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MISSION TO THE COUNTESS CATHARINE SFORZA. * - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 3.
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MISSION TO THE COUNTESS CATHARINE SFORZA.*
Resolved on, 12 July, 1499.
You will proceed to Furli and present yourself to the illustrious Lady Catharine and to his Excellency the Signor Ottaviano, her eldest son, and after having offered your homage to them, and presented our letters of credence, with which you will be furnished, to both of them jointly and to each separately, you will state the object of your mission; which you will explain has been resolved upon in consequence of their agent’s having asked of us a renewal for this year of the Signor Ottaviano’s engagement. Upon this subject you will point out to them that we do not consider ourselves bound to do so, having at the proper time, through our commissioner, Andrea de’ Pazzi, made their Excellencies understand the reasons which we believed would readily justify our refusal.
You will also recall the fact, that when, on the last day of January, our commissioner urged the Signor Ottaviano to give his consent to such a renewal, his Excellency replied, “Non teneri, nec obligatum esse, cum pro parte Magistratus Decemvirorum, etc., non fuerint sibi servata capitula conductæ suæ.” This refusal on his part was formally drawn up by a certain Ser Spinucci of Furli; and was moreover confirmed on the same day by letters from the said Signor Ottaviano, and by several letters from Andrea de’ Pazzi, in which he wrote in behalf of the illustrious Lady Catharine that she would on no account give her consent to such an engagement. Whence we concluded that his Excellency was under no obligations to us, nor we to him; it seeming to us that the efforts we had made, and the written replies thereto, were sufficient evidence that their Excellencies would on no account accept a renewal of the engagement. Added to this is the fact that our ambassadors at Milan had written several times that her Excellency the Countess had written to that most illustrious prince, in reply to his letters in which he advised her to accept the engagement, that she would under no consideration give her consent; alleging that she was badly compensated, etc., and that she hoped, in the event of her obtaining more favorable conditions elsewhere, his Excellency would not deprive her of that advantage.
All these circumstances constrain us to think that both by words and by acts their Excellencies will not continue their engagement any longer. And moreover, that, even if all these reasons did not exist, the fact that his Excellency did not accept within four months the conditions which we offered makes it impossible for us now, after a lapse of so much time, to come back to the terms of an engagement which has absolutely expired. In this wise you will clearly justify our course, so that his Excellency may understand that we have acted with good reason in this matter, as the above argument will show. And you will immediately add that, notwithstanding all this, we have an earnest desire to meet the wishes of his Excellency, and to satisfy him as far as we possibly can at this time; and with the view to showing him our gratitude for all he has done for our republic, we have determined to accord to their Excellencies such an engagement at the expiration of the present term. But owing to the present state of things, and the great number of men-at-arms which we have still in our service, we desire that such an engagement should be on a peace footing, and for one year, at a compensation of ten thousand ducats. And we think that such an engagement ought to satisfy his Excellency, if not by its importance, at least by its stability, for in this way it may last longer than if we maintained it at the same rate of compensation and the same number of men-at-arms as heretofore. And moreover we believe that, in accepting our proposition, his Excellency will be influenced less by a desire to advance his own interests than to gratify our republic, and by the wish to secure our affection more and more by adding to his past services this new proof of his liberality.
You will also point out to his Excellency, that, if such an engagement is not altogether in accordance with his wishes, yet it will not be without dignity nor without the prospect of improvement, when once our republic shall have recovered all her territory and is restored to her proper state and power. And should his Excellency refer to the increase of compensation conceded by us to some of our other Condottieri, you will have ample reasons for explaining to him that the circumstances at the time demanded this, assuring him at the same time that, if we had to do so now, it would not be on so large a scale, nor should we have the same considerations for these Condottieri now as we were obliged to have at the time, when our affairs were in the condition in which they were then. And should reference be made by his Excellency to the loss of rations, you will in reply observe that two months of such an engagement have already expired, which is clear gain to his Excellency, and that we could easily compensate him for such loss.
Upon these several points you will enlarge in the most effective language and in the best terms that may suggest themselves to you; so as to convince his Excellency of our sincere desire for an opportunity to benefit him, and to acknowledge the services which he has rendered to our republic, as also of our entire confidence in him. At the same time, you will point out the necessity of the union of our states, employing the most acceptable language in your endeavor to persuade him to that effect.
You will not omit to write to us promptly an account of your proceedings, so that we may reply at once and remove any difficulties that may arise. And you must shape your proceedings so that his Excellency will not take it amiss if we do not at all times meet our payments at the moment they are due. For this purpose you will explain to him, that we propose to make this engagement with him from no necessity of our own, but merely to gratify his desire; and that, weighed down as we are with such heavy charges, we may find ourselves obliged occasionally to defer our payments, in respect to which you will make our excuses in such terms as will be acceptable to his Excellency.
