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Chapter 3

Chapter III: Of Mixed Monarchies

Problems arise, as you might imagine, in non-hereditary or "new" monarchies, governments in which habit, or political inertia, cannot be counted on to give stability. Take, for instance, the "mixed monarchy," or a state which has changed its ruler. Let's say that a prince has taken over a kingdom with the support of some of the people in it. Since these people have already proven themselves critical enough to abandon their old ruler, Machiavelli reasons, they are very likely also to grow dissatisfied with their new one. Moreover, when a new prince takes over an existing state, he is inevitably going to alienate those subjects who had been opposed to transition, creating a certain amount of ill will. In other words, a new ruler, even if he successfully takes over a state, is vulnerable to the anger of his new subjects - his supporters as well as his opponents. An example of this is Louis XII of France, who was able to occupy Milan, but not to keep it.

What about rulers who reconquer a territory that has rebelled? Machiavelli feels that such situations are less dangerous: when France, for instance, took Milan a second time, Louis was in a much more stable position, and lost it again only when virtually the entire world opposed his rule. Still, he did eventually lose Milan again, and for good. Why? And how could a prince in a similar situation avoid such a double loss? First, Machiavelli suggests that it is easier for a conqueror to maintain control over a territory which shares his language and nationality, and which is used to being ruled in a similar way by previous rulers. If a man, like Louis, were to take over a land which differs from him in language, nationality, custom, and political organization, then his rule will be difficult. One good way for a prince to deal with this, Machiavelli counsels, would be to take up residence in his new territory - thereby learning the ways of his subjects, and making himself constantly aware of the current state of their feelings toward him. Another solution would be to plant colonies of loyal subjects from the prince's original territory in key parts of this new land, thereby maintaining surveillance as well as destroying the unity and potential opposition of the newly acquired territory. Finally, the new ruler should make himself out to be the protector of the new territory, rather its conqueror. He should conciliate with smaller powers within, while annihilating large rival powers that threaten from without.

The Romans followed these rules when they conquered Greece, Machiavelli points out. They established colonies of Romans there, they befriended the Achaeans, and they defeated Greece's other enemies, the Macedonians. Above all, the Romans were always able to take the long view of their government of Greece, planning ahead to avoid difficulties. Louis, by contrast, did none of these things, and lost Milan and his other Italian holdings as a result. Machiavelli lists five crucial mistakes made by Louis: 1) he crushed small powers rather than large ones, 2) he allowed one man in Italy to gain power rather than dividing authority among lower officers, 3) he allowed a very powerful foreigner to have influence in Italy, 4) he did not live in Italy, and 5) he did not establish colonies there.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Important Persons
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Summary of the Argument
Prefatory Letter
Chapters 1 and 2
Chapter 3
Chapters 4 and 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapters 9 and 10
Chapters 11 and 12
Chapters 13 and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Chapters 17 and 18
Chapters 19 and 20
Chapters 21, 22, and 23
Chapters 24, 25, and 26


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