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MISSION TO THE COURT OF FRANCE. * 18 July, 1500. - 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 COURT OF FRANCE.*
Magnifici Domini, etc., etc.: —
Intelligentes multis de causis oportere non literis tantum, sed per eos etiam, qui in Castris Gallicis fuissent, excusare, purgareque multa quæ objicerentur R. P. obque recessum esset ab obsidione Pisanæ urbis, elegerunt Franciscum Casam, et Nicolaum Machiavellum secretarium secum, ambos nobilissimos cives Florentinos, dederuntque illis in sua hac legatione ea mandata, quæ infra scripta sunt, et cum salario unoquoque die, videlicet Francisco Casæ librarum octo florenorum parvorum, et Nicolao Machiavello, ultra ejus salarium ordinarium, ad rationem florenorum viginti largorum in grossis unoquoque mense.
Franciscus reversus est die 6 Martii 1500.
Nicolaus reversus est die 14 Januarius 1500.
You will proceed with all possible despatch, even to riding post, if your strength permits it, to Lyons, or wherever you learn that his most Christian Majesty is to be found. Upon arrival, you will at once call upon our ambassadors there, Messers Francesco Gualterotti and Lorenzo Lenzi, and communicate to them our present instructions, and confer with them as to whether there is anything to be added or left out; also as to your mode of proceeding in urging one thing more than another. You will then present yourselves, together with our ambassadors, before his Majesty, the king, and, after the customary formalities of the first audience, you will expose to him in our name the substance of the instructions you will receive from us; although we do not believe that we can give you more clear and positive information than what you already possess touching the events of which you have yourselves been witnesses, and in connection with which you were in great part the agents and executors of all that had to be done on our part.
The whole of this matter consists of two parts, viz.: first, to complain of the disturbances that have taken place, and to make known their cause and the names of their originators; and, secondly, to defend and exculpate us from the imputations that may be brought against us. But upon this latter part you will not touch unless obliged by necessity to repel the charges they may make in relation to what we ought to have done under the circumstances, etc., etc. You will, therefore, limit yourselves in your first exposition to enumerating all the reasons that have constrained Monseigneur de Beaumont to despair of success, and finally to abandon the siege of Pisa. And these were, according to our judgment, the lack of obedience of the troops to the orders of the commander-in-chief, the intrigues which at first were carried on by the captain of the Swiss with the Pisans, and afterwards by certain Italians of the party of the Trivulzi and the Pallavicini, by order of Messer Gianjacopo, who, seeing how much our city, after recovering all her possessions, could do to aid in the preservation of the duchy of Milan, had taken this means of thwarting an undertaking which he did not approve of; and perhaps he also contemplated in this way to interrupt the attempt against the kingdom of Naples. It is thus that nearly all the others excepting Beaumont and Samplet have acted; and that the governor of Asti and Monsignore di Buno (on account of Entraghes) have revived all the old passions of Italy. To this statement you will be careful to add the full particulars of what you have witnessed yourselves, and of which you have a distinct recollection, but of which it is impossible for us to give particular details. You must add, furthermore, all that has been done in favor of the Pisans by the people of Lucca, Genoa, and Sienna, of which we have no positive evidence, although we know that ambassadors from these cities were kept in camp to create disturbances and to keep the army in suspense. You will on no account omit to say that these men have often been seen to enter Pisa in secret; and especially Rinieri della Sassetta, who has been pointed out to us as the agent and special favorite of the Pallavicini, to whom, together with all the others who were unfriendly to our enterprise against Pisa, we attribute the defection of the Gascons, and which had no other cause than that, and was the manifest origin of the ruin of this enterprise. For after that the Swiss became turbulent, and refused to perform all service, in consequence of which the camp had to be broken up. The object of stating all this to his Majesty is to demonstrate to him that the failure of the enterprise can in no way be attributed to us.
You may begin your statement with the departure of the troops from Piacenza, and show that, until their arrival under the walls of Pisa, all that could be done was done by us; and then you can go on immediately to state the above-mentioned circumstances, and add all that you can remember as having contributed to the failure of the enterprise. Let that be the substance of your first audience, and be careful to avoid seeming to excuse us in any way, unless it be that we are reproached with having neglected to throw a bridge over the river Osole, or with having allowed the army to remain without provisions and ammunition as well as pioneers. Your reply upon these points will not be difficult, however, for the bridge could not be constructed for want of an escort, which it was their business to furnish; and as regards munitions, you are yourselves aware that they were furnished in more than double the quantity that their bombardiers had asked for, of which we still have their own letters as proof. In fact, they have never been short of ammunition, unless it was after it became manifest that the success of the enterprise was despaired of. And, moreover, they declared that they would not burn an ounce of their own powder, although it was agreed at Milan that they were to let us have all the powder and balls which they had, on condition that our commissioner paid them for it, or returned them an equal quantity. And finally as to the pioneers, notwithstanding the bad treatment to which they were subjected in being obliged to plant batteries by daylight, yet our commissioner had offered and agreed with the master of artillery, in case he should be in want of pioneers, to supply them at our expense from amongst those who were in camp, without any reclamation whatever for their pay; and this offer was accepted, and had satisfied them. As regards the matter of provisions, you have so large a field for explanation in the frequent and manifest dishonesty of the French, that this point will be more easily excused than any other; and you must not fail to relate the greater part of the particular instances that have occurred, which was so frequent a subject of our letters to the camp.
It will, furthermore, be proper for you to speak of the capture of our commissioner, of the persons guilty of this outrage, and of the manner in which it was done, and of the outrages and insults we have had to bear, even from the lowest private soldier. In fact, you must make a summary of all these matters, which will go to prove that we have been treated by them more like enemies than friends, amplifying or extenuating these matters as will best serve our cause. And upon this point you must not forget to say that the detention of Gianotto da San Martino and of his troops was entirely by order of Beaumont; and for our entire justification upon this point you will take his letter with you, as well as copies and originals of other writings that will serve for our vindication.
We deem it unnecessary to add anything more for your information to this commission; for all the knowledge we have has been obtained from the camp, where you were personally present, and could therefore see and know all the facts better than ourselves. You will therefore enlarge upon these facts as much as may seem necessary to you, without departing from the course which we have indicated to you above; namely, you will first explain all the causes that have given rise to these disorders; and then you will show all that has been done by us since the departure of the troops from Piacenza, both for the payment of the stipend, as well as everything else; and when necessary, you will repel and vindicate us from all charges of having been the authors of these disorders that have led to the failure of the enterprise.
And although we have refrained from blaming the commander, not wishing to incur his enmity, nevertheless when, speaking before his Majesty the king, or other personages of importance, the opportunity presents itself of successfully laying the blame upon him, you will do so energetically, and must not hesitate to charge him with cowardice and corruption. You will also state that he had constantly in his tent with him, and at his table, either one or both of the ambassadors from Lucca, through whom the Pisans obtained information and advice of all our plans and our doings. But until such an opportunity occurs, you must speak of the commander in an honorable manner, and throw all the blame upon others, and avoid particularly saying anything against him in presence of the Cardinal d’Amboise; for we do not wish to lose his good will, unless we can thereby gain a corresponding advantage in another direction. Our ambassadors can give you all the information, not only upon this point, but also whether it will do for you to speak openly of Trivulzio and the others, in which matters they can best guide you, for they know the favors and disfavors of the court much better than we do.
You may add in justification of the non-construction of the bridge over the river Osole, that the troops had hastened their march, and arrived there on the very day when they were expected to reach the bridge over the Serchio.
Touching the Lucchese, you will state that one of their ambassadors accompanied the Gascons at the time of their defection; and that, whilst the French held the mouth of the river Arno, they constantly permitted provisions and troops and munitions of war, etc. to reach Pisa by way of the river; and particularly that Tarlatino of Citta di Castello entered Pisa in that way with a number of companions; and immediately upon his arrival was placed at the head of all the infantry that was there.
Die 17 Julii 1500.
Christianissime Rex, etc. —
Mittimus ad Christianissimam Majestatem Vestram Franciscum della Casa et Nicolaum Machiavellum, nobilissimos cives nostros, quibus mandavimus multa exponere illi nostro nomine de his quæ pertinunt ad bellum quod gestum est contra Pisanos: quibus precamur fidem habere certissimam, et quia nostro nomine loquentur, et quia presentes in castris omnia viderunt, poteruntque ob id certissime omnia renuntiare Majestati Vestræ.
Die quo supra (17 Julii 1500).
In sending at the present time, on account of certain important matters of ours, our respectable and most valued citizens Francesco della Casa and Niccolo Machiavelli to the court of the Most Christian King, we beg the friends, confederates, and well-wishers of our republic, and command our subjects, that both in going and returning you will receive them with all their servants, goods, and equipage, and treat them in the most friendly manner everywhere within your dominion, without payment of any tolls or taxes. And in case they should require any guides, escorts, or any other favors for their safe conveyance to where they wish to go, we pray you promptly to comply with their requests. Your doing so will be appreciated by us in the highest degree, and in similar or more important occasions we offer you the same service at your good will and pleasure.
In consequence of the absence of Messer Francesco Gualterotti, and the departure of the king from here, I shall not be able to present you to his Majesty, and therefore deem it necessary to give you the following instructions, namely: —
You will follow the court, and upon your arrival there you will present yourselves to the Cardinal d’Amboise and make known to him the object of your mission. Say to him that you have come for the purpose of explaining to his Majesty all that has occurred in the camp before Pisa; but that before doing so you desire to render a full and particular account of it to his Eminence, so that you may afterwards communicate so much of it to his Majesty and the Council as his Eminence may deem proper. In fact, that you are prepared to follow his advice in all things, inasmuch as our republic looks upon his Eminence as her chief protector and benefactor. Ask him to present you to his Majesty whenever he thinks it best, and to direct you what, in his judgment, it will be proper for you to communicate to his Majesty, as well as the manner of doing it. And in your language to his Eminence be prodigal of assurances of our having the most unlimited confidence in him; in short, do all that can be done to preserve his favorable disposition towards our republic, and to derive from it all the advantages possible.
When you enter upon the particulars of the troubles that occurred in the camp, you must avoid as much as possible laying the blame upon M. de Beaumont, particularly in those matters that cannot be laid to our charge. You may say that the trouble arose from his not having influence enough in camp, and from the natural gentleness of his character, which caused him not to be sufficiently feared as he should have been. But that his intentions always had been most excellent, and that he always manifested the greatest anxiety and displeasure at seeing things go as they did, to our disadvantage and to the discredit of his Majesty; and that, so far as his talents and labors could produce any good effect, he never relaxed his efforts nor his diligence; and that the malignity of others was the sole cause of all the disorders. You must reiterate that it was the envy and bad conduct of those Italians who were in the camp; and whom you may blame regardlessly, for you will be addressing your remarks to his Eminence the Cardinal d’Amboise, and in presence of Monseigneur d’Alby and the Maréchal de Gies.
And when you happen to be alone with his Eminence d’Amboise, you may incidentally state that the conduct of these Italians had been so bad that there could be no doubt but they were acting under orders from outside of the camp. You may point out to his Eminence some of the instances mentioned in your commission, and especially the fact that they had engaged Rinieri della Sassetta, one of our rebels, and employed him in the intrigues with the Pisans, in which a great many of the Lombards participated. In the same way you may refer to the insolence and brutality of the infantry, and the waste of provisions of which they were guilty, and from which all the other troubles originated. Do not fail to testify to the good conduct of Saliente. And another matter to which I must call your particular attention is, that if his Eminence d’Amboise should say to you, when you are alone with him, or in the presence of the king or any other persons, that M. de Beaumont had been appointed to the command of the army at the request of Pietro Soderini, and with our concurrence; then admit that you have heard that this was so, and that it could only have been of advantage for us; for it is most important to preserve the good will of the Cardinal for objects of greater magnitude, or when we may need him to relieve us from even heavier charges.
