as men are led, as we have said, more by passion than reason, it follows,
that a multitude comes together, and wishes to be guided, as it were, by
one mind, not at the suggestion of reason, but of some common passion —
that is (Chap. III. Sec. 9), common hope,
or fear, or the desire of avenging some common hurt. But since fear of
solitude exists in all men, because no one in solitude is strong enough to
defend himself, and procure the necessaries of life, it follows that men
naturally aspire to the civil state; nor can it happen that men should
ever utterly dissolve it.
2. Accordingly, from the quarrels and seditions which
are often stirred up in a commonwealth, it never results that the citizens
dissolve it, as often happens in the case of other associations; but only
that they change its form into some other — that is, of course, if
the disputes cannot be settled, and the features of the commonwealth at
the same time preserved. Wherefore, by means necessary to preserve a
dominion, I intend such things as are necessary to preserve the existing
form of the dominion, without any notable change.
3. But if human nature were so constituted, that men
most desired what is most useful, no art would be needed to produce unity
and confidence. But, as it is admittedly far otherwise with human nature,
a dominion must of necessity be so ordered, that all, governing and
governed alike, whether they will or no, shall do what makes for the
general welfare; that is, that all, whether of their own impulse, or by
force or necessity, shall be compelled to live according to the dictate of
reason. And this is the case, if the affairs of the dominion be so
managed, that nothing which affects the general welfare is entirely
entrusted to the good faith of any one. For no man is so watchful, that he
never falls asleep; and no man ever had a character so vigorous and
honest, but he sometimes, and that just when strength of character was
most wanted, was diverted from his purpose and let himself be overcome.
And it is surely folly to require of another what one can never obtain
from one's self; I mean, that he should be more watchful for another's
interest than his own, that he should be free from avarice, envy, and
ambition, and so on; especially when he is one, who is subject daily to
the strongest temptations of every passion.
4. But, on the other hand, experience is thought to
teach, that it makes for peace and concord, to confer the whole authority
upon one man. For no dominion has stood so long without any notable
change, as that of the Turks, and on the other hand there were none so
little lasting, as those, which were popular or democratic, nor any in
which so many seditions arose. Yet if slavery, barbarism, and desolation
are to be called peace, men can have no worse misfortune. No doubt there
are usually more and sharper quarrels between parents and children, than
between masters and slaves; yet it advances not the art of housekeeping,
to change a father's right into a right of property, and count children
but as slaves. Slavery then, not peace, is furthered by handing over to
one man the whole authority. For peace, as we said before, consists not in
mere absence of war, but in a union or agreement of minds.
5. And in fact they are much mistaken, who suppose
that one man can by himself hold the supreme right of a
commonwealth. For the only limit of right, as we showed (Chap.
II.), is power. But the power of one
man is very inadequate to support so great a load. And hence it arises,
that the man, whom the multitude has chosen king, looks out for himself
generals, or counsellors, or friends, to whom he entrusts his own and the
common welfare; so that the dominion, which is thought to be a perfect
monarchy, is in actual working an aristocracy, not, indeed, an open but a
hidden one, and therefore the worst of all. Besides which, a king, who is
a boy, or ill, or overcome by age, is but king on sufferance; and those in
this case have the supreme authority, who administer the highest business
of the dominion, or are near the king's person; not to mention, that a
lascivious king often manages everything at the caprice of this or that
mistress or minion. "I had heard," says Orsines, "that
women once reigned in Asia, but for a eunuch to reign is something new."
6. It is also certain, that a commonwealth is always
in greater danger from its citizens than from its enemies; for the good
are few. Whence it follows, that he, upon whom the whole right of the
dominion has been conferred, will always be more afraid of citizens than
of enemies, and therefore will look to his own safety, and not try to
consult his subjects' interests, but to plot against them, especially
against those who are renowned for learning, or have influence through
7. It must besides be added, that kings fear their
sons also more than they love them, and so much the more as the latter are
skilled in the arts of war and peace, and endeared to the subjects by
their virtues. Whence it comes, that kings try so to educate their sons,
that they may have no reason to fear them. Wherein ministers very readily
obey the king, and will be at the utmost pains, that the successor may be
an inexperienced king, whom they can hold tightly in hand.
8. From all which it follows, that the more
absolutely the commonwealth's right is transferred to the king, the less
independent he is, and the more unhappy is the condition of his subjects.
And so, that a monarchical dominion may be duly established, it is
necessary to lay solid foundations, to build it on; from which may result
to the monarch safety, and to the multitude peace; and, therefore, to lay
them in such a way, that the monarch may then be most independent, when he
most consults the multitude's welfare. But I will first briefly state,
what these foundations of a monarchical dominion are, and afterwards prove
them in order.
