Summary — Chapter X: How the Strength of All PrincipalitiesShould Be Measured

Although a prince should always aim to keep an army ofsize and strength equaling that of any aggressor, it is just asimportant to maintain defenses and fortifications. These defensivepreparations not only provide security but also deter enemies fromattacking.

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Some might argue that if an enemy lays siege to a fortifiedcity, the people inside, upon witnessing their countryside pillagedand possessions destroyed, will turn against their prince. But aprince who has made adequate defensive preparations can actuallyinspire his subjects during such times. To do so, he must convincethe people that the hardships are only temporary and, more importantly,create feelings of patriotism and enthusiasm for the city’s defense.This way, when the siege is over, the grateful and obliged peoplewill love the prince all the more.

Summary — Chapter XI: Concerning Ecclesiastical Principalities

Ecclesiastical principalities, regions under the controlof the Catholic Church, are different from other kinds of principalities.Taking control of these principalities is difficult, requiring eitherunusual good fortune or prowess. Machiavelli sarcastically remarksthat principles of religion, rather than governments, rule ecclesiastical principalities,so the prince does not even need to govern. Ecclesiastical principalitiesdo not need to be defended, and their subjects require no administration.Nonetheless, these states are always secure and happy. Since theseprincipalities are “sustained by higher powers which the human mindcannot comprehend,” delving further into why this is the case wouldbe presumptuous.

It is useful, however, to look at how the Church hasobtained its great temporal power. Italy was once divided amongthe pope and the city-states of Venice, Naples, Milan, and Florence.Each of these powers was wary of the others and prevented the interventionof any foreign power. Papal power was fairly weak during this time, dueto disagreement among the Roman barons and the short duration ofpapacies. But Popes Alexander VI and Julius II greatly increasedthe power of the Church by using armed force to weaken the otherfactions, accumulating wealth to strengthen the Church’s own position,and nurturing factionalism within any remaining factions.Thus,the current Church, under the leadership of Pope Leo X, has beenmade strong through the force of arms. It is now hoped that PopeLeo will use his goodness and virtue to maintain its power.

Analysis — Chapters X–XI

Although Chapter X focuses partly on maintaining the well-beingof the people in a city during a period of difficulty, Machiavelliviews this only as a necessary step in making the city itself strongand immune from attack. One surprising characteristic of ThePrince is how completely it defines the city as an entityexisting to serve its ruler rather than its populace. The discussionof fortification emphasizes this conception of the city: obtainingthe support of the people is not a goal in itself but rather a meansfor ensuring that the city remain fortified and resistant to foreignconquest. The purpose of convincing the people that their hardshipsare temporary, for example, is not to lighten the burden of thepeople whose city is besieged, but rather a way to ensure the defenseof the city. The ultimate goal is not happiness but patriotism:the defense of the state and its ruler. While Machiavelli oftenadvocates the use of military force, he also recognizes that militarystrength alone cannot maintain a state’s strength. Although thefortification of cities has a military value, Machiavelli focuseson fortification as a tool by which a prince can solidify popularsupport in times of war or siege.

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Chapter XI may initially seem inconsistent with the restof Machiavelli’s writing. His acknowledgment that ecclesiasticalprincipalities are not subject to the historical patterns he observes,and his description of their immunity from bad rulers and war, initially seemto point to a respect for religion and acknowledgment of a highermoral plane on which a state can exist. But Machiavelli’s remarksin this chapter are bitterly ironic—he actually opposes the presenceof the Church in politics altogether, a view that he makes explicitin his Discourses. In reality, Machiavelli understandsecclesiastical principalities to be examples of the effective consolidation ofpower, much in the same way as the examples of successful princesthat he cites. He focuses on the factors that ultimately led to theCatholic Church gaining control over Italian principalities, and revealsthat these factors were not essentially different than those usedby other princes to gain power. Like other princes, the Church usedarmed force, the accumulation of wealth, and astute political strategyin order to gain control. Even though Machiavelli opens the chapterprofessing that ecclesiastical principalities exist in their own category,ultimately he views them just as he does any other state.