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BOOK V

The Order to be observed in adapting the Form of the Commonwealth to Divers Conditions of Men, and the means of determining their Dispositions. [CHAPTER I]

So far in discussing the commonwealth we have been concerned with general principles. It remains to discuss the particular characteristics of the different sorts of commonwealth that the diversity of races requires. Political institutions must be adapted to environment, and human laws to natural laws. Those who have failed to do this, and have tried to make nature obey their laws, have brought disorder, and even ruin, on great states. One observes very great differences in the species of animals proper to different regions, and even noticeable variations in animals of the same species. Similarly, there are as many types of men as there are distinct localities. Under the same climatic conditions oriental types are different from occidental, and in latitudes at equal distances from the equator, the people of the northern hemisphere are different from those of the south. What is more, when the climate, latitude, and longitude is the same, one can observe variations between those who are mountaineers, and those who live on the open plains. Even in the same city there is a difference in humour and in habits between those who live in the upper and those who live in the lower parts of the town. This is why cities built in hilly country are more subject to disorders and revolutions than those situated on level ground. Rome, built on seven hills, was hardly ever free from civil commotions ... The Swiss, a people that came originally from Sweden, afford another example, for they are of the most various temperaments, dispositions, and forms of government. Though they are more closely related one to another than any other people, the men of the five Forest Cantons and the Grisons are the more proud and warlike, and prefer an extreme form of popular government. The others are more tractable, and they are governed by aristocracies, for they are by nature more inclined to that form of government than to a popular one. ...

A wise ruler of any people must therefore have a thorough understanding of their disposition and natural inclinations before he attempts any change in the constitution or the laws. One of the greatest, if not the principal, foundation of the commonwealth is the suitability of its government to the nature of the people, and of its laws and ordinances to the requirements of time, place, and persons. For although Baldus says that reason and natural equity are not conditioned by time and place, one must distinguish between universal principles, and those particular adaptations that differences of places and persons require. The governments of commonwealths must be diversified according to the diversities of their situations. The ruler must emulate the good architect who builds with the materials locally available. The wise statesman must do this too, for he cannot choose such subjects as he would wish.

Let us then first consider the nature of northern peoples, and southern, then of eastern and western, and the difference between those who inhabit mountainous country, and those who live on flat plains, or in marshy districts, or who are exposed to perpetual strong winds. We will then consider how the discipline of laws can modify the natural disposition of men, for we reject the doctrine of Polybius and Galen that their natural environment has an absolute and necessary effect in forming men's morals. Furthermore, in order the better to distinguish the very great differences there are between those who live in the north and those who live in the south, we propose to divide all those who live this side the equator into three sections. The first are those who live between the equator and the thirtieth parallel. This is the torrid zone, and its inhabitants southerners. The next thirty degrees, to the sixtieth parallel, is the temperate zone, and its people therefore occupy a middle situation. From the sixtieth parallel to the pole is the frigid zone, inhabited by northerners. The same divisions can be applied to the people in the southern hemisphere, between the equator and the antarctic pole ... The climate between the sixtieth and the seventy-fifth parallel is severely cold, but there are nevertheless people living there, and a number of commonwealths. But one can have little to say about the last fifteen degrees below the pole, for there are no men there, or only very few, and those savage creatures who live like beasts in caves, so traders tell us, and what they say is confirmed by our histories. ...

Just as in winter, places underground, and the internal organs of animals, conserve the heat that is dissipated in summer, so people inhabiting the northern latitudes have a more vehement internal heat than those living in southern latitudes. This internal heat gives them much greater strength and natural vigour than have the rest. The coldness of the climate, by conserving their natural heat, gives them a greater appetite, and they eat and drink more than others. In consequence when armies drawn from the more southerly regions invade the frigid zone, they become more vigorous and bold. This was evident when Hannibal's army invaded Italy, or when the Arabs and the Moors invaded Spain, or in the case of the seven thousand Spaniards the Emperor Charles V took to Germany.[1] They all won notable victories. On the other hand northern troops lose their vigour and become dispirited when they are transported into southern countries, especially if it be in summer. The Cimbrians were an example. Plutarch says that the heat they had to endure in Provence completely exhausted them by keeping them in a perpetual sweat. Had not the Romans vanquished them first they would almost certainly have died. The same fate overtook the French before Naples,[2] and the lanzknechts who were led into Italy by Charles of Bourbon and George Fronsberg.[3] After they had sacked Rome, before the year was out, ten thousand of them had perished without a blow struck, according to Guicdardini.[4] The same effects are to be observed in cattle that are transported from the north to some southern country. They lose their fat, fail to give milk, and suffer a general decline. Pliny remarked on it, and traders are always experiencing the same thing. A Spaniard doubles his energy and his appetite when he goes into France, while a Frenchman in Spain becomes languid and dainty. If he tries to go on eating as he was accustomed to do at home, he runs the risk of putting a term to his existence. Northerners feel languid when a south wind blows. For the same reason men and animals, and especially birds, who are very sensitive to change, grow fat in winter and thin in summer.

If Leo Africanus[5] and Francesco d'Alvarez,[6] the authors of histories of Africa and of Ethiopia, had observed the working of these natural causes, they would not have praised the abstinence of the people of these regions so highly. They cannot have much appetite if they lack internal heat. For the same reason one should not blame northerners for their gross appetites, and for eating more voraciously than southerners; it is a consequence of the heat, the size and the bulk of their bodies. The same effects may be found in antarctic regions. We read in the History of the Indies[7] that Magellan found in those territories which were named after him, Patagonian giants, so large and so powerful that eight armed Spaniards were hardly sufficient to hold their own against one of these simple and stupid people.

Northerners succeed by means of force, southerners by means of finesse, people of the middle regions by a measure of both. They are therefore the most apt for war, in the opinion of Vegetius and Vitruvius. It is they who have founded all the great empires which have flourished in arms and in laws. God has so distributed His favours that great strength and great cunning are never allied either in men or in beasts, for there is nothing more cruel than injustice armed with force. People of the middle regions have more physical energy but less cunning than southerners, and more intelligence but less strength than northerners. They are better fitted to command, and to govern commonwealths, and they are more just in their conduct. If one reads the histories of these various peoples attentively, one will find that great and powerful armies have always been raised in the north, while the occult sciences, philosophy, mathematics, and other pure sciences are the achievement of southern races. But political sciences, law, jurisprudence, rhetoric, and logic originated among the people of the middle regions. These people have established all the great empires the world has known, that of the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, the Parthians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Celts. Though the Arabs and the Moors for a time conquered the empire of Persia, Syria, Egypt, and Barbary, and subjected a great part of Spain, they could never subject Greece or Italy, and when they tried to subject France they were defeated, and an army of three hundred thousand men routed. The Romans extended their empire over the peoples of the south and east. But they had only moderate success against those of the west and north, though victors over all other peoples. Nevertheless they applied all their resources and made the greatest efforts to parry the blows delivered by those northern races who had, as Tacitus says, speaking of the Germans, neither walls, towns, nor fortifications. Although Trajan constructed a great bridge over the Danube and defeated Decebalus, King of the Dacians, his successor the Emperor Adrian caused it to be demolished, being afraid that the northern barbarians would destroy the empire and the power of the Romans. This they did after Constantine had disbanded the Roman legions that held the frontiers of the Rhine and the Danube. Thereafter first the Germans, then the Goths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Franks, Burgundians, Herules, Hungarians, Gepidae, Lombards and finally the Normans, the Tartars, and the Turks overran the provinces that the Romans had once held. Though the English have won notable victories over the French, in nine hundred years they have not been able to expel the Scots from the island, although one knows how much more numerous the French are than the English, and the English than the Scots. ...

In my opinion Aristotle was mistaken in thinking that people who lived either in extremely cold or extremely hot climates were barbarous. On the contrary their histories, and experience shows that people who live in the extreme south are much more ingenious than those of the middle regions. Herodotus has left it on record that the Egyptians were the most subtle and ingenious people in the world. Seven hundred years later Caesar in his history of the civil wars made the same judgement on them ... Without looking further afield, we have the same point illustrated in the difference in intelligence between the French and the English. The latter complained to Philippe de Comines that to their surprise the French generally lost the battles they fought against them, but recovered their advantage in the subsequent treaties. We can say the same thing of the Spaniards. For the past hundred years they have not made a treaty with the French in which all the advantages have not been on their side. This would take a long time to demonstrate in detail, but I can take an example in the treaty of Cambrécis made in the year 1559. It could not be denied that the strength of the king of France was very great and sufficient to set him above his enemies. Nevertheless the Spaniards gained more in this treaty, without striking a blow, than they had for the past ninety years, for they had never hoped, as they afterwards confessed, to snatch Savoy and Piedmont from the hands of the French. ...

