Genjitsushugi Yuusha no Oukokusaikenki

Chapter 5 – As The Lord C/D: An Inquiry on Cruelty as Defined by Machiavelli

AN: This is a Soma-style musing on The Prince, presented as a light report. Readers who think, “I don’t care about theory, gimme the story!” may skip it over.


Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ was called the Devil’s Book and for several hundred years was censured by the Christian Church, particularly the descriptions contained in Chapter VIII: Concerning Those who Have Obtained a Principality by Wickedness, and Chapter XVII: Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It’s Better to be Loved than Feared.

Chapter VIII debated the theme of “Why is it that those who took over a country by using unscrupulous means enjoy a peaceful reign without experiencing revolts while rulers who gained their countries through rightful means lose theirs.” In it, Machiavelli stated that “it follows from severities being properly used.”

Moreover Chapter XVII argued that “Because people are fickle creatures, one should choose love rather than fear when one must be dispensed with”, explaining that “It is much safer for a ruler to be feared than loved.” He continued to say “When a prince … has under control a multitude of soldiers, then it is quite necessary for him to disregard the reputation of cruelty”, and that “Hannibal … having led an enormous army … no dissensions arose either among them or against the prince, whether in his bad or in his good fortune. This arose from nothing else than his inhuman cruelty”

The Christian Church, that preached kindness, cited these examples and said, “What is the meaning of this, encouraging rulers who should rule with benevolence to be cruel!” and banned The Prince. It then gained the infamy of being the Devil’s Book, and the contents locked up without being scrutinized, leading to misunderstandings that “The Prince advocated brutality,” and that “The Prince endorsed the killing of dissenters.” It still sometimes received this valuation even now when it had been reappraised.

But what I would like to assert here is that Machiavelli was saying that ‘The subject of cruelty is not something that is questioned in detail.” Despite saying in Chapter VIII, “Injuries ought to be done all at one time so that being tasted less, they offend less,” regarding the subject of it, Machiavelli never concluded that “this is it!” (though he did offer some historical examples).

The same thing goes with Chapter XVII. Despite saying that “In the actions of Hannibal contained his inhuman cruelty,” he never alluded to what those “cruelties” are.

So then, what was meant by Machiavelli when he said “Injuries that ought to be done all at one time,” or “cruelty” that should be borne by the Prince? We can only deduce it from among the cruel acts existent on this world, minus the things Machiavelli said “not to be done.”

◇ ◇ ◇

Firstly, in Chapter XVII, Machiavelli stated that a Prince should avoid being hated if he does not win love, and in order to not be hated, they should “abstain from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their women.” In the same vein, he also stated that “when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause.” In other words, “Even with a just cause, a ruler is not to lay his hands on his subjects and citizens’ property and women, and should only take their lives only with a proper cause (or, to not take their lives without one).”

Which means, the “cruelty” reffered to by Machiavelli would be limited to “killing with a just cause.” Then what kind of “killing with a just cause” is allowed? Is it what the Christian Church claimed, “kill all who oppose you”?

I very well understand that opinion is divided on this matter, but as for my own, I think I would say no. Why? Because Machiavelli himself said thus in The Prince in chapter XX:

“Princes, especially new ones, have found more fidelity and assistance in those men who in the beginning of their rule were distrusted than among those who in the beginning were trusted”

Those men who at the beginning have been hostile, were they to fall into the need of assistance to support themselves, can always be won over with great ease. Once they had been won over, they would be tightly held to serve the prince with fidelity, in order to cancel the bad impression that is had of them, and thus the Prince can extract more profit from them than those who had served him from the beginning with security. To speak of Japanese History, it would be easy to understand from Shibata Katsuie who served as general to Oda Nobunaga. Upon the treason of Nobunaga’s younger brother, Katsuie had at first sided with the younger brother, but would later come down and become Nobunaga’s vassal. From then onwards, Katsuie would desperately serve Nobunaga and become the chief retainer, but were his actions to be found lacking, he would be expelled from the Oda clan just like the similarly capitulated Hayashi Hidesada and Sakuma Nobumori.

