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Chapters 9 and 10

Chapter IX: Of the Civic Principality

Now we turn to the other alternative to the virtý/fortuna method of achieving power: election in a civic principality by which a private citizen is made leader by his fellow citizens. Machiavelli describes this method as a kind of "cunning assisted by fortune," since such a leader is skilled enough to make himself an appealing candidate, and then simply lifted up by others to a position of power. There are two ways (as usual) by which a man can be thus elected: by the nobles who wish the prince to oppress the people, or by the people, who wish the prince to help them avoid oppression by the nobles. According to Machiavelli, it is better for a man to be put into power by the populace, since this usually means that he will have no rivals to his power and will be generally loved by his subjects. If he is elected by the nobles, he is obligated to them, and will often be the victim of their intrigues. (See Chapter IV for a similar idea). Regardless of how a prince is elected, Machiavelli argues, it is indispensable for him to have the good will of the people - the good will of the nobles is much less essential. And in order to have the good will of the people, it is necessary that the prince make himself indispensable to them. In other words, here Machiavelli gives a theory of interdependence between the people and the prince that differs dramatically from the model of cruel exploitation often attributed to him.

Chapter X: How the Strength of All States Should be Measured

This chapter points out a different distinction between kinds of principalities (states governed by a prince): there are those that have the money and manpower to defend themselves against attack, and those that do not, consequently needing to hide within their walls when they are assaulted by an enemy. Machiavelli does not feel the need to discuss the former case, which is obviously to be preferred. If a prince finds himself in the latter case (without the power to fight back against enemies), Machiavelli counsels him to concentrate his efforts on fortifying his own town, and to forget about the outlying country, which will be too difficult to protect. The cities of Germany, for instance, follow this strategy - and as a consequence are rarely attacked, since it would be hard for any enemy to get past the urban fortifications. Machiavelli concludes by affirming that strong walls around the city, and the good will of the people within the city, are the two best protections a prince can have. If a prince has both these things, it is almost guaranteed that no enemy will be able to prevail against him.

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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