Niccolo Machiavelli: About Liberal Countries

Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli in Chapter V of his writing speculates upon political backgrounds of governing the empires and expresses his opinion about the most effective way to rule such parts of the empire, which previously were living under own system of laws and regulations. In Machiavelli’s opinion, the best political strategy to govern such principalities or cities would be establishing the system of strict control of the ruler and making new colonies obey the laws which were already existing in the empire. In case if by some reason it is impossible to hold the new colonies in bondage, the best and the safest way, according to Machiavelli, would be destroying such former liberal regions.

He supports this idea with a number of specific historical examples that illustrate the truthfulness of his hypothesis. Ancient city of Sparta gained control of several colonies, including the cities of Thebes and Athens, but could not dominate there for some long period of time and eventually lost these cities, because the old order and laws were not abolished.

However, the Roman Empire was following another tactic: in such colonies of the Romans as Numantia, Capua and Carthage the old system of laws and social order were dismantled and new regions were totally placed under the command of the Emperor. That is how the Romans succeeded in keeping those colonies under control for centuries.

According to Machiavelli, this phenomenon can be explained by the necessity to suppress liberal thoughts and love to freedom of newly acquired colonies, because otherwise the spirit of liberty will cause the attempts to obtain independence or revenge.

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The philosopher also points on some advantages and benefits of being governed by some ruler for the colonies. First of all, the experienced head of the empire can establish political and economic order in a colony much easier and more effectively. Besides, the ruler can provide higher national security and protect the nation from possible civil misunderstandings, rebellions or military attacks, and so on.

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