Chapters 4-7

Why Alexander's Successors Remained Loyal Icon

September 29, 2021

It is difficult to holding on to a newly acquired state. How could the the countries conquered by Alexander the Great remain loyal to his successors?

Alexander became the master of Asia in a few years, and died before completing the task. We would expect his whole empire to rebel. Nevertheless, his successors maintained themselves, and had no other difficulty than that which arose among themselves from their own ambitions.

Those principalities were governed in two ways:

  1. By a prince and barons, who hold that rank by inheritance and not by appointment by the prince.

Such barons have states and their own subjects who recognize them as lords and have a natural loyalty to them. An example is the Turkish state which is governed by one lord. He divides his kingdom into regions, and sends different administrators there. He shifts and changes them as he chooses.

  1. By a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favour and permission

These states respect their prince more because he has the greatest power.

An example is France. Its king is amidst an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects and loved by them. They have their own rights. The king cannot take these away except with some risk of rebellion.

Therefore, there would be great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk. His ministers are all slaves and servants and cannot be easily bribed. Hence, he who attacks the Turk will find him united. He will have to rely more on his own strength than on the rebellion of others.

But, once the Turk has been conquered, there is nothing to fear but the family of this prince. Once they are killed, there remains no one to fear. The others have no credit with the people. The conqueror did not rely on them before his victory, so he should not fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms like that of France. One can easily enter there by gaining the cooperation of some baron of the kingdom for one always finds dissatisfied barons who desire a change.

Such men can open the way into the state and make the victory easy. But if you wish to hold the kingdom afterwards, you meet with infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from those you have crushed.

Nor is it enough for you to have destroyed the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves the heads of fresh movements against you.

Because you are unable either to satisfy or destroy them, that state is lost whenever time brings the opportunity.

The government of Darius is similar to the Turkish kingdom. Therefore, Alexander only needed to conquer him in battle and then to take his country. After the victory, Darius was killed. The state remained secure to Alexander for the above reasons.

If his successors had been united, they would have enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there were no rebellions raised in the kingdom except those they caused themselves.

But it is impossible to easily hold states like that of France. Hence, there were frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, because of the many principalities in these states. As long as the memory of them lasted, the Romans always held an insecure possession.

But because of the power and long continuance of the empire, the memory of them passed away. The Romans then became secure possessors.

Later, when the states fought amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed there. The family of the former lord had been destroyed, and so none other than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered no one will wonder at the ease with which Alexander held the Empire of Asia.

None will wonder at the difficulties which others have had to keep an acquisition, such as Pyrrhus and many more. This is not caused by the ability of the conqueror, but by the lack of uniformity in the subject state.

Chapter 5: How To Govern Independent Principalities

There are 3 methods to hold a formerly independent country:

  1. Ruin them
  2. Reside there in person
  3. Give them freedom through a government friendly to you

The government in method 3 knows that it cannot stand without your friendship and interest. So it tries hard to support you. Therefore, governing a conquered country through its own citizens is the best way.

Examples are the Spartans and the Romans.

  • The Spartans held Athens and Thebes. They established there a governing group which they nevertheless lost.
  • The Romans, in order to hold Capua, Carthage, and Numantia largely destroyed them and did not lose them. They wished to hold Greece as the Spartans did by making it free and permitting its laws. But they also did not succeed. And so they had to destroy many cities because there was no safe way to retain them.

A conqueror of a city used to freedom and does not destroy it should expect to be destroyed by that city. This is because it always has liberty and its ancient rights to unite the people into rebellion.

Neither time nor benefits will ever cause it to forget these. Whatever you do to protect against rebellion, the people never forget freedom or their old rights unless they are scattered.

But when cities or countries are used to living under a prince and that prince’s family is destroyed, they will not be able to govern themselves. This is because they only know how to obey their prince who is now gone.

This is why they are very slow to rebel. A new prince can become accepted as their leader and secure them much more easily.

But in republics there is:

  • more energy
  • greater hatred
  • more desire for revenge

These will always make them clamor for liberty.

So the safest way is to destroy them or to reside there.


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