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The Prince

The Prince


by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince Chapter 20 Summary

Whether fortresses and other strategies rulers frequently adopt are useful

  • People do all kinds of things in order to keep power. They take guns away from people, try to turn them against one another, build fortresses, tear them down. All sorts of things. But let's talk about if they are helpful or not.
  • First, taking away guns. This is a bad idea for most rulers.
  • If you give arms to people, they are excited. If you take them away, they wonder why you don't like them and start to hate you. And we all know where that leads—right, Shmoop rulers of tomorrow?
  • The only people who should be doing this are people who already have vast established kingdoms and are just adding this new one to their collection. Then, go right ahead. You have your army already and taking away arms will keep the state weak.
  • Next, dividing towns into factions and making them fight amongst each other. Now, for some reason, people keep saying this is a good idea. As the president of Panem will tell you, it is not. The weaker faction will turn against you and the stronger one won't be able to defend against a foreign invasion. Just say no.
  • Next, stirring up trouble intentionally. Do it. It will make you seem more awesome if you take care of it like a pro. You'll have a reputation of being a good ruler, and everyone will like you.
  • Machiavelli just leaves us a note here to remember if you take a nation with inside help, you need to be pretty suspicious of those guys that helped you.
  • Hey, they turned on their previous ruler, why shouldn't they turn on you, newbie?
  • Fortresses. Machiavelli approves, but only because everyone has been doing it forever. Mostly they are only helpful if you're afraid of your own people, because they hate you—which, as we all know by now, is the beginning of a downward spiral. The important thing to remember is that fortresses can't help you for long if your people hate you.

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