by Nicolo Machiavelli
comments by Maarten Maartensz
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How Many Kinds Of Principalities
There Are And By What Means They Are Acquired
ALL STATES, all
powers, that have held and hold rule over men have been and are
either republics or principalities.
Machiavelli in the present chapter tries to carve up his subject -
which is political leadership: the terms "Prince",
"Principe" etc. simply mean "The first" - in a logical
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.
shall not explain most of Machiavelli's historical references. In so
far as Machiavelli refers to events or persons in Italy of his time
or before his time, the reader can find most of them in any good
encyclopedia or history.
Two excellent histories are:
J. Burckhardt: Die Kultur der
Renaissanze in Italien
P. Burke: The Italian Renaissance
Of these the first is a classic of
the 19th Century by one of the greatest historians ever, and the
other a good recent history by a modern historian. There is now
an English version of
Birckhardt's text, with some notes by me, on my site. Back.
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.
this point we have Machiavelli's outline of states and governments,
more or less as follows:
Republics or monarchies
Hereditary or new
Dependent or independent
Habitually free or habitually subjects
Established by present rulers or others
Established by fortune or by ability
Of course, such distinctions are a
bit arbitrary, and the distinctions Machiavelli draws have a lot to
do with his subject: How to get and maintain the power in a state:
how to become the first ("The Prince") in a country and
how to remain in control. Back.
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