Those who live at the extremities near the poles are phlegmatic and those in the extreme south, melancholic. Those who live thirty degrees below the pole are of a more sanguine complexion, and those who are about midway, sanguine or choleric. Further south they become more choleric or melancholic. They are moreover tanned black or yellow, which are the colours of black melancholy and yellow choler. Galen tells us that phlegm makes a man heavy and dull; blood, joyous and robust; choler, ready and active; melancholy, invariable and set in his ways. There are as many varieties of human types as there are possible ways of combining these four humours. ...

The ancients remarked on the barbarity and cruelty of northern races. Thucydides son of Olorus, King of Thrace, even calls the Thracians a cruel nation. Tacitus, speaking of the Germans says that they do not execute criminals according to the forms of justice, but kill them cruelly, as they serve their enemies. I will content myself with contemporary evidence, without going back to ancient times... We know that the torture of the wheel is employed in Germany, and men are impaled alive in Tartary. They are no less cruel in Lithuania where they compel the condemned to hang themselves, or they first scourge and torture them before they are hanged. Such things make one think that the cruelties that have been published about the King of Muscovy are only too likely to be true. The less reasonable men are, and the less they use their judgements, the more they share the brutal nature of beasts, for they cannot be guided by reason nor put any restraints on themselves, any more than can beasts.

On the other hand southern peoples are cruel and vindictive in consequence of their melancholy, which engenders extreme violence in the passions and impels men to take vengeance for what they suffer... Their cruelty is all the more noticeable when it is a question of sentences executed in the course of justice. Such should be without passion and the expression of a sane judgement. Yet we find that the penalties inflicted in ancient Persia passed all measure of cruelty. Even today they flay thieves alive, stuff the skin of the victim and mount it on an ass. The people who live in the temperate regions cannot contemplate, or even hear of such cruelties without horror. It was probably for this reason that the Romans let their criminals die by hunger, and the Greeks gave them the gentlest poison that they knew. The cruelty of the north is therefore not the same as that of the south. The one comes from a brutal impetuosity such as one finds in irrational animals. The other resembles more the deliberate cruelty of the fox who savours his revenge. ...

There is another very notable difference between northerners and southerners, in that the former are modest and chaste, and the latter very libidinous as a result of their melancholy temperament. We read that the Kings of Africa and of Persia always kept a harem of wives. This cannot be imputed to depraved morals seeing that in the New World King Alcazares had four hundred wives, and the father of Atabalippa, the last king of Peru, who was done to death by the Pizarro brothers, had two hundred wives and fifty children... Among the barbarians Tacitus says the Germans only allowed one wife. Sometimes they even lived together in perpetual virginity, as did the Emperor Henry II. Casimir I, King of Poland, and Wenceslas, King of Bohemia, never married at all. This was not however so much that they were chaste, as naturally impotent ... People of the middle regions are moderate in these matters. Their laws for the most part allow one legitimate wife ... The Roman Emperors even made a general law, applying to all peoples indifferently, that the stigma of infamy should attach to anyone who took more than one wife. Later they made it a matter of capital punishment. But this law, acceptable to the Romans, was never taken much account of by the Africans, since it was ill-suited to their dispositions. This is what happens to the schemes of anyone who tries to apply laws proper to northern races to people of the south, without considering their dispositions... The historians of the ancient world would make the same sort of mistake in praising the goodness and honesty of the Scythians and their neighbours. They deserve no praise for their virtue who lack the spirit to do evil, and do not know how to sin. Machiavelli was also wrong in saying that the Spaniards, the Italians, and the French were the corruptors of the world. He had not read good books, nor had he experience of other races. ...

If one considers carefully the natures of the peoples of the northern, southern, and temperate zones, one finds that they can be compared to the three ages of man, youth, age, and maturity, and the qualities characteristic of these ages. Moreover in the governing of their commonwealths, they rely on those appeals which carry most weight in each case. Northerners rely on force, those in the middle regions on justice, and southerners on religion. The magistrate in Germany, says Tacitus, can command nothing except he does it sword in hand. Caesar says in his Memoirs that the Germans have no religion, and only respect prowess in war and the chase. The Scythians, says Solinus, set a sword in the earth and worship that, founding all their actions, laws, religion, and judgements on force and the sword. We find that judicial combats are characteristic of northern races, and are freely enjoined in the laws of the Salians, the Franconians, the Angles, the Ripuarians, and other such peoples. Fronton[8], King of Denmark, enacted that all quarrels were to be settled by combat. No one has ever been able to abrogate these laws, although popes and other princes have tried, regardless of the fact that the nature of northern races is quite different from that of southern. ...

It is equally obvious that laws and the forms of justice originated with the people of the temperate regions such as Asia Minor (where orators and rhetoricians were held in high honour), Greece, Italy, France. It is not just a present day phenomenon that the French are continually employed in litigation. Whatever laws or ordinances are made to diminish it, the natural inclination of the people will always reassert itself. In any case it is much better to decide disputes by legal process than by the sword. In short, nearly all the great orators, legislators, jurisconsults, historians, poets, satirists, and all such like who win men's hearts by argument and fair speech, come from the temperate regions. We find in the histories of the Greeks and the Romans that before they embarked on the most insignificant little war, they debated the rights of the case with much discussion, denunciation, and solemn protestation. This is not at all characteristic of northern races, who rush to take up arms at once. They resort to force for all purposes, as do lions; those of the temperate regions to reason and law.

Southern races rely on diplomacy and finesse as do foxes, or they appeal to religion. Rational argument is too mild for the crude northern races, and too prosaic for southerners, who do not want to bother with legal opinion and forensic conjectures, where truth and falsehood are weighed against each other. They wish to be made certain by proofs, or by divine oracles which transcend human reason. Thus we see that southern races, the Egyptians, the Chaldaeans, and the Arabs, have developed the occult, the natural, and the mathematical sciences. These have always fascinated the greatest spirits and constrained them to the pursuit of truth. All great systems of religion have originated in the south and from there have spread throughout the world. Not that God respects either places or peoples, or fails to pour out His divine light over all. But just as the sun is reflected more brilliantly in clear still water than in rough water or a muddy pool, so the divine spirit, so it seems to me, illumines much more clearly pure and untroubled minds than those which are clouded and troubled by earthly affections. If it is true that the soul is purified by divine illumination, and by the force of the contemplation of the most lofty matters, it is understandable that those only arrive at such heights who have wings to raise their souls to heaven. This is the privilege of the melancholy temperament which is composed in spirit, and given to contemplation. This is what the Hebrews and the Platonists call euthanasia because it elevates the soul above its terrestrial body to spiritual realities. It is no wonder then if the people of the south are better ruled by means of religion, than by force or by reason ... Anyone who tried to govern such people by means of the laws and customs observed in Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, and other countries of the temperate zone, would soon bring his government to the point of collapse. Similarly anyone who tried to accustom northern people to the legal pleadings of France and Italy would find himself frustrated in the attempt. This was the experience of Matthias, King of Hungary. He sent to Italy for jurists to reform the legal system of Hungary; but in a very short time his subjects found themselves so entangled in legal subtleties that the King was compelled, upon the petition of the Estates, to send the Italians back to their country. ...[9]

One can judge from all these things that the people of the temperate zone are better fitted than the rest for the management of commonwealths, for they have by nature the virtue of prudence, and prudence is the measure of human actions, a touchstone whereby men distinguish good from evil, justice from injury, honest proceedings from dishonest. Prudence is the quality proper to command, just as force which is the characteristic of northern races, is to execution. Southern races, less adapted to political activity, are contented with the contemplation of the natural and divine sciences, and the problem of distinguishing the false from the true. And just as prudence, distinguishing good and evil, is characteristic of people of the temperate zone, and the scientific pursuit of truth to the southern races, so that art which lies in manual dexterity is more marked among northern races than any other.

Spaniards and Italians are filled with admiration at the many and diverse manufactured articles that they import from Germany, England, and Flanders.

There are three principal parts of the soul in a man, that is to say the speculative reason, the practical reason, and the factive imagination. Similarly in the commonwealth priests and philosophers are concerned with the exploration of divine and occult science, magistrates and officers with commanding, judging, and providing for the government of the commonwealth, the ordinary subjects with labour and the mechanical arts. The same characteristics are to be observed in the universal commonwealth of the world. God in His miraculous wisdom has so ordered it that the southern races are ordained to search into the most abstruse sciences in order that thereby they might teach the rest. The northern races are ordained to labour and the mechanical arts, and the people of the middle regions to bargain, trade, judge, persuade, command, establish commonwealths, and make laws and ordinances for the other races. The northern peoples from lack of prudence are not apt for this, neither are southern peoples, either because too given up to the contemplation of matters divine and natural, or because they lack that promptness and energy required in human activities, or because they cannot compromise, nor dissimulate, nor endure the fatigues necessary to a life given to active politics. ...

