King Louis was brought into Italy by the ambition of the Venetians,
who desired to obtain half the state of Lombardy by his intervention.
I will not blame the course taken by the king, because, wishing to get
a foothold in Italy, and having no friends there--seeing rather that
every door was shut to him owing to the conduct of Charles--he was
forced to accept those friendships which he could get, and he would
have succeeded very quickly in his design if in other matters he had
not made some mistakes. The king, however, having acquired Lombardy,
regained at once the authority which Charles had lost: Genoa yielded;
the Florentines became his friends; the Marquess of Mantua, the Duke
of Ferrara, the Bentivogli, my lady of Forli, the Lords of Faenza, of
Pesaro, of Rimini, of Camerino, of Piombino, the Lucchese, the Pisans,
the Sienese--everybody made advances to him to become his friend. Then
could the Venetians realize the rashness of the course taken by them,
which, in order that they might secure two towns in Lombardy, had made
the king master of two-thirds of Italy.

Let any one now consider with that little difficulty the king could
have maintained his position in Italy had he observed the rules above
laid down, and kept all his friends secure and protected; for although
they were numerous they were both weak and timid, some afraid of the
Church, some of the Venetians, and thus they would always have been
forced to stand in with him, and by their means he could easily have
made himself secure against those who remained powerful. But he was no
sooner in Milan than he did the contrary by assisting Pope Alexander
to occupy the Romagna. It never occurred to him that by this action he
was weakening himself, depriving himself of friends and of those who
had thrown themselves into his lap, whilst he aggrandized the Church
by adding much temporal power to the spiritual, thus giving it greater
authority. And having committed this prime error, he was obliged to
follow it up, so much so that, to put an end to the ambition of
Alexander, and to prevent his becoming the master of Tuscany, he was
himself forced to come into Italy.

And as if it were not enough to have aggrandized the Church, and
deprived himself of friends, he, wishing to have the kingdom of
Naples, divides it with the King of Spain, and where he was the prime
arbiter in Italy he takes an associate, so that the ambitious of that
country and the malcontents of his own should have somewhere to
shelter; and whereas he could have left in the kingdom his own
pensioner as king, he drove him out, to put one there who was able to
drive him, Louis, out in turn.

The wish to acquire is in truth very natural and common, and men
always do so when they can, and for this they will be praised not
blamed; but when they cannot do so, yet wish to do so by any means,
then there is folly and blame. Therefore, if France could have
attacked Naples with her own forces she ought to have done so; if she
could not, then she ought not to have divided it. And if the partition
which she made with the Venetians in Lombardy was justified by the
excuse that by it she got a foothold in Italy, this other partition
merited blame, for it had not the excuse of that necessity.

Therefore Louis made these five errors: he destroyed the minor powers,
he increased the strength of one of the greater powers in Italy, he
brought in a foreign power, he did not settle in the country, he did
not send colonies. Which errors, had he lived, were not enough to
injure him had he not made a sixth by taking away their dominions from
the Venetians; because, had he not aggrandized the Church, nor brought
Spain into Italy, it would have been very reasonable and necessary to
humble them; but having first taken these steps, he ought never to
have consented to their ruin, for they, being powerful, would always
have kept off others from designs on Lombardy, to which the Venetians
would never have consented except to become masters themselves there;
also because the others would not wish to take Lombardy from France in
order to give it to the Venetians, and to run counter to both they
would not have had the courage.

And if any one should say: "King Louis yielded the Romagna to
Alexander and the kingdom to Spain to avoid war, I answer for the
reasons given above that a blunder ought never to be perpetrated to
avoid war, because it is not to be avoided, but is only deferred to
your disadvantage. And if another should allege the pledge which the
king had given to the Pope that he would assist him in the enterprise,
in exchange for the dissolution of his marriage[*] and for the cap to
Rouen,[+] to that I reply what I shall write later on concerning the
faith of princes, and how it ought to be kept.

[*] Louis XII divorced his wife, Jeanne, daughter of Louis XI, and
married in 1499 Anne of Brittany, widow of Charles VIII, in order
to retain the Duchy of Brittany for the crown.

[+] The Archbishop of Rouen. He was Georges d'Amboise, created a
cardinal by Alexander VI. Born 1460, died 1510.

Thus King Louis lost Lombardy by not having followed any of the
conditions observed by those who have taken possession of countries
and wished to retain them. Nor is there any miracle in this, but much
that is reasonable and quite natural. And on these matters I spoke at
Nantes with Rouen, when Valentino, as Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope
Alexander, was usually called, occupied the Romagna, and on Cardinal
Rouen observing to me that the Italians did not understand war, I
replied to him that the French did not understand statecraft, meaning
that otherwise they would not have allowed the Church to reach such
greatness. And in fact is has been seen that the greatness of the
Church and of Spain in Italy has been caused by France, and her ruin
may be attributed to them. From this a general rule is drawn which
never or rarely fails: that he who is the cause of another becoming
powerful is ruined; because that predominancy has been brought about
either by astuteness or else by force, and both are distrusted by him
who has been raised to power.



Considering the difficulties which men have had to hold to a newly
acquired state, some might wonder how, seeing that Alexander the Great
became the master of Asia in a few years, and died whilst it was
scarcely settled (whence it might appear reasonable that the whole
empire would have rebelled), nevertheless his successors maintained
themselves, and had to meet no other difficulty than that which arose
among themselves from their own ambitions.

I answer that the principalities of which one has record are found to
be governed in two different ways; either by a prince, with a body of
servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his
favour and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that
dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such
barons have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords
and hold them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by
a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration,
because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as
superior to him, and if they yield obedience to another they do it as
to a minister and official, and they do not bear him any particular

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turk and the
King of France. The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one
lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into
sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and
changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the
midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects,
and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the
king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers
both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the
state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding
it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the kingdom of the Turk
are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the
kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt
of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons
given above; for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only
be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little
advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot
carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who
attacks the Turk must bear in mind that he will find him united, and
he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of
others; but, if once the Turk has been conquered, and routed in the
field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is
nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being
exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no
credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them
before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because
one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom,
for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such
men, for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render
the victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with
infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from
those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated
the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make
themselves the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are
unable either to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost
whenever time brings the opportunity.

Now if you will consider what was the nature of the government of
Darius, you will find it similar to the kingdom of the Turk, and
therefore it was only necessary for Alexander, first to overthrow him
in the field, and then to take the country from him. After which
victory, Darius being killed, the state remained secure to Alexander,
for the above reasons. And if his successors had been united they
would have enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there were no
tumults raised in the kingdom except those they provoked themselves.

But it is impossible to hold with such tranquillity states constituted
like that of France. Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the
Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities
there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them
endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the
power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed
away, and the Romans then became secure possessors. And when fighting
afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself
his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had
assumed there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated,
none other than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered no one will marvel at the ease with
which Alexander held the Empire of Asia, or at the difficulties which
others have had to keep an acquisition, such as Pyrrhus and many more;
this is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the
conqueror, but by the want of uniformity in the subject state.



Whenever those states which have been acquired as stated have been
accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom, there are
three courses for those who wish to hold them: the first is to ruin
them, the next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit
them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing
within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you. Because
such a government, being created by the prince, knows that it cannot
stand without his friendship and interest, and does it utmost to
support him; and therefore he who would keep a city accustomed to
freedom will hold it more easily by the means of its own citizens than
in any other way.

There are, for example, the Spartans and the Romans. The Spartans held
Athens and Thebes, establishing there an oligarchy, nevertheless they
lost them. The Romans, in order to hold Capua, Carthage, and Numantia,
dismantled them, and did not lose them. They wished to hold Greece as
the Spartans held it, making it free and permitting its laws, and did
not succeed. So to hold it they were compelled to dismantle many
cities in the country, for in truth there is no safe way to retain
them otherwise than by ruining them. And he who becomes master of a
city accustomed to freedom and does not destroy it, may expect to be
destroyed by it, for in rebellion it has always the watchword of
liberty and its ancient privileges as a rallying point, which neither
time nor benefits will ever cause it to forget. And whatever you may
do or provide against, they never forget that name or their privileges
unless they are disunited or dispersed, but at every chance they
immediately rally to them, as Pisa after the hundred years she had
been held in bondage by the Florentines.

But when cities or countries are accustomed to live under a prince,
and his family is exterminated, they, being on the one hand accustomed
to obey and on the other hand not having the old prince, cannot agree
in making one from amongst themselves, and they do not know how to
govern themselves. For this reason they are very slow to take up arms,
and a prince can gain them to himself and secure them much more
easily. But in republics there is more vitality, greater hatred, and
more desire for vengeance, which will never permit them to allow the
memory of their former liberty to rest; so that the safest way is to
destroy them or to reside there.



Let no one be surprised if, in speaking of entirely new principalities
as I shall do, I adduce the highest examples both of prince and of
state; because men, walking almost always in paths beaten by others,
and following by imitation their deeds, are yet unable to keep
entirely to the ways of others or attain to the power of those they
imitate. A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great
men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his
ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savour of it. Let him
act like the clever archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet
appears too far distant, and knowing the limits to which the strength
of their bow attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach
by their strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with
the aid of so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach.

I say, therefore, that in entirely new principalities, where there is
a new prince, more or less difficulty is found in keeping them,
accordingly as there is more or less ability in him who has acquired
the state. Now, as the fact of becoming a prince from a private
station presupposes either ability or fortune, it is clear that one or
other of these things will mitigate in some degree many difficulties.
Nevertheless, he who has relied least on fortune is established the
strongest. Further, it facilitates matters when the prince, having no
other state, is compelled to reside there in person.

But to come to those who, by their own ability and not through
fortune, have risen to be princes, I say that Moses, Cyrus, Romulus,
Theseus, and such like are the most excellent examples. And although
one may not discuss Moses, he having been a mere executor of the will
of God, yet he ought to be admired, if only for that favour which made
him worthy to speak with God. But in considering Cyrus and others who
have acquired or founded kingdoms, all will be found admirable; and if
their particular deeds and conduct shall be considered, they will not
be found inferior to those of Moses, although he had so great a
preceptor. And in examining their actions and lives one cannot see
that they owed anything to fortune beyond opportunity, which brought
them the material to mould into the form which seemed best to them.
Without that opportunity their powers of mind would have been
extinguished, and without those powers the opportunity would have come
in vain.

It was necessary, therefore, to Moses that he should find the people
of Israel in Egypt enslaved and oppressed by the Egyptians, in order
that they should be disposed to follow him so as to be delivered out
of bondage. It was necessary that Romulus should not remain in Alba,
and that he should be abandoned at his birth, in order that he should
become King of Rome and founder of the fatherland. It was necessary
that Cyrus should find the Persians discontented with the government
of the Medes, and the Medes soft and effeminate through their long
peace. Theseus could not have shown his ability had he not found the
Athenians dispersed. These opportunities, therefore, made those men
fortunate, and their high ability enabled them to recognize the
opportunity whereby their country was ennobled and made famous.

Those who by valorous ways become princes, like these men, acquire a
principality with difficulty, but they keep it with ease. The
difficulties they have in acquiring it rise in part from the new rules
and methods which they are forced to introduce to establish their
government and its security. And it ought to be remembered that there
is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct,
or more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the
introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for
enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and
lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This
coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws
on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not
readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of
them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the
opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others
defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along
with them.

It is necessary, therefore, if we desire to discuss this matter
thoroughly, to inquire whether these innovators can rely on themselves
or have to depend on others: that is to say, whether, to consummate
their enterprise, have they to use prayers or can they use force? In
the first instance they always succeed badly, and never compass
anything; but when they can rely on themselves and use force, then
they are rarely endangered. Hence it is that all armed prophets have
conquered, and the unarmed ones have been destroyed. Besides the
reasons mentioned, the nature of the people is variable, and whilst it
is easy to persuade them, it is difficult to fix them in that
persuasion. And thus it is necessary to take such measures that, when
they believe no longer, it may be possible to make them believe by

If Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus had been unarmed they could not
have enforced their constitutions for long--as happened in our time to
Fra Girolamo Savonarola, who was ruined with his new order of things
immediately the multitude believed in him no longer, and he had no
means of keeping steadfast those who believed or of making the
unbelievers to believe. Therefore such as these have great
difficulties in consummating their enterprise, for all their dangers
are in the ascent, yet with ability they will overcome them; but when
these are overcome, and those who envied them their success are
exterminated, they will begin to be respected, and they will continue
afterwards powerful, secure, honoured, and happy.

To these great examples I wish to add a lesser one; still it bears
some resemblance to them, and I wish it to suffice me for all of a
like kind: it is Hiero the Syracusan.[*] This man rose from a private
station to be Prince of Syracuse, nor did he, either, owe anything to
fortune but opportunity; for the Syracusans, being oppressed, chose
him for their captain, afterwards he was rewarded by being made their
prince. He was of so great ability, even as a private citizen, that
one who writes of him says he wanted nothing but a kingdom to be a
king. This man abolished the old soldiery, organized the new, gave up
old alliances, made new ones; and as he had his own soldiers and
allies, on such foundations he was able to build any edifice: thus,
whilst he had endured much trouble in acquiring, he had but little in

[*] Hiero II, born about 307 B.C., died 216 B.C.



Those who solely by good fortune become princes from being private
citizens have little trouble in rising, but much in keeping atop; they
have not any difficulties on the way up, because they fly, but they
have many when they reach the summit. Such are those to whom some
state is given either for money or by the favour of him who bestows
it; as happened to many in Greece, in the cities of Ionia and of the
Hellespont, where princes were made by Darius, in order that they
might hold the cities both for his security and his glory; as also
were those emperors who, by the corruption of the soldiers, from being
citizens came to empire. Such stand simply elevated upon the goodwill
and the fortune of him who has elevated them--two most inconstant and
unstable things. Neither have they the knowledge requisite for the
position; because, unless they are men of great worth and ability, it
is not reasonable to expect that they should know how to command,
having always lived in a private condition; besides, they cannot hold
it because they have not forces which they can keep friendly and

States that rise unexpectedly, then, like all other things in nature
which are born and grow rapidly, cannot leave their foundations and
correspondencies[*] fixed in such a way that the first storm will not
overthrow them; unless, as is said, those who unexpectedly become
princes are men of so much ability that they know they have to be
prepared at once to hold that which fortune has thrown into their
laps, and that those foundations, which others have laid BEFORE they
became princes, they must lay AFTERWARDS.

[*] "Le radici e corrispondenze," their roots (i.e. foundations) and
correspondencies or relations with other states--a common meaning
of "correspondence" and "correspondency" in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries.

Concerning these two methods of rising to be a prince by ability or
fortune, I wish to adduce two examples within our own recollection,
and these are Francesco Sforza[*] and Cesare Borgia. Francesco, by
proper means and with great ability, from being a private person rose
to be Duke of Milan, and that which he had acquired with a thousand
anxieties he kept with little trouble. On the other hand, Cesare
Borgia, called by the people Duke Valentino, acquired his state during
the ascendancy of his father, and on its decline he lost it,
notwithstanding that he had taken every measure and done all that
ought to be done by a wise and able man to fix firmly his roots in the
states which the arms and fortunes of others had bestowed on him.

[*] Francesco Sforza, born 1401, died 1466. He married Bianca Maria
Visconti, a natural daughter of Filippo Visconti, the Duke of
Milan, on whose death he procured his own elevation to the duchy.
Machiavelli was the accredited agent of the Florentine Republic to
Cesare Borgia (1478-1507) during the transactions which led up to
the assassinations of the Orsini and Vitelli at Sinigalia, and
along with his letters to his chiefs in Florence he has left an
account, written ten years before "The Prince," of the proceedings
of the duke in his "Descritione del modo tenuto dal duca Valentino
nello ammazzare Vitellozzo Vitelli," etc., a translation of which
is appended to the present work.

Because, as is stated above, he who has not first laid his foundations
may be able with great ability to lay them afterwards, but they will
be laid with trouble to the architect and danger to the building. If,
therefore, all the steps taken by the duke be considered, it will be
seen that he laid solid foundations for his future power, and I do not
consider it superfluous to discuss them, because I do not know what
better precepts to give a new prince than the example of his actions;
and if his dispositions were of no avail, that was not his fault, but
the extraordinary and extreme malignity of fortune.

Alexander the Sixth, in wishing to aggrandize the duke, his son, had
many immediate and prospective difficulties. Firstly, he did not see
his way to make him master of any state that was not a state of the
Church; and if he was willing to rob the Church he knew that the Duke
of Milan and the Venetians would not consent, because Faenza and
Rimini were already under the protection of the Venetians. Besides
this, he saw the arms of Italy, especially those by which he might
have been assisted, in hands that would fear the aggrandizement of the
Pope, namely, the Orsini and the Colonnesi and their following. It
behoved him, therefore, to upset this state of affairs and embroil the
powers, so as to make himself securely master of part of their states.
This was easy for him to do, because he found the Venetians, moved by
other reasons, inclined to bring back the French into Italy; he would
not only not oppose this, but he would render it more easy by
dissolving the former marriage of King Louis. Therefore the king came
into Italy with the assistance of the Venetians and the consent of
Alexander. He was no sooner in Milan than the Pope had soldiers from
him for the attempt on the Romagna, which yielded to him on the
reputation of the king. The duke, therefore, having acquired the
Romagna and beaten the Colonnesi, while wishing to hold that and to
advance further, was hindered by two things: the one, his forces did
not appear loyal to him, the other, the goodwill of France: that is to
say, he feared that the forces of the Orsini, which he was using,
would not stand to him, that not only might they hinder him from
winning more, but might themselves seize what he had won, and that the
king might also do the same. Of the Orsini he had a warning when,
after taking Faenza and attacking Bologna, he saw them go very
unwillingly to that attack. And as to the king, he learned his mind
when he himself, after taking the Duchy of Urbino, attacked Tuscany,
and the king made him desist from that undertaking; hence the duke
decided to depend no more upon the arms and the luck of others.

For the first thing he weakened the Orsini and Colonnesi parties in
Rome, by gaining to himself all their adherents who were gentlemen,
making them his gentlemen, giving them good pay, and, according to
their rank, honouring them with office and command in such a way that
in a few months all attachment to the factions was destroyed and
turned entirely to the duke. After this he awaited an opportunity to
crush the Orsini, having scattered the adherents of the Colonna house.
This came to him soon and he used it well; for the Orsini, perceiving
at length that the aggrandizement of the duke and the Church was ruin
to them, called a meeting of the Magione in Perugia. From this sprung
the rebellion at Urbino and the tumults in the Romagna, with endless
dangers to the duke, all of which he overcame with the help of the
French. Having restored his authority, not to leave it at risk by
trusting either to the French or other outside forces, he had recourse
to his wiles, and he knew so well how to conceal his mind that, by the
mediation of Signor Pagolo--whom the duke did not fail to secure with
all kinds of attention, giving him money, apparel, and horses--the
Orsini were reconciled, so that their simplicity brought them into his
power at Sinigalia.[*] Having exterminated the leaders, and turned
their partisans into his friends, the duke laid sufficiently good
foundations to his power, having all the Romagna and the Duchy of
Urbino; and the people now beginning to appreciate their prosperity,
he gained them all over to himself. And as this point is worthy of
notice, and to be imitated by others, I am not willing to leave it

[*] Sinigalia, 31st December 1502.

When the duke occupied the Romagna he found it under the rule of weak
masters, who rather plundered their subjects than ruled them, and gave
them more cause for disunion than for union, so that the country was
full of robbery, quarrels, and every kind of violence; and so, wishing
to bring back peace and obedience to authority, he considered it
necessary to give it a good governor. Thereupon he promoted Messer
Ramiro d'Orco,[*] a swift and cruel man, to whom he gave the fullest
power. This man in a short time restored peace and unity with the
greatest success. Afterwards the duke considered that it was not
advisable to confer such excessive authority, for he had no doubt but
that he would become odious, so he set up a court of judgment in the
country, under a most excellent president, wherein all cities had
their advocates. And because he knew that the past severity had caused
some hatred against himself, so, to clear himself in the minds of the
people, and gain them entirely to himself, he desired to show that, if
any cruelty had been practised, it had not originated with him, but in
the natural sternness of the minister. Under this pretence he took
Ramiro, and one morning caused him to be executed and left on the
piazza at Cesena with the block and a bloody knife at his side. The
barbarity of this spectacle caused the people to be at once satisfied
and dismayed.

[*] Ramiro d'Orco. Ramiro de Lorqua.

But let us return whence we started. I say that the duke, finding
himself now sufficiently powerful and partly secured from immediate
dangers by having armed himself in his own way, and having in a great
measure crushed those forces in his vicinity that could injure him if
he wished to proceed with his conquest, had next to consider France,
for he knew that the king, who too late was aware of his mistake,
would not support him. And from this time he began to seek new
alliances and to temporize with France in the expedition which she was
making towards the kingdom of Naples against the Spaniards who were
besieging Gaeta. It was his intention to secure himself against them,
and this he would have quickly accomplished had Alexander lived.

Such was his line of action as to present affairs. But as to the
future he had to fear, in the first place, that a new successor to the
Church might not be friendly to him and might seek to take from him
that which Alexander had given him, so he decided to act in four ways.
Firstly, by exterminating the families of those lords whom he had
despoiled, so as to take away that pretext from the Pope. Secondly, by
winning to himself all the gentlemen of Rome, so as to be able to curb
the Pope with their aid, as has been observed. Thirdly, by converting
the college more to himself. Fourthly, by acquiring so much power
before the Pope should die that he could by his own measures resist
the first shock. Of these four things, at the death of Alexander, he
had accomplished three. For he had killed as many of the dispossessed
lords as he could lay hands on, and few had escaped; he had won over
the Roman gentlemen, and he had the most numerous party in the
college. And as to any fresh acquisition, he intended to become master
of Tuscany, for he already possessed Perugia and Piombino, and Pisa
was under his protection. And as he had no longer to study France (for
the French were already driven out of the kingdom of Naples by the
Spaniards, and in this way both were compelled to buy his goodwill),
he pounced down upon Pisa. After this, Lucca and Siena yielded at
once, partly through hatred and partly through fear of the
Florentines; and the Florentines would have had no remedy had he
continued to prosper, as he was prospering the year that Alexander
died, for he had acquired so much power and reputation that he would
have stood by himself, and no longer have depended on the luck and the
forces of others, but solely on his own power and ability.

But Alexander died five years after he had first drawn the sword. He
left the duke with the state of Romagna alone consolidated, with the
rest in the air, between two most powerful hostile armies, and sick
unto death. Yet there were in the duke such boldness and ability, and
he knew so well how men are to be won or lost, and so firm were the
foundations which in so short a time he had laid, that if he had not
had those armies on his back, or if he had been in good health, he
would have overcome all difficulties. And it is seen that his
foundations were good, for the Romagna awaited him for more than a
month. In Rome, although but half alive, he remained secure; and
whilst the Baglioni, the Vitelli, and the Orsini might come to Rome,
they could not effect anything against him. If he could not have made
Pope him whom he wished, at least the one whom he did not wish would
not have been elected. But if he had been in sound health at the death
of Alexander,[*] everything would have been different to him. On the
day that Julius the Second[+] was elected, he told me that he had
thought of everything that might occur at the death of his father, and
had provided a remedy for all, except that he had never anticipated
that, when the death did happen, he himself would be on the point to

[*] Alexander VI died of fever, 18th August 1503.

[+] Julius II was Giuliano della Rovere, Cardinal of San Pietro ad
Vincula, born 1443, died 1513.

When all the actions of the duke are recalled, I do not know how to
blame him, but rather it appears to be, as I have said, that I ought
to offer him for imitation to all those who, by the fortune or the
arms of others, are raised to government. Because he, having a lofty
spirit and far-reaching aims, could not have regulated his conduct
otherwise, and only the shortness of the life of Alexander and his own
sickness frustrated his designs. Therefore, he who considers it
necessary to secure himself in his new principality, to win friends,
to overcome either by force or fraud, to make himself beloved and
feared by the people, to be followed and revered by the soldiers, to
exterminate those who have power or reason to hurt him, to change the
old order of things for new, to be severe and gracious, magnanimous
and liberal, to destroy a disloyal soldiery and to create new, to
maintain friendship with kings and princes in such a way that they
must help him with zeal and offend with caution, cannot find a more
lively example than the actions of this man.

Only can he be blamed for the election of Julius the Second, in whom
he made a bad choice, because, as is said, not being able to elect a
Pope to his own mind, he could have hindered any other from being
elected Pope; and he ought never to have consented to the election of
any cardinal whom he had injured or who had cause to fear him if they
became pontiffs. For men injure either from fear or hatred. Those whom
he had injured, amongst others, were San Pietro ad Vincula, Colonna,
San Giorgio, and Ascanio.[*] The rest, in becoming Pope, had to fear
him, Rouen and the Spaniards excepted; the latter from their
relationship and obligations, the former from his influence, the
kingdom of France having relations with him. Therefore, above
everything, the duke ought to have created a Spaniard Pope, and,
failing him, he ought to have consented to Rouen and not San Pietro ad
Vincula. He who believes that new benefits will cause great personages
to forget old injuries is deceived. Therefore, the duke erred in his
choice, and it was the cause of his ultimate ruin.

[*] San Giorgio is Raffaello Riario. Ascanio is Ascanio Sforza.



Although a prince may rise from a private station in two ways, neither
of which can be entirely attributed to fortune or genius, yet it is
manifest to me that I must not be silent on them, although one could
be more copiously treated when I discuss republics. These methods are
when, either by some wicked or nefarious ways, one ascends to the
principality, or when by the favour of his fellow-citizens a private
person becomes the prince of his country. And speaking of the first
method, it will be illustrated by two examples--one ancient, the other
modern--and without entering further into the subject, I consider
these two examples will suffice those who may be compelled to follow

Agathocles, the Sicilian,[*] became King of Syracuse not only from a
private but from a low and abject position. This man, the son of a
potter, through all the changes in his fortunes always led an infamous
life. Nevertheless, he accompanied his infamies with so much ability
of mind and body that, having devoted himself to the military
profession, he rose through its ranks to be Praetor of Syracuse. Being
established in that position, and having deliberately resolved to make
himself prince and to seize by violence, without obligation to others,
that which had been conceded to him by assent, he came to an
understanding for this purpose with Amilcar, the Carthaginian, who,
with his army, was fighting in Sicily. One morning he assembled the
people and the senate of Syracuse, as if he had to discuss with them
things relating to the Republic, and at a given signal the soldiers
killed all the senators and the richest of the people; these dead, he
seized and held the princedom of that city without any civil
commotion. And although he was twice routed by the Carthaginians, and
ultimately besieged, yet not only was he able to defend his city, but
leaving part of his men for its defence, with the others he attacked
Africa, and in a short time raised the siege of Syracuse. The
Carthaginians, reduced to extreme necessity, were compelled to come to
terms with Agathocles, and, leaving Sicily to him, had to be content
with the possession of Africa.

[*] Agathocles the Sicilian, born 361 B.C., died 289 B.C.

Therefore, he who considers the actions and the genius of this man
will see nothing, or little, which can be attributed to fortune,
inasmuch as he attained pre-eminence, as is shown above, not by the
favour of any one, but step by step in the military profession, which
steps were gained with a thousand troubles and perils, and were
afterwards boldly held by him with many hazardous dangers. 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. Still, if the courage of Agathocles in
entering into and extricating himself from dangers be considered,
together with his greatness of mind in enduring and overcoming
hardships, it cannot be seen why he should be esteemed less than the
most notable captain. Nevertheless, his barbarous cruelty and
inhumanity with infinite wickedness do not permit him to be celebrated
among the most excellent men. What he achieved cannot be attributed
either to fortune or genius.

In our times, during the rule of Alexander the Sixth, Oliverotto da
Fermo, having been left an orphan many years before, was brought up by
his maternal uncle, Giovanni Fogliani, and in the early days of his
youth sent to fight under Pagolo Vitelli, that, being trained under
his discipline, he might attain some high position in the military
profession. After Pagolo died, he fought under his brother Vitellozzo,
and in a very short time, being endowed with wit and a vigorous body
and mind, he became the first man in his profession. But it appearing
a paltry thing to serve under others, he resolved, with the aid of
some citizens of Fermo, to whom the slavery of their country was
dearer than its liberty, and with the help of the Vitelleschi, to
seize Fermo. So he wrote to Giovanni Fogliani that, having been away
from home for many years, he wished to visit him and his city, and in
some measure to look upon his patrimony; and although he had not
laboured to acquire anything except honour, yet, in order that the
citizens should see he had not spent his time in vain, he desired to
come honourably, so would be accompanied by one hundred horsemen, his
friends and retainers; and he entreated Giovanni to arrange that he
should be received honourably by the Fermians, all of which would be
not only to his honour, but also to that of Giovanni himself, who had
brought him up.

Giovanni, therefore, did not fail in any attentions due to his nephew,
and he caused him to be honourably received by the Fermians, and he
lodged him in his own house, where, having passed some days, and
having arranged what was necessary for his wicked designs, Oliverotto
gave a solemn banquet to which he invited Giovanni Fogliani and the
chiefs of Fermo. When the viands and all the other entertainments that
are usual in such banquets were finished, Oliverotto artfully began
certain grave discourses, speaking of the greatness of Pope Alexander
and his son Cesare, and of their enterprises, to which discourse
Giovanni and others answered; but he rose at once, saying that such
matters ought to be discussed in a more private place, and he betook
himself to a chamber, whither Giovanni and the rest of the citizens
went in after him. No sooner were they seated than soldiers issued
from secret places and slaughtered Giovanni and the rest. After these
murders Oliverotto, mounted on horseback, rode up and down the town
and besieged the chief magistrate in the palace, so that in fear the
people were forced to obey him, and to form a government, of which he
made himself the prince. He killed all the malcontents who were able
to injure him, and strengthened himself with new civil and military
ordinances, in such a way that, in the year during which he held the
principality, not only was he secure in the city of Fermo, but he had
become formidable to all his neighbours. And his destruction would
have been as difficult as that of Agathocles if he had not allowed
himself to be overreached by Cesare Borgia, who took him with the
Orsini and Vitelli at Sinigalia, as was stated above. Thus one year
after he had committed this parricide, he was strangled, together with
Vitellozzo, whom he had made his leader in valour and wickedness.

Some may wonder how it can happen that Agathocles, and his like, after
infinite treacheries and cruelties, should live for long secure in his
country, and defend himself from external enemies, and never be
conspired against by his own citizens; seeing that many others, by
means of cruelty, have never been able even in peaceful times to hold
the state, still less in the doubtful times of war. I believe that
this follows from severities[*] being badly or properly used. Those
may be called properly used, if of evil it is possible to speak well,
that are applied at one blow and are necessary to one's security, and
that are not persisted in afterwards unless they can be turned to the
advantage of the subjects. The badly employed are those which,
notwithstanding they may be few in the commencement, multiply with
time rather than decrease. Those who practise the first system are
able, by aid of God or man, to mitigate in some degree their rule, as
Agathocles did. It is impossible for those who follow the other to
maintain themselves.

[*] Mr Burd suggests that this word probably comes near the modern
equivalent of Machiavelli's thought when he speaks of "crudelta"
than the more obvious "cruelties."

Hence it is to be remarked that, in seizing a state, the usurper ought
to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for
him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to
repeat them daily; and thus by not unsettling men he will be able to
reassure them, and win them to himself by benefits. He who does
otherwise, either from timidity or evil advice, is always compelled to
keep the knife in his hand; neither can he rely on his subjects, nor
can they attach themselves to him, owing to their continued and
repeated wrongs. For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so
that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given
little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.

And above all things, a prince ought to live amongst his people in
such a way that no unexpected circumstances, whether of good or evil,
shall make him change; because if the necessity for this comes in
troubled times, you are too late for harsh measures; and mild ones
will not help you, for they will be considered as forced from you, and
no one will be under any obligation to you for them.



But coming to the other point--where a leading citizen becomes the
prince of his country, not by wickedness or any intolerable violence,
but by the favour of his fellow citizens--this may be called a civil
principality: nor is genius or fortune altogether necessary to attain
to it, but rather a happy shrewdness. I say then that such a
principality is obtained either by the favour of the people or by the
favour of the nobles. Because in all cities these two distinct parties
are found, and from this it arises that the people do not wish to be
ruled nor oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles wish to rule and
oppress the people; and from these two opposite desires there arises
in cities one of three results, either a principality, self-
government, or anarchy.

A principality is created either by the people or by the nobles,
accordingly as one or other of them has the opportunity; for the
nobles, seeing they cannot withstand the people, begin to cry up the
reputation of one of themselves, and they make him a prince, so that
under his shadow they can give vent to their ambitions. The people,
finding they cannot resist the nobles, also cry up the reputation of
one of themselves, and make him a prince so as to be defended by his
authority. He who obtains sovereignty by the assistance of the nobles
maintains himself with more difficulty than he who comes to it by the
aid of the people, because the former finds himself with many around
him who consider themselves his equals, and because of this he can
neither rule nor manage them to his liking. But he who reaches
sovereignty by popular favour finds himself alone, and has none around
him, or few, who are not prepared to obey him.

Besides this, one cannot by fair dealing, and without injury to
others, satisfy the nobles, but you can satisfy the people, for their
object is more righteous than that of the nobles, the latter wishing
to oppress, while the former only desire not to be oppressed. It is to
be added also that a prince can never secure himself against a hostile
people, because of their being too many, whilst from the nobles he can
secure himself, as they are few in number. The worst that a prince may
expect from a hostile people is to be abandoned by them; but from
hostile nobles he has not only to fear abandonment, but also that they
will rise against him; for they, being in these affairs more far-
seeing and astute, always come forward in time to save themselves, and
to obtain favours from him whom they expect to prevail. Further, the
prince is compelled to live always with the same people, but he can do
well without the same nobles, being able to make and unmake them
daily, and to give or wake away authority when it pleases him.

Therefore, to make this point clearer, I say that the nobles ought to
be looked at mainly in two ways: that is to say, they either shape
their course in such a way as binds them entirely to your fortune, or
they do not. Those who so bind themselves, and are not rapacious,
ought to be honoured and loved; those who do not bind themselves may
be dealt with in two ways; they may fail to do this through
pusillanimity and a natural want of courage, in which case you ought
to make use of them, especially of those who are of good counsel; and
thus, whilst in prosperity you honour them, in adversity you do not
have to fear them. But when for their own ambitious ends they shun
binding themselves, it is a token that they are giving more thought to
themselves than to you, and a prince out to guard against such, and to
fear them as if they were open enemies, because in adversity they
always help to ruin him.

Therefore, one who becomes a prince through the favour of the people
ought to keep them friendly, and this he can easily do seeing they
only ask not to be oppressed by him. But one who, in opposition to the
people, becomes a prince by the favour of the nobles, ought, above
everything, to seek to win the people over to himself, and this he may
easily do if he takes them under his protection. Because men, when
they receive good from him of whom they were expecting evil, are bound
more closely to their benefactor; thus the people quickly become more
devoted to him than if he had been raised to the principality by their
favours; and the prince can win their affections in many ways, but as
these vary according to the circumstances one cannot give fixed rules,
so I omit them; but, I repeat, it is necessary for a prince to have
the people friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity.

Nabis,[*] Prince of the Spartans, sustained the attack of all Greece,
and of a victorious Roman army, and against them he defended his
country and his government; and for the overcoming of this peril it
was only necessary for him to make himself secure against a few, but
this would not have been sufficient had the people been hostile. And
do not let any one impugn this statement with the trite proverb that
"He who builds on the people, builds on the mud," for this is true
when a private citizen makes a foundation there, and persuades himself
that the people will free him when he is oppressed by his enemies or
by the magistrates; wherein he would find himself very often deceived,
as happened to the Gracchi in Rome and to Messer Giorgio Scali[+] in
Florence. But granted a prince who has established himself as above,
who can command, and is a man of courage, undismayed in adversity, who
does not fail in other qualifications, and who, by his resolution and
energy, keeps the whole people encouraged--such a one will never find
himself deceived in them, and it will be shown that he has laid his
foundations well.

[*] Nabis, tyrant of Sparta, conquered by the Romans under Flamininus
in 195 B.C.; killed 192 B.C.

[+] Messer Giorgio Scali. This event is to be found in Machiavelli's
"Florentine History," Book III.

These principalities are liable to danger when they are passing from
the civil to the absolute order of government, for such princes either
rule personally or through magistrates. In the latter case their
government is weaker and more insecure, because it rests entirely on
the goodwill of those citizens who are raised to the magistracy, and
who, especially in troubled times, can destroy the government with
great ease, either by intrigue or open defiance; and the prince has
not the chance amid tumults to exercise absolute authority, because
the citizens and subjects, accustomed to receive orders from
magistrates, are not of a mind to obey him amid these confusions, and
there will always be in doubtful times a scarcity of men whom he can
trust. For such a prince cannot rely upon what he observes in quiet
times, when citizens have need of the state, because then every one
agrees with him; they all promise, and when death is far distant they
all wish to die for him; but in troubled times, when the state has
need of its citizens, then he finds but few. And so much the more is
this experiment dangerous, inasmuch as it can only be tried once.
Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens
will always in every sort and kind of circumstance have need of the
state and of him, and then he will always find them faithful.



It is necessary to consider another point in examining the character
of these principalities: that is, whether a prince has such power
that, in case of need, he can support himself with his own resources,
or whether he has always need of the assistance of others. And to make
this quite clear I say that I consider those who are able to support
themselves by their own resources who can, either by abundance of men
or money, raise a sufficient army to join battle against any one who
comes to attack them; and I consider those always to have need of
others who cannot show themselves against the enemy in the field, but
are forced to defend themselves by sheltering behind walls. The first
case has been discussed, but we will speak of it again should it
recur. In the second case one can say nothing except to encourage such
princes to provision and fortify their towns, and not on any account
to defend the country. And whoever shall fortify his town well, and
shall have managed the other concerns of his subjects in the way
stated above, and to be often repeated, will never be attacked without
great caution, for men are always adverse to enterprises where
difficulties can be seen, and it will be seen not to be an easy thing
to attack one who has his town well fortified, and is not hated by his

The cities of Germany are absolutely free, they own but little country
around them, and they yield obedience to the emperor when it suits
them, nor do they fear this or any other power they may have near
them, because they are fortified in such a way that every one thinks
the taking of them by assault would be tedious and difficult, seeing
they have proper ditches and walls, they have sufficient artillery,
and they always keep in public depots enough for one year's eating,
drinking, and firing. And beyond this, to keep the people quiet and
without loss to the state, they always have the means of giving work
to the community in those labours that are the life and strength of
the city, and on the pursuit of which the people are supported; they
also hold military exercises in repute, and moreover have many
ordinances to uphold them.

Therefore, a prince who has a strong city, and had not made himself
odious, will not be attacked, or if any one should attack he will only
be driven off with disgrace; again, because that the affairs of this
world are so changeable, it is almost impossible to keep an army a
whole year in the field without being interfered with. And whoever
should reply: If the people have property outside the city, and see it
burnt, they will not remain patient, and the long siege and self-
interest will make them forget their prince; to this I answer that a
powerful and courageous prince will overcome all such difficulties by
giving at one time hope to his subjects that the evil will not be for
long, at another time fear of the cruelty of the enemy, then
preserving himself adroitly from those subjects who seem to him to be
too bold.

Further, the enemy would naturally on his arrival at once burn and
ruin the country at the time when the spirits of the people are still
hot and ready for the defence; and, therefore, so much the less ought
the prince to hesitate; because after a time, when spirits have
cooled, the damage is already done, the ills are incurred, and there
is no longer any remedy; and therefore they are so much the more ready
to unite with their prince, he appearing to be under obligations to
them now that their houses have been burnt and their possessions
ruined in his defence. For it is the nature of men to be bound by the
benefits they confer as much as by those they receive. Therefore, if
everything is well considered, it will not be difficult for a wise
prince to keep the minds of his citizens steadfast from first to last,
when he does not fail to support and defend them.



It only remains now to speak of ecclesiastical principalities,
touching which all difficulties are prior to getting possession,
because they are acquired either by capacity or good fortune, and they
can be held without either; for they are sustained by the ancient
ordinances of religion, which are so all-powerful, and of such a
character that the principalities may be held no matter how their
princes behave and live. These princes alone have states and do not
defend them; and they have subjects and do not rule them; and the
states, although unguarded, are not taken from them, and the subjects,
although not ruled, do not care, and they have neither the desire nor
the ability to alienate themselves. Such principalities only are
secure and happy. But being upheld by powers, to which the human mind
cannot reach, I shall speak no more of them, because, being exalted
and maintained by God, it would be the act of a presumptuous and rash
man to discuss them.

Nevertheless, if any one should ask of me how comes it that the Church
has attained such greatness in temporal power, seeing that from
Alexander backwards the Italian potentates (not only those who have
been called potentates, but every baron and lord, though the smallest)
have valued the temporal power very slightly--yet now a king of France
trembles before it, and it has been able to drive him from Italy, and
to ruin the Venetians--although this may be very manifest, it does not
appear to me superfluous to recall it in some measure to memory.

Before Charles, King of France, passed into Italy,[*] this country was
under the dominion of the Pope, the Venetians, the King of Naples, the
Duke of Milan, and the Florentines. These potentates had two principal
anxieties: the one, that no foreigner should enter Italy under arms;
the other, that none of themselves should seize more territory. Those
about whom there was the most anxiety were the Pope and the Venetians.
To restrain the Venetians the union of all the others was necessary,
as it was for the defence of Ferrara; and to keep down the Pope they
made use of the barons of Rome, who, being divided into two factions,
Orsini and Colonnesi, had always a pretext for disorder, and, standing
with arms in their hands under the eyes of the Pontiff, kept the
pontificate weak and powerless. And although there might arise
sometimes a courageous pope, such as Sixtus, yet neither fortune nor
wisdom could rid him of these annoyances. And the short life of a pope
is also a cause of weakness; for in the ten years, which is the
average life of a pope, he can with difficulty lower one of the
factions; and if, so to speak, one people should almost destroy the
Colonnesi, another would arise hostile to the Orsini, who would
support their opponents, and yet would not have time to ruin the
Orsini. This was the reason why the temporal powers of the pope were
little esteemed in Italy.

[*] Charles VIII invaded Italy in 1494.

Alexander the Sixth arose afterwards, who of all the pontiffs that
have ever been showed how a pope with both money and arms was able to
prevail; and through the instrumentality of the Duke Valentino, and by
reason of the entry of the French, he brought about all those things
which I have discussed above in the actions of the duke. And although
his intention was not to aggrandize the Church, but the duke,
nevertheless, what he did contributed to the greatness of the Church,
which, after his death and the ruin of the duke, became the heir to
all his labours.

Pope Julius came afterwards and found the Church strong, possessing
all the Romagna, the barons of Rome reduced to impotence, and, through
the chastisements of Alexander, the factions wiped out; he also found
the way open to accumulate money in a manner such as had never been
practised before Alexander's time. Such things Julius not only
followed, but improved upon, and he intended to gain Bologna, to ruin
the Venetians, and to drive the French out of Italy. All of these
enterprises prospered with him, and so much the more to his credit,
inasmuch as he did everything to strengthen the Church and not any
private person. He kept also the Orsini and Colonnesi factions within
the bounds in which he found them; and although there was among them
some mind to make disturbance, nevertheless he held two things firm:
the one, the greatness of the Church, with which he terrified them;
and the other, not allowing them to have their own cardinals, who
caused the disorders among them. For whenever these factions have
their cardinals they do not remain quiet for long, because cardinals
foster the factions in Rome and out of it, and the barons are
compelled to support them, and thus from the ambitions of prelates
arise disorders and tumults among the barons. For these reasons his
Holiness Pope Leo[*] found the pontificate most powerful, and it is to
be hoped that, if others made it great in arms, he will make it still
greater and more venerated by his goodness and infinite other virtues.

[*] Pope Leo X was the Cardinal de' Medici.



Having discoursed particularly on the characteristics of such
principalities as in the beginning I proposed to discuss, and having
considered in some degree the causes of their being good or bad, and
having shown the methods by which many have sought to acquire them and
to hold them, it now remains for me to discuss generally the means of
offence and defence which belong to each of them.

We have seen above how necessary it is for a prince to have his
foundations well laid, otherwise it follows of necessity he will go to
ruin. 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. I shall leave the laws out of the
discussion and shall speak of the arms.

I say, therefore, that the arms with which a prince defends his state
are either his own, or they are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or mixed.
Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one
holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor
safe; for they are disunited, ambitious, and without discipline,
unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have
neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is
deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by
them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other
attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend,
which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are
ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if
war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should
have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by
nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on
mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared
valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed
what they were. Thus it was that Charles, King of France, was allowed
to seize Italy with chalk in hand;[*] and he who told us that our sins
were the cause of it told the truth, but they were not the sins he
imagined, but those which I have related. And as they were the sins of
princes, it is the princes who have also suffered the penalty.

[*] "With chalk in hand," "col gesso." This is one of the bons mots of
Alexander VI, and refers to the ease with which Charles VIII
seized Italy, implying that it was only necessary for him to send
his quartermasters to chalk up the billets for his soldiers to
conquer the country. Cf. "The History of Henry VII," by Lord
Bacon: "King Charles had conquered the realm of Naples, and lost
it again, in a kind of a felicity of a dream. He passed the whole
length of Italy without resistance: so that it was true what Pope
Alexander was wont to say: That the Frenchmen came into Italy with
chalk in their hands, to mark up their lodgings, rather than with
swords to fight."

I wish to demonstrate further the infelicity of these arms. The
mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they
are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own
greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others
contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you
are ruined in the usual way.

And if it be urged that whoever is armed will act in the same way,
whether mercenary or not, I reply that when arms have to be resorted
to, either by a prince or a republic, then the prince ought to go in
person and perform the duty of a captain; the republic has to send its
citizens, and when one is sent who does not turn out satisfactorily,
it ought to recall him, and when one is worthy, to hold him by the
laws so that he does not leave the command. And experience has shown
princes and republics, single-handed, making the greatest progress,
and mercenaries doing nothing except damage; and it is more difficult
to bring a republic, armed with its own arms, under the sway of one of
its citizens than it is to bring one armed with foreign arms. Rome and
Sparta stood for many ages armed and free. The Switzers are completely
armed and quite free.

Of ancient mercenaries, for example, there are the Carthaginians, who
were oppressed by their mercenary soldiers after the first war with
the Romans, although the Carthaginians had their own citizens for
captains. After the death of Epaminondas, Philip of Macedon was made
captain of their soldiers by the Thebans, and after victory he took
away their liberty.

Duke Filippo being dead, the Milanese enlisted Francesco Sforza
against the Venetians, and he, having overcome the enemy at
Caravaggio,[*] allied himself with them to crush the Milanese, his
masters. His father, Sforza, having been engaged by Queen Johanna[+]
of Naples, left her unprotected, so that she was forced to throw
herself into the arms of the King of Aragon, in order to save her
kingdom. And if the Venetians and Florentines formerly extended their
dominions by these arms, and yet their captains did not make
themselves princes, but have defended them, I reply that the
Florentines in this case have been favoured by chance, for of the able
captains, of whom they might have stood in fear, some have not
conquered, some have been opposed, and others have turned their
ambitions elsewhere. One who did not conquer was Giovanni Acuto,[%]
and since he did not conquer his fidelity cannot be proved; but every
one will acknowledge that, had he conquered, the Florentines would
have stood at his discretion. Sforza had the Bracceschi always against
him, so they watched each other. Francesco turned his ambition to
Lombardy; Braccio against the Church and the kingdom of Naples. But
let us come to that which happened a short while ago. The Florentines
appointed as their captain Pagolo Vitelli, a most prudent man, who
from a private position had risen to the greatest renown. If this man
had taken Pisa, nobody can deny that it would have been proper for the
Florentines to keep in with him, for if he became the soldier of their
enemies they had no means of resisting, and if they held to him they
must obey him. The Venetians, if their achievements are considered,
will be seen to have acted safely and gloriously so long as they sent
to war their own men, when with armed gentlemen and plebians they did
valiantly. This was before they turned to enterprises on land, but
when they began to fight on land they forsook this virtue and followed
the custom of Italy. And in the beginning of their expansion on land,
through not having much territory, and because of their great
reputation, they had not much to fear from their captains; but when
they expanded, as under Carmignuola,[#] they had a taste of this
mistake; for, having found him a most valiant man (they beat the Duke
of Milan under his leadership), and, on the other hand, knowing how
lukewarm he was in the war, they feared they would no longer conquer
under him, and for this reason they were not willing, nor were they
able, to let him go; and so, not to lose again that which they had
acquired, they were compelled, in order to secure themselves, to
murder him. They had afterwards for their captains Bartolomeo da
Bergamo, Roberto da San Severino, the count of Pitigliano,[&] and the
like, under whom they had to dread loss and not gain, as happened
afterwards at Vaila,[$] where in one battle they lost that which in
eight hundred years they had acquired with so much trouble. Because
from such arms conquests come but slowly, long delayed and
inconsiderable, but the losses sudden and portentous.

[*] Battle of Caravaggio, 15th September 1448.

[+] Johanna II of Naples, the widow of Ladislao, King of Naples.

[%] Giovanni Acuto. An English knight whose name was Sir John
Hawkwood. He fought in the English wars in France, and was
knighted by Edward III; afterwards he collected a body of troops
and went into Italy. These became the famous "White Company." He
took part in many wars, and died in Florence in 1394. He was born
about 1320 at Sible Hedingham, a village in Essex. He married
Domnia, a daughter of Bernabo Visconti.

[#] Carmignuola. Francesco Bussone, born at Carmagnola about 1390,
executed at Venice, 5th May 1432.

[&] Bartolomeo Colleoni of Bergamo; died 1457. Roberto of San
Severino; died fighting for Venice against Sigismund, Duke of
Austria, in 1487. "Primo capitano in Italia."--Machiavelli. Count
of Pitigliano; Nicolo Orsini, born 1442, died 1510.

[$] Battle of Vaila in 1509.

And as with these examples I have reached Italy, which has been ruled
for many years by mercenaries, I wish to discuss them more seriously,
in order that, having seen their rise and progress, one may be better
prepared to counteract them. You must understand that the empire has
recently come to be repudiated in Italy, that the Pope has acquired
more temporal power, and that Italy has been divided up into more
states, for the reason that many of the great cities took up arms
against their nobles, who, formerly favoured by the emperor, were
oppressing them, whilst the Church was favouring them so as to gain
authority in temporal power: in many others their citizens became
princes. From this it came to pass that Italy fell partly into the
hands of the Church and of republics, and, the Church consisting of
priests and the republic of citizens unaccustomed to arms, both
commenced to enlist foreigners.

The first who gave renown to this soldiery was Alberigo da Conio,[*]
the Romagnian. From the school of this man sprang, among others,
Braccio and Sforza, who in their time were the arbiters of Italy.
After these came all the other captains who till now have directed the
arms of Italy; and the end of all their valour has been, that she has
been overrun by Charles, robbed by Louis, ravaged by Ferdinand, and
insulted by the Switzers. The principle that has guided them has been,
first, to lower the credit of infantry so that they might increase
their own. They did this because, subsisting on their pay and without
territory, they were unable to support many soldiers, and a few
infantry did not give them any authority; so they were led to employ
cavalry, with a moderate force of which they were maintained and
honoured; and affairs were brought to such a pass that, in an army of
twenty thousand soldiers, there were not to be found two thousand foot
soldiers. They had, besides this, used every art to lessen fatigue and
danger to themselves and their soldiers, not killing in the fray, but
taking prisoners and liberating without ransom. They did not attack
towns at night, nor did the garrisons of the towns attack encampments
at night; they did not surround the camp either with stockade or
ditch, nor did they campaign in the winter. All these things were
permitted by their military rules, and devised by them to avoid, as I
have said, both fatigue and dangers; thus they have brought Italy to
slavery and contempt.

[*] Alberigo da Conio. Alberico da Barbiano, Count of Cunio in
Romagna. He was the leader of the famous "Company of St George,"
composed entirely of Italian soldiers. He died in 1409.



Auxiliaries, which are the other useless arm, are employed when a
prince is called in with his forces to aid and defend, as was done by
Pope Julius in the most recent times; for he, having, in the
enterprise against Ferrara, had poor proof of his mercenaries, turned
to auxiliaries, and stipulated with Ferdinand, King of Spain,[*] for
his assistance with men and arms. These arms may be useful and good in
themselves, but for him who calls them in they are always
disadvantageous; for losing, one is undone, and winning, one is their

[*] Ferdinand V (F. II of Aragon and Sicily, F. III of Naples),
surnamed "The Catholic," born 1542, died 1516.

And although ancient histories may be full of examples, I do not wish
to leave this recent one of Pope Julius the Second, the peril of which
cannot fail to be perceived; for he, wishing to get Ferrara, threw
himself entirely into the hands of the foreigner. But his good fortune
brought about a third event, so that he did not reap the fruit of his
rash choice; because, having his auxiliaries routed at Ravenna, and
the Switzers having risen and driven out the conquerors (against all
expectation, both his and others), it so came to pass that he did not
become prisoner to his enemies, they having fled, nor to his
auxiliaries, he having conquered by other arms than theirs.

The Florentines, being entirely without arms, sent ten thousand
Frenchmen to take Pisa, whereby they ran more danger than at any other
time of their troubles.

The Emperor of Constantinople,[*] to oppose his neighbours, sent ten
thousand Turks into Greece, who, on the war being finished, were not
willing to quit; this was the beginning of the servitude of Greece to
the infidels.

[*] Joannes Cantacuzenus, born 1300, died 1383.

Therefore, let him who has no desire to conquer make use of these
arms, for they are much more hazardous than mercenaries, because with
them the ruin is ready made; they are all united, all yield obedience
to others; but with mercenaries, when they have conquered, more time
and better opportunities are needed to injure you; they are not all of
one community, they are found and paid by you, and a third party,
which you have made their head, is not able all at once to assume
enough authority to injure you. In conclusion, in mercenaries dastardy
is most dangerous; in auxiliaries, valour. The wise prince, therefore,
has always avoided these arms and turned to his own; and has been
willing rather to lose with them than to conquer with the others, not
deeming that a real victory which is gained with the arms of others.

I shall never hesitate to cite Cesare Borgia and his actions. This
duke entered the Romagna with auxiliaries, taking there only French
soldiers, and with them he captured Imola and Forli; but afterwards,
such forces not appearing to him reliable, he turned to mercenaries,
discerning less danger in them, and enlisted the Orsini and Vitelli;
whom presently, on handling and finding them doubtful, unfaithful, and
dangerous, he destroyed and turned to his own men. And the difference
between one and the other of these forces can easily be seen when one
considers the difference there was in the reputation of the duke, when
he had the French, when he had the Orsini and Vitelli, and when he
relied on his own soldiers, on whose fidelity he could always count
and found it ever increasing; he was never esteemed more highly than
when every one saw that he was complete master of his own forces.

I was not intending to go beyond Italian and recent examples, but I am
unwilling to leave out Hiero, the Syracusan, he being one of those I
have named above. This man, as I have said, made head of the army by
the Syracusans, soon found out that a mercenary soldiery, constituted
like our Italian condottieri, was of no use; and it appearing to him
that he could neither keep them not let them go, he had them all cut
to pieces, and afterwards made war with his own forces and not with

I wish also to recall to memory an instance from the Old Testament
applicable to this subject. David offered himself to Saul to fight
with Goliath, the Philistine champion, and, to give him courage, Saul
armed him with his own weapons; which David rejected as soon as he had
them on his back, saying he could make no use of them, and that he
wished to meet the enemy with his sling and his knife. In conclusion,
the arms of others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down,
or they bind you fast.

Charles the Seventh,[*] the father of King Louis the Eleventh,[+]
having by good fortune and valour liberated France from the English,
recognized the necessity of being armed with forces of his own, and he
established in his kingdom ordinances concerning men-at-arms and
infantry. Afterwards his son, King Louis, abolished the infantry and
began to enlist the Switzers, which mistake, followed by others, is,
as is now seen, a source of peril to that kingdom; because, having
raised the reputation of the Switzers, he has entirely diminished the
value of his own arms, for he has destroyed the infantry altogether;
and his men-at-arms he has subordinated to others, for, being as they
are so accustomed to fight along with Switzers, it does not appear
that they can now conquer without them. Hence it arises that the
French cannot stand against the Switzers, and without the Switzers
they do not come off well against others. The armies of the French
have thus become mixed, partly mercenary and partly national, both of
which arms together are much better than mercenaries alone or
auxiliaries alone, but much inferior to one's own forces. And this
example proves it, for the kingdom of France would be unconquerable if
the ordinance of Charles had been enlarged or maintained.

[*] Charles VII of France, surnamed "The Victorious," born 1403, died

[+] Louis XI, son of the above, born 1423, died 1483.

But the scanty wisdom of man, on entering into an affair which looks
well at first, cannot discern the poison that is hidden in it, as I
have said above of hectic fevers. Therefore, if he who rules a
principality cannot recognize evils until they are upon him, he is not
truly wise; and this insight is given to few. And if the first
disaster to the Roman Empire[*] should be examined, it will be found
to have commenced only with the enlisting of the Goths; because from
that time the vigour of the Roman Empire began to decline, and all
that valour which had raised it passed away to others.

[*] "Many speakers to the House the other night in the debate on the
reduction of armaments seemed to show a most lamentable ignorance
of the conditions under which the British Empire maintains its
existence. When Mr Balfour replied to the allegations that the
Roman Empire sank under the weight of its military obligations, he
said that this was 'wholly unhistorical.' He might well have added
that the Roman power was at its zenith when every citizen
acknowledged his liability to fight for the State, but that it
began to decline as soon as this obligation was no longer
recognized."--Pall Mall Gazette, 15th May 1906.

I conclude, therefore, that no principality is secure without having
its own forces; on the contrary, it is entirely dependent on good
fortune, not having the valour which in adversity would defend it. And
it has always been the opinion and judgment of wise men that nothing
can be so uncertain or unstable as fame or power not founded on its
own strength. And one's own forces are those which are composed either
of subjects, citizens, or dependents; all others are mercenaries or
auxiliaries. And the way to make ready one's own forces will be easily
found if the rules suggested by me shall be reflected upon, and if one
will consider how Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, and many
republics and princes have armed and organized themselves, to which
rules I entirely commit myself.



A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything
else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is
the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force
that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often
enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the
contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than
of arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your
losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a
state is to be master of the art. Francesco Sforza, through being
martial, from a private person became Duke of Milan; and the sons,
through avoiding the hardships and troubles of arms, from dukes became
private persons. For among other evils which being unarmed brings you,
it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies
against which a prince ought to guard himself, as is shown later on.
Because there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the
unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield
obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man
should be secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one
disdain and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to
work well together. And therefore a prince who does not understand the
art of war, over and above the other misfortunes already mentioned,
cannot be respected by his soldiers, nor can he rely on them. He ought
never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and
in peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in war;
this he can do in two ways, the one by action, the other by study.