Illustres et excellentes Domini, amici clarissimi. Mittimus ad excellentias vestras Nicolaum Machiavellum, civem et secretarium nostrum, qui, ut illi mandavimus, coram multa exponet, in quibus habere illi certissimam optamus fidem, non secus ac nobis loquentibus. Bene valete.
Ex Palatio nostro die 12 Julii 1499.
Priores Libertatis et Vexillifer Justitiæ } Pop. Flor.
Magnificent and Illustrious Signori, etc., etc.: —
I arrived here yesterday evening about the twenty-second hour, and reported myself immediately to his Magnificence the Captain-General, and communicated to him your Lordships’ wishes in relation to the powder, balls, and saltpetre. He replied that all the iron balls here, both large and small, had been sent last year to be employed in the siege of Vico; and that the powder that had been left here by the French, amounting only to about fifteen or twenty pounds, had been destroyed two years ago, having been set on fire by a stroke of lightning, and that the explosion had shattered that part of the citadel where the powder had been stored. I then sent for Farragano to obtain information respecting the saltpetre, in accordance with the instructions given me by your Lordships’ purveyor. He told me that he had only one hundred pounds, but that he had a friend in the country who had about six hundred pounds of powder; and although this is but a small quantity, yet I send it to your Lordships by the bearer of this, so that this trip shall not have been entirely in vain; and I beg that you will have him paid promptly at the rate of forty florins per one thousand pounds, which I have promised him. Upon weighing this powder we found it to be five hundred and eighty-seven pounds; the teamster who brings it to you is called Tommaso di Mazolo, to whom you will please pay the value of the powder according to my promise to him; I have paid him for carrying it to you the sum of eight florins and three soldi.
In regard to what has passed between Ser Guerrino del Bello and our commander touching the attempt of the latter to arrest Marchione Golferelli, as well as the other occurrences here, I have learned the following from persons of different conditions, so that I believe it to be true; namely, that your Lordships’ predecessors having written to the commander here that they had some apprehensions lest Dionigio Naldi should enter the place during the night for the purpose of doing some mischief to the Corbizo family, and that a certain Marchione Golferelli was to aid him in this, the commander resolved to lay his hands upon this Marchione; but having been brought by the sergeants almost within the palace courtyard, he was rescued by two of his relatives, who carried him away with them to Furli. And as they believed that this attempted arrest of Marchione’s had been suggested by the Corbizzo family, they cancelled the truce that had for years subsisted between the two families.
Respecting this matter of Ser Guerrino, I called on his father, Bello, who does not attempt to excuse the disobedience of his son, but complains of the inhumanity of the captain in requiring him to send away out of his house in the night four of his friends and relatives. For he believed that his loyalty was so well known that no one could have a doubt upon that point; and that at the time when the enemy was all around them he had received at different times thirty of his friends in his house, and had never been blamed, but rather commended for it by the commissioner, and therefore he recommended himself and his son to your Lordships. This Bello, according to what I learn from the chief priest Farragano, and from a number of other inhabitants of this place, is a worthy and peaceful man, who has never openly taken sides with either party, but has always been rather a peace-maker than a fomenter of troubles. Taking now a general view of things in this country, it seems to me that the people are very united, and that there is no open enmity between any of its inhabitants.
Since the death of Corbizzo some little jealousy appears to have sprung up amongst them, as each desires to exercise the same influence which he had; but unless this feeling is purposely stimulated by some one, it is not likely to produce any bad results. The only thing is a very strong feeling of apprehension lest this Dionigio Naldi, with the aid of the Lady Catharine, should do them some mischief. For although this lady is on terms of friendship with your Lordships, yet they cannot rely upon nor trust her, and thus the inhabitants of the place as well as the country are kept in a constant state of anxiety. It was only yesterday that some fifteen or twenty crossbowmen of the Lady Catharine’s went to a place about a mile from here, called Salutare, belonging to your Lordships, and wounded three men and carried one away with them after having robbed his house. Similar outrages are committed every day, and it was only yesterday that a number of country people complained to me, saying, “Our lords have abandoned us; they have too many other things on their hands.” Your Lordships will doubtless, with your great prudence, take such measuresin this matter as the honor of our republic demands, and as will give satisfaction to these your most faithful subjects.
There is nothing else of interest to communicate. I shall leave immediately for Furli to execute the commission given me by your Lordships, to whom I commend myself most humbly. Quæ feliciter valeant.
Castrocaro, 16 July, 1499.
