1A.4 New States – How to Keep Them

The Prince deals with princely states (a single powerful ruler), not republics (representative government).

States are either hereditary or new.  A hereditary state is relatively easy for a new prince to govern, since the subjects are familiar with the ruling family and the prince will have little cause to alienate his subjects by his actions.  Any mistake by the newcomer will present an opportunity for the prince to regain power. Familiarity will always trump the unknown.

New states, whether completely new or grafted (where a larger hereditary state acquires a smaller one) are more difficult to hold onto.  The people have high expectations, and it is easy for the new prince to disappoint friends and make enemies (since he will have to punish those who opposed him).

Historical Example: Louis XII captured Milan in late 1499 and lost it February 1500. (Having learned from his mistakes, Louis retook it April 1500 and held it for a decade).

In Chapter III [p.5-11], Machiavelli offers 5 strategies whereby a prince can keep a hold on land which he has conquered.

  1. The conquered royal family must be eliminated. This includes all members and heirs to the throne.
  2. Laws and taxes should be kept the same as before the invasion.
  3. Where the customs and laws of the new territory are already different, the prince should go there and live.
  4. Colonies should be established in the new territory.
  5. Regarding neighboring states: weaken the strong ones, protect the weak ones. Keep strong foreigners out.

Think about the reasoning behind these strategies.  What advantage do they provide to the prince? Why might the adoption of them be successful?  This will be the subject of discussion this week.

Louis XII lost Lombardy and was eventually kicked out of Italy because he did not adopt any of these 5 steps.  He turned against his already weak allies (the Venetians), he made stronger neighbors even stronger (i.e. the Church, by assisting it in the conquest of Romagna) and he encouraged a powerful foreigner (Spain, by dividing Naples with them).    

1A DISCUSSION:  Consider the discussion of the 5 strategies outlined in New States – How to Keep Them  – Chapter III (p.5-11)

 Imagine that you are the prince who has conquered a new land.

  • Select 3 of the strategies. Explain why, according to Machiavelli, they would be useful to you in maintaining control of your new state.
  • Pick one of those 3 strategies – is it likely to succeed? Why? Is there a reason why it might not be successful


1B.4 Love and Fear

It is natural that prince would want to be both loved (so that the people support him) and feared (so that his commands will be obeyed).  But, if one has to choose, it is better to be feared.

Why? Machiavelli argues (in Chapter XVII) that love is a weaker emotion than fear.  Since man is a fickle, unreliable creature, he will not hesitate to swear allegiance to the prince when danger is far away. In a time of crisis (e.g. an invasion), a subject who loves but does not fear his prince will most likely abandon him.  Only fear of what the prince can do to him will keep the subject loyal.  Loyalty will be easily forgotten if the subject sees an opportunity to improve his position.

But the subject will never be free of the threat of punishment. If the subject fears his own prince more than he does the invader, the prince will be secure.

Machiavelli observes that “men love at their own inclination, but can be made to fear at the inclination of the prince.” [p.46] No prince can make his subjects love him (any more than anyone can force someone else to love them) but fear can be implanted in people by the right sort of threat.  The prince who has virtù will recognize that, while love may be beyond his control (more a question of fortuna), fear is not, and he will take great care to “manage” fear as a means of keeping his base of support solid.

1B DISCUSSION: Consider the two sections Love and Fear and Fear and Hatred.

Machiavelli argues that, when trying to keep subjects loyal, fear is more useful and effective than love.  Discuss this. Take the position that (a.) Machiavelli is correct in making this assertion or (b.) that he is wrong.

  • Think of examples in history, politics, or social life, where fear is used to control people. In these cases, would people be as likely or less likely to co-operate if the fear was not present?
  • Are there examples of people sacrificing their self-interest solely out of love for someone else (persons or groups), not out of fear of them?
  • Is fear the only effective way of getting people to obey the law?

Discussion responses will be graded and must be carefully considered and well-crafted. Students will be evaluated on both the content of their responses and the grammar and mechanics of the postings.Students must employ correct English usage, proper spelling, correct capitalization, and complete sentences.


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