As regards action, he ought above all things to keep his men well
organized and drilled, to follow incessantly the chase, by which he
accustoms his body to hardships, and learns something of the nature of
localities, and gets to find out how the mountains rise, how the
valleys open out, how the plains lie, and to understand the nature of
rivers and marshes, and in all this to take the greatest care. Which
knowledge is useful in two ways. Firstly, he learns to know his
country, and is better able to undertake its defence; afterwards, by
means of the knowledge and observation of that locality, he
understands with ease any other which it may be necessary for him to
study hereafter; because the hills, valleys, and plains, and rivers
and marshes that are, for instance, in Tuscany, have a certain
resemblance to those of other countries, so that with a knowledge of
the aspect of one country one can easily arrive at a knowledge of
others. And the prince that lacks this skill lacks the essential which
it is desirable that a captain should possess, for it teaches him to
surprise his enemy, to select quarters, to lead armies, to array the
battle, to besiege towns to advantage.

Philopoemen,[*] Prince of the Achaeans, among other praises which
writers have bestowed on him, is commended because in time of peace he
never had anything in his mind but the rules of war; and when he was
in the country with friends, he often stopped and reasoned with them:
"If the enemy should be upon that hill, and we should find ourselves
here with our army, with whom would be the advantage? How should one
best advance to meet him, keeping the ranks? If we should wish to
retreat, how ought we to pursue?" And he would set forth to them, as
he went, all the chances that could befall an army; he would listen to
their opinion and state his, confirming it with reasons, so that by
these continual discussions there could never arise, in time of war,
any unexpected circumstances that he could not deal with.

[*] Philopoemen, "the last of the Greeks," born 252 B.C., died 183

But to exercise the intellect the prince should read histories, and
study there the actions of illustrious men, to see how they have borne
themselves in war, to examine the causes of their victories and
defeat, so as to avoid the latter and imitate the former; and above
all do as an illustrious man did, who took as an exemplar one who had
been praised and famous before him, and whose achievements and deeds
he always kept in his mind, as it is said Alexander the Great imitated
Achilles, Caesar Alexander, Scipio Cyrus. And whoever reads the life
of Cyrus, written by Xenophon, will recognize afterwards in the life
of Scipio how that imitation was his glory, and how in chastity,
affability, humanity, and liberality Scipio conformed to those things
which have been written of Cyrus by Xenophon. A wise prince ought to
observe some such rules, and never in peaceful times stand idle, but
increase his resources with industry in such a way that they may be
available to him in adversity, so that if fortune chances it may find
him prepared to resist her blows.



It remains now to see what ought to be the rules of conduct for a
prince towards subject and friends. And as I know that many have
written on this point, I expect I shall be considered presumptuous in
mentioning it again, especially as in discussing it I shall depart
from the methods of other people. But, it being my intention to write
a thing which shall be useful to him who apprehends it, it appears to
me more appropriate to follow up the real truth of the matter than the
imagination of it; for many have pictured republics and principalities
which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one lives is
so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what
is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his
preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his
professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much
that is evil.

Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how
to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.
Therefore, putting on one side imaginary things concerning a prince,
and discussing those which are real, I say that all men when they are
spoken of, and chiefly princes for being more highly placed, are
remarkable for some of those qualities which bring them either blame
or praise; and thus it is that one is reputed liberal, another
miserly, using a Tuscan term (because an avaricious person in our
language is still he who desires to possess by robbery, whilst we call
one miserly who deprives himself too much of the use of his own); one
is reputed generous, one rapacious; one cruel, one compassionate; one
faithless, another faithful; one effeminate and cowardly, another bold
and brave; one affable, another haughty; one lascivious, another
chaste; one sincere, another cunning; one hard, another easy; one
grave, another frivolous; one religious, another unbelieving, and the
like. And I know that every one will confess that it would be most
praiseworthy in a prince to exhibit all the above qualities that are
considered good; but because they can neither be entirely possessed
nor observed, for human conditions do not permit it, it is necessary
for him to be sufficiently prudent that he may know how to avoid the
reproach of those vices which would lose him his state; and also to
keep himself, if it be possible, from those which would not lose him
it; but this not being possible, he may with less hesitation abandon
himself to them. And again, he need not make himself uneasy at
incurring a reproach for those vices without which the state can only
be saved with difficulty, for if everything is considered carefully,
it will be found that something which looks like virtue, if followed,
would be his ruin; whilst something else, which looks like vice, yet
followed brings him security and prosperity.



Commencing then with the first of the above-named characteristics, I
say that it would be well to be reputed liberal. Nevertheless,
liberality exercised in a way that does not bring you the reputation
for it, injures you; for if one exercises it honestly and as it should
be exercised, it may not become known, and you will not avoid the
reproach of its opposite. Therefore, any one wishing to maintain among
men the name of liberal is obliged to avoid no attribute of
magnificence; so that a prince thus inclined will consume in such acts
all his property, and will be compelled in the end, if he wish to
maintain the name of liberal, to unduly weigh down his people, and tax
them, and do everything he can to get money. This will soon make him
odious to his subjects, and becoming poor he will be little valued by
any one; thus, with his liberality, having offended many and rewarded
few, he is affected by the very first trouble and imperilled by
whatever may be the first danger; recognizing this himself, and
wishing to draw back from it, he runs at once into the reproach of
being miserly.

Therefore, a prince, not being able to exercise this virtue of
liberality in such a way that it is recognized, except to his cost, if
he is wise he ought not to fear the reputation of being mean, for in
time he will come to be more considered than if liberal, seeing that
with his economy his revenues are enough, that he can defend himself
against all attacks, and is able to engage in enterprises without
burdening his people; thus it comes to pass that he exercises
liberality towards all from whom he does not take, who are numberless,
and meanness towards those to whom he does not give, who are few.

We have not seen great things done in our time except by those who
have been considered mean; the rest have failed. Pope Julius the
Second was assisted in reaching the papacy by a reputation for
liberality, yet he did not strive afterwards to keep it up, when he
made war on the King of France; and he made many wars without imposing
any extraordinary tax on his subjects, for he supplied his additional
expenses out of his long thriftiness. The present King of Spain would
not have undertaken or conquered in so many enterprises if he had been
reputed liberal. A prince, therefore, provided that he has not to rob
his subjects, that he can defend himself, that he does not become poor
and abject, that he is not forced to become rapacious, ought to hold
of little account a reputation for being mean, for it is one of those
vices which will enable him to govern.

And if any one should say: Caesar obtained empire by liberality, and
many others have reached the highest positions by having been liberal,
and by being considered so, I answer: Either you are a prince in fact,
or in a way to become one. In the first case this liberality is
dangerous, in the second it is very necessary to be considered
liberal; and Caesar was one of those who wished to become pre-eminent
in Rome; but if he had survived after becoming so, and had not
moderated his expenses, he would have destroyed his government. And if
any one should reply: Many have been princes, and have done great
things with armies, who have been considered very liberal, I reply:
Either a prince spends that which is his own or his subjects' or else
that of others. In the first case he ought to be sparing, in the
second he ought not to neglect any opportunity for liberality. And to
the prince who goes forth with his army, supporting it by pillage,
sack, and extortion, handling that which belongs to others, this
liberality is necessary, otherwise he would not be followed by
soldiers. And of that which is neither yours nor your subjects' you
can be a ready giver, as were Cyrus, Caesar, and Alexander; because it
does not take away your reputation if you squander that of others, but
adds to it; it is only squandering your own that injures you.

And there is nothing wastes so rapidly as liberality, for even whilst
you exercise it you lose the power to do so, and so become either poor
or despised, or else, in avoiding poverty, rapacious and hated. And a
prince should guard himself, above all things, against being despised
and hated; and liberality leads you to both. Therefore it is wiser to
have a reputation for meanness which brings reproach without hatred,
than to be compelled through seeking a reputation for liberality to
incur a name for rapacity which begets reproach with hatred.



Coming now to the other qualities mentioned above, I say that every
prince ought to desire to be considered clement and not cruel.
Nevertheless he ought to take care not to misuse this clemency. Cesare
Borgia was considered cruel; notwithstanding, his cruelty reconciled
the Romagna, unified it, and restored it to peace and loyalty. And if
this be rightly considered, he will be seen to have been much more
merciful than the Florentine people, who, to avoid a reputation for
cruelty, permitted Pistoia to be destroyed.[*] Therefore a prince, so
long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the
reproach of cruelty; because with a few examples he will be more
merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to
arise, from which follow murders or robberies; for these are wont to
injure the whole people, whilst those executions which originate with
a prince offend the individual only.

[*] During the rioting between the Cancellieri and Panciatichi
factions in 1502 and 1503.

And of all princes, it is impossible for the new prince to avoid the
imputation of cruelty, owing to new states being full of dangers.
Hence Virgil, through the mouth of Dido, excuses the inhumanity of her
reign owing to its being new, saying:

"Res dura, et regni novitas me talia cogunt
Moliri, et late fines custode tueri."[*]

Nevertheless he ought to be slow to believe and to act, nor should he
himself show fear, but proceed in a temperate manner with prudence and
humanity, so that too much confidence may not make him incautious and
too much distrust render him intolerable.

[*] . . . against my will, my fate
A throne unsettled, and an infant state,
Bid me defend my realms with all my pow'rs,
And guard with these severities my shores.

Christopher Pitt.

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than
feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish
to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person,
it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either
must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of
men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and
as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you
their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the
need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And
that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected
other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by
payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be
earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied
upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than
one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation
which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity
for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment
which never fails.

Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he
does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well
being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as
he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from
their women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the
life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for
manifest cause, but above all things he must keep his hands off the
property of others, because men more quickly forget the death of their
father than the loss of their patrimony. Besides, pretexts for taking
away the property are never wanting; for he who has once begun to live
by robbery will always find pretexts for seizing what belongs to
others; but reasons for taking life, on the contrary, are more
difficult to find and sooner lapse. But when a prince is with his
army, and has under control a multitude of soldiers, then it is quite
necessary for him to disregard the reputation of cruelty, for without
it he would never hold his army united or disposed to its duties.

Among the wonderful deeds of Hannibal this one is enumerated: that
having led an enormous army, composed of many various races of men, to
fight in foreign lands, no dissensions arose either among them or
against the prince, whether in his bad or in his good fortune. This
arose from nothing else than his inhuman cruelty, which, with his
boundless valour, made him revered and terrible in the sight of his
soldiers, but without that cruelty, his other virtues were not
sufficient to produce this effect. And short-sighted writers admire
his deeds from one point of view and from another condemn the
principal cause of them. That it is true his other virtues would not
have been sufficient for him may be proved by the case of Scipio, that
most excellent man, not only of his own times but within the memory of
man, against whom, nevertheless, his army rebelled in Spain; this
arose from nothing but his too great forbearance, which gave his
soldiers more license than is consistent with military discipline. For
this he was upbraided in the Senate by Fabius Maximus, and called the
corrupter of the Roman soldiery. The Locrians were laid waste by a
legate of Scipio, yet they were not avenged by him, nor was the
insolence of the legate punished, owing entirely to his easy nature.
Insomuch that someone in the Senate, wishing to excuse him, said there
were many men who knew much better how not to err than to correct the
errors of others. This disposition, if he had been continued in the
command, would have destroyed in time the fame and glory of Scipio;
but, he being under the control of the Senate, this injurious
characteristic not only concealed itself, but contributed to his

Returning to the question of being feared or loved, I come to the
conclusion that, men loving according to their own will and fearing
according to that of the prince, a wise prince should establish
himself on that which is in his own control and not in that of others;
he must endeavour only to avoid hatred, as is noted.



[*] "The present chapter has given greater offence than any other
portion of Machiavelli's writings." Burd, "Il Principe," p. 297.

Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and
to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience
has been that those princes who have done great things have held good
faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the
intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have
relied on their word. You must know there are two ways of
contesting,[*] the one by the law, the other by force; the first
method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first
is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the
second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how to
avail himself of the beast and the man. This has been figuratively
taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and
many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse,
who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as
they had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so it is
necessary for a prince to know how to make use of both natures, and
that one without the other is not durable. A prince, therefore, being
compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and
the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and
the fox cannot defend himself against wolves. Therefore, it is
necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the
wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what they
are about. Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith
when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons
that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely
good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will
not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with
them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate reasons to
excuse this non-observance. Of this endless modern examples could be
given, showing how many treaties and engagements have been made void
and of no effect through the faithlessness of princes; and he who has
known best how to employ the fox has succeeded best.

[*] "Contesting," i.e. "striving for mastery." Mr Burd points out that
this passage is imitated directly from Cicero's "De Officiis":
"Nam cum sint duo genera decertandi, unum per disceptationem,
alterum per vim; cumque illud proprium sit hominis, hoc beluarum;
confugiendum est ad posterius, si uti non licet superiore."

But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic,
and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and
so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will
always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent
example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander the Sixth did nothing
else but deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he
always found victims; for there never was a man who had greater power
in asserting, or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet
would observe it less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded
according to his wishes,[*] because he well understood this side of

[*] "Nondimanco sempre gli succederono gli inganni (ad votum)." The
words "ad votum" are omitted in the Testina addition, 1550.

Alexander never did what he said,
Cesare never said what he did.

Italian Proverb.

Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good
qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to
have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and
always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them
is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright,
and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to
be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.

And you have to understand this, that a prince, especially a new one,
cannot observe all those things for which men are esteemed, being
often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to
fidelity,[*] friendship, humanity, and religion. Therefore it is
necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as
the winds and variations of fortune force it, yet, as I have said
above, not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if
compelled, then to know how to set about it.

[*] "Contrary to fidelity" or "faith," "contro alla fede," and "tutto
fede," "altogether faithful," in the next paragraph. It is
noteworthy that these two phrases, "contro alla fede" and "tutto
fede," were omitted in the Testina edition, which was published
with the sanction of the papal authorities. It may be that the
meaning attached to the word "fede" was "the faith," i.e. the
Catholic creed, and not as rendered here "fidelity" and
"faithful." Observe that the word "religione" was suffered to
stand in the text of the Testina, being used to signify
indifferently every shade of belief, as witness "the religion," a
phrase inevitably employed to designate the Huguenot heresy. South
in his Sermon IX, p. 69, ed. 1843, comments on this passage as
follows: "That great patron and Coryphaeus of this tribe, Nicolo
Machiavel, laid down this for a master rule in his political
scheme: 'That the show of religion was helpful to the politician,
but the reality of it hurtful and pernicious.'"

For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets
anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named
five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him
altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious. There
is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality,
inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand,
because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch
with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what
you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of
the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the
actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent
to challenge, one judges by the result.

For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and
holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he
will be praised by everybody; because the vulgar are always taken by
what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world
there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when
the many have no ground to rest on.

One prince[*] of the present time, whom it is not well to name, never
preaches anything else but peace and good faith, and to both he is
most hostile, and either, if he had kept it, would have deprived him
of reputation and kingdom many a time.

[*] Ferdinand of Aragon. "When Machiavelli was writing 'The Prince' it
would have been clearly impossible to mention Ferdinand's name
here without giving offence." Burd's "Il Principe," p. 308.



Now, concerning the characteristics of which mention is made above, I
have spoken of the more important ones, the others I wish to discuss
briefly under this generality, that the prince must consider, as has
been in part said before, how to avoid those things which will make
him hated or contemptible; and as often as he shall have succeeded he
will have fulfilled his part, and he need not fear any danger in other

It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious,
and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from
both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor
their honor is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has
only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease
in many ways.

It makes him contemptible to be considered fickle, frivolous,
effeminate, mean-spirited, irresolute, from all of which a prince
should guard himself as from a rock; and he should endeavour to show
in his actions greatness, courage, gravity, and fortitude; and in his
private dealings with his subjects let him show that his judgments are
irrevocable, and maintain himself in such reputation that no one can
hope either to deceive him or to get round him.

That prince is highly esteemed who conveys this impression of himself,
and he who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against; for,
provided it is well known that he is an excellent man and revered by
his people, he can only be attacked with difficulty. For this reason a
prince ought to have two fears, one from within, on account of his
subjects, the other from without, on account of external powers. From
the latter he is defended by being well armed and having good allies,
and if he is well armed he will have good friends, and affairs will
always remain quiet within when they are quiet without, unless they
should have been already disturbed by conspiracy; and even should
affairs outside be disturbed, if he has carried out his preparations
and has lived as I have said, as long as he does not despair, he will
resist every attack, as I said Nabis the Spartan did.

But concerning his subjects, when affairs outside are disturbed he has
only to fear that they will conspire secretly, from which a prince can
easily secure himself by avoiding being hated and despised, and by
keeping the people satisfied with him, which it is most necessary for
him to accomplish, as I said above at length. And one of the most
efficacious remedies that a prince can have against conspiracies is
not to be hated and despised by the people, for he who conspires
against a prince always expects to please them by his removal; but
when the conspirator can only look forward to offending them, he will
not have the courage to take such a course, for the difficulties that
confront a conspirator are infinite. And as experience shows, many
have been the conspiracies, but few have been successful; because he
who conspires cannot act alone, nor can he take a companion except
from those whom he believes to be malcontents, and as soon as you have
opened your mind to a malcontent you have given him the material with
which to content himself, for by denouncing you he can look for every
advantage; so that, seeing the gain from this course to be assured,
and seeing the other to be doubtful and full of dangers, he must be a
very rare friend, or a thoroughly obstinate enemy of the prince, to
keep faith with you.

And, to reduce the matter into a small compass, I say that, on the
side of the conspirator, there is nothing but fear, jealousy, prospect
of punishment to terrify him; but on the side of the prince there is
the majesty of the principality, the laws, the protection of friends
and the state to defend him; so that, adding to all these things the
popular goodwill, it is impossible that any one should be so rash as
to conspire. For whereas in general the conspirator has to fear before
the execution of his plot, in this case he has also to fear the sequel
to the crime; because on account of it he has the people for an enemy,
and thus cannot hope for any escape.

Endless examples could be given on this subject, but I will be content
with one, brought to pass within the memory of our fathers. Messer
Annibale Bentivogli, who was prince in Bologna (grandfather of the
present Annibale), having been murdered by the Canneschi, who had
conspired against him, not one of his family survived but Messer
Giovanni,[*] who was in childhood: immediately after his assassination
the people rose and murdered all the Canneschi. This sprung from the
popular goodwill which the house of Bentivogli enjoyed in those days
in Bologna; which was so great that, although none remained there
after the death of Annibale who was able to rule the state, the
Bolognese, having information that there was one of the Bentivogli
family in Florence, who up to that time had been considered the son of
a blacksmith, sent to Florence for him and gave him the government of
their city, and it was ruled by him until Messer Giovanni came in due
course to the government.

[*] Giovanni Bentivogli, born in Bologna 1438, died at Milan 1508. He
ruled Bologna from 1462 to 1506. Machiavelli's strong condemnation
of conspiracies may get its edge from his own very recent
experience (February 1513), when he had been arrested and tortured
for his alleged complicity in the Boscoli conspiracy.

For this reason I consider that a prince ought to reckon conspiracies
of little account when his people hold him in esteem; but when it is
hostile to him, and bears hatred towards him, he ought to fear
everything and everybody. And well-ordered states and wise princes
have taken every care not to drive the nobles to desperation, and to
keep the people satisfied and contented, for this is one of the most
important objects a prince can have.

Among the best ordered and governed kingdoms of our times is France,
and in it are found many good institutions on which depend the liberty
and security of the king; of these the first is the parliament and its
authority, because he who founded the kingdom, knowing the ambition of
the nobility and their boldness, considered that a bit to their mouths
would be necessary to hold them in; and, on the other side, knowing
the hatred of the people, founded in fear, against the nobles, he
wished to protect them, yet he was not anxious for this to be the
particular care of the king; therefore, to take away the reproach
which he would be liable to from the nobles for favouring the people,
and from the people for favouring the nobles, he set up an arbiter,
who should be one who could beat down the great and favour the lesser
without reproach to the king. Neither could you have a better or a
more prudent arrangement, or a greater source of security to the king
and kingdom. From this one can draw another important conclusion, that
princes ought to leave affairs of reproach to the management of
others, and keep those of grace in their own hands. And further, I
consider that a prince ought to cherish the nobles, but not so as to
make himself hated by the people.

It may appear, perhaps, to some who have examined the lives and deaths
of the Roman emperors that many of them would be an example contrary
to my opinion, seeing that some of them lived nobly and showed great
qualities of soul, nevertheless they have lost their empire or have
been killed by subjects who have conspired against them. Wishing,
therefore, to answer these objections, I will recall the characters of
some of the emperors, and will show that the causes of their ruin were
not different to those alleged by me; at the same time I will only
submit for consideration those things that are noteworthy to him who
studies the affairs of those times.

It seems to me sufficient to take all those emperors who succeeded to
the empire from Marcus the philosopher down to Maximinus; they were
Marcus and his son Commodus, Pertinax, Julian, Severus and his son
Antoninus Caracalla, Macrinus, Heliogabalus, Alexander, and Maximinus.

There is first to note that, whereas in other principalities the
ambition of the nobles and the insolence of the people only have to be
contended with, the Roman emperors had a third difficulty in having to
put up with the cruelty and avarice of their soldiers, a matter so
beset with difficulties that it was the ruin of many; for it was a
hard thing to give satisfaction both to soldiers and people; because
the people loved peace, and for this reason they loved the unaspiring
prince, whilst the soldiers loved the warlike prince who was bold,
cruel, and rapacious, which qualities they were quite willing he
should exercise upon the people, so that they could get double pay and
give vent to their own greed and cruelty. Hence it arose that those
emperors were always overthrown who, either by birth or training, had
no great authority, and most of them, especially those who came new to
the principality, recognizing the difficulty of these two opposing
humours, were inclined to give satisfaction to the soldiers, caring
little about injuring the people. Which course was necessary, because,
as princes cannot help being hated by someone, they ought, in the
first place, to avoid being hated by every one, and when they cannot
compass this, they ought to endeavour with the utmost diligence to
avoid the hatred of the most powerful. Therefore, those emperors who
through inexperience had need of special favour adhered more readily
to the soldiers than to the people; a course which turned out
advantageous to them or not, accordingly as the prince knew how to
maintain authority over them.

From these causes it arose that Marcus, Pertinax, and Alexander, being
all men of modest life, lovers of justice, enemies to cruelty, humane,
and benignant, came to a sad end except Marcus; he alone lived and
died honoured, because he had succeeded to the throne by hereditary
title, and owed nothing either to the soldiers or the people; and
afterwards, being possessed of many virtues which made him respected,
he always kept both orders in their places whilst he lived, and was
neither hated nor despised.

But Pertinax was created emperor against the wishes of the soldiers,
who, being accustomed to live licentiously under Commodus, could not
endure the honest life to which Pertinax wished to reduce them; thus,
having given cause for hatred, to which hatred there was added
contempt for his old age, he was overthrown at the very beginning of
his administration. And here it should be noted that hatred is
acquired as much by good works as by bad ones, therefore, as I said
before, a prince wishing to keep his state is very often forced to do
evil; for when that body is corrupt whom you think you have need of to
maintain yourself--it may be either the people or the soldiers or the
nobles--you have to submit to its humours and to gratify them, and
then good works will do you harm.

But let us come to Alexander, who was a man of such great goodness,
that among the other praises which are accorded him is this, that in
the fourteen years he held the empire no one was ever put to death by
him unjudged; nevertheless, being considered effeminate and a man who
allowed himself to be governed by his mother, he became despised, the
army conspired against him, and murdered him.

Turning now to the opposite characters of Commodus, Severus, Antoninus
Caracalla, and Maximinus, you will find them all cruel and rapacious--
men who, to satisfy their soldiers, did not hesitate to commit every
kind of iniquity against the people; and all, except Severus, came to
a bad end; but in Severus there was so much valour that, keeping the
soldiers friendly, although the people were oppressed by him, he
reigned successfully; for his valour made him so much admired in the
sight of the soldiers and people that the latter were kept in a way
astonished and awed and the former respectful and satisfied. And
because the actions of this man, as a new prince, were great, I wish
to show briefly that he knew well how to counterfeit the fox and the
lion, which natures, as I said above, it is necessary for a prince to

Knowing the sloth of the Emperor Julian, he persuaded the army in
Sclavonia, of which he was captain, that it would be right to go to
Rome and avenge the death of Pertinax, who had been killed by the
praetorian soldiers; and under this pretext, without appearing to
aspire to the throne, he moved the army on Rome, and reached Italy
before it was known that he had started. On his arrival at Rome, the
Senate, through fear, elected him emperor and killed Julian. After
this there remained for Severus, who wished to make himself master of
the whole empire, two difficulties; one in Asia, where Niger, head of
the Asiatic army, had caused himself to be proclaimed emperor; the
other in the west where Albinus was, who also aspired to the throne.
And as he considered it dangerous to declare himself hostile to both,
he decided to attack Niger and to deceive Albinus. To the latter he
wrote that, being elected emperor by the Senate, he was willing to
share that dignity with him and sent him the title of Caesar; and,
moreover, that the Senate had made Albinus his colleague; which things
were accepted by Albinus as true. But after Severus had conquered and
killed Niger, and settled oriental affairs, he returned to Rome and
complained to the Senate that Albinus, little recognizing the benefits
that he had received from him, had by treachery sought to murder him,
and for this ingratitude he was compelled to punish him. Afterwards he
sought him out in France, and took from him his government and life.
He who will, therefore, carefully examine the actions of this man will
find him a most valiant lion and a most cunning fox; he will find him
feared and respected by every one, and not hated by the army; and it
need not be wondered at that he, a new man, was able to hold the
empire so well, because his supreme renown always protected him from
that hatred which the people might have conceived against him for his

But his son Antoninus was a most eminent man, and had very excellent
qualities, which made him admirable in the sight of the people and
acceptable to the soldiers, for he was a warlike man, most enduring of
fatigue, a despiser of all delicate food and other luxuries, which
caused him to be beloved by the armies. Nevertheless, his ferocity and
cruelties were so great and so unheard of that, after endless single
murders, he killed a large number of the people of Rome and all those
of Alexandria. He became hated by the whole world, and also feared by
those he had around him, to such an extent that he was murdered in the
midst of his army by a centurion. And here it must be noted that such-
like deaths, which are deliberately inflicted with a resolved and
desperate courage, cannot be avoided by princes, because any one who
does not fear to die can inflict them; but a prince may fear them the
less because they are very rare; he has only to be careful not to do
any grave injury to those whom he employs or has around him in the
service of the state. Antoninus had not taken this care, but had
contumeliously killed a brother of that centurion, whom also he daily
threatened, yet retained in his bodyguard; which, as it turned out,
was a rash thing to do, and proved the emperor's ruin.

But let us come to Commodus, to whom it should have been very easy to
hold the empire, for, being the son of Marcus, he had inherited it,
and he had only to follow in the footsteps of his father to please his
people and soldiers; but, being by nature cruel and brutal, he gave
himself up to amusing the soldiers and corrupting them, so that he
might indulge his rapacity upon the people; on the other hand, not
maintaining his dignity, often descending to the theatre to compete
with gladiators, and doing other vile things, little worthy of the
imperial majesty, he fell into contempt with the soldiers, and being
hated by one party and despised by the other, he was conspired against
and was killed.

It remains to discuss the character of Maximinus. He was a very
warlike man, and the armies, being disgusted with the effeminacy of
Alexander, of whom I have already spoken, killed him and elected
Maximinus to the throne. This he did not possess for long, for two
things made him hated and despised; the one, his having kept sheep in
Thrace, which brought him into contempt (it being well known to all,
and considered a great indignity by every one), and the other, his
having at the accession to his dominions deferred going to Rome and
taking possession of the imperial seat; he had also gained a
reputation for the utmost ferocity by having, through his prefects in
Rome and elsewhere in the empire, practised many cruelties, so that
the whole world was moved to anger at the meanness of his birth and to
fear at his barbarity. First Africa rebelled, then the Senate with all
the people of Rome, and all Italy conspired against him, to which may
be added his own army; this latter, besieging Aquileia and meeting
with difficulties in taking it, were disgusted with his cruelties, and
fearing him less when they found so many against him, murdered him.

I do not wish to discuss Heliogabalus, Macrinus, or Julian, who, being
thoroughly contemptible, were quickly wiped out; but I will bring this
discourse to a conclusion by saying that princes in our times have
this difficulty of giving inordinate satisfaction to their soldiers in
a far less degree, because, notwithstanding one has to give them some
indulgence, that is soon done; none of these princes have armies that
are veterans in the governance and administration of provinces, as
were the armies of the Roman Empire; and whereas it was then more
necessary to give satisfaction to the soldiers than to the people, it
is now more necessary to all princes, except the Turk and the Soldan,
to satisfy the people rather the soldiers, because the people are the
more powerful.

From the above I have excepted the Turk, who always keeps round him
twelve thousand infantry and fifteen thousand cavalry on which depend
the security and strength of the kingdom, and it is necessary that,
putting aside every consideration for the people, he should keep them
his friends. The kingdom of the Soldan is similar; being entirely in
the hands of soldiers, it follows again that, without regard to the
people, he must keep them his friends. But you must note that the
state of the Soldan is unlike all other principalities, for the reason
that it is like the Christian pontificate, which cannot be called
either an hereditary or a newly formed principality; because the sons
of the old prince are not the heirs, but he who is elected to that
position by those who have authority, and the sons remain only
noblemen. And this being an ancient custom, it cannot be called a new
principality, because there are none of those difficulties in it that
are met with in new ones; for although the prince is new, the
constitution of the state is old, and it is framed so as to receive
him as if he were its hereditary lord.

But returning to the subject of our discourse, I say that whoever will
consider it will acknowledge that either hatred or contempt has been
fatal to the above-named emperors, and it will be recognized also how
it happened that, a number of them acting in one way and a number in
another, only one in each way came to a happy end and the rest to
unhappy ones. Because it would have been useless and dangerous for
Pertinax and Alexander, being new princes, to imitate Marcus, who was
heir to the principality; and likewise it would have been utterly
destructive to Caracalla, Commodus, and Maximinus to have imitated
Severus, they not having sufficient valour to enable them to tread in
his footsteps. Therefore a prince, new to the principality, cannot
imitate the actions of Marcus, nor, again, is it necessary to follow
those of Severus, but he ought to take from Severus those parts which
are necessary to found his state, and from Marcus those which are
proper and glorious to keep a state that may already be stable and



1. Some princes, so as to hold securely the state, have disarmed
their subjects; others have kept their subject towns distracted by
factions; others have fostered enmities against themselves; others
have laid themselves out to gain over those whom they distrusted in
the beginning of their governments; some have built fortresses; some
have overthrown and destroyed them. And although one cannot give a
final judgment on all of these things unless one possesses the
particulars of those states in which a decision has to be made,
nevertheless I will speak as comprehensively as the matter of itself
will admit.

2. There never was a new prince who has disarmed his subjects; rather
when he has found them disarmed he has always armed them, because, by
arming them, those arms become yours, those men who were distrusted
become faithful, and those who were faithful are kept so, and your
subjects become your adherents. And whereas all subjects cannot be
armed, yet when those whom you do arm are benefited, the others can be
handled more freely, and this difference in their treatment, which
they quite understand, makes the former your dependents, and the
latter, considering it to be necessary that those who have the most
danger and service should have the most reward, excuse you. But when
you disarm them, you at once offend them by showing that you distrust
them, either for cowardice or for want of loyalty, and either of these
opinions breeds hatred against you. And because you cannot remain
unarmed, it follows that you turn to mercenaries, which are of the
character already shown; even if they should be good they would not be
sufficient to defend you against powerful enemies and distrusted
subjects. Therefore, as I have said, a new prince in a new
principality has always distributed arms. Histories are full of
examples. But when a prince acquires a new state, which he adds as a
province to his old one, then it is necessary to disarm the men of
that state, except those who have been his adherents in acquiring it;
and these again, with time and opportunity, should be rendered soft
and effeminate; and matters should be managed in such a way that all
the armed men in the state shall be your own soldiers who in your old
state were living near you.

3. Our forefathers, and those who were reckoned wise, were accustomed
to say that it was necessary to hold Pistoia by factions and Pisa by
fortresses; and with this idea they fostered quarrels in some of their
tributary towns so as to keep possession of them the more easily. This
may have been well enough in those times when Italy was in a way
balanced, but I do not believe that it can be accepted as a precept
for to-day, because I do not believe that factions can ever be of use;
rather it is certain that when the enemy comes upon you in divided
cities you are quickly lost, because the weakest party will always
assist the outside forces and the other will not be able to resist.
The Venetians, moved, as I believe, by the above reasons, fostered the
Guelph and Ghibelline factions in their tributary cities; and although
they never allowed them to come to bloodshed, yet they nursed these
disputes amongst them, so that the citizens, distracted by their
differences, should not unite against them. Which, as we saw, did not
afterwards turn out as expected, because, after the rout at Vaila, one
party at once took courage and seized the state. Such methods argue,
therefore, weakness in the prince, because these factions will never
be permitted in a vigorous principality; such methods for enabling one
the more easily to manage subjects are only useful in times of peace,
but if war comes this policy proves fallacious.

4. Without doubt princes become great when they overcome the
difficulties and obstacles by which they are confronted, and therefore
fortune, especially when she desires to make a new prince great, who
has a greater necessity to earn renown than an hereditary one, causes
enemies to arise and form designs against him, in order that he may
have the opportunity of overcoming them, and by them to mount higher,
as by a ladder which his enemies have raised. For this reason many
consider that a wise prince, when he has the opportunity, ought with
craft to foster some animosity against himself, so that, having
crushed it, his renown may rise higher.

5. Princes, especially new ones, have found more fidelity and
assistance in those men who in the beginning of their rule were
distrusted than among those who in the beginning were trusted.
Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince of Siena, ruled his state more by those who
had been distrusted than by others. But on this question one cannot
speak generally, for it varies so much with the individual; I will
only say this, that those men who at the commencement of a princedom
have been hostile, if they are of a description to need assistance to
support themselves, can always be gained over with the greatest ease,
and they will be tightly held to serve the prince with fidelity,
inasmuch as they know it to be very necessary for them to cancel by
deeds the bad impression which he had formed of them; and thus the
prince always extracts more profit from them than from those who,
serving him in too much security, may neglect his affairs. And since
the matter demands it, I must not fail to warn a prince, who by means
of secret favours has acquired a new state, that he must well consider
the reasons which induced those to favour him who did so; and if it be
not a natural affection towards him, but only discontent with their
government, then he will only keep them friendly with great trouble
and difficulty, for it will be impossible to satisfy them. And
weighing well the reasons for this in those examples which can be
taken from ancient and modern affairs, we shall find that it is easier
for the prince to make friends of those men who were contented under
the former government, and are therefore his enemies, than of those
who, being discontented with it, were favourable to him and encouraged
him to seize it.

6. It has been a custom with princes, in order to hold their states
more securely, to build fortresses that may serve as a bridle and bit
to those who might design to work against them, and as a place of
refuge from a first attack. I praise this system because it has been
made use of formerly. Notwithstanding that, Messer Nicolo Vitelli in
our times has been seen to demolish two fortresses in Citta di
Castello so that he might keep that state; Guido Ubaldo, Duke of
Urbino, on returning to his dominion, whence he had been driven by
Cesare Borgia, razed to the foundations all the fortresses in that
province, and considered that without them it would be more difficult
to lose it; the Bentivogli returning to Bologna came to a similar
decision. Fortresses, therefore, are useful or not according to
circumstances; if they do you good in one way they injure you in
another. And this question can be reasoned thus: the prince who has
more to fear from the people than from foreigners ought to build
fortresses, but he who has more to fear from foreigners than from the
people ought to leave them alone. The castle of Milan, built by
Francesco Sforza, has made, and will make, more trouble for the house
of Sforza than any other disorder in the state. For this reason the
best possible fortress is--not to be hated by the people, because,
although you may hold the fortresses, yet they will not save you if
the people hate you, for there will never be wanting foreigners to
assist a people who have taken arms against you. It has not been seen
in our times that such fortresses have been of use to any prince,
unless to the Countess of Forli,[*] when the Count Girolamo, her
consort, was killed; for by that means she was able to withstand the
popular attack and wait for assistance from Milan, and thus recover
her state; and the posture of affairs was such at that time that the
foreigners could not assist the people. But fortresses were of little
value to her afterwards when Cesare Borgia attacked her, and when the
people, her enemy, were allied with foreigners. Therefore, it would
have been safer for her, both then and before, not to have been hated
by the people than to have had the fortresses. All these things
considered then, I shall praise him who builds fortresses as well as
him who does not, and I shall blame whoever, trusting in them, cares
little about being hated by the people.

[*] Catherine Sforza, a daughter of Galeazzo Sforza and Lucrezia
Landriani, born 1463, died 1509. It was to the Countess of Forli
that Machiavelli was sent as envy on 1499. A letter from Fortunati
to the countess announces the appointment: "I have been with the
signori," wrote Fortunati, "to learn whom they would send and
when. They tell me that Nicolo Machiavelli, a learned young
Florentine noble, secretary to my Lords of the Ten, is to leave
with me at once." Cf. "Catherine Sforza," by Count Pasolini,
translated by P. Sylvester, 1898.



Nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and
setting a fine example. We have in our time Ferdinand of Aragon, the
present King of Spain. He can almost be called a new prince, because
he has risen, by fame and glory, from being an insignificant king to
be the foremost king in Christendom; and if you will consider his
deeds you will find them all great and some of them extraordinary. In
the beginning of his reign he attacked Granada, and this enterprise
was the foundation of his dominions. He did this quietly at first and
without any fear of hindrance, for he held the minds of the barons of
Castile occupied in thinking of the war and not anticipating any
innovations; thus they did not perceive that by these means he was
acquiring power and authority over them. He was able with the money of
the Church and of the people to sustain his armies, and by that long
war to lay the foundation for the military skill which has since
distinguished him. Further, always using religion as a plea, so as to
undertake greater schemes, he devoted himself with pious cruelty to
driving out and clearing his kingdom of the Moors; nor could there be
a more admirable example, nor one more rare. Under this same cloak he
assailed Africa, he came down on Italy, he has finally attacked
France; and thus his achievements and designs have always been great,
and have kept the minds of his people in suspense and admiration and
occupied with the issue of them. And his actions have arisen in such a
way, one out of the other, that men have never been given time to work
steadily against him.

Again, it much assists a prince to set unusual examples in internal
affairs, similar to those which are related of Messer Bernabo da
Milano, who, when he had the opportunity, by any one in civil life
doing some extraordinary thing, either good or bad, would take some
method of rewarding or punishing him, which would be much spoken
about. And a prince ought, above all things, always endeavour in every
action to gain for himself the reputation of being a great and
remarkable man.

A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a
downright enemy, that is to say, when, without any reservation, he
declares himself in favour of one party against the other; which
course will always be more advantageous than standing neutral; because
if two of your powerful neighbours come to blows, they are of such a
character that, if one of them conquers, you have either to fear him
or not. In either case it will always be more advantageous for you to
declare yourself and to make war strenuously; because, in the first
case, if you do not declare yourself, you will invariably fall a prey
to the conqueror, to the pleasure and satisfaction of him who has been
conquered, and you will have no reasons to offer, nor anything to
protect or to shelter you. Because he who conquers does not want
doubtful friends who will not aid him in the time of trial; and he who
loses will not harbour you because you did not willingly, sword in
hand, court his fate.

Antiochus went into Greece, being sent for by the Aetolians to drive
out the Romans. He sent envoys to the Achaeans, who were friends of
the Romans, exhorting them to remain neutral; and on the other hand
the Romans urged them to take up arms. This question came to be
discussed in the council of the Achaeans, where the legate of
Antiochus urged them to stand neutral. To this the Roman legate
answered: "As for that which has been said, that it is better and more
advantageous for your state not to interfere in our war, nothing can
be more erroneous; because by not interfering you will be left,
without favour or consideration, the guerdon of the conqueror." Thus
it will always happen that he who is not your friend will demand your
neutrality, whilst he who is your friend will entreat you to declare
yourself with arms. And irresolute princes, to avoid present dangers,
generally follow the neutral path, and are generally ruined. But when
a prince declares himself gallantly in favour of one side, if the
party with whom he allies himself conquers, although the victor may be
powerful and may have him at his mercy, yet he is indebted to him, and
there is established a bond of amity; and men are never so shameless
as to become a monument of ingratitude by oppressing you. Victories
after all are never so complete that the victor must not show some
regard, especially to justice. But if he with whom you ally yourself
loses, you may be sheltered by him, and whilst he is able he may aid
you, and you become companions on a fortune that may rise again.

In the second case, when those who fight are of such a character that
you have no anxiety as to who may conquer, so much the more is it
greater prudence to be allied, because you assist at the destruction
of one by the aid of another who, if he had been wise, would have
saved him; and conquering, as it is impossible that he should not do
with your assistance, he remains at your discretion. And here it is to
be noted that a prince ought to take care never to make an alliance
with one more powerful than himself for the purposes of attacking
others, unless necessity compels him, as is said above; because if he
conquers you are at his discretion, and princes ought to avoid as much
as possible being at the discretion of any one. The Venetians joined
with France against the Duke of Milan, and this alliance, which caused
their ruin, could have been avoided. But when it cannot be avoided, as
happened to the Florentines when the Pope and Spain sent armies to
attack Lombardy, then in such a case, for the above reasons, the
prince ought to favour one of the parties.

Never let any Government imagine that it can choose perfectly safe
courses; rather let it expect to have to take very doubtful ones,
because it is found in ordinary affairs that one never seeks to avoid
one trouble without running into another; but prudence consists in
knowing how to distinguish the character of troubles, and for choice
to take the lesser evil.

A prince ought also to show himself a patron of ability, and to honour
the proficient in every art. At the same time he should encourage his
citizens to practise their callings peaceably, both in commerce and
agriculture, and in every other following, so that the one should not
be deterred from improving his possessions for fear lest they be taken
away from him or another from opening up trade for fear of taxes; but
the prince ought to offer rewards to whoever wishes to do these things
and designs in any way to honour his city or state.

Further, he ought to entertain the people with festivals and
spectacles at convenient seasons of the year; and as every city is
divided into guilds or into societies,[*] he ought to hold such bodies
in esteem, and associate with them sometimes, and show himself an
example of courtesy and liberality; nevertheless, always maintaining
the majesty of his rank, for this he must never consent to abate in

[*] "Guilds or societies," "in arti o in tribu." "Arti" were craft or
trade guilds, cf. Florio: "Arte . . . a whole company of any trade
in any city or corporation town." The guilds of Florence are most
admirably described by Mr Edgcumbe Staley in his work on the
subject (Methuen, 1906). Institutions of a somewhat similar
character, called "artel," exist in Russia to-day, cf. Sir
Mackenzie Wallace's "Russia," ed. 1905: "The sons . . . were
always during the working season members of an artel. In some of
the larger towns there are artels of a much more complex kind--
permanent associations, possessing large capital, and pecuniarily
responsible for the acts of the individual members." The word
"artel," despite its apparent similarity, has, Mr Aylmer Maude
assures me, no connection with "ars" or "arte." Its root is that
of the verb "rotisya," to bind oneself by an oath; and it is
generally admitted to be only another form of "rota," which now
signifies a "regimental company." In both words the underlying
idea is that of a body of men united by an oath. "Tribu" were
possibly gentile groups, united by common descent, and included
individuals connected by marriage. Perhaps our words "septs" or
"clans" would be most appropriate.



The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and
they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince.
And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his
understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when
they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise,
because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them
faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion
of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.

There were none who knew Messer Antonio da Venafro as the servant of
Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince of Siena, who would not consider Pandolfo to
be a very clever man in having Venafro for his servant. Because there
are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself;
another which appreciates what others comprehended; and a third which
neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first
is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless.
Therefore, it follows necessarily that, if Pandolfo was not in the
first rank, he was in the second, for whenever one has judgment to
know good and bad when it is said and done, although he himself may
not have the initiative, yet he can recognize the good and the bad in
his servant, and the one he can praise and the other correct; thus the
servant cannot hope to deceive him, and is kept honest.

But to enable a prince to form an opinion of his servant there is one
test which never fails; when you see the servant thinking more of his
own interests than of yours, and seeking inwardly his own profit in
everything, such a man will never make a good servant, nor will you
ever be able to trust him; because he who has the state of another in
his hands ought never to think of himself, but always of his prince,
and never pay any attention to matters in which the prince is not

On the other hand, to keep his servant honest the prince ought to
study him, honouring him, enriching him, doing him kindnesses, sharing
with him the honours and cares; and at the same time let him see that
he cannot stand alone, so that many honours may not make him desire
more, many riches make him wish for more, and that many cares may make
him dread chances. When, therefore, servants, and princes towards
servants, are thus disposed, they can trust each other, but when it is
otherwise, the end will always be disastrous for either one or the



I do not wish to leave out an important branch of this subject, for it
is a danger from which princes are with difficulty preserved, unless
they are very careful and discriminating. It is that of flatterers, of
whom courts are full, because men are so self-complacent in their own
affairs, and in a way so deceived in them, that they are preserved
with difficulty from this pest, and if they wish to defend themselves
they run the danger of falling into contempt. Because there is no
other way of guarding oneself from flatterers except letting men
understand that to tell you the truth does not offend you; but when
every one may tell you the truth, respect for you abates.

Therefore a wise prince ought to hold a third course by choosing the
wise men in his state, and giving to them only the liberty of speaking
the truth to him, and then only of those things of which he inquires,
and of none others; but he ought to question them upon everything, and
listen to their opinions, and afterwards form his own conclusions.
With these councillors, separately and collectively, he ought to carry
himself in such a way that each of them should know that, the more
freely he shall speak, the more he shall be preferred; outside of
these, he should listen to no one, pursue the thing resolved on, and
be steadfast in his resolutions. He who does otherwise is either
overthrown by flatterers, or is so often changed by varying opinions
that he falls into contempt.

I wish on this subject to adduce a modern example. Fra Luca, the man
of affairs to Maximilian,[*] the present emperor, speaking of his
majesty, said: He consulted with no one, yet never got his own way in
anything. This arose because of his following a practice the opposite
to the above; for the emperor is a secretive man--he does not
communicate his designs to any one, nor does he receive opinions on
them. But as in carrying them into effect they become revealed and
known, they are at once obstructed by those men whom he has around
him, and he, being pliant, is diverted from them. Hence it follows
that those things he does one day he undoes the next, and no one ever
understands what he wishes or intends to do, and no one can rely on
his resolutions.

[*] Maximilian I, born in 1459, died 1519, Emperor of the Holy Roman
Empire. He married, first, Mary, daughter of Charles the Bold;
after her death, Bianca Sforza; and thus became involved in
Italian politics.

A prince, therefore, ought always to take counsel, but only when he
wishes and not when others wish; he ought rather to discourage every
one from offering advice unless he asks it; but, however, he ought to
be a constant inquirer, and afterwards a patient listener concerning
the things of which he inquired; also, on learning that nay one, on
any consideration, has not told him the truth, he should let his anger
be felt.

And if there are some who think that a prince who conveys an
impression of his wisdom is not so through his own ability, but
through the good advisers that he has around him, beyond doubt they
are deceived, because this is an axiom which never fails: that a
prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice, unless by
chance he has yielded his affairs entirely to one person who happens
to be a very prudent man. In this case indeed he may be well governed,
but it would not be for long, because such a governor would in a short
time take away his state from him.

But if a prince who is not inexperienced should take counsel from more
than one he will never get united counsels, nor will he know how to
unite them. Each of the counsellors will think of his own interests,
and the prince will not know how to control them or to see through
them. And they are not to found otherwise, because men will always
prove untrue to you unless they are kept honest by constraint.
Therefore it must be inferred that good counsels, whencesoever they
come, are born of the wisdom of the prince, and not the wisdom of the
prince from good counsels.



The previous suggestions, carefully observed, will enable a new prince
to appear well established, and render him at once more secure and
fixed in the state than if he had been long seated there. For the
actions of a new prince are more narrowly observed than those of an
hereditary one, and when they are seen to be able they gain more men
and bind far tighter than ancient blood; because men are attracted
more by the present than by the past, and when they find the present
good they enjoy it and seek no further; they will also make the utmost
defence of a prince if he fails them not in other things. Thus it will
be a double glory for him to have established a new principality, and
adorned and strengthened it with good laws, good arms, good allies,
and with a good example; so will it be a double disgrace to him who,
born a prince, shall lose his state by want of wisdom.

And if those seigniors are considered who have lost their states in
Italy in our times, such as the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan, and
others, there will be found in them, firstly, one common defect in
regard to arms from the causes which have been discussed at length; in
the next place, some one of them will be seen, either to have had the
people hostile, or if he has had the people friendly, he has not known
how to secure the nobles. In the absence of these defects states that
have power enough to keep an army in the field cannot be lost.

Philip of Macedon, not the father of Alexander the Great, but he who
was conquered by Titus Quintius, had not much territory compared to
the greatness of the Romans and of Greece who attacked him, yet being
a warlike man who knew how to attract the people and secure the
nobles, he sustained the war against his enemies for many years, and
if in the end he lost the dominion of some cities, nevertheless he
retained the kingdom.

Therefore, do not let our princes accuse fortune for the loss of their
principalities after so many years' possession, but rather their own
sloth, because in quiet times they never thought there could be a
change (it is a common defect in man not to make any provision in the
calm against the tempest), and when afterwards the bad times came they
thought of flight and not of defending themselves, and they hoped that
the people, disgusted with the insolence of the conquerors, would
recall them. This course, when others fail, may be good, but it is
very bad to have neglected all other expedients for that, since you
would never wish to fall because you trusted to be able to find
someone later on to restore you. This again either does not happen,
or, if it does, it will not be for your security, because that
deliverance is of no avail which does not depend upon yourself; those
only are reliable, certain, and durable that depend on yourself and
your valour.



It is not unknown to me how many men have had, and still have, the
opinion that the affairs of the world are in such wise governed by
fortune and by God that men with their wisdom cannot direct them and
that no one can even help them; and because of this they would have us
believe that it is not necessary to labour much in affairs, but to let
chance govern them. This opinion has been more credited in our times
because of the great changes in affairs which have been seen, and may
still be seen, every day, beyond all human conjecture. Sometimes
pondering over this, I am in some degree inclined to their opinion.
Nevertheless, not to extinguish our free will, I hold it to be true
that Fortune is the arbiter of one-half of our actions,[*] but that
she still leaves us to direct the other half, or perhaps a little

[*] Frederick the Great was accustomed to say: "The older one gets the
more convinced one becomes that his Majesty King Chance does
three-quarters of the business of this miserable universe."
Sorel's "Eastern Question."

I compare her to one of those raging rivers, which when in flood
overflows the plains, sweeping away trees and buildings, bearing away
the soil from place to place; everything flies before it, all yield to
its violence, without being able in any way to withstand it; and yet,
though its nature be such, it does not follow therefore that men, when
the weather becomes fair, shall not make provision, both with defences
and barriers, in such a manner that, rising again, the waters may pass
away by canal, and their force be neither so unrestrained nor so
dangerous. So it happens with fortune, who shows her power where
valour has not prepared to resist her, and thither she turns her
forces where she knows that barriers and defences have not been raised
to constrain her.

And if you will consider Italy, which is the seat of these changes,
and which has given to them their impulse, you will see it to be an
open country without barriers and without any defence. For if it had
been defended by proper valour, as are Germany, Spain, and France,
either this invasion would not have made the great changes it has made
or it would not have come at all. And this I consider enough to say
concerning resistance to fortune in general.

But confining myself more to the particular, I say that a prince may
be seen happy to-day and ruined to-morrow without having shown any
change of disposition or character. This, I believe, arises firstly
from causes that have already been discussed at length, namely, that
the prince who relies entirely on fortune is lost when it changes. I
believe also that he will be successful who directs his actions
according to the spirit of the times, and that he whose actions do not
accord with the times will not be successful. Because men are seen, in
affairs that lead to the end which every man has before him, namely,
glory and riches, to get there by various methods; one with caution,
another with haste; one by force, another by skill; one by patience,
another by its opposite; and each one succeeds in reaching the goal by
a different method. One can also see of two cautious men the one
attain his end, the other fail; and similarly, two men by different
observances are equally successful, the one being cautious, the other
impetuous; all this arises from nothing else than whether or not they
conform in their methods to the spirit of the times. This follows from
what I have said, that two men working differently bring about the
same effect, and of two working similarly, one attains his object and
the other does not.

Changes in estate also issue from this, for if, to one who governs
himself with caution and patience, times and affairs converge in such
a way that his administration is successful, his fortune is made; but
if times and affairs change, he is ruined if he does not change his
course of action. But a man is not often found sufficiently
circumspect to know how to accommodate himself to the change, both
because he cannot deviate from what nature inclines him to do, and
also because, having always prospered by acting in one way, he cannot
be persuaded that it is well to leave it; and, therefore, the cautious
man, when it is time to turn adventurous, does not know how to do it,
hence he is ruined; but had he changed his conduct with the times
fortune would not have changed.

Pope Julius the Second went to work impetuously in all his affairs,
and found the times and circumstances conform so well to that line of
action that he always met with success. Consider his first enterprise
against Bologna, Messer Giovanni Bentivogli being still alive. The
Venetians were not agreeable to it, nor was the King of Spain, and he
had the enterprise still under discussion with the King of France;
nevertheless he personally entered upon the expedition with his
accustomed boldness and energy, a move which made Spain and the
Venetians stand irresolute and passive, the latter from fear, the
former from desire to recover the kingdom of Naples; on the other
hand, he drew after him the King of France, because that king, having
observed the movement, and desiring to make the Pope his friend so as
to humble the Venetians, found it impossible to refuse him. Therefore
Julius with his impetuous action accomplished what no other pontiff
with simple human wisdom could have done; for if he had waited in Rome
until he could get away, with his plans arranged and everything fixed,
as any other pontiff would have done, he would never have succeeded.
Because the King of France would have made a thousand excuses, and the
others would have raised a thousand fears.

I will leave his other actions alone, as they were all alike, and they
all succeeded, for the shortness of his life did not let him
experience the contrary; but if circumstances had arisen which
required him to go cautiously, his ruin would have followed, because
he would never have deviated from those ways to which nature inclined

I conclude, therefore that, fortune being changeful and mankind
steadfast in their ways, so long as the two are in agreement men are
successful, but unsuccessful when they fall out. For my part I
consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because
fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary
to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be
mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more
coldly. She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men,
because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity
command her.



Having carefully considered the subject of the above discourses, and
wondering within myself whether the present times were propitious to a
new prince, and whether there were elements that would give an
opportunity to a wise and virtuous one to introduce a new order of
things which would do honour to him and good to the people of this
country, it appears to me that so many things concur to favour a new
prince that I never knew a time more fit than the present.

And if, as I said, it was necessary that the people of Israel should
be captive so as to make manifest the ability of Moses; that the
Persians should be oppressed by the Medes so as to discover the
greatness of the soul of Cyrus; and that the Athenians should be
dispersed to illustrate the capabilities of Theseus: then at the
present time, in order to discover the virtue of an Italian spirit, it
was necessary that Italy should be reduced to the extremity that she
is now in, that she should be more enslaved than the Hebrews, more
oppressed than the Persians, more scattered than the Athenians;
without head, without order, beaten, despoiled, torn, overrun; and to
have endured every kind of desolation.

Although lately some spark may have been shown by one, which made us
think he was ordained by God for our redemption, nevertheless it was
afterwards seen, in the height of his career, that fortune rejected
him; so that Italy, left as without life, waits for him who shall yet
heal her wounds and put an end to the ravaging and plundering of
Lombardy, to the swindling and taxing of the kingdom and of Tuscany,
and cleanse those sores that for long have festered. It is seen how
she entreats God to send someone who shall deliver her from these
wrongs and barbarous insolencies. It is seen also that she is ready
and willing to follow a banner if only someone will raise it.

Nor is there to be seen at present one in whom she can place more hope
than in your illustrious house,[*] with its valour and fortune,
favoured by God and by the Church of which it is now the chief, and
which could be made the head of this redemption. This will not be
difficult if you will recall to yourself the actions and lives of the
men I have named. And although they were great and wonderful men, yet
they were men, and each one of them had no more opportunity than the
present offers, for their enterprises were neither more just nor
easier than this, nor was God more their friend than He is yours.

[*] Giuliano de Medici. He had just been created a cardinal by Leo X.
In 1523 Giuliano was elected Pope, and took the title of Clement

With us there is great justice, because that war is just which is
necessary, and arms are hallowed when there is no other hope but in
them. Here there is the greatest willingness, and where the
willingness is great the difficulties cannot be great if you will only
follow those men to whom I have directed your attention. Further than
this, how extraordinarily the ways of God have been manifested beyond
example: the sea is divided, a cloud has led the way, the rock has
poured forth water, it has rained manna, everything has contributed to
your greatness; you ought to do the rest. God is not willing to do
everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory
which belongs to us.

And it is not to be wondered at if none of the above-named Italians
have been able to accomplish all that is expected from your
illustrious house; and if in so many revolutions in Italy, and in so
many campaigns, it has always appeared as if military virtue were
exhausted, this has happened because the old order of things was not
good, and none of us have known how to find a new one. And nothing
honours a man more than to establish new laws and new ordinances when
he himself was newly risen. Such things when they are well founded and
dignified will make him revered and admired, and in Italy there are
not wanting opportunities to bring such into use in every form.

Here there is great valour in the limbs whilst it fails in the head.
Look attentively at the duels and the hand-to-hand combats, how
superior the Italians are in strength, dexterity, and subtlety. But
when it comes to armies they do not bear comparison, and this springs
entirely from the insufficiency of the leaders, since those who are
capable are not obedient, and each one seems to himself to know, there
having never been any one so distinguished above the rest, either by
valour or fortune, that others would yield to him. Hence it is that
for so long a time, and during so much fighting in the past twenty
years, whenever there has been an army wholly Italian, it has always
given a poor account of itself; the first witness to this is Il Taro,
afterwards Allesandria, Capua, Genoa, Vaila, Bologna, Mestri.[*]

[*] The battles of Il Taro, 1495; Alessandria, 1499; Capua, 1501;
Genoa, 1507; Vaila, 1509; Bologna, 1511; Mestri, 1513.

If, therefore, your illustrious house wishes to follow these
remarkable men who have redeemed their country, it is necessary before
all things, as a true foundation for every enterprise, to be provided
with your own forces, because there can be no more faithful, truer, or
better soldiers. And although singly they are good, altogether they
will be much better when they find themselves commanded by their
prince, honoured by him, and maintained at his expense. Therefore it
is necessary to be prepared with such arms, so that you can be
defended against foreigners by Italian valour.