Magnificent Signori: —
I wrote to your Lordships yesterday morning from Castrocaro, reporting what I had done in relation to the balls, powder, and saltpetre, and the condition of things generally there. I went afterwards on the same day, at an early hour, to Furli; but finding the illustrious Lady Catharine occupied with some of her own affairs, I did not obtain an audience until about the twenty-second hour. No one was present but her Ladyship and Messer Giovanni da Casale, the Duke of Milan’s Chargé d’Affaires here. Her Ladyship’s son Ottaviano had gone on a pleasure trip to Furlimpiccolo.
After having presented myself to her Excellency, I explained to her your Lordships’ commission, employing the most suitable expressions to convince her in the first instance of your Lordships’ earnest desire that the time might come when you could show effectually how highly you valued those who had loyally served our republic, and who, regardless of everything else, had shared her varying fortunes, as her Excellency had ever done. And that if the refusal to accept her services now seemed contrary to these assurances, and if we had contested with her agents our being bound and held by an annual engagement, her Ladyship might be assured upon this point, as was proved by the several letters of your Lordships which showed that the reason of it was the impossibility of providing the means, because of the heavy charges to which our republic was already subjected. And as to our efforts to explain that we were not bound to a renewed engagement, I pointed out to her Ladyship that it had never been your intention to refuse to do anything that might be agreeable to her, and that the only reason why your Lordships wished to explain that you were not bound was to make her Excellency understand that nothing, not even the necessity of the evil times, induced you to offer her a renewal of the engagement, but that you do it solely from the affection you have for her, because of her great merits. And that for this reason you had sent me to her Excellency to make known to her that, although your Lordships were not bound, yet in recognition of the valuable services which she had rendered to our republic you were willing to accord an engagement to her son; but that, on account of the number of men-at-arms which you had already in your service, you wished such an engagement to be on a peace footing, and the compensation for this year not to exceed ten thousand ducats.
Nor did I fail to demonstrate to her Excellency, with the best arguments that suggested themselves to me, that such an engagement ought to be satisfactory to her; saying that her acceptance of it would be an addition to her many other merits, and that time would prove that she had not served an ungrateful Signoria; and that she would never have occasion to repent having added this to her other services to our republic.Her Excellency replied that your Lordships’ words had always been satisfactory to her, but that your actions had not always pleased her, and that she had never received compensation commensurate with the value of her services. Nevertheless, knowing that gratitude was one of the characteristics of your illustrious republic, she could not believe that you would now begin to show yourselves ungrateful to one who had for a great while back done more for you than perhaps any of your other allies, by exposing her dominions, without any obligations on her part, to the rapacity of the Venetians, her most powerful neighbors. And that therefore she was willing to abide by the hopes which your Lordships held out to her. Nor would she dispute whether your Lordships were bound or not to renew the engagement, but she desired time for replying to the propositions made to her, inasmuch as it seemed but reasonable to her not to decide at a moment’s notice a matter which you had with so much prudence discussed and consulted about for some time. And having replied to this in becoming terms, I begged her Excellency to hasten her decision, and took my leave.
Later in the day, at about the sixteenth hour, Messer Antonio Baldraccani, first secretary of her Excellency the Countess, came to see me, and told me that the illustrious Duke of Milan had written some five or six days ago to her Excellency, asking her to send him for his own use fifty men-at-arms and fifty mounted crossbowmen. That her Excellency had written on Sunday last to your Lordships on the subject, but had as yet received no reply. And he added that on that very day a letter had been received by her Excellency from the aforesaid Duke of Milan, begging her that, inasmuch as she had not come to terms with the Florentine Signoria about a renewal of her engagement for the year, she ought to enter his service on the same terms and conditions as she had last year from your Lordships. The aforesaid secretary also told me that letters had been received the evening before from the curate of Cascina, saying that eight deputies, members of the Council of Eighty, had given him to understand that they wanted to re-engage the Signor Ottaviano on two conditions. The first was the same which I had already explained to her Excellency; and the second was that she should consent to pledge her state, which the said curate demonstrated to the deputies that her Excellency could never agree to. Moreover the said secretary stated that her Excellency was in doubt what course to take, and therefore could not give a prompt reply. The reason of this was that it seemed disgraceful for her and her son to accept the conditions offered by your Lordships, because others, who had not rendered you the same services as herself, had their compensation increased, whilst that of herself and her son was diminished; and she could not believe that your Lordships made so little account of her as never to give her anything but fair words. And in fact she did not know how to excuse herself to the Duke of Milan if she accepted the conditions offered by you, which were so little creditable, and refused his, which were in the highest degree honorable. At the same time it seemed to her that she was under obligations to the Duke of Milan both by blood as well as by the numberless benefits she had received from that prince; and for that reason she was at a loss, and could not decide so promptly upon a reply, but wanted me to write to your Lordships, so that you might in the mean time write back what you thought of the matter.