You will add that you have heard that, notwithstanding what has occurred, his Majesty is disposed to persevere in carrying on the war against the Pisans, and against all who give them aid and support, or attempt in any way to injure us. So that the siege is to be recommenced, and that for that reason it had lately been agreed with us Ambassadors that the camp shall be located in a healthy place in the vicinity of Pisa, and where it can be conveniently supplied with provisions and other necessaries for making fair war against Pisa, until the siege is resumed; but that you are ignorant as to the present whereabouts and the condition of the camp, as well as what Florence may be able to do; knowing that since the departure of the troops the Pisans have ravaged the country to our detriment and dishonor, which would not have occurred but for the fact that our reliance upon the troops of his Majesty made us disband our own, so as the better to be able to provide for the pay of the army and the other expenses of the war. That it is necessary promptly to put an end to these insults, and for that reason, although without having been asked to do so by our Signoria, we have resolved to ask of his Majesty as soon as possible to give orders to his commander and his troops, whenever requested by the Florentine government, to send two hundred lances, but not Italians, to go and remain on Pisan territory; where they are to be quartered in a convenient and healthy situation, the same as has been specified for the whole army, and for the purpose of obtaining the same results. And you may say that you expect to find his Majesty well disposed to do this, as you have heard from your Ambassadors that his Majesty had said to them that, believing his army had crossed the Alps, he intended to send one hundred fresh lances into the Pisan territory for the purpose of carrying his objects into execution. But that in your judgment this number would be insufficient to make itself feared; and that their coming would be rather late, inasmuch as the Pisans had taken fresh courage. Nevertheless, this number would be better than the whole army, for, whilst they would answer the immediate purpose, it would be easier to supply them with provisions, and they would be a less heavy charge; and moreover, if the whole army were there, it would be a shame not to press the place more closely; whilst the small number would seem to be there merely to prevent further insults, until the siege could be really resumed in earnest. It would also show that his Majesty had no thought of abandoning the enterprise, which would comport with his dignity as well as our interests. You must also ask his Majesty to allow Giovanni Bentivogli to come to our aid with his forces, he being animated by the desire to do so in honor of his Majesty and for our benefit, whenever his Majesty will deign to permit it, for he deems it his duty to do nothing without his Majesty’s consent.
The persons upon whose influence with his Most Christian Majesty we can most depend are, first, the Cardinal d’Amboise, Monseigneur d’Alby, — in fact, I may say the whole house of Amboise; the Maréchal de Gies, and Monseigneur General Robertet, whom you will see as often as you can, and let him see that you have full faith in him, which you will find to your advantage.
I had forgotten to name the Grand Chancellor, who, although he has the reputation of being favorably inclined towards the Lucchese, yet is our friend, and you may safely trust him. Show equal confidence to Messer Jacopo da Trivulzi, and when you come to discuss matters with him, give him to understand that you intend to follow his counsels, and recommend our city to him. The same with Ligny; when you have occasion to talk with him, show him confidence, and use all means to dispose him favorably towards us, or at any rate as little unfavorably as possible.
You have been informed of what the Cardinal has lately written, showing that he is inclined to accept the excuses of the Lucchese. It is possible that on your arrival you may find that this matter has not yet been finally disposed of; if this be so, then let his Eminence know the manner in which the Lucchese have conducted themselves towards us, making it appear as bad as you can, without, however, manifesting any passion. And having done all this, you will say to his Eminence that our Signoria will approve whatever he may decide; but if, with regard to the reinforcements asked for the enterprise against Pisa, his Eminence should be of the opinion that things ought to be left as they are until after the capture of the city, then I think you should insist upon such reinforcements, which would act as a stimulant to keep the Lucchese in greater fear, and make them more circumspect. The same with the Pisans, and such as are disposed to aid them, for they also would feel more restrained by a greater terror than if all the troops were recalled, which would reanimate the courage of the Pisans and of their allies.
Above all, do not dispute upon any of the points on which you see that his Eminence has formed a definite judgment; and when you find him decided upon any particular course, approve all he has done, for the power and good will of the king of France will make up for all that we might lack. And do not fail to say to the Cardinal d’Amboise that the report which has been made to him in relation to the conduct of the Lucchese may be the result of ignorance of the individual who made it, or he may have been influenced by some other motive. Nevertheless, after you have done all you can in the matter, you must conform to the will of his Eminence.
Magnificent and Illustrious Signori, etc., etc.: —
Having but just now heard of the departure of the courier, we have no time to write to your Lordships other than most briefly to inform you that, after travelling with the utmost speed, we arrived here on Sunday the 26th of this month, bbut found that the king had left. To enable us therefore to execute your Lordships’ commission, and some other instructions given us by your Ambassador Lorenzo Lenzi, with regard to the troops of Messer Giovanni Bentivogli, etc., we propose mounting horses here to-morrow, it being impossible to follow the king by post, and to proceed as rapidly as possible to such place as will be most suitable for having an audience of his Majesty. We shall use all diligence and care faithfully to make known to him all that you have charged us with; and will then report fully and at length to your Lordships, which it is not in our power to do to-day.
Valeant Dominationes vestræ.
Francesco della Casaet
Lyons, 28 July, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
As the courier of yesterday could not wait we had to write but very briefly to your Lordships, but stated amongst other things the causes of our having arrived here a little later perhaps than your Lordships could have desired. The cause of this delay was an unforeseen accident, which obliged us to stop on the road. On arriving here we found that Messer Francesco Gualterotti had left with the court, as stated in our letter of yesterday, and had taken the road to San Antonio. Your Lordships may judge of our disappointment; particularly as it obliged us to execute our commission as though we ourselves were ambassadors.
We communicated to his Magnificence Lorenzo Lenzi the object of our coming and of the commission with which we had been charged by your Lordships, all of which he listened to with attention, and examined with his habitual prudence. Our justification as to the raising of the siege of Pisa seemed to him complete, and calculated to confute all attempts to blame us, whenever heard and examined. His Magnificence afterwards explained to us the position of the affairs of our republic with his Majesty, and stated what he had written to your Lordships, in consequence of the determination of the king to keep his men-at-arms and infantry in healthy locations on Pisan territory, and convenient for attacking the Pisans at any moment, until he should return from Troyes, whither he had gone now to have an understanding with the Emperor of Germany’s ambassador for the reorganization of his army and a fresh attempt at the capture of Pisa. He stated that all this had been communicated by himself and his colleague to your Lordships; but as in your reply you had declined this proposition, they did not deem it proper to lay it before the king, but had decided at once to write you again, suggesting to your Lordships once more carefully to examine the matter, and that they are still awaiting your reply, which his Majesty also desires to have; for every time that he has seen D’Amboise he has asked after the ambassadors.
We have said, in answer to all this, that we thought the probable reason of the coldness of your reply, and your nonacceptance of the king’s offer, was the want of success in the siege of Pisa, which had disappointed the general expectation, and had brought little honor to the king and great injury to our republic. So that your Lordships, from the experience you have had, can never again have confidence in those troops; and that the collecting of five hundred men-at-arms and three thousand infantry around Cascina, according to the latest resolve of the king, would be impossible, in view of their character, etc., etc.; for they could not be supplied with provisions for any length of time. Adding that it would not redound to his Majesty’s honor that so large a number of his troops should remain here merely to ravage an already wasted and exhausted country, without laying regular siege to a city that had been many times besieged and closely pressed by your Lordships with a less numerous force.
These considerations, we said, might possibly have caused your Lordships not to listen to what your ambassadors had written; and we enlarged upon this in such manner, narrating the events of recent occurrence, and the spirit and disposition of these troops, that he remained silent, and almost changed his views. And in the discussion as to the means of satisfying the king, to whom we would have to speak before receiving your Lordship’s answer, the ambassador was of opinion, that, since his Majesty was inclined to temporize with his troops on Pisan territory until a regular resumption of the siege could be organized, we ought to point out to his Majesty that this could be done equally well with a much less number of men-at-arms, and without infantry. That in fact, if his Majesty thought proper to leave, or, in case they should already have left, to send back two hundred of his lances, to be stationed between Cascina and Vico, and who could scour the country daily up to the very walls of Pisa, being supported by our infantry, his Majesty would gain time, as has been said, until a reorganization of the entire enterprise; and your Lordships would profit by the king’s credit, without incurring any further expense for men-at-arms, whilst the king would consider himself in a manner interested in the success of the enterprise from seeing his name connected with it, and consequently his honor. The ambassador thought that his Majesty would readily consent to this, having already offered one hundred lances in support of your interests, when under the impression that his army had already passed through the territory of Parma, as had been reported to him. Adding, however, that all this ought not to be asked of his Majesty until your Lordships had decided whether you would avail yourselves of this support. Now although we charge ourselves very reluctantly with this commission, as not being comprised in your orders to us, yet, being only conditional, we shall execute it so soon as the opportunity is given to us to be with the king or the Cardinal d’Amboise. And we will endeavor to obtain letters to these captains, instructing them to place two hundred lances at your disposal, if you request it. Your Lordships, however, can examine the whole subject, and will then communicate to us your decision at length. We have nothing else of interest to mention from here to-day.
We leave here positively to-morrow to follow the court; we have been obliged to defer our departure in consequence of our having arrived here denuded of everything, and having to procure at the same time horses, wearing apparel, and servants. All this has become very difficult because of the recent departure of the court; they having stripped the whole country around of all means of travel and transport. Thus the small compensation which we receive, and the heavy expenses to which we are subjected with little prospect of being reimbursed, cause us no little anxiety. But we have every degree of confidence in your Lordships’ discretion and kindness.
In passing through Bologna we had an interview with Messer Giovanni Bentivogli in accordance with your Lordships’ instructions; and after having spoken to him about the mules that had been taken, etc., etc., we offered him on behalf of your Lordships all our good offices during the expedition; which his Lordship accepted in a suitable manner, thanking us and offering his own in return. We shall do what we can to render him service, and so that he may be permitted to come to your assistance, in accordance with your late instructions to the ambassadors; for Lorenzo Lenzi is, to our great regret, positively determined not to follow the court, but to return to Florence.
It remains for us to inform your Lordships that we met between Parma and Piacenza several thousand Swiss, who had formed part of the army, and who were now returning home. Although this fact ought to have been made known to you by Pellegrino Lorini, yet we deem it well not to omit mentioning it, so that your Lordships may avail of the information when occasion offers.
We recommend ourselves to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Francesco della Casa,
Lyons, 29 July, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
By the enclosed we have informed your Lordships of what had occurred up to that time. The present is to let you know that at this very moment, it being the twenty-first hour, we are about to leave for the court; so that we may communicate to his Majesty the king the object of the mission which your Lordships have confided to us. We shall endeavor with the utmost celerity to make up for the time which we were unavoidably obliged to lose in putting ourselves in proper condition, and to supply ourselves with all the necessaries for the purpose of proceeding, which involved many difficulties and much expense, as already stated in the enclosed.
It remains for us now most respectfully to remind your Lordships that it may readily happen that we shall have to despatch special couriers to you for matters of great importance; but which we shallnot be able to do, being without money or credit. It becomes necessary therefore that your Lordships should think of ordering either Nasi or Dei, or some other of the merchants, to forward our despatches, with promise of prompt compensation for such service; for unless this is done we shall be helpless, and might be charged with neglect without any fault of ours. We shall be equally embarrassed, in consequence of our being destitute of money, by the couriers whom your Lordships may think proper to despatch to us. We have deemed it proper to make this state of things known to you, so that your Lordships may have compassion on us.We can but do our best to perform our duty, and the impossibility of doing it will always serve as our justification in the eyes of everybody.
Bene valeant Dominationes vestræ!
Francesco della Casa,
Lyons, 30 July, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
Your Lordships know what salary was assigned to me on our departure from Florence, and also the amount accorded to Francesco della Casa. Doubtless this was done under the belief that in the natural course of things I would have occasion to spend less money than Francesco. Such however has not been the case; for not finding his Most Christian Majesty at Lyons, I had to provide myself with horses, servants, and clothing, the same as he; and thus following the court has obliged me to incur the same expenses as Francesco. It seems to me, therefore, beyond all human and divine reason that I should not have the same emoluments. If the expenses which I incur seem to your Lordships too great, then I would observe that they are quite as useful as those of Francesco’s, or that the twenty ducats allowed me per month are simply thrown away. If in your opinion the latter is the case, then I beg your Lordships to recall me; but if it be not so, then I trust your Lordships will take such measures that I may not ruin myself, and that at least I may be credited in Florence with the amounts for which I am compelled to become indebted here. For I pledge you my faith that up to the present moment I have spent already forty ducats of my own, and have requested my brother at Florence to make me an advance of seventy ducats more.
I recommend myself again to your Lordships, and beg that a faithful servant of yours may not, without any fault of his own, be subjected to shame and loss in the performance of services that bring to others profit and honor.