These are the general characteristics of the different races of men. As for their particular characteristics, there are of course men of all kinds of temperament in all localities and countries, though more or less subject to these general conditions which I have described. Moreover the particular can greatly modify the general character of the country. Though there is no identifiable boundary between east and west, as there is between north and south, all the ancients held that oriental peoples were gentler, more courteous, tractable, and intelligent than western peoples, though less warlike. 'See', said the Emperor Julian, 'how docile and tractable are the Persians and Syrians, the Germans and Celts proud and jealous of their liberty, the Normans both courteous and warlike, the Egyptians intelligent, subtle and generally effeminate.' The Spaniards have observed that the Chinese, the most eastern people we know, are the most intelligent and courteous people in the world, while the Brazilians, the most occidental race, the most barbarous and cruel. In brief, if one reads histories carefully one will find that within the same latitudes the western peoples approximate more to the character of northerners, and orientals to southerners. ...

But the most notable cause of variation is the difference between mountains and plains. Moreover it makes a great difference whether valleys in the same latitude or even on the same parallel are opened to the north or south. This can be seen where a mountain range runs from west to east as do the Apennines dividing Italy into two halves, or the Auvergne mountains in France, the Pyrenees between France and Spain, and the Atlas mountains in Africa, which extend from the Atlantic ocean to the frontiers of Egypt, a distance of six hundred leagues, or the Alps, which start in France and stretch as far as Thrace ... In consequence those who live in Tuscany, for instance, are of a very different complexion and much more intelligent than the inhabitants of Lombardy. Again the natives of Aragon, Valencia, and other provinces south of the Pyrenees differ markedly from Gascons and the men of Languedoc, who have many of the characteristics of northern races ... It is no wonder then that the Florentine, whose country lies open on the east and the south and is protected by mountains to the north and west has a much more subtle nature than the Venetian and is more skilled in the management of affairs. All the same, when Florentines attempt collective action they ruin all, whereas Venetians in council manage affairs most capably and have done for the past two hundred years. For men of a less subtle spirit listen to reason, are capable of modifying their opinions, and are guided by the most experienced. But subtle and ambitious spirits hold to their own point of view and abandon their preconceptions with reluctance. As each believes himself capable of commanding the rest they prefer a popular form of government. But they cannot maintain such without incessant disputes and disorders, because of the natural obstinacy characteristic of a southern and melancholic race, or one whose particular situation inclines them to the characteristics of a southern race. ...

But one sees the Swiss Confederates wisely preserve their popular forms of government in a way that the Florentines and inhabitants of Genoa, for all their talents, cannot accomplish. For northern races, or those who live in mountainous regions, are proud and warlike, relying on their physical prowess, and so they prefer popular states, or at any rate elective monarchies, and will not endure to be ruled by pretentious boasters. All their kings are elective, and they expel them the moment they turn tyrant, as was done to the Kings of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Bohemia, and Tartary. What I have said about the characteristics of northern countries applies also to mountainous countries, where the climate is often colder than it is in the extreme north ... Their strength and vigour disposes mountaineers to love popular liberty, and to be impatient of dictation. We have pointed this out in the case of the Swiss and the inhabitants of the Grisons. It is also true of the people of Fez, Morocco, and Arabia, who live in complete liberty without anyone lording it over them. This is not a consequence of confidence born of the natural impregnability of their country, but comes from their naturally savage nature which cannot be easily tamed. Herein lies the answer to a question raised by Plutarch, as to why the dwellers on the acropolis in Athens demanded a popular form of government, while those of the lower town preferred the government of an aristocratic group. They are much mistaken therefore who wish to convert the popular states of the Swiss, the Grisons and other mountain people into monarchies. For although monarchy is absolutely the best type of government, they are not fit subjects for such a form. ...

Another factor in the variations of climate is the prevailing wind. Places subject to strong winds induce a different moral type in their inhabitants from other places in the same latitude. Where the air is soft and gentle, men are much more composed and equable than are those who are buffeted by violent tempests. France, especially Languedoc, southern Germany, Hungary, Thrace, Portugal, and Persia are inhabited by men of a much more turbulent and excitable temperament than are the Italians, Anatolians, Assyrians, or Egyptians, where the stillness of the atmosphere makes men much more docile. Marshes also produce a different type of men than do mountains. Even the relative sterility or fertility of the soil modifies the natural effects of climate. Livy remarks that the inhabitants of rich and fertile country are normally mean and cowardly, whereas a barren soil makes men sober of necessity, and in consequence careful, vigilant, and industrious. The Athenians were of this type, and they punished idleness with death. ...

If anyone would understand how nurture, laws, and customs have power to modify the natural disposition of a people, he has only to look at the example of Germany. In Tacitus' day its inhabitants knew neither laws, religion, the sciences, nor any form of commonwealth. Now they are second to none in all these achievements ... On the other hand the Romans have lost the greatness and virtue of their fathers and are nowadays idle, mean, and cowardly ... If the discipline of laws and customs is not maintained, a people will quickly revert to its natural type. If men are transplanted from one country to another, although they do not react as quickly as plants which suck their nourishment from the very soil, nevertheless in time they also will change. The Goths who invaded Spain and southern Languedoc illustrate this point, and so do the ancient Gauls who peopled the Black Forest region of Germany. Caesar said that in his time, which was five hundred years after their migration, they had so changed their nature and their habits as to have become German. ...

We have said in general terms that southern races are by nature contrary to northern races. The latter are tall and robust, the former small and feeble. The one rustic and uncouth, the other courteous and ceremonious. The one extravagant and rapacious, the other tenacious and avaricious. The one warlike, the other philosophical. The one inured to arms and to labour, the other to learning and repose. If the southerner is opinionated, as Plutarch says he is when he is discussing Africans, and sticks to the same ideas throughout his life, the others are obviously unstable and incapable of persisting in anything. But those of the middle region display a mean of virtue, between obstinacy and frivolity. They cannot be dissuaded of their opinions without reason, as can northerners, nor are they so set that they would rather overturn the state than alter their views ... When one considers the inhabitants of the middle region, one must always think of them in relative terms, as having the propensities of the extremities but in a modified form. One must also take into consideration the particular influences of winds, humidity, the soil, the influence of laws and customs, and not merely concern oneself with climate. ...

So much for the natural inclinations of peoples. As I have said, this compulsion is not of the order of necessity. But it is a very important matter for all those who are concerned with the establishment of the commonwealth, its laws and its customs. They must know when and how to overcome, and when and how to humour these inclinations. Let us now consider means of preventing disorders that arise over the question of property.

How to Prevent those Disorders which spring from Excessive Wealth and Excessive Poverty [CHAPTER II]

THE commonest cause of disorders and revolutions in commonwealths has always been the too great wealth of a handful of citizens, and the too great poverty of the rest. The histories are full of occasions on which those who have given all sorts of reasons for their discontents have taken the first opportunity that offered of despoiling the rich of their possessions ... For this reason Plato called riches and poverty the two original plagues of the commonwealth, not only because of the misery that hunger occasions, but the shame, and shame is a very evil and dangerous malady. To remedy this condition of things, it has been suggested that there should be an equality of possessions. This suggestion has been strongly supported, and it has been claimed that it would prove a source of peace and amity among subjects, whereas inequality is the source of enmity, faction, hatred, and prejudice. He who has more than another, and is conscious of being richer in possessions, thinks he should also enjoy a greater measure of honour, luxury, pleasure, have more food and more clothes. He thinks he should be looked up to by the poor whom he despises and treads underfoot. The poor, for their part, suffer acute envy and jealousy in considering themselves just as worthy or even more worthy of riches, yet oppressed by hunger, poverty, misery, and contempt. Therefore many architects of republics in the ancient world advocated an equal division of property among all subjects. Even within living memory Thomas More, the Chancellor of England, in his Republic laid down that a necessary condition of general well-being was that men should enjoy a community of goods, which is not possible where there are private property rights ... Lycurgus accomplished this at the risk of his life, for after having prohibited the circulation of gold and silver, he made an equal division of all lands... The Romans as a people were more equitable and had more understanding of the principles of justice than any other. They often decreed a general remission of debts, sometimes to the amount of one quarter, or one third, sometimes even the whole amount. This was the best and quickest way they found of composing disorders and discontents. ...

