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Chapter 21

That it is a great reproach to a Prince or to a Commonwealth to be without a national Army.

Those princes and republics of the present day who lack forces of their own, whether for attack or defence, should take shame to themselves, and should be convinced by the example of Tullus, that their deficiency does not arise from want of men fit for warlike enterprises, but from their own fault in not knowing how to make their subjects good soldiers. For after Rome had been at peace for forty years, Tullus, succeeding to the kingdom, found not a single Roman who had ever been in battle. Nevertheless when he made up his mind to enter on a war, it never occurred to him to have recourse to the Samnites, or the Etruscans, or to any other of the neighbouring nations accustomed to arms, but he resolved, like the prudent prince he was, to rely on his own countrymen. And such was his ability that, under his rule, the people very soon became admirable soldiers. For nothing is more true than that where a country, having men, lacks soldiers, it results from some fault in its ruler, and not from any defect in the situation or climate. Of this we have a very recent instance. Every one knows, how, only the other day, the King of England invaded the realm of France with an army raised wholly from among his own people, although from his country having been at peace for thirty years, he had neither men nor officers who had ever looked an enemy in the face. Nevertheless, he did not hesitate with such troops as he had, to attack a kingdom well provided with officers and excellent soldiers who had been constantly under arms in the Italian wars. And this was possible through the prudence of the English king and the wise ordinances of his kingdom, which never in time of peace relaxes its warlike discipline. So too, in old times, Pelopidas and Epaminondas the Thebans, after they had freed Thebes from her tyrants, and rescued her from thraldom to Sparta, finding themselves in a city used to servitude and surrounded by an effeminate people, scrupled not, so great was their courage, to furnish these with arms, and go forth with them to meet and to conquer the Spartan forces on the field. And he who relates this, observes, that these two captains very soon showed that warriors are not bred in Lacedæmon alone, but in every country where men are found, if only some one arise among them who knows how to direct them to arms; as we see Tullus knew how to direct the Romans. Nor could Virgil better express this opinion, or show by fitter words that he was convinced of its truth than, when he says:--

 "To arms shall Tullus rouse
 His sluggish warriors."[1]

[Footnote 1: Residesque movebit Tullus in arma viros. Virg. Aen. vi. 814.]

Niccolo Machiavelli

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