And although Swiss and Spanish infantry may be considered very
formidable, nevertheless there is a defect in both, by reason of which
a third order would not only be able to oppose them, but might be
relied upon to overthrow them. For the Spaniards cannot resist
cavalry, and the Switzers are afraid of infantry whenever they
encounter them in close combat. Owing to this, as has been and may
again be seen, the Spaniards are unable to resist French cavalry, and
the Switzers are overthrown by Spanish infantry. And although a
complete proof of this latter cannot be shown, nevertheless there was
some evidence of it at the battle of Ravenna, when the Spanish
infantry were confronted by German battalions, who follow the same
tactics as the Swiss; when the Spaniards, by agility of body and with
the aid of their shields, got in under the pikes of the Germans and
stood out of danger, able to attack, while the Germans stood helpless,
and, if the cavalry had not dashed up, all would have been over with
them. It is possible, therefore, knowing the defects of both these
infantries, to invent a new one, which will resist cavalry and not be
afraid of infantry; this need not create a new order of arms, but a
variation upon the old. And these are the kind of improvements which
confer reputation and power upon a new prince.

This opportunity, therefore, ought not to be allowed to pass for
letting Italy at last see her liberator appear. Nor can one express
the love with which he would be received in all those provinces which
have suffered so much from these foreign scourings, with what thirst
for revenge, with what stubborn faith, with what devotion, with what
tears. What door would be closed to him? Who would refuse obedience to
him? What envy would hinder him? What Italian would refuse him homage?
To all of us this barbarous dominion stinks. Let, therefore, your
illustrious house take up this charge with that courage and hope with
which all just enterprises are undertaken, so that under its standard
our native country may be ennobled, and under its auspices may be
verified that saying of Petrarch:

Virtu contro al Furore
Prendera l'arme, e fia il combatter corto:
Che l'antico valore
Negli italici cuor non e ancor morto.

Virtue against fury shall advance the fight,
And it i' th' combat soon shall put to flight:
For the old Roman valour is not dead,
Nor in th' Italians' brests extinguished.

Edward Dacre, 1640.







And sent to his friends



It appears, dearest Zanobi and Luigi, a wonderful thing to those who
have considered the matter, that all men, or the larger number of
them, who have performed great deeds in the world, and excelled all
others in their day, have had their birth and beginning in baseness
and obscurity; or have been aggrieved by Fortune in some outrageous
way. They have either been exposed to the mercy of wild beasts, or
they have had so mean a parentage that in shame they have given
themselves out to be sons of Jove or of some other deity. It would be
wearisome to relate who these persons may have been because they are
well known to everybody, and, as such tales would not be particularly
edifying to those who read them, they are omitted. I believe that
these lowly beginnings of great men occur because Fortune is desirous
of showing to the world that such men owe much to her and little to
wisdom, because she begins to show her hand when wisdom can really
take no part in their career: thus all success must be attributed to
her. Castruccio Castracani of Lucca was one of those men who did great
deeds, if he is measured by the times in which he lived and the city
in which he was born; but, like many others, he was neither fortunate
nor distinguished in his birth, as the course of this history will
show. It appeared to be desirable to recall his memory, because I have
discerned in him such indications of valour and fortune as should make
him a great exemplar to men. I think also that I ought to call your
attention to his actions, because you of all men I know delight most
in noble deeds.

The family of Castracani was formerly numbered among the noble
families of Lucca, but in the days of which I speak it had somewhat
fallen in estate, as so often happens in this world. To this family
was born a son Antonio, who became a priest of the order of San
Michele of Lucca, and for this reason was honoured with the title of
Messer Antonio. He had an only sister, who had been married to
Buonaccorso Cenami, but Buonaccorso dying she became a widow, and not
wishing to marry again went to live with her brother. Messer Antonio
had a vineyard behind the house where he resided, and as it was
bounded on all sides by gardens, any person could have access to it
without difficulty. One morning, shortly after sunrise, Madonna
Dianora, as the sister of Messer Antonio was called, had occasion to
go into the vineyard as usual to gather herbs for seasoning the
dinner, and hearing a slight rustling among the leaves of a vine she
turned her eyes in that direction, and heard something resembling the
cry of an infant. Whereupon she went towards it, and saw the hands and
face of a baby who was lying enveloped in the leaves and who seemed to
be crying for its mother. Partly wondering and partly fearing, yet
full of compassion, she lifted it up and carried it to the house,
where she washed it and clothed it with clean linen as is customary,
and showed it to Messer Antonio when he returned home. When he heard
what had happened and saw the child he was not less surprised or
compassionate than his sister. They discussed between themselves what
should be done, and seeing that he was priest and that she had no
children, they finally determined to bring it up. They had a nurse for
it, and it was reared and loved as if it were their own child. They
baptized it, and gave it the name of Castruccio after their father. As
the years passed Castruccio grew very handsome, and gave evidence of
wit and discretion, and learnt with a quickness beyond his years those
lessons which Messer Antonio imparted to him. Messer Antonio intended
to make a priest of him, and in time would have inducted him into his
canonry and other benefices, and all his instruction was given with
this object; but Antonio discovered that the character of Castruccio
was quite unfitted for the priesthood. As soon as Castruccio reached
the age of fourteen he began to take less notice of the chiding of
Messer Antonio and Madonna Dianora and no longer to fear them; he left
off reading ecclesiastical books, and turned to playing with arms,
delighting in nothing so much as in learning their uses, and in
running, leaping, and wrestling with other boys. In all exercises he
far excelled his companions in courage and bodily strength, and if at
any time he did turn to books, only those pleased him which told of
wars and the mighty deeds of men. Messer Antonio beheld all this with
vexation and sorrow.

There lived in the city of Lucca a gentleman of the Guinigi family,
named Messer Francesco, whose profession was arms and who in riches,
bodily strength, and valour excelled all other men in Lucca. He had
often fought under the command of the Visconti of Milan, and as a
Ghibelline was the valued leader of that party in Lucca. This
gentleman resided in Lucca and was accustomed to assemble with others
most mornings and evenings under the balcony of the Podesta, which is
at the top of the square of San Michele, the finest square in Lucca,
and he had often seen Castruccio taking part with other children of
the street in those games of which I have spoken. Noticing that
Castruccio far excelled the other boys, and that he appeared to
exercise a royal authority over them, and that they loved and obeyed
him, Messer Francesco became greatly desirous of learning who he was.
Being informed of the circumstances of the bringing up of Castruccio
he felt a greater desire to have him near to him. Therefore he called
him one day and asked him whether he would more willingly live in the
house of a gentleman, where he would learn to ride horses and use
arms, or in the house of a priest, where he would learn nothing but
masses and the services of the Church. Messer Francesco could see that
it pleased Castruccio greatly to hear horses and arms spoken of, even
though he stood silent, blushing modestly; but being encouraged by
Messer Francesco to speak, he answered that, if his master were
agreeable, nothing would please him more than to give up his priestly
studies and take up those of a soldier. This reply delighted Messer
Francesco, and in a very short time he obtained the consent of Messer
Antonio, who was driven to yield by his knowledge of the nature of the
lad, and the fear that he would not be able to hold him much longer.

Thus Castruccio passed from the house of Messer Antonio the priest to
the house of Messer Francesco Guinigi the soldier, and it was
astonishing to find that in a very short time he manifested all that
virtue and bearing which we are accustomed to associate with a true
gentleman. In the first place he became an accomplished horseman, and
could manage with ease the most fiery charger, and in all jousts and
tournaments, although still a youth, he was observed beyond all
others, and he excelled in all exercises of strength and dexterity.
But what enhanced so much the charm of these accomplishments, was the
delightful modesty which enabled him to avoid offence in either act or
word to others, for he was deferential to the great men, modest with
his equals, and courteous to his inferiors. These gifts made him
beloved, not only by all the Guinigi family, but by all Lucca. When
Castruccio had reached his eighteenth year, the Ghibellines were
driven from Pavia by the Guelphs, and Messer Francesco was sent by the
Visconti to assist the Ghibellines, and with him went Castruccio, in
charge of his forces. Castruccio gave ample proof of his prudence and
courage in this expedition, acquiring greater reputation than any
other captain, and his name and fame were known, not only in Pavia,
but throughout all Lombardy.

Castruccio, having returned to Lucca in far higher estimation that he
left it, did not omit to use all the means in his power to gain as
many friends as he could, neglecting none of those arts which are
necessary for that purpose. About this time Messer Francesco died,
leaving a son thirteen years of age named Pagolo, and having appointed
Castruccio to be his son's tutor and administrator of his estate.
Before he died Francesco called Castruccio to him, and prayed him to
show Pagolo that goodwill which he (Francesco) had always shown to
HIM, and to render to the son the gratitude which he had not been able
to repay to the father. Upon the death of Francesco, Castruccio became
the governor and tutor of Pagolo, which increased enormously his power
and position, and created a certain amount of envy against him in
Lucca in place of the former universal goodwill, for many men
suspected him of harbouring tyrannical intentions. Among these the
leading man was Giorgio degli Opizi, the head of the Guelph party.
This man hoped after the death of Messer Francesco to become the chief
man in Lucca, but it seemed to him that Castruccio, with the great
abilities which he already showed, and holding the position of
governor, deprived him of his opportunity; therefore he began to sow
those seeds which should rob Castruccio of his eminence. Castruccio at
first treated this with scorn, but afterwards he grew alarmed,
thinking that Messer Giorgio might be able to bring him into disgrace
with the deputy of King Ruberto of Naples and have him driven out of

The Lord of Pisa at that time was Uguccione of the Faggiuola of
Arezzo, who being in the first place elected their captain afterwards
became their lord. There resided in Paris some exiled Ghibellines from
Lucca, with whom Castruccio held communications with the object of
effecting their restoration by the help of Uguccione. Castruccio also
brought into his plans friends from Lucca who would not endure the
authority of the Opizi. Having fixed upon a plan to be followed,
Castruccio cautiously fortified the tower of the Onesti, filling it
with supplies and munitions of war, in order that it might stand a
siege for a few days in case of need. When the night came which had
been agreed upon with Uguccione, who had occupied the plain between
the mountains and Pisa with many men, the signal was given, and
without being observed Uguccione approached the gate of San Piero and
set fire to the portcullis. Castruccio raised a great uproar within
the city, calling the people to arms and forcing open the gate from
his side. Uguccione entered with his men, poured through the town, and
killed Messer Giorgio with all his family and many of his friends and
supporters. The governor was driven out, and the government reformed
according to the wishes of Uguccione, to the detriment of the city,
because it was found that more than one hundred families were exiled
at that time. Of those who fled, part went to Florence and part to
Pistoia, which city was the headquarters of the Guelph party, and for
this reason it became most hostile to Uguccione and the Lucchese.

As it now appeared to the Florentines and others of the Guelph party
that the Ghibellines absorbed too much power in Tuscany, they
determined to restore the exiled Guelphs to Lucca. They assembled a
large army in the Val di Nievole, and seized Montecatini; from thence
they marched to Montecarlo, in order to secure the free passage into
Lucca. Upon this Uguccione assembled his Pisan and Lucchese forces,
and with a number of German cavalry which he drew out of Lombardy, he
moved against the quarters of the Florentines, who upon the appearance
of the enemy withdrew from Montecarlo, and posted themselves between
Montecatini and Pescia. Uguccione now took up a position near to
Montecarlo, and within about two miles of the enemy, and slight
skirmishes between the horse of both parties were of daily occurrence.
Owing to the illness of Uguccione, the Pisans and Lucchese delayed
coming to battle with the enemy. Uguccione, finding himself growing
worse, went to Montecarlo to be cured, and left the command of the
army in the hands of Castruccio. This change brought about the ruin of
the Guelphs, who, thinking that the hostile army having lost its
captain had lost its head, grew over-confident. Castruccio observed
this, and allowed some days to pass in order to encourage this belief;
he also showed signs of fear, and did not allow any of the munitions
of the camp to be used. On the other side, the Guelphs grew more
insolent the more they saw these evidences of fear, and every day they
drew out in the order of battle in front of the army of Castruccio.
Presently, deeming that the enemy was sufficiently emboldened, and
having mastered their tactics, he decided to join battle with them.
First he spoke a few words of encouragement to his soldiers, and
pointed out to them the certainty of victory if they would but obey
his commands. Castruccio had noticed how the enemy had placed all his
best troops in the centre of the line of battle, and his less reliable
men on the wings of the army; whereupon he did exactly the opposite,
putting his most valiant men on the flanks, while those on whom he
could not so strongly rely he moved to the centre. Observing this
order of battle, he drew out of his lines and quickly came in sight of
the hostile army, who, as usual, had come in their insolence to defy
him. He then commanded his centre squadrons to march slowly, whilst he
moved rapidly forward those on the wings. Thus, when they came into
contact with the enemy, only the wings of the two armies became
engaged, whilst the center battalions remained out of action, for
these two portions of the line of battle were separated from each
other by a long interval and thus unable to reach each other. By this
expedient the more valiant part of Castruccio's men were opposed to
the weaker part of the enemy's troops, and the most efficient men of
the enemy were disengaged; and thus the Florentines were unable to
fight with those who were arrayed opposite to them, or to give any
assistance to their own flanks. So, without much difficulty,
Castruccio put the enemy to flight on both flanks, and the centre
battalions took to flight when they found themselves exposed to
attack, without having a chance of displaying their valour. The defeat
was complete, and the loss in men very heavy, there being more than
ten thousand men killed with many officers and knights of the Guelph
party in Tuscany, and also many princes who had come to help them,
among whom were Piero, the brother of King Ruberto, and Carlo, his
nephew, and Filippo, the lord of Taranto. On the part of Castruccio
the loss did not amount to more than three hundred men, among whom was
Francesco, the son of Uguccione, who, being young and rash, was killed
in the first onset.

This victory so greatly increased the reputation of Castruccio that
Uguccione conceived some jealousy and suspicion of him, because it
appeared to Uguccione that this victory had given him no increase of
power, but rather than diminished it. Being of this mind, he only
waited for an opportunity to give effect to it. This occurred on the
death of Pier Agnolo Micheli, a man of great repute and abilities in
Lucca, the murderer of whom fled to the house of Castruccio for
refuge. On the sergeants of the captain going to arrest the murderer,
they were driven off by Castruccio, and the murderer escaped. This
affair coming to the knowledge of Uguccione, who was than at Pisa, it
appeared to him a proper opportunity to punish Castruccio. He
therefore sent for his son Neri, who was the governor of Lucca, and
commissioned him to take Castruccio prisoner at a banquet and put him
to death. Castruccio, fearing no evil, went to the governor in a
friendly way, was entertained at supper, and then thrown into prison.
But Neri, fearing to put him to death lest the people should be
incensed, kept him alive, in order to hear further from his father
concerning his intentions. Ugucionne cursed the hesitation and
cowardice of his son, and at once set out from Pisa to Lucca with four
hundred horsemen to finish the business in his own way; but he had not
yet reached the baths when the Pisans rebelled and put his deputy to
death and created Count Gaddo della Gherardesca their lord. Before
Uguccione reached Lucca he heard of the occurrences at Pisa, but it
did not appear wise to him to turn back, lest the Lucchese with the
example of Pisa before them should close their gates against him. But
the Lucchese, having heard of what had happened at Pisa, availed
themselves of this opportunity to demand the liberation of Castruccio,
notwithstanding that Uguccione had arrived in their city. They first
began to speak of it in private circles, afterwards openly in the
squares and streets; then they raised a tumult, and with arms in their
hands went to Uguccione and demanded that Castruccio should be set at
liberty. Uguccione, fearing that worse might happen, released him from
prison. Whereupon Castruccio gathered his friends around him, and with
the help of the people attacked Uguccione; who, finding he had no
resource but in flight, rode away with his friends to Lombardy, to the
lords of Scale, where he died in poverty.

But Castruccio from being a prisoner became almost a prince in Lucca,
and he carried himself so discreetly with his friends and the people
that they appointed him captain of their army for one year. Having
obtained this, and wishing to gain renown in war, he planned the
recovery of the many towns which had rebelled after the departure of
Uguccione, and with the help of the Pisans, with whom he had concluded
a treaty, he marched to Serezzana. To capture this place he
constructed a fort against it, which is called to-day Zerezzanello; in
the course of two months Castruccio captured the town. With the
reputation gained at that siege, he rapidly seized Massa, Carrara, and
Lavenza, and in a short time had overrun the whole of Lunigiana. In
order to close the pass which leads from Lombardy to Lunigiana, he
besieged Pontremoli and wrested it from the hands of Messer Anastagio
Palavicini, who was the lord of it. After this victory he returned to
Lucca, and was welcomed by the whole people. And now Castruccio,
deeming it imprudent any longer to defer making himself a prince, got
himself created the lord of Lucca by the help of Pazzino del Poggio,
Puccinello dal Portico, Francesco Boccansacchi, and Cecco Guinigi, all
of whom he had corrupted; and he was afterwards solemnly and
deliberately elected prince by the people. At this time Frederick of
Bavaria, the King of the Romans, came into Italy to assume the
Imperial crown, and Castruccio, in order that he might make friends
with him, met him at the head of five hundred horsemen. Castruccio had
left as his deputy in Lucca, Pagolo Guinigi, who was held in high
estimation, because of the people's love for the memory of his father.
Castruccio was received in great honour by Frederick, and many
privileges were conferred upon him, and he was appointed the emperor's
lieutenant in Tuscany. At this time the Pisans were in great fear of
Gaddo della Gherardesca, whom they had driven out of Pisa, and they
had recourse for assistance to Frederick. Frederick created Castruccio
the lord of Pisa, and the Pisans, in dread of the Guelph party, and
particularly of the Florentines, were constrained to accept him as
their lord.

Frederick, having appointed a governor in Rome to watch his Italian
affairs, returned to Germany. All the Tuscan and Lombardian
Ghibellines, who followed the imperial lead, had recourse to
Castruccio for help and counsel, and all promised him the governorship
of his country, if enabled to recover it with his assistance. Among
these exiles were Matteo Guidi, Nardo Scolari, Lapo Uberti, Gerozzo
Nardi, and Piero Buonaccorsi, all exiled Florentines and Ghibellines.
Castruccio had the secret intention of becoming the master of all
Tuscany by the aid of these men and of his own forces; and in order to
gain greater weight in affairs, he entered into a league with Messer
Matteo Visconti, the Prince of Milan, and organized for him the forces
of his city and the country districts. As Lucca had five gates, he
divided his own country districts into five parts, which he supplied
with arms, and enrolled the men under captains and ensigns, so that he
could quickly bring into the field twenty thousand soldiers, without
those whom he could summon to his assistance from Pisa. While he
surrounded himself with these forces and allies, it happened at Messer
Matteo Visconti was attacked by the Guelphs of Piacenza, who had
driven out the Ghibellines with the assistance of a Florentine army
and the King Ruberto. Messer Matteo called upon Castruccio to invade
the Florentines in their own territories, so that, being attacked at
home, they should be compelled to draw their army out of Lombardy in
order to defend themselves. Castruccio invaded the Valdarno, and
seized Fucecchio and San Miniato, inflicting immense damage upon the
country. Whereupon the Florentines recalled their army, which had
scarcely reached Tuscany, when Castruccio was forced by other
necessities to return to Lucca.

There resided in the city of Lucca the Poggio family, who were so
powerful that they could not only elevate Castruccio, but even advance
him to the dignity of prince; and it appearing to them they had not
received such rewards for their services as they deserved, they
incited other families to rebel and to drive Castruccio out of Lucca.
They found their opportunity one morning, and arming themselves, they
set upon the lieutenant whom Castruccio had left to maintain order and
killed him. They endeavoured to raise the people in revolt, but
Stefano di Poggio, a peaceable old man who had taken no hand in the
rebellion, intervened and compelled them by his authority to lay down
their arms; and he offered to be their mediator with Castruccio to
obtain from him what they desired. Therefore they laid down their arms
with no greater intelligence than they had taken them up. Castruccio,
having heard the news of what had happened at Lucca, at once put
Pagolo Guinigi in command of the army, and with a troop of cavalry set
out for home. Contrary to his expectations, he found the rebellion at
an end, yet he posted his men in the most advantageous places
throughout the city. As it appeared to Stefano that Castruccio ought
to be very much obliged to him, he sought him out, and without saying
anything on his own behalf, for he did not recognize any need for
doing so, he begged Castruccio to pardon the other members of his
family by reason of their youth, their former friendships, and the
obligations which Castruccio was under to their house. To this
Castruccio graciously responded, and begged Stefano to reassure
himself, declaring that it gave him more pleasure to find the tumult
at an end than it had ever caused him anxiety to hear of its
inception. He encouraged Stefano to bring his family to him, saying
that he thanked God for having given him the opportunity of showing
his clemency and liberality. Upon the word of Stefano and Castruccio
they surrendered, and with Stefano were immediately thrown into prison
and put to death. Meanwhile the Florentines had recovered San Miniato,
whereupon it seemed advisable to Castruccio to make peace, as it did
not appear to him that he was sufficiently secure at Lucca to leave
him. He approached the Florentines with the proposal of a truce, which
they readily entertained, for they were weary of the war, and desirous
of getting rid of the expenses of it. A treaty was concluded with them
for two years, by which both parties agreed to keep the conquests they
had made. Castruccio thus released from this trouble, turned his
attention to affairs in Lucca, and in order that he should not again
be subject to the perils from which he had just escaped, he, under
various pretences and reasons, first wiped out all those who by their
ambition might aspire to the principality; not sparing one of them,
but depriving them of country and property, and those whom he had in
his hands of life also, stating that he had found by experience that
none of them were to be trusted. Then for his further security he
raised a fortress in Lucca with the stones of the towers of those whom
he had killed or hunted out of the state.

Whilst Castruccio made peace with the Florentines, and strengthened
his position in Lucca, he neglected no opportunity, short of open war,
of increasing his importance elsewhere. It appeared to him that if he
could get possession of Pistoia, he would have one foot in Florence,
which was his great desire. He, therefore, in various ways made
friends with the mountaineers, and worked matters so in Pistoia that
both parties confided their secrets to him. Pistoia was divided, as it
always had been, into the Bianchi and Neri parties; the head of the
Bianchi was Bastiano di Possente, and of the Neri, Jacopo da Gia. Each
of these men held secret communications with Castruccio, and each
desired to drive the other out of the city; and, after many
threatenings, they came to blows. Jacopo fortified himself at the
Florentine gate, Bastiano at that of the Lucchese side of the city;
both trusted more in Castruccio than in the Florentines, because they
believed that Castruccio was far more ready and willing to fight than
the Florentines, and they both sent to him for assistance. He gave
promises to both, saying to Bastiano that he would come in person, and
to Jacopo that he would send his pupil, Pagolo Guinigi. At the
appointed time he sent forward Pagolo by way of Pisa, and went himself
direct to Pistoia; at midnight both of them met outside the city, and
both were admitted as friends. Thus the two leaders entered, and at a
signal given by Castruccio, one killed Jacopo da Gia, and the other
Bastiano di Possente, and both took prisoners or killed the partisans
of either faction. Without further opposition Pistoia passed into the
hands of Castruccio, who, having forced the Signoria to leave the
palace, compelled the people to yield obedience to him, making them
many promises and remitting their old debts. The countryside flocked
to the city to see the new prince, and all were filled with hope and
quickly settled down, influenced in a great measure by his great

About this time great disturbances arose in Rome, owing to the
dearness of living which was caused by the absence of the pontiff at
Avignon. The German governor, Enrico, was much blamed for what
happened--murders and tumults following each other daily, without his
being able to put an end to them. This caused Enrico much anxiety lest
the Romans should call in Ruberto, the King of Naples, who would drive
the Germans out of the city, and bring back the Pope. Having no nearer
friend to whom he could apply for help than Castruccio, he sent to
him, begging him not only to give him assistance, but also to come in
person to Rome. Castruccio considered that he ought not to hesitate to
render the emperor this service, because he believed that he himself
would not be safe if at any time the emperor ceased to hold Rome.
Leaving Pagolo Guinigi in command at Lucca, Castruccio set out for
Rome with six hundred horsemen, where he was received by Enrico with
the greatest distinction. In a short time the presence of Castruccio
obtained such respect for the emperor that, without bloodshed or
violence, good order was restored, chiefly by reason of Castruccio
having sent by sea from the country round Pisa large quantities of
corn, and thus removed the source of the trouble. When he had
chastised some of the Roman leaders, and admonished others, voluntary
obedience was rendered to Enrico. Castruccio received many honours,
and was made a Roman senator. This dignity was assumed with the
greatest pomp, Castruccio being clothed in a brocaded toga, which had
the following words embroidered on its front: "I am what God wills."
Whilst on the back was: "What God desires shall be."

During this time the Florentines, who were much enraged that
Castruccio should have seized Pistoia during the truce, considered how
they could tempt the city to rebel, to do which they thought would not
be difficult in his absence. Among the exiled Pistoians in Florence
were Baldo Cecchi and Jacopo Baldini, both men of leading and ready to
face danger. These men kept up communications with their friends in
Pistoia, and with the aid of the Florentines entered the city by
night, and after driving out some of Castruccio's officials and
partisans, and killing others, they restored the city to its freedom.
The news of this greatly angered Castruccio, and taking leave of
Enrico, he pressed on in great haste to Pistoia. When the Florentines
heard of his return, knowing that he would lose no time, they decided
to intercept him with their forces in the Val di Nievole, under the
belief that by doing so they would cut off his road to Pistoia.
Assembling a great army of the supporters of the Guelph cause, the
Florentines entered the Pistoian territories. On the other hand,
Castruccio reached Montecarlo with his army; and having heard where
the Florentines' lay, he decided not to encounter it in the plains of
Pistoia, nor to await it in the plains of Pescia, but, as far as he
possibly could, to attack it boldly in the Pass of Serravalle. He
believed that if he succeeded in this design, victory was assured,
although he was informed that the Florentines had thirty thousand men,
whilst he had only twelve thousand. Although he had every confidence
in his own abilities and the valour of his troops, yet he hesitated to
attack his enemy in the open lest he should be overwhelmed by numbers.
Serravalle is a castle between Pescia and Pistoia, situated on a hill
which blocks the Val di Nievole, not in the exact pass, but about a
bowshot beyond; the pass itself is in places narrow and steep, whilst
in general it ascends gently, but is still narrow, especially at the
summit where the waters divide, so that twenty men side by side could
hold it. The lord of Serravalle was Manfred, a German, who, before
Castruccio became lord of Pistoia, had been allowed to remain in
possession of the castle, it being common to the Lucchese and the
Pistoians, and unclaimed by either--neither of them wishing to
displace Manfred as long as he kept his promise of neutrality, and
came under obligations to no one. For these reasons, and also because
the castle was well fortified, he had always been able to maintain his
position. It was here that Castruccio had determined to fall upon his
enemy, for here his few men would have the advantage, and there was no
fear lest, seeing the large masses of the hostile force before they
became engaged, they should not stand. As soon as this trouble with
Florence arose, Castruccio saw the immense advantage which possession
of this castle would give him, and having an intimate friendship with
a resident in the castle, he managed matters so with him that four
hundred of his men were to be admitted into the castle the night
before the attack on the Florentines, and the castellan put to death.

Castruccio, having prepared everything, had now to encourage the
Florentines to persist in their desire to carry the seat of war away
from Pistoia into the Val di Nievole, therefore he did not move his
army from Montecarlo. Thus the Florentines hurried on until they
reached their encampment under Serravalle, intending to cross the hill
on the following morning. In the meantime, Castruccio had seized the
castle at night, had also moved his army from Montecarlo, and marching
from thence at midnight in dead silence, had reached the foot of
Serravalle: thus he and the Florentines commenced the ascent of the
hill at the same time in the morning. Castruccio sent forward his
infantry by the main road, and a troop of four hundred horsemen by a
path on the left towards the castle. The Florentines sent forward four
hundred cavalry ahead of their army which was following, never
expecting to find Castruccio in possession of the hill, nor were they
aware of his having seized the castle. Thus it happened that the
Florentine horsemen mounting the hill were completely taken by
surprise when they discovered the infantry of Castruccio, and so close
were they upon it they had scarcely time to pull down their visors. It
was a case of unready soldiers being attacked by ready, and they were
assailed with such vigour that with difficulty they could hold their
own, although some few of them got through. When the noise of the
fighting reached the Florentine camp below, it was filled with
confusion. The cavalry and infantry became inextricably mixed: the
captains were unable to get their men either backward or forward,
owing to the narrowness of the pass, and amid all this tumult no one
knew what ought to be done or what could be done. In a short time the
cavalry who were engaged with the enemy's infantry were scattered or
killed without having made any effective defence because of their
unfortunate position, although in sheer desperation they had offered a
stout resistance. Retreat had been impossible, with the mountains on
both flanks, whilst in front were their enemies, and in the rear their
friends. When Castruccio saw that his men were unable to strike a
decisive blow at the enemy and put them to flight, he sent one
thousand infantrymen round by the castle, with orders to join the four
hundred horsemen he had previously dispatched there, and commanded the
whole force to fall upon the flank of the enemy. These orders they
carried out with such fury that the Florentines could not sustain the
attack, but gave way, and were soon in full retreat--conquered more by
their unfortunate position than by the valour of their enemy. Those in
the rear turned towards Pistoia, and spread through the plains, each
man seeking only his own safety. The defeat was complete and very
sanguinary. Many captains were taken prisoners, among whom were
Bandini dei Rossi, Francesco Brunelleschi, and Giovanni della Tosa,
all Florentine noblemen, with many Tuscans and Neapolitans who fought
on the Florentine side, having been sent by King Ruberto to assist the
Guelphs. Immediately the Pistoians heard of this defeat they drove out
the friends of the Guelphs, and surrendered to Castruccio. He was not
content with occupying Prato and all the castles on the plains on both
sides of the Arno, but marched his army into the plain of Peretola,
about two miles from Florence. Here he remained many days, dividing
the spoils, and celebrating his victory with feasts and games, holding
horse races, and foot races for men and women. He also struck medals
in commemoration of the defeat of the Florentines. He endeavoured to
corrupt some of the citizens of Florence, who were to open the city
gates at night; but the conspiracy was discovered, and the
participators in it taken and beheaded, among whom were Tommaso
Lupacci and Lambertuccio Frescobaldi. This defeat caused the
Florentines great anxiety, and despairing of preserving their liberty,
they sent envoys to King Ruberto of Naples, offering him the dominion
of their city; and he, knowing of what immense importance the
maintenance of the Guelph cause was to him, accepted it. He agreed
with the Florentines to receive from them a yearly tribute of two
hundred thousand florins, and he send his son Carlo to Florence with
four thousand horsemen.

Shortly after this the Florentines were relieved in some degree of the
pressure of Castruccio's army, owing to his being compelled to leave
his positions before Florence and march on Pisa, in order to suppress
a conspiracy that had been raised against him by Benedetto Lanfranchi,
one of the first men in Pisa, who could not endure that his fatherland
should be under the dominion of the Lucchese. He had formed this
conspiracy, intending to seize the citadel, kill the partisans of
Castruccio, and drive out the garrison. As, however, in a conspiracy
paucity of numbers is essential to secrecy, so for its execution a few
are not sufficient, and in seeking more adherents to his conspiracy
Lanfranchi encountered a person who revealed the design to Castruccio.
This betrayal cannot be passed by without severe reproach to Bonifacio
Cerchi and Giovanni Guidi, two Florentine exiles who were suffering
their banishment in Pisa. Thereupon Castruccio seized Benedetto and
put him to death, and beheaded many other noble citizens, and drove
their families into exile. It now appeared to Castruccio that both
Pisa and Pistoia were thoroughly disaffected; he employed much thought
and energy upon securing his position there, and this gave the
Florentines their opportunity to reorganize their army, and to await
the coming of Carlo, the son of the King of Naples. When Carlo arrived
they decided to lose no more time, and assembled a great army of more
than thirty thousand infantry and ten thousand cavalry--having called
to their aid every Guelph there was in Italy. They consulted whether
they should attack Pistoia or Pisa first, and decided that it would be
better to march on the latter--a course, owing to the recent
conspiracy, more likely to succeed, and of more advantage to them,
because they believed that the surrender of Pistoia would follow the
acquisition of Pisa.

In the early part of May 1328, the Florentines put in motion this army
and quickly occupied Lastra, Signa, Montelupo, and Empoli, passing
from thence on to San Miniato. When Castruccio heard of the enormous
army which the Florentines were sending against him, he was in no
degree alarmed, believing that the time had now arrived when Fortune
would deliver the empire of Tuscany into his hands, for he had no
reason to think that his enemy would make a better fight, or had
better prospects of success, than at Pisa or Serravalle. He assembled
twenty thousand foot soldiers and four thousand horsemen, and with
this army went to Fucecchio, whilst he sent Pagolo Guinigi to Pisa
with five thousand infantry. Fucecchio has a stronger position than
any other town in the Pisan district, owing to its situation between
the rivers Arno and Gusciana and its slight elevation above the
surrounding plain. Moreover, the enemy could not hinder its being
victualled unless they divided their forces, nor could they approach
it either from the direction of Lucca or Pisa, nor could they get
through to Pisa, or attack Castruccio's forces except at a
disadvantage. In one case they would find themselves placed between
his two armies, the one under his own command and the other under
Pagolo, and in the other case they would have to cross the Arno to get
to close quarters with the enemy, an undertaking of great hazard. In
order to tempt the Florentines to take this latter course, Castruccio
withdrew his men from the banks of the river and placed them under the
walls of Fucecchio, leaving a wide expanse of land between them and
the river.

The Florentines, having occupied San Miniato, held a council of war to
decide whether they should attack Pisa or the army of Castruccio, and,
having weighed the difficulties of both courses, they decided upon the
latter. The river Arno was at that time low enough to be fordable, yet
the water reached to the shoulders of the infantrymen and to the
saddles of the horsemen. On the morning of 10 June 1328, the
Florentines commenced the battle by ordering forward a number of
cavalry and ten thousand infantry. Castruccio, whose plan of action
was fixed, and who well knew what to do, at once attacked the
Florentines with five thousand infantry and three thousand horsemen,
not allowing them to issue from the river before he charged them; he
also sent one thousand light infantry up the river bank, and the same
number down the Arno. The infantry of the Florentines were so much
impeded by their arms and the water that they were not able to mount
the banks of the river, whilst the cavalry had made the passage of the
river more difficult for the others, by reason of the few who had
crossed having broken up the bed of the river, and this being deep
with mud, many of the horses rolled over with their riders and many of
them had stuck so fast that they could not move. When the Florentine
captains saw the difficulties their men were meeting, they withdrew
them and moved higher up the river, hoping to find the river bed less
treacherous and the banks more adapted for landing. These men were met
at the bank by the forces which Castruccio had already sent forward,
who, being light armed with bucklers and javelins in their hands, let
fly with tremendous shouts into the faces and bodies of the cavalry.
The horses, alarmed by the noise and the wounds, would not move
forward, and trampled each other in great confusion. The fight between
the men of Castruccio and those of the enemy who succeeded in crossing
was sharp and terrible; both sides fought with the utmost desperation
and neither would yield. The soldiers of Castruccio fought to drive
the others back into the river, whilst the Florentines strove to get a
footing on land in order to make room for the others pressing forward,
who if they could but get out of the water would be able to fight, and
in this obstinate conflict they were urged on by their captains.
Castruccio shouted to his men that these were the same enemies whom
they had before conquered at Serravalle, whilst the Florentines
reproached each other that the many should be overcome by the few. At
length Castruccio, seeing how long the battle had lasted, and that
both his men and the enemy were utterly exhausted, and that both sides
had many killed and wounded, pushed forward another body of infantry
to take up a position at the rear of those who were fighting; he then
commanded these latter to open their ranks as if they intended to
retreat, and one part of them to turn to the right and another to the
left. This cleared a space of which the Florentines at once took
advantage, and thus gained possession of a portion of the battlefield.
But when these tired soldiers found themselves at close quarters with
Castruccio's reserves they could not stand against them and at once
fell back into the river. The cavalry of either side had not as yet
gained any decisive advantage over the other, because Castruccio,
knowing his inferiority in this arm, had commanded his leaders only to
stand on the defensive against the attacks of their adversaries, as he
hoped that when he had overcome the infantry he would be able to make
short work of the cavalry. This fell out as he had hoped, for when he
saw the Florentine army driven back across the river he ordered the
remainder of his infantry to attack the cavalry of the enemy. This
they did with lance and javelin, and, joined by their own cavalry,
fell upon the enemy with the greatest fury and soon put him to flight.
The Florentine captains, having seen the difficulty their cavalry had
met with in crossing the river, had attempted to make their infantry
cross lower down the river, in order to attack the flanks of
Castruccio's army. But here, also, the banks were steep and already
lined by the men of Castruccio, and this movement was quite useless.
Thus the Florentines were so completely defeated at all points that
scarcely a third of them escaped, and Castruccio was again covered
with glory. Many captains were taken prisoners, and Carlo, the son of
King Ruberto, with Michelagnolo Falconi and Taddeo degli Albizzi, the
Florentine commissioners, fled to Empoli. If the spoils were great,
the slaughter was infinitely greater, as might be expected in such a
battle. Of the Florentines there fell twenty thousand two hundred and
thirty-one men, whilst Castruccio lost one thousand five hundred and
seventy men.

But Fortune growing envious of the glory of Castruccio took away his
life just at the time when she should have preserved it, and thus
ruined all those plans which for so long a time he had worked to carry
into effect, and in the successful prosecution of which nothing but
death could have stopped him. Castruccio was in the thick of the
battle the whole of the day; and when the end of it came, although
fatigued and overheated, he stood at the gate of Fucecchio to welcome
his men on their return from victory and personally thank them. He was
also on the watch for any attempt of the enemy to retrieve the
fortunes of the day; he being of the opinion that it was the duty of a
good general to be the first man in the saddle and the last out of it.
Here Castruccio stood exposed to a wind which often rises at midday on
the banks of the Arno, and which is often very unhealthy; from this he
took a chill, of which he thought nothing, as he was accustomed to
such troubles; but it was the cause of his death. On the following
night he was attacked with high fever, which increased so rapidly that
the doctors saw it must prove fatal. Castruccio, therefore, called
Pagolo Guinigi to him, and addressed him as follows:

"If I could have believed that Fortune would have cut me off in the
midst of the career which was leading to that glory which all my
successes promised, I should have laboured less, and I should have
left thee, if a smaller state, at least with fewer enemies and perils,
because I should have been content with the governorships of Lucca and
Pisa. I should neither have subjugated the Pistoians, nor outraged the
Florentines with so many injuries. But I would have made both these
peoples my friends, and I should have lived, if no longer, at least
more peacefully, and have left you a state without a doubt smaller,
but one more secure and established on a surer foundation. But
Fortune, who insists upon having the arbitrament of human affairs, did
not endow me with sufficient judgment to recognize this from the
first, nor the time to surmount it. Thou hast heard, for many have
told thee, and I have never concealed it, how I entered the house of
thy father whilst yet a boy--a stranger to all those ambitions which
every generous soul should feel--and how I was brought up by him, and
loved as though I had been born of his blood; how under his governance
I learned to be valiant and capable of availing myself of all that
fortune, of which thou hast been witness. When thy good father came to
die, he committed thee and all his possessions to my care, and I have
brought thee up with that love, and increased thy estate with that
care, which I was bound to show. And in order that thou shouldst not
only possess the estate which thy father left, but also that which my
fortune and abilities have gained, I have never married, so that the
love of children should never deflect my mind from that gratitude
which I owed to the children of thy father. Thus I leave thee a vast
estate, of which I am well content, but I am deeply concerned,
inasmuch as I leave it thee unsettled and insecure. Thou hast the city
of Lucca on thy hands, which will never rest contented under they
government. Thou hast also Pisa, where the men are of nature
changeable and unreliable, who, although they may be sometimes held in
subjection, yet they will ever disdain to serve under a Lucchese.
Pistoia is also disloyal to thee, she being eaten up with factions and
deeply incensed against thy family by reason of the wrongs recently
inflicted upon them. Thou hast for neighbours the offended
Florentines, injured by us in a thousand ways, but not utterly
destroyed, who will hail the news of my death with more delight than
they would the acquisition of all Tuscany. In the Emperor and in the
princes of Milan thou canst place no reliance, for they are far
distant, slow, and their help is very long in coming. Therefore, thou
hast no hope in anything but in thine own abilities, and in the memory
of my valour, and in the prestige which this latest victory has
brought thee; which, as thou knowest how to use it with prudence, will
assist thee to come to terms with the Florentines, who, as they are
suffering under this great defeat, should be inclined to listen to
thee. And whereas I have sought to make them my enemies, because I
believed that war with them would conduce to my power and glory, thou
hast every inducement to make friends of them, because their alliance
will bring thee advantages and security. It is of the greatest
important in this world that a man should know himself, and the
measure of his own strength and means; and he who knows that he has
not a genius for fighting must learn how to govern by the arts of
peace. And it will be well for thee to rule they conduct by my
counsel, and to learn in this way to enjoy what my life-work and
dangers have gained; and in this thou wilt easily succeed when thou
hast learnt to believe that what I have told thee is true. And thou
wilt be doubly indebted to me, in that I have left thee this realm and
have taught thee how to keep it."

After this there came to Castruccio those citizens of Pisa, Pistoia,
and Lucca, who had been fighting at his side, and whilst recommending
Pagolo to them, and making them swear obedience to him as his
successor, he died. He left a happy memory to those who had known him,
and no prince of those times was ever loved with such devotion as he
was. His obsequies were celebrated with every sign of mourning, and he
was buried in San Francesco at Lucca. Fortune was not so friendly to
Pagolo Guinigi as she had been to Castruccio, for he had not the
abilities. Not long after the death of Castruccio, Pagolo lost Pisa,
and then Pistoia, and only with difficulty held on to Lucca. This
latter city continued in the family of Guinigi until the time of the
great-grandson of Pagolo.

From what has been related here it will be seen that Castruccio was a
man of exceptional abilities, not only measured by men of his own
time, but also by those of an earlier date. In stature he was above
the ordinary height, and perfectly proportioned. He was of a gracious
presence, and he welcomed men with such urbanity that those who spoke
with him rarely left him displeased. His hair was inclined to be red,
and he wore it cut short above the ears, and, whether it rained or
snowed, he always went without a hat. He was delightful among friends,
but terrible to his enemies; just to his subjects; ready to play false
with the unfaithful, and willing to overcome by fraud those whom he
desired to subdue, because he was wont to say that it was the victory
that brought the glory, not the methods of achieving it. No one was
bolder in facing danger, none more prudent in extricating himself. He
was accustomed to say that men ought to attempt everything and fear
nothing; that God is a lover of strong men, because one always sees
that the weak are chastised by the strong. He was also wonderfully
sharp or biting though courteous in his answers; and as he did not
look for any indulgence in this way of speaking from others, so he was
not angered with others did not show it to him. It has often happened
that he has listened quietly when others have spoken sharply to him,
as on the following occasions. He had caused a ducat to be given for a
partridge, and was taken to task for doing so by a friend, to whom
Castruccio had said: "You would not have given more than a penny."
"That is true," answered the friend. Then said Castruccio to him: "A
ducat is much less to me." Having about him a flatterer on whom he had
spat to show that he scorned him, the flatterer said to him:
"Fisherman are willing to let the waters of the sea saturate them in
order that they make take a few little fishes, and I allow myself to
be wetted by spittle that I may catch a whale"; and this was not only
heard by Castruccio with patience but rewarded. When told by a priest
that it was wicked for him to live so sumptuously, Castruccio said:
"If that be a vice than you should not fare so splendidly at the
feasts of our saints." Passing through a street he saw a young man as
he came out of a house of ill fame blush at being seen by Castruccio,
and said to him: "Thou shouldst not be ashamed when thou comest out,
but when thou goest into such places." A friend gave him a very
curiously tied knot to undo and was told: "Fool, do you think that I
wish to untie a thing which gave so much trouble to fasten."
Castruccio said to one who professed to be a philosopher: "You are
like the dogs who always run after those who will give them the best
to eat," and was answered: "We are rather like the doctors who go to
the houses of those who have the greatest need of them." Going by
water from Pisa to Leghorn, Castruccio was much disturbed by a
dangerous storm that sprang up, and was reproached for cowardice by
one of those with him, who said that he did not fear anything.
Castruccio answered that he did not wonder at that, since every man
valued his soul for what is was worth. Being asked by one what he
ought to do to gain estimation, he said: "When thou goest to a banquet
take care that thou dost not seat one piece of wood upon another." To
a person who was boasting that he had read many things, Castruccio
said: "He knows better than to boast of remembering many things."
Someone bragged that he could drink much without becoming intoxicated.
Castruccio replied: "An ox does the same." Castruccio was acquainted
with a girl with whom he had intimate relations, and being blamed by a
friend who told him that it was undignified for him to be taken in by
a woman, he said: "She has not taken me in, I have taken her." Being
also blamed for eating very dainty foods, he answered: "Thou dost not
spend as much as I do?" and being told that it was true, he continued:
"Then thou art more avaricious than I am gluttonous." Being invited by
Taddeo Bernardi, a very rich and splendid citizen of Luca, to supper,
he went to the house and was shown by Taddeo into a chamber hung with
silk and paved with fine stones representing flowers and foliage of
the most beautiful colouring. Castruccio gathered some saliva in his
mouth and spat it out upon Taddeo, and seeing him much disturbed by
this, said to him: "I knew not where to spit in order to offend thee
less." Being asked how Caesar died he said: "God willing I will die as
he did." Being one night in the house of one of his gentlemen where
many ladies were assembled, he was reproved by one of his friends for
dancing and amusing himself with them more than was usual in one of
his station, so he said: "He who is considered wise by day will not be
considered a fool at night." A person came to demand a favour of
Castruccio, and thinking he was not listening to his plea threw
himself on his knees to the ground, and being sharply reproved by
Castruccio, said: "Thou art the reason of my acting thus for thou hast
thy ears in thy feet," whereupon he obtained double the favour he had
asked. Castruccio used to say that the way to hell was an easy one,
seeing that it was in a downward direction and you travelled
blindfolded. Being asked a favour by one who used many superfluous
words, he said to him: "When you have another request to make, send
someone else to make it." Having been wearied by a similar man with a
long oration who wound up by saying: "Perhaps I have fatigued you by
speaking so long," Castruccio said: "You have not, because I have not
listened to a word you said." He used to say of one who had been a
beautiful child and who afterwards became a fine man, that he was
dangerous, because he first took the husbands from the wives and now
he took the wives from their husbands. To an envious man who laughed,
he said: "Do you laugh because you are successful or because another
is unfortunate?" Whilst he was still in the charge of Messer Francesco
Guinigi, one of his companions said to him: "What shall I give you if
you will let me give you a blow on the nose?" Castruccio answered: "A
helmet." Having put to death a citizen of Lucca who had been
instrumental in raising him to power, and being told that he had done
wrong to kill one of his old friends, he answered that people deceived
themselves; he had only killed a new enemy. Castruccio praised greatly
those men who intended to take a wife and then did not do so, saying
that they were like men who said they would go to sea, and then
refused when the time came. He said that it always struck him with
surprise that whilst men in buying an earthen or glass vase would
sound it first to learn if it were good, yet in choosing a wife they
were content with only looking at her. He was once asked in what
manner he would wish to be buried when he died, and answered: "With
the face turned downwards, for I know when I am gone this country will
be turned upside down." On being asked if it had ever occurred to him
to become a friar in order to save his soul, he answered that it had
not, because it appeared strange to him that Fra Lazerone should go to
Paradise and Uguccione della Faggiuola to the Inferno. He was once
asked when should a man eat to preserve his health, and replied: "If
the man be rich let him eat when he is hungry; if he be poor, then
when he can." Seeing on of his gentlemen make a member of his family
lace him up, he said to him: "I pray God that you will let him feed
you also." Seeing that someone had written upon his house in Latin the
words: "May God preserve this house from the wicked," he said, "The
owner must never go in." Passing through one of the streets he saw a
small house with a very large door, and remarked: "That house will fly
through the door." He was having a discussion with the ambassador of
the King of Naples concerning the property of some banished nobles,
when a dispute arose between them, and the ambassador asked him if he
had no fear of the king. "Is this king of yours a bad man or a good
one?" asked Castruccio, and was told that he was a good one, whereupon
he said, "Why should you suggest that I should be afraid of a good

I could recount many other stories of his sayings both witty and
weighty, but I think that the above will be sufficient testimony to
his high qualities. He lived forty-four years, and was in every way a
prince. And as he was surrounded by many evidences of his good
fortune, so he also desired to have near him some memorials of his bad
fortune; therefore the manacles with which he was chained in prison
are to be seen to this day fixed up in the tower of his residence,
where they were placed by him to testify for ever to his days of
adversity. As in his life he was inferior neither to Philip of
Macedon, the father of Alexander, nor to Scipio of Rome, so he died in
the same year of his age as they did, and he would doubtless have
excelled both of them had Fortune decreed that he should be born, not
in Lucca, but in Macedonia or Rome.







The Duke Valentino had returned from Lombardy, where he had been to
clear himself with the King of France from the calumnies which had
been raised against him by the Florentines concerning the rebellion of
Arezzo and other towns in the Val di Chiana, and had arrived at Imola,
whence he intended with his army to enter upon the campaign against
Giovanni Bentivogli, the tyrant of Bologna: for he intended to bring
that city under his domination, and to make it the head of his
Romagnian duchy.

These matters coming to the knowledge of the Vitelli and Orsini and
their following, it appeared to them that the duke would become too
powerful, and it was feared that, having seized Bologna, he would seek
to destroy them in order that he might become supreme in Italy. Upon
this a meeting was called at Magione in the district of Perugia, to
which came the cardinal, Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina Orsini,
Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, Gianpagolo Baglioni, the
tyrant of Perugia, and Messer Antonio da Venafro, sent by Pandolfo
Petrucci, the Prince of Siena. Here were discussed the power and
courage of the duke and the necessity of curbing his ambitions, which
might otherwise bring danger to the rest of being ruined. And they
decided not to abandon the Bentivogli, but to strive to win over the
Florentines; and they send their men to one place and another,
promising to one party assistance and to another encouragement to
unite with them against the common enemy. This meeting was at once
reported throughout all Italy, and those who were discontented under
the duke, among whom were the people of Urbino, took hope of effecting
a revolution.

Thus it arose that, men's minds being thus unsettled, it was decided
by certain men of Urbino to seize the fortress of San Leo, which was
held for the duke, and which they captured by the following means. The
castellan was fortifying the rock and causing timber to be taken
there; so the conspirators watched, and when certain beams which were
being carried to the rock were upon the bridge, so that it was
prevented from being drawn up by those inside, they took the
opportunity of leaping upon the bridge and thence into the fortress.
Upon this capture being effected, the whole state rebelled and
recalled the old duke, being encouraged in this, not so much by the
capture of the fort, as by the Diet at Magione, from whom they
expected to get assistance.

Those who heard of the rebellion at Urbino thought they would not lose
the opportunity, and at once assembled their men so as to take any
town, should any remain in the hands of the duke in that state; and
they sent again to Florence to beg that republic to join with them in
destroying the common firebrand, showing that the risk was lessened
and that they ought not to wait for another opportunity.

But the Florentines, from hatred, for sundry reasons, of the Vitelli
and Orsini, not only would not ally themselves, but sent Nicolo
Machiavelli, their secretary, to offer shelter and assistance to the
duke against his enemies. The duke was found full of fear at Imola,
because, against everybody's expectation, his soldiers had at once
gone over to the enemy and he found himself disarmed and war at his
door. But recovering courage from the offers of the Florentines, he
decided to temporize before fighting with the few soldiers that
remained to him, and to negotiate for a reconciliation, and also to
get assistance. This latter he obtained in two ways, by sending to the
King of France for men and by enlisting men-at-arms and others whom he
turned into cavalry of a sort: to all he gave money.

Notwithstanding this, his enemies drew near to him, and approached
Fossombrone, where they encountered some men of the duke and, with the
aid of the Orsini and Vitelli, routed them. When this happened, the
duke resolved at once to see if he could not close the trouble with
offers of reconciliation, and being a most perfect dissembler he did
not fail in any practices to make the insurgents understand that he
wished every man who had acquired anything to keep it, as it was
enough for him to have the title of prince, whilst others might have
the principality.

And the duke succeeded so well in this that they sent Signor Pagolo to
him to negotiate for a reconciliation, and they brought their army to
a standstill. But the duke did not stop his preparations, and took
every care to provide himself with cavalry and infantry, and that such
preparations might not be apparent to the others, he sent his troops
in separate parties to every part of the Romagna. In the meanwhile
there came also to him five hundred French lancers, and although he
found himself sufficiently strong to take vengeance on his enemies in
open war, he considered that it would be safer and more advantageous
to outwit them, and for this reason he did not stop the work of

And that this might be effected the duke concluded a peace with them
in which he confirmed their former covenants; he gave them four
thousand ducats at once; he promised not to injure the Bentivogli; and
he formed an alliance with Giovanni; and moreover he would not force
them to come personally into his presence unless it pleased them to do
so. On the other hand, they promised to restore to him the duchy of
Urbino and other places seized by them, to serve him in all his
expeditions, and not to make war against or ally themselves with any
one without his permission.

This reconciliation being completed, Guido Ubaldo, the Duke of Urbino,
again fled to Venice, having first destroyed all the fortresses in his
state; because, trusting in the people, he did not wish that the
fortresses, which he did not think he could defend, should be held by
the enemy, since by these means a check would be kept upon his
friends. But the Duke Valentino, having completed this convention, and
dispersed his men throughout the Romagna, set out for Imola at the end
of November together with his French men-at-arms: thence he went to
Cesena, where he stayed some time to negotiate with the envoys of the
Vitelli and Orsini, who had assembled with their men in the duchy of
Urbino, as to the enterprise in which they should now take part; but
nothing being concluded, Oliverotto da Fermo was sent to propose that
if the duke wished to undertake an expedition against Tuscany they
were ready; if he did not wish it, then they would besiege Sinigalia.
To this the duke replied that he did not wish to enter into war with
Tuscany, and thus become hostile to the Florentines, but that he was
very willing to proceed against Sinigalia.

It happened that not long afterwards the town surrendered, but the
fortress would not yield to them because the castellan would not give
it up to any one but the duke in person; therefore they exhorted him
to come there. This appeared a good opportunity to the duke, as, being
invited by them, and not going of his own will, he would awaken no
suspicions. And the more to reassure them, he allowed all the French
men-at-arms who were with him in Lombardy to depart, except the
hundred lancers under Mons. di Candales, his brother-in-law. He left
Cesena about the middle of December, and went to Fano, and with the
utmost cunning and cleverness he persuaded the Vitelli and Orsini to
wait for him at Sinigalia, pointing out to them that any lack of
compliance would cast a doubt upon the sincerity and permanency of the
reconciliation, and that he was a man who wished to make use of the
arms and councils of his friends. But Vitellozzo remained very
stubborn, for the death of his brother warned him that he should not
offend a prince and afterwards trust him; nevertheless, persuaded by
Pagolo Orsini, whom the duke had corrupted with gifts and promises, he
agreed to wait.

Upon this the duke, before his departure from Fano, which was to be on
30th December 1502, communicated his designs to eight of his most
trusted followers, among whom were Don Michele and the Monsignor
d'Euna, who was afterwards cardinal; and he ordered that, as soon as
Vitellozzo, Pagolo Orsini, the Duke di Gravina, and Oliverotto should
arrive, his followers in pairs should take them one by one, entrusting
certain men to certain pairs, who should entertain them until they
reached Sinigalia; nor should they be permitted to leave until they
came to the duke's quarters, where they should be seized.

The duke afterwards ordered all his horsemen and infantry, of which
there were more than two thousand cavalry and ten thousand footmen, to
assemble by daybreak at the Metauro, a river five miles distant from
Fano, and await him there. He found himself, therefore, on the last
day of December at the Metauro with his men, and having sent a
cavalcade of about two hundred horsemen before him, he then moved
forward the infantry, whom he accompanied with the rest of the men-at-

Fano and Sinigalia are two cities of La Marca situate on the shore of
the Adriatic Sea, fifteen miles distant from each other, so that he
who goes towards Sinigalia has the mountains on his right hand, the
bases of which are touched by the sea in some places. The city of
Sinigalia is distant from the foot of the mountains a little more than
a bow-shot and from the shore about a mile. On the side opposite to
the city runs a little river which bathes that part of the walls
looking towards Fano, facing the high road. Thus he who draws near to
Sinigalia comes for a good space by road along the mountains, and
reaches the river which passes by Sinigalia. If he turns to his left
hand along the bank of it, and goes for the distance of a bow-shot, he
arrives at a bridge which crosses the river; he is then almost abreast
of the gate that leads into Sinigalia, not by a straight line, but
transversely. Before this gate there stands a collection of houses
with a square to which the bank of the river forms one side.

The Vitelli and Orsini having received orders to wait for the duke,
and to honour him in person, sent away their men to several castles
distant from Sinigalia about six miles, so that room could be made for
the men of the duke; and they left in Sinigalia only Oliverotto and
his band, which consisted of one thousand infantry and one hundred and
fifty horsemen, who were quartered in the suburb mentioned above.
Matters having been thus arranged, the Duke Valentino left for
Sinigalia, and when the leaders of the cavalry reached the bridge they
did not pass over, but having opened it, one portion wheeled towards
the river and the other towards the country, and a way was left in the
middle through which the infantry passed, without stopping, into the

Vitellozzo, Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina on mules, accompanied by a
few horsemen, went towards the duke; Vitellozo, unarmed and wearing a
cape lined with green, appeared very dejected, as if conscious of his
approaching death--a circumstance which, in view of the ability of the
man and his former fortune, caused some amazement. And it is said that
when he parted from his men before setting out for Sinigalia to meet
the duke he acted as if it were his last parting from them. He
recommended his house and its fortunes to his captains, and advised
his nephews that it was not the fortune of their house, but the
virtues of their fathers that should be kept in mind. These three,
therefore, came before the duke and saluted him respectfully, and were
received by him with goodwill; they were at once placed between those
who were commissioned to look after them.

But the duke noticing that Oliverotto, who had remained with his band
in Sinigalia, was missing--for Oliverotto was waiting in the square
before his quarters near the river, keeping his men in order and
drilling them--signalled with his eye to Don Michelle, to whom the
care of Oliverotto had been committed, that he should take measures
that Oliverotto should not escape. Therefore Don Michele rode off and
joined Oliverotto, telling him that it was not right to keep his men
out of their quarters, because these might be taken up by the men of
the duke; and he advised him to send them at once to their quarters
and to come himself to meet the duke. And Oliverotto, having taken
this advice, came before the duke, who, when he saw him, called to
him; and Oliverotto, having made his obeisance, joined the others.