From St. Pierre, 5 August, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
As we informed you by our last, we left Lyons on the 30th ultimo, and made every effort to join the court, with all the speed that our wretched horses would permit, having been obliged to buy such as we could get. We should have succeeded ere this in overtaking the court, had it not been that his Majesty has travelled more rapidly than usual, and has varied his route because of the sickness that prevails in this country; so that in several instances where we attempted to take a shorter and more direct road for the purpose of gaining time, we have actually gone farther away from him. Nevertheless we reached to-day this little town of St. Pierre le Moutier, about five leagues from Nevers, where we were told we should find the king, so that we hope confidently to overtake his Majesty to-morrow. We shall as soon as possible execute your Lordships’ commission; also the additional instructions given us by our ambassador, and which we communicated to your Lordships in our last. And so soon as we shall have been able to do this, we shall immediately notify your Lordships of the result, sending our letter to Rinieri Dei at Lyons, for which we shall pay with what little money may remain in our purses; for the sum which you have given us has enabled us to pay only about two thirds of the expenses which we have incurred thus far.
We take our chance in sending you this letter, as we desire that your Lordships shall be informed day by day of our progress, and because we know how disagreeable it would be for your Lordships if there were any delay in receiving our reports, even if there be nothing of importance to communicate.
Francesco della Casa,
St. Pierre le Moutier, 5 August, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
Since our departure from Lyons, we have written you twice from different places, and advised your Lordships of the causes that have delayed our joining the court, which we will not now reiterate, partly because we do not wish to weary your Lordships, and partly because we assume that our letters have reached you safely, although we sent them at a venture. Since then we have continued our route in disregard of all the fatigue and fear of sickness which prevails in this country; and with God’s help we have arrived here, where we found his Majesty with a very small court, on account of the limited size of the place. Immediately after dismounting we presented ourselves before his Eminence the Cardinal d’Amboise; and although we had no letters for him from your Lordships, which it would have been well for us to have had, we exposed to him summarily on your behalf and on the part of the ambassadors the cause of our coming, and recommended your interests to him, as your only protector, in whom your Lordships always had and continued to have the most entire confidence.
His Eminence replied briefly, showing by his remarks that there was no great occasion for vindicating your conduct as regards the occurrences in camp, which were already an old affair; but that it was of much greater importance to think of repairing the losses in honor and profit which his Majesty as well as yourselves had experienced in consequence. And then he began immediately to question us as to what we thought of recommencing the enterprise. To this we could make no reply, for we arrived at that very moment at the king’s quarters. His Majesty, having just dined, was taking a little repose; but a few moments afterwards he arose, and, having learnt from the Cardinal d’Amboise the object of our coming, he had us called, and after we had presented our credentials, his Majesty made us enter an adjoining cabinet, where he gave us most graciously a very satisfactory audience; to which none of the French seigneurs were admitted except his Eminence the Cardinal d’Amboise and Robertet. All the other lords of the council being absent, Messer Gianjacopo Trivulzio, the Bishop of Novara, and two others of the Palavicini, were called in, as they happened to be there, and remained throughout the whole audience.
In conformity with your Lordships’ instructions we began by submitting that inasmuch as the enterprise against Pisa and the siege of the city had, to our great prejudice and the great discredit of his Majesty’s army, an entirely different issue from his other most fortunate and successful enterprises, and as we had ourselves been present at all the events that had occurred in camp, we had been sent by your Lordships to explain to his Majesty that the cause of the raising of the siege of Pisa was in no way chargeable to any act or neglect on your part. We then related, according to our instructions, all the details as far as seemed to the purpose, and more particularly all that related to the departure from camp of the Gascons, the outrages of the Swiss, and the carrying off of our commissioner, and to the constant parleying of the French commander with the enemy. We also mentioned the insulting manner in which your Lordships and all the Florentines had been spoken of, and how all this had inspired the Pisans with fresh courage to defend themselves, contrary to the expectations of everybody; and how all this had been the chief cause of the ruin of the enterprise. It did not seem to us advisable, notwithstanding your orders upon this point, specially to accuse any Italians; for the individuals whom we have named being present, we thought that such a public accusation would be likely to make us more enemies, rather than prove of advantage to our cause.
The king and D’Amboise replied that the failure of the enterprise against Pisa was as much due to your shortcomings as to those of the king’s army; and when we answered that we really did not know wherein your Lordships had been wanting, they alleged the lack of provisions, munitions, and of many other things, observing at the same time that it was not worth while to say anything more about the matter, as it would only lead to endless recriminations.
Nevertheless, deeming it our duty to avail of the occasion to vindicate ourselves from such charges, we said that your Lordships had never failed to furnish the most abundant supply of provisions, and that there never had been any deficiency, but that they had been wantonly wasted, and that those who had brought them into camp had been overwhelmed with all sorts of insults and bad treatment; and that if at any time it had seemed to any one that there was not a sufficient abundance, it was solely due to the injudicious distribution and the waste to which we had referred; and when we offered to give some special details upon this point, they cut us short in our statement.
As to the ammunition and the pay, in the furnishing of which we were accused of having been tardy, etc., we replied, as to the first point, that your Lordships had supplied more than what the king’s chief of artillery had called for; and as to the second, that the money had arrived in camp at the proper time, but that the paying of the troops had been deferred some five or six days because the captains of the companies had themselves so ordered it, as they did not care to have the troops paid any sooner. Respecting the Gascons, his Majesty showed several times in the course of his remarks that he was cognizant of their perfidy and treason, and that he should not fail to have them punished. And when we remarked that they had gone off by sea, his Majesty said that he had ordered their arrest and punishment on their arrival in their own country.
In relation to the carrying off of our commissioner, of which we spoke very fully, characterizing the act as brutal and infamous, they only said that the Swiss were in the habit of acting thus, and of practising similar extortions. His Majesty finally cut the discussion short by admitting that his troops had not done their duty, but that there had been equal remissness on our part; adding that Beaumont had not always made himself obeyed as he ought to have done, and that, if there had been another commander who had more thoroughly enforced obedience, the enterprise would not have failed. Having been advised by our ambassador that the Cardinal d’Amboise held Beaumont in great affection, and that the least censure of Beaumont would be displeasing to the Cardinal, we were very careful, whilst admitting on the one hand that there had been great lack of discipline, beyond all reasonable limits, which in fact had been the cause of all the disorders, to say on the other hand that we had always found Beaumont extremely jealous of his Majesty’s honor, and very friendly to our country, and that, if the others had shown an equal good will and disposition with Beaumont, we should doubtless have been victorious. And thus we succeeded in satisfying the Cardinal, to whom we knew that what we had said of Beaumont would be most agreeable, and at the same time not contradicting the king’s conclusions as to want of discipline, etc., etc.
As it seemed to his Majesty that enough had been said on these matters, he turned towards us and said: “Since now this enterprise has ended in a manner so prejudicial to yourselves, and so little creditable to myself, and with a view to prevent my army from ever experiencing a similar check, it is necessary to come to some decision as to what had best be done for the recovery of my honor, and at the same time your interests. Some days ago already I made my views known to your Signoria through their ambassadors, and also through one of my couriers whom I despatched for that purpose to Tuscany. I have thus far done all I possibly can, and wish to do the same for the future, and only ask you to let me have your answer.”
To this we replied that we had no orders from your Lordships upon that point, and that our instructions were confined to the events that had occurred in camp, and at which we had been personally present. But that our opinion was, that the people of Florence, who had been involved for so many years in a continual and most onerous war, seeing the unhappy and unexpected issue of this last enterprise, had become impressed with the idea that, owing either to their ill fortune or to their numerous enemies, both within and without Italy, they had nothing more to hope for; that they had lost all confidence, and consequently the courage and the strength necessary for venturing upon another enterprise. But that if once his Majesty restored Pisa to our hands, so that we could see a certain reward for the expenses which we should have to incur anew, in that case we confidently believed that your Lordships would justly and amply compensate his Majesty for his outlays.
At these words the king, the Cardinal, and the other persons present began all to cry out, saying that it would be very unseemly for the king to make war for our benefit and at his expense. We at once replied that such was in no way our intention, but that we meant that his Majesty should be fully reimbursed for all the expenses incurred after having placed Pisa in our hands. To which it was answered, that the king would always do his duty according to the stipulations of the treaty;* and that, if your Lordships failed in yours, his Majesty would be excused by the whole world. The king himself added, that Pisa and Montepulciano were as much in his power as Pietrasanta and Mutrone, if he wished to keep them for himself; giving us to understand thereby that, if he did not keep them, it was merely from his desire strictly to keep his engagements. Thereupon Messer Gianjacopo Trivulzio turned towards us and said that, if we allowed this opportunity to be lost, which the king’s will and disposition, as well as other circumstances, rendered so favorable, your Lordships would in all probability never be able to recover your losses, and especially not by these means. We made no reply to this except that what we had suggested was our individual opinion, and that we had no instructions upon this point from your Lordships. Whereupon the king and D’Amboise remarked that, inasmuch as we had left Florence before the arrival there of the king’s courier, it was not surprising that we had received no instructions upon that point.
We suggested that we should receive within a very few days a reply from your Lordships to his Majesty’s letter, whereupon the king said, that without such a reply and a definite decision on your part it would be impossible to proceed any further in this matter; and that it was important that your Lordships should decide at once, so that he might know whether or not to disband the infantry, which remained on the ground at your Lordships’ disposal, giving us to understand at the same time that the expense thereof was at your charge; and that whilst awaiting your Lordships’ reply we might go on to Montargis, where he would be himself within three days. And with that conclusion we took our leave.
In our reply touching the matter of Pisa we conformed strictly to your Lordships’ intentions; for although no instructions had been given us upon this point, yet having read at Lyons your Lordships’ last letters to our ambassadors, which, in fact, we had here with us, and which state that a reply upon this point would be expressly sent to his Majesty, we availed ourselves of the occasion respectfully to make such reply to him, being convinced that it could not in any way affect whatever new decision your Lordships may have made. We hope most earnestly that our conduct may be satisfactory to your Lordships.
This is all we have to communicate to your Lordships, up to the present, in relation to the execution of our commission. We should have enlarged more amply upon certain points but for the consideration which we were obliged to have for the Italians who were present, and also because we knew that such discussions could not but be disagreeable to the king and D’Amboise; first, because they regarded this whole matter as a thing of the past, and as it were already digested; and next, because we should have made them hear some particulars little creditable to their honor and government. Nevertheless, we thought that we ought not to leave any important particulars unnoticed, except such as we have referred to above; and these we shall relate to the king and the Cardinal on some other and more suitable occasion. We mean more especially the matter of the Lucchese, respecting which we had given some intercepted letters to Robertet, who advised us to have such portions of them as it was proper to make known translated into French, showing thus that he attached some importance to them. It was from him also that we learnt that the Lucchese ambassadors had been recalled on the day previous, so that they might appear at court.
Your Lordships had also written to our ambassadors to obtain permission from the king for Messer Giovanni Bentivogli to come with his troops to your assistance. Lorenzo Lenzi had also directed us to ask his Majesty to leave two hundred lances for the protection of your interests, but we did not think it advisable to speak of this matter in the presence of the other Italians; but we took General Robertet aside, and made your Lordships’ wishes known to him with regard to Messer Giovanni’s troops, but did not mention anything else to him. He replied, that he hardly thought such a feeble assistance would be needed by us, as the king’s troops were at Pietrasanta, and in condition to make effectual war, and that only quite lately one hundred more lances had been sent there. Nevertheless so soon as his Majesty comes to Montargis we shall speak to him and D’Amboise about this matter; and unless we should receive contrary orders from your Lordships, we shall endeavor to obtain the permission and the number of troops you ask for.
Having arrived only to-day, we are unable to say anything as to what is going on here. The reason why his Majesty has given up his visit to Troyes, and has come here instead, is not clearly known; although we had heard on the road that the Emperor’s ambassadors, who were to have gone there, will not go. We shall endeavor to ascertain the truth more fully, and will inform your Lordships in our next letters.
Francesco della Casa,
Nevers, 7 August, 1500.
P. S. — We have kept this letter until to-day, 10th August, as we had no opportunity of sending it sooner, although we made every effort to do so. We send it now, by some one who is going to Lyons, to Rinieri Dei, who is to forward it by first express. We are now at Montargis, where his Majesty also arrived this morning; but we have as yet no further news to communicate to your Lordships, to whom we again recommend ourselves.