This means that Machiavelli’s “cruelty” is not necessarily “always kill off your enemies.” But what is it then? For that we only have to look at and deduce from Machiavelli’s examples of “severities being properly used.” When Syracuse fell under attack from Carthage, Agathocles conducted a surprise attack on the Senate and prominent citizens of Syracuse, entrenching his own influence and brushing off Carthage’s attack. Oliverotto, in order to gain sovereignty over his birth town Fermo, conducted a surprise attack on the influential citizens including his own backer, his uncle, gaining control of Fermo within just a year.

Also, Machiavelli’s ideal ruler, Cesare Borgia, murdered the opponents who reconciled with him, cementing his power base. One of those opponents were Oliverotto. Machiavelli looked positively towards this act. From these three examples we can see the point that “the target of one’s cruelty is factionally one’s own.”

Though they belonged to the same faction, the senators that will get in the way of one’s policies, family that will get in the way of one being a ruler, and though reconciled, the allies that may one day turn their backs on you … these hindrances who could well be said ‘snakes in the grass’ were those that Machiavelli turned the spear of cruelty towards.

He said as much in chapter XVII: Hannibal was described as “inhumanly cruel” towards his army, but the subject of this cruelty can be seen through the comparison that was brought out, Scipio. Scipio was also a prominent general, but he was beset by rebellions from his men and insurrection from the citizens. The reason mentioned was that due to his gentle character, he was unable to punish his vassals who committed unreasonable acts. Which means that Hannibal took the opposite stance, convicting his allies, becoming feared by his men, and they did not revolt against him, regardless of the outcome of his battles.

Considering the fact that the target of Machiavelli’s advocated “proper use of severities” were the enemies in one’s own camp, and considering his other claims in The Prince, whereby “when your neighbors come to blows, it will always be advantageous to declare yourself for one or the other” and that “doing so is more advantageous than staying neutral,” 1 you can see Machiavelli’s underlying idea, namely:

“Do not put your faith in the bat 2 who allies himself to the winning side”

Machiavelli was a diplomat in Italy’s troubled times, full of wiles and trickery 3. He understood that by overlooking those who kept their stances indefinite claiming that the situation is hazy and unclear, they would become a source of problems later. Which was why he advised the uprooting of those lesions under the name of “cruelty.”

And that was why I beheaded these twelve nobles.

⇐ Previous | TOC | Next ⇒


  1. TN: The Prince, Chapter XXI 
  2. TN: Referring to Aesop’s fable of the Birds and the Beasts: The birds and the beasts were having a war. The birds said to the bat: come with us, and the bat said “no, for I am a beast.” The beasts said to the bat: come with us, and the bat said “no, for I am a bird.” When the conflict was settled without a fight, the bat came to the birds to partake in the rejoicings, but they turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the beasts but had to beat a retreat, lest they would have torn him to pieces. “I see now,” said the bat, “he that is neither one nor the other has no friends.” 
  3. TN: JP = Kenboujussuu, which, incidentally, also means Machiavellianism 
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107 thoughts on “Chapter 5 – As The Lord C/D: An Inquiry on Cruelty as Defined by Machiavelli

  1. Uwaaaah, thankee for the chapter!!!

    Interesting to read 🙂

    But… filler? xD (jk explanation chapter :3)

    Though for a moment thought we were getting a story update xD

    But nevertheless, thankee very much for the chapter!!! 😀 😀

  2. Thanks 4 the chapter!

    I find it interesting. I wonder what Machiavelli would think of Switzerland?

      1. The land is so beautiful that the surrounding forces simply can’t bear to ravage it. Thus they decided to use that land as a retirement place and for peaceful talks.
        (sorry, just bullshitting here)

      2. I will have to look it up. All I know is that they’re a neutral country. It’s what they’re famous for. Aside from their watches, knives, banks, and chocolates.

