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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsThe Art Of War - Preface
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The Art Of War - Preface Post by :smbr03299 Category :Nonfictions Author :Niccolo Machiavelli Date :March 2012 Read :2348

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The Art Of War - Preface








Menfss. Iulij.


ELIZABETH, by the Grace of God, Quene

of Englande, Fraunce, and Irelande,

defender of the faithe, and of the Churche

of Englande, and Irelande, on yearth

next under God, the supreme Governour.

Although commonlie every man, moste worthie and renoumed Soveraine, seketh specially to commend and extolle the thing, whereunto he feleth hymself naturally bent and inclined, yet al soche parciallitie and private affection laid aside, it is to bee thought (that for the defence, maintenaunce, and advauncemente of a Kyngdome, or Common weale, or for the good and due observacion of peace, and administracion of Justice in the same) no one thinge to be more profitable, necessarie, or more honourable, then the knowledge of service in warre, and dedes of armes; bicause consideryng the ambicion of the worlde, it is impossible for any realme or dominion, long to continue free in quietnesse and savegarde, where the defence of the sweard is not alwaies in a readinesse. For like as the Grekes, beyng occupied aboute triflyng matters, takyng pleasure in resityng of Comedies, and soche other vain thinges, altogether neclecting Marciall feates, gave occasion to Philip kyng of Macedonia, father to Alexander the Great, to oppresse and to bring theim in servitude, under his subjeccion, even so undoubtedly, libertie will not be kepte, but men shall be troden under foote, and brought to moste horrible miserie and calamitie, if thei givyng theim selves to pastymes and pleasure, forssake the juste regarde of their owne defence, and savegarde of their countrie, whiche in temporall regimente, chiefly consisteth in warlike skilfulnesse. And therefore the aunciente Capitaines and mightie Conquerours, so longe as thei florished, did devise with moste greate diligence, all maner of waies, to bryng their men to the perfect knowledge of what so ever thing appertained to the warre: as manifestly appereth by the warlike games, whiche in old time the Princes of Grecia ordained, upon the mount Olimpus, and also by thorders and exercises, that the aunciente Romaines used in sundrie places, and specially in Campo Martio, and in their wonderful sumptuous Theaters, whiche chiefly thei builded to that purpose. Whereby thei not onely made their Souldiours so experte, that thei obtained with a fewe, in faightyng againste a greate houge multitude of enemies, soche marveilous victories, as in many credible Histories are mencioned, but also by the same meanes, their unarmed and rascalle people that followed their Campes, gotte soche understandyng in the feates of warre, that thei in the daie of battaile, beeyng lefte destitute of succour, were able without any other help, to set themselves in good order, for their defence againste the enemie, that would seke to hurte theim, and in soche daungerous times, have doen their countrie so good service, that verie often by their helpe, the adversaries have been put to flight, and fieldes moste happely wone. So that thantiquitie estemed nothing more happie in a common weale, then to have in the same many men skilfull in warlike affaires: by meanes whereof, their Empire continually inlarged, and moste wonderfully and triumphantly prospered. For so longe as men for their valiauntnesse, were then rewarded and had in estimacion, glad was he that could finde occasion to venter, yea, and spende his life, to benefite his countrie: as by the manly actes that Marcus Curcius, Oracius Cocles, and Gaius Mucius did for the savegarde of Rome and also by other innumerable like examples dooeth plainly appeare. But when through long and continuall peace, thei began to bee altogether given to pleasure and delicatenesse, little regardyng Marciall feates, nor soche as were expert in the practise thereof: Their dominions and estates, did not so moche before increase and prospere, as then by soche meanes and oversight, thei sodainly fell into decaie and utter ruine. For soche truly is the nature and condicion, bothe of peace and warre, that where in governemente, there is not had equalle consideration of them bothe, the one in fine, doeth woorke and induce, the others oblivion and utter abholicion. Wherfore, sith the necessitie of the science of warres is so greate, and also the necessarie use thereof so manifeste, that even Ladie Peace her self, doeth in maner from thens crave her chief defence and preservacion, and the worthinesse moreover, and honour of the same so greate, that as by prose we see, the perfecte glorie therof, cannot easely finde roote, but in the hartes of moste noble couragious and manlike personages, I thought most excellente Princes, I could not either to the specialle gratefiyng of your highnesse, the universall delight of all studious gentlemen, or the common utilitie of the publike wealth, imploie my labours more profitablie in accomplishyng of my duetie and good will, then in settyng foorthe some thing, that might induce to the augmentyng and increase of the knowledge thereof: inespecially thexample of your highnes most politike governemente over us, givyng plaine testimonie of the wonderfull prudente desire that is in you, to have your people instructed in this kinde of service, as well for the better defence of your highnesse, theim selves, and their countrie, as also to discourage thereby, and to be able to resist the malingnitie of the enemie, who otherwise would seeke peradventure, to invade this noble realme or kyngdome.