Magnificent Signori, etc., etc.: —
[The beginning of this letter is a copy of the preceding one, after which it continues: —]
To here is a copy of our last letter of the 7th, which we could not send until the 10th from Montargis. In the execution of so much of your Lordships’ orders as had not already been attended to, we called upon the Cardinal d’Amboise, and were fortunate in having a good long audience from him. We had translated the intercepted letter of Piero da Poggio of Lucca into French, and begged his Eminence to read and examine it, as he would find in it many particulars that would prove to him in the most evident manner that the Lucchese had manifestly acted adversely to his Majesty the king. Seeing that the Cardinal did not care to read it, we began to relate to him some of the main points of the letter, but his Eminence promptly objected, and said that a report from Beaumont and the other captains proved that the Lucchese had never acted adversely to his Majesty, but had served him more effectually, and with a better will, than the Florentines, and more especially in the matter of provisions. To this we replied, that it seemed very strange to us that the Lucchese, with a show of fair words and by the influence of some friends, should prevail over truth itself; that in fact we had always striven to uphold the honor of the king, whilst the conduct of the Lucchese had been directly the reverse, and more especially in the affair of Pisa. We wanted again to submit to his Eminence the translation of the letter mentioned above, but he declined; and when we offered to leave it with him, he cared not to accept it.
On our observing to the Cardinal that we had learnt that the Lucchese ambassadors had been called back to the court, he answered promptly that, not having found them at fault in any way, he deemed it proper to have them recalled. His Eminence then began to tell us that, when Corcou was at Florence, he had made known to your Lordships how favorably the king was disposed towards our republic, and most particularly in relation to the matter of Pisa; and then he complained that your Lordships had been reluctant to take any measures for the success of that enterprise; and, further, that you had been unwilling, or cared not, to have his Majesty’s troops in garrison within the Florentine territory; and, moreover, that you had refused to pay what was due to the Swiss, although it was provided in their engagement that they should have pay for their return home; and, finally, his Eminence charged the ill success of the expedition against Pisa entirely to our short-comings. To these charges we replied, first, that our republic was exhausted by the many protracted wars, and, moreover, that the people of Florence could not and ought not to have any confidence in such ill-disciplined troops, who had shown themselves so ill disposed towards our republic. His Eminence answered the same as he had done on a former occasion, that, besides the insufficient measures taken by the Florentines, they were not even united amongst themselves. We expressed our astonishment that he should hold such an opinion, which was altogether erroneous. The Cardinal said that he had been so informed by all the Frenchmen who had been at Florence. We assured him that they could not have heard or known anything of the kind, as our republic was perfectly united upon all important matters, and most particularly in the desire to recover Pisa, as was proved by the energetic measures adopted in raising and sending the money required for that purpose, and which could only be obtained by the concurrence of two thirds of all the citizens of Florence. We begged his Eminence to reflect well upon the character of the individuals who had made such statements to him, as also upon the nature of the things reported to him. As to the pay of the Swiss, we observed that your Lordships were not bound to pay them, for they had not performed the service required of them, and had refused to mount guard or stand sentinel, and, moreover, had nearly all disbanded. To which the Cardinal replied that your Lordships ought to pay them; for if you did not, the king would have to do it with his own means, which would make him greatly dissatisfied with your conduct. Respecting the complaint that the enterprise failed in consequence of your short-comings, we recalled to him very briefly the disorders that had broken out in camp, and closed by saying that, if his Majesty had not been informed that a great part of the wagons had been stolen, and the remainder badly distributed, then the truth had been studiously withheld from him. We urged again that we had come here prepared to submit to the strictest investigation, for the purpose of proving the truth that your Lordships had always supplied abundance of everything that was needed. His Eminence answered by declaring any further discussion useless, and that he was astonished at your Lordships’ unwillingness to do anything to recommence the enterprise, and at the proposition that the king should restore Pisa to you at his own expense. We expressed at once our conviction that your Lordships intended to do your duty in the matter to the utmost extent of your ability; but since the late attempt had resulted in the manner known to his Eminence, it was not to be wondered at that the republic of Florence, fed so long with vain hopes, should mistrust the future, and that consequently she lacked men and money to undertake a fresh enterprise; but that it was a small matter for his Majesty the king to make so inconsiderable a war at his own expense, provided only that in the end he was victorious, which could not fail to be the case, especially when it became known that the enterprise was carried on absolutely in his Majesty’s name and at his expense; for that would keep any of our neighbors or enemies from venturing to interfere at the risk of offending his Majesty. We concluded by saying to his Eminence, that, if the king would assume the enterprise from the beginning as his own, it would not only be more easy, but most certain of success; that it would redound more to the honor of his Majesty, and would give greater satisfaction to your Lordships, and really without any burden of expense to his Majesty, as it was always your intention to reimburse the king, in strict accordance with the treaty stipulations, immediately upon the restitution to them of the city of Pisa.
All these arguments produced no effect upon his Eminence, who constantly replied that the king would never agree to such a proposition. Robertet also told us, that such a proposition on the part of your Lordships seemed almost as if made in derision of the king, and that his Majesty was so dissatisfied and ill content with your disposition that really he did not see any person at court who, under the circumstances, could remain your friends, or could support your interests. Subsequently we stated to his Eminence that, in addition to the other causes that discouraged the people of Florence, was the non-restitution of Pietrasanta, which was now in his Majesty’s possession. To which he replied, that he had informed Pietro Soderini that the reason of this non-restitution was a promise made to the Lucchese not to restore Pietrasanta to your Lordships until after the taking of Pisa. We said that of all others that was precisely the reason that induced the Lucchese to put every obstacle in the way of our recovering Pisa; and, moreover, that his Majesty the king had obligated himself to restore Pietrasanta to your hands before ever he made any promise to the Lucchese, and that the first pledge and obligation ought to have precedence. His Eminence assured us that all of his Majesty’s obligations would be fulfilled, provided your Lordships would do their duty in recovering Pisa; but if you would not, then the king would hold you responsible.
We asked his Eminence to obtain from the king the authorization and letters to Messer Giovanni Bentivogli, so that he may come to your aid with his men-at-arms and infantry, as requested by your Lordships. He said that he would do it with pleasure, and has ordered the letters asked for to be written; and so soon as we receive them we will forward them to your Lordships, to whom we humbly recommend ourselves.
Francesco della Casa,
Montargis, 11 August, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
Uncertain whether your Lordships have received the previous letters which I have addressed to you on my own account, I venture once more to write to your Lordships, so as not to be wanting to myself in the straits in which I am. At our departure from Florence, your Lordships assigned to Francesco della Casa eight lire per day, and only four lire to me. I doubt not that your Lordships had good reasons for doing so, but that you did not suppose that things would happen as they have done. Now you must know, Magnificent Signori, that I follow the court at my own expense, and that in every way I am obliged to spend just as much as Francesco. I therefore entreat your Lordships either to accord to me the same salary as Francesco, or that you will recall me, so that I may not impoverish myself, which I am sure cannot be your Lordships’ wish. I have already spent forty ducats of my own, and have given orders on my brother Totto for seventy ducats more. Again I recommend myself most earnestly to your Lordships.
Montargis, 12 August, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
We had not yet sent off the enclosed, which is in part a copy of one of our previous letters, when we received by the courier Bolognino, who had been sent by Nasi to Lyons, your Lordships’ last letters of 5th instant, with two enclosures, the one for his Most Christian Majesty, and the other for his Eminence the Cardinal d’Amboise; also copies of your correspondence with Corcou and Beaumont; also the deposition of the witnesses in relation to the Lucchese. After carefully reading and examining them all, we called at once upon the Cardinal, his Majesty the king having left three hours before to hunt some three leagues from here, whence, according to what some persons say, he is going about seven leagues farther to a property belonging to the Grand Admiral, to remain some days for his pleasure, after which he will return here. It is difficult, however, to get at the exact truth, owing to the natural uncertainties of the court.
After presenting ourselves before his Eminence the Cardinal, we handed him the letters from your Lordships, and informed him that you had advised us of your having sent commissioners towards Pescia, to arrange with Corcou and the other captains for the distribution of the quarters to the men-at-arms of his Majesty on Florentine territory; adding, so far as circumstances would permit, such remarks as seemed to us suitable to make this matter more acceptable to him; for we found him closely engaged with Monseigneur d’Alby. We have stated in the enclosed how his Eminence had spoken to us, at our interview with him yesterday, of the answer which Corcou had reported as having been made to him by your Lordships, and how he had complained to him of the want of confidence which we had shown him, as well as of many other things, all which we have reported in the enclosed. We deemed it proper to say in reply to his Eminence, that Corcou had doubtless misinterpreted your Lordships’ reply, since you had proposed that the men-at-arms should be quartered in a healthy locality upon Pisan territory, whence they could press the Pisans closely; and where they would be amply supplied with everything, and would in all respects be well cared for by your Lordships; and that you had always left it to Corcou to decide what course to pursue, he being better acquainted with the king’s will than any one else. His Eminence seemed well satisfied with your having sent commissioners for assigning quarters to the men-at-arms; nevertheless, he intimated to us that he expected letters from the captains upon this matter, and that they would undoubtedly go fully into details on this subject. And as to our suggestion respecting Corcou’s having misinterpreted the reply, etc., and that consequently he could not make it fairly known here, his Eminence manifested some displeasure, saying that Corcou was a man of honor and sagacity, and greatly beloved by the king on account of his good qualities. We found no difficulty in removing this little irritation by assuring his Eminence that your Lordships had an equally good opinion of Corcou, but that even a man of honor and intelligence might easily misunderstand a matter of that kind. His Eminence admitted this; nevertheless he deferred his final judgment until he should have received the next letters from Corcou and the other captains.
After that, we broached the Lucchese business and the testimony of the witnesses given in presence of the king’s officers. We pointed out to his Eminence that this examination had been made with all due solemnity, and that the evidence was of a character that left no doubt as to the perfidy of the Lucchese, and of the aid given by them to the Pisans; so that the king might without hesitation restore Pietrasanta to our hands, even if he had to make more account of the obligation which he had contracted with the Lucchese than of that which he had concluded with your Lordships, — which, however, could not and ought not in reason to be done. And holding this deposition of the witnesses in our hands, we wanted to submit it to his Eminence, who however declined to look at it, and repeated to us the same language he had used the day before, and which we have reported to your Lordships in the enclosed; namely, that Beaumont and all the other captains affirmed the very contrary of what we had stated; and that we, being a party concerned, ought not to be believed; and that, even if the aforementioned captains had in their letters confirmed and justified our statements, the Lucchese ought certainly to be made sensible of the error of their conduct, but that your simple averment was not sufficient.
Thus your Lordships see what foundations you will require if you wish to build up anything good and solid in relation to this affair. It seems to us that in this as in all other matters which we may have to attend to here, for the purpose of satisfying the king or of serving your interests, we shall have to depend entirely upon the reports made by the captains; so that it is of the utmost importance to dispose these officers favorably to your Lordships. The contrary might be very prejudicial to your interests, as the experience with regard to Pietrasanta will prove to your Lordships; for it has not been of the least service for us to meet all the objections to its restoration to us, or to demonstrate that the investigation and examination of witnesses was authentic, and resulted from a public act made in due form. In fact, all that we could say, and all the proofs we could adduce, led to no other conclusion than what we have reported to your Lordships.
We did not deem it well to speak to his Eminence in relation to the pay of the artillery and of the Swiss, nor did he ever say anything to us about it; but the very first time that he mentions these matters, which we believe will be very soon, we shall reply in accordance with your Lordships’ latest instructions. Nothing else occurs to us in response to your letters. It is said that his Eminence intends leaving here to-morrow to join the king, and that both will then return here. We shall not lose sight of his Eminence, and shall govern ourselves in our dealings with him according to circumstances, and as events may suggest.
Although it may seem presumptuous for us to speak of matters here, having but so recently come here, yet we shall write to your Lordships all we can learn of any interest, trusting that you will pardon us if our information should in some instances not prove entirely correct. His Majesty’s court here is very small compared with that of his predecessor; and of this small number one third are Italians, which is ascribed to the fact that the distribution of favors is not as abundant as the courtiers could desire. The Italians are all dissatisfied, some for one reason, some for another, beginning with Messer Gianjacopo, who seems to think that he is not treated with the consideration due to his reputation. He makes no secret of this to any one, for, happening to meet him the other day in church, and knowing his disposition of old, we entered into conversation with him; and when we touched upon the Pisan business he expressed himself in terms of great affection towards us, and laid all the blame of that failure upon the French, adding in a formal manner the following words: “In saying that errors were committed by all parties, the French attempt to make others share the responsibility of the faults which were exclusively their own.”
