WHY THE PRINCES OF ITALY HAVE LOST THEIR
The before-mentioned things, if prudently observed, make a new prince seem ancient, and render him at once more secure and firmer in the state than if he had been established there of old. For a new prince is much more observed in his actions than a hereditary one, and when these are recognised as virtuous, he gains men more and they are more bound to him than if he were of the ancient blood. For men are much more taken by present than by past things, and when they find themselves well off in the present, they enjoy it and seek nothing more; on the contrary, they will do all they can to defend him, so long as the prince is not in other things wanting to himself. And thus he will have the double glory of having founded a new realm and adorned it and fortified it with good laws, good arms, good friends and good examples; as he will have double shame who is born a prince and through want of prudence has lost it.
And if one considers those rulers who have lost their position in Italy in our days, such as the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan and others, one will find in them first a common defect as to their arms, for the reasons discussed at length, then we observe that some of them either had the people hostile to them, or that if the people were friendly they were not able to make sure of the nobility, for without these defects, states are not lost that have enough strength to be able to keep an army in the field. Philip of Macedon, not the father of Alexander the Great, but the one who was conquered by Titus Quinteus, did not possess a great state compared to the greatness of Rome and Greece which assailed him, but being a military man and one who knew how to divert the people and make sure of the great, he was able to sustain the war against them for many years; and if at length he lost his power over several cities, he was still able to keep his kingdom. Therefore, those of our princes who had held their possessions for many years must not accuse fortune for having lost them, but rather their own negligence; for having never in quiet times considered that things might change (as it is a common fault of men not to reckon on storms, in fair weather) when adverse times came, they only thought of fleeing from them, instead of defending themselves; and hoped that the people, enraged by the insolence of the conquerors, would recall them. This measure, when others are wanting, is good; but it is very bad to have neglected the other remedies for that one, for nobody would desire to fall because he believed that he would then find some one to pick him up. This may or may not take place, and if it does, it is not with safety to you, as that defence is known to be cowardly and not to be depended on; and only those defences are good, certain and durable, which depend only on yourself and your own ability