9. One or more cities must be founded and fortified,
whose citizens, whether they live within the walls, or outside for
purposes of agriculture, are all to enjoy the same right in the
commonwealth; yet on this condition, that every city provide an
ascertained number of citizens for its own and the general defence. But a
city, which cannot supply this, must be held in subjection on other terms.
10. The militia must be formed out of citizens alone,
none being exempt, and of no others. And, therefore, all are to be bound
to have arms, and no one to be admitted into the number of the citizens,
till he has learnt his drill, and promised to practise it at stated times
in the year. Next, the militia of each clan is to be divided into
battalions and regiments, and no captain of a battalion chosen, that is
not acquainted with military engineering. Moreover, though the commanders
of battalions and regiments are to be chosen for life, yet the commander
of the militia of a whole clan is to be chosen only in time of war, to
hold command for a year at most, without power of being continued or
afterwards re-appointed. And these last are to be selected out of the
king's counsellors, of whom we shall speak in the fifteenth and following
sections, or out of those who have filled the post of counsellor.
11. The townsmen and countrymen of every city, that
is, the whole of the citizens, are to be divided into clans, distinguished
by some name and badge, and all persons born of any of these clans are to
be received into the number of citizens, and their names inscribed on the
roll of their clan, as soon as they have reached the age, when they can
carry arms and know their duty; with the exception of those, who are
infamous from some crime, or dumb, or mad, or menials supporting life by
some servile office.
12. The fields, and the whole soil, and, if it can be
managed, the houses should be public property, that is, the property of
him, who holds the right of the commonwealth: and let him let them at a
yearly rent to the citizens, whether townsmen or countrymen, and with this
exception let them all be free or exempt from every kind of taxation in
time of peace. And of this rent a part is to be applied to the defences of
the state, a part to the king's private use. For it is necessary in time
of peace to fortify cities against war, and also to have ready ships and
other munitions of war.
13. After the selection of the king from one of the
clans, none are to be held noble, but his descendants, who are therefore
to be distinguished by royal insignia from their own and the other clans.
14. Those male nobles, who are the reigning king's
collaterals, and stand to him in the third or fourth degree of
consanguinity, must not marry, and any children they may have had, are to
be accounted bastards, and unworthy of any dignity, nor may they be
recognized as heirs to their parents, whose goods must revert to the king.
15. Moreover the king's counsellors, who are next to
him in dignity, must be numerous, and chosen out of the citizens only;
that is (supposing there to be no more than six hundred clans) from every
clan three or four or five, who will form together one section of this
council; and not for life, but for three, four, or five years, so that
every year a third, fourth, or fifth part may be replaced by selection, in
which selection it must be observed as a first condition, that out of
every clan at least one counsellor chosen be a jurist.
16. The selection must be made by the king himself,
who should fix a time of year for the choice of fresh counsellors. Each
clan must then submit to the king the names of all its citizens, who have
reached their fiftieth year, and have been duly put forward as candidates
for this office, and out of these the king will choose whom he pleases.
But in that year, when the jurist of any clan is to be replaced, only the
names of jurists are to be submitted to the king. Those who have filled
this office of counsellor for the appointed time, are not to be continued
therein, nor to be replaced on the list of candidates for five years or
more. But the reason why one is to be chosen every year out of every clan
is, that the council may not be composed alternately of untried novices,
and of veterans versed in affairs, which must necessarily be the case,
were all to retire at once, and new men to succeed them. But if every year
one be chosen out of every family, then only a fifth, fourth, or at most a
third part of the council will consist of novices. Further, if the king be
prevented by other business, or for any other reason, from being able to
spare time for this choice, then let the counsellors themselves choose
others for a time, until the king either chooses different ones, or
confirms the choice of the council.
17. Let the primary function of this council be to
defend the fundamental laws of the dominion, and to give advice about
administration, that the king may know, what for the public good ought to
be decreed: and that on the understanding, that the king may not decide in
any matter, without first hearing the opinion of this council. But if, as
will generally happen, the council is not of one mind, but is divided in
opinion, even after discussing the same subject two or three times, there
must be no further delay, but the different opinions are to be submitted
to the king, as in the twenty-fifth section of this
chapter we shall show.
18. Let it be also the duty of this council to
publish the king's orders or decrees, and to see to the execution of any
decree concerning affairs of state, and to supervise the administration of
the whole dominion, as the king's deputies.
