How we cite our quotes:
Another thing a ruler must do to exercise his mind is read history, in particular accounts of great leaders and their achievements. He should look at their wartime strategies and study the reasons for their victories and defeats so as to avoid the failures and imitate the successes. (14.5)
There's Machiavelli's humanist side showing. Looking back to the past to make the future even more awesome? Clever, very clever.
Nothing wins a ruler respect like great military victories and a display of remarkable personal qualities. (21.1)
Notice which one of these Machiavelli puts first. Also notice that it's only a "display" of remarkable personal qualities. Hmm.
Either way it will always be better to take sides and fight hard. If you do have cause to fear but stay neutral, you'll still be gobbled up by the winner to the amusement and satisfaction of the loser; you'll have no excuses, no defence and nowhere to hide. Because a winner doesn't want half-hearted friends who don't help him in a crisis; and the loser will have nothing to do with you since you didn't choose to fight alongside him and share his fate. (21.3)
Machiavelli would have harsh words for Switzerland. There's no neutrality in 16th-century Italy.