On the other side it can be argued that equality of possessions is subversive of the commonwealth. The surest foundation of a commonwealth is public confidence, for without it neither justice, nor any sort of lasting association is possible. Confidence only arises where promises and legal obligations are honoured. If these obligations are cancelled, contracts annulled, debts abolished, what else can one expect but the total subversion of the state, for none would any longer have any confidence in his fellows ... But if the inconveniences of such abolitions are obvious, still more unfortunate is the equal division of lands and possessions which are cither rightful inheritances, or justly acquired. In the case of debts, one can make the excuse of usury. But this cannot be alleged against lands legitimately inherited. Such partitions of the goods of another is robbery in the name of equality. Moreover to say that equality is the mother of amity is to abuse the ignorant, for there is no hatred so bitter, or enmity so deadly as that between equals. Jealousy of equals one of another is the source of unrest, disorder, and civil war. On the other hand the poor, the weak, and the unprotected defer to and obey their betters, the rich and the powerful, most willingly, with a view to their assistance, and the advantages they hope will accrue. ...

Besides, what Lycurgus intended in dividing up property among individuals to preserve equality of heritages in perpetuity was a thing impossible of achievement. He could see for himself that the original equality between individuals was almost immediately upset by the fact that some parents had twelve or fifteen children, and others one or two, or even none at all... Some, like Hippodamus the Milesian lawgiver, have tried to solve this difficulty by limiting the citizen body to ten thousand ... Sir Thomas More, the English Chancellor, thought that no family should consist of less than ten or more than sixteen children, as if he could command nature ... But one should never be afraid of having too many subjects or too many citizens, for the strength of the commonwealth consists in men. Moreover the greater the multitude of citizens, the greater check there is on factious seditions. For there will be many in an intermediate position between the rich and the poor, the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish. There is nothing more dangerous to the commonwealth than that its subjects should be divided into two factions, with none to mediate between them. This is the normal situation in a small commonwealth of few citizens. Let us therefore reject the schemes of those who wish to introduce equality of property in commonwealths already founded, by taking a man's property from him, instead of securing to each that which belongs to him, for this is the only way of establishing natural justice. Let us also reject the idea of limiting the number of citizens, and conclude that there should be no partition of inheritances except on the foundation of a new commonwealth in a conquered country. In such case the division should be by families and not by individuals, and a certain pre-eminence should be accorded to one particular family, and an order of priority established within each family. ...

The law of God shows us plainly how matters should be arranged ... By that law the principle of an exact equality is not sustained, for some are assigned more, some less than others. The tribe of Levi apart, there was an even distribution of lands among the twelve tribes. In the family there was an equal division of property among the younger sons, saving the right of the first-born (to a double portion). He was not allowed even four-fifths or two-thirds, much less the whole of the inheritance. This was for fear that so great a degree of inequality might occasion fratricides, quarrels between the tribes, or conflicts and civil wars between subjects. But in order to maintain this balance between too much or too little, alienation either to living persons, or by will, must not be prohibited, as it is in some places, provided that the provisions of the law of God are observed. That is to say all alienated inheritances revert to the house or family from which they have been withdrawn after fifty years. In this way those who get into difficulties, and have to sell their heritages in order to provide for the necessities of life, can redeem them any time within fifty years, at which term they will return to them or their heirs. In this way bad managers are not able to dissipate their estates permanently, and the avarice of successful managers is kept in check.

As to the abolition of debts, such a proceeding sets a very bad example, as already said. This is not so much because of the loss to creditors, for this is a matter of little moment by comparison with the public interest. What is more serious is the excuse it affords of violating legitimate agreements, and the encouragement it gives to dissatisfied persons to make trouble, in the hope of promoting a remission of debts. ...

What is most to be feared is that one of the estates of the commonwealth, and that the weakest and least numerous, should become as rich as all the rest put together. This was once the position of the estate of the clergy. An estate of the commonwealth which numbered only one hundredth part of the subjects, collected tithes of all sorts, and, in defiance of the decrees of the primitive Church, as the popes themselves confessed, secured testamentary bequests of both movables and real estate, duchies, counties, baronies, fiefs, castles, houses in town and country, rents all over the place, and sold or exchanged them, and acquired and pledged the revenues of benefices to use the money for further acquisitions. Moreover all this property was exempt from taxes, imposts, and charges of all sorts. It was in the end found necessary to issue an injunction requiring ecclesiastics to surrender inheritances and real estate left to the Church, within a certain time on pain of confiscation, as was done in England by a statute of King Edward I ... I am not concerned as to whether this property was employed as it ought to have been. What I do say is that so unequal a distribution was perhaps the cause of the disorders and revolts against the estate of the clergy which broke out over practically all Europe, though all was done under the pretext of religion. But if that pretext had not been to hand, another would have been found, as was the case earlier when attacks were made on the Order of the Temple, and on the Jews. ...

It would seem however that where the eldest son succeeds of right to the whole estate, as was the rule with the seven thousand Spartan citizens, the splendour and dignity of ancient families is much better preserved and their decline prevented. This, it is argued, benefits the whole estate of the realm, for it is the more firmly established and more stable for being founded on old-established families as upon great and immovable pillars. The weight of a great building cannot be borne by slender columns, even if they are numerous. In fact it appears that the greatness of the kingdoms of France and Spain is largely due to their noble and illustrious houses, and on their ancient guilds and corporations, which once dismembered would lose their value.

But this argument appears more convincing than it is, except where the state is an aristocracy. What the monarch, especially the despotic or tyrannical monarch, has most to fear, are the noble houses and powerful guilds and corporations. As for the popular state, based as it is upon the principle of equality in all things, how can it allow so great an inequality within families that one inherits all and the rest starve? All the rebellions that vexed Greece and Rome arose out of this circumstance. But in the aristocratic state, where the rulers are in principle not the equals of ordinary folk, the custom of primogeniture is preservative, as it was in the aristocratic state of Sparta. ...

Concerning Rewards and Punishments [CHAPTER IV][10]

THE subject of rewards and punishments must be treated very briefly. To do so exhaustively would require a major work, for these two things affect every aspect of the life of all commonwealths. If punishments and rewards are well and wisely distributed, the commonwealth will continue happy and flourishing. But if able and upright citizens do not receive the reward of their merits, or wicked ones the punishments which they deserve, there is no hope that the commonwealth can long endure. There is probably no more frequent occasion, or more immediate cause of troubles, disorders, and civil wars, leading to the downfall of commonwealths than the neglect of men of ability, and the favour that it shows to the unworthy. It is not however so necessary to discuss punishment as to discuss rewards, since all laws and customs deal extensively with them, for vice is commoner than virtue, and there are more wicked men than virtuous. But since punishments are in themselves hateful, and rewards acceptable, wise princes have always been accustomed to hand over the infliction of penalties to magistrates, but to reserve the bestowing of favours to themselves. They thus win the love of their subjects and avoid all ill will. For this reason jurists and magistrates have treated the theme of punishment very fully but hardly touched on rewards. ...

All rewards are either honourable or profitable ... When we speak of rewards we mean triumphs, statues, honourable charges, estates, offices, benefices, gifts; or immunities from all or some particular burdens such as tallages, imposts, wardship, military service, and exemptions from the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts; or letters patent of citizenship, of legitimization, of nobility, knighthood, and such like honours. If however the office is an obligation without honour, then it is not a reward, but on the contrary a charge or burden.

Honours must not be confused with favours, for honours are the reward of merit, but favours are acts of grace. The diversity of character in commonwealths diversifies the principles on which honours and favours are distributed. There is a great difference between monarchies and popular and aristocratic states. In popular states rewards are more honourable than profitable, for humble folks are only concerned with profit, and care little about honours. They therefore bestow them easily and willingly on those who want them. The contrary is the case in a monarchy, for the prince, who distributes all awards, is more jealous of bestowing honour than profit. In a tyranny especially, there is nothing that a prince more dislikes than to see a subject honoured and respected, for he fears that a taste for honours will incite the subject to aspire higher, and aim at the state itself. Sometimes the nature of the tyrant is such that he cannot endure the light of virtue. We read of the Emperor Caligula, that he was jealous and envious of the honour paid to God Himself, of the Emperor Domitian, the meanest and most cowardly tyrant that ever was, that he was so unable to endure that honour should be paid to those who had most merited it, that he caused them to be put to death. Instead of rewarding illustrious citizens, princes do sometimes cause them to be killed, or banished, or condemned to perpetual imprisonment in order to safeguard their own position. Alexander the Great did this to his Constable Parmenion, Justinian to Belisarius, Edward IV to the Earl of Warwick. Many others have been killed, poisoned, or maltreated as a reward for their prowess. ...

