Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER IV. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER IV. - 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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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.