the justice and the greatness of a prince


Hello everyone,
Louise II of France is praised in the Chambers Book of Days in this way:
He strove by economy to keep down the amount of the public burdens, and when his frugal habits were ridiculed in the theatre, he said laughingly that he would rather have the people to be amused by his stinginess than groan under his prodigality. He held as a principle that the justice of a prince obliged him to owe nothing, rather than his greatness to give much. It was rare indeed to find such correct ideas regarding the use and value of money in those days.
Would you kindly explain what the sentence in bold means? Simple as it may appear, I don't get the meaning at all.
Thank you.
  • jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "the justice of a prince obliged him to owe nothing" = To be a just ruler required that he not borrow money. If he borrowed money he would have to unjustly tax his people to repay it.
    "rather than his greatness to give too much" = To be a great ruler does not require that he spend too much money.

    So he's saying that his obligation in being a good ruler is to owe nothing, and he is not obliged to spend a lot of money so as to seem greater.
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