      3. Mercenaries.

        For a long time they were the best mercs around, by far – the Pope’s Swiss Guard is the last remaining example. They’re not the Swiss Guard by coincidence.

        They were independent because you wouldn’t want a merc country to take sides, and anyway the Swiss plateau was hard to conquer, so as long as they kept being useful nobody touched them.

        When being mercenaries became insufficient to guarantee their independence, they applied the same method to banking.

        There also armed to the teeth and everybody does a round of military service/training every year.

      4. Well, the Confederatio Helvetica (Swiss Confederation in english) exists as today since 1848 and was first founded in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, where the major Powers of Europe agreed and guaranteed the neutrality of Swiss, which they hold on till today. Before that, Swiss was more of a combination of citystates and there provinces which where crused by Napoleon. Swiss mercenaries where know for there strength and loyalty, they served everywhere (Pop still today, french kings had regiments). But today citizen of Swiss are not allowed to serve as mercenaries, with the exception of the Swiss Guards under the catholic pop . More questions about my homeland?^^

      5. I’ll also add to what others have said. Basically, they’re not worth the trouble of invading.

        Nowadays, their infrastructure is rigged to be destroyed in case of an invasion, in order to deny the enemy its use. For instance, they have bridges rigged with explosives, and built in such locations as to maximize the effect (burying roads underneath, etc.).

        They’ve also prepared a lot of locations for controlled landslides to bury roads and make it difficult to traverse.

        There are also a lot of bunkers in the mountains built for many different purposes (including some meant for evacuating civilians, if you can call an armed and trained mob that). They even use some as airplane hangars.

        In fact, they have regular exercise in landing / taking off their fighter jets using their roads in the mountains. Now, many countries train their air force in using roads as runways, but the Swiss take it further, and actually use their mountain roads as runways regularly, since those hidden hangars are often close to the mountain roads, and building an actual runway would easily give it away.

        In summary, they’re more trouble to invade than they’re worth. If anyone invades Europe, they’ll probably leave the Swiss for last, after they’ve taken care of everyone else.

    1. Machiavelli made his thoughts clear on Switzerland. The swiss in his time were the worlds no.1 exporter of Mercenaries, and made huge money of the wars and instability in italy. All his former comments about Mercenaries are a direct criticism about the swiss. In fact the author of this LN made “Zem” the “mercenary” and “neutral” country a dead ringer for middle ages switzerland.

  3. Quite interesting seeing the theory behind the actions.

    I’ve come across Machiavelli many times over the years and this chapter has done quite a lot to make me interested in reading The Prince.

  4. I really wish the author wrote this story back when I was in high school writing a thesis paper on modern politics in relations with the teaching in Machiavellian Prince.

  5. So in conclusion, to ensure a solid rule/position, rather than killing off all your enemies just because they opposed you upfront, it’s better to cull any allies that have possibility of betraying of you and allies that hinders policies you make over his own gains. And in doing so, you will show that you’ll be ruthless in judgement regardless of being your ally or not and make them know what will happen to them after they got subjugated and put into your rule.

    1. If they ever thought of betraying you and they will put their upmost effort in serving you to ensure their safety and won’t be discarded as unless trash.

    2. You really shouldn’t take any conclusions derived from The Prince seriously. It was Machiavelli’s how to guide to become a tyrant and get killed by your subjects. Machiavelli advocated a republican form of government his entire life, and in his much longer works about ruling he offers the opposite advice that he gave in The Prince.

      1. Correct, peeps should view The Prince as a snapshot in politics during Machiavelli’s time and not a handbook on ruling in general. Some have even said that The Prince is actually a satire.

      2. Still, The Prince is the perfect handbook for Souma since the world political system is of monarchies rather than the republics that we have today. Machiavelli can be considered as a madman/infidel/etc during his time since he is advocating republican government and only gave his diagnoses of various government, especially of the more successful ones and those who met their demise in his literary work. You can argue that Souma was threading the best path in history based on what was seen in Earth’s medieval age, he already gained an insight on what would happen if certain buttons is pushed.