One never finds monarchs therefore and still less tyrants, who are willing to grant triumphs or state entries to their subjects, however overwhelming the victory they may have won over the enemy. On the contrary, the wise captain, in place of a triumph on his return from the wars bares his head before his sovereign with the words, 'yours, Sire, is the glory', even though the prince was nowhere near the field of battle ... One could of course say of popular states as well that the victory of its captains is ascribed to the people under whose banner they fought. Nevertheless the honour of a triumph is accorded the captain, a thing which never happens in a monarchy. This is the principal, and perhaps the sole reason, why there is always a greater number of illustrious citizens to be found in well-ordered popular states than in a monarchy. Honour, which is the sole reward of virtue, is denied or severely restricted in the case of those who have merited it in a monarchy, but freely granted in a well-ordered popular state, especially for prowess in war. A high and generous spirit covets honour more than all the riches in the world, and will not hesitate to sacrifice life and possessions for the sake of the glory it aspires to. The greater the honours awarded, the more men will be forthcoming who merit them. It was for this reason that the Roman Republic produced more great captains, wise senators, eloquent orators, and learned judges than any other republic, barbarian, Greek, or Latin. Anyone who had put to flight a legion of the enemy could demand a triumph, or at least some honourable distinction, and he could hardly fail to achieve one or the other ... The wisdom of the ancient Romans is to be much admired in this respect. By the same expedient they avoided both a money recompense and the appeal to avarice, and engraved the love of virtue on the hearts of their subjects with the graving-tool of honour. Other princes found enough money for material rewards with the greatest difficulty, exhausting their revenues, selling domain, oppressing their subjects by confiscating the property of some and despoiling others to recompense their creatures (though indeed virtue cannot be calculated in terms of money). The Romans only gave honours. ...

It is however impossible ever to control the distribution of honours and punishments once the prince has offered offices and benefices for sale. This is the most dangerous and pernicious evil that can befall the commonwealth. All nations have provided against it by good laws. In this kingdom the ordinances of St. Louis brand with infamy those who have used influence to get offices of justice. This rule was well kept till the time of Francis I, and is most strictly observed in England, as I have learned from the English ambassador Randon[11] ... There is no need to enumerate the disadvantages and miseries that befall the Republic where office is sold; it would be a long recital, and only too familiar to everyone. It is more difficult to persuade a popular state that such traffic is desirable than an aristocracy. It is a means of excluding the lower classes from positions of importance, for in popular states the poor expect to enjoy office without paying for it. All the same, it is not easy even there to enforce the prohibition when the poor see a chance of profit in electing ambitious men.

In the case of a monarchy, financial pressure sometimes forces the monarch to set aside good laws to relieve his necessity. But once one has opened the door to such a practice, it is almost impossible to halt the decline ... For it is unquestionable that those who put honours, offices, and benefices up for sale, thereby sell the most precious thing in this world, and that is justice. They sell the commonwealth, they sell the blood of its subjects, they sell the laws. In taking away the rewards of honour, virtue, learning, piety, and religion, they open the door to robbery, extortion, avarice, injustice, ignorance, impiety, in short, every sort of vice and corruption. The prince cannot excuse himself on grounds of poverty. There is no real or even likely excuse for compassing the ruin of the commonwealth under cover of poverty. It is in any case ridiculous for a prince to plead poverty when there are so many other ways of relieving it, if he will give his mind to the matter. ...

Let then the prince leave the infliction of punishments to his magistrates and officers, as we have said is expedient, and himself distribute honours to whom they pertain, giving favours little by little, in order that the grace may be more lasting, and punishments immediately, in order that the pain may be less grievous to him who suffers it, and fear the better impressed on the hearts of the rest. In so doing, he will not only fill the commonwealth with virtuous men and drive out the wicked, which is the sum of the felicity of the commonwealth, but he will acquit himself of his debts, if he is indebted, and if be is quit already, he will preserve the funds in his treasury. ...

Therefore if on enquiry into the career and character of all who aspire to honours, offices, benefices, knighthoods, exemptions, immunities, gifts, and honours of all sorts, their lives are found to be evil and depraved, not only ought they to be refused, but punished. But honours should be given to worthy men, according to the deserts of each on the principle of harmonic justice. That is to say that finance should go to the most honest, arms to the bravest, justice to the most upright, moral discipline to those of greatest integrity, work to the strongest, government to the wisest, priesthood to the most devout. At the same time due regard must be paid to the birth, riches, age, and capacity of each, and the requirements of the various charges and offices. For it is ridiculous to seek to appoint a warlike judge, a courageous prelate, a conscientious soldier. ...[12]

Whether it is expedient to Arm Subjects, Fortify, and organize for War [CHAPTER V]

THIS is one of the most important problems of policy, and one of the most difficult to solve, because of the disadvantages of either course of action. I will summarize them as well as I can, and indicate what I think the best course, but the practical solution must be left to the skill of statesmen. Simply to follow Aristotle and say that the city should be well fortified, and so placed as to be a good base for aggressive operations, but difficult of access to the enemy, does not take into account the real difficulties. One must consider whether the same policy is as suitable in a monarchy as in a popular state, and in a tyranny as in a kingdom, seeing that, as we have already shown, commonwealths of contrary tendencies need regulating by contrary institutions.

It is said, for instance, that nothing is more destructive of a warlike spirit in the subject than fortifications, since they turn the inhabitants into cowards ... Again, citadels and defence works encourage bad rulers to oppress their subjects. Strong walls also enable subjects to rebel against their sovereign lords and rulers. For this reason the Kings of England do not allow any of their subjects to fortify their houses, even with a moat ... But all fortified cities, which cannot hope to sustain a long siege, generally treat and secure the withdrawal of the enemy by an indemnity, and they can do this without any shame or reproach ... This could not be done if the city were well fortified, because of the dishonour attached to those who make composition with an enemy they could have resisted ... If then it is true that fortresses offer opportunities to evil princes to tyrannize over their subjects, to enemies to occupy the country, to subjects to show themselves cowards in the face of the enemy, rebel against their prince, and scheme against one another, it cannot be argued that they are either useful or necessary, but on the contrary, they are harmful and destructive of the commonwealth.

But on the general question of whether one should train citizens to arms, and seek war rather than peace, there appears to be no doubt as to the answer. A commonwealth is to be esteemed happy where the king is obedient to divine and natural law, the magistrate to the king, subjects to the magistrate, children to parents, servants to masters, and where subjects are bound to each other and to their prince by ties of affection, for the enjoyment of the blessings of peace and true tranquillity of spirit. War is a condition quite contrary to this, and warriors are sworn enemies to such a way of life. It is not possible for religion, justice, charity, security of life, in short, all the liberal sciences and mechanical arts to nourish in any commonwealth which does not enjoy a profound and lasting peace. But such a state of affairs is ruination to professional soldiers, for times of piping peace render their calling useless. No one is a greater enemy to a man of peace than a rough soldier, to the good peasant than brutal mercenary, to the philosopher than the captain, to the wise than fools. What the fighting man most enjoys is to devastate the countryside, rob peasants, bum villages, besiege, storm and sack towns, slaughter good and evil alike, young and old of whatever age or sex, ravish women, drench themselves in blood, defile sacred things, raze churches, blaspheme the holy name, and tread underfoot all rights, human and divine. Such are the fruits of war, pleasing and agreeable to men of war, but abominable to men of good will, and detestable in the sight of God. There is no need to enlarge upon what has been practised in so many places, when the very memory is sufficient to make the hair of the boldest stand on end. If this be so then one should on no account train subjects in arms and start them on the road to so execrable a way of life, nor indeed make war at all, except as a measure of defence in cases of extreme necessity. ...

Such are the arguments on one side. But one can argue on the other side that unfortified towns are exposed to spoliation by the first comer, and the lives of their inhabitants are at the mercy of all. Moreover it would appear that open towns are a temptation to all those who contemplate aggression, whereas walls deprive the enemy of both the will and the power to attack. In like case those who travel unarmed invite thieves and robbers to kill them for what they carry on them. One knows very well that the loot of captured towns is held out as a reward to troops. They are the natural enemies of the weak, but dare attempt little against the well-armed. It must also be remembered that the first and only occasion of men gathering together into societies and communities was for the safety and defence of each in particular and all in general whether women and children, or goods and chattels. This could not be secured unless towns were fortified. For to say that men are the best defence against the enemy is only applicable on the actual field of battle. In any case those who can thus defend themselves are never more than a fourth part of the inhabitants, for there are always more women than men in any community, and there are besides children and old people, the sick and the helpless, and their protection must he in strong walls. It is moreover ridiculous to say that men are more valiant if they have no fortifications to rely on. If this is so, one should not permit the use of a shield or defensive armour in face of the enemy. Logically we should then prohibit men from fighting otherwise than quite naked ... Besides, the experience of many centuries has shown that we must do as the Persians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Gauls did of old, and fortify, equip with arms, and provision towns, ports and fortifiable sites, for the defence and security of friends, and resistance against the enemy.