So the whole party entered Sinigalia, dismounted at the duke's
quarters, and went with him into a secret chamber, where the duke made
them prisoners; he then mounted on horseback, and issued orders that
the men of Oliverotto and the Orsini should be stripped of their arms.
Those of Oliverotto, being at hand, were quickly settled, but those of
the Orsini and Vitelli, being at a distance, and having a presentiment
of the destruction of their masters, had time to prepare themselves,
and bearing in mind the valour and discipline of the Orsinian and
Vitellian houses, they stood together against the hostile forces of
the country and saved themselves.

But the duke's soldiers, not being content with having pillaged the
men of Oliverotto, began to sack Sinigalia, and if the duke had not
repressed this outrage by killing some of them they would have
completely sacked it. Night having come and the tumult being silenced,
the duke prepared to kill Vitellozzo and Oliverotto; he led them into
a room and caused them to be strangled. Neither of them used words in
keeping with their past lives: Vitellozzo prayed that he might ask of
the pope full pardon for his sins; Oliverotto cringed and laid the
blame for all injuries against the duke on Vitellozzo. Pagolo and the
Duke di Gravina Orsini were kept alive until the duke heard from Rome
that the pope had taken the Cardinal Orsino, the Archbishop of
Florence, and Messer Jacopo da Santa Croce. After which news, on 18th
January 1502, in the castle of Pieve, they also were strangled in the
same way.




Machiavelli and His Political Philosophy

The problem of the state had already been discussed by Aristotelian-Scholastic philosophy, which had advanced a solution based on the premise that man, by reason of his rational nature, tends to the perfect society, the state. Consequently, the positive elements of the state, and in particular the element of morality, must be derived from the concept of the rational being and not from the fact of man's actual historical behavior.

The concept of morality, like all rational concepts, is something absolute, which cannot vary even though it has been disobeyed. Thus, even granted the hypothesis that all men tell lies, the rational concept of lying as a moral evil, remains constant. For Machiavelli this principle did not hold true, because of the immanentist principle that the state must be considered in itself without reference to any reality which might transcend it.

The problem which Machiavelli sets out to solve is how to enlarge and maintain the state, which must be ordered to the greater good of the citizens. To solve this problem, Machiavelli appeals to history, which reveals that states rise out of the conflict of violent passions, and that a leader succeeds in forming and maintaining a state only if with greater passion than his opponent he is able to triumph over him.

Machiavelli draws the conclusion that the prince or autocrat cannot appeal to Christian ascetical or renunciatory morality, but must use force and cunning, according to circumstances, to overcome his adversaries. Hence the principle of the new science in politics was: "The end justifies the means." The prince must justify his action in reference to the maintenance of the state; and he will be a good ruler if he achieves this end, regardless of what means he uses.

Nevertheless the prince (and the state) of Machiavelli have an ethics, surely not Christian ethics, but the Humanist Renaissance ethics of love of country. Machiavelli was an eyewitness to the miseries which afflicted the Italy of his day, divided and lacerated as it was by discord and the wars of various princes. To put an end to the role of these princes, whose ambitions laid all Italy open to strife, he dreamed of the rise of an ideal prince, the incarnation of Caesar Borgia, who, with the force of a lion and the cunning of a wolf, would succeed in subjugating all petty rulers and forming a single Italian state.

Seeing that the rulers of his day were egoistic and wicked, Machiavelli dreamed of raising up in his prince a greater egoism and more violent passions in order to overcome the power of the local tyrants and to establish a principality which must save Italy, the Italy which in his day was "without a head, without order, lacerated and beaten."

Along with the theories of Machiavelli must be considered the politico-religious thought of Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498). Savonarola also starts with a consideration of the actual chaos of society and of the Church, and sees a possibility of a renovation through the intervention of a lay prince (for him, Charles VIII). For Savonarola the intervention of a lay prince must be only occasional, because he does not deny the Church lives and moves in virtue of the eternal promise of its founder, Jesus Christ. Thus he cannot be judged heretical.

Note must also be taken of the political thought of the Catholic priest Giovanni Botero (1540-1617). In his work Of the Nature of the State, comprising ten books, he counsels the prince to prudently hide his weaknesses, in order to preserve his regal reputation, and to fully respect the Catholic religion, which is a precious and indispensable means for rendering politically docile men who are profoundly inclined to evil, and to direct the militia and into war the instinctive ferocity of man.









Many, Lorenzo, have held and still hold the opinion, that there is nothing
which has less in common with another, and that is so dissimilar, as
civilian life is from the military. Whence it is often observed, if anyone
designs to avail himself of an enlistment in the army, that he soon changes,
not only his clothes, but also his customs, his habits, his voice, and in
the presence of any civilian custom, he goes to pieces; for I do not believe
that any man can dress in civilian clothes who wants to be quick and ready
for any violence; nor can that man have civilian customs and habits, who
judges those customs to be effeminate and those habits not conducive to his
actions; nor does it seem right to him to maintain his ordinary appearance
and voice who, with his beard and cursing, wants to make other men afraid:
which makes such an opinion in these times to be very true. But if they
should consider the ancient institutions, they would not find matter more
united, more in conformity, and which, of necessity, should be like to each
other as much as these (civilian and military); for in all the arts that are
established in a society for the sake of the common good of men, all those
institutions created to (make people) live in fear of the laws and of God
would be in vain, if their defense had not been provided for and which, if
well arranged, will maintain not only these, but also those that are not
well established. And so (on the contrary), good institutions without the
help of the military are not much differently disordered than the habitation
of a superb and regal palace, which, even though adorned with jewels and
gold, if it is not roofed over will not have anything to protect it from the
rain. And, if in any other institutions of a City and of a Republic every
diligence is employed in keeping men loyal, peaceful, and full of the fear
of God, it is doubled in the military; for in what man ought the country
look for greater loyalty than in that man who has to promise to die for her?
In whom ought there to be a greater love of peace, than in him who can only
be injured by war? In whom ought there to be a greater fear of God than in
him who, undergoing infinite dangers every day, has more need for His aid?
If these necessities in forming the life of the soldier are well considered,
they are found to be praised by those who gave the laws to the Commanders
and by those who were put in charge of military training, and followed and
imitated with all diligence by others.

But because military institutions have become completely corrupt and far
removed from the ancient ways, these sinister opinions have arisen which
make the military hated and intercourse with those who train them avoided.
And I, judging, by what I have seen and read, that it is not impossible to
restore its ancient ways and return some form of past virtue to it, have
decided not to let this leisure time of mine pass without doing something,
to write what I know of the art of war, to the satisfaction of those who are
lovers of the ancient deeds. And although it requires courage to treat of
those matters of which others have made a profession, none the less, I do
not believe that it is a mistake to occupy a position with words, which may,
with greater presumption, have been occupied with deeds; for the errors
which I should make in writing can be corrected without injury to anyone,
but those which are made with deeds cannot be found out except by the ruin
of the Commanders.

You, Lorenzo, will therefore consider the quality of these efforts of mine,
and will give in your judgement of them that censure or praise which will
appear to you to be merited. I send you these, as much as to show myself
grateful for all the benefits I have received from you, although I will not
include in them the (review) of this work of mine, as well as also, because
being accustomed to honor similar works of those who shine because of their
nobility, wealth, genius, and liberality, I know you do not have many equals
in wealth and nobility, few in ingenuity, and no one in liberality.


As I believe that it is possible for one to praise, without concern, any man

after he is dead since every reason and supervision for adulation is

lacking, I am not apprehensive in praising our own Cosimo Ruccelai, whose

name is never remembered by me without tears, as I have recognized in him

those parts which can be desired in a good friend among friends and in a

citizen of his country. For I do not know what pertained to him more than to

spend himself willingly, not excepting that courage of his, for his friends,

and I do not know of any enterprise that dismayed him when he knew it was

for the good of his country. And I confess freely not to have met among so

many men whom I have known and worked with, a man in whom there was a mind

more fired with great and magnificent things. Nor does one grieve with the

friends of another of his death, except for his having been born to die

young unhonored within his own home, without having been able to benefit

anyone with that mind of his, for one would know that no one could speak of

him, except (to say) that a good friend had died. It does not remain for us,

however, or for anyone else who, like us, knew him, to be able because of

this to keep the faith (since deeds do not seem to) to his laudable

qualities. It is true however, that fortune was not so unfriendly to him

that it did not leave some brief memory of the dexterity of his genius, as

was demonstrated by some of his writings and compositions of amorous verses,

in which (as he was not in love) he (employed as an) exercise in order not

to use his time uselessly in his juvenile years, in order that fortune might

lead him to higher thoughts. Here, it can be clearly comprehended, that if

his objective was exercise, how very happily he described his ideas, and how

much he was honored in his poetry. Fortune, however, having deprived us of

the use of so great a friend, it appears to me it is not possible to find

any other better remedy than for us to seek to benefit from his memory, and

recover from it any matter that was either keenly observed or wisely

discussed. And as there is nothing of his more recent than the discussions

which the Lord Fabrizio Colonna had with him in his gardens, where matters

pertaining to war were discussed at length by that Lord, with (questions)

keenly and prudently asked by Cosimo, it seemed proper to me having been

present with other friends of ours, to recall him to memory, so that reading

it, the friends of Cosimo who met there will renew in their minds the memory

of his virtue, and another part grieving for not having been there, will

learn in part of many things discussed wisely by a most sagacious man useful

not only to the military way of life, but to the civilian as well. I will

relate, therefore, how Fabrizio Colonna, when he returned from Lombardy

where he had fought a long time gloriously for the Catholic King, decided to

pass through Florence to rest several days in that City in order to visit

His Excellency the Duke, and see again several gentlemen with whom he had

been familiar in the past. Whence it appeared proper to Cosimo to invite him

to a banquet in his gardens, not so much to show his generosity as to have

reason to talk to him at length, and to learn and understand several things

from him, according as one can hope to from such a man, for it appeared to

him to give him an opportunity to spend a day discussing such matters as

would satisfy his mind.

Fabrizio, therefore, came as planned, and was received by Cosimo

together with several other loyal friends of his, among whom were

Zanobi Buondelmonti, Battista Della Palla, and Luigi Alamanni, young

men most ardent in the same studies and loved by him, whose good

qualities, because they were also praised daily by himself, we will omit.

Fabrizio, therefore, was honored according to the times and the place,

with all the highest honors they could give him. As soon as the convivial

pleasures were past and the table cleared and every arrangement of

feasting finished, which, in the presence of great men and those who

have their minds turned to honorable thoughts is soon accomplished,

and because the day was long and the heat intense, Cosimo, in order

to satisfy their desire better, judged it would be well to take the

opportunity to escape the heat by leading them to the more secret and

shadowy part of his garden: when they arrived there and chairs brought

out, some sat on the grass which was most fresh in the place, some sat

on chairs placed in those parts under the shadow of very high trees;

Fabrizio praised the place as most delightful, and looking especially at

the trees, he did not recognize one of them, and looked puzzled.

Cosimo, becoming aware of this said: Perhaps you have no knowledge

of some of these trees, but do not wonder about them, because here

are some which were more widely known by the ancients than are

those commonly seen today. And giving him the name of some and

telling him that Bernardo, his grandfather, had worked hard in their

culture, Fabrizio replied: I was thinking that it was what you said I was,

and this place and this study make me remember several Princes of the

Kingdom, who delighted in their ancient culture and the shadow they

cast. And stopping speaking of this, and somewhat upon himself as

though in suspense, he added: If I did not think I would offend you, I

would give you my opinion: but I do not believe in talking and

discussing things with friends in this manner that I insult them. How

much better would they have done (it is said with peace to everyone)

to seek to imitate the ancients in the strong and rugged things, not in the

soft and delicate, and in the things they did under the sun, not in the

shadows, to adopt the honest and perfect ways of antiquity, not the

false and corrupt; for while these practices were pleasing to my

Romans, my country (without them) was ruined. To which Cosimo

replied (but to avoid the necessity of having to repeat so many times

who is speaking, and what the other adds, only the names of those

speaking will be noted, without repeating the others). Cosimo,

therefore, said: You have opened the way for a discussion which I

desired, and I pray you to speak without regard, for I will question you

without regard; and if, in questioning or in replying, I accuse or excuse

anyone, it will not be for accusing or excusing, but to understand the

truth from you.

FABRIZIO: And I will be much content to tell you what I know of all

that you ask me; whether it be true or not, I will leave to your

judgement. And I will be grateful if you ask me, for I am about to learn

as much from what you ask me, as you will from me replying to you,

because many times a wise questioner causes one to consider many

things and understand many others which, without having been asked,

would never have been understood.

COSIMO: I want to return to what you first were saying, that my

grandfather and those of yours had more wisely imitated the ancients in

rugged things than in delicate ones, and I want to excuse my side

because I will let you excuse the other (your side). I do not believe that

in your time there was a man who disliked living as softly as he, and

that he was so much a lover of that rugged life which you praise: none

the less he recognized he could not practice it in his personal life, nor in

that of his sons, having been born in so corrupted an age, where

anyone who wanted to depart from the common usage would be

deformed and despised by everyone. For if anyone in a naked state

should thrash upon the sand under the highest sun, or upon the snow in

the most icy months of winter, as did Diogenes, he would be

considered mad. If anyone (like the Spartan) should raise his children

on a farm, make them sleep in the open, go with head and feet bare,

bathe in cold water in order to harden them to endure vicissitudes, so

that they then might love life less and fear death less, he would be

praised by few and followed by none. So that dismayed at these ways

of living, he presently leaves the ways of the ancients, and in imitating

antiquity, does only that which he can with little wonderment.

FABRIZIO: You have excused him strongly in this part, and certainly

you speak the truth: but I did not speak so much of these rugged ways

of living, as of those other more human ways which have a greater

conformity to the ways of living today, which I do not believe should

have been difficult to introduce by one who is numbered among the

Princes of a City. I will never forego my examples of my Romans. If

their way of living should be examined, and the institutions in their

Republic, there will be observed in her many things not impossible to

introduce in a Society where there yet might be something of good.

COSIMO: What are those things similar to the ancients that you would


FABRIZIO: To honor and reward virtu, not to have contempt for

poverty, to esteem the modes and orders of military discipline, to

constrain citizens to love one another, to live without factions, to

esteem less the private than the public good, and other such things

which could easily be added in these times. It is not difficult to

persuade (people) to these ways, when one considers these at length

and approaches them in the usual manner, for the truth will appear in

such (examinations) that every common talent is capable of undertaking

them. Anyone can arrange these things; (for example), one plants trees

under the shadow of which he lives more happily and merrily than if he

had not (planted them).

COSIMO: I do not want to reply to anything of what you have

spoken, but I do want leave to give a judgment on these, which can be

easily judged, and I shall address myself to you who accuse those who

in serious and important actions are not imitators of the ancients,

thinking that in this way I can more easily carry out my intentions. I

should want, therefore, to know from you whence it arises that, on the

one hand you condemn those who do not imitate the ancients in their

actions, on the other hand, in matters of war which is your profession

and in which you are judged to be excellent, it is not observed that you

have employed any of the ancient methods, or those which have some


FABRIZIO: You have come to the point where I expected you to, for

what I said did not merit any other question, nor did I wish for any

other. And although I am able to save myself with a simple excuse,

none the less I want, for your greater satisfaction and mine, since the

season (weather) allows it, to enter into a much longer discussion. Men

who want to do something, ought first to prepare themselves with all

industry, in order ((when the opportunity is seen)) to be prepared to

achieve that which they have proposed. And whenever the

preparations are undertaken cautiously, unknown to anyone, no none

can be accused of negligence unless he is first discovered by the

occasion; in which if it is not then successful, it is seen that either he has

not sufficiently prepared himself, or that he has not in some part given

thought to it. And as the opportunity has not come to me to be able to

show the preparations I would make to bring the military to your

ancient organization, and it I have not done so, I cannot be blamed

either by you or by others. I believe this excuse is enough to respond

to your accusation.

COSIMO: It would be enough if I was certain that the opportunity did

not present itself.

FABRIZIO: But because I know you could doubt whether this

opportunity had come about or not, I want to discuss at length ((if you

will listen to me with patience)) which preparations are necessary to be

made first, what occasion needs to arise, what difficulty impedes the

preparations from becoming beneficial and the occasion from arriving,

and that this is ((which appears a paradox)) most difficult and most

easy to do.

COSIMO: You cannot do anything more pleasing for me and for the

others than this. But if it is not painful for you to speak, it will never be

painful for us to listen. But at this discussion may be long, I want help

from these, my friends, and with your permission, and they and I pray

you one thing, that you do not become annoyed if we sometimes

interrupt you with some opportune question.

FABRIZIO: I am most content that you, Cosimo, with these other

young people here, should question me, for I believe that young men

will become more familiar with military matters, and will more easily

understand what I have to say. The others, whose hair (head) is white

and whose blood is icy, in part are enemies of war and in part

incorrigible, as those who believe that the times and not the evil ways

constrain men to live in such a fashion. So ask anything of me, with

assurance and without regard; I desire this, as much because it will

afford me a little rest, as because it will give me pleasure not to leave

any doubts in your minds. I want to begin from your words, where you

said to me that in war ((which is my profession)) I have not employed

any of the ancient methods. Upon this I say, that this being a profession

by which men of every time were not able to live honestly, it cannot be

employed as a profession except by a Republic or a Kingdom; and

both of these, if well established, will never allow any of their citizens or

subjects to employ it as a profession: for he who practices it will never

be judged to be good, as to gain some usefulness from it at any time he

must be rapacious, deceitful, violent, and have many qualities, which of

necessity, do not make him good: nor can men who employ this as a

profession, the great as well as the least, be made otherwise, for this

profession does not provide for them in peace. Whence they are

obliged, either to hope that there will be no peace or to gain so much

for themselves in times of war, that they can provide for themselves in

times of peace. And wherever one of these two thoughts exists, it does

not occur in a good man; for, from the desire to provide for oneself in

every circumstance, robberies, violence and assassinations result,

which such soldiers do to friends as well as to enemies: and from not

desiring peace, there arises those deceptions which Captains

perpetrate upon those whom they lead, because war hardens them:

and even if peace occurs frequently, it happens that the leaders, being

deprived of their stipends and of their licentious mode of living, raise a

flag of piracy, and without any mercy sack a province.

Do you not have within the memory of events of your time, many

soldiers in Italy, finding themselves without employment because of the

termination of wars, gathered themselves into very troublesome gangs,

calling themselves companies, and went about levying tribute on the

towns and sacking the country, without there being any remedy able to

be applied? Have you not read how the Carthaginian soldiers, when

the first war they engaged in with the Romans under Matus and

Spendius was ended, tumultuously chose two leaders, and waged a

more dangerous war against the Carthaginians than that which they had

just concluded with the Romans? And in the time of our fathers,

Francesco Sforza, in order to be able to live honorably (comfortably)

in times of peace, not only deceived the Milanese, in whose pay he

was, but took away their liberty and became their Prince. All the other

soldiers of Italy, who have employed the military as their particular

profession, have been like this man; and if, through their malignity, they

have not become Dukes of Milan, so much more do they merit to be

censured; for without such a return ((if their lives were to be

examined)), they all have the same cares. Sforza, father of Francesco,

constrained Queen Giovanna to throw herself into the arms of the King

of Aragon, having abandoned her suddenly, and left her disarmed amid

her enemies, only in order to satisfy his ambition of either levying tribute

or taking the Kingdom. Braccio, with the same industry, sought to

occupy the Kingdom of Naples, and would have succeeded, had he

not been routed and killed at Aquilla. Such evils do not result from

anything else other than the existence of men who employ the practice

of soldiering as their own profession. Do you not have a proverb which

strengthens my argument, which says: War makes robbers, and peace

hangs them? For those who do not know how to live by another

practice, and not finding any one who will support them in that, and not

having so much virtu that they know how to come and live together

honorably, are forced by necessity to roam the streets, and justice is

forced to extinguish them.

COSIMO: You have made me turn this profession (art) of soldiering

back almost to nothing, and I had supposed it to be the most excellent

and most honorable of any: so that if you do not clarify this better, I will

not be satisfied; for if it is as you say, I do not know whence arises the

glory of Caesar, Pompey, Scipio, Marcellus, and of so many Roman

Captains who are celebrated for their fame as the Gods.

FABRIZIO: I have not yet finished discussing all that I proposed,

which included two things: the one, that a good man was not able to

undertake this practice because of his profession: the other, that a well

established Republic or Kingdom would never permit its subjects or

citizens to employ it for their profession. Concerning the first, I have

spoken as much as has occurred to me: it remains for me to talk of the

second, where I shall reply to this last question of yours, and I say that

Pompey and Caesar, and almost all those Captains who were in Rome

after the last Carthaginian war, acquired fame as valiant men, not as

good men: but those who had lived before them acquired glory as

valiant and good men: which results from the fact that these latter did

not take up the practice of war as their profession; and those whom I

named first as those who employed it as their profession. And while the

Republic lived immaculately, no great citizen ever presumed by means

of such a practice to enrich himself during (periods of) peace by

breaking laws, despoiling the provinces, usurping and tyrannizing the

country, and imposing himself in every way; nor did anyone of the

lowest fortune think of violating the sacred agreement, adhere himself

to any private individual, not fearing the Senate, or to perform any

disgraceful act of tyranny in order to live at all times by the profession

of war. But those who were Captains, being content with the triumph,

returned with a desire for the private life; and those who were

members (of the army) returned with a desire to lay down the arms

they had taken up; and everyone returned to the art (trade or

profession) by which they ordinarily lived; nor was there ever anyone

who hoped to provide for himself by plunder and by means of these

arts. A clear and evident example of this as it applies to great citizens

can be found in the Regent Attilio, who, when he was captain of the

Roman armies in Africa, and having almost defeated the Carthaginians,

asked the Senate for permission to return to his house to look after his

farms which were being spoiled by his laborers. Whence it is clearer

than the sun, that if that man had practiced war as his profession, and

by means of it thought to obtain some advantage for himself, having so

many provinces which (he could) plunder, he would not have asked

permission to return to take care of his fields, as each day he could

have obtained more than the value of all his possessions. But as these

good men, who do not practice war as their profession, do not expect

to gain anything from it except hard work, danger, and glory, as soon

as they are sufficiently glorious, desire to return to their homes and live

from the practice of their own profession. As to men of lower status

and gregarious soldiers, it is also true that every one voluntarily

withdrew from such a practice, for when he was not fighting would

have desired to fight, but when he was fighting wanted to be dismissed.

Which illustrates the many ways, and especially in seeing that it was

among the first privileges, that the Roman people gave to one of its

Citizens, that he should not be constrained unwillingly to fight. Rome,

therefore, while she was well organized ((which it was up to the time of

the Gracchi)) did not have one soldier who had to take up this practice

as a profession, and therefore had few bad ones, and these were

severely punished. A well ordered City, therefore, ought to desire that

this training for war ought to be employed in times of peace as an

exercise, and in times of war as a necessity and for glory, and allow the

public only to use it as a profession, as Rome did. And any citizen who

has other aims in (using) such exercises is not good, and any City

which governs itself otherwise, is not well ordered.

COSIMO: I am very much content and satisfied with what you have

said up to now, and this conclusion which you have made pleases me

greatly: and I believe it will be true when expected from a Republic, but

as to Kings, I do not yet know why I should believe that a King would

not want particularly to have around him those who take up such a

practice as their profession.

FABRIZIO: A well ordered Kingdom ought so much the more avoid

such artifices, for these only are the things which corrupt the King and

all the Ministers in a Tyranny. And do not, on the other side, tell me of

some present Kingdom, for I will not admit them to be all well ordered

Kingdoms; for Kingdoms that are well ordered do not give absolute

(power to) Rule to their Kings, except in the armies, for only there is a

quick decision necessary, and, therefore, he who (rules) there must

have this unique power: in other matters, he cannot do anything without

counsel, and those who counsel him have to fear those whom he may

have near him who, in times of peace, desire war because they are

unable to live without it. But I want to dwell a little longer on this

subject, and look for a Kingdom totally good, but similar to those that

exist today, where those who take up the profession of war for

themselves still ought to be feared by the King, for the sinews of armies

without any doubt are the infantry. So that if a King does not organize

himself in such a way that his infantry in time of peace are content to

return to their homes and live from the practice of their own

professions, it must happen of necessity that he will be ruined; for there

is not to be found a more dangerous infantry than that which is

composed of those who make the waging of war their profession; for

you are forced to make war always, or pay them always, or to risk the

danger that they take away the Kingdom from you. To make war

always is not possible: (and) one cannot pay always; and, hence, that

danger is run of losing the State. My Romans ((as I have said)), as long

as they were wise and good, never permitted that their citizens should

take up this practice as their profession, notwithstanding that they were

able to raise them at all times, for they made war at all times: but in

order to avoid the harm which this continuous practice of theirs could

do to them, since the times did not change, they changed the men, and

kept turning men over in their legions so that every fifteen years they

always completely re-manned them: and thus they desired men in the

flower of their age, which is from eighteen to thirty five years, during

which time their legs, their hands, and their eyes, worked together, nor

did they expect that their strength should decrease in them, or that

malice should grow in them, as they did in corrupt times.

Ottavianus first, and then Tiberius, thinking more of their own power

than the public usefulness, in order to rule over the Roman people

more easily, begun to disarm them and to keep the same armies

continually at the frontiers of the Empire. And because they did not

think it sufficient to hold the Roman People and the Senate in check,

they instituted an army called the Praetorian (Guard), which was kept

near the walls of Rome in a fort adjacent to that City. And as they now

begun freely to permit men assigned to the army to practice military

matters as their profession, there soon resulted that these men became

insolent, and they became formidable to the Senate and damaging to

the Emperor. Whence there resulted that many men were killed

because of their insolence, for they gave the Empire and took it away

from anyone they wished, and it often occurred that at one time there

were many Emperors created by the several armies. From which state

of affairs proceeded first the division of the Empire and finally its ruin.

Kings ought, therefore, if they want to live securely, have their infantry

composed of men, who, when it is necessary for him to wage war, will

willingly go forth to it for love of him, and afterwards when peace

comes, more willingly return to their homes; which will always happen

if he selects men who know how to live by a profession other than this.

And thus he ought to desire, with the coming of peace, that his Princes

return to governing their people, gentlemen to the cultivation of their

possessions, and the infantry to their particular arts (trades or

professions); and everyone of these will willingly make war in order to

have peace, and will not seek to disturb the peace to have war.

COSIMO: Truly, this reasoning of yours appears to me well

considered: none the less, as it is almost contrary to what I have

thought up to now, my mind is not yet purged of every doubt. For I see

many Lords and Gentlemen who provide for themselves in times of

peace through the training for war, as do your equals who obtain

provisions from Princes and the Community. I also see almost all the

men at arms remaining in the garrisons of the city and of the fortresses.

So that it appears to me that there is a long time of peace for everyone.

FABRIZIO: I do not believe that you believe this, that everyone has a

place in time of peace; for other reasons can be cited for their being

stationed there, and the small number of people who remain in the

places mentioned by you will answer your question. What is the

proportion of infantry needed to be employed in time of war to that in

peace? for while the fortresses and the city are garrisoned in times of

peace, they are much more garrisoned in times of war; to this should

be added the soldiers kept in the field who are a great number, but all

of whom are released in time of peace. And concerning the garrisons

of States, who are a small number, Pope Julius and you have shown

how much they are to be feared who do not know any other

profession than war, as you have taken them out of your garrisons

because of their insolence, and placed the Swiss there, who are born

and raised under the laws and are chosen by the community in an

honest election; so do not say further that in peace there is a place for

every man. As to the men at arms continued in their enlistment in peace

time, the answer appears more difficult. None the less, whoever

considers everything well, will easily find the answer, for this thing of

keeping on the men at arms is a corrupt thing and not good. The

reason is this; as there are men who do not have any art (trade or

profession), a thousand evils will arise every day in those States where

they exist, and especially so if they were to be joined by a great

number of companions: but as they are few, and unable by themselves

to constitute an army, they therefore, cannot do any serious damage.

None the less, they have done so many times, as I said of Francesco

and of Sforza, his father, and of Braccio of Perugia. So I do not

approve of this custom of keeping men at arms, both because it is

corrupt and because it can cause great evils.

COSIMO: Would you do without them?, or if you keep them, how

would you do so?

FABRIZIO: By means of an ordinance, not like those of the King of

France, because they are as dangerous and insolent as ours, but like

those of the ancients, who created horsemen (cavalry) from their

subjects, and in times of peace sent them back to their homes to live

from the practice of their own profession, as I shall discuss at length

before I finish this discussion. So, if this part of the army can now live

by such a practice even when there is peace, it stems from a corrupt

order. As to the provisions that are reserved for me and the other

leaders, I say to you that this likewise is a most corrupt order, for a

wise Republic ought not to give them to anyone, rather it ought to

employ its citizens as leaders in war, and in time of peace desire that

they return to their professions. Thus also, a wise King ought not to

give (provisions) to them, or if he does give them, the reasons ought to

be either as a reward for some excellent act, or in order to avail himself

of such a man in peace as well as in war. And because you have

mentioned me, I want the example to include me, and I say I have

never practiced war as a profession, for my profession is to govern my

subjects, and defend them, and in order to defend them, I must love

peace but know how to make war; and my King does not reward and

esteem me so much for what I know of war, as because I know also

how to counsel him in peace. Any King ought not, therefore, to want to

have next to him anyone who is not thusly constituted, if he is wise and

wants to govern prudently; for if he has around him either too many

lovers of peace or too many lovers of war, they will cause him to err. I

cannot, in this first discussion of mine and according to my suggestion,

say otherwise, and if this is not enough for you, you must seek one

which satisfies you better. You can begin to recognize how much

difficulty there is in bringing the ancient methods into modem wars, and

what preparations a wise man must make, and what opportunities he

can hope for to put them into execution. But little by little you will know

these things better if the discussion on bringing any part of the ancient

institutions to the present order of things does not weary you.

COSIMO: If we first desired to hear your discussion of these matters,

truly what you have said up to now redoubles that desire. We thank

you, therefore, for what we have had and ask you for the rest.

FABRIZIO: Since this is your pleasure, I want to begin to treat of this

matter from the beginning being able in that way to demonstrate it more

fully, so that it may be better understood. The aim of those who want

to make war is to be able to combat in the field with every (kind) of

enemy, and to be able to win the engagement. To want to do this, they

must raise an army. In raising an army, it is necessary to find men, arm

them, organize them, train them in small and large (battle) orders, lodge

them, and expose them to the enemy afterwards, either at a standstill or

while marching. All the industry of war in the field is placed in these

things, which are the more necessary and honored (in the waging of

war). And if one does well in offering battle to the enemy, all the other

errors he may make in the conduct of the war are supportable: but if he

lacks this organization, even though he be valiant in other particulars, he

will never carry on a war to victory (and honor). For, as one

engagement that you win cancels out every other bad action of yours,

so likewise, when you lose one, all the things you have done well

before become useless. Since it is necessary, therefore, first to find

men, you must come to the Deletto (Draft) of them, as thus the

ancients called it, and which we call Scelta (Selection): but in order to

call it by a more honored name, I want us to preserve the name of

Deletto. Those who have drawn up regulations for war want men to

be chosen from temperate countries as they have spirit and are

prudent; for warm countries give rise to men who are prudent but not

spirited, and cold (countries) to men who are spirited but not prudent.

This regulation is drawn up well for one who is the Prince of all the

world, and is therefore permitted to draw men from those places that

appear best to him: but wanting to draw up a regulation that anyone

can use, one must say that every Republic and every Kingdom ought to

take soldiers from their own country, whether it is hot, cold, or

temperate. For, from ancient examples, it is seen that in every country,

good soldiers are made by training; because where nature is lacking,

industry supplies it, which, in this case, is worth more than nature: And

selecting them from another place cannot be called Deletto, because

Deletto means to say to take the best of a province, and to have the

power to select as well those who do not want to fight as those who

do want to. This Deletto therefore, cannot be made unless the places

are subject to you; for you cannot take whoever you want in the

countries that are not yours, but you need to take those who want to


COSIMO: And of those who want to come, it can even be said, that

they turn and leave you, and because of this, it can then be called a


FABRIZIO: In a certain way, you say what is true: but consider the

defects that such as Deletto has in itself, for often it happens that it is

not a Deletto. The first thing (to consider), is that those who are not

your subjects and do not willingly want to fight, are not of the best,

rather they are of the worst of a province; for if nay are troublesome,

idle, without restraint, without religion, subject to the rule of the father,

blasphemous, gamblers, and in every way badly brought up, they are

those who want to fight, (and) these habits cannot be more contrary to

a true and good military life. When there are so many of such men

offered to you that they exceed the number you had designated, you

can select them; but if the material is bad, it is impossible for the

Deletto to be good: but many times it happens that they are not so

many as (are needed) to fill the number you require: so that being

forced to take them all, it results that it can no longer be called the

making of a Deletto, but in enlisting of infantry. The armies of Italy and

other places are raised today with these evils, except in Germany,

where no one is enlisted by command of the Prince, but according to

the wishes of those who want to fight. Think, therefore, what methods

of those ancients can now be introduced in an army of men put

together by similar means.

COSIMO: What means should be taken therefore?

FABRIZIO: What I have just said: select them from your own

subjects, and with the authority of the Prince.

COSIMO: Would you introduce any ancient form in those thus


FABRIZIO: You know well it would be so; if it is a Principality, he

who should command should be their Prince or an ordinary Lord; or if

it is a Republic, a citizen who for the time should be Captain: otherwise

it is difficult to do the thing well.


FABRIZIO: I will tell you in time: for now, I want this to suffice for

you, that it cannot be done well in any other way.

COSIMO: If you have, therefore, to make ibis Deletto in your

country, whence do you judge it better to draw them, from the City or

the Countryside?

FABRIZIO: Those who have written of this all agree that it is better to

select them from the Countryside, as they are men accustomed to

discomfort, brought up on hard work, accustomed to be in the sun and

avoid the shade, know how to handle the sword, dig a ditch, carry a

load, and are without cunning or malice. But on this subject, my

opinion would be, that as soldiers are of two kinds, afoot and on

horseback, that those afoot be selected from the Countryside, and

those on horseback from the City.

COSIMO: Of what age would you draw them?

FABRIZIO: If I had to raise an (entirely) new army, I would draw

them from seventeen to forty years of age; if the army already exists

and I had to replenish it, at seventeen years of age always.

COSIMO: I do not understand this distinction well.

FABRIZIO: I will tell you: if I should have to organize an army where

there is none, it would be necessary to select all those men who were

more capable, as long as they were of military age, in order to instruct

them as I would tell them: but if I should have to make the Deletto in

places where the army was (already) organized, in order to supplement

it, I would take those of seventeen years of age, because the others

having been taken for some time would have been selected and


COSIMO: Therefore you would want to make an ordinance similar to

that which exists in our countries.

FABRIZIO: You say well: it is true that I would arm them, captain

them, train them, and organize them, in a way which I do not know

whether or not you have organized them similarly.

COSIMO: Therefore you praise the ordinance?

FABRIZIO: Why would you want me to condemn it?

COSIMO: Because many wise men have censured it.

FABRIZIO: You say something contrary, when you say a wise man

censured the ordinance: for he can be held a wise man and to have

censured them wrongly.

COSIMO: The wrong conclusion that he has made will always cause

us to have such a opinion.

FABRIZIO: Watch out that the defect is not yours, but his: as that

which you recognized before this discussion furnishes proof.

COSIMO: You do a most gracious thing. But I want to tell you that

you should be able to justify yourself better in that of which those men

are accused. These men say thusly: either that it is useless and our

trusting in it will cause us to lose the State: or it is of virtue, and he who

governs through it can easily deprive her of it. They cite the Romans,

who by their own arms lost their liberty: They cite the Venetians and

the King of France, of whom they say that the former, in order not to

obey one of its Citizens employed the arms of others, and the King

disarmed his People so as to be able to command them more easily.

But they fear the uselessness of this much more; for which uselessness

they cite two principal reasons: the one, because they are inexpert; the

other, for having to fight by force: because they say that they never

learn anything from great men, and nothing good is ever done by force.

FABRIZIO: All the reasons that you mention are from men who are

not far sighted, as I shall clearly show. And first, as to the uselessness,

I say to you that no army is of more use than your own, nor can an

army of your own be organized except in this way. And as there is no

debating over this, which all the examples of ancient history does for

us, I do not want to lose time over it. And because they cite

inexperience and force, I say ((as it is true)) that inept experience gives

rise to little spirit (enthusiasm) and force makes for discontent: but

experience and enthusiasm gains for themselves the means for arming,

training, and organizing them, as you will see in the first part of this

discussion. But as to force, you must understand that as men are

brought to the army by commandment of the Prince, they have to

come, whether it is entirely by force or entirely voluntarily: for if it were

entirely from desire, there would not be a Deletto as only a few of

them would go; so also, the (going) entirely by force would produce

bad results; therefore, a middle way ought to be taken where neither

the entirely forced or entirely voluntarily (means are used), but they

should come, drawn by the regard they have for the Prince, where they

are more afraid of of his anger then the immediate punishment: and it

will always happen that there will be a compulsion mixed with

willingness, from which that discontent cannot arise which causes bad

effects. Yet I do not claim that an army thus constituted cannot be

defeated; for many times the Roman armies were overcome, and the

army of Hannibal was defeated: so that it can be seen that no army can

be so organized that a promise can be given that it cannot be routed.

These wise men of yours, therefore, ought not measure this uselessness

from having lost one time, but to believe that just as they can lose, so

too they can win and remedy the cause of the defeat. And if they

should look into this, they will find that it would not have happened

because of a defect in the means, but of the organization which was not

sufficiently perfect. And, as I have said, they ought to provide for you,

not by censuring the organization, but by correcting it: as to how this

ought to be done, you will come to know little by little.

As to being apprehensive that such organization will not deprive you of

the State by one who makes himself a leader, I reply, that the arms

carried by his citizens or subjects, given to them by laws and

ordinances, never do him harm, but rather are always of some

usefulness, and preserve the City uncorrupted for a longer time by

means of these (arms), than without (them). Rome remained free four

hundred years while armed: Sparta eight hundred: Many other Cities

have been dis-armed, and have been free less than forty years; for

Cities have need of arms, and if they do not have arms of their own,

they hire them from foreigners, and the arms of foreigners more readily

do harm to the public good than their own; for they are easier to

corrupt, and a citizen who becomes powerful can more readily avail

himself, and can also manage the people more readily as he has to

oppress men who are disarmed. In addition to this, a City ought to fear

two enemies more than one. One which avails itself of foreigners

immediately has to fear not only its citizens, but the foreigners that it

enlists; and, remembering what I told you a short while ago of

Francesco Sforza, (you will see that) that fear ought to exist. One

which employs its own arms, has not other fear except of its own

Citizens. But of all the reasons which can be given, I want this one to

serve me, that no one ever established any Republic or Kingdom who

did not think that it should be defended by those who lived there with

arms: and if the Venetians had been as wise in this as in their other

institutions, they would have created a new world Kingdom; but who

so much more merit censure, because they had been the first who were

armed by their founders. And not having dominion on land, they armed

themselves on the sea, where they waged war with virtu, and with arms

in hand enlarged their country. But when the time came when they had

to wage war on land to defend Venice and where they ought to have

sent their own citizens to fight (on land), they enlisted as their captain (a

foreigner), the Marquis of Mantua. This was the sinister course which

prevented them from rising to the skies and expanding. And they did

this in the belief that, as they knew how to wage war at sea, they

should not trust themselves in waging it on land; which was an unwise

belief (distrust), because a Sea captain, who is accustomed to combat

with winds, water, and men, could more easily become a Captain on

land where the combat is with men only, than a land Captain become a

sea one. And my Romans, knowing how to combat on land and not on

the sea, when the war broke out with the Carthaginians who were

powerful on the sea, did not enlist Greeks or Spaniards experienced at

sea, but imposed that change on those citizens they sent (to fight) on

land, and they won. If they did this in order that one of their citizens

should not become Tyrant, it was a fear that was given little

consideration; for, in addition to the other reasons mentioned a short

while ago concerning such a proposal, if a citizen (skilled) in (the use

of) arms at sea had never been made a Tyrant in a City situated in the

sea, so much less would he be able to do this if he were (skilled) in (the

use of arms) on land. And, because of this, they ought to have seen

that arms in the hands of their own citizens could not create Tyrants,

but the evil institutions of a Government are those which cause a City

to be tyrannized; and, as they had a good Government, did not have to

fear arms of their own citizens. They took an imprudent course,

therefore, which was the cause of their being deprived of much glory

and happiness. As to the error which the King of France makes in not

having his people disciplined to war, from what has been cited from

examples previously mentioned, there is no one ((devoid of some

particular passion of theirs)) who does not judge this defect to be in the

Republic, and that this negligence alone is what makes it weak. But I

have made too great a digression and have gotten away from my

subject: yet I have done this to answer you and to show you, that no

reliance can be had on arms other than ones own, and ones own arms

cannot be established otherwise than by way of an ordinance, nor can

forms of armies be introduced in any place, nor military discipline

instituted. If you have read the arrangements which the first Kings

made in Rome, and most especially of Servius Tullus, you will find that

the institution of classes is none other than an arrangement to be able

quickly to put together an army for the defense of that City. But turning

to our Deletto, I say again, that having to replenish an established (old)

organization, I would take the seventeen year olds, but having to create

a new one, I would take them of every age between seventeen and

forty in order to avail myself of them quickly.

COSIMO: Would you make a difference of what profession (art) you

would choose them from?

FABRIZIO: These writers do so, for they do not want that bird

hunters, fishermen, cooks, procurers, and anyone who makes

amusement his calling should be taken, but they want that, in addition

to tillers of the soil, smiths and blacksmiths, carpenters, butchers,

hunters, and such like, should be taken. But I would make little

difference in conjecturing from his calling how good the man may be,

but how much I can use him with the greatest usefulness. And for this

reason, the peasants, who are accustomed to working the land, are

more useful than anyone else, for of all the professions (arts), this one is

used more than any other in the army: After this, are the forgers

(smiths), carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers; of whom it is useful to

have many, for their skills succeed in many things, as they are a very

good thing for a soldier to have, from whom you draw double service.

COSIMO: How are those who are or are not suitable to fight chosen?

FABRIZIO: I want to talk of the manner of selecting a new

organization in order to make it after wards into an army; which yet

also apply in the discussion of the selection that should be made in

re-manning an old (established) organization. I say, therefore, that how

good the man is that you have to select as a soldier is recognized either

from his experience, shown by some excellent deeds of his, or by

conjecture. The proof of virtu cannot be found in men who are newly

selected, and who never before have been selected; and of the former,

few or none are found in an organization which is newly established. It

is necessary, therefore, lacking experience to have recourse to

conjecture, which is derived from their age, profession, and physical

appearance. The first two have been discussed: it remains to talk of the

third. And yet I say that some have wanted that the soldier be big,

among whom was Pyrrhus: Some others have chosen them only from

the strength of the body, as Caesar did: which strength of body is

conjectured from the composition of the members and the gracefulness

of aspect. And yet some of those who write say that he should have

lively and merry eyes, a nervy neck, a large breast, muscular arms, long

fingers, a small stomach, round hips, sleek legs and feet: which parts

usually render a man strong and agile, which are the two things sought

above everything else in a soldier. He ought, above all, to have regard

for his habits and that there should be in him a (sense of) honesty and

shame, otherwise there will be selected only an instrument of trouble

and a beginning of corruption; for there is no one who believes that in a

dishonest education and in a brutish mind, there can exist some virtu

which in some part may be praiseworthy. Nor does it appear to me

superfluous, rather I believe it necessary, in order for you to

understand better the importance of this selection, to tell you the

method that the Roman Consuls at the start of their Magistracy

observed in selecting the Roman legions. In which Deletto, because

those who had to be selected were to be a mixture of new and veteran

men ((because of the continuing wars)), they proceeded from

experience with regard to the old (veteran) men, and from conjecture

with regard to the new. And this ought to be noted, that these Deletti

are made, either for immediate training and use, or for future


I have talked, and will talk, of those that are made for future

employment, because my intention is to show you how an army can be

organized in countries where there is no military (organization), in which

countries I cannot have Deletti in order to make use of them. But in

countries where it is the custom to call out armies, and by means of the

Prince, these (Deletti) exist, as was observed at Rome and is today

observed among the Swiss. For in these Deletti, if they are for the

(selection of) new men, there are so many others accustomed to being

under military orders, that the old (veteran) and new, being mixed

together, make a good and united body. Notwithstanding this, the

Emperors, when they began to hold fixed the (term of service of the)

soldiers, placed new men in charge over the soldiers, whom they called

Tironi, as teachers to train them, as is seen in the life of the Emperor

Maximus: which thing, while Rome was free, was instituted, not in the

army, but within the City: and as the military exercises where the young

men were trained were in the City, there resulted that those then

chosen to go to war, being accustomed in the method of mock

warfare, could easily adapt themselves to real war. But afterwards,

when these Emperors discontinued these exercises, it was necessary to

employ the methods I have described to you. Arriving, therefore, at the

methods of the Roman Selection, I say that, as soon as the Roman

Consuls, on whom was imposed the carrying on of the war, had

assumed the Magistracy, in wanting to organize their armies ((as it was

the custom that each of them had two legions of Roman men, who

were the nerve (center) of their armies)), created twenty four military

Tribunes, proposing six for each legion, who filled that office which

today is done by those whom we call Constables. After they had

assembled all the Roman men adept at carrying arms, and placed the

Tribunes of each legion apart from each of the others. Afterwards, by

lot they drew the Tribes, from which the first Selection was to be

made, and of that Tribe they selected four of their best men, from

whom one was selected by the Tribunes of the first legion, and of the

other three, one was selected by the Tribunes of the second legion; of

the other two, one was selected by the Tribunes of the third, and that

last belonged to the fourth legion. After these four, four others were

selected, of whom the first man was selected by the Tribunes of the

second legion, the second by those of the third, the third by those of

the fourth, the fourth remained to the first. After, another four were

chosen: the first man was selected by the (Tribunes of the) third

(legion), the second by the fourth, the third by the first, the fourth

remained to the second. And thus this method of selection changed

successively, so that the selection came to be equal, and the legions

equalized. And as we said above, this was done where the men were

to be used immediately: and as it was formed of men of whom a good

part were experienced in real warfare, and everyone in mock battles,

this Deletto was able to be based on conjecture and experience. But

when a new army was to be organized and the selection made for

future employment, this Deletto cannot be based except on conjecture,

which is done by age and physical appearance.

COSIMO: I believe what you have said is entirely true: but before you

pass on to other discussion, I want to ask about one thing which you

have made me remember, when you said that the Deletto which should

be made where these men are not accustomed to fighting should be

done by conjecture: for I have heard our organization censured in many

of its parts, and especially as to number; for many say that a lesser

number ought to be taken, of whom those that are drawn would be

better and the selection better, as there would not be as much hardship

imposed on the men, and some reward given them, by means of which

they would be more content and could be better commanded. Whence

I would like to know your opinion on this part, and if you preferred a

greater rather than a smaller number, and what methods you would use

in selecting both numbers.

FABRIZIO: Without doubt the greater number is more desirable and

more necessary than the smaller: rather, to say better, where a great

number are not available, a perfect organization cannot be made, and I

will easily refute all the reasons cited in favor of this. I say, therefore,

first, that where there are many people, as there are for example in

Tuscany, does not cause you to have better ones, or that the Deletto is

more selective; for desiring in the selection of men to judge them on the

basis of experience, only a very few would probably be found in that

country who would have had this experience, as much because few

have been in a war, as because of those few who have been, very few

have ever been put to the test, so that because of this they merit to be

chosen before the others: so that whoever is in a similar situation should

select them, must leave experience to one side and take them by

conjecture: and if I were brought to such a necessity, I would want to

see, if twenty young men of good physical appearance should come

before me, with what rule rule I ought to take some or reject some: so

that without doubt I believe that every man will confess that it is a much

smaller error to take them all in arming and training them, being unable

to know (beforehand) which of them are better, and to reserve to

oneself afterwards to make a more certain Deletto where, during the

exercises with the army, those of greater courage and vitality may be

observed. So that, considering everything, the selection in this case of a

few in order to have them better, is entirely false. As to causing less

hardship to the country and to the men, I say that the ordinance,

whether it is bad or insufficient, does not cause any hardship: for this

order does not take men away from their business, and does not bind

them so that they cannot go to carry out their business, because it only

obliges them to come together for training on their free days, which

proposition does not do any harm either to the country or the men;

rather, to the young, it ought to be delightful, for where, on holidays

they remain basely indolent in their hangouts, they would now attend

these exercises with pleasure, for the drawing of arms, as it is a

beautiful spectacle, is thus delightful to the young men. As to being able

to pay (more to) the lesser number, and thereby keeping them more

content and obedient, I reply, that no organization of so few can be

made, who are paid so continually, that their pay satisfies them. For

instance, if an army of five thousand infantry should be organized, in

wanting to pay them so that it should be believed they would be

contented, they must be given at least ten thousand ducats a month. To

begin with, this number of infantry is not enough to make an army, and

the payment is unendurable to a State; and on the other hand, it is not

sufficient to keep the men content and obligated to respect your

position. So that in doing this although much would be spent, it would

provide little strength, and would not be sufficient to defend you, or

enable you to undertake any enterprise. If you should give them more,

or take on more, so much more impossible would it be for you to pay

them: if you should give them less, or take on fewer, so much less

would be content and so much less useful would they be to you.

Therefore, those who consider things which are either useless or

impossible. But it is indeed necessary to pay them when they are levied

to send to war.

But even if such an arrangement should give some hardship to those

enrolled in it in times of peace, which I do not see, they are still

recompensed by all those benefits which an army established in a City

bring; for without them, nothing is secure. I conclude that whoever

desires a small number in order to be able to pay them, or for any

other reason cited by you, does not know (what he is doing); for it will

also happen, in my opinion, that any number will always diminish in

your hands, because of the infinite impediments that men have; so that

the small number will succeed at nothing. However, when you have a

large organization, you can at your election avail yourself of few or of

many. In addition to this, it serves you in fact and reputation, for the

large number will always give you reputation. Moreover, in creating the

organization, in order to keep men trained, if you enroll a small number

of men in many countries, and the armies are very distant from each

other, you cannot without the gravest injury to them assemble them for

(joint) exercises, and without this training the organization is useless, as

will be shown in its proper place.

COSIMO: What you have said is enough on my question: but I now

desire that you resolve another doubt for me. There are those who say

that such a multitude of armed men would cause confusion, trouble,

and disorder in the country.

FABRIZIO: This is another vain opinion for the reason I will tell you.

These organized under arms can cause disorders in two ways: either

among themselves, or against others; both of these can be obviated

where discipline by itself should not do so: for as to troubles among

themselves, the organization removes them, not brings them up,

because in the organization you give them arms and leaders. If the

country where you organize them is so unwarlike that there are not

arms among its men, and so united that there are no leaders, such an

organization will make them more ferocious against the foreigner, but in

no way will make it more disunited, because men well organized,

whether armed or unarmed, fear the laws, and can never change,

unless the leaders you give them cause a change; and I will later tell you

the manner of doing this. But if the country where you have organized

an army is warlike and disunited, this organization alone is reason

enough to unite them, for these men have arms and leaders for

themselves: but the arms are useless for war, and the leaders causes of

troubles; but this organization gives them arms useful for war, and

leaders who will extinguish troubles; for as soon as some one is injured

in that country, he has recourse to his (leader) of the party, who, to

maintain his reputation, advises him to avenge himself, (and) not to

remain in peace. The public leader does the contrary. So that by this

means, the causes for trouble are removed, and replaced by those for

union; and provinces which are united but effeminate (unwarlike) lose

their usefulness but maintain the union, while those that are disunited

and troublesome remain united; and that disordinate ferocity which they

usually employ, is turned to public usefulness.

As to desiring that they do us injury against others, it should be kept in

mind that they cannot do this except by the leaders who govern them.

In desiring that the leaders do not cause disorders, it is necessary to

have care that they do not acquire too much authority over them. And

you have to keep in mind that this authority is acquired either naturally

or by accident: And as to nature, it must be provided that whoever is

born in one place is not put in charge of men enrolled in another place,

but is made a leader in those places where he does not have any

natural connections. As to accidents, the organization should be such

that each year the leaders are exchanged from command to command;

for continuous authority over the same men generates so much unity

among them, which can easily be converted into prejudice against the

Prince. As to these exchanges being useful to those who have

employed them, and injurious to those who have not observed them, is

known from the example of the Kingdom of Assyria and from the

Empire of the Romans, in which it is seen that the former Kingdom

endured a thousand years without tumult and without civil war; which

did not result from anything else than the exchanges of those Captains,

who were placed in charge of the care of the armies, from place to

place every year. Nor, for other reasons, (did it result) in the Roman

Empire; once the blood (race) of Caesar was extinguished, so many

civil wars arose among the Captains of the armies, and so many

conspiracies of the above mentioned Captains against the Emperors,

resulting from the continuing of those Captains in their same

Commands. And if any of those Emperors, and any who later held the

Empire by reputation, such as Hadrian, Marcus, Severus, and others

like them, would have observed such happenings, and would have

introduced this custom of exchanging Captains in that Empire, without

doubt they would have made it more tranquil and lasting; for the

Captains would have had fewer opportunities for creating tumults, and

the Emperors fewer causes to fear them, and the Senate, when there

was a lack in the succession, would have had more authority in the

election of Emperors, and consequently, better conditions would have

resulted. But the bad customs of men, whether from ignorance or little

diligence, or from examples of good or bad, are never put aside.

COSIMO: I do not know if, with my question, I have gone outside the

limits you set; for from the Deletto we have entered into another

discussion, and if I should not be excused a little, I shall believe I merit

some reproach.

FABRIZIO: This did us no harm; for all this discussion was necessary

in wanting to discuss the Organization (of an Army), which, being

censured by many, it was necessary to explain it, if it is desired that this

should take place before the Deletto. And before I discuss the other

parts, I want to discuss the Deletto for men on horseback. This

(selection) was done by the ancients from among the more wealthy,

having regard both for the age and quality of the men, selecting three

hundred for each legion: so that the Roman cavalry in every Consular

army did not exceed six hundred.

COSIMO: Did you organize the cavalry in order to train them at home

and avail yourself of them in the future?

FABRIZIO: Actually it is a necessity and cannot be done otherwise, if

you want to have them take up arms for you, and not to want to take

them away from those who make a profession of them.

COSIMO: How would you select them?

FABRIZIO: I would imitate the Romans: I would take the more

wealthy, and give them leaders in the same manner as they are given to

others today, and I would arm them, and train them.

COSIMO: Would it be well to give these men some provision?

FABRIZIO: Yes, indeed: but only as much as is necessary to take care

of the horse; for, as it brings an expense to your subjects, they could

complain of you. It would be necessary, therefore, to pay them for the

horse and its upkeep.

COSIMO: How many would you make? How would you arm them?

FABRIZIO: You pass into another discussion. I will tell you in its

place, which will be when I have said how the infantry ought to be

armed, and how they should prepare for an engagement.





I believe that it is necessary, once the men are found, to arm them; and in
wanting to do this, I believe it is necessary to examine what arms the
ancients used, and from them select the best. The Romans divided their
infantry into the heavily and lightly armed. The light armed they gave the
name Veliti. Under this name they included all those who operated with the
sling, cross-bow, and darts: and the greater part of them carried a helmet
(head covering) and a shield on the arm for their defense. These men fought
outside the regular ranks, and apart from the heavy armor, which was a
Casque that came up to the shoulders, they also carried a Cuirass which,
with the skirt, came down to the knees, and their arms and legs were covered
by shin-guards and bracelets; they also carried a shield on the arm, two
arms in length and one in width, which had an iron hoop on it to be able to
sustain a blow, and another underneath, so that in rubbing on the ground, it
should not be worn out. For attacking, they had cinched on their left side a
sword of an arm and a half length, and a dagger on the right side. They
carried a spear, which they called Pilus, and which they hurled at the enemy
at the start of a battle. These were the important Roman arms, with which
they conquered the world. And although some of the ancient writers also gave
them, in addition to the aforementioned arms, a shaft in the hand in the
manner of a spit, I do not know how a staff can be used by one who holds a
shield, for in managing it with two hands it is impeded by the shield, and
he cannot do anything worthwhile with one hand because of its heaviness. In
addition to this, to combat in the ranks with the staff (as arms) is
useless, except in the front rank where there is ample space to deploy the
entire staff, which cannot be done in the inner ranks, because the nature of
the battalions ((as I will tell you in their organization)) is to press its
ranks continually closer together, as this is feared less, even though
inconvenient, than for the ranks to spread further apart, where the danger
is most apparent. So that all the arms which exceed two arms in length are
useless in tight places; for if you have a staff and want to use it with
both hands, and handled so that the shield should not annoy you, you cannot
attack an enemy with it who is next to you. If you take it in one hand in
order to serve yourself of the shield, you cannot pick it up except in the
middle, and there remains so much of the staff in the back part, that those
who are behind impede you in using it. And that this is true, that the
Romans did not have the staff, or, having it, they valued it little, you
will read in all the engagements noted by Titus Livius in his history, where
you will see that only very rarely is mention made of the shaft, rather he
always says that, after hurling the spears, they put their hands on the
sword. Therefore I want to leave this staff, and relate how much the Romans
used the sword for offense, and for defense, the shield together with the
other arms mentioned above.

The Greeks did not arm so heavily for defense as did the Romans, but in the
offense relied more on this staff than on the sword, and especially the
Phalanxes of Macedonia, who carried staffs which they called Sarisse, a good
ten arms in length, with which they opened the ranks of the enemy and
maintained order in the Phalanxes. And although other writers say they also
had a shield, I do not know ((for the reasons given above)) how the Sarisse
and the shield could exist together. In addition to this, in the engagement
that Paulus Emilius had with Perseus, King of Macedonia, I do not remember
mention being made of shields, but only of the Sarisse and the difficulty
the Romans had in overcoming them. So that I conjecture that a Macedonian
Phalanx was nothing else than a battalion of Swiss is today, who have all
their strength and power in their pikes. The Romans ((in addition to the
arms)) ornamented the infantry with plumes; which things make the sight of
an army beautiful to friends, and terrible to the enemy. The arms for men on
horseback in the original ancient Roman (army) was a round shield, and they
had the head covered, but the rest (of the body) without armor. They had a
sword and a staff with an iron point, long and thin; whence they were unable
to hold the shield firm, and only make weak movements with the staff, and
because they had no armor, they were exposed to wounds. Afterwards, with
time, they were armed like the infantry, but the shield was much smaller and
square, and the staff more solid and with two iron tips, so that if the one
side was encumbered, they could avail themselves of the other. With these
arms, both for the infantry and the cavalry, my Romans occupied all the
world, and it must be believed, from the fruits that are observed, that they
were the best armed armies that ever existed.