When therfore about x. yeres paste, in the Emperours warres against the Mores and certain Turkes beyng in Barberie, at the siege and winnyng of Calibbia, Monesterio and Africa, I had as well for my further instruction in those affaires, as also the better to acquainte me with the Italian tongue, reduced into Englishe, the booke called The arte of Warre, of the famous and excellente Nicholas Machiavell, whiche in times paste he beyng a counsailour, and Secretarie of the noble Citee of Florence, not without his greate laude and praise did write: and havyng lately againe, somwhat perused the same, the whiche in soche continuall broiles and unquietnesse, was by me translated, I determined with my self, by publishyng thereof, to bestowe as greate a gift (sins greater I was not able) emongeste my countrie men, not experte in the Italian tongue, as in like woorkes I had seen before me, the Frenchemen, Duchemen, Spaniardes, and other forreine nacions, moste lovyngly to have bestowed emongeste theirs: The rather undoubtedly, that as by private readyng of the same booke, I then felt my self in that knowledge marveilously holpen and increased, so by communicatyng the same to many, our Englishemen findyng out the orderyng and disposyng of exploictes of warre therein contained, the aide and direction of these plaine and briefe preceptes, might no lesse in knowledge of warres become incomperable, then in prowes also and exercise of the same, altogether invincible: which my translacion moste gracious Soveraine, together with soche other thynges, as by me hath been gathered, and thought good to adde thereunto, I have presumed to dedicate unto youre highnes: not onely bicause the whole charge and furniture of warlike counsailes and preparacions, being determined by the arbitremente of Governours and Princes, the treatise also of like effecte should in like maner as of right, depende upon the protection of a moste worthie and noble Patronesse, but also that the discourse it self, and the woorke of a forrein aucthour, under the passeport and safeconduite of your highnes moste noble name, might by speciall aucthoritie of the same, winne emongest your Majesties subjectes, moche better credite and estimacion. And if mooste mightie Queen, in this kind of Philosophie (if I maie so terme it) grave and sage counsailes, learned and wittie preceptes, or politike and prudente admonicions, ought not to be accompted the least and basest tewels of weale publike. Then dare I boldely affirme, that of many straungers, whiche from forrein countries, have here tofore in this your Majesties realme arrived, there is none in comparison to bee preferred, before this worthie Florentine and Italian, who havyng frely without any gaine of exchaunge (as after some acquaintaunce and familiaritie will better appeare) brought with hym moste riche, rare and plentiful Treasure, shall deserve I trust of all good Englishe lishe hartes, most lovingly and frendly to be intertained, embraced and cherished. Whose newe Englishe apparell, how so ever it shall seme by me, after a grosse fasion, more fitlie appoincted to the Campe, then in nice termes attired to the Carpet, and in course clothyng rather putte foorthe to battaile, then in any brave shewe prepared to the bankette, neverthelesse my good will I truste, shall of your grace be taken in good parte, havyng fashioned the phraise of my rude stile, even accordyng to the purpose of my travaile, whiche was rather to profite the desirous manne of warre, then to delight the eares of the fine Rethorician, or daintie curious scholemanne: Moste humblie besechyng your highnes, so to accept my labour herein, as the first fruictes of a poore souldiours studie, who to the uttermoste of his smalle power, in the service of your moste gracious majestie, and of his countrie, will at al tymes, accordyng to his bounden duetie and allegeaunce, promptlie yeld hym self to any labour, travaile, or daunger, what so ever shal happen. Praiyng in the mean season the almightie God, to give your highnes in longe prosperous raigne, perfect health, desired tranquilitie, and against all your enemies, luckie and joifull victorie.

