What kind of states does Machiavelli describe in The Prince and how do they differ from one another?
In The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli goes to great lengths to illustrate the different kinds of kingdoms a prince may acquire and the relative advantages to each of them. Machiavelli begins his discussion with hereditary kingdoms. Hereditary kingdoms, unlike composite kingdoms, already have a preexisting power structures. The prince merely comes in to take control of the system. His political prowess, much more than his military abilities, determines the level of his success. In composite kingdoms, control is not established. As the name suggests, the kingdom is developed by the incoming ruler. The prince establishes must establish his control over a composite kingdom primarily through his military and political prowess.
Machiavelli also discusses ecclesiastical and constitutional principalities. In ecclesiastical principalities, control is already secure and is maintained through religious institutions, not through military or political prowess. In constitutional principalities, the prince must maintain control through his political abilities, especially if the nobles of a principality call in the prince. Each kind of kingdom Machiavelli discusses relies, to varying degrees, on the political and military abilities of the prince.