We shall say nothing of the other Milanese, for they all seem to think the same as their chief. The Neapolitans here, of whom a good many are banished from their own country, despairing of the renewal of an attempt upon Pisa, are in the highest degree dissatisfied; for, according to common report, both the king and queen are opposed to their projects. True his Majesty the king was quite ready for another expedition, but since the Pisan affair proved a failure, he is not quite so anxious for it; for he had counted that, Pisa once taken, he would be able, with the money obtained from your Lordships, and with the help offered him by the Pope and the Orsini, and above all by the influence of his own reputation, to push his army at once against Naples. But as the Pisan affair had quite a different result from what he anticipated, he is more disposed to listen to terms of accommodation than to engage in a new enterprise; and there are already rumors that Neapolitan ambassadors are already on the way for that purpose.
The Venetian ambassador solicits the king’s aid against the Turk, pointing out the danger to which they are exposed, and alleging the loss already of a good many places, and altogether exaggerating the alarm and danger far beyond what it is supposed to be in reality; but up to the present he has not succeeded in obtaining any encouragement.
It is said that the Pope also asks his Majesty’s support most urgently in his attempt to take Faenza, with the view of adding that place to Furli and Imola for his son, the Duke Valentino; but the king does not seem disposed to do anything for him, deeming that he has already done enough for his Holiness. Nevertheless, he does not deprive him of all hope, and goes on encouraging the same as he has always done; whilst the Venetians and some other persons of the court do all they can to encourage the Lord of Faenza. There is moreover an emissary of Vitellozzo’s here, who spreads reports everywhere of the damage which Vitellozzo will shortly inflict upon your Lordships, whenever the Pope or any other power shall declare war against Florence. This individual is constantly on the lookout for some dissension between his Majesty the king and your Lordships, that will permit him to push on his intrigues; and he intimates that the Pope would really be more disposed to favor Vitellozzo’s projects than the attempt upon Faenza, if he could be convinced that the court here would countenance it.
There is nothing else going on here worthy of your Lordships’ attention, unless it be the rumor that his Majesty, accompanied by a few persons of the court, will devote himself for a few days to hunting and other pleasures. Nothing more is heard of the Ambassador of the Empire, who was to have had an interview with his Majesty at Troyes; and it is said even that he will not come at all. It is also reported as a positive fact that the Archduke has been made a Prince of Spain,* which gives force to the suspicion that it will not be so easy to come to terms with the Emperor, and that his Majesty the king will think less of an attempt upon Naples.
There is here in the house of the Pope’s ambassador, a certain Messer Astorre from Sienna; and so far as we have been able to find out, he is kept there by Pandolfo Petrucci. It is said that he openly expresses the confident hope of arranging the Pisan business, and on better terms even than what could have been done some time ago; adding that Montepulciano and its territory will remain theirs. We shall take the greatest pains to discover this intrigue, and if we find that there is really some truth in it we will make it a point to remind the Cardinal of our treaties, and of the honor of the king.
There is not a single Florentine merchant here, nor any other person of whom we could avail ourselves to procure us either money, of which we stand in great need, or to despatch couriers, or forward our letters. Your Lordships will hold us excused, therefore, if you do not receive communications from us as promptly and as often as you could desire. It is important, so long as we are kept here, that your Lordships should provide for this service in such manner as you may deem best; for even before leaving Lyons we had already spent all the money we had received from your Lordships, so that at present we are living upon our own means, and upon what our friends at Lyons could furnish us. We recommend ourselves to your Lordships’ good graces.
We had not yet closed this letter, when news came that his Majesty, in running his horse this morning, had a fall, and has injured one of his shoulders. All his equipages have been sent back here, and he himself is expected to-morrow. In our next we will further report upon the consequences of this accident, and again recommend ourselves to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Francesco della Casa,
Montargis, 12 August, 1500.
P. S. — Deeming this letter of importance, and having no other means of sending it, we have sent Bolognino back to Lyons, and directed this letter to the care of Nasi, who will forward it to your Lordships, and whom we have instructed to pay Bolognino seven scudi. We beg your Lordships will have this amount reimbursed to him, so that we may have credit with him on future occasions.
Die qua in literis, etc., etc.
Magnificent Signori: —
Two days since we wrote at length to your Lordships advising you of the receipt of your letters and instructions of the 5th instant, and rendering an account of all we have done here up to that time. To insure the safe arrival of that despatch we sent it by an express, to whom we promised seven scudi for that service. It does not seem necessary, therefore, to repeat now what we reported in that communication. Up to the present we have not been able to deliver your Lordships’ letter to his Majesty the king, who, as we have already informed you, met with an accident whilst running his horse in hunting. The horse fell on him and sprained his Majesty’s shoulder, causing him a good deal of pain, so that he has been obliged to remain at a little village some six miles from here, where we believe he lies still confined to his room and bed. It seems certain, however, that this accident has had no other bad consequences, and that his Majesty intends to return here within a couple of days. Meantime, letters ought to arrive from Corcou and Beaumont respecting the Lucchese affair. We shall endeavor to learn the nature of the report they may have on this matter, and shall do what we may judge for the best in relation thereto.
We recommend ourselves to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Francesco della Casa,
Montargis, 14 August, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
Since our last of the 12th from Montargis, we wrote very briefly on the 14th, but have no letters to acknowledge from your Lordships since the one of the 5th instant. His Majesty the king has been obliged, in consequence of his fall, to remain ever since at some of the small villages along the road here. At first he had to remain quiet in bed, after which he had himself carried in a litter, so that it was only yesterday that he was well enough to return here, although his shoulder is not yet entirely well, but has to be kept bandaged. The whole court is now here, the Maréchal de Gye, the Admiral, and the Grand Chancellor having arrived, together with many other lords. We have presented ourselves several times within the past few days before his Majesty, and have not failed to call at least every other day upon his Eminence the Cardinal d’Amboise, in whatever place he happened to be at the time; although we did not care much to speak to him for some days past, knowing that he was not well pleased because the men-at-arms were not in garrison on Florentine territory. But having been informed by your Lordships’ last letters that you had sent commissioners to Pescia to receive those troops, we hope they have succeeded in quartering them on Florentine territory, and that this act of your Lordships has so gratified the captains of these troops, that they will have sent more favorable reports from there than what they have done hitherto. It was in this hope that at any moment letters might arrive from these captains expressive of their satisfaction, which would placate the king and the Cardinal, that we thought it best for a day or two not to press our own business, feeling convinced that had we done so we should, as usual, have received an unfavorable reply and unsatisfactory conclusions.
In a conversation which we have since had with Robertet, however, we learned that the men-at-arms were this side of Pontremoli, and refused to return to Pisa; and that his Majesty the king was much dissatisfied with your Lordships, and that there was no chance for your friends to say anything in your favor.
We expressed our astonishment at this assertion, after your Lordships’ letter of the 5th, and said that the refusal of the troops to return to Pisa could in no way be laid to your charge, and that before pronouncing such a judgment matters ought to be thoroughly understood; but all we could say was of no use, and Robertet persisted in his opinion that the fault lay with your Lordships, and added some very unpleasant expressions as to dissensions existing amongst your Lordships, and intimating that there was a party in Florence who wanted the return of Piero de’ Medici, and not Pisa, — words not to be disregarded as coming from the mouth of a secretary of state. We said all we possibly could, and which was not a little, to refute this assertion, but it produced no effect upon him. During this conversation Robertet pointed out to us a Pisan who happened to pass at that moment, and who has been a long while in France, but whom we have never seen since. We do not know by whom he is specially protected, unless it be that he enjoys the favor of all your enemies here, and they are more numerous than your friends. It is quite possible that this individual has returned to Pisa charged with some fresh intrigue. We shall do our best to find out, and will then promptly inform your Lordships.
Since this conversation with Robertet we had an interview with D’Amboise, now six days ago, and found him of the same mind as regards his unwillingness to engage in a fresh war, and as to the pay of the Swiss, and the refusal to receive the men-at-arms. It was of no use for us to attempt to refute these charges, which we had already done so often; for he came back immediately to the Swiss whom his Majesty the king had been obliged to pay out of his own resources. And thus we parted from his Eminence, without being able to get anything more from him.
As already stated, his Majesty has returned here now with all the court, and by a singular coincidence Corcou arrived here on the same day. So soon as we heard of his arrival, we thought it important to have an interview with him before presenting ourselves again before D’Amboise, so as to learn Corcou’s opinions, and judge therefrom in what manner to approach his Eminence again. Accordingly we called upon Corcou and assured him that your Lordships had the most entire confidence in him, and that you hoped that he had made a good report as to your Lordships’ favorable disposition and attachment to his Majesty the king; adding all we thought proper to incline him favorably to us.
He replied that he was well affectioned to your Lordships on account of the great honor which you had shown him; but that he could not say anything else to his Majesty than the official answer to him of your Lordships, and what you had communicated to him in writing. He dwelt particularly upon the payment of the Swiss, saying that the king had been greatly displeased at having been obliged to pay them out of his own purse. Having replied to this in the same way in which we had before met this charge, he accused the Swiss of gross brutality, and attributed their dishonesty to their habits; but soon returned to his first complaint, that the king had been obliged to pay them. He then added, that you had never been willing to receive the men-at-arms in garrison on Florentine territory, although these troops had been specially asked for from his Majesty by your Lordships’ ambassadors, and complained that he himself had made a useless voyage to Florence on that account. And when we said in reply, that your Lordships had never refused quarters to the king’s men-at-arms, but had hesitated only as regards the infantry, in consequence of the experience you had had with them, he said that it could not reasonably be expected that men-at-arms would go into quarters on foreign territory without infantry, and that fifteen hundred infantry ought not to have caused your Lordships any apprehensions; but that the real cause of all the difficulties was the want of unity in Florence, where one party wanted Pisa, and the other party did not want it.
As this opinion seemed to have been generally disseminated at court, and was calculated to produce very bad effects, we made every possible effort to refute it, and to eradicate it from Corcou’s mind by the fullest and most earnest arguments, even to saying to him that such a statement exposed him to have his sound judgment called into question. We almost succeeded in convincing him, or at any rate we thought that we had produced a good effect upon him. But we must not omit to tell your Lordships that in the course of this discussion Corcou said: “What has lost you Pisa is, that you did not spend some eight or ten thousand ducats amongst all these lords and captains. In similar affairs, you must keep your money-bags open; for in that way you spend but once, whilst otherwise you spend six times.”
After leaving Corcou we resolved to speak with the Cardinal d’Amboise, and took occasion to call upon his Eminence, to whom we said that now, since Corcou had arrived, both his Majesty the king and his Eminence must have heard from him how things had happened; as also your Lordships’ good disposition towards his Majesty and his men-at-arms, and likewise the bad conduct of the others, and especially that of the Lucchese. His Eminence interrupted our remarks abruptly, and said: “Yes, we have heard everything, and, by my faith, until now I have always done you all the good I possibly could; but now, since your conduct is so bad, I really know not what more to do for you; and his Majesty thinks it very strange that he should be obliged to pay the Swiss for your Lordships.” We replied, that, if his Eminence would listen to our justification, he, as well as his Majesty the king, would find that our republic had always done her duty in all respects; and that the refusal to resume the war against Pisa resulted from the impossibility of doing so, to which the republic found herself reduced, partly because she was overwhelmed and exhausted, and partly from the lack of confidence in the army, which on every occasion had manifested hostility rather than friendship for our republic. We then spoke of the payment of the Swiss, to which the king seemed to attach more importance than to all else, and said that this matter might be adjusted in a reasonable manner, if his Eminence would favor us with his aid and advice. To which he replied: “Neither that nor any other means can now arrange your difficulties in a way that would be satisfactory.” We reiterated our entreaties that his Eminence would not withhold his protection from your Lordships without reason; and not by such words to discourage a people who had always been faithful friends of France, and who had suffered, and in such various ways, for that devotion, that they merited commendation and support rather than disfavor and discouragement, which would only benefit those who wished no good to his Eminence, and still less to his Majesty the king of France. For what could the other peoples of Italy hope for from his Majesty when his devoted friends, the Florentines, who had spent and suffered so much on his account, were treated so badly by his Majesty?
We concluded by saying that your Lordships were more willing and better disposed than ever to render any service and pleasure to the crown of France. To all this the Cardinal replied that these were mere words, and that he had no confidence in all our arguments, and was in short extremely dissatisfied with your Lordships; and this was said by him so loud that all the bystanders could hear it; and thereupon he immediately mounted his horse to follow his pleasure.