Such are the arguments in support of the view that towns should be fortified. For the same reasons we hold that the subject should be trained to arms. For since the right to preserve life and punish thieves is recognized by divine, natural, and positive law, it must be presumed that subjects ought to be practised in arms, not only for defensive, but also for offensive purposes, in order to shield the innocent and repulse the wicked. I call all those who bring unjust war, and lay hands upon the possessions of others, thieves and villains. If one must take vengeance on thievish and predatory subjects, it follows that one must also do so on foreigners who behave as such, whatever title of kingship they bear. This obligation is founded on divine and natural law.

There are other and more particular considerations. In the first place, the best way of preserving a state, and guaranteeing it against sedition, rebellion, and civil war is to keep the subjects in amity one with another, and to this end, to find an enemy against whom they can make common cause. Examples of this can be found in all commonwealths. The Romans are a specially good illustration. They could find no better antidote to civil war, nor one more certain in its effects, than to oppose an enemy to the citizens. On one occasion, when they were engaged in bitter mutual strife, the enemy found his way into the city and seized the Capitol. The citizens instantly composed their differences, and united to expel the enemy... Without looking further afield, we have an example in this kingdom when it was in grave peril in 1562. The English set foot in France and seized Havre de Grace, whereupon the civil war was abandoned, and the subjects united to make common cause against the enemy. Perceiving which, the English resolved to leave the French to fight one another, and wait till they were thereby altogether ruined, when they might invade the kingdom without difficulty, or the danger of encountering resistance. ...

Unrestrained freedom inflates men and encourages them to abandon themselves to every sort of vice. Fear however keeps them mindful of their duty. One can have no doubt that the great Ruler and Governor of the whole world, in creating things so that each is balanced by its contrary, permits wars and enmities between men to punish them the one by the other, and keep all in fear, for fear is the sole inducement to virtue. When Samuel addressed the people, he told them plainly that God had raised up enemies against them to keep them humble, and to try, prove, and punish them. These considerations serve to show how wrong are those who say that the sole end of war is peace. ...

These arguments have a measure of truth, and are in part valid, and can on the one side or the other blind the eyes of the most clear-sighted, if one does not look too carefully into them. To resolve the problem satisfactorily one must distinguish between the different kinds of commonwealth. I hold that in a popular state it is expedient to train the subjects to arms because of the weaknesses to which I infer popular states are prone by their very nature. If the subjects are naturally warlike and intractable, as are northern peoples, once they are trained in the art of war and in military discipline, it is expedient to keep them frequently engaged against an enemy, and only make peace, a condition not adapted to a warlike people, on very advantageous terms. Even when peace is concluded, an army must be maintained and kept on the frontiers. This was Augustus' policy after he had converted a popular state into a monarchy. The alternative is to hire them out to allied princes, as the governments of the Confederates very wisely do, to keep them practised in the military art. They have to deal with a mountain population, apt for war and difficult to keep at peace, and used to the enjoyment of popular liberty. By this policy they are always provided with experienced soldiers, maintained at the expense of others, who at the same time earn considerable subsidies for the state, and pensions for individuals. Added to which their safety is assured by the alliances thus formed with some puissant king.

As to fortifications, there is no need for the towns to be very heavily fortified except the capital city, which is the seat of government in a popular state. Even less is there any need of a multiplication of castles and citadels. For one may be sure that ambition will move someone or other to seize a fortified place, and then convert the popular state into a monarchy, as did Dionysius the tyrant, after taking Acradine in Syracuse ... In our own day Cosimo de' Medici, Duke of Florence, constructed two citadels in Florence and garrisoned them with foreigners, having found out that it was impossible to live secure in the midst of his subjects once he had converted the popular state into a monarchy. Such considerations explain why the Cantons of Uri, Interwalden, Glarus, and Appenzel, which are extreme democracies, have no fortified towns as have the others whose government is aristocratic.

The same considerations regarding fortresses hold good in aristocracies as in popular states, for there is no less danger that one of the seigneurs will make himself master of his colleagues. Indeed it is even more to be feared in that it is easier for one of the seigneurs to secure a following among the simple citizens and so make head against the more powerful. Above all, in kingdoms which are long-established and extensive, it is never expedient for the prince to erect citadels and strongholds except on the frontiers, least his subjects suspect that he intends to become their tyrant. But if he encircles his kingdom with strong frontier posts, his subjects will believe that they are directed against the enemy, and the prince, at need, can use them either to repel the enemy, or master his subjects should they rebel. ...

So much for fortifications. It is much more difficult to determine, in an aristocracy, whether it is better to arm only the governing class, or the ordinary citizen as well, or to keep all indifferently unarmed. If the lower classes are once armed, and not then constantly employed against the enemy, there is no doubt that sooner or later they will try to, and succeed in, changing the form of the government in order to have a share themselves, as I have already shown. If only the ruling class is armed, one day they will be defeated in the field, and again, this will of necessity entail a change of government. If on the other hand they prohibit the practice of military art altogether in the commonwealth, they will by and by fall a prey to their neighbours, unless protected by a close alliance with powerful friends, or unless their cities are inaccessible and their fortifications impregnable. There is the example of the Venetians. Fearful of the dangers I have described, they prohibited the practice of arms altogether, as the Cardinal Contarini has shown, though they achieved this only gradually over a period of about two hundred years. They were once a belligerent people, and sustained long wars, and beat the Genoese in set battles by sea and by land. But since then they have enjoyed a long period of secure peace, and have gradually abandoned the military arts, relying for their assistance on foreigners... And if, as many think, one should only make war to secure peace, and all that is required for the welfare of the commonwealth is that by being well armed and fortified it can defend its own against an enemy and enjoy the blessings of peace, the Republic of Venice may be called happy. It is situated in an impregnable position, and cares little for conquest, or the expansion of its territories. We find that the Venetians have always avoided war like the plague, and never wage it save in cases of extreme necessity, but seek peace at any price, even at the cost of the loss and diminution of their domains ... But such a policy seems contemptible to a warlike people, or an ambitious prince, who cannot sue for peace at the hands of the enemy without shame. ...

A wise prince should never permit the enemy to invade his kingdom if he can by any means scatter their forces or check their advance before they can cross the frontier, or at any rate unless he has a second army, and some impregnable base to which he can retreat. Otherwise he risks all on a single battle. This was the error of Antiochus, Perseus, and Ptolemy, the last King of Egypt, in the war with the Romans; of Darius in the war with Alexander, and the French time and time again in the wars with England ... But Francis I took his army across the Alps in order to keep his country free from war, and attacked the enemy in laying siege to Pavia. Apart from the devastation which two powerful armies would have caused in France, the capture of the King would have exposed the kingdom to great danger. But happening, as it did, in Italy, and the victors being at first content with their success, time was given to the King's subjects to rally their forces and secure the frontiers ... I do not wish to enter into any discussion of the art of war, for others have treated of this subject.[13] I am only concerned with what touches the state. I hold that the prince should provide for the thorough fortification of his frontiers, and if he suspects that any enemy contemplates invading his territory, he ought to anticipate him and wage war as far from his own frontiers as possible. ...

Experienced statesmen separate the profession of arms from other employments. In the Republic of Crete only certain persons were permitted to bear arms, just as in France in ancient times only men provided with a horse had such a duty, and the druids were exempt... For this reason Plato divided the people into three classes of guardians, warriors, and producers, following in this the example of the Egyptians who distinguished three estates, according to employment. Gradually the Athenians too separated the profession of arms from that of justice and administration. The Romans did the same in the time of the Emperor Augustus. He forbad to senators, proconsuls, and governors of provinces the carrying of arms, so much so that in course of time non-military offices came to be known as honours, as we may read in Cassiodorus' letters, concerning the state of a provincial governor. In consequence all nations in their turn separated the callings of arms, and of justice and civil administration. For it is very difficult to excel in one profession, and quite impossible in many. One cannot worthily fill many offices. Furthermore it is almost impossible to train all the subjects of a commonwealth in the use of arms, and at the same time keep them obedient to the laws and to the magistrates. ...

This was the reason why Francis I disbanded the seven regiments each of six thousand foot in 1534. Although his successor raised them again eighteen years later, they had to be again disbanded because of the disorders and riots they occasioned in various places. All the same, in the opinion of foreign experts who had examined the ordinances establishing these regiments, no better scheme could have been devised for fostering the profession of arms. It is a policy more necessary to this country than any other in the world, seeing that it is surrounded by powerful neighbours who have the habit of raiding it as if it were conquered territory. ...