In answer to the first part, touching the demand by the Duke of Milan for men, and the other propositions, I said, that as your Lordships had received no notice of this before my departure, you could not have given me any instructions on the subject, and therefore I could do nothing but write to your Lordships and await your reply. Respecting what the curate of Cascina had written about pledging her state, etc., I could also say nothing, but wondered much that, if this matter had been decided upon before my departure, no instructions were given me about it, or that I was not afterwards written to on the subject; and therefore I had also nothing to say on this point, but would write the same as in relation to the other matter. To this Messer Baldraccani replied that this latter point was of no importance, for if we were agreed about the other matters this would present no difficulties whatsoever; for her Excellency did not care to give any written obligation upon this point, but that she intended to fulfil her promises without any writings, the same as she had done in the last year. In my reply to this I observed, with regard to the embarrassment in which her Excellency found herself in deeming it discreditable for her to have the terms of her engagement reduced, whilst those of others were increased, as also in reference to the considerations which he thought she ought to have for the Duke of Milan, and the offers made by him, etc., etc., that if her Excellency would carefully weigh the reasons that obliged your Lordships to increase the pay of your other Condottieri who are carrying on the war for our republic, and those which influence them now to offer to re-engage her Excellency, she would find that her acceptance of the proffered engagement, so far from being discreditable, as she alleged, would be in the highest degree honorable. For whilst your Lordships were constrained to the former by the exigencies of the times, you were prompted to the latter by nothing else than the regard and affection which you had for her Excellency, and therefore your propositions to her were the more honorable and worthy of acceptance, as they were entirely voluntary. Moreover, his Excellency the Duke of Milan could not and should not complain if her Ladyship declined his propositions, although somewhat more advantageous, and accepted those of your Lordships, which for the moment seem less brilliant; first because of the friendly relations existing between his Excellency and our republic, which should make him look upon every advantage to your Lordships as for the common benefit; and secondly because in a certain measure the Signor Ottaviano was still in our pay, and the terms offered him now were in no wise in contradiction with his engagement of last year.
After having thus replied to each other, as the subject required, the secretary reiterated the conclusion that the Countess Catharine could not decide so promptly, and therefore it would be well that I should inform your Lordships of all that had been said and done; and that he would in the same way communicate all that I had said to her Excellency the Countess, although I had the privilege of communicating at all times personally with her Excellency. And on leaving me he said that he had forgotten to tell me on the part of the Countess that she desired much to know what compensation your Lordships intended to give her for former services; and that I should, on her part, beg you to send some reply upon these points. For if you came to some favorable conclusion upon that matter, she would regard it as an evidence of your disposition, and could then with greater confidence and security enter your service.
Having been here but so short a time, I shall not presume to say much of the state of things here; but according to what those Florentines who are near the Countess tell me, her Excellency could not be better disposed towards our republic than what she is. There is here a certain Messer Giovanni da Casale, Chargé d’Affaires of the Duke of Milan, of whose character and condition I shall not attempt to say anything, as he was last winter with the ducal troops in the Casentino. It will be enough for you to know that since he is here, which is now two months, he seems to rule everything.
Valeant Dominationes vestræ.
Furli, 17 July, 1499.
P. S. — Yesterday I demanded of her Excellency on the part of your Lordships the balls and saltpetre, under the conditions prescribed by you. Her Excellency replied that she had neither, and was herself greatly in need of them.
Iterum valeant E. E. N. V.
Magnificent Signori: —
I wrote to your Lordships yesterday at length, by the courier Ardingo, what I had done in execution of the commission intrusted to me, and await your reply with impatience. This morning I received through Tommaso Totti, a letter from your Lordships urging me in relation to the powder and saltpetre which I was to obtain at Castrocaro. Having reported fully on this subject on the 16th instant, I shall not enlarge upon it any further; but as your Lordships had charged me also to ask her Excellency for powder and men, I presented myself immediately before her and communicated again to her Ladyship your wishes and the pleasure which her compliance with your request would give you. She replied that she had no saltpetre at all, and but little powder; but that by way of not failing to do what was possible she would be glad to give you ten thousand out of the twenty thousand pounds of saltpetre which Leonardo Strozzi had purchased for her account at Pesaro, and she charged Risorbolo to write to the said Leonardo what she wished done in the matter. I spared no efforts to dispose her Excellency favorably to your requests, but could obtain nothing more from her. Your Lordships will therefore have to see Leonardo Strozzi, and can arrange with him so that you may send your teams at once to Pesaro to bring the saltpetre away. Or if you prefer, you can write and send me an order from Leonardo to have the saltpetre delivered to my order; and I will arrange to have it transported to Castrocaro, where your Lordships’ teamsters can come and take it. This was the course adopted last year, as is well known to your minister, Guaspare Pasgni.