And Titus Livius, in his histories, gives many proofs, where, in coming to
the comparison with enemy armies, he says, "but the Romans were superior in
virtu, kinds of arms, and discipline". And, therefore, I have discussed more
in particular the arms of the victors than those of the losers. It appears
proper to me to discuss only the present methods of arming. The infantry
have for their defense a breast plate of iron, and for offense a lance nine
armlengths long, which they call a pike, and a sword at their side, rather
round in the point than sharp. This is the ordinary armament of the infantry
today, for few have their arms and shins (protected by) armor, no one the
head; and those few carry a halberd in place of a pike, the shaft of which
((as you know)) is three armlengths long, and has the iron attached as an
axe. Among them they have three Scoppettieri (Exploders, i.e., Gunners),
who, with a burst of fire fill that office which anciently was done by
slingers and bow-men. This method of arming was established by the Germans,
and especially by the Swiss, who, being poor and wanting to live in freedom,
were, and are, obliged to combat with the ambitions of the Princes of
Germany, who were rich and could raise horses, which that people could not
do because of poverty: whence it happened that being on foot and wanting to
defend themselves from enemies who were on horseback, it behooved them to
search the ancient orders and find arms which should defend them from the
fury of horses. This necessity has caused them to maintain or rediscover the
ancient orders, without which, as every prudent man affirms, the infantry is
entirely useless. They therefore take up pikes as arms, which are most
useful not only in sustaining (the attacks of) horses, but to overcome them.
And because of the virtu of these arms and ancient orders, the Germans have
assumed so much audacity, that fifteen or twenty thousand of them would
assault any great number of horse, and there have been many examples of this
seen in the last twenty five years. And this example of their virtu founded
on these arms and these orders have been so powerful, that after King
Charles passed into Italy, every nation has imitated them: so that the
Spanish armies have come into a very great reputation.

COSIMO: What method of arms do you praise more, this German one or the
ancient Roman?

FABRIZIO: The Roman without any doubt, and I will tell you the good and the
bad of one and the other. The German infantry can sustain and overcome the
cavalry. They are more expeditious in marching and in organizing themselves,
because they are not burdened with arms. On the other hand, they are exposed
to blows from near and far because of being unarmed. They are useless in
land battles and in every fight where there is stalwart resistance. But the
Romans sustained and overcame the cavalry, as these (Germans) do. They were
safe from blows near and far because they were covered with armor. They were
better able to attack and sustain attacks having the shields. They could
more actively in tight places avail themselves of the sword than these
(Germans) with the pike; and even if the latter had the sword, being without
a shield, they become, in such a case, (equally) useless. They (the Romans)
could safely assault towns, having the body covered, and being able to cover
it even better with the shield. So that they had no other inconvenience than
the heaviness of the arms (armor) and the annoyance of having to carry them;
which inconveniences they overcame by accustoming the body to hardships and
inducing it to endure hard work. And you know we do not suffer from things
to which we are accustomed. And you must understand this, that the infantry
must be able to fight with infantry and cavalry, and those are always
useless who cannot sustain the (attacks of the) cavalry, or if they are able
to sustain them, none the less have fear of infantry who are better armed
and organized than they. Now if you will consider the German and the Roman
infantry, you will find in the German ((as we have said)) the aptitude of
overcoming cavalry, but great disadvantages when fighting with an infantry
organized as they are, and armed as the Roman. So that there will be this
advantage of the one over the other, that the Romans could overcome both the
infantry and the cavalry, and the Germans only the cavalry.

COSIMO: I would desire that you give some more particular example, so that
we might understand it better.

FABRIZIO: I say thusly, that in many places in our histories you will find
the Roman infantry to have defeated numberless cavalry, but you will never
find them to have been defeated by men on foot because of some defect they
may have had in their arms or because of some advantage the enemy had in
his. For if their manner of arming had been defective, it was necessary for
them to follow one of two courses: either when they found one who was better
armed than they, not to go on further with the conquest, or that they take
up the manner of the foreigner, and leave off theirs: and since neither
ensued, there follows, what can be easily conjectured, that this method of
arming was better than that of anyone else. This has not yet occurred with
the German infantry; for it has been seen that anytime they have had to
combat with men on foot organized and as obstinate as they, they have made a
bad showing; which results from the disadvantage they have in trying
themselves against the arms of the enemy. When Filippo Visconti, Duke of
Milan, was assaulted by eighteen thousand Swiss, he sent against them Count
Carmingnuola, who was his Captain at that time. This man with six thousand
cavalry and a few infantry went to encounter them, and, coming hand to hand
with them, was repulsed with very great damage. Whence Carmingnuola as a
prudent man quickly recognized the power of the enemy arms, and how much
they prevailed against cavalry, and the weakness of cavalry against those on
foot so organized; and regrouping his forces, again went to meet the Swiss,
and as they came near he made his men-at-arms descend from their horses, and
in that manner fought with them, and killed all but three thousand, who,
seeing themselves consumed without having any remedy, threw their arms on
the ground and surrendered.

COSIMO: Whence arises such a disadvantage?

FABRIZIO: I have told you a little while ago, but since you have not
understood it, I will repeat it to you. The German infantry ((as was said a
little while ago)) has almost no armor in defending itself, and use pikes
and swords for offense. They come with these arms and order of battle to
meet the enemy, who ((if he is well equipped with armor to defend himself,
as were the men-at-arms of Carmingnuola who made them descend to their
feet)) comes with his sword and order of battle to meet him, and he has no
other difficulty than to come near the Swiss until he makes contact with
them with the sword; for as soon as he makes contact with them, he combats
them safely, for the German cannot use the pike against the enemy who is
next to him because of the length of the staff, so he must use the sword,
which is useless to him, as he has no armor and has to meet an enemy that is
(protected) fully by armor. Whence, whoever considers the advantages and
disadvantages of one and the other, will see that the one without armor has
no remedy, but the one well armored will have no difficulty in overcoming
the first blow and the first passes of the pike: for in battles, as you will
understand better when I have demonstrated how they are put together, the
men go so that of necessity they accost each other in a way that they are
attacked on the breast, and if one is killed or thrown to the ground by the
pike, those on foot who remain are so numerous that they are sufficient for
victory. From this there resulted that Carmingnuola won with such a massacre
of the Swiss, and with little loss to himself.

COSIMO: I see that those with Carmingnuola were men-at-arms, who, although
they were on foot, were all covered with iron (armor), and, therefore, could
make the attempt that they made; so that I think it would be necessary to
arm the infantry in the same way if they want to make a similar attempt.

FABRIZIO: If you had remembered how I said the Romans were armed, you would
not think this way. For an infantryman who has his head covered with iron,
his breast protected by a cuirass and a shield, his arms and legs with
armor, is much more apt to defend himself from pikes, and enter among them,
than is a man-at-arms (cavalryman) on foot. I want to give you a small modem
example. The Spanish infantry had descended from Sicily into the Kingdom of
Naples in order to go and meet Consalvo who was besieged in Barletta by the
French. They came to an encounter against Monsignor D'Obigni with his
men-at-arms, and with about four thousand German infantry. The Germans,
coming hand to hand with their pikes low, penetrated the (ranks of the)
Spanish infantry; but the latter, aided by their spurs and the agility of
their bodies, intermingled themselves with the Germans, so that they (the
Germans) could not get near them with their swords; whence resulted the
death of almost all of them, and the victory of the Spaniards. Everyone
knows how many German infantry were killed in the engagement at Ravenna,
which resulted from the same causes, for the Spanish infantry got as close
as the reach of their swords to the German infantry, and would have
destroyed all of them, if the German infantry had not been succored by the
French Cavalry: none the less, the Spaniards pressing together made
themselves secure in that place. I conclude, therefore, that a good infantry
not only is able to sustain the (attack) of cavalry, but does not have fear
of infantry, which ((as I have said many times)) proceeds from its arms
(armor) and organization (discipline).

COSIMO: Tell us, therefore, how you would arm them.

FABRIZIO: I would take both the Roman arms and the German, and would want
half to be armed as the Romans, and the other half as the Germans. For, if
in six thousand infantry ((as I shall explain a little later)) I should have
three thousand infantry with shields like the Romans, and two thousand pikes
and a thousand gunners like the Germans, they would be enough for me; for I
would place the pikes either in the front lines of the battle, or where I
should fear the cavalry most; and of those with the shield and the sword, I
would serve myself to back up the pikes and to win the engagement, as I will
show you. So that I believe that an infantry so organized should surpass any
other infantry today.

COSIMO: What you have said to us is enough as regards infantry, but as to
cavalry, we desire to learn which seems the more strongly armed to you, ours
or that of the ancients?

FABRIZIO: I believe in these times, with respect to saddles and stirrups not
used by the ancients, one stays more securely on the horse than at that
time. I believe we arm more securely: so that today one squadron of very
heavily (armed) men-at-arms comes to be sustained with much more difficulty
than was the ancient cavalry. With all of this, I judge, none the less, that
no more account ought to be taken of the cavalry than was taken anciently;
for ((as has been said above)) they have often in our times been subjected
to disgrace by the infantry armed (armored) and organized as (described)
above. Tigranus, King of Armenia, came against the Roman army of which
Lucullus was Captain, with (an army) of one hundred fifty thousand cavalry,
among whom were many armed as our men-at-arms, whom they called Catafratti,
while on the other side the Romans did not total more than six thousand
(cavalry) and fifteen thousand infantry; so that Tigranus, when he saw the
army of the enemy, said: "These are just about enough horsemen for an
embassy". None the less, when they came to battle, he was routed; and he who
writes of that battle blames those Catafratti, showing them to be useless,
because, he says, that having their faces covered, their vision was impaired
and they were little adept at seeing and attacking the enemy, and as they
were heavily burdened by the armor, they could not regain their feet when
they fell, nor in any way make use of their persons. I say, therefore, that
those People or Kingdoms which esteem the cavalry more than the infantry,
are always weaker and more exposed to complete ruin, as has been observed in
Italy in our times, which has been plundered, ruined, and overrun by
foreigners, not for any other fault than because they had paid little
attention to the foot soldiers and had mounted all their soldiers on horses.
Cavalry ought to be used, but as a second and not the first reliance of an
army; for they are necessary and most useful in undertaking reconnaissance,
in overrunning and despoiling the enemy country, and to keep harassing and
troubling the enemy army so as to keep it continually under arms, and to
impede its provisions; but as to engagements and battles in the field, which
are the important things in war and the object for which armies are
organized, they are more useful in pursuing than in routing the enemy, and
are much more inferior to the foot soldier in accomplishing the things
necessary in accomplishing such (defeats).

COSIMO: But two doubts occur to me: the one, that I know that the Parthians
did not engage in war except with cavalry, yet they divided the world with
the Romans: the other, that I would like you to tell me how the (attack of)
the cavalry can be sustained by the infantry, and whence arises the virtu of
the latter and the weakness of the former?

FABRIZIO: Either I have told you, or I meant to tell you, that my discussion
on matters of war is not going beyond the limits of Europe. Since this is
so, I am not obliged to give reasons for that which is the custom in Asia.
Yet, I have this to say, that the army of Parthia was completely opposite to
that of the Romans, as the Parthians fought entirely on horseback, and in
the fighting was about confused and disrupted, and was a way of fighting
unstable and full of uncertainties. The Romans, it may be recalled, were
almost all on foot, and fought pressed closely together, and at various
times one won over the other, according as the site (of the battle) was open
or tight; for in the latter the Romans were superior, but in the former the
Parthians, who were able to make a great trial with that army with respect
to the region they had to defend, which was very open with a seacoast a
thousand miles distant, rivers two or three days (journey) apart from each
other, towns likewise, and inhabitants rare: so that a Roman army, heavy and
slow because of its arms and organization, could not pursue him without
suffering great harm, because those who defended the country were on horses
and very speedy, so that he would be in one place today, and tomorrow fifty
miles distant. Because of this, the Parthians were able to prevail with
cavalry alone, and thus resulted the ruin of the army of Crassus, and the
dangers to those of Marcantonio. But ((as I have said)) I did not intend in
this discussion of mine to speak of armies outside of Europe; and,
therefore, I want to continue on those which the Romans and Greeks had
organized in their time, and that the Germans do today.

But let us come to the other question of yours, in which you desire to
know what organization or what natural virtu causes the infantry to be
superior to the cavalry. And I tell you, first, that the horses cannot go
in all the places that the infantry do, because it is necessary for them
either to turn back after they have come forward, or turning back to go
forward, or to move from a stand-still, or to stand still after moving, so
that, without doubt, the cavalry cannot do precisely thus as the infantry.
Horses cannot, after being put into disorder from some attack, return to the
order (of the ranks) except with difficulty, and even if the attack does not
occur; the infantry rarely do this. In addition to this, it often occurs
that a courageous man is mounted on a base horse, and a base man on a
courageous horse, whence it must happen that this difference in courage
causes disorders. Nor should anyone wonder that a Knot (group) of infantry
sustains every attack of the cavalry, for the horse is a sensible animal and
knows the dangers, and goes in unwillingly. And if you would think about
what forces make him (the horse) go forward and what keep him back, without
doubt you will see that those which hold him back are greater than those
which push him; for spurs make him go forward, and, on the other hand, the
sword and the pike retain him. So that from both ancient and modem
experiences, it has been seen that a small group of infantry can be very
secure from, and even actually insuperable to, the cavalry. And if you
should argue on this that the Elan with which he comes makes it more furious
in hurling himself against whoever wants to sustain his attack, and he
responds less to the pike than the spur, I say that, as soon as the horse so
disposed begins to see himself at the point of being struck by the points of
the pikes, either he will by himself check his gait, so that he will stop as
soon as he sees himself about to be pricked by them, or, being pricked by
them, he will turn to the right or left. If you want to make a test of this,
try to run a horse against a wall, and rarely will you find one that will
run into it, no matter with what Elan you attempt it. Caesar, when he had to
combat the Swiss in Gaul, dismounted and made everyone dismount to their
feet, and had the horses removed from the ranks, as they were more adept at
fleeing than fighting.

But, notwithstanding these natural impediments that horses have, the
Captain who leads the infantry ought to select roads that have as many
obstacles for horses as possible, and rarely will it happen that the men
will not be able to provide for their safety from the kind of country. If
one marches among hills, the location of the march should be such that you
may be free from those attacks of which you may be apprehensive; and if you
go on the plains, rarely will you find one that does not have crops or woods
which will provide some safety for you, for every bush and embankment, even
though small, breaks up that dash, and every cultivated area where there are
vines and other trees impedes the horses. And if you come to an engagement,
the same will happen to you as when marching, because every little
impediment which the horse meets cause him to lose his fury. None the less,
I do not want to forget to tell you one thing, that although the Romans
esteemed much their own discipline and trusted very much on their arms (and
armor), that if they had to select a place, either so rough to protect
themselves from horses and where they could not be able to deploy their
forces, or one where they had more to fear from the horses but where they
were able to spread out, they would always take the latter and leave the

But, as it is time to pass on to the training (of the men), having armed
this infantry according to the ancient and modem usage, we shall see what
training they gave to the Romans before the infantry were led to battle.
Although they were well selected and better armed, they were trained with
the greatest attention, because without this training a soldier was never
any good. This training consisted of three parts. The first, to harden the
body and accustom it to endure hardships, to act faster, and more
dexterously. Next, to teach the use of arms: The third, to teach the
trainees the observance of orders in marching as well as fighting and
encamping. These are the three principal actions which make an army: for if
any army marches, encamps, and fights, in a regular and practical manner,
the Captain retains his honor even though the engagement should not have a
good ending. All the ancient Republics, therefore, provided such training,
and both by custom and law, no part was left out. They therefore trained
their youth so as to make them speedy in running, dextrous in jumping,
strong in driving stakes and wrestling. And these three qualities are almost
necessary in a soldier; for speed makes him adept at occupying places before
the enemy, to come upon him unexpectedly, and to pursue him when he is
routed. Dexterity makes him adept at avoiding blows, jumping a ditch and
climbing over an embankment. Strength makes him better to carry arms, hurl
himself against an enemy, and sustain an attack. And above all, to make the
body more inured to hardships, they accustom it to carry great weights. This
accustoming is necessary, for in difficult expeditions it often happens that
the soldier, in addition to his arms, must carry provisions for many days,
and if he had not been accustomed to this hard work, he would not be able to
do it, and, hence, he could neither flee from a danger nor acquire a victory
with fame.

As to the teaching of the use of arms, they were trained in this way. They
had the young men put on arms (armor) which weighed more than twice that of
the real (regular) ones, and, as a sword, they gave them a leaded club which
in comparison was very heavy. They made each one of them drive a pole into
the ground so that three arm-lengths remained (above ground), and so firmly
fixed that blows would not drive it to one side or have it fall to the
ground; against this pole, the young men were trained with the shield and
the club as against an enemy, and sometime they went against it as if they
wanted to wound the head or the face, another time as if they wanted to
puncture the flank, sometimes the legs, sometime they drew back, another
time they went forward. And in this training, they had in mind making
themselves adept at covering (protecting) themselves and wounding the enemy;
and since the feigned arms were very heavy, the real ones afterwards seemed
light. The Romans wanted their soldiers to wound (the enemy) by the driving
of a point against him, rather than by cutting (slashing), as much because
such a blow was more fatal and had less defense against it, as also because
it left less uncovered (unprotected) those who were wounding, making him
more adept at repeating his attack, than by slashing. Do you not wonder that
those ancients should think of these minute details, for they reasoned that
where men had to come hand to hand (in battle), every little advantage is of
the greatest importance; and I will remind you of that, because the writers
say of this that I have taught it to you. Nor did the ancients esteem it a
more fortunate thing in a Republic than to have many of its men trained in
arms; for it is not the splendor of jewels and gold that makes the enemy
submit themselves to you, but only the fear of arms. Moreover, errors made
in other things can sometimes be corrected afterwards, but those that are
made in war, as the punishment happens immediately, cannot be corrected. In
addition to this, knowing how to fight makes men more audacious, as no one
fears to do the things which appear to him he has been taught to do. The
ancients, therefore, wanted their citizens to train in every warlike
activity; and even had them throw darts against the pole heavier than the
actual ones: which exercise, in addition to making men expert in throwing,
also makes the arm more limber and stronger. They also taught them how to
draw the bow and the sling, and placed teachers in charge of doing all these
things: so that when (men) were selected to go to war, they were already
soldiers in spirit and disposition. Nor did these remain to teach them
anything else than to go by the orders and maintain themselves in them
whether marching or combatting: which they easily taught by mixing
themselves with them, so that by knowing how to keep (obey) the orders, they
could exist longer in the army.

COSIMO: Would you have them train this way now?

FABRIZIO: Many of those which have been mentioned, like running wrestling,
making them jump, making them work hard under arms heavier than the
ordinary, making them draw the crossbow and the sling; to which I would add
the light gun, a new instrument ((as you know)), and a necessary one. And I
would accustom all the youth of my State to this training: but that part of
them whom I have enrolled to fight, I would (especially) train with greater
industry and more solicitude, and I would train them always on their free
days. I would also desire that they be taught to swim, which is a very
useful thing, because there are not always bridges at rivers, nor ships
ready: so that if your army does not know how to swim, it may be deprived of
many advantages, and many opportunities, to act well are taken away. The
Romans, therefore, arranged that the young men be trained on the field of
Mars, so that having the river Tiber nearby, they would be able after
working hard in exercises on land to refresh themselves in the water, and
also exercise them in their swimming.

I would also do as the ancients and train those who fight on horseback:
which is very necessary, for in addition to knowing how to ride, they would
know how to avail themselves of the horse (in maneuvering him). And,
therefore, they arranged horses of wood on which they straddled, and jumped
over them armed and unarmed without any help and without using their hands:
which made possible that in a moment, and at a sign from the Captain, the
cavalry to become as foot soldiers, and also at another sign, for them to be
remounted. And as such exercises, both on foot and horseback, were easy at
that time, so now it should not be difficult for that Republic or that
Prince to put them in practice on their youth, as is seen from the
experience of Western Cities, where these methods similar to these
institutions are yet kept alive.

They divide all their inhabitants into several parts, and assign one kind
of arms of those they use in war to each part. And as they used pikes,
halberds, bows, and light guns, they called them pikemen, halberdiers,
archers, and gunners. It therefore behooved all the inhabitants to declare
in what order they wanted to be enrolled. And as all, whether because of age
or other impediment, are not fit for war (combat), they make a selection
from each order and they call them the Giurati (Sworn Ones), who, on their
free days, are obliged to exercise themselves in those arms in which they
are enrolled: and each one is assigned his place by the public where such
exercises are to be carried on, and those who are of that order but are not
sworn, participate by (contributing) money for those expenses which are
necessary for such exercises. That which they do, therefore, we can do, but
our little prudence does not allow us to take up any good proceeding.

From these exercises, it resulted that the ancients had good infantry, and
that now those of the West have better infantry than ours, for the ancients
exercised either at home as did those Republics, or in the armies as did
those Emperors, for the reasons mentioned above. But we do not want to
exercise at home, and we cannot do so in the field because they are not our
subjects and we cannot obligate them to other exercises than they themselves
want. This reason has caused the armies to die out first, and then the
institutions, so that the Kingdoms and the Republics, especially the
Italian, exist in such a weak condition today.

But let us return to our subject, and pursuing this matter of training, I
say, that it is not enough in undertaking good training to have hardened the
men, made them strong, fast and dextrous, but it is also necessary to teach
them to keep discipline, obey the signs, the sounds (of the bugle), and the
voice of the Captain; to know when to stand, to retire, to go forward, and
when to combat, to march, to maintain ranks; for without this discipline,
despite every careful diligence observed and practiced, an army is never
good. And without doubt, bold but undisciplined men are more weak than the
timid but disciplined ones; for discipline drives away fear from men, lack
of discipline makes the bold act foolishly. And so that you may better
understand what will be mentioned below, you have to know that every nation
has made its men train in the discipline of war, or rather its army as the
principal part, which, if they have varied in name, they have varied little
in the numbers of men involved, as all have comprised six to eight thousand
men. This number was called a Legion by the Romans, a Phalanx by the Greeks,
a Caterna by the Gauls. This same number, by the Swiss, who alone retain any
of that ancient military umbrage, in our times is called in their language
what in ours signifies a Battalion. It is true that each one is further
subdivided into small Battaglia (Companies), and organized according to its
purpose. It appears to me, therefore, more suitable to base our talk on this
more notable name, and then according to the ancient and modern systems,
arrange them as best as is possible. And as the Roman Legions were composed
of five or six thousand men, in ten Cohorts, I want to divide our Battalion
into ten Companies, and compose it of six thousand men on foot; and assign
four hundred fifty men to each Company, of whom four hundred are heavily
armed and fifty lightly armed: the heavily armed include three hundred with
shields and swords, and will be called Scudati (shield bearers), and a
hundred with pikes, and will be called pikemen: the lightly armed are fifty
infantry armed with light guns, cross-bows, halberds, and bucklers, and
these, from an ancient name, are called regular (ordinary) Veliti: the whole
ten Companies, therefore, come to three thousand shield bearers; a thousand
ordinary pikemen, and one hundred fifty ordinary Veliti, all of whom
comprise (a number of) four thousand five hundred infantry. And we said we
wanted to make a Battalion of six thousand men; therefore it is necessary to
add another one thousand five hundred infantry, of whom I would make a
thousand with pikes, whom I will call extraordinary pikemen, (and five
hundred light armed, whom I will call extraordinary Veliti): and thus my
infantry would come ((according as was said a little while ago)) to be
composed half of shield bearers and half among pikemen and other arms
(carriers). In every Company, I would put in charge a Constable, four
Centurions, and forty Heads of Ten, and in addition, a Head of the ordinary
Veliti with five Heads of Ten. To the thousand extraordinary pikemen, I would
assign three Constables, ten Centurions, and a hundred Heads of Ten: to the
extraordinary Veliti, two Constables, five Centurions, and fifty Heads of
Ten. I would also assign a general Head for the whole Battalion. I would
want each Constable to have a distinct flag and (bugle) sound.

Summarizing, therefore, a Battalion would be composed of ten Companies, of
three thousand shield bearers, a thousand ordinary pikemen, a thousand
extraordinary pikemen, five hundred ordinary Veliti, and five hundred
extraordinary Veliti: thus they would come to be six thousand infantry,
among whom there would be one thousand five hundred Heads of Ten, and in
addition fifteen Constables, with fifteen Buglers and fifteen flags, fifty
five Centurions, ten Captains of ordinary Veliti, and one Captain for the
whole Battalion with its flag and Bugler. And I have knowingly repeated this
arrangement many times, so that then, when I show you the methods for
organizing the Companies and the armies, you will not be confounded.

I say, therefore, that any King or Republic which would want to organize
its subjects in arms, would provide them with these parties and these arms,
and create as many battalions in the country as it is capable of doing: and
if it had organized it according to the division mentioned above, and
wanting to train it according to the orders, they need only to be trained
Company by Company. And although the number of men in each of them could not
be themselves provide a reasonably (sized) army, none the less, each man can
learn to do what applies to him in particular, for two orders are observed
in the armies: the one, what men ought to do in each Company: the other,
what the Company ought to do afterwards when it is with others in an army:
and those men who carry out the first, will easily observe the second: but
without the first, one can never arrive at the discipline of the second.
Each of these Companies, therefore, can by themselves learn to maintain
(discipline in) their ranks in every kind and place of action, and then to
know how to assemble, to know its (particular bugle) call, through which it
is commanded in battle; to know how to recognize by it ((as galleys do from
the whistle)) as to what they have to do, whether to stay put, or go
forward, or turn back, or the time and place to use their arms. So that
knowing how to maintain ranks well, so that neither the action nor the place
disorganizes them, they understand well the commands of the leader by means
of the (bugle) calls, and knowing how to reassemble quickly, these Companies
then can easily ((as I have said)), when many have come together, learn to
do what each body of them is obligated to do together with other Companies
in operating as a reasonably (sized) army. And as such a general practice
also is not to be esteemed little, all the Battalions can be brought
together once or twice in the years of peace, and give them a form of a
complete army, training it for several days as if it should engage in
battle, placing the front lines, the flanks, and auxiliaries in their
(proper) places.

And as a Captain arranges his army for the engagement either taking into
account the enemy he sees, or for that which he does not see but is
apprehensive of, the army ought to be trained for both contingencies, and
instructed so that it can march and fight when the need arises; showing your
soldiers how they should conduct themselves if they should be assaulted by
this band or that. And when you instruct them to fight against an enemy they
can see, show them how the battle is enkindled, where they have to retire
without being repulsed, who has to take their places, what signs, what
(bugle) calls, and what voice they should obey, and to practice them so with
Companies and by mock attacks, that they have the desire for real battle.
For a courageous army is not so because the men in it are courageous, but
because the ranks are well disciplined; for if I am of the first line
fighters, and being overcome, I know where I have to retire, and who is to
take my place, I will always fight with courage seeing my succor nearby: If
I am of the second line fighters, I would not be dismayed at the first line
being pushed back and repulsed, for I would have presupposed it could happen,
and I would have desired it in order to be he who, as it was not them, would
give the victory to my patron. Such training is most necessary where a new
army is created; and where the army is old (veteran), it is also necessary
for, as the Romans show, although they knew the organization of their army
from childhood, none the less, those Captains, before they came to an
encounter with the enemy, continually exercised them in those disciplines.
And Joseph in his history says, that the continual training of the Roman
armies resulted in all the disturbance which usually goes on for gain in a
camp, was of no effect in an engagement, because everyone knew how to obey
orders and to fight by observing them. But in the armies of new men which you
have to put together to combat at the time, or that you caused to be
organized to combat in time, nothing is done without this training, as the
Companies are different as in a complete army; for as much discipline is
necessary, it must be taught with double the industry and effort to those
who do not have it, and be maintained in those who have it, as is seen from
the fact that many excellent Captains have tired themselves without any
regard to themselves.

COSIMO: And it appears to me that this discussion has somewhat carried you
away, for while you have not yet mentioned the means with which Companies
are trained, you have discussed engagements and the complete army.

FABRIZIO: You say the truth, and truly the reason is the affection I have
for these orders, and the sorrow that I feel seeing that they are not put
into action: none the less, have no fear, but I shall return to the subject.
As I have told you, of first importance in the training of the Company is to
know how to maintain ranks. To do this, it is necessary to exercise them in
those orders, which they called Chiocciole (Spiralling). And as I told you
that one of these Companies ought to consist of four hundred heavily armed
infantry, I will stand on this number. They should, therefore, be arranged
into eighty ranks (files), with five per file. Then continuing on either
strongly or slowly, grouping them and dispersing them; which, when it is
done, can be demonstrated better by deeds than by words: afterwards, it
becomes less necessary, for anyone who is practiced in these exercises knows
how this order proceeds, which is good for nothing else but to accustom the
soldiers to maintain ranks. But let us come and put together one of those

I say that these can be formed in three ways: the first and most useful is
to make it completely massive and give it the form of two squares: the
second is to make the square with a homed front: the third is to make it
with a space in the center, which they call Piazza (plaza). The method of
putting together the first form can be in two steps. The first is to have
the files doubled, that is, that the second file enters the first, the
fourth into the third, and sixth into the fifth, and so on in succession; so
that where there were eighty files and five (men) per file, they become
forty files and ten per file. Then make them double another time in the same
manner, placing one file within the other, and thus they become twenty files
of twenty men per file. This makes almost a square, for although there are
so many men on one side (of the square) as the other, none the less, on the
side of the front, they come together so that (the side of) one man touches
the next; but on the other side (of the square) the men are distant at least
two arm lengths from each other, so that the square is longer from the front
to the back (shoulders), then from one side (flank) to the other. (So that
the rectangle thus formed is called two squares).

And as we have to talk often today of the parts in front, in the rear, and
on the side of this Company, and of the complete army, you will understand
that when I will say either head or front, I mean to say the part in front;
when I say shoulder, the part behind (rear); when I say flanks, the parts on
the side.

The fifty ordinary Veliti of the company are not mixed in with the other
files, but when the company is formed, they extend along its flanks.

The other method of putting together (forming) the company is this; and
because it is better than the first, I want to place in front of your eyes
in detail how it ought to be organized. I believe you remember the number of
men and the heads which compose it, and with what arms it is armed. The
form, therefore, that this company ought to have is ((as I have said)) of
twenty files, twenty men per file, five files of pikemen in front, and
fifteen files of shield bearers on the shoulders (behind); two centurions
are in front and two behind in the shoulders who have the office of those
whom the ancients called Tergiduttori (Rear-leaders): The Constable, with
the flag and bugler, is in that space which is between the five files of
pikemen and the fifteen of shield-bearers: there is one of the Captains of
the Ten on every flank, so that each one is alongside his men, those who are
on the left side of his right hand, those on the right side on his left
hand. The fifty Veliti are on the flanks and shoulders (rear) of the
company. If it is desired, now, that regular infantry be employed, this
company is put together in this form, and it must organize itself thusly:
Have the infantry be brought to eighty files, five per file, as we said a
little while ago; leaving the Veliti at the head and on the tail (rear),
even though they are outside this arrangement; and it ought to be so
arranged that each Centurion has twenty files behind him on the shoulders,
and those immediately behind every Centurion are five files of pikemen, and
the remaining shield-bearers: the Constable, with his flag and bugler, is in
that space that is between the pikemen and the shield-bearers of the second
Centurion, and occupies the places of three shield-bearers: twenty of the
Heads of Ten are on the Flanks of the first Centurion on the left hand, and
twenty are on the flanks of the last Centurion on the right hand. And you
have to understand, that the Head of Ten who has to guide (lead) the pikemen
ought to have a pike, and those who guide the shield-bearers ought to have
similar arms.

The files, therefore, being brought to this arrangement, and if it is
desired, by marching, to bring them into the company to form the head
(front), you have to cause the first Centurion to stop with the first file
of twenty, and the second to continue to march; and turning to the right
(hand) he goes along the flanks of the twenty stopped files, so that he
comes head-to-head with the other Centurion, where he too stops; and the
third Centurion continues to march, also turning to the right (hand), and
marches along the flanks of the stopped file so that he comes head-to-head
with the other two Centurions; and when he also stops, the other Centurion
follows with his file, also going to the right along the flanks of the
stopped file, so that he arrives at the head (front) with the others, and
then he stops; and the two Centurions who are alone quickly depart from the
front and go to the rear of the company, which becomes formed in that manner
and with those orders to the point which we showed a little while ago. The
Veliti extend themselves along its flanks, according as they were disposed
in the first method; which method is called Doubling by the straight line,
and this last (method) is called Doubling by the flanks.

The first method is easier, while this latter is better organized, and is
more adaptable, and can be better controlled by you, for it must be carried
out by the numbers, that from five you make ten, ten twenty, twenty forty:
so that by doubling at your direction, you cannot make a front of fifteen,
or twenty five or thirty or thirty five, but you must proceed to where the
number is less. And yet, every day, it happens in particular situations,
that you must make a front with six or eight hundred infantry, so that the
doubling by the straight line will disarrange you: yet this (latter) method
pleases me more, and what difficulty may exist, can be more easily overcome
by the proper exercise and practice of it.

I say to you, therefore, that it is more important than anything to have
soldiers who know how to form themselves quickly, and it is necessary in
holding them in these Companies, to train them thoroughly, and have them
proceed bravely forward or backward, to pass through difficult places
without disturbing the order; for the soldiers who know how to do this well,
are experienced soldiers, and although they may have never met the enemy
face to face, they can be called seasoned soldiers; and, on the contrary,
those who do not know how to maintain this order, even if they may have been
in a thousand wars, ought always to be considered as new soldiers. This
applies in forming them when they are marching in small files: but if they
are formed, and then become broken because of some accident that results
either from the location or from the enemy, to reorganize themselves
immediately is the important and difficult thing, in which much training and
practice is needed, and in which the ancients placed much emphasis. It is
necessary, therefore, to do two things: first, to have many countersigns in
the Company: the other, always to keep this arrangement, that the same
infantry always remain in the same file. For instance, if one is commanded
to be in the second (file), he will afterwards always stay there, and not
only in this same file, but in the same position (in the file); it is to be
observed ((as I have said)) how necessary are the great number of
countersigns, so that, coming together with other companies, it may be
recognized by its own men. Secondly, that the Constable and Centurion have
tufts of feathers on their head-dress different and recognizable, and what
is more important, to arrange that the Heads of Ten be recognized. To which
the ancients paid very much attention, that nothing else would do, but that
they wrote numbers on their bucklers, calling then the first, second, third,
fourth, etc. And they were not above content with this, but each soldier had
to write on his shield the number of his file, and the number of his place
assigned him in that file. The men, therefore, being thus countersigned
(assigned), and accustomed to stay within these limits, if they should be
disorganized, it is easy to reorganize them all quickly, for the flag
staying fixed, the Centurions and Heads of Ten can judge their place by eye,
and bring the left from the right, or the right from the left, with the
usual distances between; the infantry guided by their rules and by the
difference in countersigns, can quickly take their proper places, just as,
if you were the staves of a barrel which you had first countersigned, I
would wager you would put it (the barrel) back together with great ease, but
if you had not so countersigned them (the staves), it is impossible to
reassemble (the barrel). This system, with diligence and practice, can be
taught quickly, and can be quickly learned, and once learned are forgotten
with difficulty; for new men are guided by the old, and in time, a province
which has such training, would become entirely expert in war. It is also
necessary to teach them to turn in step, and do so when he should turn from
the flanks and by the soldiers in the front, or from the front to the flanks
or shoulders (rear). This is very easy, for it is sufficient only that each
man turns his body toward the side he is commanded to, and the direction in
which they turned becomes the front. It is true that when they turn by the
flank, the ranks which turn go outside their usual area, because there is a
small space between the breast to the shoulder, while from one flank to the
other there is much space, which is all contrary to the regular formation of
the company. Hence, care should be used in employing it. But this is more
important and where more practice is needed, is when a company wants to turn
entirely, as if it was a solid body. Here, great care and practice must be
employed, for if it is desired to turn to the left, for instance, it is
necessary that the left wing be halted, and those who are closer to the
halted one, march much slower then those who are in the right wing and have
to run; otherwise everything would be in confusion.

But as it always happens when an army marches from place to place, that the
companies not situated in front, not having to combat at the front, or at
the flanks or shoulders (rear), have to move from the flank or shoulder
quickly to the front, and when such companies in such cases have the space
necessary as we indicated above, it is necessary that the pikemen they have
on that flank become the front, and the Heads of the Ten, Centurions, and
Constables belonging to it relocate to their proper places. Therefore, in
wanting to do this, when forming them it is necessary to arrange the eighty
files of five per file, placing all the pikemen in the first twenty files,
and placing five of the Heads of Ten (of it) in the front of them and five
in the rear: the other sixty files situated behind are all shield-bearers,
who total to three hundred. It should therefore be so arranged, that the
first and last file of every hundred of Heads of Ten; the Constable with his
flag and bugler be in the middle of the first hundred (century) of
shield-bearers; and the Centurions at the head of every century. Thus
arranged, when you want the pikemen to be on the left flank, you have to
double them, century by century, from the right flank: if you want them to
be on the right flank, you have to double them from the left. And thus this
company turns with the pikemen on the flank, with the Heads of Ten on the
front and rear, with the Centurions at the front of them, and the Constable
in the middle. Which formation holds when going forward; but when the enemy
comes and the time for the (companies) to move from the flanks to the front,
it cannot be done unless all the soldiers face toward the flank where the
pikemen are, and then the company is turned with its files and heads in that
manner that was described above; for the Centurions being on the outside,
and all the men in their places, the Centurions quickly enter them (the
ranks) without difficulty. But when they are marching frontwards, and have
to combat in the rear, they must arrange the files so that, in forming the
company, the pikes are situated in the rear; and to do this, no other order
has to be maintained except that where, in the formation of the company
ordinarily every Century has five files of pikemen in front, it now has them
behind, but in all the other parts, observe the order that I have mentioned.

COSIMO: You have said ((if I remember well)) that this method of training is
to enable them to form these companies into an army, and that this training
serves to enable them to be arranged within it. But if it should occur that
these four hundred fifty infantry have to operate as a separate party, how
would you arrange them?

FABRIZIO: I will now guide you in judging where he wants to place the pikes,
and who should carry them, which is not in any way contrary to the
arrangement mentioned above, for although it may be the method that is
observed when, together with other companies, it comes to an engagement,
none the less, it is a rule that serves for all those methods, in which it
should happen that you have to manage it. But in showing you the other two
methods for arranging the companies, proposed by me, I will also better
satisfy your question; for either they are never used, or they are used when
the company is above, and not in the company of others.

And to come to the method of forming it with two horns (wings), I say, that
you ought to arrange the eighty files at five per file in this way: place a
Centurion in the middle, and behind him twenty five files that have two
pikemen (each) on the left side, and three shield-bearers on the right: and
after the first five, in the next twenty, twenty Heads of Ten be placed, all
between the pikemen and shield-bearers, except that those (Heads) who carry
pikes stay with the pikemen. Behind these twenty five files thusly arranged,
another Centurion is placed who has fifteen files of shield-bearers behind
him. After these, the Constable between the flag and the bugler, who also
has behind him another fifteen files of shield-bearers. The third Centurion
is placed behind these, and he has twenty five files behind him, in each of
which are three shield-bearers on the left left side and two pikemen on the
right: and after the first five files are twenty Heads of Ten placed between
the pikemen and the shield-bearers. After these files, there is the fourth
Centurion. If it is desired, therefore, to arrange these files to form a
company with two horns (wings), the first Centurion has to be halted with
the twenty five files which are behind him. The second Centurion then has to
be moved with the fifteen shield-bearers who are on his rear, and turning to
the right, and on the right flank of the twenty five files to proceed so far
that he comes to the fifteen files, and here he halts. After, the Constable
has to be moved with the fifteen files of shield bearers who are behind, and
turning around toward the right, over by the right flank of the fifteen
files which were moved first, marches so that he comes to their front, and
here he halts. After, move the third Centurion with the twenty five files
and with the fourth Centurion who is behind them, and turning to the right,
march by the left flank of the last fifteen files of shield-bearers, and he
does not halt until he is at the head of them, but continues marching up
until the last files of twenty five are in line with the files behind. And,
having done this, the Centurion who was Head of the first fifteen files of
shield-bearers leaves the place where he was, and goes to the rear of the
left angle. And thus he will turn a company of twenty five solid files, of
twenty infantry per file, with two wings, on each side of his front, and
there will remain a space between then, as much as would (be occupied by) by
ten men side by side. The Captain will be between the two wings, and a
Centurion in each corner of the wing. There will be two files of pikemen and
twenty Heads of Ten on each flank. These two wings (serve to) hold between
them that artillery, whenever the company has any with it, and the
carriages. The Veliti have to stay along the flanks beneath the pikemen.
But, in wanting to bring this winged (formed) company into the form of the
piazza (plaza), nothing else need be done than to take eight of the fifteen
files of twenty per file and place them between the points of the two horns
(wings), which then from wings become the rear (shoulder) of the piazza
(plaza). The carriages are kept in this plaza, and the Captain and the flag
there, but not the artillery, which is put either in the front or along the
flanks. These are the methods which can be used by a company when it has to
pass by suspicious places by itself. None the less, the solid company,
without wings and without the plaza, is best. But in wanting to make safe
the disarmed ones, that winged one is necessary.

The Swiss also have many forms of companies, among which they form one in
the manner of a cross, as in the spaces between the arms, they keep their
gunners safe from the attacks of the enemy. But since such companies are
good in fighting by themselves, and my intention is to show how several
companies united together combat with the enemy, I do not belabor myself
further in describing it.

COSIMO: And it appears to me I have very well comprehended the method that
ought to be employed in training the men in these companies, but ((if I
remember well)) you said that in addition to the ten companies in a
Battalion, you add a thousand extraordinary pikemen and four hundred
extraordinary Veliti. Would you not describe how to train these?

FABRIZIO: I would, and with the greatest diligence: and I would train the
pikemen, group by group, at least in the formations of the companies, as the
others; for I would serve myself of these more than of the ordinary
companies, in all the particular actions, how to escort, to raid, and such
things. But the Veliti I would train at home without bringing them together
with the others, for as it is their office to combat brokenly (in the open,
separately), it is not as necessary that they come together with the others
or to train in common exercises, than to train them well in particular
exercises. They ought, therefore, ((as was said in the beginning, and now it
appears to me laborious to repeat it)) to train their own men in these
companies so that they know how to maintain their ranks, know their places,
return there quickly when either the evening or the location disrupts them;
for when this is caused to be done, they can easily be taught the place the
company has to hold and what its office should be in the armies. And if a
Prince or a Republic works hard and puts diligence in these formations and
in this training, it will always happen that there will be good soldiers in
that country, and they will be superior to their neighbors, and will be
those who give, and not receive, laws from other men. But ((as I have told
you)) the disorder in which one exists, causes them to disregard and not to
esteem these things, and, therefore, our training is not good: and even if
there should be some heads or members naturally of virtue, they are unable
to demonstrate it.

COSIMO: What carriages would you want each of these companies to have?

FABRIZIO: The first thing I would want is that the Centurions or the Heads
of Ten should not go on horseback: and if the Constables want to ride
mounted, I would want them to have a mule and not a horse. I would permit
them two carriages, and one to each Centurion, and two to every three Heads
of Ten, for they would quarter so many in each encampment, as we will
narrate in its proper place. So that each company would have thirty six
carriages, which I would have (them) to carry the necessary tents, cooking
utensils, hatchets, digging bars, sufficient to make the encampment, and
after that anything else of convenience.

COSIMO: I believe that Heads assigned by you in each of the companies are
necessary: none the less, I would be apprehensive that so many commanders
would be confusing.

FABRIZIO: They would be so if I would refer to one, but as I refer to many,
they make for order; actually, without those (orders), it would be
impossible to control them, for a wall which inclines on every side would
need many and frequent supports, even if they are not so strong, but if
few, they must be strong, for the virtu of only one, despite its spacing,
can remedy any ruin. And so it must be that in the armies and among every
ten men there is one of more life, of more heart, or at least of more
authority, who with his courage, with words and by example keeps the others
firm and disposed to fight. And these things mentioned by me, as the heads,
the flags, the buglers, are necessary in an army, and it is seen that we
have all these in our (present day) armies, but no one does his duty.
First, the Heads of Ten, in desiring that those things be done because they
are ordered, it is necessary ((as I have said)) for each of them to have
his men separate, lodge with them, go into action with them, stay in the
ranks with them, for when they are in their places, they are all of mind
and temperament to maintain their ranks straight and firm, and it is
impossible for them to become disrupted, or if they become disrupted, do
not quickly reform their ranks. But today, they do not serve us for
anything other than to give them more pay than the others, and to have them
do some particular thing. The same happens with the flags, for they are
kept rather to make a beautiful show, than for any military use. But the
ancients served themselves of it as a guide and to reorganize themselves,
for everyone, when the flag was standing firm, knew the place that he had
to be near his flag, and always returned there. He also knew that if it
were moving or standing still, he had to move or halt. It is necessary in
an army, therefore, that there be many bodies, and that each body have its
own flag and its own guide; for if they have this, it needs must be they
have much courage and consequently, are livelier. The infantry, therefore,
ought to march according to the flag, and the flag move according to the
bugle (call), which call, if given well, commands the army, which
proceeding in step with those, comes to serve the orders easily. Whence the
ancients having whistles (pipes), fifes, and bugles, controlled (modulated)
them perfectly; for, as he who dances proceeds in time with the music, and
keeping with it does not make a miss-step, so an army obedient in its
movement to that call (sound), will not become disorganized. And,
therefore, they varied the calls according as they wanted to enkindle or
quiet, or firm the spirits of men. And as the sounds were various, so they
named them variously. The Doric call (sound) brought on constancy, Frigio,
fury (boldness): whence they tell, that Alexander being at table, and
someone sounding the Frigio call, it so excited his spirit that he took up
arms. It would be necessary to rediscover all these methods, and if this is
difficult, it ought not at least to be (totally) put aside by those who
teach the soldier to obey; which each one can vary and arrange in his own
way, so long as with practice he accustoms the ears of his soldiers to
recognize them. But today, no benefit is gotten from these sounds in great
part, other than to make noise.

COSIMO: I would desire to learn from you, if you have ever pondered this
with yourself, whence such baseness and disorganization arises, and such
negligence of this training in our times?

FABRIZIO: I will tell you willingly what I think. You know of the men
excellent in war there have been many famed in Europe, few in Africa, and
less in Asia. This results from (the fact that) these last two parts of the
world have had a Principality or two, and few Republics; but Europe alone
has had some Kingdoms and an infinite number of Republics. And men become
excellent, and show their virtu, according as they are employed and
recognized by their Prince, Republic, or King, whichever it may be. It
happens, therefore, that where there is much power, many valiant men spring
up, where there is little, few. In Asia, there are found Ninus, Cyrus,
Artafersus, Mithradates, and very few others to accompany these. In Africa,
there are noted ((omitting those of ancient Egypt)) Maximinius, Jugurtha,
and those Captains who were raised by the Carthaginian Republic, and these
are very few compared to those of Europe; for in Europe there are excellent
men without number, and there would be many more, if there should be named
together with them those others who have been forgotten by the malignity of
the time, since the world has been more virtuous when there have been many
States which have favored virtu, either from necessity or from other human
passion. Few men, therefore, spring up in Asia, because, as that province
was entirely subject to one Kingdom, in which because of its greatness there
was indolence for the most part, it could not give rise to excellent men in
business (activity). The same happened in Africa: yet several, with respect
to the Carthaginian Republic, did arise. More excellent men come out of
Republics than from Kingdoms, because in the former virtu is honored much of
the time, in the Kingdom it is feared; whence it results that in the former,
men of virtu are raised, in the latter they are extinguished. Whoever,
therefore, considers the part of Europe, will find it to have been full of
Republics and Principalities, which from the fear one had of the other, were
constrained to keep alive their military organizations, and honor those who
greatly prevailed in them. For in Greece, in addition to the Kingdom of the
Macedonians, there were many Republics, and many most excellent men arose in
each of them. In Italy, there were the Romans, the Samnites, the Tuscans,
the Cisalpine Gauls. France and Germany were full of Republics and Princes.
Spain, the very same. And although in comparison with the Romans, very few
others were noted, it resulted from the malignity of the writers, who
pursued fortune and to whom it was often enough to honor the victors. For it
is not reasonable that among the Samnites and Tuscans, who fought fifty
years with the Roman People before they were defeated, many excellent men
should not have sprung up. And so likewise in France and Spain. But that
virtu which the writers do not commemorate in particular men, they
commemorate generally in the peoples, in which they exalt to the stars
(skies) the obstinacy which existed in them in defending their liberty. It
is true, therefore, that where there are many Empires, more valiant men
spring up, and it follows, of necessity, that those being extinguished,
little by little, virtu is extinguished, as there is less reason which
causes men to become virtuous. And as the Roman Empire afterwards kept
growing, and having extinguished all the Republics and Principalities of
Europe and Africa, and in greater part those of Asis, no other path to virtu
was left, except Rome. Whence it resulted that men of virtu began to be few
in Europe as in Asia, which virtu ultimately came to decline; for all the
virtu being brought to Rome, and as it was corrupted, so almost the whole
world came to be corrupted, and the Scythian people were able to come to
plunder that Empire, which had extinguished the virtu of others, but did not
know how to maintain its own. And although afterwards that Empire, because
of the inundation of those barbarians, became divided into several parts,
this virtu was not renewed: first, because a price is paid to recover
institutions when they are spoiled; another, because the mode of living
today, with regard to the Christian religion, does not impose that necessity
to defend it that anciently existed, in which at the time men, defeated in
war, were either put to death or remained slaves in perpetuity, where they
led lives of misery: the conquered lands were either desolated or the
inhabitants driven out, their goods taken away, and they were sent dispersed
throughout the world, so that those overcome in war suffered every last
misery. Men were terrified from the fear of this, and they kept their
military exercises alive, and honored those who were excellent in them. But
today, this fear in large part is lost, and few of the defeated are put to
death, and no one is kept prisoner long, for they are easily liberated. The
Citizens, although they should rebel a thousand times, are not destroyed,
goods are left to their people, so that the greatest evil that is feared is
a ransom; so that men do not want to subject themselves to dangers which
they little fear. Afterwards, these provinces of Europe exist under very few
Heads as compared to the past, for all of France obeys a King, all of Spain
another, and Italy exists in a few parts; so that weak Cities defend
themselves by allying themselves with the victors, and strong States, for
the reasons mentioned, do not fear an ultimate ruin.

COSIMO: And in the last twenty five years, many towns have been seen to be
pillaged, and lost their Kingdoms; which examples ought to teach others to
live and reassume some of the ancient orders.

FABRIZIO: That is what you say, but if you would note which towns are
pillaged, you would not find them to be the Heads (Chief ones) of the
States, but only members: as is seen in the sacking of Tortona and not
Milan, Capua and not Naples, Brescia and not Venice, Ravenna and not Rome.
Which examples do not cause the present thinking which governs to change,
rather it causes them to remain in that opinion of being able to recover
themselves by ransom: and because of this, they do not want to subject
themselves to the bother of military training, as it appears to them partly
unnecessary, partly a tangle they do not understand. Those others who are
slave, to whom such examples ought to cause fear, do not have the power of
remedying (their situation), and those Princes who have lost the State, are
no longer in time, and those who have (the State) do not have (military
training) and those Princes who have lost the State, are no longer in time,
and those who have (the State) do not have (military training) or want it;
for they want without any hardship to remain (in power) through fortune,
not through their own virtu, and who see that, because there is so little
virtu, fortune governs everything, and they want it to master them, not
they master it. And that that which I have discussed is true, consider
Germany, in which, because there are many Principalities and Republics,
there is much virtu, and all that is good in our present army, depends on
the example of those people, who, being completely jealous of their State
((as they fear servitude, which elsewhere is not feared)) maintain and
honor themselves all us Lords. I want this to suffice to have said in
showing the reasons for the present business according to my opinion. I do
not know if it appears the same to you, or if some other apprehension
should have risen from this discussion.

COSIMO: None, rather I am most satisfied with everything. I desire above,
returning to our principal subject, to learn from you how you would arrange
the cavalry with these companies, and how many, how captained, and how

FABRIZIO: And it, perhaps, appears to you that I have omitted these, at
which do not be surprized, for I speak little of them for two reasons: one,
because this part of the army is less corrupt than that of the infantry, for
it is not stronger than the ancient, it is on a par with it. However, a
short while before, the method of training them has been mentioned. And as
to arming them, I would arm them as is presently done, both as to the light
cavalry as to the men-at-arms. But I would want the light cavalry to be all
archers, with some light gunners among them, who, although of little use in
other actions of war, are most useful in terrifying the peasants, and place
them above a pass that is to be guarded by them, for one gunner causes more
fear to them (the enemy) than twenty other armed men. And as to numbers, I
say that departing from imitating the Roman army, I would have not less than
three hundred effective cavalry for each battalion, of which I would want
one hundred fifty to be men-at-arms, and a hundred fifty light cavalry; and
I would give a leader to each of these parts, creating among them fifteen
Heads of Ten per hand, and give each one a flag and a bugler. I would want
that every ten men-at-arms have five carriages and every ten light
cavalrymen two, which, like those of the infantry, should carry the tents,
(cooking) utensils, hitches, poles, and in addition over the others, their
tools. And do not think this is out of place seeing that men-at-arms have
four horses at their service, and that such a practice is a corrupting one;
for in Germany, it is seen that those men-at-arms are alone with their
horses, and only every twenty have a cart which carries the necessary things
behind them. The horsemen of the Romans were likewise alone: it is true that
the Triari encamped near the cavalry and were obliged to render aid to it in
the handling of the horses: this can easily be imitated by us, as will be
shown in the distribution of quarters. That, therefore, which the Romans
did, and that which the Germans do, we also can do; and in not doing it, we
make a mistake. These cavalrymen, enrolled and organized together with a
battalion, can often be assembled when the companies are assembled, and
caused to make some semblance of attack among them, which should be done
more so that they may be recognized among them than for any necessity. But I
have said enough on this subject for now, and let us descend to forming an
army which is able to offer battle to the enemy, and hope to win it; which
is the end for which an army is organized, and so much study put into it.





COSIMO: Since we are changing the discussion, I would like the questioner to
be changed, so that I may not be held to be presumptuous, which I have
always censured in others. I, therefore, resign the speakership, and I
surrender it to any of these friends of mine who want it.

ZANOBI: It would be most gracious of you to continue: but since you do not
want to, you ought at least to tell us which of us should succeed in your

COSIMO: I would like to pass this burden on the Lord Fabrizio.

FABRIZIO: I am content to accept it, and would like to follow the Venetian
custom, that the youngest talks first; for this being an exercise for young
men, I am persuaded that young men are more adept at reasoning, than they
are quick to follow.

COSIMO: It therefore falls to you Luigi: and I am pleased with such a
successor, as long as you are satisfied with such a questioner.

FABRIZIO: I am certain that, in wanting to show how an army is well
organized for undertaking an engagement, it would be necessary to narrate
how the Greeks and the Romans arranged the ranks in their armies. None the
less, as you yourselves are able to read and consider these things, through
the medium of ancient writers, I shall omit many particulars, and will cite
only those things that appear necessary for me to imitate, in the desire in
our times to give some (part of) perfection to our army. This will be done,
and, in time, I will show how an army is arranged for an engagement, how it
faces a real battle, and how it can be trained in mock ones. The greatest
mistake that those men make who arrange an army for an engagement, is to
give it only one front, and commit it to only one onrush and one attempt
(fortune). This results from having lost the method the ancients employed of
receiving one rank into the other; for without this method, one cannot help
the rank in front, or defend them, or change them by rotation in battle,
which was practiced best by the Romans. In explaining this method,
therefore, I want to tell how the Romans divided each Legion into three
parts, namely, the Astati, the Princeps, and the Triari; of whom the Astati
were placed in the first line of the army in solid and deep ranks, (and)
behind them were the Princeps, but placed with their ranks more open: and
behind these they placed the Triari, and with ranks so sparse, as to be
able, if necessary, to receive the Princeps and the Astati between them. In
addition to these, they had slingers, bow-men (archers), and other lightly
armed, who were not in these ranks, but were situated at the head of the
army between the cavalry and the infantry. These light armed men, therefore,
enkindled the battle, and if they won ((which rarely happened)), they
pursued the victory: if they were repulsed, they retired by way of the
flanks of the army, or into the intervals (gaps) provided for such a result,
and were led back among those who were not armed: after this proceeding, the
Astati came hand to hand with the enemy, and who, if they saw themselves
being overcome, retired little by little through the open spaces in the
ranks of the Princeps, and, together with them, renewed the fight. If these
also were forced back, they all retired into the thin lines of the Triari,
and all together, en masse, recommenced the battle; and if these were
defeated, there was no other remedy, as there was no way left to reform
themselves. The cavalry were on the flanks of the army, placed like two
wings on a body, and they some times fought on horseback, and sometimes
helped the infantry, according as the need required. This method of
reforming themselves three times is almost impossible to surpass, as it is
necessary that fortune abandon you three times, and that the enemy has so
much virtu that he overcomes you three times. The Greeks, with their
Phalanxes, did not have this method of reforming themselves, and although
these had many ranks and Leaders within them, none the less, they
constituted one body, or rather, one front. So that in order to help one
another, they did not retire from one rank into the other, as the Romans,
but one man took the place of another, which they did in this way. Their
Phalanxes were (made up) of ranks, and supposing they had placed fifty men
per rank, when their front came against the enemy, only the first six ranks
of all of them were able to fight, because their lances, which they called
Sarisse, were so long, that the points of the lances of those in the sixth
rank reached past the front rank. When they fought, therefore, if any of the
first rank fell, either killed or wounded, whoever was behind him in the
second rank immediately entered into his place, and whoever was behind him
in the third rank immediately entered into the place in the second rank
which had become vacant, and thus successively all at once the ranks behind
restored the deficiencies of those in front, so that the ranks were always
remained complete, and no position of the combatants was vacant except in
the last rank, which became depleted because there was no one in its rear to
restore it. So that the injuries which the first rank suffered, depleted the
last, and the first rank always remained complete; and thus the Phalanxes,
because of their arrangement, were able rather to become depleted than
broken, since the large (size of its) body made it more immobile. The
Romans, in the beginning, also employed Phalanxes, and instructed their
Legions in a way similar to theirs. Afterwards, they were not satisfied with
this arrangement, and divided the Legion into several bodies; that is, into
Cohorts and Maniples; for they judged ((as was said a little while ago))
that that body should have more life in it (be more active) which should
have more spirit, and that it should be composed of several parts, and each
regulate itself. The Battalions of the Swiss, in these times, employed all
the methods of the Phalanxes, as much in the size and entirety of their
organization, as in the method of helping one another, and when coming to an
engagement they place the Battalions one on the flank of the other, or they
place them one behind the other. They have no way in which the first rank,
if it should retire, to be received by the second, but with this
arrangement, in order to help one another, they place one Battalion in front
and another behind it to the right, so that if the first has need of aid,
the latter can go forward and succor it. They put a third Battalion behind
these, but distant a gun shot. This they do, because if the other two are
repulsed, this (third) one can make its way forward, and the others have
room in which to retire, and avoid the onrush of the one which is going
forward; for a large multitude cannot be received (in the same way) as a
small body, and, therefore, the small and separate bodies that existed in a
Roman Legion could be so placed together as to be able to receive one another
among themselves, and help each other easily. And that this arrangement of
the Swiss is not as good as that of the ancient Romans is demonstrated by
the many examples of the Roman Legions when they engaged in battle with the
Greek Phalanxes, and the latter were always destroyed by the former, because
the kinds of arms ((as I mentioned before)) and this method of reforming
themselves, was not able to maintain the solidity of the Phalanx. With these
examples, therefore, if I had to organize an army, I would prefer to retain
the arms and the methods, partly of the Greek Phalanxes, partly of the Roman
Legions; and therefore I have mentioned wanting in a Battalion two thousand
pikes, which are the arms of the Macedonian Phalanxes, and three thousand
swords and shield, which are the arms of the Romans. I have divided the
Battalion into ten Companies, as the Romans (divided) the Legion into ten
Cohorts. I have organized the Veliti, that is the light armed, to enkindle
the battle, as they (the Romans did). And thus, as the arms are mixed, being
shared by both nations and as also the organizations are shared, I have
arranged that each company have five ranks of pikes (pikemen) in front, and
the remainder shields (swordsmen with shields), in order to be able with this
front to resist the cavalry, and easily penetrate the enemy companies on
foot, and the enemy at the first encounter would meet the pikes, which I
would hope would suffice to resist him, and then the shields (swordsmen)
would defeat him. And if you would note the virtu of this arrangement, you
will see all these arms will execute their office completely. First, because
pikes are useful against cavalry, and when they come against infantry, they
do their duty well before the battle closes in, for when they are pressed,
they become useless. Whence the Swiss, to avoid this disadvantage, after
every three ranks of pikemen place one of halberds, which, while it is not
enough, gives the pikemen room (to maneuver). Placing, therefore, our pikes
in the front and the shields (swordsmen) behind, they manage to resist the
cavalry, and in enkindling the battle, lay open and attack the infantry: but
when the battle closes in, and they become useless, the shields and swords
take their place, who are able to take care of themselves in every strait.

