Notes on The Prince, by Machiavelli, Chapter 7

Of new princedoms acquired by the aid of others and by good fortune

Thesis: A new princedom has to be started by the founder of the regime with good foundations. A prince may take over an existing principality that has poor foundations; however, although the prince did everything right and helpful to maintain his power, the regime will inevitably collapse.


  1. People who become Princes by mere good fortune are not able to maintain themselves.

This class includes those on whom States are conferred either in return for money, or through the favor of him who confers them. They lack both knowledge and the power that would enable them to maintain their position. They lack knowledge because they don’t have great parts and force of character. They lack the power, since they cannot look for support from attached and faithful troop.

  1. Example of Duke Valentino’s failure of maintaining his position of Prince after becoming a Prince by merit and by good fortune without a good foundation.
    1. Cesare Borgia took over his principality from his father Alexander VI easily with the poor foundations, which include that 1) there’s no way to make him Lord of any State which was not a State of the church and 2) the arms of Italy were in hands of men who had reason to fear his aggrandizement. To aggrandize Alexander VI’s son, he helped to bring the French into Italy and to annul the first marriage of the French King.
    2. After obtaining possession of Romagna with French help, Duke Valentino stopped at his desire to follow up and extending his conquests because of 1) the doubtful fidelity of his own forces, and 2) the waywardness of France.
    3. Duke Valentino weakened the factions of the Orsini and Colonnesi in Rome and crushed the chiefs of the Orsini with the help of France.
    4. Duke Valentino was crafty. After having taken Romagna, he sent Messer Remiro d’Orco to there to restore it to tranquility and order. Latter, Duke established a civil Tribunal in there to purge the minds of the people who had ill-feelings against himself and to gain their good-will. His execution of Remiro both astounded and satisfied the populace.
    5. Cesare Borgia had to apprehend his future. He 1) exterminated all who were of kin to those Lords whom he had despoiled of their possessions; 2) he gained over all the Roman nobles; 3) he brought the college of Cardinals; 4) he established his authority.
    6. Duke Valentino built everything perfect upon the poor foundation; however, in the end, his creation of Pope Julius II caused his ultimate downfall, believing that with the great, recent benefits cause old wrongs to be forgotten.

Conclusion: Duke Valentino gained his prince by his father’s aid and his good fortune. He was crafty and had the ability and power to build everything helpful and effective to maintain his principality upon the poor foundations of the regime itself. However, no matter how hard he made efforts to build and consolidate his principality, the regime collapsed in the end because of its poor foundation.

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