\\ home \ Prince, The:
Chapters 4 and 5

Chapter IV: Why the Kingdom of Darius, Occupied by Alexander, Did Not Rebel Against the Successors of the Latter After His Death.

After discussing the almost insurmountable difficulties in holding onto a newly-acquired state, Machiavelli asks a logical question: How on earth did Alexander the Great not only successfully subdue most of Asia in a few years, but pass it on to his successors without any danger of rebellion? By way of an answer, Machiavelli first distinguishes between two kinds of government: the rule of a prince and his servants (who have no power independent of the prince's permission), versus the rule of a prince and his barons (who have their own hereditary titles, lands, and subjects). Machiavelli gives two examples of these two kinds of government: on the one hand, the Turkish monarchy has one ruler and many servants. On the other, the King of France governs with the help of an ancient class of hereditary nobles. He concludes that, obviously, the prince in the first kind of government has much more power located in himself - and it would be much harder to take power away the Turk than it would be to oust the King of France. In Turkey, there would be no possibility of using the nobles to assist a rebellion, and intrigue would have to be abandoned in favor of sheer military force. However, though it would be harder to take the Turkish kingdom away, it would actually be much easier to maintain - once a new prince was in, he'd be pretty much invulnerable since there would be no rivals to power, and no need to share authority with petty nobility. By contrast, it would be much easier to dethrone the King of France, but much harder to maintain this new monarchy unless one had the unwavering assistance of the nobility - not a sure thing to rely upon!

Having set up this framework, Machiavelli concludes that Alexander's conquering of Persia fell into the former category. Like the Turk, Darius maintained absolute control over his kingdom. Once Alexander had completed his conquest of that kingdom, there was virtually no way he, or his successors, could be dislodged.

Chapter V: The Way to Govern Cities or Dominions That, Previous to Being Occupied, Lived under Their Own Laws.

What if the people of a conquered territory had no king previously? What if they are used to political liberty and government under their own laws? In other words, what if a prince wishes to annex a republic? There are three ways, Machiavelli argues, to govern a newly-conquered republic. First, by utterly destroying it. Second, by going there to live. Third, by allowing the pre-existing laws to continue, and creating allies among those citizens who had been governing. Turning to examples, Machiavelli contrasts the Spartans and the Romans. The Spartans governed Athens in the third way, allowing their laws to exist and attempting to rule through them. The Romans, by contrast, took the first option, and utterly devastated Carthage in order to control it. Machiavelli points out that the Spartan conquest was a miserable failure, while the Romans did not lose their territory. He concludes that the only way successfully to subdue a newly conquered republic is to destroy it first. Republics, he argues, because they are used to freedom, will never simply lie back and be ruled by a prince. If a prince wishes to govern, then, he must do it by force. (It is this kind of argument that gives Machiavelli a reputation for ruthlessness!)

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


Copyright © 1999 - Jiffynotes.com. All Rights Reserved.
To cite information from this page, please cite the date when you
looked at our site and the author as Jiffynotes.com.
Privacy Statement