Respecting the troops, her Excellency told me that she was quite willing to permit her subjects to engage in your Lordships’ service, but that it was notpossible to make them march without money. Your Lordships must, therefore, send means to raise the troops, whilst her Excellency will endeavor to send you only picked men, well armed and loyal, and will expedite them promptly. If, therefore, your Lordships are in want of troops, you must at once send five hundred ducats, so that one may be given to each man; and I believe that within two weeks from now they would be on Pisan territory, but not sooner. Your Lordships will decide what arrangement will suit you best, and advise me accordingly, and I shall execute your commands with the utmost diligence.
When I communicated your Lordship’s letters to the illustrious Countess this morning, and before I had time to add a word, she said: “I have good news this morning, for I see that your Signoria are going to make earnest of it; they are collecting troops, for which I commend them, and am the more pleased at it as I was before dissatisfied by their tardiness, and the seemingly irreparable loss of time.” I thanked her Excellency most sincerely, and then assured her that this tardiness had been caused altogether by necessity. Her Excellency readily admitted this, adding that she wished that her states were so situated that she could stir up all her troops and subjects in your favor, as that would show to the whole world that in espousing your cause she had been influenced solely by her affection for and entire faith in your Lordships. But she desired some acknowledgment for this, and that she should not be wounded in her honor, which she prized above all else. This she thought would be becoming in your Lordships, not so much on her own account as for the example which you would thereby give to your other adherents of your not being ungrateful for services received. I replied to the best of my ability, but could not help observing that mere words and arguments will not go far in satisfying her Excellency, unless supported, in part at least, by acts. And I truly believe that if your Lordships were to make some acknowledgment to the Countess for past services, or increase the compensation under the new engagement, you will be sure to preserve her Ladyship’s friendship. For she could not be better disposed towards our republic than what she is, of which I have every day the most striking indications. It has seemed to me proper to write all these particulars so that your Lordships may the better judge what I wrote you yesterday.
Quæ feliciter valeant.
Furli, 18 July, 1499.
P. S. — Enclosed is the letter which her Excellency had written to Leonardo Strozzi about the saltpetre.
P. S. — One of the secretaries of the Countess has been to see me, and informed me on the part of her Excellency that two kinds of troops may be raised in her dominions. The one is a corps of fifteen hundred men, which she has armed for her own service as may be needed. Of these she cannot send any to your Lordships, unless they are paid a whole month in advance. Her Excellency would pay them herself, or hold herself responsible for such as do not serve the full time of a month. She wants eighteen lire per man; so if your Lordships want any of them you will have to send fifteen hundred ducats for five hundred men, which her Excellency promises shall be good men and well armed, and shall be sent at once. The other kind of troops are such as are in the habit of engaging with any one for pay, but are not enrolled by her Excellency. Of these the Countess leaves you to hire at your pleasure, and at such rates of pay as you can agree with them for. Your Lordships will in your high wisdom take such as you may deem most suited for your purpose. I am ready with all diligence to execute whatever commission your Lordships may charge me with.
Iterum valeant, die qua in literis.
Magnificent Signori: —
I wrote to your Lordships on the 17th by the courier Ardingo, that the illustrious Lady Catharinewas in doubt as to what course to take; for on the one hand your Lordships wanted to reduce the conditions of the new engagement, and on the otherthe Duke of Milan offered her the same terms as under the former engagement; and that her Excellency therefore wanted me to write to your Lordships, so that you might understand the whole case, and might show more consideration for her honor, and satisfy her in proportion to the services she had rendered, etc., etc. She awaits your reply with eagerness, and as it has not yet been received, it seemed to me well to send the bearer of this, and to beg your Lordships to reply promptly, unless you have already done so, and let me know your final decision; so that, whether I conclude an arrangement with her Excellency or not, I may return to your Lordships’ feet.
I believe the way to content her Excellency would be first to assure her that she will be compensated for her former services, upon which point she has been greatly dissatisfied, and then to increase the pay for this year to twelve thousand florins. This at least is my opinion, in which however I may be mistaken; for her Excellency has always stood much upon her honor, and has never intimated to me that she would accept any less than what the Duke of Milan has offered her; and it is difficult to judge by her disposition whether she is more favorably inclined to the Duke of Milan or to your republic. For, to begin with, I see her court filled with Florentines, of whom it may be said that they almost entirely control her government; and then I see her naturally well inclined towards our city, and manifest the most earnest desire to have the love of our citizens, for which there are the most palpable reasons, for having a son by Giovanni de’ Medici, she hopes to have the usufruct of his possessions, and expects every day to assume his guardianship. And finally, what is most important, she sees the Duke of Milan attacked by the king of France, and does not know what security there would be for her to attach herself to him under these circumstances, all of which her Excellency knows very well.