In conclusion it seems to me that the well-ordered commonwealth of any type whatsoever should keep its approaches and frontiers well fortified, and should provide itself with an adequate force of trained fighting men. These should be maintained by grants of land reserved for combatants, but granted for life only, as was originally the practice with fiefs and feudal lands, and as is still the practice with the timars and timariots of Turkey, on condition that they serve four or at the least three months of the year without pay, following ancient custom. Moreover it must be emphasized that these holdings can no more be made heritable, pledged, or alienated than can benefices.

Until the time that one can restore the original character of fiefs, a certain number of regiments of foot soldiers and mounted men should be raised, according to the importance, extent, and greatness of the commonwealth. In time of peace these men should be trained in military discipline from their youth up, in garrison duty on the frontiers, after the example of the ancient Romans. The Romans did not even expect free maintenance for their pains, much less the right to loot, rob, beat up, and murder civilians as troops now do. A camp with them was a school of honour, of sobriety, chastity, justice, and virtue, and no one was allowed to avenge his own injuries or take the law into his own hands.

In order to maintain this discipline, one should follow the Turkish practice and reward good officers and men, especially when they grow old, with certain exemptions, privileges, immunities, and benefits. It is not excessive if a third part of the revenues are assigned to the payment of the army, in order to secure that there are men ready for the defence of the state when need arises, especially if the commonwealth is an object of envy, and surrounded by warlike neighbours, as are the people inhabiting the temperate and fertile regions of France, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Persia, and the islands of the Mediterranean. The people situated at the extremes of north and south, such as the Ethiopians, Numidians, Negroes, Tartars, Goths, Russians, Scots, and Swedes have no need of strong fortifications or standing armies in times of peace, having no enemies other than themselves. In any case the people of the extreme north are naturally only too warlike. Most or all of them are horsemen and skilled in arms, and need no special training for such pursuits, or to be set to fight, unless it be to rid the country of those that cannot be induced to live peaceably. ...

For the rest, the carrying of arms should be forbidden to all other subjects in order that labourers and craftsmen should not be tempted to desert the plough and the workshop and take to robbery. Not having any experience of the proper use of weapons, when it is a question of marching against the enemy, they either desert, or panic at the first onset and throw the whole army into confusion. As Thomas More says in his Republic, all the ancients and all wise captains agree that craftsmen and men of sedentary occupations, used to security, are totally unfitted for the business of war.

The keeping of Treaties and Alliances between Princes [CHAPTER VI]

THIS discussion arises out of the foregoing, and must on no account be omitted, seeing that writers on law and politics have never treated of it, though there is no matter of state that more exercises the minds of princes and rulers than the securing of treaties, whether with friends, enemies, neutrals, or their own subjects. Some rely on mutual good faith simply. Others demand hostages. Many add the surrender of fortified places. Others cannot feel safe unless they totally disarm the conquered. It it has always been considered that the best guarantee of a treaty is ratification by a marriage alliance. But just as there is a difference between friends and enemies, victors and vanquished, equals in power and the weak, princes and subjects, so also must the forms of treaties and their appropriate guarantees be diversified. But there is one general and indisputable principle to be observed, and that is that in all treaties there is no better guarantee of its observation than that the clauses and conditions included in it should be suitable to the parties concerned, and conformable to the matters in dispute. ...

As we have shown, true protection is given where a prince freely undertakes to defend another without recompense of any kind. Nevertheless for the better securing of these treaties of protection or commendation, it is customary to offer a pension to the protector or advocate, in the hope that the protector, being bound not only by his oath, but by the payments received, will be more ready to succour his adherent when need arises. It is true that the ancients never followed such a proceeding. But now that honour is weighed against profit, protection is sold for money. This is why a Salvian of Marseilles[14] complains that when the weak seek the protection of the strong, they have to part with all they have to secure it. One knows what enormous sums the people of Lucca, Parma, and Siena, and many other towns, disbursed for their protection.[15] Often enough the pension is paid not so much to secure oneself against one's enemies, as against the protector himself. This happened after the battle of Pavia. All the rulers of Italy turned their attention to the Spaniards, and in order to buy themselves off from the threat of invasion, put themselves under their protection. ...

Treaties of protection expose the protected party to much greater risks than any other kind of alliance, and therefore it is important that the guarantees should be most carefully considered. For lack of such, how often has one not seen an obligation to protect transformed into sovereign rights. He feels safe indeed who commits the sheep to the care of the wolf. It is therefore in the first instance important that treaties of protection should be limited in time, even in the case of aristocracies and popular states where the ruler never dies. For this reason when Geneva put itself under the protection of Berne, the citizens did not wish to bind themselves for more than thirty years. The treaty expired in 1558, when Geneva proposed an alliance with Berne on equal terms. This was only concluded with great difficulty, and only after a crisis in which the city was nearly brought into subjection through the machinations of certain citizens who paid the penalty with their lives ... But the best guarantee for the protected party is to prevent, if possible, the seizure of the fortresses of their towns by the troops of the protector and the introduction of his garrisons into them. The words of the Tribune Brutus to the nobles and people of Rome should never be forgotten, that the only protection that the weak have against the strong whom they fear, is that the latter should not be able to harm them even if they wish to, for the desire to do harm is never lacking in ambitious men who have power to inflict it. On these grounds the Scots were wise when in the treaty which they made in 1559 with the Queen of England, to secure her protection, they stipulated that the hostages surrendered should be changed every six months, and that no fortress should be constructed in Scotland without the consent of the Scots themselves. ...[16]

Many think that it is safest for a prince to adopt a policy of neutrality, and so keep out of other people's wars. The principal argument in support of this view is that whereas loss and expense is shared in common, the fruits of victory all accrue to the ruler on whose behalf the quarrel is sustained, added to which one must declare oneself the enemy of princes who have in no way offended one's interests. But he who remains neutral often finds means to reconcile enemies, and so remains himself everyone's friend, and receives honours and rewards at the hands of both parties. If all princes were aligned against one another in hostile camps, who could compose their differences' And again, what better way is there of maintaining one's state in all its strength than to stand aside while one's neighbours ruin one another? In truth, the greatness of a prince largely depends on the decline and fall of his neighbours, and his strength is measured by other people's weakness. ...

But the arguments on the other side appear stronger. First of all, in matters of state one ought always to be either the stronger, or of the stronger party. There are few exceptions to this rule, whether one is considering a single commonwealth, or a number of princes. Otherwise one falls a prey to the whim of the victor ... Without looking further afield, we have the example of the Florentines. Having abandoned their alliance with the French royal house, but at the same time refusing to join the league of the Pope, the Emperor, the Kings of England and of Spain, they almost immediately felt the evil effects of their neutrality. Someone may object that it was not open to them to join the League. That is true. But it was not open to them either to abandon their obligations to an ally at will, as they did[17] ... One cannot take up a neutral position if one owes assistance to one of the parties under some treaty. The only way of remaining neutral without going in fear of the victor is to secure the consent of the other parties to such a course of action. In fact the duchies of Lorraine, Burgundy, and Savoy maintained their independence so long as they followed a policy of neutrality. But as soon as the Duke of Savoy took sides with the Spaniards, the French drove him from his principality.[18] But there is a great difference in being neutral because the friend of neither party, and neutral because the ally of both. The latter situation is much the safer, since one is secure from attack by the victors, and if any treaties are agreed upon by the contending parties, one is included by both sides.

If neutrality is to be commended in such a case, it is even more laudable in a great prince who surpasses all others in power and dignity. To him falls the honour of being judge and arbiter, for it always happens that the quarrels between princes are composed by some common friend, especially by those who stand above all the others in greatness. In former times many popes, who rightly understood their office, made it their business to reconcile Christian princes and thereby win honour and respect, and favours and protection for their own person and for their office. But those who took sides with one or other party brought ruin on others. The Spaniards thought it very unfitting that Alexander VI, himself a Spaniard by birth, should ally with Louis XII against them. But when the Spaniards themselves had the mastery, he said to the French ambassador that he considered it his role to remain neutral. But it was a little late to try and extinguish the fire he had kindled by putting on a show of piety. ...[19]

Good faith is little regarded by many princes in the alliances which they make with one another. What is more, there are those so perfidious that they only enter into solemn engagements with the intention of deceiving, in this emulating the captain Lysander, who boasted that he cheated adults by his sworn assurances, and children by his conjuring. But God punished his perfidy according to his merits. Perjury is more to be detested than atheism. Since the atheist does not believe in God, he cannot sin so gravely against one in whose existence he does not believe, as the man who does believe, and mocks God in perjuring himself. Perjury therefore always implies impiety and a wicked heart, for he who swears in order to deceive evidently mocks God, fearing only his enemy. It would be better never to call God to witness, or that power one believes to be God, only to mock Him, but only call oneself to witness. That is what Richard, Count of Poitiers, son of the King of England did when he confirmed the privileges of La Rochelle, he simply added the words teste meipso.

