These rules are a quick-start guide to ruling a kingdom. In just a few short years, you, too, can have all the prestige of a well-established ruler. Plus, people will love you more because they will be extra surprised that you didn't fail—just like people are amazed when babies do anything.
Enough of that. Let's talk about why Italy has been failing so hard recently.
We all know why. What is Machiavelli's number one rule? Have a strong army. What haven't they had? Any kind of decent army at all. Yet they are whining about how they lost their states because of "bad luck."
It's not luck, people. You should have been training an army.
Mr. Machiavelli gets himself pretty worked up about this.