LUIGI: We now await with desire to learn how you would arrange the army for
battle with these arms and with these organizations.

FABRIZIO: I do not now want to show you anything else other than this. You
have to understand that in a regular Roman army, which they called a
Consular Army, there were not more than two Legions of Roman Citizens, which
consist of six hundred cavalry and about eleven thousand infantry. They also
had as many more infantry and cavalry which were sent to them by their
friends and confederates, which they divided into two parts, and they called
one the right wing, and the other the left wing, and they never permitted
this (latter) infantry to exceed the number of the infantry of the Legion.
They were well content that the cavalry should be greater in number. With
this army which consisted of twenty two thousand infantry and about two
thousand cavalry effectives, a Consul undertook every action and went on
every enterprise. And when it was necessary to face a large force, they
brought together two Consuls with two armies. You ought also to note that
ordinarily in all three of the principal activities in which armies engage,
that is, marching, camping, and fighting, they place the Legion in the
middle, because they wanted that virtu in which they should trust most
should be greater unity, as the discussion of all these three activities
will show you. Those auxiliary infantry, because of the training they had
with the infantry of the Legion, were as effective as the latter, as they
were disciplined as they were, and therefore they arranged them in a similar
way when organizing (for) and engagement. Whoever, therefore, knows how they
deployed the entire (army). Therefore, having told you how they divided a
Legion into three lines, and how one line would receive the other, I have
come to tell you how the entire army was organized for an engagement.

If I would want, therefore, to arrange (an army for) an engagement in
imitation of the Romans, just as they had two Legions, I would take two
Battalions, and these having been deployed, the disposition of an entire
Army would be known: for by adding more people, nothing else is accomplished
than to enlarge the organization. I do not believe it is necessary that I
remind you how many infantry there are in a Battalion, and that it has ten
companies, and what Leaders there are per company, and what arms they have,
and who are the ordinary (regular) pikemen and Veliti, and who the
extraordinary, because a little while I distinctly told you, and I reminded
you to commit it to memory as something necessary if you should want to
understand all the other arrangements: and, therefore, I will come to the
demonstration of the arrangement, without repeating these again. And it
appears to me that ten Companies of a Battalion should be placed on the left
flank, and the ten others of the other on the right. Those on the left
should be arranged in this way. The five companies should be placed one
alongside the other on the front, so that between one and the next there
would be a space of four arm lengths which come to occupy an area of one
hundred forty one arm lengths long, and forty wide. Behind these five
Companies I would place three others, distant in a straight line from the
first ones by forty arm lengths, two of which should come behind in a
straight line at the ends of the five, and the other should occupy the space
in the middle. Thus these three would come to occupy in length and width the
same space as the five: but where the five would have a distance of four arm
lengths between one another, this one would have thirty three. Behind these
I would place the last two companies, also in a straight line behind the
three, and distant from those three forty arm lengths, and I would place
each of them behind the ends of the three, so that the space between them
would be ninety one arm lengths. All of these companies arranged thusly
would therefore cover (an area of) one hundred forty one arm lengths long and
two hundred wide. The extraordinary pikemen I would extend along the flanks
of these companies on the left side, distant twenty arm lengths from it,
creating a hundred forty three files of seven per file, so that they should
cover the entire length of the ten companies arranged as I have previously
described; and there would remain forty files for protecting the wagons and
the unarmed people in the tail of the army, (and) assigning the Heads of Ten
and the Centurions in their (proper) places: and, of the three Constables, I
would put one at the head, another in the middle, and the third in the last
file, who should fill the office of Tergiduttore, as the ancients called the
one placed in charge of the rear of the Army. But returning to the head
(van) of the Army I say, that I would place the extraordinary Veliti
alongside the extraordinary pikemen, which, as you know, are five hundred,
and would place them at a distance of forty arm lengths. On the side of
these, also on the left hand; I would place the men-at-arms, and would
assign them a distance of a hundred fifty arm lengths away. Behind these,
the light cavalry, to whom I would assign the same space as the men-at-arms.
The ordinary Veliti I would leave around their companies, who would occupy
those spaces which I placed between one company and another, who would act
to minister to those (companies) unless I had already placed them under the
extraordinary pikemen; which I would do or not do according as it should
benefit my plans. The general Head of all the Battalions I would place in
that space that exists between the first and second order of companies, or
rather at the head, and in that space with exists between the last of the
first five companies and the extraordinary pikemen, according as it should
benefit my plans, surrounded by thirty or sixty picked men, (and) who should
know how to execute a commission prudently, and stalwartly resist an attack,
and should also be in the middle of the buglers and flag carriers. This is
the order in which I would deploy a Battalion on the left side, which would
be the deployment of half the Army, and would cover an area five hundred and
eleven arm lengths long and as much as mentioned above in width, not
including the space which that part of the extraordinary pikemen should
occupy who act as a shield for the unarmed men, which would be about one
hundred arm lengths. The other Battalions I would deploy on the right side
exactly in the same way as I deployed those on the left, having a space of
thirty arm lengths between our battalions and the other, in the head of
which space I would place some artillery pieces, behind which would be the
Captain general of the entire Army, who should have around him in addition
to the buglers and flag carriers at least two hundred picked men, the
greater portion on foot, among whom should be ten or more adept at executing
every command, and should be so provided with arms and a horse as to be able
to go on horseback or afoot as the needs requires. Ten cannon of the
artillery of the Army suffice for the reduction of towns, which should not
exceed fifty pounds per charge, of which in the field I would employ more in
the defense of the encampment than in waging a battle, and the other
artillery should all be rather often than fifteen pounds per charge. This I
would place in front of the entire army, unless the country should be such
that I could situate it on the flank in a safe place, where it should not be
able to be attacked by the enemy.

This formation of the Army thusly arranged, in combat, can maintain the
order both of the Phalanxes and of the Roman Legions, because the pikemen
are in front and all the infantry so arranged in ranks, that coming to
battle with the enemy, and resisting him, they should be able to reform the
first ranks from those behind according to the usage of the Phalanxes. On
the other hand, if they are attacked so that they are compelled to break
ranks and retire, they can enter into the spaces of the second company
behind them, and uniting with them, (and) en masse be able to resist and
combat the enemy again: and if this should not be enough, they can in the
same way retire a second time, and combat a third time, so that in this
arrangement, as to combatting, they can reform according to both the Greek
method, and the Roman. As to the strength of the Army, it cannot be arranged
any stronger, for both wings are amply provided with both leaders and arms,
and no part is left weak except that part behind which is unarmed, and even
that part has its flanks protected by the extraordinary pikemen. Nor can the
enemy assault it in any part where he will not find them organized, and the
part in the back cannot be assaulted, because there cannot be an enemy who
has so much power that he can assail every side equally, for it there is
one, you don't have to take the field with him. But if he should be a third
greater than you, and as well organized as you, if he weakens himself by
assaulting you in several places, as soon as you defeat one part, all will
go badly for him. If his cavalry should be greater than yours, be most
assured, for the ranks of pikemen that gird you will defend you from every
onrush of theirs, even if your cavalry should be repulsed. In addition to
this, the Heads are placed on the side so that they are able easily to
command and obey. And the spaces that exist between one company and the next
one, and between one rank and the next, not only serve to enable one to
receive the other, but also to provide a place for the messengers who go and
come by order of the Captain. And as I told you before, as the Romans had
about twenty thousand men in an Army, so too ought this one have: and as
other soldiers borrowed their mode of fighting and the formation of their
Army from the Legions, so too those soldiers that you assembled into your
two Battalions would have to borrow their formation and organization. Having
given an example of these things, it is an easy matter to initiate it: for
if the army is increased either by two Battalions, or by as many men as are
contained in them, nothing else has to be done than to double the
arrangements, and where ten companies are placed on the left side, twenty
are now placed, either by increasing or extending the ranks, according as
the place or the enemy should command you.

LUIGI: Truly, (my) Lord, I have so imagined this army, that I see it now,
and have a desire to see it facing us, and not for anything in the world
would I desire you to become Fabius Maximus, having thoughts of holding the
enemy at bay and delaying the engagement, for I would say worse of you, than
the Roman people said of him.

FABRIZIO: Do not be apprehensive. Do you not hear the artillery? Ours has
already fired, but harmed the enemy little; and the extraordinary Veliti
come forth from their places together with the light cavalry, and spread
out, and with as much fury and the loudest shouts of which they are capable,
assault the enemy, whose artillery has fired one time, and has passed over
the heads of our infantry without doing them an injury. And as it is not
able to fire a second time, our Veliti and cavalry have already seized it,
and to defend it, the enemy has moved forward, so that neither that of
friend or enemy can perform its office. You see with what virtu our men
fight, and with what discipline they have become accustomed because of the
training they have had, and from the confidence they have in the Army, which
you see with their stride, and with the men-at-arms alongside, in marching
order, going to rekindle the battle with the adversary. Your see our
artillery, which to make place for them, and to leave the space free, has
retired to the place from which the Veliti went forth. You see the Captain
who encourages them and points out to them certain victory. You see the
Veliti and light cavalry have spread out and returned to the flanks of the
Army, in order to see if they can cause any injury to the enemy from the
flanks. Look, the armies are facing each other: watch with what virtu they
have withstood the onrush of the enemy, and with what silence, and how the
Captain commands the men-at-arms that they should resist and not attack, and
do not detach themselves from the ranks of the infantry. You see how our
light cavalry are gone to attack a band of enemy gunners who wanted to
attach by the flank, and how the enemy cavalry have succored them, so that,
caught between the cavalry of the one and the other, they cannot fire, and
retire behind their companies. You see with what fury our pikemen attack
them, and how the infantry is already so near each other that they can no
longer manage their pikes: so that, according to the discipline taught by
us, our pikemen retire little by little among the shields (swordsmen). Watch
how in this (encounter), so great an enemy band of men-at-arms has pushed
back our men-at-arms on the left side and how ours, according to discipline,
have retired under the extraordinary pikemen, and having reformed the front
with their aid, have repulsed the adversary, and killed a good part of them.
In fact all the ordinary pikemen of the first company have hidden themselves
among the ranks of the shields (swordsmen), and having left the battle to
the swordsmen, who, look with what virtu, security, and leisure, kill the
enemy. Do you not see that, when fighting, the ranks are so straitened, that
they can handle the swords only with much effort? Look with what hurry the
enemy moves; for, armed with the pike and their swords useless ((the one
because it is too long, the other because of finding the enemy too greatly
armed)), in part they fall dead or wounded, in part they flee. See them flee
on the right side. They also flee on the left. Look, the victory is ours.
Have we not won an engagement very happily? But it would have been won with
greater felicity if I should have been allowed to put them in action. And
see that it was not necessary to avail ourselves of either the second or
third ranks, that our first line was sufficient to overcome them. In this
part, I have nothing else to tell you, except to dissolve any doubts that
should arise in you.

LUIGI: You have won this engagement with so much fury, that I am astonished,
and in fact so stupefied, that I do not believe I can well explain if there
is any doubt left in my mind. Yet, trusting in your prudence, I will take
courage to say that I intend. Tell me first, why did you not let your
artillery fire more than one time? and why did you have them quickly retire
within the army, nor afterward make any other mention of them? It seems to
me also that you pointed the enemy artillery high, and arranged it so that
it should be of much benefit to you. Yet, if it should occur ((and I believe
it happens often)) that the lines are pierced, what remedy do you provide?
And since I have commenced on artillery, I want to bring up all these
questions so as not to have to discuss it any more. I have heard many
disparage the arms and the organization of the ancient Armies, arguing that
today they could do little, or rather how useless they would be against the
fury of artillery, for these are superior to their arms and break the ranks,
so that it appears to them to be madness to create an arrangement that cannot
be held, and to endure hardship in carrying a weapon that cannot defend you.

FABRIZIO: This question of yours has need ((because it has so many items))
of a long answer. It is true that I did not have the artillery fire more
than one time, and because of it one remains in doubt. The reason is, that
it is more important to one to guard against being shot than shooting the
enemy. You must understand that, if you do not want the artillery to injure
you, it is necessary to stay where it cannot reach you, or to put yourself
behind a wall or embankment. Nothing else will stop it; but it is necessary
for them to be very strong. Those Captains who must make an engagement
cannot remain behind walls or embankments, nor can they remain where it may
reach them. They must, therefore, since they do not have a way of protecting
themselves, find one by which they are injured less; nor can they do
anything other than to undertake it quickly. The way of doing this is to go
find it quickly and directly, not slowly or en masse; for, speed does not
allow them to shoot again, and because the men are scattered, they can injure
only a few of them. A band of organized men cannot do this, because if they
march in a straight line, they become disorganized, and if they scatter,
they do not give the enemy the hard work to rout them, for they have routed
themselves. And therefore I would organize the Army so that it should be
able to do both; for having placed a thousand Veliti in its wings, I would
arrange, that after our artillery had fired, they should issue forth
together with the light cavalry to seize the enemy artillery. And therefore
I did not have my artillery fire again so as not to give the enemy time, for
you cannot give me time and take it from others. And for that, the reason I
did not have it fired a second time, was not to allow it to be fired first;
because, to render the enemy artillery useless, there is no other remedy
than to assault it; which, if the enemy abandons it, you seize it; if they
want to defend it, it is necessary that they leave it behind, so that in the
hands of the enemy or of friends, it cannot be fired. I believe that, even
without examples, this discussion should be enough for you, yet, being able
to give you some from the ancients, I will do so. Ventidius, coming to
battle with the Parthians, the virtu of whom (the latter) in great part
consisted in their bows and darts, be allowed them to come almost under his
encampments before he led the Army out, which he only did in order to be
able to seize them quickly and not give them time to fire. Caesar in Gaul
tells, that in coming to battle with the enemy, he was assaulted by them
with such fury, that his men did not have time to draw their darts according
to the Roman custom. It is seen, therefore, that, being in the field, if you
do not want something fired from a distance to injure you, there is no other
remedy than to be able to seize it as quickly as possible. Another reason
also caused me to do without firing the artillery, at which you may perhaps
laugh, yet I do not judge it is to be disparaged. And there is nothing that
causes greater confusion in an Army than to obstruct its vision, whence most
stalwart Armies have been routed for having their vision obstructed either
by dust or by the sun. There is also nothing that impedes the vision than
the smoke which the artillery makes when fired: I would think, therefore,
that it would be more prudent to let the enemy blind himself, than for you
to go blindly to find him. I would, therefore, not fire, or ((as this would
not be approved because of the reputation the artillery has)) I would put it
in the wings of the Army, so that firing it, its smoke should not blind the
front of what is most important of our forces. And that obstructing the
vision of the enemy is something useful, can be adduced from the example of
Epaminondas, who, to blind the enemy Army which was coming to engage him,
had his light cavalry run in front of the enemy so that they raised the dust
high, and which obstructed their vision, and gave him the victory in the
engagement. As to it appearing to you that I aimed the shots of artillery in
my own manner, making it pass over the heads of the infantry, I reply that
there are more times, and without comparison, that the heavy artillery does
not penetrate the infantry than it does, because the infantry lies so low,
and they (the artillery) are so difficult to fire, that any little that you
raise them, (causes) them to pass over the heads of the infantry, and if you
lower them, they damage the ground, and the shot does not reach them (the
infantry). Also, the unevenness of the ground saves them, for every little
mound or height which exists between the infantry and it (the artillery),
impedes it. And as to cavalry, and especially men-at-arms, because they are
taller and can more easily be hit, they can be kept in the rear (tail) of
the Army until the time the artillery has fired. It is true that often they
injure the smaller artillery and the gunners more that the latter (cavalry),
to which the best remedy is to come quickly to grips (hand to hand): and if
in the first assault some are killed ((as some always do die)) a good
Captain and a good Army do not have to fear an injury that is confined, but
a general one; and to imitate the Swiss, who never shun an engagement even
if terrified by artillery, but rather they punish with the capital penalty
those who because of fear of it either break ranks or by their person give
the sign of fear. I made them ((once it had been fired)) to retire into the
Army because it left the passage free to the companies. No other mention of
it was made, as something useless, once the battle was started.

You have also said in regard to the fury of this instrument that many judge
the arms and the systems of the ancients to be useless, and it appears from
your talk that the modems have found arms and systems which are useful
against the artillery. If you know this, I would be pleased for you to show
it to me, for up to now I do not know of any that have been observed, nor do
I believe any can be found. So that I would like to learn from those men for
what reasons the soldiers on foot of our times wear the breastplate or the
corselet of iron, and those on horseback go completely covered with armor,
since, condemning the ancient armor as useless with respect to artillery,
they ought also to shun these. I would also like to learn for what reason
the Swiss, in imitation of the ancient systems, for a close (pressed)
company of six or eight thousand infantry, and for what reason all the
others have imitated them, bringing the same dangers to this system because
of the artillery as the others brought which had been imitated from
antiquity. I believe that they would not know what to answer; but if you
asked the soldiers who should have some experience, they would answer, first
that they go armed because, even if that armor does not protect them from
the artillery, it does every other injury inflicted by an enemy, and they
would also answer that they go closely together as the Swiss in order to be
better able to attack the infantry, resist the cavalry, and give the enemy
more difficulty in routing them. So that it is observed that soldiers have
to fear many other things besides the artillery, from which they defend
themselves with armor and organization. From which it follows that as much
as an Army is better armed, and as much as its ranks are more serrated and
more powerful, so much more is it secure. So that whoever is of the opinion
you mentioned must be either of little prudence, or has thought very little
on this matter; for if we see the least part of the ancient way of arming in
use today, which is the pike, and the least part of those systems, which are
the battalions of the Swiss, which do us so much good, and lend so much
power to our Armies, why shouldn't we believe that the other arms and other
systems that they left us are also useful? Moreover, if we do not have any
regard for the artillery when we place ourselves close together, like the
Swiss, what other system than that can make us afraid? inasmuch as there is
no other arrangement that can make us afraid than that of being pressed
together. In addition to this, if the enemy artillery does not frighten me
when I lay siege to a town, where he may injure me with great safety to
himself, and where I am unable to capture it as it is defended from the
walls, but can stop him only with time with my artillery, so that he is able
to redouble his shots as he wishes, why do I have to be afraid of him in the
field where I am able to seize him quickly? So that I conclude this, that
the artillery, according to my opinion, does not impede anyone who is able
to use the methods of the ancients, and demonstrate the ancient virtu. And
if I had not talked another time with you concerning this instrument, I
would extend myself further, but I want to return to what I have now said.

LUIGI: We are able to have a very good understanding since you have so much
discoursed about artillery, and in sum, it seems to me you have shown that
the best remedy that one has against it when he is in the field and having
an Army in an encounter, is to capture it quickly. Upon which, a doubt rises
in me, for it seems to me the enemy can so locate it on a side of his army
from which he can injure you, and would be so protected by the other sides,
that it cannot be captured. You have ((if you will remember)) in your army's
order for battle, created intervals of four arm lengths between one company
and the next, and placed twenty of the extraordinary pikemen of the company
there. If the enemy should organize his army similarly to yours, and place
his artillery well within those intervals, I believe that from here he would
be able to injure you with the greatest safety to himself, for it would not
be possible to enter among the enemy forces to capture it.

FABRIZIO: You doubt very prudently, and I will endeavor either to resolve
the doubt, or to give you a remedy. I have told you that these companies
either when going out or when fighting are continually in motion, and by
nature always end up close together, so that if you make the intervals
small, in which you would place the artillery, in a short time, they would
be so closed up that the artillery can no longer perform its function: if
you make them large to avoid this danger, you incur a greater, so that,
because of those intervals, you not only give the enemy the opportunity to
capture your artillery, but to rout you. But you have to know that it is
impossible to keep the artillery between the ranks, especially those that
are mounted on carriages, for the artillery travel in one direction, and are
fired in the other, so that if they are desired to be fired while
travelling, it is necessary before they are fired that they be turned, and
when they are being turned they need so much space, that fifty carriages of
artillery would disrupt every Army. It is necessary, therefore, to keep them
outside the ranks where they can be operated in the manner which we showed
you a short time ago. But let us suppose they can be kept there, and that a
middle way can be found, and of a kind which, when closed together, should
not impede the artillery, yet not be so open as to provide a path for the
enemy, I say that this is easily remedied at the time of the encounter by
creating intervals in your army which give a free path for its shots, and
thus its fury will be useless. Which can be easily done, because the enemy,
if it wants its artillery to be safe, must place it in the end portions of
the intervals, so that its shots, if they should not harm its own men, must
pass in a straight line, and always in the same line, and, therefore, by
giving them room, can be easily avoided. Because this is a general rule,
that you must give way to those things which cannot be resisted, as the
ancients did to the elephants and chariots with sickles. I believe, rather I
am more than certain, that it must appear to you that I prepared and won an
engagement in my own manner; none the less, I will repeat this, if what I
have said up to now is now enough, that it would be impossible for an Army
thus organized and armed not to overcome, at the first encounter, every
other Army organized as modem Armies are organized, which often, unless they
have shields (swordsmen), do not form a front, and are of an unarmed kind,
which cannot defend themselves from a near-by enemy; and so organized that,
that if they place their companies on the flanks next to each other, not
having a way of receiving one another, they cause it to be confused, and apt
to be easily disturbed. And although they give their Armies three names, and
divide them into three ranks, the Vanguard, the Company (main body) and the
Rearguard, none the less, they do not serve for anything else than to
distinguish them in marching and in their quarters: but in an engagement,
they are all pledged to the first attack and fortune.

LUIGI: I have also noted that in making your engagement, your cavalry was
repulsed by the enemy cavalry, and that it retired among the extraordinary
pikemen, whence it happened that with their aid, they withstood and repulsed
the enemy in the rear. I believe the pikemen can withstand the cavalry, as
you said, but not a large and strong Battalion, as the Swiss do, which, in
your Army, have five ranks of pikemen at the head, and seven on the flank,
so that I do not know how they are able to withstand them.

FABRIZIO: Although I have told you that six ranks were employed in the
Phalanxes of Macedonia at one time, none the less, you have to know that a
Swiss Battalion, if it were composed of ten thousand tanks could not employ
but four, or at most five, because the pikes are nine arm lengths long and
an arm length and a half is occupied by the hands; whence only seven and a
half arm lengths of the pike remain to the first rank. The second rank, in
addition to what the hand occupies, uses up an arm's length of the space
that exists between one rank and the next; so that not even six arm lengths
of pike remain of use. For the same reasons, these remain four and one half
arm lengths to the third rank, three to the fourth, and one and a half to
the fifth. The other ranks are useless to inflict injury; but they serve to
replace the first ranks, as we have said, and serve as reinforcements for
those (first) five ranks. If, therefore, five of their ranks can control
cavalry, why cannot five of ours control them, to whom five ranks behind
them are also not lacking to sustain them, and give the same support, even
though they do not have pikes as the others do? And if the ranks of
extraordinary pikemen which are placed along the flanks seem thin to you,
they can be formed into a square and placed by the flank of the two
companies which I place in the last ranks of the army, from which place they
would all together be able easily to help the van and the rear of the army,
and lend aid to the cavalry according as their need may require.

LUIGI: Would you always use this form of organization, when you would want
to engage in battle?

FABRIZIO: Not in every case, for you have to vary the formation of the army
according to the fitness of the site, the kind and numbers of the enemy,
which will be shown before this discussion is furnished with an example. But
this formation that is given here, not so much because it is stronger than
others, which is in truth very strong, as much because from it is obtained a
rule and a system, to know how to recognize the manner of organization of
the others; for every science has its generations, upon which, in good part,
it is based. One thing only, I would remind you, that you never organize an
army so that whoever fights in the van cannot be helped by those situated
behind, because whoever makes this error renders useless the great part of
the army, and if any virtu is eliminated, he cannot win.

LUIGI: And on this part, some doubt has arisen in me. I have seen that in
the disposition of the companies you form the front with five on each side
the center with three, and the rear with two; and I would believe that it
should be better to arrange them oppositely, because I think that an army
can be routed with more difficulty, for whoever should attack it, the more
he should penetrate into it, so much harder would he find it: but the
arrangement made by you appears to me results, that the more one enters into
it, the more he finds it weak.

FABRIZIO: If you would remember that the Triari, who were the third rank of
the Roman Legions, were not assigned more than six hundred men, you would
have less doubt, when you leave that they were placed in the last ranks,
because you will see that I (motivated by this example) have placed two
companies in the last ranks, which comprise nine-hundred infantry; so that I
come to err rather with the Roman people in having taken away too many, than
few. And although this example should suffice, I want to tell you the
reasons, which is this. The first front (line) of the army is made solid and
dense because it has to withstand the attack of the enemy, and does not have
to receive any friends into it, and because of this, it must abound in men,
for few men would make it weak both from their sparseness and their numbers.
But the second line, because it has to relieve the friends from the first
who have withstood the enemy, must have large intervals, and therefore must
have a smaller number than the first; for if it should be of a greater or
equal number, it would result in not leaving any intervals, which would
cause disorder, or if some should be left, it would extend beyond the ends
of those in front, which would make the formation of the army incomplete
(imperfect). And what you say is not true, that the more the enemy enters
into the Battalions, the weaker he will find them; for the enemy can never
fight with the second line, if the first one is not joined up with it: so
that he will come to find the center of the Battalion stronger and not
weaker, having to fight with the first and second (lines) together. The same
thing happens if the enemy should reach the third line, because here, he
will not only have to fight with two fresh companies, but with the entire
Battalion. And as this last part has to receive more men, its spaces must be
larger, and those who receive them lesser in number.

LUIGI: And I like what you have said; but also answer me this. If the five
companies retire among the second three, and afterwards, the eight among the
third two, does it not seem possible that the eight come together then the
ten together, are able to crowd together, whether they are eight or ten,
into the same space which the five occupied.

FABRIZIO: The first thing that I answer is, that it is not the same space;
for the five have four spaces between them, which they occupy when retiring
between one Battalion and the next, and that which exists between the three
or the two: there also remains that space which exists between the companies
and the extraordinary pikemen, which spaces are all made large. There is
added to this whatever other space the companies have when they are in the
lines without being changed, for, when they are changed, the ranks are
either compressed or enlarged. They become enlarged when they are so very
much afraid, that they put themselves in flight: they become compressed when
they become so afraid, that they seek to save themselves, not by flight, but
by defense; so that in this case, they would compress themselves, and not
spread out. There is added to this, that the five ranks of pikemen who are
in front, once they have started the battle, have to retire among their
companies in the rear (tail) of the army to make place for the
shield-bearers (swordsmen) who are able to fight: and when they go into the
tail of the army they can serve whoever the captain should judge should
employ them well, whereas in the front, once the fight becomes mixed, they
would be completely useless. And therefore, the arranged spaces come to be
very capacious for the remaining forces. But even if these spaces should not
suffice, the flanks on the side consist of men and not walls, who, when they
give way and spread out, are able to create a space of such capacity, which
should be sufficient to receive them.

LUIGI: The ranks of the extraordinary pikemen, which you place on the flank
of the army when the first company retires into the second, do you want them
to remain firm, and become as two wings of the army or do you also want them
to retire with the company. Which, if they have to do this, I do not see how
they can, as they do not have companies behind them with wide intervals
which would receive them.

FABRIZIO: If the enemy does not fight them when he faces the companies to
retire, they are able to remain firm in their ranks, and inflict injury on
the enemy on the flank since the first companies had retired: but if they
should also fight them, as seems reasonable, being so powerful as to be able
to force the others to retire, they should cause them also to retire. Which
they are very well able to do, even though they have no one behind who
should receive them, for from the middle forward they are able to double on
the right, one file entering into the other in the manner we discussed when
we talked of the arrangement for doubling themselves. It is true, that when
doubling, they should want to retire behind, other means must be found than
that which I have shown you, since I told you that the second rank had to
enter among the first, the fourth among the third, and so on little by
little, and in this case, it would not be begun from the front, but from the
rear, so that doubling the ranks, they should come to retire to the rear,
and not to turn in front. But to reply to all of that, which (you have
asked) concerning this engagement as shown by me, it should be repeated,
(and) I again say that I have so organized this army, and will (again)
explain this engagement to you for two reasons: one, to show you how it (the
army) is organized: the other, to show you how it is trained. As to the
systems, I believe you all most knowledgeable. As to the army, I tell you
that it may often be put together in this form, for the Heads are taught to
keep their companies in this order: and because it is the duty of each
individual soldier to keep (well) the arrangement of each company, and it is
the duty of each Head to keep (well) those in each part of the Army, and to
know well how to obey the commands of the general Captain. They must know,
therefore, how to join one company with another, and how to take their
places instantly: and therefore, the banner of each company must have its
number displayed openly, so that they may be commanded, and the Captain and
the soldiers will more readily recognize that number. The Battalions ought
also to be numbered, and have their number on their principal banner. One
must know, therefore, what the number is of the Battalion placed on the left
or right wing, the number of those placed in the front and the center, and
so on for the others. I would want also that these numbers reflect the
grades of positions in the Army. For instance, the first grade is the Head
of Ten, the second is the head of fifty ordinary Veliti, the third the
Centurion, the fourth the head of the first company, the fifth that of the
second (company), the sixth of the third, and so on up to the tenth Company,
which should be in the second place next to the general Captain of the
Battalion; nor should anyone arrive to that Leadership, unless he had
(first) risen through all these grades. And, as in addition to these Heads,
there are the three Constables (in command) of the extraordinary pikemen,
and the two of the extraordinary Veliti, I would want them to be of the
grade of Constable of the first company, nor would I care if they were men
of equal grade, as long as each of them should vie to be promoted to the
second company. Each one of these Captains, therefore, knowing where his
Company should be located, of necessity it will follow that, at the sound of
the trumpet, once the Captain's flag was raised, all of the Army would be in
its proper places. And this is the first exercise to which an Army ought to
become accustomed, that is, to assemble itself quickly: and to do this, you
must frequently each day arrange them and disarrange them.

LUIGI: What signs would you want the flags of the Army to have, in addition
to the number?

FABRIZIO: I would want the one of the general Captain to have the emblem of
the Army: all the others should also have the same emblem, but varying with
the fields, or with the sign, as it should seem best to the Lord of the
Army, but this matters little, so long as their effect results in their
recognizing one another.

But let us pass on to another exercise in which an army ought to be trained,
which is, to set it in motion, to march with a convenient step, and to see
that, while in motion, it maintains order. The third exercise is, that they
be taught to conduct themselves as they would afterwards in an engagement;
to fire the artillery, and retire it; to have the extraordinary Veliti issue
forth, and after a mock assault, have them retire; have the first company,
as if they were being pressed, retire within the intervals of the second
(company), and then both into the third, and from here each one return to
its place; and so to accustom them in this exercise, that it become
understood and familiar to everyone, which with practice and familiarity,
will readily be learned. The fourth exercise is that they be taught to
recognize commands of the Captain by virtue of his (bugle) calls and flags,
as they will understand, without other command, the pronouncements made by
voice. And as the importance of the commands depends on the (bugle) calls, I
will tell you what sounds (calls) the ancients used. According as Thucydides
affirms, whistles were used in the army of the Lacedemonians, for they
judged that its pitch was more apt to make their Army proceed with
seriousness and not with fury. Motivated by the same reason, the
Carthaginians, in their first assault, used the zither. Alliatus, King of
the Lydians, used the zither and whistles in war; but Alexander the Great and
the Romans used horns and trumpets, like those who thought the courage of
the soldiers could be increased by virtue of such instruments, and cause
them to combat more bravely. But just as we have borrowed from the Greek and
Roman methods in equipping our Army, so also in choosing sounds should we
serve ourselves of the customs of both those nations. I would, therefore,
place the trumpets next to the general Captain, as their sound is apt not
only to inflame the Army, but to be heard over every noise more than any
other sound. I would want that the other sounds existing around the
Constables and Heads of companies to be (made by) small drums and whistles,
sounded not as they are presently, but as they are customarily sounded at
banquets. I would want, therefore, for the Captain to use the trumpets in
indicating when they should stop or go forward or turn back, when they
should fire the artillery, when to move the extraordinary Veliti, and by
changes in these sounds (calls) point out to the Army all those moves that
generally are pointed out; and those trumpets afterwards followed by drums.
And, as training in these matters are of great importance, I would follow
them very much in training your Army. As to the cavalry, I would want to use
the same trumpets, but of lower volume and different pitch of sounds from
those of the Captain. This is all that occurs to me concerning the
organization and training of the Army.

LUIGI: I beg you not to be so serious in clearing up another matter for me:
why did you have the light cavalry and the extraordinary Veliti move with
shouts and noise and fury when they attacked, but they in rejoining the Army
you indicated the matter was accomplished with great silence: and as I do
not understand the reason for this fact, I would desire you to clarify it
for me.

FABRIZIO: When coming to battle, there have been various opinions held by
the ancient Captains, whether they ought either to accelerate the step (of
the soldiers) by sounds, or have them go slowly in silence. This last manner
serves to keep the ranks firmer and have them understand the commands of the
Captain better: the first serves to encourage the men more. And, as I
believe consideration ought to be given to both these methods, I made the
former move with sound, and the latter in silence. And it does not seem to
me that in any case the sounds are planned to be continuous, for they would
impede the commands, which is a pernicious thing. Nor is it reasonable that
the Romans, after the first assault, should follow with such sounds, for it
is frequently seen in their histories that soldiers who were fleeing were
stopped by the words and advice of the Captains, and changed the orders in
various ways by his command: which would not have occurred if the sounds had
overcome his voice.





LUIGI: Since an engagement has been won so honorably under my Rule, I think
it is well if I do not tempt fortune further, knowing how changeable and
unstable it is. And, therefore, I desire to resign my speakership, and that,
wanting to follow the order that belongs to the youngest, Zanobi now assume
this office of questioning. And I know he will not refuse this honor, or we
would rather say, this hard work, as much in order to (give) pleasure, as
also because he is naturally more courageous than I: nor should he be afraid
to enter into these labors, where he can thus be overcome, as he can

ZANOBI: I intend to stay where you put me, even though I would more
willingly stay to listen, because up to now I am more satisfied with your
questions than those which occurred to me in listening to your discussions
pleased me. But I believe it is well, Lords, that since you have time left,
and have patience, we do not annoy you with these ceremonies of ours.

FABRIZIO: Rather you give me pleasure, because this change of questioners
makes me know the various geniuses, and your various desires. Is there
anything remaining of the matter discussed which you think should be added?

ZANOBI: There are two things I desire before we pass on to another part: the
one is, that you would show me if there is another form of organizing the
Army which may occur to you: the other, what considerations ought a Captain
have before going to battle, and if some accident should arise concerning
it, what remedies can be made.

FABRIZIO: I will make an effort to satisfy you, I will not reply to your
questions in detail; for, when I answer one, often it will also answer
another. I have told you that I proposed a form for the Army which should
fill all the requirements according to the (nature of) the enemy and the
site, because in this case, one proceeds according to the site and the
enemy. But note this, that there is no greater peril than to over extend the
front of your army, unless you have a very large and very brave Army:
otherwise you have to make it rather wide and of short length, than of long
length and very narrow. For when you have a small force compared to the
enemy, you ought to seek other remedies; for example, arrange your army so
that you are girded on a side by rivers or swamps, so that you cannot be
surrounded or gird yourself on the flanks with ditches, as Caesar did in
Gaul. In this case, you have to take the flexibility of being able to
enlarge or compress your front, according to the numbers of the enemy: and
if the enemy is of a lesser number, you ought to seek wide places,
especially if you have your forces so disciplined, that you are able not
only to surround the enemy, but extend your ranks, because in rough and
difficult places, you do not have the advantage of being able to avail
yourself of (all) your ranks. Hence it happened that the Romans almost
always sought open fields, and avoided the difficult ones. On the other hand
((as I have said)) you ought to, if you have either a small force or a
poorly disciplined one, for you have to seek places where a small number can
defend you, or where inexperience may not cause you injury. Also, higher
places ought to be sought so as to be able more easily to attack (the
enemy). None the less, one ought to be aware not to arrange your Army on a
beach and in a place near the adjoining hills, where the enemy Army can
come; because in this case, with respect to the artillery, the higher place
would be disadvantageous to you, because you could continuously and
conveniently be harmed by the enemy artillery, without being able to
undertake any remedy, and similarly, impeded by your own men, you cannot
conveniently injure him. Whoever organizes an Army for battle, ought also to
have regard for both the sun and the wind, that the one and the other do not
strike the front, because both impede your vision, the one with its rays,
the other with dust. And in addition, the wind does not aid the arms that
are thrown at the enemy, and makes their blows more feeble. And as to the
sun, it is not enough that you take care that it is not in your face at the
time, but you must think about it not harming you when it comes up. And
because of this, in arranging the army, I would have it (the sun) behind
them, so that much time should pass before it should come in front of you.
This method was observed by Hannibal at Cannae and by Marius against the
Cimbrians. If you should be greatly inferior in cavalry, arrange your army
between vines and trees, and such impediments, as the Spaniards did in our
times when they routed the French in the Kingdom (of Naples) on the
Cirignuola. And it has been frequently seen that the same soldiers, when
they changed only their arrangement and the location, from being overcome
became victorious, as happened to the Carthaginians, who, after having been
often defeated by Marius Regulus, were afterwards victorious, through the
counsel of Xantippe, the Lacedemonian, who had them descend to the plain,
where, by the virtu of their cavalry and Elephants, they were able to
overcome the Romans. And it appears to me, according to the examples of the
ancients, that almost all the excellent Captains, when they learned that the
enemy had strengthened one side of the company, did not attack the stronger
side, but the weaker, and the other stronger side they oppose to the weaker:
then, when starting a battle, they cornered the stronger part that it only
resist the enemy, and not push it back, and the weaker part that it allow
itself to be overcome, and retire into the rear ranks of the Army. This
causes two great disorders to the enemy: the first, that he finds his
strongest part surrounded: the second is, that as it appears to them they
will obtain the victory quickly, it rarely happens that he will not become
disorganized, whence his defeat quickly results. Cornelius Scipio, when he
was in Spain, (fighting) against Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian, and knowing
that Hasdrubal was noted, that in arranging the Army, placed his legions in
the center, which constituted the strongest part of his Army, and therefore,
when Hasdrubal was to proceed in this manner, afterwards, when he came to the
engagement, changed the arrangement, and put his Legions in the wings of the
Army, and placed his weakest forces in the center. Then when they came hand
to hand, he quickly had those forces in the center to walk slowly, and the
wings to move forward swiftly: so that only the wings of both armies fought,
and the ranks in the center, being distant from each other, did not join (in
battle), and thus the strongest part of (the army of) Scipio came to fight
the weakest part of (that of) Hasdrubal, and defeated it. This method at
that time was useful, but today, because of the artillery, could not be
employed, because that space that existed between one and the other army,
gives them time to fire, which is most pernicious, as we said above. This
method, therefore, must be set aside, and be used, as was said a short time
ago, when all the Army is engaged, and the weaker part made to yield. When a
Captain finds himself to have an army larger than that of the enemy, and not
wanting to be prevented from surrounding him, arranges his Army with fronts
equal to those of the enemy: then when the battle is started, has his front
retire and the flanks extend little by little, and it will always happen
that the enemy will find himself surrounded without being aware of it. When
a Captain wants to fight almost secure in not being routed, he arranges his
army in a place where he has a safe refuge nearby, either amid swamps or
mountains or in a powerful city; for, in this manner, he cannot be pursued
by the enemy, but the enemy cannot be pursued by him. This means was employed
by Hannibal when fortune began to become adverse for him, and he was
apprehensive of the valor of Marcus Marcellus. Several, in order to
disorganize the ranks of the enemy, have commanded those who are lightly
armed, that they begin the fight, and having begun it, retire among the
ranks; and when the Armies afterwards have joined fronts together, and each
front is occupied in fighting, they have allowed them to issue forth from
the flanks of the companies, and disorganized and routed them. If anyone
finds himself inferior in cavalry, he can, in addition to the methods
mentioned, place a company of pikemen behind his cavalry, and in the
fighting, arrange for them to give way for the pikemen, and he will always
remain superior. Many have accustomed some of the lightly armed infantry to
get used to combat amidst the cavalry, and this has been a very great help
to the cavalry. Of all those who have organized Armies for battle, the most
praiseworthy have been Hannibal and Scipio when they were fighting in
Africa: and as Hannibal had his Army composed of Carthaginians and
auxiliaries of various kinds, he placed eighty Elephants in the first van,
then placed the auxiliaries, after these he placed his Carthaginians, and in
the rear, he placed the Italians, whom he trusted little. He arranged
matters thusly, because the auxiliaries, having the enemy in front and their
rear closed by his men, they could not flee: so that being compelled to
fight, they should overcome or tire out the Romans, thinking afterwards with
his forces of virtu, fresh, he could easily overcome the already tired
Romans. In the encounter with this arrangement, Scipio placed the Astati,
the Principi, and the Triari, in the accustomed fashion for one to be able
to receive the other, and one to help the other. He made the vans of the
army full of intervals; and so that they should not be seen through, but
rather appear united, he filled them with Veliti, whom he commanded that, as
soon as the Elephants arrived, they should give way, and enter through the
regular spaces among the legions, and leave the way open to the Elephants:
and thus come to render their attack vain, so that coming hand to hand with
them, he was superior.

ZANOBI: You have made me remember in telling me of this engagement, that
Scipio, during the fight, did not have the Astati retire into the ranks of
the Principi, but divided them and had them retire into the wings of the
army, so as to make room for the Principi, if he wanted to push them
forward. I would desire, therefore, that you tell me what reason motivated
him not to observe the accustomed arrangement.

FABRIZIO: I will tell you. Hannibal had placed all the virtu of his army in
the second line; whence Scipio, in order to oppose a similar virtu to it,
assembled the Principi and the Triari; so that the intervals of the Principi
being occupied by the Triari, there was no place to receive the Astati, and
therefore, he caused the Astati to be divided and enter the wings of the
army, and did not bring them among the Principi. But take note that this
method of opening up the first lines to make a place for the second, cannot
be employed except when the other are superior, because then the convenience
exists to be able to do it, as Scipio was able to. But being inferior and
repulsed, it cannot be done except with your manifest ruin: and, therefore,
you must have ranks in the rear which will receive you. But let us return to
our discussion. The ancient Asiatics ((among other things thought up by them
to injure the enemy)) used chariots which had scythes on their sides, so
that they not only served to open up the lines with their attack, but also
kill the adversary with the scythes. Provisions against these attacks were
made in three ways. It was resisted by the density of the ranks, or they
were received within the lines as were the Elephants, or a stalwart
resistance was made with some stratagems, as did Sulla, the Roman, against
Archelaus, who had many of those chariots which they called Falcati; he
(Sulla), in order to resist them, fixed many poles in the ground behind the
first ranks, by which the chariots, being resisted, lost their impetus. And
note is to be taken of the new method which Sulla used against this man in
arranging the army, since he put the Veliti and the cavalry in the rear, and
all the heavily armed in front, leaving many intervals in order to be able
to send those in the rear forward if necessity should require it; whence
when the battle was started, with the aid of the cavalry, to whom he gave
the way, he obtained the victory. To want to worry the enemy during the
battle, something must be made to happen which dismays him, either by
announcing new help which is arriving, or by showing things which look like
it, so that the enemy, being deceived by that sight, becomes frightened; and
when he is frightened, can be easily overcome. These methods were used by
the Roman Consuls Minucius Rufus and Accilius Glabrius, Caius Sulpicius also
placed many soldier-packs on mules and other animals useless in war, but in
a manner that they looked like men-at-arms, and commanded that they appear
on a hill while they were (in) hand to hand (combat) with the Gauls: whence
his victory resulted. Marius did the same when he was fighting against the
Germans. Feigned assaults, therefore, being of great value while the battle
lasts, it happens that many are benefited by the real (assaults), especially
if, improvised in the middle of the battle, it is able to attack the enemy
from behind or on the sides. Which can be done only with difficulty, unless
the (nature of the) country helps you; for if it is open, part of your
forces cannot be speeded, as must be done in such enterprises: but in wooded
or mountainous places, and hence capable of ambush, part of your forces can
be well hidden, so that the enemy may be assaulted, suddenly and without his
expecting it, which will always be the cause of giving you the victory. And
sometimes it has been very important, while the battle goes on, to plant
voices which announce the killed of the enemy Captain, or to have defeated
some other part of the army; and this often has given the victory to whoever
used it. The enemy cavalry may be easily disturbed by unusual forms (sights)
or noises; as did Croesus, who opposed camels to the cavalry of his
adversaries, and Pyrrhus who opposed elephants to the Roman cavalry, the
sight of which disturbed and disorganized it. In our times, the Turk routed
the Shah in Persia and the Soldan in Syria with nothing else than the noise
of guns, which so affected their cavalry by their unaccustomed noises, that
the Turk was able easily to defeat it. The Spaniards, to overcome the army of
Hamilcar, placed in their first lines chariots full of tow drawn by oxen,
and when they had come to battle, set fire to them, whence the oxen, wanting
to flee the fire, hurled themselves on the army of Hamilcar and dispersed
it. As we mentioned, where the country is suitable, it is usual to deceive
the enemy when in combat by drawing him into ambushes: but when it is open
and spacious, many have employed the making (digging) of ditches, and then
covering them lightly with earth and branches, but leaving several places
(spaces) solid in order to be able to retire between them; then when the
battle is started, retire through them, and the enemy pursuing, comes to
ruin in them. If, during the battle, some accident befalls you which dismays
your soldiers, it is a most prudent thing to know how to dissimulate and
divert them to (something) good, as did Lucius Sulla, who, while the
fighting was going on, seeing that a great part of his forces had gone over
to the side of the enemy, and that this had dismayed his men, quickly caused
it to be understood throughout the entire army that everything was happening
by his order, and this not only did not disturb the army, but so increased
its courage that it was victorious. It also happened to Sulla, that having
sent certain soldiers to undertake certain business, and they having been
killed, in order that his army would not be dismayed said, that because he
had found them unfaithful, he had cunningly sent them into the hands of the
enemy. Sertorious, when undertaking an engagement in Spain, killed one who
had pointed out to him the slaying of one of his Heads, for fear that by
telling the same to the others, he should dismay them. It is a difficult
matter to stop an army already in flight, and return it to battle. And you
have to make this distinction: either they are entirely in flight (motion),
and here it is impossible to return them: or only a part are in flight, and
here there is some remedy. Many Roman Captains, by getting in front of those
fleeing, have stopped them, by making them ashamed of their flight, as did
Lucius Sulla, who, when a part of his Legions had already turned, driven by
the forces of Mithradates, with his sword in hand he got in front of them
and shouted, "if anyone asks you where you have left your Captain, tell
them, we have left him in Boetia fighting." The Consul Attilius opposed
those who fled with those who did not flee, and made them understand that if
they did not turn about, they would be killed by both friends and enemies.
Phillip of Macedonia, when he learned that his men were afraid of the
Scythian soldiers, put some of his most trusted cavalry behind his army, and
commissioned them to kill anyone who fled; whence his men, preferring to die
fighting rather than in flight, won. Many Romans, not so much in order to
stop a flight, as to give his men an occasion to exhibit greater prowess,
while they were fighting, have taken a banner out of their hands, and
tossing it amid the enemy, offered rewards to whoever would recover it.

I do not believe it is out of order to add to this discussion those things
that happen after a battle, especially as they are brief, and not to be
omitted, and conform greatly to this discussion. I will tell you, therefore,
how engagements are lost, or are won. When one wins, he ought to follow up
the victory with all speed, and imitate Caesar in this case, and not
Hannibal, who, because he had stopped after he had defeated the Romans at
Cannae, lost the Empire of Rome. The other (Caesar) never rested after a
victory, but pursued the routed enemy with great impetus and fury, until he
had completely assaulted it. But when one loses, a Captain ought to see if
something useful to him can result from this loss, especially if some
residue of the army remains to him. An opportunity can arise from the
unawareness of the enemy, which frequently becomes obscured after a victory,
and gives you the occasion to attack him; as Martius, the Roman, attacked
the Carthaginian army, which, having killed the two Scipios and defeated
their armies, thought little of that remnant of the forces who, with
Martius, remained alive; and was (in turn) attacked and routed by him. It is
seen, therefore, that there is nothing so capable of success as that which
the enemy believes you cannot attempt, because men are often injured more
when they are less apprehensive. A Captain ought, therefore, when he cannot
do this, at least endeavor with industry to restrict the injury caused by
the defeat. And to do this, it is necessary for you to take steps that the
enemy is not able to follow you easily, or give him cause for delay. In the
first case some, after they realize they are losing, order their Leaders to
flee in several parts by different paths, having (first) given an order
where they should afterward reassemble, so that the enemy, fearing to divide
his forces, would leave all or a greater part of them safe. In the second
case, many have thrown down their most precious possessions in front of the
enemy, so that being retarded by plundering, he gave them more time for
flight. Titus Dimius used not a little astuteness in hiding the injury
received in battle; for, after he had fought until nightfall with a loss of
many of his men, caused a good many of them to be buried during the night;
whence in the morning, the enemy seeing so many of their dead and so few
Romans, believing they had had the disadvantage, fled. I believe I have thus
confused you, as I said, (but) satisfied your question in good part: it is
true, that concerning the shape of the army, there remains for me to tell
you how sometimes it is customary for some Captains to make the front in the
form of a wedge, judging in that way to be able more readily to open
(penetrate) the Army of the enemy. In opposition to this shape they
customarily would use a form of a scissor, so as to be able to receive that
wedge into that space, and surround and fight it from every side. On this, I
would like you to have this general rule, that the greatest remedy used
against the design of the enemy, is to do that willingly which he designs
for you to do by force, because doing it willingly you do it with order and
to your advantage, but to his disadvantage: if you should do it by force, it
would be to your ruin. As to the fortifying of this, I would not care to
repeat anything already said. Does the adversary make a wedge in order to
open your ranks? if you proceed with yours open, you disorganize him, and he
does not disorganize you. Hannibal placed Elephants in front of his Army to
open that of the Army of Scipio; Scipio went with his open and was the cause
of his own victory and the ruin of the former (Hannibal). Hasdrubal placed
his most stalwart forces in the center of the van of his Army to push back
the forces of Scipio: Scipio commanded in like fashion that they should
retire, and defeated him. So that such plans, when they are put forward, are
the cause for the victory of him against whom they were organized. It
remains for me yet, if I remember well, to tell you what considerations a
Captain ought to take into account before going into battle: upon which I
have to tell you first that a Captain never has to make an engagement, if he
does not have the advantage, or if he is not compelled to. Advantages arise
from the location, from the organization, and from having either greater or
better forces. Necessity, (compulsion) arises when you see that, by not
fighting, you must lose in an event; for example, when you see you are about
to lack money, and therefore your Army has to be dissolved in any case; when
hunger is about to assail you, or when you expect the enemy to be reinforced
again by new forces. In these cases, one ought always to fight, even at your
disadvantage; for it is much better to try your fortune when it can favor
you, than by not trying, see your ruin sure: and in such a case, it is as
serious an error for a Captain not to fight, as it is to pass up an
opportunity to win, either from ignorance, or from cowardice. The enemy
sometimes gives you the advantage, and sometimes (it derives from) your
prudence. Many have been routed while crossing a river by an alert enemy of
theirs, who waited until they were in the middle of the stream, and then
assaulted them on every side; as Caesar did to the Swiss, where he destroyed
a fourth part of them, after they had been split by the river. Some time you
may find your enemy tired from having pursued you too inconsiderately, so
that, finding yourself fresh, and rested, you ought not to lose such an
opportunity. In addition to this, if an enemy offers you battle at a good
hour of the morning, you can delay going out of your encampment for many
hours: and if he has been under arms for a long time, and has lost that
first ardor with which he started, you can then fight with him. Scipio and
Metellus employed this method in Spain, the first against Hasdrubal, and the
other against Sertorius. If the enemy has diminished in strength, either
from having divided the Armies, as the Scipios (did) in Spain, or from some
other cause, you ought to try (your) fortune. The greater part of prudent
Captains would rather receive the onrush of the enemy, who impetuously go to
assault them, for their fury is easily withstood by firm and resolute men,
and that fury which was withstood, easily converts itself into cowardice.
Fabius acted thusly against the Samnites and against the Gauls, and was
victorious, but his colleague, Decius was killed. Some who feared the virtu
of their enemy, have begun the battle at an hour near nightfall, so that if
their men were defeated, they might be able to be protected by its darkness
and save themselves. Some, having known that the enemy Army, because of
certain superstitions, does not want to undertake fighting at such a time,
selected that time for battle, and won: which Caesar did in Gaul against
Ariovistus, and Vespatianus in Syria against the Jews. The greater and more
important awareness that a Captain ought to have, is (to see) that he has
about him, men loyal and most expert in war, and prudent, with whom he
counsels continually, and discusses his forces and those of the enemy with
them: which are the greater in number, which are better armed or better
trained, which are more apt to suffer deprivation, which to confide in more,
the infantry or the cavalry. Also, they consider the location in which they
are, and if it is more suitable for the enemy than for themselves; which of
them has the better convenience of supply; whether it is better to delay the
engagement or undertake it, and what benefit the weather might give you or
take away from them; for often when the soldiers see the war becoming long,
they become irritable, and weary from hard work and tedium, will abandon you.
Above all, it is important for the Captain to know the enemy, and who he has
around him: if he is foolhardy or cautious: if timid or audacious. See
whether you can trust the auxiliary soldiers. And above all, you ought to
guard against leading an army into battle which is afraid, or distrustful in
any way of victory, for the best indication of defeat is when one believes
he cannot win. And, therefore, in this case, you ought to avoid an
engagement, either by doing as Fabius Maximus did, who, by encamping in
strong places, did not give Hannibal courage to go and meet him, or by
believing that the enemy, also in strong places, should come to meet you,
you should depart from the field, and divide your forces among your towns,
so that the tedium of capturing them will tire him.

ZANOBI: Can he not avoid the engagement in other ways than by dividing it
(the army) into several parts, and putting them in towns?

FABRIZIO: I believe at another time I have discussed with some of you that
whoever is in the field, cannot avoid an engagement if he has an enemy who
wants to fight in any case; and he has but one remedy, and that is to place
himself with his Army at least fifty miles distant from his adversary, so as
to be in time to get out of his way if he should come to meet him. And
Fabius Maximus never avoided an engagement with Hannibal, but wanted it at
his advantage; and Hannibal did not presume to be able to overcome him by
going to meet him in the places where he was encamped. But if he supposed he
could defeat him, it was necessary for Fabius to undertake an engagement
with him in any case, or to flee. Phillip, King of Macedonia, he who was the
father of Perseus, coming to war with the Romans, placed his encampment on a
very high mountain so as not to have an engagement with them; but the Romans
went to meet him on that mountain, and routed him. Vercingetorix, a Captain
of the Gauls, in order to avoid an engagement with Caesar, who unexpectedly
had crossed the river, placed himself miles distant with his forces. The
Venetians in our times, if they did not want to come to an engagement with
the King of France, ought not to have waited until the French Army had
crossed the Adda, but should have placed themselves distant from him, as did
Vercingetorix: whence, having waited for him, they did not know how to take
the opportunity of undertaking an engagement during the crossing, nor how to
avoid it; for the French being near to them, as the Venetians decamped,
assaulted and routed them. And so it is, that an engagement cannot be
avoided if the enemy at all events wants to undertake it. Nor does anyone
cite Fabius, for he avoided an engagement in cases like that, just as much
as did Hannibal. It often happens that your soldiers are not willing to
fight, and you know that because of their number or the location, or from
some other cause, you have a disadvantage, and would like them to change
their minds. It also happens that necessity or opportunity constrains you to
(come to) an engagement, and that your soldiers are discontent and little
disposed to fight, whence it is necessary for you in one case to frighten
them, and in the other to excite them. In the first instance, if persuasion
is not enough, there is no better way to have both those who fight and those
who would not believe you, than to give some of them over to the enemy as
plunder. It may also be well to do with cunning that which happened to
Fabius Maximus at home. The Army of Fabius desired ((as you know)) to fight
with the Army of Hannibal: his Master of cavalry had the same desire. It did
not seem proper to Fabius to attempt the battle, so that in order to dispel
such (desires), he had to divide the Army. Fabius kept his men in the
encampments: and the other (the Master of cavalry) going forth, and coming
into great danger, would have been routed, if Fabius had not succored him.
By this example, the Master of the cavalry, together with the entire army,
realized it was a wise course to obey Fabius. As to exciting them to fight,
it is well to make them angry at the enemy, by pointing out that (the enemy)
say slanderous things of them, and showing them to have with their
intelligence (in the enemy camp) and having corrupted some part, to encamp
on the side where they see they enemy, and undertake some light skirmishes
with them; because things that are seen daily are more easily disparaged. By
showing yourself indignant, and by making an oration in which you reproach
them for their laziness, you make them so ashamed by saying you want to
fight only if they do not accompany you. And above every thing, to have this
awareness, if you want to make the soldiers obstinate in battle, not to
permit them to send home any of their possessions, or settle in any place,
until the war ends, so that they understand that if flight saves them their
lives, it will not save them their possessions, the love of the latter, not
less than the former, renders men obstinate in defense.