The reason of our not yet having had an audience of the king, nor presented your Lordships’ letter, was the accident which his Majesty had, on account of which he refrained for some days from all business, and remained for his pleasure in some villages in the woods, and in other places, where no lodgings could be had for any one else; and since his return here we thought it might seem inopportune to present your Lordships’ letter. His Majesty is constantly and closely surrounded by a few persons, except when he rides out, so that it is difficult to find a convenient moment for approaching him; and all business is devolved upon the Cardinal d’Amboise. We shall, nevertheless, watch the first opportunity of speaking to his Majesty, and will endeavor, in as suitable a manner as the occasion may permit, to impress him most efficiently with your Lordships’ devotion and good will towards him, and to efface from his mind whatever unfavorable opinion he may have formed in consequence of the reported dissensions and want of unity amongst the Florentines that have reached his Majesty’s ears from various sources; and of the result your Lordships shall be duly informed.
The letter of license for Messer Giovanni Bentivogli has not yet been prepared, nor have we asked for it again; for when this matter was touched upon in our conversation with Robertet, we asked whether his Eminence of Amboise had ordered the letter to be written, he replied, that he had not; and that the Cardinal did not intend to have it done; and that, if we would speak to him ourselves on the subject, we would find that he had changed his mind. We therefore deemed it best to say nothing about it now to D’Amboise, as your Lordships have yet to decide whether you will receive the French men-at-arms in garrison, for his Eminence might have formed an erroneous conjecture as to your Lordships’ intentions, and might suppose that you preferred to employ Italian troops instead of French. We shall not renew the request without further instructions.
Nor have we said anything about Pietrasanta; for the answer we received upon that point, and which we have communicated to your Lordships, discouraged us from bringing this matter up again. We are constantly after Corcou, trying to induce him to serve us in this matter, as the investigation that had been ordered to be made on the spot was made in his presence; also to see whether we can, with the assistance of Robertet, who has much influence over him in this as well as in other matters, obtain any advantageous results. We shall do our best to that effect, although the ambassador from Lucca has returned, and has been well received. All this comes from knowing how to acquire amicos de mammona iniquitatis, whilst your Lordships believe that you need no other help but justice and reason, etc.
We have had a long conference with the Grand Chancellor, and related to him the entire course of things, and how the whole Pisan affair occurred; we also told him of your Lordships’ offer for recovering the honor of the king’s troops, and for repairing the damage which you had suffered, and the reasons why you could do no more. His Lordship was very glad to see us, and listened most graciously to all we had to say. But as to the last point he remarked that he could say nothing except that his Majesty would certainly fulfil the promise he had made to furnish us the men-at-arms; but as to restoring Pisa to our possession, that depended altogether upon fortune, and therefore his Majesty could make no promise upon that point. But he added that, whenever opportunity occurred, he would always favor our cause the same as he had ever done in the past. We begged him to continue the same good will towards our republic, and said that your Lordships regarded him as a real benefactor, etc. We have had an interview with this minister since then, during which he told us that he had not yet had an opportunity to speak with his Majesty in relation to our business; but this did not seem likely, and we believe that he did not wish to make any other answer, having found his Majesty not well disposed towards your Lordships.
We shall endeavor to see his Lordship again, and shall not fail in our duty, sparing no effort, regardless of either fatigue or discomfort; and if we do not accomplish anything, it will be because we cannot or know not how, in which case we hope your Lordships will hold us excused.
Your Lordships’ letters recommending Bartolommeo Ginori* have been received by us and presented to his Majesty, who had already made him come to court and ordered the marshals to hear his complaints, and to have justice done him. Yesterday Bartolommeo appeared before them, and they took him from the hands of Talaru and placed him in those of the king. We shall do what we can for him, and shall employ what credit we may yet have here in his behalf, and believe that we may hope for a good result.
Nothing more is said about the treaty between his Majesty and Pandolfo Petrucci. We believe the reason of this is that it is no longer desired.
Two days ago an ambassador from the Swiss arrived here in relation to the matter of Bellinzona. He had a long audience, but the result is not yet known.
It is also said that his Majesty the king has concluded a truce with the Emperor, to last until next March; and although some personage of importance speaks of it as really true, yet we hear on the other hand that it is doubted by many; thus we can neither affirm nor deny it.
We recommend ourselves to the good graces of your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Francesco della Casa,
Melun, 26 August, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
From our preceding letters your Lordships will have seen the condition of our affairs here; and our latest despatch will have informed you that his Majesty is not at all satisfied with your Lordships, particularly upon two points to which he attaches most importance. The first is your having refused to resume the war against Pisa, and the second, your not having paid the Swiss. To these may be added a third, which to some extent is also deemed important, and that is your refusal to receive French troops in garrison. Whenever either of these subjects is discussed, it gives rise to complaints in such manner and terms as we have already made known to your Lordships. And although all these matters could easily be explained, as your Lordships have endeavored to do at Florence with Corcou, and as we in compliance with your orders have striven to do here, yet we are never listened to when opportunity occurs for us to speak on these subjects; nor do we see any chance for bettering this state of things, unless something quite unforeseen should occur. For as to the first point, we do not believe that his Majesty will ever assume the entire burden of a fresh war; the reason for our thinking so is, first, the king’s indisposition to send money; and secondly, his whole conduct hitherto with regard to the affairs of Italy, being ever anxious to draw all he can from this country, but never willing to spend anything there, seeming to attach more importance to immediate profit than to ultimate results. This causes his Majesty to attach little importance to what your Lordships offer him after he shall have taken Pisa; so that when his Majesty was spoken to on that point he treated it as a jest. And there is the more reason to believe that he will not do it, as (you may venture nineteen sous to a lira) peace will either be made with Naples, or the new enterprise will be deferred for a long time to come, which would cause his Majesty to think no more of the fifty thousand florins, etc., etc. And there are several grounds for looking upon such a peace as probable; first, the will of the queen, who is said to be most favorably inclined to it, and, according to report, spares no pains to bring it about; and it is also said that the majority of the council is of the same mind, deeming the conquest difficult, and the maintaining it still more so, referring to the experience of the past, as well as to other reasons which your Lordships will readily find out. It is, moreover, supposed that such an attempt might arouse the Turk, who certainly would oppose it most determinately; and that the apprehension of the loss of Naples would induce the Emperor and the Empire to take measures such as even the conquest of Milan did not cause them to take. For King Frederick constantly keeps ambassadors near his Majesty, who fears the war and earnestly desires peace. These imperial ambassadors have not yet come to Troyes, and when they do come, it is understood that their demands will be so great that they will not be acceded to.
Your Lordships will have heard that the king of Spain has raised troops for the purpose of supporting King Frederick, and that he has created the Archduke a Prince, all of which facts indicate the same purpose. And then comes his Majesty’s aversion to spending money, and his extreme prudence, which makes him move very slowly in all doubtful matters. Moreover, his Majesty has seen lately, in the case of Pisa, that where force is necessary neither chalk* nor reputation will suffice; and that, if he found the enterprise in itself difficult, the help of the Turk or of others would render it next to impossible, and would expose him to the risk of being obliged to withdraw in a manner that would be anything but honorable for him, and expose him to the loss of all his possessions in Italy; being unable to support such heavy expenses for so long a time, or to be disastrously defeated.
But even if all this were not true, or had not been properly understood, or still worse explained, which is quite possible, yet this much is true beyond all question, — that the secretary of Naples is here and labors incessantly to bring about a peace. And if once they listen to any one here who promises and gives, it is difficult not to believe that they will take what is offered. Thus to return to our own matter. Even if such a peace be one of the things that will be, or if the enterprise against Pisa is to be deferred for a long time to come, which we leave to your Lordships’ wisdom to decide, the fifty thousand florins are not likely to influence the king to engage in that enterprise for his own account. If, therefore, your Lordships’ views on this point are not changed, his Majesty of France cannot remain satisfied; and we are rather apprehensive, from some remarks made by the Cardinal d’Amboise and by Robertet, lest his Majesty, for the purpose of repairing the honor of his arms, attempt some measure adverse to your interests and necessities.
As to the payment of the Swiss, which seems to be the thing that irritates his Majesty the most, and the refusal to receive the French troops in garrison, we have made such answer as we have stated in the enclosed, and which has been accepted, as the enclosed will also inform your Lordships. According to our judgment your Lordships ought to satisfy the demands of the Swiss, or you will have to think how you will defend yourselves against the anger which his Majesty will feel against you; and which, in our opinion, will increase of itself, and from being fomented and kept alive by your enemies. Nor must your Lordships imagine that well-digested letters or arguments will be of service in the matter, for they are not even listened to. It is idle to recall to the French here the good faith with which our republic has always acted towards the crown of France, or the services rendered to some of her former sovereigns, or the large sums of money which we have spent and the dangers we have borne on their account, and how many times we have in return been fed by them with vain hopes; or to point to more recent occurrences, and to the ruinous damage which our republic suffered in consequence; or what his Majesty might still count upon from you if you were strong, and what security your power and greatness would give to his Majesty’s possessions in Italy, and how it would insure the good faith of the other Italian states. But it is all useless, for they hold a very different language about all these things from what you do, and view them with another eye altogether from that of persons who are not of this court; for they are blinded by their power and their immediate advantage, and have consideration only for those who are either well armed, or who are prepared to pay. It is this that does your Lordships so much harm, for they imagine you lacking both these qualifications. As regards the first point of being well armed, they see that ordinarily you are without troops. And as to the second, namely, the question of their own advantage, they have given up all hope, for they believe that you consider yourselves as having been badly served by them, and that you have lost all confidence in them in consequence of their conduct in the late affair of Pisa. They call you Ser Nihilo (Signor Nothing), and baptize your inability discord amongst yourselves; and the ill conduct of their troops they ascribe to your bad government. And this opinion is gaining ground, according to our judgment, in consequence of the departure of your ambassadors from here, and the fact that nothing is heard of the coming of new ones, which they charge to our want of union, or to a wish on our part to alienate ourselves from them entirely. We therefore beg your Lordships, with all due respect, to give attention to this, and to think of remedying it seasonably; for our mission here is evidently not agreeable to them, and our rank and quality insufficient to save a sinking cause. But if your Lordships really desire to maintain your relations with this court, then we deem it absolutely indispensable for you to send fresh ambassadors here. At the same time, we beg you to understand distinctly that they will be of little use, unless they come with instructions to pay the Swiss, and with means enough to make friends; for there is no one here that does not understand his own interests, or who has not managed to secure for himself some patron to whom he can resort when occasion requires. In truth, your Lordships are the only ones who have deprived yourselves of such support; and even the king’s friendship for you, as well as that of the Cardinal, needs to be sustained if you desire to preserve it; for it has been shaken in various ways by your many enemies, as well as by the ill fortune of our republic. But under any circumstances, and however they may come, we hold the sending of ambassadors here as indispensable, if you desire to advance your cause here in any way.
Meantime we beg your Lordships to be pleased to instruct us as to the course which we shall pursue, and what attitude we shall assume in relation to that point which seems to us so important and delicate, and which demands a prompt remedy. Valete!
Francesco della Casa,
Melun, 27 August, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
When your predecessors first decided upon sending us here, in the belief that we should find his Majesty the king at Lyons, and your ambassadors near him, they provided us with just sufficient means to execute our commission, and return to Florence in a few days; and it was more particularly to me, Francesco, that the Signori said that we were not to remain here. The very opposite, however, has happened. In the first instance, we found that the king had already left Lyons; and then, being denuded of everything, we were obliged to incur the expense of supplying ourselves in two days with such horses as we could find, to provide ourselves with clothing, and to hire servants. And, without the advantage of travelling in the company of ambassadors, we had to follow the court, and continue to follow it still at an expense of one half more than we should have needed to incur if the court had been at Lyons. It would have been a great relief to us if we had been in the company of ambassadors; for as it is, we are obliged to keep two more servants. We do not live in hostelries, but in private houses, where we have to supply all the provisions and other necessaries, and have the cooking done ourselves. And besides, there are always other extraordinary expenses, such as quartermasters, porters, and couriers, etc., etc., which altogether make up a sum which in our position is very heavy for us. Being thus under the necessity of applying to your Lordships for assistance, we have deemed it proper to inform you of the particulars of our situation; and therefore beg your Lordships most respectfully and confidently to take into consideration, first, that with the salary allowed us of eight lire per day for each, it is impossible for us to supply our wants without adding a portion of our own means. Your Lordships will also bear in mind that at our departure from Florence each of us received only eighty lire, of which we each spent thirty lire for our voyage to Lyons, and having there to provide ourselves with horses, clothing, and other necessaries, we were obliged to borrow money from our friends to enable us to resume our route, and after having spent that, we have been forced to recur to Paris for further loans from others. And if these should fail us before your Lordships order funds to be sent to us, we shall suddenly find ourselves without money and without credit, and your Lordships may judge of the situation in which we should then find ourselves placed.
