There have been few men so distinguished that their names have been embraced into the language, but the author of the two works in this special Leonaur edition is a notable and famous example. Everyone who is aware of Niccolo Machiavelli, the Renaissance Florentine founder of political science knows his name is a by-word for the real or ‘devil’s politics’—the ruthless system employed by most men and institutions of power and the practice of which is—naturally—roundly denied by all of them. Machiavelli was, in fact, a man of many other talents and parts. Poet, songwriter, civil servant, diplomat, playwright and philosopher. He held office in the Florentine Republic whilst the Medicis were out of power and wrote his masterpiece and most famous work, The Prince, on their return to Florence. Today, some 500 years later, Machiavelli’s theories remain highly respected and are still studied by military men, politicians and those in business. Machiavelli’s The Art of War—politics by other means—makes a fitting companion piece to The Prince in this new edition which will be a valuable addition to any library.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
Flights of birds, and clouds of dust, have frequently discovered an enemy: for whenever the enemy approaches they must of course raise a great dust, which should serve you therefore as a sufficient warning to prepare for an attack. It has often happened likewise, that when generals have observed a great number of pigeons or other birds, that usually fly together in flocks, suddenly take wing, and hover about in the air a great while without lighting again, they have suspected there was an ambuscade thereabout; in which case, by sending out parties to discover it, they have sometimes escaped the enemy, and sometimes defeated them.<br>
To avoid being drawn into an ambuscade by the enemy, you must be very cautious of trusting to flattering appearances: for instance, if the enemy should leave a considerable booty in your way, you should suspect there is a hook in the bait; or if a strong party of the enemy should fly before a few of your men, or a few of their men should attack a strong party of your army; or if the enemy runs away on a sudden, without any apparent cause, it is to reasonable to imagine there is some artifice in it, and that they know very well what they are about: so that the weaker and more remiss they seem to be, the more it behoves you to be upon your guard, if you would avoid falling into their snares.<br>
For this purpose, you are to act a double part; and though you ought not to be without your private apprehensions, yet you should seem outwardly to undervalue and despise them: the one will make you more vigilant, and less apt to be surprised; and the other, inspire your soldiers with courage and assurance of victory. You should always remember likewise, that an army is exposed to more and greater dangers in marching through an enemy’s country, than in a field battle: upon which account, it concerns a general to be doubly circumspect at such times, The first thing he ought to do is, to get an exact map of the whole country through which he is to march; that so they may have a perfect knowledge of all the towns, their distance from each other, the roads, mountains, rivers, weeds, morasses, and the particular situation and nature of them.<br>
For this purpose, it is necessary to procure several persons by different means, and from different parts, who are well acquainted with those places, whom he should examine separately, and compare their accounts, that so he may be able to form a true judgement of them: besides which, he should send out parties of horse under experienced commanders, not only to discover the enemy, but to observe the quality of the country, and to see whether it agrees with his map, and the information he has received. He must likewise keep a strict eye over his guides, whom he should encourage to serve him faithfully, with promises of great rewards, if they did their duty, and threaten them with the severest punishment, if they deceived him.<br>
But above all things, he ought to keep his designs very secret; which is a matter of the utmost importance in all military enterprises: and to prevent his army from being thrown into disorder by any sudden attack, he should order his men to be constantly prepared for it: for if a thing of that kind is foreseen and expected, it is neither so terrible nor prejudicial when it happens, as it otherwise might have been. Many, in order to prevent confusion upon a march, have placed their carriages and unarmed people near the standard, and ordered them to follow it as close as possible; that so if there should be occasion either to halt or retreat, they might do it with greater ease and readiness; which, I think, is a custom not unworthy of imitation.<br>
A general should also be very careful neither to differ one part of his forces to detach itself from the other whilst they are upon a march, nor to let any of the corps move faster or slower than the rest: for then his army would become weak and unconnected, and consequently exposed to greater danger. It is necessary, therefore, to post officers along the flanks, to keep an uniform pace amongst them, by restraining those that march too fast, and quickening others that move too slow; which cannot be done more properly than by beat of drum, or found of some musical instrument. The roads should also be laid open, and cleared in such a manner, that one battalion at least may march through them at a time, in order of battle.<br>
The quality and customs of the enemy are to be considered in the next place, and whether they usually make their attack in the morning, or at noon, or in the evening, and whether they are more powerful in horse or foot: according to which circumstances, you are to regulate your own proceedings and preparations. But let us suppose some particular case. It happens sometimes that a general is obliged to decamp before the enemy, because he is not able to cope with them, and endeavours to avoid an engagement: but as soon as the enemy are aware of it, they likewise decamp, and press so hard upon his rear, that they must probably come up with him, and force him to an engagement before he can pass a river that lies in his way.<br>
Now, some who have been in this dangerous situation have thrown up a deep ditch in the rear of their army, and filled it with fagots, and other combustible matter, which they have set fire to, and thereby gained time to pass the river in safety, before the enemy could get over the ditch.