      3. True, maybe The Prince is not a “How to rule 101” but it was write from a point of view of someone from the last of what you can call middle ages, but hey the usual fantasy story is in a “middle ages + magic” setting so for me it seems the right tool for the job.
        Besides i doubt politic theory and ruler ship are in the Japanese curricula

      4. Firstly, tyranny and republics aren’t necessarily opposite concepts. Take a look at any cold-war era banana republic for instance.

        Secondly, Machiavelli’s concern was about how to maintain power, and that means sometimes working within the system. i. e. in a monarchy, do this, in a republic, do that.

        Thirdly, A medieval republic is not the same thing as a modern republic. It’s closer to an oligarchy of prominent citizens (patricians) than a democracy of the people.

      5. larvyde, +1
        Moreover, differences in mentality of different epochs, to put it mildly, can be quite significantly in general (including semantic filling the term “democracy”).
        It was fun to read the comments of readers – attempts to shove Machiavelli in the scope of projection of their own “sweet erotic fantasies” about society and history. Obviously not reading Machiavelli himself )
        Please excuse my bad english.
        Happy New year holidays for all!
        Всех с Новым годом и Рождеством!

  6. Quite educational read about the theories. Mild surprises that the beheaded one were those nobles.
    Thank you very much for the chapter.

  7. This novel is awesome.
    You can see the author deep culture in this chapter, and Souma’s greatness in following Machiavelli’s teaching.
    However, i’m a bit troubled, since i hoped to see a “reaction chapter”! the author trolled me, but i’m not really disappointed, since i’m left with awe.

  8. Cant believe Im learning more about western histories in a Japanese light novel than at school(almost none).

      1. Living in South East Asian, aside from Britain coming to conquer us, nothing much I guess.

  9. ahhhh…..im reading this after playing metro-last light for 4 hours straight and im getting dizzy…..might even vomit….but still good read to lessen the pain in my head.

    1. That game really hard for the brain. Play for 5 hour and forced to stop in the middle of night becuz severe headache followed by stomachache. That’s the first time got so dizzy after playing game for hours

  10. so it’s better to take pne/people that opposed you straight away..
    rather than to take one/people that agree with you straight away since you wont know whether they are truly agreeing or just actually staying in the safe side by agreeing.
    At least the one who opposed straight upfront is more sincere than the one who agreed but actually stab from behind.
    Kinda like that?
    thank you!

    1. TL;DR:
      It is better to be feared than loved, for men love at their own inclination, but fear at yours.

    2. yeah, because those “allies” are like parasites tha attack you the moment you are no longer providing food for it, and since itś “inside” you you do not see when it attacks and usually notice too late to stop it, thatś why you keep watch over your enemies and even more over your allies, take Asai Nagamasa betrayal, Oda Nobunaga was taken completelly by surprise and out of nowhere cut off from supplies and about to be surrounded, he came from a position of superiority to almost being checkmated. That’s how dangerous allies are.

      1. but then with this kind of approach, how can Soma be sure that Hakuya wont betray him?
        I think Soma already know beforehand that the nobles aren’t any good. But to make sure of it, he deliberately asking for opinion. And so the moment the nobles turned quiet, the more he’s sure.

  11. Feel like half cliff hanging to me – if that even physically possible.
    This is harder to read than my thesis.
    props to you who translated it.

