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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
‘What Meaneth a Tyrant, and How he Useth his Power in a Kingdom when he hath Obtained it’
By Alfonso X of Castile (1221–1284)
From ‘Las Siete Partidas,’ quoted in George Ticknor’s ‘Spanish Literature’

“A TYRANT,” says this law, “doth signify a cruel lord, who, by force or by craft, or by treachery, hath obtained power over any realm or country; and such men be of such nature, that when once they have grown strong in the land, they love rather to work their own profit, though it be in harm of the land, than the common profit of all, for they always live in an ill fear of losing it. And that they may be able to fulfill this their purpose unincumbered, the wise of old have said that they use their power against the people in three manners. The first is, that they strive that those under their mastery be ever ignorant and timorous, because, when they be such, they may not be bold to rise against them, nor to resist their wills; and the second is, that they be not kindly and united among themselves, in such wise that they trust not one another, for while they live in disagreement, they shall not dare to make any discourse against their lord, for fear faith and secrecy should not be kept among themselves; and the third way is, that they strive to make them poor, and to put them upon great undertakings, which they never can finish, whereby they may have so much harm that it may never come into their hearts to devise anything against their ruler. And above all this, have tyrants ever striven to make spoil of the strong and to destroy the wise; and have forbidden fellowship and assemblies of men in their land, and striven always to know what men said or did; and do trust their counsel and the guard of their person rather to foreigners, who will serve at their will, than to them of the land, who serve from oppression. And moreover, we say that though any man may have gained mastery of a kingdom by any of the lawful means whereof we have spoken in the laws going before this, yet, if he use his power ill, in the ways whereof we speak in this law, him may the people still call tyrant; for he turneth his mastery which was rightful into wrongful, as Aristotle hath said in the book which treateth of the rule and government of kingdoms.”  1

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