BE PRESENT | The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

In 1453, Mehmed the Conqueror was nearing the end of his conquest to bring an end to the Eastern Roman Empire. After a 57 day siege, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman sultan, signalling the end of the kingdom. As soon as the triumph was complete, Mehmed settled there and moved the Ottoman capital from Adrianople to the newly conquered city.

Constantinople was now under the rule of a new empire with a different language, different religion and different form of government, but Mehmed’s action of settling there made his position more durable and secure. In fact in Machiavelli’s eyes, not staying in the city would have resulted in not being able to keep the city at all.

In The Prince, Machiavelli declares:

New states that have different languages and customs from those of the prince are more difficult to maintain. One of the prince’s most effective options is to take up residence in the new state. By living there, the prince can address problems quickly and efficiently. He can prevent the local officials from plundering his territory. The subjects will be in close contact with the prince. Therefore, those who are inclined to be good will have more reason to show their allegiance to the prince and those who are inclined to be bad will have more reason to fear him. Invaders will think twice before attempting to take over the state.

A situation where a business or territory is acquired containing differing laws, languages or customs, will bring with it many difficulties. What is needed to keep hold of them is considerable energy and a substantial amount of good fortune. However, being present in the new area is one of the greatest helps to achieve this aim. It allows a ruler to regulate, repress and control whatever they feel is necessary.