  12. Machiavelli goes on to say that it’s best be both loved /and/ feared though :v

    though it’s kind of funny since he only wrote it to curry favour with the at the time ruler of the city (and was rejected anyways!) and it’s all completely theoretical, basically history’s equivalent of an armchair general

  13. My memory is a bit hazy but this brief narrative had made me experienced, once more, my sympathies towards Machiavelli. Throughout his life as a universal man of being a diplomat, war engineer, poet, politician, commander, economist, playwright, similar to Leonardo da Vinci, he was a being who understood the concept of power more than anyone else and yet was constantly deprived of it. This is due to the frictions he encountered with opposition throughout his life which he termed it as not being aligned with fortune/constellations (he may have been pertaining to the context where he belonged). He may have have had the necessary tools but the succeeding occasions prevented him from rising…… So far, the constellations are perfectly aligned in favor of our beloved protagonist and his lovable companions. I just hope this goes well for them throughout the end… King Soma, make Mr. Niccolo proud :).

  14. Thanks for the chapter!
    It was informative. I guessed right that the idiot nobles would get the ax. The other two should be save.
    I’m really curious about the next update.

  15. I have to point out that Soma – and by extension this story’s author – are going with the classical interpretation of The Prince, which is that it’s written as earnest advice on how to effectively govern (as a monarch, at least). However, more than a few authors and historians have held that the book is actually a clever work of satire or even a deceitful method of turning the populace against a ruler who follows its instructions.

    The main line of thought here is that the line of reasoning laid down in The Prince flies in the face of not only how Machiavelli lived his life (he was a senior official in the Florentine Republic, and was a proponent of republican governments – rather than monarchies – throughout his life), but also that The Prince was dedicated to Lorenzo d’Medici, who had Machiavelli tortured (via dislocating both of his shoulders). For that matter, Machiavelli’s later work, Discourses (actually the Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy) was a strong proponent of republicanism (though, to be fair, it has some parallel themes with The Prince).

    Having said all of that, it’s just one interpretation; the truth of the matter may not ever be fully determined.

    1. This is in addition to the understanding that a middle ages person would have a different view of certain issues as compared to someone living in the present time.

      For example, how many of us actually understand living under the power of a real King as opposed to the current day disenfranchised ones? Not even Saudi Arabian kings have the power the old nobles wield, one that can go “I don’t like his face, remove his head” (hence the Chinese curse of “may you gain the attention of powerful people). Or that real power and government is not changed through election but through invasion and war?

      One thing you have to also remember is that our understanding of “human rights” is a lot different from their own. Some actions that is logical and correct to them is anathema to us and some things that we do can be said to be outright stupidity to them (les majesty on the internet anyone?).

  16. this chapter is too complicated for 14 years old boy like me @_@.
    thx for the chapter anyway.

    1. It’s just Souma’s personal take on Machiavelli’s book The Prince. Basically, the book said “cruelty is good”, which made people hate it, but in finer details Souma found that it actually said “cruelty is necessary” especially for the current situation that he’s facing. So Souma decided to be cruel and executed the 12 nobles, because it’s necessary.

    1. Not to the citizens of that world, no. But I think the author would at least mention it at some point, since he already alluded to the relationship between Capitalism and Communism in earlier chapters.

    2. Seeing as how the majority of Marx’ writings were based on the percived effects of Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution with emphasis on social class…. Unless this novel progresses to the point where the kingdom is entirely established with full import/export trading and suddenly undergoes industrialization…. No, it won’t touch Marx.

  17. I have to say this executing them was stupid in a real world stand point I dont care what he read unlkess souma decided to rule with the same brutality and paranoia as stalin than no just executing those nobles because he disagreed with them or decided they were untrustworthy for agreeing with what they thought he wanted is just stupid

    1. At the beginning of the chapter, these same 12 nobles were plotting to lay low while waiting for a chance to overthrow Souma. Before that, in the previous chapter, we have a spy reporting to Hakuya. I think Souma already knew they were traitorous and was simply weeding out the bad seeds. Duke Carmine already sacrificed himself for the same reason, so leaving them alive would have wasted the man’s death.

      1. there was no evidence that he knew or that they were the nobles would think now that he is simply executing everyone to secure his rule and that would push them away from him and for all you knew they might have been good to their people and that would also push them away

      2. There’s no evidence saying that he doesn’t know, either. We were only presented with the facts that these nobles were evil, and that they were executed. That’s enough. Obviously, if Souma didn’t know for sure that they were evil then he wouldn’t have killed them.