These are the considerations upon which I found the opinion that she will accept our conditions, even though they be not liberal. On the other hand, I see near her Excellency the Duke of Milan’s agent Messer Giovanni da Casale, who is very highly esteemed, and seems to rule everything here. This is of great importance, and may easily sway the undecided mind of the Countess to whatever side he pleases.
In fact, were it not for the influence of this fear of the king of France, I should be inclined to believe that even on equal terms she would leave us, particularly as she supposes that she would not thereby forfeit your Lordships’ friendship because of your amicable relations with the Duke of Milan.
I have thought it proper to make this statement to your Lordships, so that you may know what impediments present themselves here to my success, and so that you may come to some positive decision, if you have not already done so. Her Excellency awaits your reply impatiently, for she is every day tormented by the Duke.
There was a review here yesterday of five hundred infantry, whom her Excellency sends to the Duke of Milan under command of Dionigio Naldi. A couple of days ago there was also a muster of fifty mounted crossbowmen, equally destined for Milan. These will leave here within the next few days with one of the Duke’s secretaries, who came here to enlist and pay them. I am under the impression that your Lordships have changed your mind respecting the infantry which you wanted to obtain from the Countess; which seems to me the wiser course, as you have been able to obtain them from elsewhere more conveniently. Should your Lordships, however, still be in want of them, then you can have good and faithful troops from here, well disciplined and ready to start immediately. In that case, however, it will be necessary to send the money for a month’s pay, as I have already stated in my last letter to your Lordships, to whom I recommend myself ever so much.
Furli, 22 July, 1499.
Magnificent Signori: —
I wrote yesterday that I had despatched an express to your Lordships, as a reply to my letter of the 17th seemed to me to be unduly delayed. Since then your Lordships’ courier Ardingo arrived, bringing me your letters of the 19th and 20th instant. So soon as I had perused their contents, I presented myself before her Excellency, and communicated to her in the most becoming terms what your Lordships have charged me with touching the propositions made to her Excellency by the Duke of Milan. After that, I stated to her the offers made by your Lordships, and endeavored to make her understand that you would certainly never fail to do all that might inure to the honor, safety, and advantage of her Excellency, employing such arguments as I thought necessary and proper to persuade her, etc. To which her Excellency replied that all her hopes were in your Lordships; and that the only thing that caused her pain in this whole matter was the dishonor which she feared she would incur, and the respect which she felt she ought to observe towards her uncle. But that, knowing now the final resolves of your Lordships, she would endeavor to come to a prompt decision, and remove, so far as in her power, all difficulties that might interpose. After having replied in a becoming manner, and referred to your Lordships’ letter of the 19th, in relation to the outrage committed upon some of your subjects, I begged her Ladyship to come to a speedy decision, and took my leave.
Later in the day, Messer Baldraccani called to see me, and, after having made excuses for her Excellency’s not having personally informed me of her intentions, alleging that it was owing to her being indisposed, and most unhappy on account of the serious illness of her son Lodovico, by Giovanni de’ Medici, he communicated to me, on behalf of her Excellency, that she did not regret having, regardless of all else, thrown herself into your Lordships’ arms, in whom she placed all confidence and hope. That she consented to accept the engagement on a peace footing for one year, on the basis of your Lordships’ last offer of twelve thousand ducats. But for the sake of being able more completely to justify her taking this step before the whole world, and with the more honor and credit to her government, her Excellency desired that your Lordships would bind yourselves to defend, protect, and maintain the integrity of her dominions, which she was fully assured your Lordships would do anyhow, without any special obligation to that effect. Yet that she greatly desired such an obligation from your Lordships, which she knew you would not refuse her, as it would be in the highest degree honorable for her, and in no way prejudicial to your Lordships. And, lastly, Messer Baldraccani said that her Excellency desired to have a settlement, if not in full, then at least in part, for her former services; that she needs it for her many wants and urgent necessities, and that she cannot believe that the charges which you have to provide for are so heavy as to be an obstacle to such a settlement; and therefore she charged me most emphatically to write to your Lordships, and urge this matter on her behalf.
As to the first point, namely, the acceptance of an engagement for a year, etc., I replied in the most amicable manner, saying that I felt sure that the good opinion which her Excellency had of our republic would even increase with time and experience. But as to the obligation which her Ladyship asked for, I regarded it as superfluous for the very reasons alleged by her Excellency herself. And as I had no authority to conclude anything not comprised in my commission, her Excellency might for the present accept the engagement, and afterwards write to her agent at Florence to present her demands, which I believed would be favorably received.