ZANOBI: You have told how soldiers can be made to turn and fight, by talking
to them. Do you mean by this that he has to talk to the entire Army, or to
its Heads?

FABRIZIO: To persuade or dissuade a few from something, is very easy; for if
words are not enough, you can use authority and force: but the difficulty is
to take away a sinister idea from a multitude, whether it may be in
agreement or contrary to your own opinion, where only words can be used,
which, if you want to persuade everyone, must be heard by everyone.
Captains, therefore, must be excellent Orators, for without knowing how to
talk to the entire Army, good things can only be done with difficulty.
Which, in these times of ours, is completely done away with. Read the life
(biography) of Alexander the Great, and see how many times it was necessary
to harangue and speak publicly to the Army; otherwise he could never have
them led them ((having become rich and full of plunder)) through the deserts
of Arabia and into India with so much hardship and trouble; for infinite
numbers of things arose by which an Army is ruined if a Captain does not
know how or is not accustomed to talking to it; for this speaking takes away
fear, incites courage, increases obstinacy, and sweeps away deceptions,
promises rewards, points out dangers and the ways to avoid them, reprimands,
begs, threatens, fills with hope, praises, slanders, and does all those
things by which human passion are extinguished or enkindled. Whence that
Prince or Republic planning to raise a new army, and to give this army
reputation, ought to accustom the soldiers to listen to the talk of the
Captain, and the Captain to know how to talk to them. Religion was (also) of
much value in keeping the ancient soldiers well disposed and an oath was
given to (taken by) them when they came into the army; for whenever they
made a mistake, they were threatened not only by those evils that can be
feared by men, but also by those that can be expected from the Deity. This
practice, mixed with other religious means, often made an entire enterprise
easy for the ancient Captains, and would always be so whenever religion was
feared and observed. Sertorius availed himself of this when he told of
talking with a Hind (female stag), which promised him victory on the part of
the Deity. Sulla was said to talk with a Statue which he had taken from the
Temple of Apollo. Many have told of God appearing to them in their sleep,
and admonishing them to fight. In the times of our fathers, Charles the
seventh, King of France, in the war he waged against the English, was said
to counsel with a young girl sent by God, who is called the Maid of France,
and who was the cause for victory. You can also take means to make your
(soldiers) value the enemy little, as Agesilaus the Spartan did, who showed
his soldiers some Persians in the nude, so that seeing their delicate
members, they should have no cause for being afraid of them. Some have
constrained them to fight from necessity, by removing from their paths all
hope of saving themselves, except through victory. This is the strongest and
the best provision that can be made when you want to make your soldiers
obstinate. Which obstinacy is increased by the confidence and the love
either of the Captain or of the Country. Confidence is instilled by arms
organization, fresh victories, and the knowledge of the Captain. Love of
Country springs from nature: that of the Captain from (his) virtu more than
any other good event. Necessities can be many, but that is the strongest,
which constrains you either to win or to die.





FABRIZIO: I have shown you how to organize an army to battle another army
which is seen posted against you, and I have told you how it is overcome,
and also of the many circumstances which can occur because of the various
incidents surrounding it, so that it appears to me now to be the time to
show you how to organize an army against an enemy which is unseen, but which
you are continually afraid will assault you. This happens when marching
through country which is hostile, or suspected (of being so). And first you
have to understand that a Roman Army ordinarily always sent ahead some
groups of cavalry as observers for the march. Afterwards the right wing
followed. After this came all the wagons which pertained to it. After those,
another Legion, and next its wagons. After these come the left wing with its
wagon in the rear, and the remainder of the cavalry followed in the last
part. This was in effect the manner in which one ordinarily marched. And if
it happened that the Army should be assaulted on the march in front or from
the rear, they quickly caused all the wagons to be withdrawn either on the
right, or on the left, according as it happened, or rather as best they
could depending on the location, and all the forces together, free from
their baggage, set up a front on that side from which the enemy was coming.
If they were assaulted on the flank, they would withdraw the wagons to the
side which was secure, and set up a front on the other. This method being
good, and prudently conducted, appears to me ought to be imitated, sending
cavalry ahead to observe the country, then having four battalions, having
them march in line, and each with its wagons in the rear. And as the wagons
are of two kinds, that is, those pertaining to individual soldiers, and the
public ones for use by the whole camp, I would divide the public wagons into
four parts, and assign a part to each Battalion, also dividing the
artillery and all the unarmed men, so that each one of those armed should
have its equal share of impedimenta. But as it sometimes happens that one
marches in a country not only suspect, but hostile in fact, that you are
afraid of being attacked hourly, in order to go on more securely, you are
compelled to change the formation of the march, and go on in the regular
way, so that in some unforeseen place, neither the inhabitants nor the Army
can injure you. In such a case, the ancient Captains usually went on with
the Army in squares, for such they called these formations, not because it
was entirely square, but because it was capable of fighting on four sides,
and they said that they were going prepared either for marching or for
battle. I do not want to stray far from this method, and want to arrange my
two Battalions, which I have taken as a rule for an Army, in this manner. If
you want, therefore, to walk securely through the enemy country, and be able
to respond from every side, if you had been assaulted by surprise, and
wanting, in accordance with the ancients, to bring it into a square, I would
plan to make a square whose hollow was two hundred arm lengths on every side
in this manner. I would first place the flanks, each distant from the other
by two hundred twelve arm lengths, and would place five companies in each
flank in a file along its length, and distant from each other three arm
lengths; these would occupy their own space, each company occupying (a
space) forty arm lengths by two hundred twelve arm lengths. Between the
front and rear of these two flanks, I would place another ten companies,
five on each side, arranging them in such a way that four should be next to
the front of the right flank, and five at the rear of the left flank,
leaving between each one an interval (gap) of four arm lengths: one of which
should be next to the front of the left flank, and one at the rear of the
right flank. And as the space existing between the one flank and the other
is two hundred twelve arm lengths, and these companies placed alongside each
other by their width and not length, they would come to occupy, with the
intervals, one hundred thirty four arm lengths, (and) there would be between
the four companies placed on the front of the right flank, and one placed on
the left, a remaining space of seventy eight arm lengths, and a similar
space be left among the companies placed in the rear parts; and there would
be no other difference, except that one space would be on the rear side
toward the right wing, the other would be on the front side toward the left
wing. In the space of seventy eight arm lengths in front, I would place all
the ordinary Veliti, and in that in the rear the extraordinary Veliti, who
would come to be a thousand per space. And if you want that the space taken
up by the Army should be two hundred twelve arm lengths on every side, I
would see that five companies are placed in front, and those that are placed
in the rear, should not occupy any space already occupied by the flanks, and
therefore I would see that the five companies in the rear should have their
front touch the rear of their flanks, and those in front should have their
rear touch the front (of their flanks), so that on every side of that army,
space would remain to receive another company. And as there are four spaces,
I would take four banners away from the extraordinary pikemen and would put
one on every corner: and the two banners of the aforementioned pikemen left
to me, I would place in the middle of the hollow of their army (formed) in a
square of companies, at the heads of which the general Captain would remain
with his men around him. And as these companies so arranged all march in one
direction, but not all fight in one, in putting them together, one has to
arrange which sides are not guarded by other companies during the battle.
And, therefore, it ought to be considered that the five companies in front
protect all the other sides, except the front; and therefore these have to
be assembled in an orderly manner (and) with the pikemen in front. The five
companies behind protect all the sides, except the side in the back; and
therefore ought to be assembled so that the pikemen are in the rear, as we
will demonstrate in its place. The five companies on the right flank protect
all the sides, from the right flank outward. The five on the left, engird
all the sides, from the left flank outward: and therefore in arranging the
companies, the pikemen ought to be placed so that they turn by that flank
which in uncovered. And as the Heads of Ten are placed in the front and
rear, so that when they have to fight, all the army and its members are in
their proper places, the manner of accomplishing this was told when we
discussed the methods of arranging the companies. I would divide the
artillery, and one part I would place outside the right flank, and the other
at the left. I would send the light cavalry ahead to reconnoiter the
country. Of the men-at-arms, I would place part in the rear on the right
wing, and part on the left, distant forty arms lengths from the companies.
And no matter how you arrange your Army, you have to take up ((as the
cavalry)) this general (rule), that you have to place them always either in
the rear or on the flanks. Whoever places them ahead in front of the Army
must do one of two things: either he places them so far ahead, that if they
are repulsed they have so much room to give them time to be able to obtain
shelter for themselves from your infantry and not collide with them; or to
arrange them (the infantry) with so many intervals, that by means of them
the cavalry can enter among them without disorganizing them. Let not anyone
think little of this instruction, because many, not being aware of this,
have been ruined, and have been disorganized and routed by themselves. The
wagons and the unarmed men are placed in the plaza that exists within the
Army, and so compartmented, that they easily make way for whoever wants to
go from one side to the other, or from one front of the Army to the other.
These companies, without artillery and cavalry, occupy two hundred eighty
two arm lengths of space on the outside in every direction. And as this
square is composed of two Battalions, it must be devised as to which part
one Battalion makes up, and which part the other. And since the Battalions
are called by number, and each of them has ((as you know)) ten companies and
a general Head, I would have the first Battalion place its first five
companies in the front, the other five on the left flank, and the Head
should be in the left angle of the front. The first five companies of the
second Battalion then should be placed on the right flank, and the other
five in the rear, and the Head should be in the right angle, who would
undertake the office of the Tergiduttore.

The Army organized in this manner is ready to move, and in its movement
should completely observe this arrangement: and without doubt it is secure
from all the tumults of the inhabitants. Nor ought the Captain make other
provisions against these tumultuous assaults, than sometime to give a
commission to some cavalry or band of Veliti to put them in their place. Nor
will it ever happen that these tumultuous people will come to meet you
within the drawing of a sword or pike, because disorderly people are afraid
of order; and it will always be seen that they make a great assault with
shouts and noises without otherwise approaching you in the way of yelping
dogs around a mastiff. Hannibal, when he came to harm from the Romans in
Italy, passed through all of France, and always took little account of the
tumults of the French. When you want to march, you must have levellers and
men with pick axes ahead who clear the road for you, and who are well
protected by that cavalry sent ahead to reconnoiter. An Army will march in
this order ten miles a day, and enough Sun (light will remain for them to
dine and camp, since ordinarily an Army marches twenty miles. If it happens
that it is assaulted by an organized Army, this assault cannot arise
suddenly, because an organized Army travels at its own rate (step), so that
you are always in time to reorganize for the engagement, and quickly bring
yourself to that formation, or similar to that formation of the Army, which
I showed you above. For if you are assaulted on the front side, you do
nothing except (to have) the artillery in the flanks and the cavalry behind
come forward and take those places and with those distances mentioned above.
The thousand Veliti who are forward, come forth from their positions, and
dividing into groups of a hundred, enter into their places between the
cavalry and the wings of the Army. Then, into the voids left by them, enter
the two bands of extraordinary pikemen which I had placed in the plaza of
the Army. The thousand Veliti that I had placed in the rear depart from
there, and distribute themselves among the flanks of the companies to
strengthen them: and from the open space they leave all the wagons and
unarmed men issue forth and place themselves at the rear of the companies.
The plaza, therefore, remains vacant as everyone has gone to their places,
and the five companies that I placed in the rear of the Army come forward
through the open void that exists between the one and the other flank, and
march toward the company in the front, and the three approach them at forty
arm lengths with equal intervals between one another, and two remain behind
distant another forty arm lengths. This formation can be organized quickly,
and comes to be almost the same as the first disposition of the Army which
we described before: and if it becomes more straitened in the front, it
becomes larger in the flanks, which does not weaken it. But as the five
companies in the back have their pikemen in the rear for the reasons
mentioned above, it is necessary to have them come from the forward part, if
you want them to get behind the front of the Army; and, therefore, one must
either make them turn company by company, as a solid body, or make them
enter quickly between the ranks of the shield-bearers (swordsmen), and bring
them forward; which method is more swift and less disorderly than to make
them turn. And thus you ought to do with all those who are in the rear in
every kind of assault, as I will show you. If it should happen that the
enemy comes from the rear, the first thing that ought to be done is to have
everyone turn to face the enemy, so that at once the front of the army
becomes the rear, and the rear the front. Then all those methods of
organizing the front should be followed, which I mentioned above. If the
enemy attacks on the right flank, the entire army ought to be made to face
in that direction, and then those things ought to be done to strengthen that
(new) front which were mentioned above, so that the cavalry, the Veliti, and
the artillery are in the position assigned in this front. There is only this
difference, that in the changing of fronts, of those who move about, some
have to go further, and some less. It is indeed true that when a front is
made of the right flank, the Veliti would have to enter the intervals (gaps)
that exist between the wings of the Army, and the cavalry would be those
nearer to the left flank, in the position of those who would have to enter
into the two bands of extraordinary pikemen placed in the center. But before
they enter, the wagons and unarmed men stationed at the openings, should
clear the plaza and retire behind the left flank, which then becomes the
rear of the army. And the other Veliti who should be placed in the rear
according to the original arrangement, in this case should not be changed,
as that place should not remain open, which, from being the rear, would
become a flank. All the other things ought to be done as was said concerning
the first front.

What has been said concerning making a front from the right flank, is
intended also in making one from the left flank, since the same arrangements
ought to be observed. If the enemy should happen to be large and organized
to assault you on two sides, the two sides on which he assaults you ought to
be strengthened from the two that are not assaulted, doubling the ranks in
each one, and distributing the artillery, Veliti, and cavalry among each
side. If he comes from three or four sides, it needs must be either you or
he lacks prudence, for if you were wise, you would never put yourself on the
side where the enemy could assault you from three or four sides with large
and organized forces, and if he wanted to attach you in safety he must be so
large and assault you on each side with a force almost as large as you have
in your entire Army. And if you are so little prudent that you put yourself
in the midst of the territory and forces of an enemy, who has three times
the organized forces that you have, you cannot complain if evil happens to
you, except of yourself. If it happens, not by your fault, but by some
misadventure, the injury will be without shame, and it will happen to you as
it did to the Scipios in Spain, and the Hasdrubal in Italy. But if the enemy
has a much larger force than you, and in order to disorganize you wants to
assault you on several sides, it will be his foolishness and his gamble; for
to do this, he must go (spread) himself thin, that you can always attack on
one side and resist on another, and in a brief time ruin him. This method of
organizing an Army which is not seen, but who is feared, is necessary, and
it is a most useful thing to accustom your soldiers to assemble, and march
in such order, and in marching arrange themselves to fight according to the
first front (planned), and then return to marching formation, from that make
a front from the rear, and then from the flank, and from that return to the
original formation. These exercises and accustomization are necessary
matters if you want a disciplined and trained Army. Captains and Princes
have to work hard at these things: nor is military discipline anything else,
than to know how to command and how to execute these things, nor is a
disciplined Army anything else, than an army which is well trained in these
arrangements; nor would it be possible for anyone in these times who should
well employ such discipline ever to be routed. And if this square formation
which I have described is somewhat difficult, such difficulty is necessary,
if you take it up as exercise; since knowing how to organize and maintain
oneself well in this, one would afterwards know how to manage more easily
those which not be as difficult.

ZANOBI: I believe as you say, that these arrangements are very necessary,
and by myself, I would not know what to add or leave out. It is true that I
desire to know two things from you: the one, when you want to make a front
from the rear or from a flank, and you want them to turn, whether the
command is given by voice or by sound (bugle call): the other, whether those
you sent ahead to clear the roads in order to make a path for the Army,
ought to be soldiers of your companies, or other lowly people assigned to
such practices.

FABRIZIO: Your first question is very important, for often the commands of
the Captain are not very well understood or poorly interpreted, have
disorganized their Army; hence the voices with which they command in (times
of) danger, ought to be loud and clear. And if you command with sounds
(bugle calls), it ought to be done so that they are so different from each
other that one cannot be mistaken for another; and if you command by voice,
you ought to be alert to avoid general words, and use particular ones, and
of the particular ones avoid those which might be able to be interpreted in
an incorrect manner. Many times saying "go back, go back", has caused an
Army to be ruined: therefore this expression ought to be avoided, and in its
place use "Retreat". If you want them to turn so as to change the front,
either from the rear or from the flank, never use "Turn around", but say,
"To the left", "To the right", "To the rear", "To the front". So too, all
the other words have to be simple and clear, as "Hurry", "Hold still",
"Forward", "Return". And all those things which can be done by words are
done, the others are done by sounds (calls). As to the (road) clearers,
which is your second question, I would have this job done by my own
soldiers, as much because the ancient military did so, as also because there
would be fewer unarmed men and less impediments in the army: and I would
draw the number needed from every company, and I would have them take up the
tools suitable for clearing, and leave their arms in those ranks that are
closest to them, which would carry them so that if the enemy should come,
they would have nothing to do but take them up again and return to their

ZANOBI: Who would carry the clearing equipment?

FABRIZIO: The wagons assigned to carry such equipment.

ZANOBI: I'm afraid you have never led these soldiers of ours to dig.

FABRIZIO: Everything will be discussed in its place. For now I want to leave
these parts alone, and discuss the manner of living of the Army, for it
appears to me that having worked them so hard, it is time to refresh and
restore it with food. You have to understand that a Prince ought to organize
his army as expeditiously as possible, and take away from it all those
things that add burdens to it and make the enterprise difficult. Among those
that cause more difficulty, are to have to keep the army provided with wine
and baked bread. The ancients did not think of wine, for lacking it, they
drank water tinted with a little vinegar, and not wine. They did not cook
bread in ovens, as is customary throughout the cities; but they provided
flour, and every soldier satisfied himself of that in his own way, having
lard and grease for condiment, which gave flavor to the bread they made, and
which kept them strong. So that the provisions of living (eating) for the
army were Flour, Vinegar, Lard (Bacon) and Grease (Lard), and Barley for the
horses. Ordinarily, they had herds of large and small beasts that followed
the Army, which ((as they did not need to be carried)) did not impede them
much. This arrangement permitted an ancient Army to march, sometimes for
many days, through solitary and difficult places without suffering hardship
of (lack of) provisions, for it lived from things which could be drawn
behind. The contrary happens in modern Armies, which, as they do not want to
lack wine and eat baked bread in the manner that those at home do, and of
which they cannot make provision for long, often are hungry; or even if they
are provided, it is done with hardship and at very great expense. I would
therefore return my Army to this form of living, and I would not have them
eat other bread than that which they should cook for themselves. As to wine,
I would not prohibit its drinking, or that it should come into the army, but
I would not use either industry or any hard work to obtain it, and as to
other provisions, I would govern myself entirely as the ancients. If you
would consider this matter well, you will see how much difficulty is
removed, and how many troubles and hardships an army and a Captain avoid,
and what great advantage it will give any enterprise which you may want to

ZANOBI: We have overcome the enemy in the field, and then marched on his
country: reason wants that there be no booty, ransoming of towns, prisoners
taken. Yet I would like to know how the ancients governed themselves in
these matters.

FABRIZIO: Here, I will satisfy you. I believe you have considered ((since I
have at another time discussed this with some of you)) that modem wars
impoverish as much those Lords who win, as those who lose; for if one loses
the State, the other loses his money and (movable) possessions. Which
anciently did not happen, as the winner of a war (then) was enriched. This
arises from not keeping track in these times of the booty (acquired), as was
done anciently, but everything is left to the direction of the soldiers.
This method makes for two very great disorders: the one, that of which I
have spoken: the other, that a soldier becomes more desirous of booty and
less an observer of orders: and it has often been said that the cupidity for
booty has made him lose who had been victorious. The Romans, however, who
were Princes in this matter, provided for both these inconveniences,
ordering that all the booty belong to the public, and that hence the public
should dispense it as it pleased. And so they had Quaestors in the Army, who
were, as we would say, chamberlains, to whom all the ransoms and booty was
given to hold: from which the Consul served himself to give the soldiers
their regular pay, to help the wounded and infirm, and to provide for the
other needs of the army. The Consul could indeed, and often did, concede a
booty to the soldiers, but this concession did not cause disorders; for when
the (enemy) army was routed, all the booty was placed in the middle and was
distributed to each person, according to the merits of each. This method
made for the soldiers attending to winning and not robbing, and the Roman
legions defeating the enemy but not pursuing him: for they never departed
from their orders: only the cavalry and lightly armed men pursued him,
unless there were other soldiers than legionnaires, which, if the booty
would have been kept by whoever acquired it, it was neither possible nor
reasonable to (expect to) hold the Legion firm, and would bring on many
dangers. From this it resulted, therefore that the public was enriched, and
every Consul brought, with his triumphs, much treasure into the Treasury,
which (consisted) entirely of ransoms and booty. Another thing well
considered by the ancients, was the pay they gave to each soldier: they
wanted a third part to be placed next to him who carried the flag of the
company, who never was given any except that furnished by the war. They did
this for two reasons: The first so that the soldier would make capital
(save) of his pay: for the greater part of them being young and
irresponsible, the more they had, the more they spent without need to. The
other part because, knowing that their movable possessions were next to the
flag, they would be forced to have greater care, and defend it with greater
obstinacy: and thus this method made them savers, and strong. All of these
things are necessary to observe if you want to bring the military up to your

ZANOBI: I believe it is not possible for an army while marching from place
to place not to encounter dangerous incidents, (and) where the industry of
the Captain and the virtu of the soldier is needed if they are to be
avoided; therefore, if you should have something that occurs to you, I would
take care to listen.

FABRIZIO: I will willingly content you, especially as it is necessary, if I
want to give you complete knowledge of the practice. The Captains, while
they march with the Army, ought, above everything else, to guard against
ambushes, which may happen in two ways: either you enter into them while
marching, or the enemy cunningly draws you into them without your being
aware of it. In the first case, if you want to avoid them, it is necessary
to send ahead double the guard, who reconnoiter the country. And the more
the country is suitable for ambush, as are wooded and mountainous countries,
the more diligence ought to be used, for the enemy always place themselves
either in woods or behind a hill. And, just as by not foreseeing an ambush
you will be ruined, so by foreseeing it you will not be harmed. Birds or
dust have often discovered the enemy, for where the enemy comes to meet you,
he will always raise a great dust which will point out his coming to you.
Thus often a Captain when he sees in a place whence he ought to pass, pigeons
taking off and other birds flying about freely, circling and not setting,
has recognized this to be the place of any enemy ambush, and knowing this
has sent his forces forward, saving himself and injuring the enemy. As to
the second case, being drawn into it ((which our men call being drawn into a
trap)) you ought to look out not to believe readily those things that appear
to be less reasonable than they should be: as would be (the case) if an
enemy places some booty before you, you would believe that it to be (an act
of) love, but would conceal deceit inside it. If many enemies are driven out
by few of your man: if only a few of the enemy assault you: if the enemy
takes to sudden and unreasonable flight: in such cases, you ought always to
be afraid of deceit; and you should never believe that the enemy does not
know his business, rather, if you want to deceive yourself less and bring on
less danger, the more he appears weak, the more enemy appears more cautious,
so much the more ought you to esteem (be wary) of him. And in this you have
to use two different means, since you have to fear him with your thoughts
and arrangements, but by words and other external demonstrations show him
how much you disparage him; for this latter method causes your soldiers to
have more hope in obtaining the victory, the former makes you more cautious
and less apt to be deceived. And you have to understand that when you march
through enemy country, you face more and greater dangers than in undertaking
an engagement. And therefore, when marching, a Captain ought to double his
diligence, and the first thing he ought to do, is to have all the country
through which he marches described and depicted, so that he will know the
places, the numbers, the distances, the roads, the mountains, the rivers,
the marshes, and all their characteristics. And in getting to know this, in
diverse ways one must have around him different people who know the places,
and question them with diligence, and contrast their information, and make
notes according as it checks out. He ought to send cavalry ahead, and with
them prudent Heads, not so much to discover the enemy as to reconnoiter the
country, to see whether it checks with the places and with the information
received from them. He ought also to send out guides, guarded (kept loyal)
by hopes of reward and fear of punishment. And above all, he ought to see to
it that the Army does not know to which sides he guides them, since there is
nothing more useful in war, than to keep silent (about) the things that have
to be done. And so that a sudden assault does not disturb your soldiers, you
ought to advise them to be prepared with their arms, since things that are
foreseen cause less harm. Many have ((in order to avoid the confusion of the
march)) placed the wagons and the unarmed men under the banners, and
commanded them to follow them, so that having to stop or retire during the
march, they are able to do so more easily: which I approve very much as
something useful. He ought also to have an awareness during the march, that
one part of the Army does not detach itself from another, or that one (part)
going faster and the other more slowly, the Army does not become compacted
(jumbled), which things cause disorganization. It is necessary, therefore,
to place the Heads along the sides, who should maintain the steps uniform,
restraining those which are too fast, and hastening the slow; which step
cannot be better regulated than by sound (music). The roads ought to be
widened, so that at least one company can always move in order. The customs
and characteristics of the enemy ought to be considered, and if he wants to
assault you in the morning, noon, or night, and if he is more powerful in
infantry or cavalry, from what you have learned, you may organize and
prepare yourself. But let us come to some incident in particular. It
sometimes happens that as you are taking yourself away from in front of the
enemy because you judge yourself to be inferior (to him), and therefore do
not want to come to an engagement with him, he comes upon your rear as you
arrive at the banks of a river, which causes you to lose times in its
crossing, so that the enemy is about to join up and combat with you. There
have been some who have found themselves in such a peril, their army girded
on the rear side by a ditch, and filling it with tow, have set it afire,
then have passed on with the army without being able to be impeded by the
enemy, he being stopped by that fire which was in between.

ZANOBI: And it is hard for me to believe that this fire can check him,
especially as I remember to have heard that Hanno, the Carthaginian, when he
was besieged by the enemy, girded himself on that side from which he wanted
to make an eruption with wood, and set fire to it. Whence the enemy not
being intent to guard that side, had his army pass over the flames, having
each (soldier) protect his face from the fire and smoke with his shield.

FABRIZIO: You say well; but consider what I have said and what Hanno did:
for I said that he dug a ditch and filled it with tow, so that whoever
wanted to pass had to contend with the ditch and the fire. Hanno made the
fire without a ditch, and as he wanted to pass through it did not make it
very large (strong), since it would have impeded him even without the ditch.
Do you not know that Nabidus, the Spartan, when he was besieged in Sparta by
the Romans, set fire to part of his own town in order to stop the passage of
the Romans, who had already entered inside? and by those flames not only
stopped their passage, but pushed them out. But let us return to our
subject. Quintus Luttatius, the Roman, having the Cimbri at his rear, and
arriving at a river, so that the enemy should give him time to cross, made
as if to give him time to combat him, and therefore feigned to make camp
there, and had ditches dug, and some pavilions raised, and sent some horses
to the camps to be shod: so that the Cimbri believing he was encamping, they
also encamped, and divided themselves into several parts to provide
themselves with food: of which Luttatius becoming aware, he crossed the
river without being able to be impeded by them. Some, in order to cross a
river, not having a bridge, have diverted it, and having drawn a part of it
in their rear, the other then became so low that they crossed it easily. If
the rivers are rapid, (and) desiring that the infantry should cross more
safely, the more capable horses are placed on the side above which holds
back the water, and another part below which succor the infantry if any, in
crossing, should be overcome by the river. Rivers that are not forded, are
crossed by bridges, boats, and rafts: and it is therefore well to have
skills in your Armies capable of doing all these things. It sometimes
happens that in crossing a river, the enemy on the opposite bank impedes
you. If you want to overcome this difficulty there is no better example
known than that of Caesar, who, having his army on the bank of a river in
Gaul, and his crossing being impeded by Vercingetorix, the Gaul, who had his
forces on the other side of the river, marched for several days along the
river, and the enemy did the same. And Caesar having made an encampment in a
woody place (and) suitable to conceal his forces, withdrew three cohorts
from every Legion, and had them stop in that place, commanding then that as
soon as he should depart, they should throw a bridge across and fortify it,
and he with the rest of his forces continued the march: Whence Vercingetorix
seeing the number of Legions, and believing that no part had remained
behind, also continued the march: but Caesar, as soon as he thought the
bridge had been completed, turned back, and finding everything in order,
crossed the river without difficulty.

ZANOBI: Do you have any rule for recognizing the fords?

FABRIZIO: Yes, we have. The river, in that part between the stagnant water
and the current, always looks like a line to whoever looks at it, is
shallower, and is a place more suitable for fording than elsewhere, for the
river always places more material, and in a pack, which it draws (with it)
from the bottom. Which thing, as it has been experienced many times, is very

ZANOBI: If it happens that the river has washed away the bottom of the ford,
so that horses sink, what remedy do you have?

FABRIZIO: Make grids of wood, and place them on the bottom of the river, and
cross over those. But let us pursue our discussion. If it happens that a
Captain with his army is led (caught) between two mountains, and has but two
ways of saving himself, either that in front, or the one in the rear, and
both being occupied by the enemy, has, as a remedy, to do what some have
done in the past, which is to dig a large ditch, difficult to cross, and
show the enemy that by it you want to be able to hold him with all his
forces, without having to fear those forces in the rear for which the road
in front remains open. The enemy believing this, fortifies himself on the
side open, and abandons the (side) closed, and he then throws a wooden
bridge, planned for such a result, over the ditch, and without any
impediment, passes on that side and freed himself from the hands of the
enemy. Lucius Minutius, the Roman Consul, was in Liguria with the Armies,
and had been enclosed between certain mountains by the enemy, from which he
could not go out. He therefore sent some soldiers of Numidia, whom he had in
his army, who were badly armed, and mounted on small and scrawny horses,
toward those places which were guarded by the enemy, and the first sight of
whom caused the enemy to assemble to defend the pass: but then when they saw
those forces poorly organized, and also poorly mounted, they esteemed them
little and loosened their guard. As soon as the Numidians saw this, giving
spurs to their horses and attacking them, they passed by without the enemy
being able to take any remedy; and having passed, they wasted and plundered
the country, constraining the enemy to leave the pass free to the army of
Lucius. Some Captain, who has found himself assaulted by a great multitude
of the enemy, has tightened his ranks, and given the enemy the faculty of
completely surrounding him, and then has applied force to that part which he
has recognized as being weaker, and has made a path in that way, and saved
himself. Marcantonio, while retiring before the army of the Parthians,
became aware that every day at daybreak as he moved, the enemy assaulted
him, and infested him throughout the march: so that he took the course of
not departing before midday. So that the Parthians, believing he should not
want to decamp that day returned to their quarters, and Marcantonio was able
then for the remainder of the day to march without being molested. This same
man, to escape the darts of the Parthians, commanded that, when the Parthians
came toward them, they should kneel, and the second rank of the company
should place their shields on the heads of (those in the) first, the third
on (those of the) second, the fourth on the third, and so on successively:
so that the entire Army came to be as under a roof, and protected from the
darts of the enemy. This is as much as occurs to me to tell you of what can
happen to an army when marching: therefore, if nothing else occurs to you, I
will pass on to another part.





ZANOBI: I believe it is well, since the discussion ought to be changed, that
Battista take up his office, and I resign mine; and in this case we would
come to imitate the good Captains, according as I have already learned here
from the Lord, who place the best soldiers in the front and in the rear of
the Army, as it appears necessary to them to have those who bravely enkindle
the battle, and those in the rear who bravely sustain it. Cosimo, therefore,
begun this discussion prudently, and Battista will prudently finish it.
Luigi and I have come in between these. And as each one of us has taken up
his part willingly, so too I believe Battista is about to close it.

BATTISTA: I have allowed myself to be governed up to now, so too I will
allow myself (to be governed) in the future. Be content, therefore, (my)
Lords, to continue your discussions, and if we interrupt you with these
questions (practices), you have to excuse us.

FABRIZIO: You do me, as I have already told you, a very great favor, since
these interruptions of yours do not take away my imagination, rather they
refresh it. But if we want to pursue our subject I say, that it is now time
that we quarter this Army of ours, since you know that everything desires
repose, and safety; since to repose oneself, and not to repose safely, is
not complete (perfect) repose. I am afraid, indeed, that you should not
desire that I should first quarter them, then had them march, and lastly to
fight, and we have done the contrary. Necessity has led us to this, for in
wanting to show when marching, how an army turns from a marching formation
to that of battle, it was necessary first to show how they were organized
for battle. But returning to our subject I say, that if you want the
encampment to be safe, it must be Strong and Organized. The industry of the
Captain makes it organized: Arts or the site make it Strong. The Greeks
sought strong locations, and never took positions where there was neither
grottoes (caves), or banks of rivers, or a multitude of trees, or other
natural cover which should protect them. But the Romans did not encamp
safely so much from the location as by arts, nor ever made an encampment in
places where they should not have been able to spread out all their forces,
according to their discipline. From this resulted that the Romans were
always able to have one form of encampment, for they wanted the site to obey
them, and not they the site. The Greeks were not able to observe this, for
as they obeyed the site, and the sites changing the formation, it behooved
them that they too should change the mode of encamping and the form of their
encampment. The Romans, therefore, where the site lacked strength, supplied
it with (their) art and industry. And since in this narration of mine, I
have wanted that the Romans be imitated, I will not depart from their mode of
encamping, not, however, observing all their arrangements: but taking (only)
that part which at the present time seems appropriate to me. I have often
told you that the Romans had two Legions of Roman men in their consular
armies, which comprised some eleven thousand infantry of forces sent by
friends (allies) to aid them; but they never had more foreign soldiers in
their armies than Romans, except for cavalry, which they did not care if
they exceeded the number in their Legions; and that in every action of
theirs, they place the Legions in the center, and the Auxiliaries on the
sides. Which method they observed even when they encamped, as you yourselves
have been able to read in those who write of their affairs; and therefore I
am not about to narrate in detail how they encamped, but will tell you only
how I would at present arrange to encamp my army, and then you will know
what part of the Roman methods I have treated. You know that at the
encounter of two Roman Legions I have taken two Battalions of six thousand
infantry and three hundred cavalry effective for each Battalion, and I have
divided them by companies, by arms, and names. You know that in organizing
the army for marching and fighting, I have not made mention of other forces,
but have only shown that in doubling the forces, nothing else had to be done
but to double the orders (arrangements).

Since at present I want to show you the manner of encamping, it appears
proper to me not to stay only with two Battalions, but to assemble a fair
army, and composed like the Roman of two Battalions and as many auxiliary
forces. I know that the form of an encampment is more perfect, when a
complete army is quartered: which matter did not appear necessary to me in
the previous demonstration. If I want, therefore, to quarter a fair (sized)
army of twenty four thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry effectives,
being divided into four companies, two of your own forces and two of
foreigners, I would employ this method. When I had found the site where I
should want to encamp, I would raise the Captain's flag, and around it I
would draw a square which would have each face distant from it fifty arm
lengths, of which each should look out on one of the four regions of the
sky, that is, east, west, south and north, in which space I would put the
quarters of the Captain. And as I believe it prudent, and because thus the
Romans did in good part, I would divide the armed men from the unarmed, and
separate the men who carry burdens from the unburdened ones. I would quarter
all or a greater part of the armed men on the east side, and the unarmed and
burdened ones on the west side, making the east the front and the west the
rear of the encampment, and the south and north would be the flanks. And to
distinguish the quarters of the armed men, I would employ this method. I
would run a line from the Captain's flag, and would lead it easterly for a
distance of six hundred eighty (680) arm lengths. I would also run two other
lines which I would place in the middle of it, and be of the same length as
the former, but distant from each of them by fifteen arm lengths, at the
extremity of which, I would want the east gate to be (placed): and the space
which exists between the two extreme (end) lines, I would make a road that
would go from the gate to the quarters of the Captain, which would be thirty
arm lengths in width and six hundred thirty (630) long ((since the Captain's
quarters would occupy fifty arm lengths)) and call this the Captain's Way. I
would then make another road from the south gate up to the north gate, and
cross by the head of the Captain's Way, and along the east side of the
Captain's quarters which would be one thousand two hundred fifty (1250) arm
lengths long ((since it would occupy the entire width of the encampment))
and also be thirty arm lengths wide and be called the Cross Way. The
quarters of the Captain and these two roads having been designed, therefore
the quarters of the two battalions of your own men should begin to be
designed; and I would quarter one on the right hand (side) of the Captain's
Way, and one on the left. And hence beyond the space which is occupied by
the width of the Cross Way, I would place thirty two quarters on the left
side of the Captain's Way, and thirty two on the right side, leaving a space
of thirty arm lengths between the sixteenth and seventeenth quarters which
should serve as a transverse road which should cross through all of the
quarters of the battalions, as will be seen in their partitioning. Of these
two arrangements of quarters, in the first tents that would be adjacent to
the Cross Way, I would quarter the heads of men-at-arms, and since each
company has one hundred and fifty men-at-arms, there would be assigned ten
men-at-arms to each of the quarters. The area (space) of the quarters of the
Heads should be forty arm lengths wide and ten arm lengths long. And it is
to be noted that whenever I say width, I mean from south to north, and when
I say length, that from west to east. Those of the men-at-arms should be
fifteen arm lengths long and thirty wide. In the next fifteen quarters which
in all cases are next ((which should have their beginning across the
transverse road, and which would have the same space as those of the
men-at-arms)) I would quarter the light cavalry, which, since they are one
hundred fifty, ten cavalrymen would be assigned to each quarter, and in the
sixteenth which would be left, I would quarter their Head, giving him the
same space which is given to the Head of men-at-arms. And thus the quarters
of the cavalry of the two battalions would come to place the Captain's Way
in the center and give a rule for the quarters of the infantry, as I will
narrate. You have noted that I have quartered the three hundred cavalry of
each battalion with their heads in thirty two quarters situated on the
Captain's Way, and beginning with the Cross Way, and that from the sixteenth
to the seventeenth there is a space of thirty arm lengths to make a
transverse road. If I want, therefore, to quarter the twenty companies which
constitute the two regular Battalions, I would place the quarters of every
two companies behind the quarters of the cavalry, each of which should be
fifteen arm lengths long and thirty wide, as those of the cavalry, and
should be joined on the rear where they touch one another. And in every
first quarter of each band that fronts on the Cross Way, I would quarter the
Constable of one company, which would come to correspond with the quartering
of the Head of the men-at-arms: and their quarters alone would have a space
twenty arm lengths in width and ten in length. And in the other fifteen
quarters in each group which follow after this up the Transverse Way, I
would quarter a company of infantry on each side, which, as they are four
hundred fifty, thirty would be assigned to each quarter. I would place the
other fifteen quarters contiguous in each group to those of the cavalry with
the same space, in which I would quarter a company of infantry from each
group. In the last quarter of each group I would place the Constable of the
company, who would come to be adjacent to the Head of the light cavalry,
with a space of ten arm lengths long and twenty wide. And thus these first
two rows of quarters would be half of cavalry and half of infantry.

And as I want ((as I told you in its place)) these cavalry to be all
effective, and hence without retainers who help taking care of the horses or
other necessary things, I would want these infantry quartered behind the
cavalry should be obligated to help the owners (of the horses) in providing
and taking care of them, and because of this should be exempt from other
activities of the camp, which was the manner observed by the Romans. I would
also leave behind these quarters on all sides a space of thirty arm lengths
to make a road, and I would call one of the First Road on the right hand
(side) and the other the First Road on the left, and in each area I would
place another row of thirty two double quarters which should face one
another on the rear, with the same spaces as those which I have mentioned,
and also divided at the sixteenth in the same manner to create a Transverse
Road, in which I would quarter in each area four companies of infantry with
the Constables in the front at the head and foot (of each row). I would also
leave on each side another space of thirty arm lengths to create a road
which should be called the Second Road on the right hand (side) and on the
other side the Second Road to the left; I would place another row in each
area of thirty two double quarters, with the same distances and divisions,
in which I would quarter on every side four companies (of infantry) with
their Constables. And thus there would come to be quartered in three rows of
quarters per area the cavalry and the companies (of infantry) of the two
regular battalions, in the center of which I would place the Captain's Way.
The two battalions of auxiliaries ((since I had them composed of the same
men)) I would quarter on each side of these two regular battalions with the
same arrangement of double quarters, placing first a row of quarters in
which I should quarter half with cavalry and half infantry, distant thirty
arm lengths from each other, to create two roads which I should call, one
the Third Road on the right hand (side), the other the Third on the left
hand. And then I would place on each side two other rows of quarters,
separate but arranged in the same way, which are those of the regular
battalions, which would create two other roads, and all of these would be
called by the number and the band (side) where they should be situated. So
that all this part of the Army would come to be quartered in twelve rows of
double quarters, and on thirteen roads, counting the Captain's Way and the
Cross Way.

I would want a space of one hundred arm lengths all around left between the
quarters and the ditch (moat). And if you count all those spaces, you will
see, that from the middle of the quarters of the Captain to the east gate,
there are seven hundred arm lengths. There remains to us now two spaces, of
which one is from the quarters of the Captain to the south gate, the other
from there to the north gate, each of which comes to be, measuring from the
center point, six hundred thirty five (635) arm lengths. I then subtract
from each of these spaces fifty arm lengths which the quarters of the
Captain occupies, and forty five arm lengths of plaza which I want to give
to each side, and thirty arm lengths of road, which divides each of the
mentioned spaces in the middle, and a hundred arm lengths which are left on
each side between the quarters and the ditch, and there remains in each area
a space left for quarters four hundred arm lengths wide and a hundred long,
measuring the length to include the space occupied by the Captain's
quarters. Dividing the said length in the middle, therefore, there would be
on each side of the Captain forty quarters fifty arm lengths long and twenty
wide, which would total eighty quarters, in which would be quartered the
general Heads of the battalions, the Chamberlains, the Masters of the camps,
and all those who should have an office (duty) in the army, leaving some
vacant for some foreigners who might arrive, and for those who should fight
through the courtesy of the Captain. On the rear side of the Captain's
quarters, I would create a road thirty arm lengths wide from north to south,
and call it the Front Road, which would come to be located along the eighty
quarters mentioned, since this road and the Cross Way would have between
them the Captain's quarters and the eighty quarters on their flanks. From
this Front road and opposite to the Captain's quarters, I would create
another road which should go from there to the west gate, also thirty arm
lengths wide, and corresponding in location and length to the Captain's Way,
and I should call it the Way of the Plaza. These two roads being located, I
would arrange the plaza where the market should be made, which I would place
at the head of the Way of the Plaza, opposite to the Captain's quarters, and
next to the Front Road, and would want it to be square, and would allow it a
hundred twenty one arm lengths per side. And from the right hand and left
hand of the said plaza, I would make two rows of quarters, and each row have
eight double quarters, which would take up twelve arm lengths in length and
thirty in width so that they should be on each side of the plaza, in which
there would be sixteen quarters, and total thirty two all together, in which
I would quarter that cavalry left over from the auxiliary battalions, and if
this should not be enough, I would assign them some of the quarters about the
Captain, and especially those which face the ditch.

It remains for us now to quarter the extraordinary pikemen and Veliti, which
every battalion has; which you know, according to our arrangement, in
addition to the ten companies (of infantry), each has a thousand
extraordinary pikemen, and five hundred Veliti; so that each of the two
regular battalions have two thousand extraordinary pikemen, and a thousand
extraordinary pikemen, and five hundred Veliti; so that each of the two
regular battalions have two thousand extraordinary pikemen, and a thousand
extraordinary Veliti, and the auxiliary as many as they; so that one also
comes to have to quarter six thousand infantry, all of whom I would quarter
on the west side along the ditches. From the point, therefore, of the Front
Road, and northward, leaving the space of a hundred arm lengths from those
(quarters) to the ditch, I would place a row of five double quarters which
would be seventy five arm lengths long and sixty in width: so that with the
width divided, each quarters would be allowed fifteen arm lengths for length
and thirty for width. And as there would be ten quarters, I would quarter
three hundred infantry, assigning thirty infantry to each quarters. Leaving
then a space of thirty one arm lengths, I would place another row of five
double quarters in a similar manner and with similar spaces, and then
another, so that there would be five rows of five double quarters, which
would come to be fifty quarters placed in a straight line on the north side,
each distant one hundred arm lengths from the ditches, which would quarter
one thousand five hundred infantry. Turning then on the left hand side
toward the west gate, I would want in all that tract between them and the
said gate, five other rows of double quarters, in a similar manner and with
the same spaces, ((it is true that from one row to the other there would not
be more than fifteen arm lengths of space)) in which there would also be
quartered a thousand five hundred infantry: and thus from the north gate to
that on the west, following the ditches, in a hundred quarters, divided into
ten rows of five double quarters per row, the extraordinary pikemen and
Veliti of the regular battalions would be quartered. And so, too, from the
west gate to that on the south, following the ditches, in exactly the same
manner, in another ten rows of ten quarters per row, the extraordinary
pikemen and Veliti of the auxiliary battalions would be quartered. Their
Heads, or rather their Constables, could take those quarters on the side
toward the ditches which appeared most convenient for themselves.

I would dispose the artillery all along the embankments of the ditches: and
in all the other space remaining toward the west, I would quarter all the
unarmed men and all the baggage (impedimenta) of the Camp. And it has to be
understood that under this name of impedimenta ((as you know)) the ancients
intended all those carriages (wagons) and all those things which are
necessary to an Army, except the soldiers; as are carpenters (wood workers),
smiths, blacksmiths, shoe makers, engineers, and bombardiers, and others
which should be placed among the number of the armed: herdsmen with their
herds of castrated sheep and oxen, which are used for feeding the Army: and
in addition, masters of every art (trade), together with public wagons for
the public provisions of food and arms. And I would not particularly
distinguish their quarters: I would only designate the roads that should not
be occupied by them. Then the other spaces remaining between the roads, which
would be four, I would assign in general to all the impedimenta mentioned,
that is, one to the herdsmen, another to Artificers and workmen, another to
the public wagons for provisions, and the fourth to the armorers. The roads
which I would want left unoccupied would be the Way of the Plaza, the Front
Road, and in addition, a road that should be called the Center Road, which
should take off at the north and proceed toward the south, and pass through
the center of the Way of the Plaza, which, on the west side, should have the
same effect as has the Transverse Road on the east side. And in addition to
this a Road that should go around the rear along the quarters of the
extraordinary pikemen and Veliti. And all these roads should be thirty arm
lengths wide. And I would dispose the artillery along the ditches on the
rear of the camp.

BATTISTA: I confess I do not understand, and I also do not believe that to
say so makes me ashamed, as this is not my profession. None the less, I like
this organization very much: I would want only that you should resolve these
doubts for me. The one, why you make the roads and the spaces around the
quarters so wide. The other, which annoys me more, is this, how are these
spaces that you designate for quarters to be used.

FABRIZIO: You know that I made all the roads thirty arm lengths wide, so
that a company of infantry is able to go through them in order (formation):
which, if you remember well, I told you that each of these (formations) were
twenty five to thirty arm lengths wide. The space between the ditch and the
quarters, which is a hundred arm lengths wide, is necessary, since the
companies and the artillery can be handled here, through which booty is
taken, (and) when space is needed into which to retire, new ditches and
embankments are made. The quarters very distant from the ditches are better,
for they are more distant from the fires and other things that might be able
to draw the enemy to attack them. As to the second question, my intention is
not that every space designated by me is covered by only one pavilion, but is
to be used as an all-round convenience for those who are quartered, with
several or few tents, so long as they do not go outside its limits. And in
designing these quarters, the men must be most experienced and excellent
architects, who, as soon as the Captain has selected the site, know how to
give it form, and divide it, and distinguishing the roads, dividing the
quarters with cords and hatchets in such a practical manner, that they might
be divided and arranged quickly. And if confusion is not to arise, the camp
must always face the same way, so that everyone will know on which Road and
in which space he has to find his quarters. And this ought to be observed at
all times, in every place, and in a manner that it appears to be a movable
City, which, wherever it goes, brings with it the same roads, the same
houses, and the same appearance: which cannot be observed by those men who,
seeking strong locations, have to change the form according to the
variations in the sites. But the Romans made the places strong with ditches,
ramparts, and embankments, for they placed a space around the camp, and in
front of it they dug a ditch and ordinarily six arm lengths wide and three
deep, which spaces they increased according to the (length of) time they
resided in the one place, and according as they feared the enemy. For
myself, I would not at present erect a stockade (rampart), unless I should
want to winter in a place. I would, however, dig the ditch and embankment,
not less than that mentioned, but greater according to the necessity. With
respect to the artillery, on every side of the encampment, I would have a
half circle ditch, from which the artillery should be able to batter on the
flanks whoever should come to attack the moats (ditches). The soldiers ought
also to be trained in this practice of knowing how to arrange an encampment,
and work with them so they may aid him in designing it, and the soldiers
quick in knowing their places. And none of these is difficult, as will be
told in its proper place. For now I want to pass on to the protection of the
camp, which, without the distribution (assignment) of guards, all the other
efforts would be useless.

BATTISTA: Before you pass on to the guards, I would want you to tell me,
what methods are employed when others want to place the camp near the enemy,
for I do not know whether there is time to be able to organize it without

FABRIZIO: You have to know this, that no Captain encamps near the enemy,
unless he is disposed to come to an engagement whenever the enemy wants; and
if the others are so disposed, there is no danger except the ordinary, since
two parts of the army are organized to make an engagement, while the other
part makes the encampment. In cases like this, the Romans assigned this
method of fortifying the quarters to the Triari, while the Principi and the
Astati remained under arms. They did this, because the Triari, being the
last to combat, were in time to leave the work if the enemy came, and take
up their arms and take their places. If you want to imitate the Romans, you
have to assign the making of the encampment to that company which you would
want to put in the place of the Triari in the last part of the army.

But let us return to the discussion of the guards. I do not seem to find in
connection with the ancients guarding the camp at night, that they had
guards outside, distant from the ditches, as is the custom today, which they
call the watch. I believe I should do this, when I think how the army could
be easily deceived, because of the difficulty which exists in checking
(reviewing) them, for they may be corrupted or attacked by the enemy, so
that they judged it dangerous to trust them entirely or in part. And
therefore all the power of their protection was within the ditches, which
they dug with very great diligence and order, punishing capitally anyone who
deviated from such an order. How this was arranged by them, I will not talk
to you further in order not to tire you, since you are able to see it by
yourselves, if you have not seen it up to now. I will say only briefly what
would be done by me. I would regularly have a third of the army remain armed
every night, and a fourth of them always on foot, who would be distributed
throughout the embankments and all the places of the army, with double
guards posted at each of its squares, where a part should remain, and a part
continually go from one side of the encampment to the other. And this
arrangement I describe, I would also observe by day if I had the enemy near.
As to giving it a name, and renewing it every night, and doing the other
things that are done in such guarding, since they are things (already)
known, I will not talk further of them. I would only remind you of a most
important matter, and by observing it do much good, by not observing it do
much evil; which is, that great diligence be used as to who does not lodge
within the camp at night, and who arrives there anew. And this is an easy
matter, to review who is quartered there, with those arrangements we have
designated, since every quarter having a predetermined number of men, it is
an easy thing to see if there are any men missing or if any are left over;
and when they are missing without permission, to punish them as fugitives,
and if they are left over, to learn who they are, what they know, and what
are their conditions. Such diligence results in the enemy not being able to
have correspondence with your Heads, and not to have co-knowledge of your
counsels. If this had not been observed with diligence by the Romans,
Claudius Nero could not, when he had Hannibal near to him, have departed
from the encampment he had in Lucania, and go and return from the Marches,
without Hannibal having been aware of it. But it is not enough to make these
good arrangements, unless they are made to be observed by great security,
for there is nothing that wants so much observance as any required in the
army. Therefore, the laws for their enforcement should be harsh and hard,
and the executor very hard. The Roman punished with the capital penalty
whoever was missing from the guard, whoever abandoned the place given him in
combat, whoever brought anything concealed from outside the encampment; if
anyone should tell of having performed some great act in battle, and should
not have done it; if anyone should have fought except at the command of the
Captain, if anyone from fear had thrown aside his arms. And if it occurred
that an entire Cohort or an entire Legion had made a similar error, in order
that they not all be put to death, they put their names in a purse, and drew
the tenth part, and those they put to death. Which penalty was so carried
out, that if everyone did not hear of it, they at least feared it. And
because where there are severe punishments, there also ought to be rewards,
so that men should fear and hope at the same time, they proposed rewards for
every great deed; such as to him who, during the fighting, saved the life of
one of its citizens, to whoever first climbed the walls of enemy towns, to
whoever first entered the encampment of the enemy, to whoever in battle
wounded or killed an enemy, to whoever had thrown him from his horse. And
thus any act of virtu was recognized and rewarded by the Consuls, and
publicly praised by everyone: and those who received gifts for any of these
things, in addition to the glory and fame they acquired among the soldiers,
when they returned to their country, exhibited them with solemn pomp and
with great demonstrations among their friends and relatives. It is not to
marvel therefore, if that people acquired so much empire, when they had so
great an observance of punishment and reward toward them, which operated
either for their good or evil, should merit either praise or censure; it
behooves us to observe the greater part of these things. And it does not
appear proper for me to be silent on a method of punishment observed by
them, which was, that as the miscreant was convicted before the Tribune or
the Consul, he was struck lightly by him with a rod: after which striking of
the criminal, he was allowed to flee, and all the soldiers allowed to kill
him, so that immediately each of them threw stones or darts, or hit him with
other arms, of a kind from which he went little alive, and rarely returned
to camp; and to such that did return to camp, he was not allowed to return
home except with so much inconvenience and ignominy, that it was much better
for him to die. You see this method almost observed by the Swiss, who have
the condemned publicly put to death by the other soldiers. Which is well
considered and done for the best, for if it is desired that one be not a
defender of a criminal, the better remedy that is found, is to make him the
punisher of him (the criminal); for in some respects he favors him while
from other desires he longs for his punishment, if he himself is the
executioner, than if the execution is carried out by another. If you want,
therefore, that one is not to be favored in his mistakes by a people, a good
remedy is to see to it that the public judged him. In support of this, the
example of Manlius Capitol that can be cited, who, when he was accused by
the Senate, was defended so much by the public up to the point where it no
longer became the judge: but having become arbiter of his cause, condemned
him to death. It is, therefore, a method of punishing this, of doing away
with tumults, and of having justice observed. And since in restraining armed
men, the fear of laws, or of men, is not enough, the ancients added the
authority of God: and, therefore, with very great ceremony, they made their
soldiers swear to observe the military discipline, so that if they did the
contrary, they not only had to fear the laws and men, but God; and they used
every industry to fill them with Religion.

BATTISTA: Did the Romans permit women to be in their armies, or that they
indulge in indolent games that are used to day?

FABRIZIO: They prohibited both of them, and this prohibition was not very
difficult, because the exercises which they gave each day to the soldiers
were so many, sometimes being occupied all together, sometimes individually,
that no time was left to them to think either of Venery, or of games, or of
other things which make soldiers seditious and useless.

BATTISTA: I like that. But tell me, when the army had to take off, what
arrangements did they have?

FABRIZIO: The captain's trumpet was sounded three times: at the first sound
the tents were taken down and piled into heaps, at the second they loaded
the burdens, and at the third they moved in the manner mentioned above, with
the impedimenta behind, the armed men on every side, placing the Legions in
the center. And, therefore, you would have to have a battalion of
auxiliaries move, and behind it its particular impedimenta, and with those
the fourth part of the public impedimenta, which would be all those who
should be quartered in one of those (sections of the camp) which we showed a
short while back. And, therefore, it would be well to have each one of them
assigned to a battalion, so that when the army moved, everyone would know
where his place was in marching. And every battalion ought to proceed on its
way in this fashion with its own impedimenta, and with a quarter of the
public (impedimenta) at its rear, as we showed the Roman army marched.

BATTISTA: In placing the encampment, did they have other considerations than
those you mentioned?

FABRIZIO: I tell you again, that in their encampments, the Romans wanted to
be able to employ the usual form of their method, in the observance of
which, they took no other consideration. But as to other considerations,
they had two principal ones: the one, to locate themselves in a healthy
place: to locate themselves where the enemy should be unable to besiege
them, and cut off their supply of water and provisions. To avoid this
weakness, therefore, they avoided marshy places, or exposure to noxious
winds. They recognized these, not so much from the characteristics of the
site, but from the looks of the inhabitants: and if they saw them with poor
color, or short winded, or full of other infections, they did not encamp
there. As to the other part of not being besieged, the nature of the place
must be considered, where the friends are, and where the enemy, and from
these make a conjecture whether or not you can be besieged. And, therefore,
the Captain must be very expert concerning sites of the countries, and have
around him many others who have the same expertness. They also avoided
sickness and hunger so as not to disorganize the army; for if you want to
keep it healthy, you must see to it that the soldiers sleep under tents,
that they are quartered, where there are trees to create shade, where there
is wood to cook the food, and not to march in the heat. You need, therefore,
to consider the encampment the day before you arrive there, and in winter
guard against marching in the snow and through ice without the convenience
of making a fire, and not lack necessary clothing, and not to drink bad
water. Those who get sick in the house, have them taken care of by doctors;
for a captain has no remedy when he has to fight both sickness and the
enemy. But nothing is more useful in maintaining an army healthy than
exercise: and therefore the ancients made them exercise every day. Whence it
is seen how much exercise is of value, for in the quarters it keeps you
healthy, and in battle it makes you victorious. As to hunger, not only is it
necessary to see that the enemy does not impede your provisions, but to
provide whence you are to obtain them, and to see that those you have are
not lost. And, therefore, you must always have provisions (on hand) for the
army for a month, and beyond that to tax the neighboring friends that they
provide you daily, keep the provisions in a strong place, and, above all,
dispense it with diligence, giving each one a reasonable measure each day,
and so observe this part that they do not become disorganized; for every
other thing in war can be overcome with time, this only with time overcomes
you. Never make anyone your enemy, who, while seeking to overcome you with
the sword (iron), can overcome you by hunger, because if such a victory is
not as honorable, it is more secure and more certain. That army, therefore,
cannot escape hunger which does not observe justice, and licentiously consume
whatever it please, for one evil causes the provisions not to arrive, and
the other that when they arrive, they are uselessly consumed: therefore the
ancients arranged that what was given was eaten, and in the time they
assigned, so that no soldier ate except when the Captain did. Which, as to
being observed by the modern armies, everyone does (the contrary), and
deservedly they cannot be called orderly and sober as the ancients, but
licentious and drunkards.