19. The citizens should have no access to the king,
save through this council, to which are to be handed all demands or
petitions, that they may be presented to the king. Nor should the envoys
of other commonwealths be allowed to obtain permission to address the
king, but through the council. Letters, too, sent from elsewhere to the
king, must be handed to him by the council. And in general the king is to
be accounted as the mind of the commonwealth, but the council as the
senses outside the mind, or the commonwealth's body, through whose
intervention the mind understands the state of the commonwealth, and acts
as it judges best for itself.
20. The care of the education of the king's sons
should also fall on this council, and the guardianship, where a king has
died, leaving as his successor an infant or boy. Yet lest meanwhile the
council should be left without a king, one of the elder nobles of the
commonwealth should be chosen to fill the king's place, till the
legitimate heir has reached the age at which he can support the weight of
21. Let the candidates for election to this council
be such as know the system of government, and the foundations, and state
or condition of the commonwealth, whose subjects they are. But he that
would fill the place of a jurist must, besides the government and
condition of the commonwealth, whose subject he is, be likewise acquainted
with those of the other commonwealths, with which it has any intercourse.
But none are to be placed upon the list of candidates, unless they have
reached their fiftieth year without being convicted of crime.
22. In this council no decision is to be taken about
the affairs of the dominion, but in the presence of all the members. But
if anyone be unable through illness or other cause to attend, he must send
in his stead one of the same clan, who has filled the office of counsellor
or been put on the list of candidates. Which if he neglect to do, and the
council through his absence be forced to adjourn any matter, let him be
fined a considerable sum. But this must be understood to mean, when the
question is of a matter affecting the whole dominion, as of peace or war,
of abrogating or establishing a law, of trade, &c. But if the question
be one that affects only a particular city or two, as about petitions, &c.,
it will suffice that a majority of the council attend.
23. To maintain a perfect equality between the clans,
and a regular order in sitting, making proposals, and speaking, every clan
is to take in turn the presidency at the sittings, a different clan at
every sitting, and that which was first at one sitting is to be last at
the next. But among members of the same clan, let precedence go by
priority of election.
24. This council should be summoned at least four
times a year, to demand of the ministers account of their administration
of the dominion, to ascertain the state of affairs, and see if anything
else needs deciding. For it seems impossible for so large a number of
citizens to have constant leisure for public business. But as in the
meantime public business must none the less be carried on, therefore fifty
or more are to be chosen out of this council to supply its place after its
dismissal; and these should meet daily in a chamber next the king's, and
so have daily care of the treasury, the cities, the fortifications, the
education of the king's son, and in general of all those duties of the
great council, which we have just enumerated, except that they cannot take
counsel about new matters, concerning which no decision has been taken.
25. On the meeting of the council, before anything is
proposed in it, let five, six, or more jurists of the clans, which stand
first in order of place at that session, attend on the king, to deliver to
him petitions or letters, if they have any, to declare to him the state of
affairs, and, lastly, to understand from him what he bids them propose in
his council; and when they have heard this, let them return to the
council, and let the first in precedence open the matter of debate. But,
in matters which seem to any of them to be of some moment, let not the
votes be taken at once, but let the voting be adjourned to such a date as
the urgency of the matter allows. When, then, the council stands adjourned
till the appointed time, the counsellors of every clan will meanwhile be
able to debate the matter separately, and, if they think it of great
moment, to consult others that have been counsellors, or are candidates
for the council. And if within the appointed time the counsellors of any
clan cannot agree among themselves, that clan shall lose its vote, for
every clan can give but one vote. But, otherwise, let the jurist of the
clan lay before the council the opinion they have decided to be best; and
so with the rest. And if the majority of the council think fit, after
hearing the grounds of every opinion, to consider the matter again, let
the council be again adjourned to a date, at which every clan shall
pronounce its final opinion; and then, at last, before the entire council,
let the votes be taken, and that opinion be invalidated which has not at
least a hundred votes. But let the other opinions be submitted to the king
by all the jurists present at the council, that, after hearing every
party's arguments, he may select which opinion he pleases. And then let
the jurists leave him, and return to the council; and there let all await
the king at the time fixed by himself, that all may hear which opinion of
those proposed he thinks fit to adopt, and what he decides should be done.
26. For the administration of justice, another
council is to be formed of jurists, whose business should be to decide
suits, and punish criminals, but so that all the judgments they deliver be
tested by those who are for the time members of the great council —
that is, as to their having been delivered according to the due process of
justice, and without partiality. But if the losing party can prove, that
any judge has been bribed by the adversary, or that there is some mutual
cause of friendship between the judge and the adversary, or of hatred
between the judge and himself, or, lastly, that the usual process of
justice has not been observed, let such party be restored to his original
position. But this would, perhaps, not be observed by such as love to
convict the accused in a criminal case, rather by torture than proofs.