Messer Antonio replied that her Excellency wished to close the entire business at one and the same time, and that therefore she had requested that I should write to your Lordships to send me the necessary powers, promising at the same time to ratify any agreement that might be made by me in your name. All the arguments I could present to the contrary could not induce her to alter her decision; and I am therefore obliged to submit to you the demands made by her Excellency as they have been presented to me; so that your Lordships may in your supreme wisdom decide, and promptly advise me of, your ultimate resolve, and so that I may be enabled to return to Florence, which is my most earnest desire.
Respecting the indemnity for former services, I observed that her Excellency had spoken to me some days ago about it, and that I had written to your Lordships on the subject, and that you had replied; and therefore it seemed to me superfluous to repeat the same thing over again, particularly as I knew your favorable disposition, as well as the difficulties which prevent you from doing anything in the matter now. Nevertheless, by way of satisfying her Excellency, I would write once more very urgently on the subject.
Yesterday, when I complained to the Countess on behalf of your Lordships of the outrage committed by some of her archers upon your people at Salutare, she made me the most strenuous excuses, saying that she had directed her men to go and gather the harvest of a certain Carlo Buosi, who cultivated a farm on her territory; that this Carlo had been killed not long since by Dionigio Naldi to revenge the Signor Ottaviano; and that when the country people saw her archers carry off the harvest, they had shouted to them that they would be cut to pieces, and otherwise overwhelmed them with insulting words, so that the archers felt themselves as it were constrained to resent this abuse. Her Excellency added, that she was nevertheless grieved at heart about it, and as proof of it she had at once ordered the leader of her archers, who had begun the disturbance, to be disarmed and dismissed from her service; and this has been done.
I recommend myself most humbly to your Lordships.
Quæ bene valeant.
Furli, 23 July, 1499.
P. S. — The fifty mounted crossbowmen which the Duke had taken into his pay leave to-morrow for Milan.
Magnificent Signori: —
Yesterday I received by your Lordships’ courier Ardingo your two letters of the 19th and 20th, and hope to-morrow to close the engagement with the illustrious Lady Catharine, in accordance with your latest instructions; and after that I expect also to arrange the business of your subjects at Salutare in a manner entirely satisfactory to your Lordships. I cannot enlarge upon these matters now, as the messenger is in the greatest haste to depart. I will only add, that, so soon as these matters are settled, I shall return to your Lordships, to whom I recommend myself most humbly.
Furli, 23 July, 1499.
Magnificent Signori: —
I had written the enclosed yesterday, and was just about to despatch the bearer of this, Ardingo, when Messer Giovanni da Casale came to see me, and told me on the part of her Excellency that I need not write, as her Excellency the Countess was satisfied not to ask any further obligations from your Lordships, feeling perfectly assured that you would not act differently in your dealings with her than what she would have done towards your Lordships; and requesting me to come to her Excellency this morning for the purpose of signing the engagement, etc.
Fully persuaded that the business would actually be closed, and the curate of Casina being about to despatch an express to Lorenzo di Pier Francesco, I availed myself of that opportunity to write to your Lordships expressing my belief that the matter was as good as concluded. This morning, then, fully persuaded that everything would be closed according to the understanding, and being with Messer Giovanni in presence of her Excellency, she said to me that she had reflected upon the matter during the night, and thought that it would be more for her honor in attaching herself to your Lordships, if you were to declare that you would obligate yourselves to defend her dominions, as her secretary had previously explained to me. She had therefore resolved again to ask me to write to your Lordships about it. Her Excellency added, that, if she had given me to understand differently through Messer Giovanni, I must not be astonished at it, for the more matters of that kind were examined, the better were they understood. I could not but feel disappointed at this sudden change, and manifested my feelings both by words and gestures, saying that your Lordships would also be greatly surprised, as I had written you that her Excellency was satisfied upon every point without exception. But as I could get nothing else from her Excellency, I feel constrained to send you the enclosed, and to inform you specially by this of what has taken place, so that your Lordships may judge of it, and promptly decide what is to be done.
* To-morrow I purpose going to Castrocaro, to see if I can secure the Corbizzos against Dionigio Naldi and his partisans; her Excellency, the Lady Catharine, has offered to do her best to aid me in this matter. Whatever the result may be, I will advise your Lordships, to whom I humbly recommend myself. Quæ bene valeant.
Furli, 24 July, 1499.
