40 intriguing Niccolo Machiavelli quotes every leader should read


Nicollo Machiavelli was in the service of the Florentine Republic from 1498 until 1512. During this period he served as Secretary of  Second Chancellery of the Florentine Republic. There were complex times for Italian politics: the wars on Italian territory involved all major powers of the time, especially after the French invasion of 1494.Alexander VI began a policy of conquest in Central Italy. His son Cesare Borgia would become the icon for Machiavelli’s Prince.The name of the diplomat, philosopher, politician and Florentine writer Niccolo Machiavelli is known to most of us because of his most representative book: The Prince. The Prince has remained in history as Machiavelli’s most famous book, although the Florentine leader has also written other works.In his vision, a Prince should be concerned only about power and needs to follow the rules that lead to success in political action.Machiavelli supported the unification of Italy, without this unification the foreign armies could not be expelled from the Italian lands.In this 5 century old political treaty, Machiavelli describes the methods that a prince must use to acquire and maintain political power.In this book, Machiavelli shows us that morality no longer matters when state interest is more important. Between the individual and the state, Machiavelli chooses the state.”The Prince” is the book that lay the foundations of the modern conception of the state seen as an expression of the common interest beyond the individual.In order to better understand this complex personality of the Renaissance, we need to know some of his most famous quotes. Here are 40 Niccolo Machiavelli quotes every leader should know:

1. Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.Niccolo Machiavelli

2. A prince is also esteemed when he is a true friend and a true enemy.

3.The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuous in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.

4. It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.quotes-It-is-not-titles-tha

5. Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.

6. He who builds on the people, builds on the mud .

7. The best fortress which a prince can possess is the affection of his people.Niccolo Machiavelli

8. The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all.

9. He who becomes a Prince through the favor of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do since all they ask is not to be oppressed

10. Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.

11. Never was anything great achieved without danger.Niccolo Machiavelli quotes

12. And yet we cannot define as skillful killing one’s fellow citizens, betraying one’s friends, and showing no loyalty, mercy, or moral obligation. These means can lead to power, but not glory.

13. The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.Niccolo Machiavelli

14. Politics have no relation to morals.Machiavelli

15. A prince must not have any other object nor any other thought… but war, its institutions, and its discipline; because that is the only art befitting one who commands.

16. I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.

17. He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.

18. Therefore the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people, for although you may have fortresses they will not save you if you are hated by the people.

19. Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.Niccolo Machiavelli

20. The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must, therefore, be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.Niccolo Machiavelli

21. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.

22. The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present

23. It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.

24. Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many.

25. Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.

26. Whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish it commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself. Whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish it commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself.

27. War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms.

28. We cannot attribute to fortune or virtue that which is achieved without either.

29. Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society.Niccolo Machiavelli

30. The main foundations of every state, new states as well as ancient or composite ones, are good laws and good arms you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow.

31. Men should be either treated generously or destroyed because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot.

32. War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him the leisure to contrive, and furnishes as ability to execute, military plans.

33. There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.

34. The one who adapts his policy to the times prospers, and likewise that the one whose policy clashes with the demands of the times does not.

35. No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.

36. Of mankind, we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.

37. The wish to acquire more is admittedly a very natural and common thing, and when men succeed in this they are always praised rather than condemned. But when they lack the ability to do so and yet want to acquire more at all costs, they deserve condemnation for their mistakes.

38. Benefits should be conferred gradually, and in that way, they will taste better.

39. Wisdom consists of knowing how to distinguish the nature of trouble, and in choosing the lesser evil.

40. A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.


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