After the Duke had possessed himself of Romagna, he found it had been governed by a number of petty princes, more addicted to the spoliation than the government of their subjects.
Continuing The Rise And Fall Of The Borgias,
our selection from The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli published in 1532. The selection is presented in three easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in The Rise And Fall Of The Borgias.
Having thus humbled the Colonni, he only waited an opportunity for destroying the Orsini. It was not long before one offered, of which he did not fail to avail himself. The Orsini, perceiving too late that the power of the Duke and the Church must be established upon their ruin, called a council of their friends at Magione, in Perugia, to concert measures of prevention. The consequence of their deliberations was the revolt of Urbino, the disturbances of Romagna, and the infinite dangers which threatened the Duke on every side, and which he finally surmounted by the aid of the French. His affairs once reestablished, he grew weary of relying on France and other foreign allies, and he resolved for the future to rely alone on artifice and dissimulation — a course in which he so well succeeded that the Orsini were reconciled to him through the intervention of Signor Paolo, whom he had gained over to his interests by all manner of rich presents and friendly offices. And this man, being deceived himself, so far prevailed on the credulity of the rest that they attended the Duke at an interview at Sinigaglia, where they were all put to death. Having thus exterminated the chiefs, and converted their partisans into his friends, the Duke laid the solid foundations of his power. He made himself master of all Romagna and the duchy of Urbino, and gained the affection of the inhabitants — particularly the former — by giving them a prospect of the advantages they might hope to enjoy from his government. As this latter circumstance is remarkable and worthy of imitation, I cannot suffer it to pass unnoticed.
After the Duke had possessed himself of Romagna, he found it had been governed by a number of petty princes, more addicted to the spoliation than the government of their subjects, and whose political weakness rather served to create popular disturbances than to secure the blessings of peace. The country was infested with robbers, torn by factions, and a prey to all the horrors of civil commotions. He found that, to establish tranquility, order, and obedience, a vigorous government was necessary. With this view, he appointed Ramiro d’Orco governor, a cruel but active man, to whom he gave the greatest latitude of power. He very soon appeased the disturbances, united all parties, and acquired the renown of restoring the whole country to peace.
The Duke soon deemed it no longer necessary to continue so rigorous and odious a system. He therefore erected in the midst of the province a court of civil judicature, with a worthy and upright magistrate to preside over it, where every city had its respective advocate. He was aware that the severities of Ramiro had excited some hatred against him, and resolved to clear himself from all reproach in the minds of the people, and to gain their affection by showing them that the cruelties which had been committed did not originate with him, but solely in the ferocious disposition of his minister. Taking advantage of the discontent, he caused Ramiro to be massacred one morning in the market-place, and his body exposed upon a gibbet, with a cutlass near it stained with blood. The horror of this spectacle satisfied the resentment of the people and petrified them at once with terror and astonishment.
The Duke had now delivered himself in a great measure from present enemies, and taken effectual means to secure himself by employing against them arms of his own, putting it out of the power of his neighbors to annoy him. To secure and increase his acquisitions, he had nothing to fear from anyone but the French. He well knew that the King of France, who had at last perceived his error, would oppose his further aggrandizement. He resolved, in the first place, to form new connections and alliances, and adopted a system of prevarication with France, as plainly appeared when their army was employed in Naples against the Spaniards who had laid siege to Gaeta. His design was to fortify himself against them, and he would certainly have succeeded if Alexander VI had lived a little longer. Such were the methods he took to guard against present dangers.
Against those which were more remote — as he had reason to fear that the new pope would be inimical to him and seek to deprive him of what had been bestowed on him by his predecessor — he designed to have made four different provisions: In the first place, by utterly destroying the families of all those nobles whom he had deprived of their states, so that the future pope might not reestablish them; secondly, by attaching to his interests all the gentry of Rome, in order, by their means, to control the power of the Pope; thirdly, by securing a majority in the college of cardinals; fourthly and lastly, by acquiring so much power, during the lifetime of his father, that he might be enabled of himself to resist the first attack of the enemy. Three of these designs he had effected before the death of Alexander, and had made every necessary arrangement for availing himself of the fourth. He had put to death almost all the nobles whom he had despoiled, and had gained over all the Roman gentry; his party was the strongest in the college of cardinals; and, for a further augmentation of his power, he designed to have made himself master of Tuscany. He was already master of Perugia and Piombino, and had taken Pisa under his protection, of which he soon afterward took actual possession. His cautious policy with regard to the French was no longer necessary, as they had been driven from the kingdom of Naples by the Spaniards, and both of these people were under the necessity of courting his friendship. Lucca and Sienna presently submitted to him, either from fear or hatred of the Florentines. The latter were then unable to defend themselves; and, if this had been the case at the time of Alexander’s death, the Duke’s power and reputation would have been so great that he might have sustained his dignity without any dependence on fortune or the support of others.
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