[* ]The Florentine republic, having resolved in 1498 to terminate the war against Pisa, not only made great efforts to collect a numerous army, and engaged in their pay the most renowned and powerful Condottieri of Italy, but they acted with the greater energy in this, as there was a probability of their being obliged to fight against the Venetians, who had declared in favor of Pisa. Amongst the captains thus taken into their pay by the Florentines was Ottaviano Riario, Lord of Furli; a young man of only nineteen years at the time. His mother, the Countess Catharine, was the natural daughter of the Count Francesco Sforza, who afterwards became Duke of Milan. Her first husband was the Count Girolamo Riario, Lord of Furli and Imola; after his death she married Feo di Savona; and after him Giovanni de’ Medici, son of Piero Francesco, who died at Furli, 14 September, 1498, and by whom she had a son called Giovanni Lodovico, who afterwards became celebrated as Giovanni delle Bande Nere, and who was the father of the Grand Duke Cosimo I. It was on account of her alliance with the Medici family that she showed herself friendly to the Florentines; and at the request of Andrea de’ Pazzi, Florentine commissioner in the Romagna, she permitted Ottaviano, her young son by her first marriage with Girolamo Riario, to enter the service of the Florentine republic; and on the 9th of June, 1498, the agreement for his condotta was duly signed at Florence by Sir Filippo Roffia da San Miniato as procurator for the young Count Ottaviano Riario; the engagement being for one year, with the option on the part of the Florentine republic of extending it for another year, and was to begin in the month of June, 1498. The Signor Ottaviano was to furnish one hundred men-at-arms and one hundred light horse, and was to receive fifteen thousand florins, which was to cover all provisions, etc., with the customary reservation of seven per cent, and four months’ notice in advance in case the Florentine Signoria wished to extend the condotta for a second year. The stipulations of the agreement were faithfully carried out by the Florentine government; and towards the end of January, 1499, they notified the Signor Ottaviano that they desired to continue the condotta for another year. The Signor Ottaviano, however, declined this, on the ground that the Florentines had not observed the stipulations of the agreement, inasmuch as he had already served eight months and had not yet received the advance pay to which he was entitled, and that therefore he did not consider himself bound to serve for a second year.
The Ten of Liberty dropped the negotiation, but not so the Lady Catharine of Furli, who, when she found that Cesar Borgia was about to make war upon the despots of the Romagna, and to begin it with an attack upon Furli, felt the necessity of surrounding herself with powerful allies, and therefore herself asked of the republic that which she had refused six months before; pretending that she had been called upon by her uncle Lodovico il Moro to aid him, he being seriously threatened by the army of King Louis XII. of France. She accordingly addressed a letter to the Florentine Signoria, stating that her uncle, the Duke of Milan, had applied to her for fifty men-at-arms, and a like number of mounted crossbowmen, but being under an engagement to serve the Florentine republic another year, if they required it, she begged them to inform her of their final intentions, etc.
Immediately upon receipt of this letter the Signoria resolved to send Niccolo Machiavelli as ambassador to the Countess Catharine to bring this matter to a conclusion, and for that purpose gave him theabove instructions.
Machiavelli had scarcely started from Florence when the Priors of Liberty, etc. sent an express messenger after him, with the following additional instructions: —
“Priores Libertatis et Vexillifer Justitiæ Populi Florentini.
“Spectabilis Vir, etc.: —
“In passing by Castrocaro you will have sent here, in accordance with our instructions, all the powder that may be there; and should this not already have been done, we desire you to have it done immediately. And then by way of securing an abundance of powder you will request the most illustrious Lady Catharine of Furli to let us have ten or twelve thousand pounds of powder, either as a loan or as a purchase, as may seem best to her Excellency. And furthermore, as we have lately had the news from the camp of the last reduction in the number of the infantry, and seeing that we have always been well served by the men from that country, you will make known to her Excellency that we desire that she should select five hundred good infantry under good captains, and with the pay lately agreed upon of fourteen lire and seventeen soldi, to be at our camp on the 28th of the present month, where they will receive their pay. These last two commissions respecting the powder and the infantry, you will treat in such manner as will carry them in the earliest and best way into effect. But should any difficulty arise on the subject, you will write to us immediately by the same courier that brings you this. Et bene vale!
“Marcellus Virgilius. “Ex Palatio nostro die Julii 1499.”
[* ]After the departure of Machiavelli, the Lady Catharine sent an envoy to Florence with the following credentials: —
“To the Illustrious and Magnificent Lords, Priors, etc., etc.: —
“In compliance with the promise given to your commissioner, Messer Niccolo Machiavelli, I send to your Lordships the worthy Messer Joanni, my auditor, who is to explain to your Lordships the matter with which he is charged in my name. I beg your Lordships will deign to accord to him your confidence, the same as you would do to me were I personally in presence of your Lordships, to whom I do not cease to recommend myself.
“Catharine Sforza,Countess of Riario, Furli, and Imola. “Furli, 3 August, 1499.”