But, for all that, I can conceive on this point of no other process of
justice than the above, that befits the best system of governing a
27. Of these judges, there should be a large and odd
number — for instance, sixty-one, or at least forty-one, — and
not more than one is to be chosen of one clan, and that not for life, but
every year a certain proportion are to retire, and be replaced by as many
others out of different clans, that have reached their fortieth year.
28. In this council, let no judgment be pronounced
save in the presence of all the judges. But if any judge, from disease or
other cause, shall for a long time be unable to attend the council, let
another be chosen for that time to fill his place. But in giving their
votes, they are all not to utter their opinions aloud, but to signify them
29. Let those who supply others' places in this and
the first-mentioned council first be paid out of the goods of those whom
they have condemned to death, and also out of the fines of which any are
mulcted. Next, after every judgment they pronounce in a civil suit, let
them receive a certain proportion of the whole sum at stake for the
benefit of both councils.
30. Let there be in every city other subordinate
councils, whose members likewise must not be chosen for life, but must be
partially renewed every year, out of the clans who live there only. But
there is no need to pursue this further.
31. No military pay is to be granted in time of
peace; but, in time of war, military pay is to be allowed to those only,
who support their lives by daily labour. But the commanders and other
officers of the battalions are to expect no other advantage from war but
the spoil of the enemy.
32. If a foreigner takes to wife the daughter of a
citizen, his children are to be counted citizens, and put on the roll of
their mother's clan. But those who are born and bred within the dominion
of foreign parents should be allowed to purchase at a fixed price the
right of citizenship from the captains of thousands of any clan, and to be
enrolled in that clan. For no harm can arise thence to the dominion, even
though the captains of thousands, for a bribe, admit a foreigner into the
number of their citizens for less than the fixed price; but, on the
contrary, means should be devised for more easily increasing the number of
citizens, and producing a large confluence of men. As for those who are
not enrolled as citizens, it is but fair that, at least in war-time, they
should pay for their exemption from service by some forced labour or tax.
33. The envoys to be sent in time of peace to other
commonwealths must be chosen out of the nobles only, and their expenses
met by the state treasury, and not the king's privy purse.
34. Those that attend the court, and are the king's
servants, and are paid out of his privy purse, must be excluded from every
appointment and office in the commonwealth. I say expressly, "and are
paid out of the king's privy purse," to except the body-guard. For
there should be no other body-guard, but the citizens of the king's city,
who should take turns to keep guard at court before the king's door.
35. War is only to be made for the sake of peace, so
that, at its end, one may be rid of arms. And so, when cities have been
taken by right of war, and terms of peace are to be made after the enemies
are subdued, the captured cities must not be garrisoned and kept; but
either the enemy, on accepting the terms of peace, should be allowed to
redeem them at a price, or, if by following that policy, there would, by
reason of the danger of the position, remain a constant lurking anxiety,
they must be utterly destroyed, and the inhabitants removed elsewhere.
36. The king must not be allowed to contract a
foreign marriage, but only to take to wife one of his kindred, or of the
citizens; yet, on condition that, if he marries a citizen, her near
relations become incapable of holding office in the commonwealth.
37. The dominion must be indivisible. And so, if the
king leaves more than one child, let the eldest one succeed; but by no
means be it allowed to divide the dominion between them, or to give it
undivided to all or several of them, much less to give a part of it as a
daughter's dowry. For that daughters should be admitted to the inheritance
of a dominion is in no wise to be allowed.
38. If the king die leaving no male issue, let the
next to him in blood be held the heir to the dominion, unless he chance to
have married a foreign wife, whom he will not put away.
39. As for the citizens, it is manifest (Chap. III.
Sec. 5) that every one of them ought to
obey all the commands of the king, and the decrees published by the great
council, although he believe them to be most absurd, and otherwise he may
rightfully be forced to obey. And these are the foundations of a
monarchical dominion, on which it must be built, if it is to be stable, as
we shall show in the next chapter.
40. As for religion, no temples whatever ought to be
built at the public expense; nor ought laws to be established about
opinions, unless they be seditious and overthrow the foundations of the
commonwealth. And so let such as are allowed the public exercise of their
religion build a temple at their own expense. But the king may have in his
palace a chapel of his own, that he may practise the religion to which he
1. Curtius, x. 1.
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