    2. Dude are you seriously read the previous chapter
      I think its you the one is stupid thought and beside this is a monarch not republic thus souma don’t have to deal with shitty procedure like please show the evidence.
      Oh by the way I’m talking about the part when a spy reporting something to hakuya after he finish talking with Jeanne.
      Its already hinted dude, you just have to figure it out yourself

      1. I read the previous chapter and your stupid if you think having evidence is a shitty procedure and no it says right here that that was why he executed for all souma knows these were just nobles afraid of his power. The realism of this is that to the outside world souma is a tyrant who executes anyone whom he disagrees with. and yes even monarchies have to show evidence. It isnt a dictatorship where what ever the leader says goes. Right now unless souma has evidence that they were conspiring he looks like someone just taking as much power as he can.

  18. As usual! Thank you very much! Just love this series!!!
    It has all the storyline i ever wanted.

    Harem(sorry, I am one of those guys, yeah…), Tactical, Weak to Strong(in this case, I am talking about the country), Character has both sides to him, light and dark, but personality is on the light side.

  19. Hi! This story seems to be very exciting. Could you please tell me how many chapters are published already, once the novel is marked as “ongoing”? And what “LN Volumes ” mean? And could you please tell if you are going to keep on translating this novel further?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. This novel is licensed and published as a Light Novel, so I supposed LN Volumes refers to exactly that, its volumes. I don’t know how much have been released, but the author is still writing more so it’s Ongoing.

  20. Anybody happen to know when a new chapter is going to get posted since its already been 3 weeks now and still no new chapter since the recent posted chapter.

      1. When you look at the list of translated novels, it says under this one that it was licensed. Also all posts related to it seem to have been removed, or at least the more recent chapter releases. Didn’t look too far back.

    1. They’re an online publisher, I think? Basically they bought the rights to legally distribute light novels in English, and publish them on their website. If you want to read the novels that they licensed then you have to buy a subscription to their content. They function like a normal publisher, except that they do it online.

      Since JNC have bought the rights to distribute the novel, nobody else are allowed to distribute the novel’s English version without their consent, including independent translators like Larvyde and Yukkuri. If they do then they can be sued for violating the law. As it stands, Both Larvyde and Yukkuri are legally bound to take all English contents of this novel off their sites.

      Yukkuri already did that, and I think JNC would have contacted Larvyde already. At the very least, I don’t think Larvyde’s gonna continue translating this novel any more.

    2. I HOPE J-NOVEL CLUB PEOPLE ARE READING THIS!!!

      Continuing from my previous post, if JNC were smart they should have hired Larvyde and Yukkuri, or bought the translated stuffs from them. It won’t complicate matters since these are both individual translators and not groups.

      That way, JNC would (1) almost immediately have commercial-ready contents, (2) cut down cost on hiring new translators to work on already-translated stuffs while avoiding plagarism, and (3) draw in more readers right away while saving save tons of marketing cost.

      To further expand on point (3), the most important thing is that JNC’s translation can continue from where the free version left off, which would more likely to draw in interested readers (who have been following this series up to this point) to actually spend money on JNC’s subscription. If they go the normal route and re-release the novel from Chapter 1, most of the current readers would simply lose interest, especially if they’re made to pay money for things they’ve already read.

      Even with those who were willing to pay to read this, some of them would prefer to wait for the series to be translated up to the current chapters before subscribing, and among those, there WILL be some who forget about this novel after some time and passed, or simply lose interest. From a marketing point of view, you’d lose most of the spill-over effect from this novel’s current popularity if you go back to chapter 1.

  21. neee~~
    how much of a history otaku was soma, anyway~~?
    cause i have never seen a normal person know so much about history and battles~~

    thanks for the chapter btw~~

  22. Thought i understand that you couldn’t trust the bats that joined the winning side i think it is excesive to kill them for sidding with the king either.

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