Since faith is the sole foundation and prop of that justice on which all commonwealths, alliances, and associations of men whatsoever, is founded, it should be preserved sacred and inviolable in all cases where no injustice is contemplated. This applies most particularly to the relations between princes, for seeing that they are the guarantors of good faith and sworn engagements, what assurance will those subject to them have of their own mutual undertakings if the rulers themselves are the principal breakers and violators of good faith? I have added, 'in all cases where no injustice is contemplated', for it is a double sin to engage one's faith to do an evil act. In such a case he who fails of his promise, so far from being perfidious, is to be commended. In like case, if the prince promises not to do something permitted by natural law, he is not perjured if he breaks his oath. Even the subject is not foresworn who breaks his oath regarding any action permitted by the law. But wise princes should never bind themselves by oath to other princes to do anything forbidden by natural law, or the law of nations, nor should they ever compel princes weaker than themselves to swear to an agreement quite unreasonable in its terms... Not that princes who fail to carry out promises to their disadvantage, which have been exacted from them by their conquerors, escape the dishonour of perjury, as certain doctors argue. These doctors are as ill-informed about the character of the commonwealth as they are about past history, and the true foundations of justice. They treat engagements between sovereign princes as if they were of the same order as contracts and agreements between private citizens. The consequences have been most unfortunate. During the last two to three hundred years this opinion has gained ground, with the result that there has been no treaty, however beneficial, which has not been infringed. It is remarkable that the first legislators and jurists, and the Romans who were models of justice, never thought of such subtleties. For it is very obvious that most treaties of peace are made under constraint, from fear of the victor, or of him who is the stronger party. What fear is more excusable than fear for one's life? Yet the Consul Attilius Regulus, having sworn to the Carthaginians to return, knowing that he was going to his death, took refuge in no such subtle excuses. ...

Jurists rightly hold that faith is not to be kept with him who breaks it. But they go further. They allege that by the decree of the Council of Constance it was laid down that one is not bound to keep faith with enemies of the faith. The Emperor Sigismund had pledged his word to Wenceslas, King of Bohemia, and given a safe-conduct to John Huss and Jerome of Prague, and therefore resisted proceedings against them. To satisfy his conscience a number of jurists, canonists, and theologians, especially Nicholas, Abbot of Palermo, and Luigi da Ponte surnamed

Romanus elaborated this opinion, and it was given the backing of a decree published by the Council. John Huss and his companion were executed, though neither the Council nor the Emperor had any jurisdiction over them, and their natural lord, the King of Bohemia, did not give his consent. But no attention was paid to these things. This is no matter for surprise seeing that Bartolus, the first jurist of his age, maintained that one was not bound to keep faith with individuals in the enemy camp who were not responsible leaders. ...

But if faith should not be kept with the enemy, it ought never to be pledged. On the contrary, if it is permissible to treat with the enemy, it follows that one is bound to honour one's engagements to him. This raises the question as to whether it is permissible to treat with pagans and infidels, as the Emperor Charles V treated with the King of Persia... The Kings of Poland, the Venetians, Genoese, and Ragusans, all made similar alliances with them. The Emperor Charles V himself pledged his word to Martin Luther, though he had been denounced as an enemy to the faith in a Papal bull, that he might safely attend the Imperial Diet at Worms in 1519. There van Eyck, seeing that Luther would not renounce his opinions, cited the decree of Constance as grounds for proceeding against him regardless of the pledged word of the Emperor. But there was not a prince present that did not express horror at van Eyck's petition, and in fact the Emperor dismissed Luther with a safe-conduct, and under armed protection. I do not wish to discuss the merits of the decree, but the opinion of Bartolus, and those who maintain that one need not keep faith with the enemy is not worthy of formal refutation, so contrary is it to ordinary common sense. ...

There have been no greater exponents of the principles of justice and good faith than the ancient Romans. Pompey the Great treated with sea-rovers and pirates, and allowed them to take refuge in certain towns and territories where they could settle under the authority of Rome. But he was well aware that the pirates had a fleet of nine hundred sail, and access to some five hundred coastal towns and villages. Governors could not reach their provinces, nor merchants carry on their business of trading. War could not be made on such a power without exposing the whole Roman state to danger, whereas its dignity was preserved intact by this treaty. If he had not honoured the agreement he made with them, or the Senate had refused to ratify the treaty, the honour of the Republic would have been smirched, and the glory of Pompey's achievement obscured. In normal circumstances however we do not hold that one should either give or receive pledges where pirates are concerned, for one should have no dealings with them, nor observe the rules of the law of nations where they are concerned ... But once one has pledged one's faith to an outlaw, one should keep the engagement. I can think of no better instance of this than that afforded by the Emperor Augustus. He caused it to be published, to the sound of trumpets, that he would give twenty-five thousand scudi to anyone who could deliver to him Crocotas, leader of the Spanish brigands. Crocotas, hearing of it, presented himself before Augustus and claimed the reward of twenty-five thousand scudi. Augustus ordered that he should be paid, and then granted him a free pardon, in order to give a good example of keeping faith, for in such matters the honour of God and of the Republic is involved. ...


1. In 1546 Charles brought a Spanish army under the Duke of Alva to Germany to deal with the rebel Princes, which defeated them at the battle of Mühlberg in 1547.

2. Many French armies perished before Naples. This is probably a reference to the disastrous expedition under de Lautrec in 1528, an incident in the war against Charles V for Italian territory.

3. The Imperial army that sacked Rome in 1527.

4. Bodin makes much use of his Storia d'ltalia, published in 1561, for his treatment of Italian politics.

5. An Italian translation of the original Arabic, Descrittione dell' Africa: e delle cose notabile che ivi sono, appeared in 1550, and a French one, Historiale description de I'Afrique, in 1556.

6. The original Spanish appeared in a French translation as Histoire de I'Ethiopie décrite par dom. F. Alvarez en son voyage, 1566 and 1568.

7. B. de las Casas, Brevissima relacíon de la destruycíon lie las Indas, 1552.

8. Frothe was a legendary King of Denmark, who appears in Saxo Grammaticus, Historia Danerum (published 1514) as a pattern of the primitive legislator.

9. Matthias Hunyady, surnamed the Just, for his great work of legal reform. He was a prince of the renaissance, who preferred Italian models in architecture, learning, and legal administration, to the traditional feudal institutions of Hungary. Hence the measure of resistance referred to by Bodin.

10. In chapter III confiscations are discussed, with a view to showing how dangerous and short-sighted is this form of revenue-hunting.

11. This must be Sir Thomas Randolph. He was sent twice to Paris on a special mission, in 1573 and again in 1576. On each occasion he had some private talks with the Duc d'Alençon, Bodin's patron.

12. Much of what Bodin had to say about the distribution of rewards must have been inspired by dislike of developments in France, for Francis I had systematized the traffic in offices, and in 1522 set up a special Bureau des parties casuelles to administer it. Much opposition was offered. Complaints were made already at the Estates of Tours in 1484. The practice was forbidden by the Ordinance of Orleans in 1561 and that of Moulins in 1566, and officials on appointment had to take an oath that they had not purchased their offices. This was so flagrantly in defiance of the facts that it was abolished in 1597. Heritability of office was a consequence.

13. This chapter is largely based on Machiavelli's Arte delta guerra, published in 1521, though characteristically adapted to Bodin's political views.

14. A fifth-century Christian writer, whose book De Gubernatione Dei, a jeremiad on the state of the world, was published in Basel in 1530.

15. To Charles V after his victory at Pavia, 1525.

16. A reference to the agreement made by the Duke of Norfolk on behalf of the Queen with the Scots Lords in rebellion against the regent, Mary of Guise, and in alliance with Knox. It was concluded in February 1560.

17. In 1512 a Papal-Spanish army compelled the re-admittance of the Medici into Florence, whereupon the Republic collapsed. It is true Florence had abandoned the French alliance, but since the French had been driven entirely from Italy earlier in the year, they could have done nothing in any case to save Florence.

18. Charles V brought Savoy over to an Imperial alliance by the marriage of his sister-in-law, Beatrice of Portugal, with the Duke, thus closing the route into Italy hitherto open to the French armies. Francis I thereupon claimed the duchy, overran it and incorporated it in the kingdom of France in 1536.

19. Alexander VI allied with France to facilitate the reduction of the Romagna carried out by Cesare Borgia. Early in 1503 Louis XII prohibited further conquests to him, and at the same time launched an expedition against the Spaniards in Naples. Alexander excused himself from giving assistance, having already opened secret negotiations with the Spanish viceroy. But he died suddenly, and Cesare's power immediately crumbled, later that summer.


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