Your humble subject and dailie oratour,



Citezein and Secretarie of Florence,
upon his booke of the Arte of Warre, unto
Laurence Philippe Strozze, one of the
nobilitie of Florence.

There have Laurence, many helde, and do holde this opinion, that there is no maner of thing, whiche lesse agreeth the one with the other, nor that is so much unlike, as the civil life to the Souldiours. Wherby it is often seen, that if any determin in thexercise of that kinde of service to prevaile, that incontinent he doeth not only chaunge in apparel, but also in custome and maner, in voice, and from the facion of all civil use, he doeth alter: For that he thinketh not meete to clothe with civell apparell him, who wil be redie, and promt to all kinde of violence, nor the civell customes, and usages maie that man have, the whiche judgeth bothe those customes to be effeminate, and those usages not to be agreable to his profession: Nor it semes not convenient for him to use the civill gesture and ordinarie wordes, who with fasing and blasphemies, will make afraied other menne: the whiche causeth in this time, suche opinion to be moste true. But if thei should consider thauncient orders, there should nothing be founde more united, more confirmable, and that of necessitie ought to love so much the one the other, as these: for as muche as all the artes that are ordeined in a common weale, in regarde or respecte of common profite of menne, all the orders made in the same, to live with feare of the Lawe, and of God should be vaine, if by force of armes their defence wer not prepared, which, well ordeined, doe maintain those also whiche be not well ordeined. And likewise to the contrarie the good orders, without the souldiours help, no lesse or otherwise doe disorder, then the habitacion of a sumptuous and roiall palais, although it wer decte with gold and precious stones, when without being covered, should not have wherewith to defende it from the raine. And if in what so ever other orders of Cities and Kyngdomes, there hath been used al diligence for to maintain men faithfull, peaceable, and full of the feare of God, in the service of warre, it was doubled: if for in what man ought the countrie to seke greater faith, then in him, who must promise to die for the same? In whom ought there to bee more love of peace, then in him, whiche onely by the warre maie be hurte? In whome ought there to bee more feare of GOD, then in him, which every daie committyng himself to infinite perilles, hath moste neede of his helpe? This necessitie considered wel, bothe of them that gave the lawes to Empires, and of those that to the exercise of service wer apoincted, made that the life of Souldiours, of other menne was praised, and with all studie folowed and imitated. But the orders of service of war, beyng altogether corrupted, and a greate waie from the auncient maners altered, there hath growen these sinisterous opinions, which maketh men to hate the warlike service, and to flie the conversacion of those that dooe exercise it. Albeit I judgeing by the same, that I have seen and redde, that it is not a thyng impossible, to bryng it again to the auncient maners, and to give it some facion of the vertue passed, I have determined to the entente not to passe this my idell time, without doyng some thyng, to write that whiche I doe understande, to the satisfaction of those, who of aunciente actes, are lovers of the science of warre. And although it be a bold thing to intreate of the same matter, wher of otherwise I have made no profession, notwithstanding I beleve it is no errour, to occupie with wordes a degree, the whiche many with greater presumpcion with their deedes have occupied: for as muche as the errours that I maie happen to make by writing, may be without harme to any man corrected: but those the whiche of them be made in doyng cannot be knowen without the ruine of Empires. Therefore Laurence you ought to consider the qualitie of this my laboure, and with your judgement to give it that blame, or that praise, as shall seeme unto you it hath deserved. The whiche I sende unto you, as well to shewe my selfe gratefull, although my habilitie reche not to the benefites, which I have received of you, as also for that beyng the custome to honour with like workes them who for nobilitie, riches, wisedome, and liberalitie doe shine: I knowe you for riches, and nobilitie, not to have many peeres, for wisedome fewe, and for liberalitie none.

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