We therefore entreat your Lordships, most humbly, to send without delay sufficient means for our necessities during the time that your Lordships may determine that either one or both of us shall remain here in your service. Your Lordships will bear in mind that we have neither the means nor the credit of our own that would permit us, like so many other ambassadors, to maintain ourselves here for months, or even weeks, without receiving the means of subsistence from your Lordships, to whom we recommend ourselves.
Francesco della Casa,
Melun, 29 August, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
To-day is the 2d of September, and we have not yet despatched the enclosed, being unwilling to send them at a venture, and yet unable to despatch them by a special messenger, such is the penury to which our ordinary mode of living has reduced us; and unless your Lordships promptly supply us with means, we shall be compelled to leave here. Our necessary expenses are one scudi and a half per day for each; we have already laid out for clothing, and in establishing ourselves here, more than one hundred scudi each, and are now actually without a single penny, and have in vain attempted to use our credit, public and private. So that your Lordships must excuse us if, in the event of our not receiving funds, we find ourselves obliged to return to Florence; for we prefer being at the discretion of fortune in Italy rather than in France.
Since our writing the enclosed, we hear from all sides, O Magnificent Signori, that his Majesty is greatly dissatisfied with us. The principal reason of this is, that his arms remain dishonored in Italy on your account, and because he finds, according to the answer given by your Lordships to Corcou, that he will not be able to repair this dishonor at your expense; and moreover he has had to pay thirty thousand francs to the Swiss, and for artillery and other things, out of his private purse; whilst according to the terms of the agreement and the convention concluded at Milan between the Cardinal d’Amboise and Pietro Soderini, all these items should have been paid by your Lordships. His Majesty’s irritation on that account has increased to that degree, that it has encouraged a number of your enemies to propose various measures to his Majesty that would be adverse to your interests and necessities. These propositions have all found favor with the king, so that a few days since it was discussed in council, whether it might not be well to accept the proposition made by the Pisans to surrender, on condition that they should not be subjected to the rule of your Lordships. If this negotiation has not been actually concluded, supported as it is by all the Italians here, it is owing rather to a regard for your Lordships’ rights, which has caused it to remain in suspense, than to the interposition of any friend who may have remained true to you here. For amongst the entire court, since his Majesty’s dissatisfaction with you has become manifest, you have scarcely a single friend left, but everybody seeks to injure your cause to the extent of his power to do so.
Although we were of our own knowledge cognizant of this unfriendly disposition, from the several conferences which we have had with the Cardinal d’ Amboise, as mentioned in our several despatches to your Lordships, yet we have become still more sensible of it from the reports that reach us from all sides; so that if your Lordships do not take measures to correct it, you will find yourselves very soon in such a position with regard to the king, that you will have to think more of protecting and defending your possessions, and even your personal liberty, than of recovering the territory you have lost.
This state of things has been made known to us, amongst others, by Robertet, who is the only person that has remained our friend; but we shall lose him too very soon, unless we sustain his friendship with something more substantial than words. The same with some other gentlemen; and even Messer Gianjacopo Trivulzio called us aside one morning whilst at court, and said: “I am sorry to see your republic in such imminent danger, for if you do not promptly apply some remedy, you will be obliged to think how to defend yourselves against the anger of the people here; for it is their nature to take very sudden resolves, and they never forgive those whom they have once offended, but will continue rather in their hostility; so look to your interests, and that promptly.” And he said this with much earnestness, so that from all we have seen and heard we cannot doubt but what he spoke from the heart.
We have been cautioned in the same way by others, on whom we can rely, but who were afraid to speak to us in public, fearing lest they should be remarked as being your friends. These have told us, amongst other things, that it had been reported to his Majesty the king that your Lordships had sent ambassadors to the Emperor and to the king of Naples, with offers of money, for the purpose of stirring them up against his Majesty of France; and that his Eminence the Cardinal d’Amboise had several times said that you had broken your word; and that you would yet be forced, to your shame and damage, to repay his Majesty the amount which he had paid to the Swiss.
All these things seemed to us of great moment, and, unless promptly remedied, as calculated to embroil you with his Majesty beyond the chance of reconciliation. We made great efforts, therefore, to have an audience of the Cardinal d’Amboise, where we should be listened to quietly, and with that attention which the case really deserves. Although we have failed thus far to obtain such an audience as we desired, yet we took occasion to meet and converse with his Eminence; and began by complaining of the malice of your Lordships’ enemies, who were not ashamed to defame you to his Majesty beyond all reason, by telling him that you had sent ambassadors to the Emperor and King Frederick with offers of money for the purpose of turning them against him, a proceeding so incredible that we could not believe that either his Majesty or his Eminence would attach the least credence to it; for the long-continued fidelity of your Lordships to his Majesty, as well as the experience which he had had so lately of your good faith, did not deserve that such a calumny should have been believed; but as such a report had reached our ears, we desired to speak to his Majesty on the subject, more for the purpose of performing our duty than because we believed that you needed such a justification. After that we added, that from the several conversations which we had had with his Eminence, and from what we had heard from various quarters, it appeared that his Majesty the king was dissatisfied with your Lordships, and was engaged in negotiations that did not comport with our friendship and the loyalty which we had always manifested towards the crown of France; that no notice whatever had been given us of these proceedings, at which we were astonished, for we believed that his Majesty ought to have complained in an amicable way of any supposed short-comings on the part of your Lordships, and that he would have spoken his mind openly and freely about it, and would have listened to your Lordships’ explanations; and that if there had really been any remissness of duty on your part, that in such case his Majesty would take every occasion to assert his rights against your Lordships. And therefore we entreated his Eminence to be pleased to tell us what was really going on, and to enlighten us upon those points upon which we had to report to your Lordships.
His Eminence made no answer whatever to the first part of our remarks, as to your having sent ambassadors to the Emperor, etc., but complained at great length that he had been much pained by your Lordships’ conduct, which had deprived him of all means of helping you; for that you had neither been willing to resume the war, nor to receive the French troops in garrison, nor to pay the Swiss; so that his Majesty’s interests as well as his honor had suffered damage in consequence. When we attempted to reply to this, his Eminence added: “We have already heard and know what you would say; we have also seen the answer you have made to Corcou.” And when we urged his Eminence to inform us as to what we ought to write to your Lordships, etc., he said: “Speak to Corcou about it; he happens luckily to be here, and will tell you what is necessary for you to know.”
We therefore went to see Corcou, and he concluded that you must either pay back to his Majesty the thirty-eight thousand francs which he has disbursed on your account, or have him for your enemy forever. And although we said all we could, — that this was unreasonable, and that it would be useless to write this to your Lordships, — yet he remained firm in his decision. And seeing thus how much importance they attach to this matter, we said that we would write to your Lordships on the subject; and Corcou promised to try and induce the Cardinal d’Amboise to await your Lordships’ reply; and thus we left him.
You see thus, O Magnificent Signori, in what condition our affairs are here; and in our judgment it will really depend upon your answer, whether we shall have the king’s friendship or enmity. Do not imagine that reasons and arguments will be of any avail with him, for they would not be listened to, as we have already explained in the accompanying letters. And so important has it seemed to us to preserve his Majesty’s friendship, that if I, Francesco, had not felt so seriously indisposed that I believed I should be obliged to leave the court for the purpose of taking care of my health, one of us two would have come by the diligence to Florence, to tell you by word of mouth, and so to say to make you touch with your fingers, what we cannot make so plain to you by writing.
We must not omit, however, to tell you, that we learn from a good source that there are intrigues on foot to induce his Majesty to take Pisa for himself after having first caused all its territory to be restored; and to form a state out of it by adding Pietrasanta, Livorno, and Piombino, and in course of time also Lucca, and to establish a governor of his own there; which they think can easily be done and maintained, as a portion of the constituent parts are well disposed for such an arrangement, being contiguous to the state of Milan. They see another advantage in the fact that the Pisans have offered an immediate payment of one hundred thousand francs, contributed by your enemies, and afterwards a regular yearly revenue. This project is furthermore regarded as a step towards the taking of the kingdom of Naples, whenever that attempt shall be made. We believe that this project has its origin with and is being urged by your many enemies, and that it may easily be accomplished because of the king’s dissatisfaction with your Lordships, and because of the immediate advantage which he would derive from it. And moreover, amidst the general hatred of your Lordships, it is supposed that his Majesty can only gain in doing what would be a great injury to you.
In accordance with your Lordships’ wishes, we have written without reserve, and very fully, about matters here, as we see and understand them; and if we have expressed ourselves too boldly upon any one point, it was because we preferred rather to harm ourselves by thus erring, than not to write, and thereby risk of failing in our duty to our republic. And we have ventured to do so because of our confidence in the wisdom of your Lordships, who, after careful examination of our communications, can form a more correct judgment upon the points in question, and can thus come to a wiser decision.
We beg most respectfully to remind your Lordships of the importance of promptly sending ambassadors here, so that your next despatches may inform us of their coming, and that they may be in time to achieve some good results; for we ourselves can do no more in the business here than what we have done, and have, indeed, played our last stake. Nor would we like to find ourselves present here at the breaking up of a friendship which we have so earnestly solicited, and nursed at such expense, and maintained with so much hopefulness. And until we receive orders from your Lordships that will permit our presenting ourselves at court, we shall avoid all conversation with them upon other points; for having really nothing to tell them, they might think that we are merely mocking them. We shall simply show ourselves, so that they may know that we are here, and that they may call us if there should be occasion for it.
His Eminence, D’Amboise, leaves to-morrow for Rouen, and will remain there some ten or twelve days. It would be well if on his return we could present to him your Lordships’ answer, which we beg you will send to us; and that we may then also be able to say to him that your ambassadors are on the way here, which is so essential.
Messer Giulio Scurcigliato, a Neapolitan, has had a long conversation with his Eminence, the Cardinal, in relation to your Lordships’ affairs, of which we shall say nothing more, as he will write you himself very fully at Florence. Since then we have heard that the truce between the king and the Emperor has been publicly proclaimed at Milan.
We commend ourselves to your Lordships.
Francesco della Casa,
Melun, 3 September, 1500.
P. S. — Whilst in the act of sealing this letter, Ugolino came to us to say that a friend of his, who had agreed to co-operate with him in the expediting of our despatches, had changed his mind, so that we were obliged to promise him twenty-five sun scudi. We must therefore beg your Lordships promptly to pay that amount to Giovanni di Niccolo Martelli, so that we may be able to command his services on future occasions, and not be obliged to pay him out of our own means. He has promised to have this despatch delivered within seven days.
Magnificent Signori: —
It is now evening, and we have not yet been able to come to any agreement with the party who had proposed to unite in despatching this courier, nor do we know whether we shall succeed in coming to terms with him, nor the hour at which the courier is likely to start to-morrow.
We cannot think of anything more to say to your Lordships, unless it be to urge once more the sending of the ambassadors, and to decide about paying the thirty-eight thousand francs. For, on returning from accompanying the Cardinal, who started to-day after dinner for Rouen, we met Robertet, and questioned him with regard to our affairs. To which he replied: “They have improved somewhat since our last conversation; but do not fail to write to your Signoria that they must not think of doing otherwise than paying the money which his Majesty has paid for your account. Say to them also, that, whatever they may decide upon, the most important thing is to send ambassadors here, or at least one, who, however, should be the first and most reputed citizen of Florence; and that his having started should be made immediately known here, so that it may in a measure remove the ill feeling and the umbrage given by the abrupt departure from here of the former ambassadors. Write most stenuously upon this point, for it is of the utmost importance.”
We replied that the ambassadors would be sent, and made excuses for the departure of the former ones; and told him that we would write to you about it, as also about the money, although we hardly knew what to write you upon this latter point, owing to the events that had occurred since. And as we wanted to touch upon the Pietrasanta affair, Robertet said, “All can yet be arranged, if you will only hasten the coming of the ambassadors.” We have deemed it proper to communicate all this fully to your Lordships, so that you may be able to decide the better as to the course to be adopted.
It is now three o’clock in the night, and with the help of God we have arranged to despatch this courier by our paying half the cost. Thus, your Lordships will pay to Giovanni Martelli thirty-five scudi, that being the amount which Ugolino Martelli has advanced to us. What we have written in the enclosed upon this point is hereby cancelled. Thus, your Lordships will have to pay only thirty-five scudi, which we trust you will be pleased to do, so that the favor conferred upon us here may not be paid with ingratitude; and so that we may not have to remain debtors to Ugolino, to whom we have pledged ourselves personally.
And thus we recommend ourselves to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Melun, at the 3d hour of night, and
3d day of September, 1500.
The present courier will leave early to-morrow, and promises to be in Florence within seven days.