BATTISTA: You have said in the beginning of arranging the encampment, that
you did not want to stay only with two battalions, but took up four, to show
how a fair (sized) army was quartered. Therefore I would want you to tell me
two things: the one, if I have more or less men, how should I quarter them:
the other, what number of soldiers would be enough to fight against any

FABRIZIO: To the first question, I reply, that if the army has four or six
thousand soldiers more or less, rows of quarters are taken away or added as
are needed, and in this way it is possible to accommodate more or fewer
infinitely. None the less, when the Romans joined together two consular
armies, they made two encampments and had the parts of the disarmed men face
each other. As to the second question, I reply, that the regular Roman army
had about twenty four thousand soldiers: but when a great force pressed
them, the most they assembled were fifty thousand. With this number they
opposed two hundred thousand Gauls whom they assaulted after the first war
which they had with the Carthaginians. With the same number, they opposed
Hannibal. And you have to note that the Romans and Greeks had made war with
few (soldiers), strengthened by order and by art; the westerners and
easterners had made it with a multitude: but one of these nations serves
itself of natural fury, as are the westerners; the other of the great
obedience which its men show to their King. But in Greece and Italy, as
there is not this natural fury, nor the natural reverence toward their King,
it has been necessary to turn to discipline; which is so powerful, that it
made the few able to overcome the fury and natural obstinacy of the many. I
tell you, therefore, if you want to imitate the Romans and Greeks, the
number of fifty thousand soldiers ought not to be exceeded, rather they
should actually be less; for the many cause confusion, and do not allow
discipline to be observed nor the orders learned. And Pyrrhus used to say
that with fifteen thousand men he would assail the world.

But let us pass on to another part. We have made our army win an engagement,
and I showed the troubles that can occur in battle; we have made it march,
and I have narrated with what impedimenta it can be surrounded while
marching: and lastly we have quartered it: where not only a little repose
from past hardship ought to be taken, but also to think about how the war
ought to be concluded; for in the quarters, many things are discussed,
especially if there remain enemies in the field, towns under suspicion, of
which it is well to reassure oneself, and to capture those which are
hostile. It is necessary, therefore, to come to these demonstrations, and to
pass over this difficulty with that (same) glory with which we have fought
up to the present. Coming down to particulars, therefore, that if it should
happen to you that many men or many peoples should do something, which might
be useful to you and very harmful to them, as would be the destruction of
the walls of their City, or the sending of many of themselves into exile, it
is necessary that you either deceive them in a way that everyone should
believe he is affected, so that one not helping the other, all find
themselves oppressed without a remedy, or rather, to command everyone what
they ought to do on the same day, so that each one believing himself to be
alone to whom the command is given, thinks of obeying it, and not of a
remedy; and thus, without tumult, your command is executed by everyone. If
you should have suspicion of the loyalty of any people, and should want to
assure yourself and occupy them without notice, in order to disguise your
design more easily, you cannot do better than to communicate to him some of
your design, requesting his aid, and indicate to him you want to undertake
another enterprise, and to have a mind alien to every thought of his: which
will cause him not to think of his defense, as he does not believe you are
thinking of attacking him, and he will give you the opportunity which will
enable you to satisfy your desire easily. If you should have present in your
army someone who keeps the enemy advised of your designs, you cannot do
better if you want to avail yourself of his evil intentions, than to
communicate to him those things you do not want to do, and keep silent those
things you want to do, and tell him you are apprehensive of the things of
which you are not apprehensive, and conceal those things of which you are
apprehensive: which will cause the enemy to undertake some enterprise, in
the belief that he knows your designs, in which you can deceive him and
defeat him. If you should design ((as did Claudius Nero)) to decrease your
army, sending aid to some friend, and they should not be aware of it, it is
necessary that the encampment be not decreased, but to maintain entire all
the signs and arrangements, making the same fires and posting the same guards
as for the entire army. Likewise, if you should attach a new force to your
army, and do not want the enemy to know you have enlarged it, it is
necessary that the encampment be not increased, for it is always most useful
to keep your designs secret. Whence Metellus, when he was with the armies in
Spain, to one who asked him what he was going to do the next day, answered
that if his shirt knew it, he would bum it. Marcus Crassus, to one who asked
him when he was going to move his army, said: "do you believe you are alone
in not hearing the trumpets?" If you should desire to learn the secrets of
your enemy and know his arrangement, some used to send ambassadors, and with
them men expert in war disguised in the clothing of the family, who, taking
the opportunity to observe the enemy army, and consideration of his
strengths and weaknesses, have given them the occasion to defeat him. Some
have sent a close friend of theirs into exile, and through him have learned
the designs of their adversary. You may also learn similar secrets from the
enemy if you should take prisoners for this purpose. Marius, in the war he
waged against Cimbri, in order to learn the loyalty of those Gauls who lived
in Lombardy and were leagued with the Roman people, sent them letters, open
and sealed: and in the open ones he wrote them that they should not open the
sealed ones except at such a time: and before that time, he called for them
to be returned, and finding them opened, knew their loyalty was not
complete. Some Captains, when they were assaulted have not wanted to go to
meet the enemy, but have gone to assail his country, and constrain him to
return to defend his home. This often has turned out well, because your
soldiers begin to win and fill themselves with booty and confidence, while
those of the enemy become dismayed, it appearing to them that from being
winners, they have become losers. So that to whoever has made this
diversion, it has turned out well. But this can only be done by that man who
has his country stronger than that of the enemy, for if it were otherwise,
he would go on to lose. It has often been a useful thing for a Captain who
finds himself besieged in the quarters of the enemy, to set in motion
proceedings for an accord, and to make a truce with him for several days;
which only any enemy negligent in every way will do, so that availing
yourself of his negligence, you can easily obtain the opportunity to get out
of his hands. Sulla twice freed himself from his enemies in this manner, and
with this same deceit, Hannibal in Spain got away from the forces of
Claudius Nero, who had besieged him.

It also helps one in freeing himself from the enemy to do something in
addition to those mentioned, which keeps him at bay. This is done in two
ways: either by assaulting him with part of your forces, so that intent on
the battle, he gives the rest of your forces the opportunity to be able to
save themselves, or to have some new incident spring up, which, by the
novelty of the thing, makes him wonder, and for this reason to become
apprehensive and stand still, as you know Hannibal did, who, being trapped
by Fabius Maximus, at night placed some torches between the horns of many
oxen, so that Fabius is suspense over this novelty, did not think further of
impeding his passage. A Captain ought, among all the other actions of his,
endeavor with every art to divide the forces of the enemy, either by making
him suspicious of his men in whom he trusted, or by giving him cause that he
has to separate his forces, and, because of this, become weaker. The first
method is accomplished by watching the things of some of those whom he has
next to him, as exists in war, to save his possessions, maintaining his
children or other of his necessities without charge. You know how Hannibal,
having burned all the fields around Rome, caused only those of Fabius
Maximus to remain safe. You know how Coriolanus, when he came with the army
to Rome, saved the possessions of the Nobles, and burned and sacked those of
the Plebs. When Metellus led the army against Jugurtha, all me ambassadors,
sent to him by Jugurtha, were requested by him to give up Jugurtha as a
prisoner; afterwards, writing letters to these same people on the same
subject, wrote in such a way that in a little while Jugurtha became
suspicious of all his counsellors, and in different ways, dismissed them.
Hannibal, having taken refuge with Antiochus, the Roman ambassadors
frequented him so much at home, that Antiochus becoming suspicious of him,
did not afterwards have any faith in his counsels. As to dividing the enemy
forces, there is no more certain way than to have one country assaulted by
part of them (your forces), so that being constrained to go to defend it,
they (of that country) abandon the war. This is the method employed by
Fabius when his Army had encountered the forces of the Gauls, the Tuscans,
Umbrians, and Samnites. Titus Didius, having a small force in comparison
with those of the enemy, and awaiting a Legion from Rome, the enemy wanted
to go out to meet it; so that in order that it should not do so, he gave out
by voice throughout his army that he wanted to undertake an engagement with
the enemy on the next day; then he took steps that some of the prisoners he
had were given the opportunity to escape, who carried back the order of the
Consul to fight on the next day, (and) caused the enemy, in order not to
diminish his forces, not to go out to meet that Legion: and in this way,
kept himself safe. Which method did not serve to divide the forces of the
enemy, but to double his own. Some, in order to divide his (the enemy)
forces, have employed allowing him to enter their country, and (in proof)
allowed him to take many towns so that by placing guards in them, he
diminished his forces, and in this manner having made him weak, assaulted
and defeated him. Some others, when they wanted to go into one province,
feigned making an assault on another, and used so much industry, that as
soon as they extended toward that one where there was no fear they would
enter, have overcome it before the enemy had time to succor it. For the
enemy, as he is not certain whether you are to return back to the place
first threatened by you, is constrained not to abandon the one place and
succor the other, and thus often he does not defend either. In addition to
the matters mentioned, it is important to a Captain when sedition or discord
arises among the soldiers, to know how to extinguish it with art. The better
way is to castigate the heads of this folly (error); but to do it in a way
that you are able to punish them before they are able to become aware of it.
The method is, if they are far from you, not to call only the guilty ones,
but all the others together with them, so that as they do not believe there
is any cause to punish them, they are not disobedient, but provide the
opportunity for punishment. When they are present, one ought to strengthen
himself with the guiltless, and by their aid, punish them. If there should
be discord among them, the best way is to expose them to danger, which fear
will always make them united. But, above all, what keeps the Army united, is
the reputation of its Captain, which only results from his virtu, for
neither blood (birth) or authority attain it without virtu. And the first
thing a Captain is expected to do, is to see to it that the soldiers are
paid and punished; for any time payment is missed, punishment must also be
dispensed with, because you cannot castigate a soldier you rob, unless you
pay him; and as he wants to live, he can abstain from being robbed. But if
you pay him but do not punish him, he becomes insolent in every way, because
you become of little esteem, and to whomever it happens, he cannot maintain
the dignity of his position; and if he does not maintain it, of necessity,
tumults and discords follow, which are the ruin of an Army. The Ancient
Captains had a molestation from which the present ones are almost free,
which was the interpretation of sinister omen to their undertakings; for if
an arrow fell in an army, if the Sun or the Moon was obscured, if an
earthquake occurred, if the Captain fell while either mounting or
dismounting from his horse, it was interpreted in a sinister fashion by the
soldiers, and instilled so much fear in them, that when they came to an
engagement, they were easily defeated. And, therefore, as soon as such an
incident occurred, the ancient Captains either demonstrated the cause of it
or reduced it to its natural causes, or interpreted it to (favor) their own
purposes. When Caesar went to Africa, and having fallen while he was putting
out to sea, said, "Africa, I have taken you": and many have profited from an
eclipse of the Moon and from earthquakes: these things cannot happen in our
time, as much because our men are not as superstitious, as because our
Religion, by itself, entirely takes away such ideas. Yet if it should occur,
the orders of the ancients should be imitated. When, either from hunger, or
other natural necessity, or human passion, your enemy is brought to extreme
desperation, and, driven by it, comes to fight with you, you ought to remain
within your quarters, and avoid battle as much as you can. Thus the
Lacedemonians did against the Messinians: thus Caesar did against Afranius
and Petreius. When Fulvius was Consul against the Cimbri, he had the cavalry
assault the enemy continually for many days, and considered how they would
issue forth from their quarters in order to pursue them; whence he placed an
ambush behind the quarters of the Cimbri, and had them assaulted by the
cavalry, and when the Cimbri came out of their quarters to pursue them,
Fulvius seized them and plundered them. It has been very effective for a
Captain, when his army is in the vicinity of the enemy army, to send his
forces with the insignia of the enemy, to rob and burn his own country:
whence the enemy, believing they were forces coming to their aid, also ran
out to help them plunder, and, because of this, have become disorganized and
given the adversary the faculty of overcoming them. Alexander of Epirus used
these means fighting against the Illirici, and Leptenus the Syracusan
against the Carthaginians, and the design succeeded happily for both. Many
have overcome the enemy by giving him the faculty of eating and drinking
beyond his means, feigning being afraid, and leaving his quarters full of
wine and herds, and when the enemy had filled himself beyond every natural
limit, they assaulted him and overcome him with injury to him. Thus Tamirus
did against Cyrus, and Tiberius Gracchus against the Spaniards. Some have
poisoned the wine and other things to eat in order to be able to overcome
them more easily. A little while ago, I said I did not find the ancients had
kept a night Watch outside, and I thought they did it to avoid the evils
that could happen, for it has been found that sometimes, the sentries posted
in the daytime to keep watch for the enemy, have been the ruin of him who
posted them; for it has happened often that when they had been taken, and by
force had been made to give the signal by which they called their own men,
who, coming at the signal, have been either killed or taken. Sometimes it
helps to deceive the enemy by changing one of your habits, relying on which,
he is ruined: as a Captain had already done, who, when he wanted to have a
signal made to his men indicating the coming of the enemy, at night with
fire and in the daytime with smoke, commanded that both smoke and flame be
made without any intermission; so that when the enemy came, he should remain
in the belief that he came without being seen, as he did not see the signals
(usually) made to indicate his discovery, made ((because of his going
disorganized)) the victory of his adversary easier. Menno Rodius, when he
wanted to draw the enemy from the strong places, sent one in the disguise of
a fugitive, who affirmed that his army was full of discord, and that the
greater part were deserting, and to give proof of the matter, had certain
tumults started among the quarters: whence to the enemy, thinking he was
able to break him, assaulted him and was routed.

In addition to the things mentioned, one ought to take care not to bring the
enemy to extreme desperation; which Caesar did when he fought the Germans,
who, having blocked the way to them, seeing that they were unable to flee,
and necessity having made them brave, desired rather to undergo the hardship
of pursuing them if they defended themselves. Lucullus, when he saw that
some Macedonian cavalry who were with him, had gone over to the side of the
enemy, quickly sounded the call to battle, and commanded the other forces to
pursue it: whence the enemy, believing that Lucullus did not want to start
the battle, went to attack the Macedonians with such fury, that they were
constrained to defend themselves, and thus, against their will, they became
fighters of the fugitives. Knowing how to make yourself secure of a town
when you have doubts of its loyalty once you have conquered it, or before,
is also important; which some examples of the ancients teach you. Pompey,
when he had doubts of the Catanians, begged them to accept some infirm
people he had in his army, and having sent some very robust men in the
disguise of infirm ones, occupied the town. Publius Valerius, fearful of the
loyalty of the Epidaurians, announced an amnesty to be held, as we will tell
you, at a Church outside the town, and when all the public had gone there
for the amnesty, he locked the doors, and then let no one out from inside
except those whom he trusted. Alexander the Great, when he wanted to go into
Asia and secure Thrace for himself, took with him all the chiefs of this
province, giving them provisions, and placed lowborn men in charge of the
common people of Thrace; and thus he kept the chiefs content by paying them,
and the common people quiet by not having Heads who should disquiet them.
But among all the things by which Captains gain the people over to
themselves, are the examples of chastity and justice, as was that of Scipio
in Spain when he returned that girl, beautiful in body, to her husband and
father, which did more than arms in gaining over Spain. Caesar, when he paid
for the lumber that he used to make the stockades around his army in Gaul,
gained such a name for himself of being just, that he facilitated the
acquisition of that province for himself. I do not know what else remains
for me to talk about regarding such events, and there does not remain any
part of this matter that has not been discussed by us. The only thing
lacking is to tell of the methods of capturing and defending towns, which I
am about to do willingly, if it is not painful for you now.

BATTISTA: Your humaneness is so great, that it makes us pursue our desires
without being afraid of being held presumptuous, since you have offered it
willingly, that we would be ashamed to ask you. Therefore we say only this
to you, that you cannot do a greater or more thankful benefit to us than to
furnish us this discussion. But before you pass on to that other matter,
resolve a doubt for us: whether it is better to continue the war even in
winter, as is done today, or wage it only in the summer, and go into
quarters in the winter, as the ancients did.

FABRIZIO: Here, if there had not been the prudence of the questioner, some
part that merits consideration would have been omitted. I tell you again
that the ancients did everything better and with more prudence than we; and
if some error is made in other things, all are made in matters of war. There
is nothing more imprudent or more perilous to a Captain than to wage war in
winter, and more dangerous to him who brings it, than to him who awaits it.
The reason is this: all the industry used in military discipline, is used in
order to be organized to undertake an engagement with your enemy, as this is
the end toward which a Captain must aim, for the engagement makes you win or
lose a war. Therefore, whoever know how to organize it better, and who has
his army better disciplined, has the greater advantage in this, and can hope
more to win it. On the other hand, there is nothing more inimical to
organization than the rough sites, or cold and wet seasons; for the rough
side does not allow you to use the plentitude (of your forces) according to
discipline, and the cold and wet seasons do not allow you to keep your
forces together, and you cannot have them face the enemy united, but of
necessity, you must quarter them separately, and without order, having to
take into account the castles, hamlets, and farm houses that receive you; so
that all the hard work employed by you in disciplining your army is in vain.
And do not marvel if they war in winter time today, for as the armies are
without discipline, and do not know the harm that is done to them by not
being quartered together, for their annoyance does not enable those
arrangements to be made and to observe that discipline which they do not
have. Yet, the injury caused by campaigning in the field in the winter ought
to be observed, remembering that the French in the year one thousand five
hundred three (1503) were routed on the Garigliano by the winter, and not by
the Spaniards. For, as I have told you, whoever assaults has even greater
disadvantage, because weather harms him more when he is in the territory of
others, and wants to make war. Whence he is compelled either to withstand
the inconveniences of water and cold in order to keep together, or to divide
his forces to escape them. But whoever waits, can select the place to his
liking, and await him (the enemy) with fresh forces, and can unite them in a
moment, and go out to find the enemy forces who cannot withstand their fury.
Thus were the French routed, and thus are those always routed who assault an
enemy in winter time, who in itself has prudence. Whoever, therefore, does
not want the forces, organization, discipline, and virtu, in some part, to
be of value, makes war in the field in the winter time. And because the
Romans wanted to avail themselves of all of these things, into which they
put so much industry, avoided not only the winter time, but rough mountains
and difficult places, and anything else which could impede their ability to
demonstrate their skill and virtu. So this suffices to (answer) your
question; and now let us come to treat of the attacking and defending of
towns, and of the sites, and of their edifices.




You ought to know that towns and fortresses can be strong either by nature
or industry. Those are strong by nature which are surrounded by rivers or
marshes, as is Mantua or Ferrara, or those situated on a rock or sloping
mountain, as Monaco and San Leo; for those situated on mountains which are
not difficult to climb, today are ((with respect to caves and artillery))
very weak. And, therefore, very often today a plain is sought on which to
build (a city) to make it strong by industry. The first industry is, to make
the walls twisted and full of turned recesses; which pattern results in the
enemy not being able to approach them, as they will be able to be attacked
easily not only from the front, but on the flanks. If the walls are made too
high, they are excessively exposed to the blows of the artillery; if they
are made too low, they are very easily scaled. If you dig ditches (moats) in
front of them to make it difficult (to employ) ladders, if it should happen
that the enemy fills them ((which a large army can do easily)) the wall
becomes prey to the enemy. I believe, therefore, ((subject to a better
judgement)) that if you want to make provision against both evils the wall
ought to be made high, with the ditches inside and not outside. This is the
strongest way to build that is possible, for it protects you from artillery
and ladders, and does not give the enemy the faculty of filling the ditches.
The wall, therefore, ought to be as high as occurs to you, and not less than
three arm lengths wide, to make it more difficult to be ruined. It ought to
have towers placed at intervals of two hundred arm lengths. The ditch inside
ought to be at least thirty arm lengths wide and twelve deep, and all the
earth that is excavated in making the ditch is thrown toward the city, and
is sustained by a wall that is part of the base of the ditch, and extends
again as much above the ground, as that a man may take cover behind it:
which has the effect of making the depth of the ditch greater. In the base
of the ditch, every two hundred arm lengths, there should be a matted
enclosure, which with the artillery, causes injury to anyone who should
descend into it. The heavy artillery which defends the city, are placed
behind the wall enclosing the ditch; for to defend the wall from the front,
as it is high, it is not possible to use conveniently anything else other
than small or middle sized guns. If the enemy comes to scale your wall, the
height of the first wall easily protects you. If he comes with artillery, he
must first batter down the first wall: but once it is battered down, because
the nature of all batterings is to cause the wall to fall toward the
battered side, the ruin of the wall will result ((since it does not find a
ditch which receives and hides it)) in doubling the depth of the ditch, so
that it is not possible for you to pass on further as you will find a ruin
that holds you back and a ditch which will impede you, and from the wall of
the ditch, in safety, the enemy artillery kills you. The only remedy there
exists for you, is to fill up the ditch: which is very difficult, as much
because its capacity is large, as from the difficulty you have in
approaching it, since the walls being winding and recessed, you can enter
among them only with difficulty, for the reasons previously mentioned; and
then, having to climb over the ruin with the material in hand, causes you a
very great difficulty: so that I know a city so organized is completely

BATTISTA: If, in addition to the ditch inside, there should be one also on
the outside, wouldn't (the encampment) be stronger?

FABRIZIO: It would be, without doubt; but my reasoning is, that if you want
to dig one ditch only, it is better inside than outside.

BATTISTA: Would you have water in the ditch, or would you leave them dry?

FABRIZIO: Opinions are different; for ditches full of water protect you from
(subterranean) tunnels, the ditches without water make it more difficult for
you to fill them in again. But, considering everything, I would have them
without water; for they are more secure, and, as it has been observed that
in winter time the ditches ice over, the capture of a city is made easy, as
happened at Mirandola when Pope Julius besieged it. And to protect yourself
from tunnels, I would dig them so deep, that whoever should want to go
(tunnel) deeper, should find water. I would also build the fortresses in a
way similar to the walls and ditches, so that similar difficulty would be
encountered in destroying it I want to call to mind one good thing to anyone
who defends a city. This is, that they do not erect bastions outside, and
they be distant from its wall. And another to anyone who builds the
fortresses: And this is, that he not build any redoubts in them, into which
whoever is inside can retire when the wall is lost. What makes me give the
first counsel is, that no one ought to do anything, through the medium of
which, you begin to lose your reputation without any remedy, the loss of
which makes others esteem you less, and dismay those who undertake your
defense. And what I say will always happen to you if you erect bastions
outside the town you have to defend, for you will always lose them, as you
are unable to defend small things when they are placed under the fury of the
artillery; so that in losing them, they become the beginning and the cause
of your ruin. Genoa, when it rebelled from King Louis of France, erected
some bastions on the hills outside the City, which, as soon as they were
lost, and they were lost quickly, also caused the city to be lost. As to the
second counsel, I affirm there is nothing more dangerous concerning a
fortress, than to be able to retire into it, for the hope that men have
(lose) when they abandon a place, cause it to be lost, and when it is lost,
it then causes the entire fortress to be lost. For an example, there is the
recent loss of the fortress of Forli when the Countess Catherine defended it
against Caesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander the Sixth, who had led the
army of the King of France. That entire fortress was full of places by both
of them: For it was originally a citadel. There was a moat before coming to
the fortress, so that it was entered by means of a draw bridge. The fortress
was divided into three parts, and each part separated by a ditch, and with
water between them; and one passed from one place to another by means of
bridges: whence the Duke battered one of those parts of the fortress with
artillery, and opened up part of a wall; whence Messer Giovanni Da Casale,
who was in charge of the garrison, did not think of defending that opening,
but abandoned to retire into the other places; so that the forces of the
Duke, having entered that part without opposition, immediately seized all of
it, for they became masters of the bridges that connected the members
(parts) with each other. He lost the fort which was held to be
indestructible because of two mistakes: one, because it had so many
redoubts: the other, because no one was made master of his bridges (they
were unprotected). The poorly built fortress and the little prudence of the
defender, therefore, brought disgrace to the magnanimous enterprise of the
Countess, who had the courage to face an army which neither the King of
Naples, nor the Duke of Milan, had faced. And although his (the Duke)
efforts did not have a good ending, none the less, he became noted for those
honors which his virtu merited. Which was testified to by the many epigrams
made in those times praising him. If I should therefore have to build a
fortress, I would make its walls strong, and ditches in the manner we have
discussed, nor would I build anything else to live in but houses, and they
would be weak and low, so that they would not impede the sight of the walls
to anyone who might be in the plaza, so that the Captain should be able to
see with (his own) eyes where he could be of help, and that everyone should
understand that if the walls and the ditch were lost, the entire fortress
would be lost. And even if I should build some redoubts, I would have the
bridges so separated, that each part should be master of (protect) the
bridge in its own area, arranging that it be buttressed on its pilasters in
the middle of the ditch.

BATTISTA: You have said that, today, the little things can not be defended,
and it seems to me I have understood the opposite, that the smaller the
thing was, the better it was defended.

FABRIZIO: You have not understood well, for today that place can not be
called strong, where he who defends it does not have room to retire among
new ditches and ramparts: for such is the fury of the artillery, that he who
relies on the protection of only one wall or rampart, deceives himself. And
as the bastions ((if you want them not to exceed their regular measurements,
for then they would be terraces and castles)) are not made so that others
can retire into them, they are lost quickly. And therefore it is a wise
practice to leave these bastions outside, and fortify the entrances of the
terraces, and cover their gates with revets, so that one does not go in or
out of the gate in a straight line, and there is a ditch with a bridge over
it from the revet to the gate. The gates are also fortified with shutters,
so as to allow your men to reenter, when, after going out to fight, it
happens that the enemy drives them back, and in the ensuing mixing of men,
the enemy does not enter with them. And therefore, these things have also
been found which the ancients called "cataracts", which, being let down,
keep out the enemy but saves one's friends; for in such cases, one can not
avail himself of anything else, neither bridges, or the gate, since both are
occupied by the crowd.

BATTISTA: I have seen these shutters that you mention, made of small beams,
in Germany, in the form of iron grids, while those of ours are made entirely
of massive planks. I would want to know whence this difference arises, and
which is stronger.

FABRIZIO: I will tell you again, that the methods and organizations of war
in all the world, with respect to those of the ancients, are extinct; but in
Italy, they are entirely lost, and if there is something more powerful, it
results from the examples of the Ultramontanes. You may have heard, and
these others can remember, how weakly things were built before King Charles
of France crossed into Italy in the year one thousand four hundred ninety
four (1494). The battlements were made a half arm length thin (wide), the
places for the cross-bowmen and bombardiers (gunners) were made with a small
aperture outside and a large one inside, and with many other defects, which
I will omit, not to be tedious; for the defenses are easily taken away from
slender battlements; the (places for) bombardiers built that way are easily
opened (demolished). Now from the French, we have learned to make the
battlements wide and large, and also to make the (places of the) bombardiers
wide on the inside, and narrow it at the center of the wall, and then again
widen it up to the outside edge: and this results in the artillery being
able to demolish its defenses only with difficulty, The French, moreover,
have many other arrangements such as these, which, because they have not
been seen thus, have not been given consideration. Among which, is this
method of the shutters made in the form of a grid, which is by far a better
method than yours; for if you have to repair the shutters of a gate such as
yours, lowering it if you are locked inside, and hence are unable to injure
the enemy, so that they can attack it safely either in the dark or with a
fire. But if it is made in the shape of a grid, you can, once it is lowered,
by those weaves and intervals, to be able to defend it with lances,
cross-bows, and every other kind of arms.

BATTISTA: I have also seen another Ultramontane custom in Italy, and it is
this, making the carriages of the artillery with the spokes of the wheels
bent toward the axles. I would like to know why they make them this way, as
it seems to me they would be stronger straight, as those of our wheels.

FABRIZIO: Never believe that things which differ from the ordinary are made
at home, but if you would believe that I should make them such as to be more
beautiful, you would err; for where strength is necessary, no account is
taken of beauty; but they all arise from being safer and stronger than ours.
The reason is this. When the carriage is loaded, it either goes on a level,
or inclines to the right or left side. When it goes level, the wheels
equally sustain the weight, which, being divided equally between them, does
not burden them much; when it inclines, it comes to have all the weight of
the load upon that wheel on which it inclines. If its spokes are straight,
they can easily collapse, since the wheel being inclined, the spokes also
come to incline, and do not sustain the weight in a straight line. And,
thus, when the carriage rides level and when they carry less weight, they
come to be stronger; when the carriage rides inclined and when they carry
more weight, they are weaker. The contrary happens to the bent spokes of the
French carriages; for when the carriage inclines to one side, it points
(leans straight) on them, since being ordinarily bent, they then come to be
(more) straight (vertical), and can sustain all the weight strongly; and
when the carriage goes level and they (the spikes) are bent, they sustain
half the weight.

But let us return to our Cities and Fortresses. The French, for the greater
security of their towns, and to enable them during sieges to put into and
withdraw forces from them more easily, also employ, in addition to the
things mentioned, another arrangement, of which I have not yet seen any
example in Italy: and it is this, that they erect two pilasters at the
outside point of a draw-bridge, and upon each of them they balance a beam so
that half of it comes over the bridge, and the other half outside. Then they
join small beams to the part outside, which are woven together from one beam
to another in the shape of a grid, and on the inside they attach a chain to
the end of each beam. When they want to close the bridge from the outside,
therefore, they release the chains and allow all that gridded part to drop,
which closes the bridge when it is lowered, and when they want to open it,
they pull on the chains, and they (gridded beams) come to be raised; and
they can be raised so that a man can pass under, but not a horse, and also so
much that a horse with the man can pass under, and also can be closed
entirely, for it is lowered and raised like a lace curtain. This arrangement
is more secure than the shutters: for it can be impeded by the enemy so that
it cannot come down only with difficulty, (and) it does not come down in a
straight line like the shutters which can easily be penetrated. Those who
want to build a City, therefore, ought to have all the things mentioned
installed; and in addition, they should want at least one mile around the
wall where either farming or building would not be allowed, but should be
open field where no bushes, embankments, trees, or houses, should exist
which would impede the vision, and which should be in the rear of a
besieging enemy. It is to be noted that a town which has its ditches outside
with its embankments higher than the ground, is very weak; for they provide
a refuge for the enemy who assaults you, but does not impede him in
attacking you, because they can be easily forced (opened) and give his
artillery an emplacement.

But let us pass into the town. I do not want to waste much time in showing
you that, in addition to the things mentioned previously, provisions for
living and fighting supplies must also be included, for they are the things
which everyone needs, and without them, every other provision is in vain.
And, generally, two things ought to be done, provision yourself, and deprive
the enemy of the opportunity to avail himself of the resources of your
country. Therefore, any straw, grain, and cattle, which you cannot receive
in your house, ought to be destroyed. Whoever defends a town ought to see to
it that nothing is done in a tumultuous and disorganized manner, and have
means to let everyone know what he has to do in any incident. The manner is
this, that the women, children, aged, and the public stay at home, and leave
the town free to the young and the brave: who armed, are distributed for
defense, part being on the walls, part at the gates, part in the principal
places of the City, in order to remedy those evils which might arise within;
another part is not assigned to any place, but is prepared to help anyone
requesting their help. And when matters are so organized, only with
difficulty can tumults arise which disturb you. I want you to note also that
in attacking and defending Cities, nothing gives the enemy hope of being
able to occupy a town, than to know the inhabitants are not in the habit of
looking for the enemy; for often Cities are lost entirely from fear, without
any other action. When one assaults such a City, he should make all his
appearances (ostentatious) terrible. On the other hand, he who is assaulted
ought to place brave men, who are not afraid of thoughts, but by arms, on
the side where the enemy (comes to) fight; for if the attempt proves vain,
courage grows in the besieged, and then the enemy is forced to overcome
those inside with his virtu and his reputation.

The equipment with which the ancients defended the towns were many, such as,
Ballistas, Onagers, Scorpions, Arc-Ballistas, Large Bows, Slingshots; and
those with which they assaulted were also many, such as, Battering Rams,
Wagons, Hollow Metal Fuses (Muscoli), Trench Covers (Plutei), Siege Machines
(Vinee), Scythes, Turtles (somewhat similar to present day tanks). In place
of these things, today there is the artillery, which serves both attackers
and defenders, and, hence, I will not speak further about it. But let us
return to our discussion, and come to the details of the siege (attack). One
ought to take care not to be able to be taken by hunger, and not to be
forced (to capitulate) by assaults. As to hunger, it has been said that it
is necessary, before the siege arrives, to be well provided with food. But
when it is lacking during a long siege, some extraordinary means of being
provided by friends who want to save you, have been observed to be employed,
especially if a river runs in the middle of the besieged City, as were the
Romans, when their castle of Casalino was besieged by Hannibal, who, not
being able to send them anything else by way of the river, threw great
quantities of nuts into it, which being carried by the river without being
able to be impeded, fed the Casalinese for some time. Some, when they were
besieged, in order to show the enemy they had grain left over, and to make
them despair of being able to besiege (defeat) them by hunger, have either
thrown bread outside the walls, or have given a calf grain to eat, and then
allowed it to be taken, so that when it was killed, and being found full of
grain, gave signs of an abundance which they do not have. On the other hand,
excellent Captains have used various methods to enfamish the enemy. Fabius
allowed the Campanians to sow so that they should lack that grain which they
were sowing. Dionysius, when he was besieged at Reggio, feigned wanting to
make an accord with them, and while it was being drawn, had himself provided
with food, and then when, by this method, had depleted them of grain,
pressed them and starved them. Alexander the Great, when he wanted to
capture Leucadia, captured all the surrounding castles, and allowed the men
from them to take refuge in it (the City), and thus by adding a great
multitude, he starved them. As to assaults, it has been said that one ought
to guard against the first onrush, with which the Romans often occupied many
towns, assaulting them all at once from every side, and they called it
attacking the city by its crown: as did Scipio when he occupied new Carthage
in Spain. If this onrush is withstood, then only with difficulty will you be
overcome. And even if it should occur that the enemy had entered inside the
city by having forced the walls, even the small terraces give you some
remedy if they are not abandoned; for many armies have, once they have
entered into a town, been repulsed or slain. The remedy is, that the towns
people keep themselves in high places, and fight them from their houses and
towers. Which thing, those who have entered in the City, have endeavored to
win in two ways: the one, to open the gates of the City and make a way for
the townspeople by which they can escape in safety: the other, to send out a
(message) by voice signifying that no one would be harmed unless armed, and
whoever would throw his arms on the ground, they would pardon. Which thing
has made the winning of many Cities easy. In addition to this, Cities are
easy to capture if you fall on them unexpectedly, which you can do when you
find yourself with your army far away, so that they do not believe that you
either want to assault them, or that you can do it without your presenting
yourself, because of the distance from the place. Whence, if you assault
them secretly and quickly, it will almost always happen that you will
succeed in reporting the victory. I unwillingly discuss those things which
have happened in our times, as I would burden you with myself and my
(ideas), and I would not know what to say in discussing other things. None
the less, concerning this matter, I can not but cite the example of Cesare
Borgia, called the Duke Valentine, who, when he was at Nocera with his
forces, under the pretext of going to harm Camerino, turned toward the State
of Urbino, and occupied a State in one day and without effort, which some
other, with great time and expense, would barely have occupied. Those who
are besieged must also guard themselves from the deceit and cunning of the
enemy, and, therefore, the besieged should not trust anything which they see
the enemy doing continuously, but always believe they are being done by
deceit, and can change to injure them. When Domitius Calvinus was besieging
a town, he undertook habitually to circle the walls of the City every day
with a good part of his forces. Whence the townspeople, believing he was
doing this for exercise, lightened the guard: when Domitius became aware of
this, he assaulted them, and destroyed them. Some Captains, when they heard
beforehand that aid was to come to the besieged, have clothed their soldiers
with the insignia of those who were to come, and having introduced them
inside, have occupied the town. Chimon, the Athenian, one night set fire to
a Temple that was outside the town, whence, when the townspeople arrived to
succor it, they left the town to the enemy to plunder. Some have put to
death those who left the besieged castle to blacksmith (shoe horses), and
redressing their soldiers with the clothes of the blacksmiths, who then
surrendered the town to him. The ancient Captains also employed various
methods to despoil the garrisons of the towns they want to take. Scipio,
when he was in Africa, and desiring to occupy several castles in which
garrisons had been placed by Carthaginians, feigned several times wanting to
assault them, but then from fear not only abstained, but drew away from
them. Which Hannibal believing to be true, in order to pursue him with a
larger force and be able to attack him more easily, withdrew all the
garrisons from them: (and) Scipio becoming aware of this, sent Maximus, his
Captain, to capture them. Pyrrhus, when he was waging war in Sclavonia, in
one of the Chief Cities of that country, where a large force had been
brought in to garrison it, feigned to be desperate of being able to capture
it, and turning to other places, caused her, in order to succor them, to
empty herself of the garrison, so that it became easy to be forced
(captured). Many have polluted the water and diverted rivers to take a town,
even though they then did not succeed. Sieges and surrenders are also easily
accomplished, by dismaying them by pointing out an accomplished victory, or
new help which is come to their disfavor. The ancient Captains sought to
occupy towns by treachery, corrupting some inside, but have used different
methods. Some have sent one of their men under the disguise of a fugitive,
who gained authority and confidence with the enemy, which he afterward used
for his own benefit. Many by this means have learned the procedures of the
guards, and through this knowledge have taken the town. Some have blocked
the gate so that it could not be locked with a cart or a beam under some
pretext, and by this means, made the entry easy to the enemy. Hannibal
persuaded one to give him a castle of the Romans, and that he should feign
going on a hunt at night, to show his inability to go by day for fear of the
enemy, and when he returned with the game, placed his men inside with it,
and killing the guard, captured the gate. You also deceive the besieged by
drawing them outside the town and distant from it, by feigning flight when
they assault you. And many ((among whom was Hannibal)) have, in addition,
allowed their quarters to be taken in order to have the opportunity of
placing them in their midst, and take the town from them. They deceive also
by feigning departure, as did Forminus, the Athenian, who having plundered
the country of the Calcidians, afterwards received their ambassadors, and
filled their City with promises of safety and good will, who, as men of
little caution, were shortly after captured by Forminus. The besieged ought
to look out for men whom they have among them that are suspect, but
sometimes they may want to assure themselves of these by reward, as well as
by punishment. Marcellus, recognizing that Lucius Bancius Nolanus had turned
to favor Hannibal, employed so much humanity and liberality toward him,
that, from an enemy, he made him a very good friend. The besieged ought to
use more diligence in their guards when the enemy is distant, than when he
is near. And they ought to guard those places better which they think can be
attacked less; for many towns have been lost when the enemy assaulted them
on a side from which they did not believe they would be assaulted. And this
deception occurs for two reasons: either because the place is strong and
they believe it is inaccessible, or because the enemy cunningly assaults him
on one side with feigned uproars, and on the other silently with the real
assaults. And, therefore, the besieged ought to have a great awareness of
this, and above all at all times, but especially at night, have good guards
at the walls, and place there not only men, but dogs; and keep them ferocious
and ready, which by smell, detect the presence of the enemy, and with their
baying discover him. And, in addition to dogs, it has been found that geese
have also saved a City, as happened to the Romans when the Gauls besieged
the Capitol. When Athens was besieged by the Spartans, Alcibiades, in order
to see if the guards were awake, arranged that when a light was raised at
night, all the guards should rise, and inflicted a penalty on those who did
not observe it. Hissicratus, the Athenian, slew a guard who was sleeping,
saying he was leaving him as he had found him. Those who are besieged have
had various ways of sending news to their friends, and in order not to send
embassies by voice, wrote letters in cipher, and concealed them in various
ways. The ciphers are according to the desires of whoever arranges them, the
method of concealment is varied. Some have written inside the scabbard of a
sword. Others have put these letters inside raw bread, and then baked it,
and gave it as food to him who brought it. Others have placed them in the
most secret places of the body. Others have put them in the collar of a dog
known to him who brings it. Others have written ordinary things in a letter,
and then have written with water (invisible ink) between one line and
another, which afterwards by wetting or scalding (caused) the letter to
appear. This method has been very astutely observed in our time, where some
wanting to point out a thing which was to be kept secret to their friends
who lived inside a town, and not wanting to trust it in person, sent
communications written in the customary manner, but interlined as I
mentioned above, and had them hung at the gates of a Temple; which were then
taken and read by those who recognized them from the countersigns they knew.
Which is a very cautious method, because whoever brings it can be deceived
by you, and you do not run any danger. There are infinite other ways by
which anyone by himself likewise can find and read them. But one writes with
more facility to the besieged than the besieged do to friends outside, for
the latter can not send out such letters except by one who leaves the town
under the guise of a fugitive, which is a doubtful and dangerous exploit
when the enemy is cautious to a point. But as to those that are sent inside,
he who is sent can, under many pretexts, go into the camp that is besieged,
and from here await a convenient opportunity to jump into the town.

But let us come to talk of present captures, and I say that, if they occur
when you are being fought in your City, which is not arranged with ditches
inside, as we pointed out a little while ago, when you do not want the enemy
to enter by the breaks in the wall made by artillery ((as there is no remedy
for the break which it makes)), it is necessary for you, while the artillery
is battering, to dig a ditch inside the wall that is being hit, at least
thirty arm lengths wide, and throw all (the earth) that is excavated toward
the town, which makes embankments and the ditch deeper: and you must do this
quickly, so that if the wall falls, the ditch will be excavated at least
five or six arm lengths deep. While this ditch is being excavated, it is
necessary that it be closed on each side by a block house. And if the wall
is so strong that it gives you time to dig the ditches and erect the block
houses, that part which is battered comes to be stronger than the rest of
the City, for such a repair comes to have the form that we gave to inside
ditches. But if the wall is weak and does not give you time, then there is
need to show virtu, and oppose them with armed forces, and with all your
strength. This method of repair was observed by the Pisans when you went to
besiege them, and they were able to do this because they had strong walls
which gave them time, and the ground firm and most suitable for erecting
ramparts and making repairs. Which, had they not had this benefit, would
have been lost. It would always be prudent, therefore, first to prepare
yourself, digging the ditches inside your City and throughout all its
circuit, as we devised a little while ago; for in this case, as the defenses
have been made, the enemy is awaited with leisure and safety. The ancients
often occupied towns with tunnels in two ways: either they dug a secret
tunnel which came out inside the town, and through which they entered it, in
the way in which the Romans took the City of the Veienti: or, by tunnelling
they undermined a wall, and caused it to be ruined. This last method is more
effective today, and causes Cities located high up to be weaker, for they
can be undermined more easily, and then when that powder which ignites in an
instant is placed inside those tunnels, it not only ruins the wall, but the
mountains are opened, and the fortresses are entirely disintegrated into
several parts. The remedy for this is to build on a plain, and make the
ditch which girds your City so deep, that the enemy can not excavate further
below it without finding water, which is the only enemy of these
excavations. And even if you find a knoll within the town that you defend,
you cannot remedy it otherwise than to dig many deep wells within your
walls, which are as outlets to those excavations which the enemy might be
able to arrange against it. Another remedy is to make an excavation opposite
to where you learn he is excavating: which method readily impedes him, but
is very difficult to foresee, when you are besieged by a cautious enemy.
Whoever is besieged, above all, ought to take care not to be attacked in
times of repose, as after having engaged in battle, after having stood
guard, that is, at dawn, the evening between night and day, and, above all,
at dinner time, in which times many towns have been captured, and many
armies ruined by those inside. One ought, therefore, to be always on guard
with diligence on every side, and in good part well armed. I do not want to
miss telling you that what makes defending a City or an encampment
difficult, is to have to keep all the forces you have in them disunited; for
the enemy being able all together to assault you at his discretion, you must
keep every place guarded on all sides, and thus he assaults you with his
entire force, and you defend it with part of yours. The besieged can also be
completely overcome, while those outside cannot unless repulsed; whence many
who have been besieged either in their encampment or in a town, although
inferior in strength, have suddenly issued forth with all their forces, and
have overcome the enemy. Marcellus did this at Nola, and Caesar did this in
Gaul, where his encampment being assaulted by a great number of Gauls, and
seeing he could not defend it without having to divide this forces into
several parts, and unable to stay within the stockade with the driving
attack of the enemy, opened the encampment on one side, and turning to that
side with all his forces, attacked them with such fury, and with such virtu,
that he overcame and defeated them. The constancy of the besieged has also
often displeased and dismayed the besieger. And when Pompey was affronting
Caesar, and Caesar's army was suffering greatly from hunger, some of his
bread was brought to Pompey, who, seeing it made of grass, commanded it not
be shown to his army in order not to frighten it, seeing what kind of
enemies he had to encounter. Nothing gave the Romans more honor in the war
against Hannibal, as their constancy; for, in whatever more inimical and
adverse fortune, they never asked for peace, (and) never gave any sign of
fear: rather, when Hannibal was around Rome, those fields on which he had
situated his quarters were sold at a higher price than they would ordinarily
have been sold in other times; and they were so obstinate in their
enterprises, that to defend Rome, they did not leave off attacking Capua,
which was being besieged by the Romans at the same time Rome was being

I know that I have spoken to you of many things, which you have been able to
understand and consider by yourselves; none the less, I have done this ((as
I also told you today)) to be able to show you, through them, the better
kind of training, and also to satisfy those, if there should be any, who had
not had that opportunity to learn, as you have. Nor does it appear to me
there is anything left for me to tell you other than some general rules,
with which you should be very familiar: which are these. What benefits the
enemy, harms you; and what benefits you, harm the enemy. Whoever is more
vigilant in observing the designs of the enemy in war, and endures much
hardship in training his army, will incur fewer dangers, and can have
greater hope for victory. Never lead your soldiers into an engagement unless
you are assured of their courage, know they are without fear, and are
organized, and never make an attempt unless you see they hope for victory.
It is better to defeat the enemy by hunger than with steel; in such victory
fortune counts more than virtu. No proceeding is better than that which you
have concealed from the enemy until the time you have executed it. To know
how to recognize an opportunity in war, and take it, benefits you more than
anything else. Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes
many. Discipline in war counts more than fury. If some on the side of the
enemy desert to come to your service, if they be loyal, they will always
make you a great acquisition; for the forces of the adversary diminish more
with the loss of those who flee, than with those who are killed, even though
the name of the fugitives is suspect to the new friends, and odious to the
old. It is better in organizing an engagement to reserve great aid behind
the front line, than to spread out your soldiers to make a greater front. He
is overcome with difficulty, who knows how to recognize his forces and those
of the enemy. The virtu of the soldiers is worth more than a multitude, and
the site is often of more benefit than virtu. New and speedy things frighten
armies, while the customary and slow things are esteemed little by them: you
will therefore make your army experienced, and learn (the strength) of a new
enemy by skirmishes, before you come to an engagement with him. Whoever
pursues a routed enemy in a disorganized manner, does nothing but become
vanquished from having been a victor. Whoever does not make provisions
necessary to live (eat), is overcome without steel. Whoever trusts more in
cavalry than in infantry, or more in infantry than in cavalry, must settle
for the location. If you want to see whether any spy has come into the camp
during the day, have no one go to his quarters. Change your proceeding when
you become aware that the enemy has foreseen it. Counsel with many on the
things you ought to do, and confer with few on what you do afterwards. When
soldiers are confined to their quarters, they are kept there by fear or
punishment; then when they are led by war, (they are led) by hope and
reward. Good Captains never come to an engagement unless necessity compels
them, or the opportunity calls them. Act so your enemies do not know how you
want to organize your army for battle, and in whatever way you organize
them, arrange it so that the first line can be received by the second and by
the third. In a battle, never use a company for some other purpose than what
you have assigned it to, unless you want to cause disorder. Accidents are
remedied with difficulty, unless you quickly take the facility of thinking.
Men, steel, money, and bread, are the sinews of war; but of these four, the
first two are more necessary, for men and steel find find money and bread,
but money and bread do not find men and steel. The unarmed rich man is the
prize of the poor soldier. Accustom your soldiers to despise delicate living
and luxurious clothing.

This is as much as occurs to me generally to remind you, and I know I could
have told you of many other things in my discussion, as for example, how and
in how many ways the ancients organized their ranks, how they dressed, and
how they trained in many other things; and to give you many other
particulars, which I have not judged necessary to narrate, as much because
you are able to see them, as because my intention has not been to show you
in detail how the ancient army was created, but how an army should be
organized in these times, which should have more virtu than they now have.
Whence it does not please me to discuss the ancient matters further than
those I have judged necessary to such an introduction. I know I should have
enlarged more on the cavalry, and also on naval warfare; for whoever defines
the military, says, that it is an army on land and on the sea, on foot and
on horseback. Of naval matters, I will not presume to talk, not because of
not being informed, but because I should leave the talk to the Genoese and
Venetians, who have made much study of it, and have done great things in the
past. Of the cavalry, I also do not want to say anything other than what I
have said above, this part being ((as I said)) less corrupted. In addition
to this, if the infantry, who are the nerve of the army, are well organized,
of necessity it happens that good cavalry be created. I would only remind
you that whoever organizes the military in his country, so as to fill (the
quota) of cavalry, should make two provisions: the one, that he should
distribute horses of good breed throughout his countryside, and accustom his
men to make a round-up of fillies, as you do in this country with calves and
mules: the other, ((so that the round-up men find a buyer)) I would prohibit
anyone to keep mules who did not keep a horse; so that whoever wanted to
keep a mount only, would also be constrained to keep a horse; and, in
addition, none should be able to dress in silk, except whoever keeps a
horse. I understand this arrangement has been done by some Princes of our
times, and to have resulted in an excellent cavalry being produced in their
countries in a very brief time. About other things, how much should be
expected from the cavalry, I will go back to what I said to you today, and
to that which is the custom. Perhaps you will also desire to learn what
parts a Captain ought to have. In this, I will satisfy you in a brief
manner; for I would not knowingly select any other man than one who should
know how to do all those things which we have discussed today. And these
would still not be enough for him if he did not know how to find them out by
himself, for no one without imagination was ever very great in his
profession; and if imagination makes for honor in other things, it will,
above all, honor you in this one. And it is to be observed, that every
creation (imagination), even though minor, is celebrated by the writers, as
is seen where they praised Alexander the Great, who, in order to break camp
more secretly, did not give the signal with the trumpet, but with a hat on
the end of a lance. He is also praised for having ordered his soldiers, when
coming to battle with the enemy, to kneel with the left foot (knee) so that
they could more strongly withstand the attack (of the enemy); which not only
gave him victory, but also so much praise that all the statues erected in
his honor show him in that pose.

But as it is time to finish this discussion, I want to return to the
subject, and so, in part, escape that penalty which, in this town, custom
decrees for those who do not return. If you remember well, Cosimo, you said
to me that I was, on the one hand, an exalter of antiquity, and a censurer
of those who did not imitate them in serious matters, and, on the other
(hand), in matters of war in which I worked very hard, I did not imitate
them, you were unable to discover the reason: to that I replied, that men
who want to do something must first prepare themselves to know how to do it
in order to be able afterwards to do it when the occasion permits it.
whether or not I would know how to bring the army to the ancient ways, I
would rather you be the judge, who have heard me discuss on this subject at
length; whence you have been able to know how much time I have consumed on
these thoughts, and I also believe you should be able to imagine how much
desire there is in me to put them into effect. Which you can guess, if I was
ever able to do it, or if ever the opportunity was given to me. Yet, to make
you more certain, and for my greater justification, I would like also to
cite you the reasons, and in part, will observe what I promised you, to show
you the ease and the difficulty that are present in such imitation. I say to
you, therefore, that no activity among men today is easier to restore to its
ancient ways than the military; but for those only who are Princes of so
large a State, that they are able to assemble fifteen or twenty thousand
young men from among their own subjects. On the other hand, nothing is more
difficult than this to those who do not have such a convenience. And,
because I want you to understand this part better, you have to know that
Captains who are praised are of two kinds. The one includes those, who, with
an army (well) ordered through its own natural discipline, have done great
things, such as were the greater part of the Roman Citizens, and others, who
have led armies, who have not had any hardship in maintaining them good, and
to see to it that they were safely led. The other includes those who not
only had to overcome the enemy, but before they came to this, had been
compelled to make their army good and well ordered, (and) who, without
doubt, deserve greater praise that those others merited who with a army
which was (naturally) good have acted with so much virtu. Such as these were
Pelopidas, Epaminondas, Tullus Hostilius, Phillip of Macedonia father of
Alexander, Cyrus King of the Persians, and Gracchus the Roman. All these had
first to make the army good, and then fight with it. All of these were able
to do so, as much by their prudence, as by having subjects capable of being
directed in such practices. Nor would it have been possible for any of them
to accomplish any praiseworthy deed, no matter how good and excellent they
might have been, should they have been in an alien country, full of corrupt
men, and not accustomed to sincere obedience. It is not enough, therefore,
in Italy, to govern an army already trained, but it is necessary first to
know how to do it, and then how to command it. And of these, there need to
be those Princes, who because they have a large State and many subjects,
have the opportunity to accomplish this. Of whom, I cannot be one, for I
have never commanded, nor can I command except armies of foreigners, and men
obligated to others and not to me. Whether or not it is possible to
introduce into them (those Princes) some of the things we discussed today, I
want to leave to your judgement. Would I make one of these soldiers who
practice today carry more arms than is customary, and in addition, food for
two or three days, and a shovel? Should I make him dig, or keep him many
hours every day under arms in feigned exercises, so that in real (battles)
afterward he could be of value to me? Would they abstain from gambling,
lasciviousness, swearing, and insolence, which they do daily? Would they be
brought to so much discipline, obedience, and respect, that a tree full of
apples which should be found in the middle of an encampment, would be left
intact, as is read happened many times in the ancient armies? What can I
promise them, by which they well respect, love, or fear me, when, with a war
ended, they no longer must come to me for anything? Of what can I make them
ashamed, who are born and brought up without shame? By what Deity or Saints
do I make them take an oath? By those they adore, or by those they curse? I
do not know any whom they adore; but I well know that they curse them all.
How can I believe they will observe the promises to those men, for whom they
show their contempt hourly? How can those who deprecate God, have reverence
for men? What good customs, therefore, is it possible to instill in such
people? And if you should tell me the Swiss and the Spaniards are good, I
should confess they are far better than the Italians: but if you will note
my discussion, and the ways in which both proceeded, you will see that there
are still many things missing among them (the Swiss and Spaniards) to bring
them up to the perfection of the ancients. And the Swiss have been good from
their natural customs, for the reasons I told you today, and the others
(Spaniards) from necessity; for when they fight in a foreign country, it
seems to them they are constrained to win or die, and as no place appeared
to them where they might flee, they became good. But it is a goodness
defective in many parts, for there is nothing good in them except that they
are accustomed to await the enemy up to the point of the pike and of the
sword. Nor would there be anyone suitable to teach them what they lack, and
much less anyone who does not (speak) their language.

But let us turn to the Italians, who, because they have not wise Princes,
have not produced any good army; and because they did not have the necessity
that the Spaniards had, have not undertaken it by themselves, so that they
remain the shame of the world. And the people are not to blame, but their
Princes are, who have been castigated, and by their ignorance have received
a just punishment, ignominously losing the State, (and) without any show of
virtu. Do you want to see if what I tell you is true? Consider how many wars
have been waged in Italy, from the passage of King Charles (of France) until
today; and wars usually make men warlike and acquire reputations; these, as
much as they have been great (big) and cruel, so much more have caused its
members and its leaders to lose reputation. This necessarily points out,
that the customary orders were not, and are not, good, and there is no one
who know how to take up the new orders. Nor do you ever believe that
reputation will be acquired by Italian arms, except in the manner I have
shown, and by those who have large States in Italy, for this custom can be
instilled in men who are simple, rough, and your own, but not to men who are
malignant, have bad habits, and are foreigners. And a good sculptor will
never be found who believes he can make a beautiful statue from a piece of
marble poorly shaped, even though it may be a rough one. Our Italian
Princes, before they tasted the blows of the ultramontane wars, believed it
was enough for them to know what was written, think of a cautious reply,
write a beautiful letter, show wit and promptness in his sayings and in his
words, know how to weave a deception, ornament himself with gems and gold,
sleep and eat with greater splendor than others, keep many lascivious
persons around, conduct himself avariciously and haughtily toward his
subjects, become rotten with idleness, hand out military ranks at his will,
express contempt for anyone who may have demonstrated any praiseworthy
manner, want their words should be the responses of oracles; nor were these
little men aware that they were preparing themselves to be the prey of
anyone who assaulted them. From this, then, in the year one thousand four
hundred ninety four (1494), there arose the great frights, the sudden
flights, and the miraculous (stupendous) losses: and those most powerful
States of Italy were several times sacked and despoiled in this manner. But
what is worse is, that those who remained persist in the same error, and
exist in the same disorder: and they do not consider that those who held the
State anciently, had done all those things we discussed, and that they
concentrated on preparing the body for hardships and the mind not to be
afraid of danger. Whence it happened that Caesar, Alexander, and all those
excellent men and Princes, were the first among the combatants, went around
on foot, and even if they did lose their State, wanted also to lose their
lives; so that they lived and died with virtu. And if they, or part of them,
could be accused of having too much ambition to rule, there never could be
found in them any softness or anything to condemn, which makes men delicate
and cowardly. If these things were to be read and believed by these Princes,
it would be impossible that they would not change their way of living, and
their countries not change in fortune. And as, in the beginning of our
discussion, you complained of your organization, I tell you, if you had
organized it as we discussed above, and it did not give a good account for
itself, then you have reason to complain; but if it is not organized and
trained as I have said, (the Army) it can have reason to complain of you,
who have made an abortion, and not a perfect figure (organization). The
Venetians also, and the Duke of Ferrara, begun it, but did not pursue it;
which was due to their fault, and not of their men. And I affirm to now,
that any of them who have States in Italy today, will begin in this way, he
will be the Lord higher than any other in this Province; and it will happen
to his State as happened to the Kingdom of the Macedonians, which, coming
under Phillip, who had learned the manner of organizing the armies from
Epaminondas, the Theban, became, with these arrangements and practices
((while the rest of Greece was in idleness, and attended to reciting
comedies)) so powerful, that in a few years, he was able to occupy it
completely, and leave such a foundation to his son, that he was able to make
himself Prince of the entire world. Whoever disparages these thoughts,
therefore, if he be a Prince, disparages his Principality, and if he be a
Citizen, his City. And I complain of nature, which either ought to make me a
recognizer of this, or ought to have given me the faculty to be able to
pursue it. Nor, even today when I am old, do I think I can have the
opportunity: and because of this, I have been liberal with you, who, being
young and qualified, when the things I have said please you, could, at the
proper time, in favor of your Princes, aid and counsel them. I do not want
you to be afraid or mistrustful of this, because this country appears to be
born (to be destined) to resuscitate the things which are dead, as has been
observed with Poetry, Painting, and Sculpture. But as for waiting for me,
because of my years, do not rely on it. And, truly, if in the past fortune
had conceded to me what would have sufficed for such an enterprise, I
believe I would, in a very brief time, have shown the world how much the
ancient institutions were of value, and, without doubt, I would have
enlarged it with glory, or would have lost it without shame.

psychology of new jersey
Courtesy of Michael S. Abrams, ph.d.

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