In the early 1300's the Duke of Athens wanted to become prince of Florence. The "signory" of the city wrote to him about the nature of freedom and warned him that even a benevolent dictatorship was incompatible with freedom. They would not confront him by force, but they were warning him that he would have to hold power primarily by force.
"... You are endeavoring to reduce to slavery a city that has always existed in freedom; for the authority which we have at times conceded to the kings of Naples was companionship and not servitude.
"Have you considered the mighty things which the name of liberty implies to such a city as this, and how delightful it is to those who hear it? It has a power which nothing can subdue, time cannot wear away, nor can any degree of merit in a prince countervail the loss of it.
"Consider, my lord, how great the force must be that can keep a city like this in subjection, no foreign aid would enable you to do it; neither can you confide in those at home; for they who are at present your friends, and advise you to adopt the course you now pursue, as soon as with your assistance they have overcome their enemies, will at once turn their thoughts toward effecting your destruction, and then take the government upon themselves. The plebeians, in whom you confide, will change upon any accident, however trivial; so that in a very short time you may expect to see the whole city opposed to you, which will produce both their ruin and your own.
"Nor will you be able to find any remedy for this; for princes who have but few enemies may make their government very secure by the death or banishment of those who are opposed to them; but when the hatred is universal, no security whatever can be found, for you cannot tell from what direction the evil may commence; and he who has to apprehend every man his enemy cannot make himself assured of anyone. And if you should attempt to secure a friend or two, you would only increase the dangers of your situation; for the hatred of the rest would be increased by your success, and they would become more resolutely disposed to vengeance.
"That time can neither destroy nor abate the desire for freedom is most certain; for it has been often observed, that those have re-assumed their liberty who in their own persons had never tasted of its charms, and love it only from remembrance of what they have heard their fathers relate; and, therefore, when recovered, have preserved it with indomitable resolution and at every hazard. And even when their fathers could not remember it, the public buildings, the halls of the magistracy, and the insignia of free institutions, remind them of it; and these things cannot fail to be known and greatly desired by every class of citizens.
"What is it you imagine you can do, that would be an equivalent for the sweets of liberty, or make men lose the desire of their present conditions? No; if you were to join the whole of Tuscany to the Florentine rule, if you were to return to the city daily in triumph over her enemies, what could it avail? The glory would not be ours, but yours. We should not acquire fellow-citizens, but partakers of our bondage, who would serve to sink us still deeper in ignominy.
"And if your conduct were in every respect upright, your demeanor amiable, and your judgments equitable, all these would be insufficient to make you beloved. If you imagine otherwise, you deceive yourself; for, to one accustomed to the enjoyment of liberty, the slightest chains feel heavy, and every tie upon his free soul oppresses him.
"Besides, it is impossible to find a violent people associated with a good prince, for of necessity they must soon become alike, or their difference produce the ruin of one of them. You may, therefore, be assured, that you will either have to hold this city by force, to effect which, guards, castles, and external aid have oft been found insufficient, or be content with the authority we have conferred; and this we would advise, reminding you that no dominion can be durable to which the governed do not consent; and we have no wish to lead you, blinded by ambition, to such a point that, unable either to stand or advance, you must, to the great injury of both, of necessity fall."
(Source: "HISTORY OF FLORENCE AND OF THE AFFAIRS OF ITALY..." by Niccolo Machiavelli)