Francesco della Casa,
Magnificent Signori: —
On the 5th of the present month we received two letters from your Lordships, the one of the 14th ultimo, and the other of the 30th, together with a copy of a letter from Beaumont to your Lordships. From these we learn your wishes, and the steps you want us to take with regard to the affair of the Marquis of Massa, and the restitution of Pietrasanta.
We believe, Magnificent Signori, that, before the arrival of your letters here, your Lordships will have received our despatches of the 26th and 27th ultimo, and of the 3d of the present month, which were sent to you by a special courier through the agency of Martelli, under cover to Ser Antonio della Valle, and at the cost of thirty-five scudi. We do not deem it worth while to send a copy of it, but merely, by way of precaution, will briefly repeat the substance of it; which was to the effect that his Majesty of France was much irritated against your Lordships because of your inability to resume the war against Pisa, and that thus he was prevented from retrieving the honor of his arms at your expense; and then that he had been obliged to spend his own money to pay the Swiss, and the artillery, and the Gascons, all of which should have been paid by you. This is the sum and substance of all that has to be settled here; and unless these points are satisfactorily arranged, it will be impossible to attempt any new negotiations, or, even if begun, to conclude them satisfactorily.
We desire to point out to your Lordships, that to the above two causes of discontent on the part of his Majesty a third must be added, which is no less important than the others; and this is the suspicion which his Majesty has conceived that you are not willing to take any other course. This doubt has been excited in his Majesty’s mind by the unfortunate issue of the attempt upon Pisa, and makes him think that you may consider yourselves as having been badly served in that affair; and that it was in consequence of this that your ambassadors left, so to say, ex abrupto, and that nothing is heard of the coming of any new ones. These things have been suggested by your enemies here, and so plausibly that more importance has been attached to them than what their nature would otherwise merit. And more than all others have the Italians been active in this; for they may be said to labor without restraint to put your Lordships in disgrace with his Majesty, and to compass your ruin. The story of your having sent ambassadors to the Emperor of Germany had its origin in the sanctuary of Monseigneur d’Arles, the Pope’s ambassador. In fact, they have stretched the cord so tight that, if we had not labored with the Cardinal d’Amboise as we have done, and of which we have sent full report to your Lordships, his Majesty would most probably have decided ere this upon some measures detrimental to your interests, which it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to avert or counteract. And yet matters remain in suspense for the present, for no reason but to ascertain your intentions, which, according to our judgment, should have for their first object the determination to pay the sum which the king claims to have expended for your account; and next to send ambassadors here whose departure from Florence should be immediately notified to this court. And the sooner they start actually to come here, the sooner shall we be able to begin negotiations touching your Lordships’ interests. Meantime we can give you the assurance that everything will remain quiet until the arrival of such ambassadors.
So soon, therefore, as we received your Lordships’ letters of the 14th and 30th of last month, we presented ourselves at court, not in the expectation of effecting anything in the Pietrasanta matter, or in that of the Marquis of Massa,* but for the purpose of acquainting his Majesty with what you had written us from Librafatta, so that he might know it first from us, rather than from any one else, for we had been told that the Lucca ambassador had received a courier at the same time with us. And by way of disposing his Majesty more favorably towards us, and inducing him to give us a more favorable hearing, we thought it well in our address to mention the coming of ambassadors from your Lordships. And although you merely inform us in your letter of the 14th of the election of Luca degli Albizzi, and make no further reference to it in yours of the 30th, yet this seemed to us so important a matter that, seeing no better way of gaining time, we assumed the authority of stating to his Majesty that we had letters from your Lordships, informing us of the selection of the ambassadors, and of their early departure, and that we had every reason to believe that they would certainly be on the way hither by the middle of the present month. After that we told his Majesty of the loss of Librafatta; and to save our credit as much as possible, we said that, although your Lordships had been deprived of your men-at-arms from having relied with too much confidence upon his Majesty’s troops, and that since their withdrawal you had not had the time to reorganize your forces, yet the Pisans never could have taken Librafatta without the treachery of the castellan in charge of it, and the aid and support of the Lucchese, who in that affair, as in all other instances, had manifested their bad disposition and evil-mindedness towards us, caring little at the same time whether they offended his Majesty or not, as was seen but a short time ago, when his Majesty’s army was before the walls of Pisa; that his Majesty could by a single blow make them sensible of the mistake they have made, and at the same time relieve our republic from the wretched situation in which it is placed by the restitution of Pietrasanta. And here we pointed out to his Majesty the good that would result from it, in such terms as the time and the nature of the audience admitted; recommending to him at the same time our republic, and assuring him of your constant good faith, and of the malignity of those who were not ashamed boldly to accuse your Lordships of having sent ambassadors to the Emperor of Germany; but as this would have been altogether a most unreasonable act, we did not deem it worth while to say anything more in excuse of your Lordships.
His Majesty graciously replied, that if your ambassadors were ready to start he would receive them with pleasure, for he should then know that your Lordships felt the same towards him now as you had always done in the past, and as you had said you desired to do in the future. But that he should still be more convinced on the subject when he should see that he was not to suffer any loss, by having to pay what, according to the stipulations of the convention, should be paid by you. In speaking of this blessed money which he has paid to the Swiss and others for your account, after the raising of the siege of Pisa, his Majesty made use of expressions that should be seriously weighed, coming as they do from the mouth of so powerful a person; for he said, “If your Lordships were to refuse to pay this money, I should consider that they are no friends of mine, and should protect myself by all the means at my command.” When we wanted to reply to his Majesty, and relate to him the dishonesty and bad conduct of the Swiss, he replied, “that he was himself very ill satisfied with them; that he had been subjected by them to paying tribute; that he had been obliged to have patience with them, and that your Lordships ought now to do the same.” Coming back, however, always to the money which he had disbursed, he said “that he could not have done otherwise without disturbing and spoiling the negotiations now being carried on in Germany, which he had much at heart and desired to settle, so that it was really necessary that your Lordships should satisfy him upon that point.” We replied that those ambassadors would soon be here, and we believed that your Lordships would, in accordance with your invariable practice, always do what was right and reasonable; and that we hoped his Majesty would be pleased to await their coming, so as to be able to judge fairly of their disposition. To this his Majesty replied, that he was well satisfied, and that we might now dismiss that Pietrasanta affair, as well as the other matters that remained to be settled; and thereupon we took our leave. We did not think it advisable to bring up the affair of the Marquis of Massa, for the reason that nothing relating to your Lordships’ interests or to those of your adherents, would be listened to here, until the departure of the ambassadors is positively known here, owing to the doubts entertained of your real intentions. Moreover, as the Cardinal d’Amboise is not here, nothing would be concluded without him, even if all else were favorable for us. Therefore it seemed to us prudent to defer a discussion of that subject until a more suitable time, when it could be done with greater advantage and less risk for your Lordships.
Since then we have had a long conference with Monseigneur d’Alby, of the same tenor as that with his Majesty the king. His Lordship professed quite an affectionate regard for our republic, and a readiness to do anything that might be to our advantage, but said that, if your Lordships wished that he and your other friends should be able to do so, then you must make up your minds to refund the king the money which he has paid out for your account, and arrange so that something positive should be heard as to the coming of the ambassadors. And then he enlarged upon the subject, showing how much umbrage it had given to his Majesty that your former ambassadors had left at the very time when ambassadors should have been sent, if none had been here; and that the king had on several occasions said, “The Florentines are drawing off from me, and I am sorry for them.” We replied to his remarks about the money the same as we had replied to his Majesty, and excused the going away of the ambassadors; saying at the same time that he would see that your Lordships would send others, and men of such high character that his Majesty would be convinced that your Lordships desired to be regarded as good children to him, the same as they had ever been. He evinced great pleasure at hearing this, and thus we left him, unable to obtain any other answer from him in relation to the Pietrasanta affair than what we had already obtained from the king; unless it be that a person familiar with all the secrets had intimated to him that, by agreeing to refund to his Majesty the money which he had paid out, we might possibly obtain Pietrasanta; and he gave us to understand that it was almost as good as done, provided there was no delay in the coming of the ambassadors.
This is all we have been able to do in the matter; nor will it be in our power to do more, for the reasons explained in our former despatch, and repeated in this. We ask the indulgence of the Almighty and of your Lordships on that account; for to remove the impression that has been created here by our disunion, by our alienation from France, and by our weakness, requires new remedies, and greater authority than we possess. We shall continue, as we have done heretofore, to do our best to prevent the conclusion of any treaty with the Lucchese, or any one else, before the arrival of your ambassadors; but it is essential that we should hear within ten or fifteen days that they have actually started, and that we should be able to show a letter to that effect to his Majesty the king; for when the Cardinal d’Amboise returns, who ought to be here within that time, and does not find that your ambassadors are really on the way hither, it may easily happen that they will not be able to accomplish any good when they do arrive. We beg your Lordships in your wisdom to think of this, and to do what will be of greatest advantage to our republic; also to excuse our presumption on account of our devotion, which makes us speak as we have done. We learn, moreover, to-day that Monsignore di Ligni is coming here in the course of a few days. Some say that he will be accompanied by Piero de’ Medici; so that if this enemy joins the others, who are already quite powerful enough, and if your Lordships do not take care to prevent his Majesty from giving ear to them, the danger to our republic will be increased twofold.
We know nothing of what Monseigneur de Beaumont has had to communicate to your Lordships by his envoy to you, Salient, and therefore can say nothing on the subject; but should anything come to light in relation to it, we will at once inform your Lordships.
The affairs of Italy are more discussed here than those of any other country, and yet we have nothing new to write, for we do not deem it necessary to make your Lordships read again what you know already. In truth, nothing new has occurred here, unless it be the report that ambassadors from the Emperor of Germany are now on the way here; but they are said to be men of little importance, and are not the same that were at first nominated, and to meet whom the king had left Lyons to go to Troyes.
The ambassadors of the king of Naples, however, are said to be coming, notwithstanding that they have been several times ordered to return home, and are in doubt whether to come or return; although at present their coming seems to be the most likely. We shall know by to-morrow what the result will be. Bene valete!
Francesco della Casa,
Melun, 8 September, 1500.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Our last of the 8th instant was a reply to two of your Lordships’ communications of the 14th and 30th ultimo; and although we suppose that our despatch has reached your hands safely, yet we deem it well to send a duplicate. Nothing special has occurred since, nor have we anything else to write beyond what we have already said to your Lordships; namely, that if you wish to preserve the friendship of his Majesty of France, you must make up your minds to reimburse him the amounts which he claims to have paid out for your account to the Swiss and the other troops employed in the siege of Pisa. And this comes to our ears from so many quarters that in our judgment there is really no other remedy; for in matters of this kind his Majesty would demand the same satisfaction, if the amount were only one hundred francs, as he does for the thirty-eight thousand francs which he claims. And so long as his Majesty has such a subject of complaint against your Lordships, it will be useless to argue, or to think of obtaining the least thing in your favor. After this it is of the utmost importance that the ambassadors should come here to remove the opinion entertained here, and which has been suggested to the court here, as to your Lordships’ alienation from the king and the want of union amongst yourselves, to which two causes the departure of the former ambassadors and the non-arrival of the new ones are attributed. Every day fresh rumors are set afloat here; at one moment it is that you have sent ambassadors to the Turk, at another it is to the Emperor of Germany. We do our best to contradict these reports everywhere, but shall not be able to do so any more, if the departure of your ambassadors to his Majesty is delayed any longer. We desire to do our duty in calling your Lordships’ attention to this, and to repeat doing so very often, so that in any event we may never be charged with having neglected our mission in this particular. And we tell your Lordships frankly that our labors here can be of no further advantage, for which we have given you the most conclusive reasons.
At another interview which we have had with Monseigneur d’Alby, for the purpose of contradicting the report that your Lordships had sent ambassadors to the Emperor, etc., he declined to speak on any other subject except the money which his Majesty had paid out for your account, and to inquire of us whether the ambassadors had yet left Florence to come here. We desire, moreover, not to fail to remind you, with all due respect for your Lordships, of the importance of making some one here your friend, who from other motives than mere natural affection will watch your Lordships’ interests here, and will occupy himself in your behalf, and of whose services those who may be here as your agents may avail themselves for your advantage. We will not discuss here any further why and how necessary this is. You have in Florence many distinguished and wise citizens, who have been here as ambassadors, and who can give you better reasons than we can for such a measure. But we will only say upon this point, that it is with just such weapons that the Pisans defend themselves, and that the Lucchese attack you; and that the Venetians and King Frederick, as well as all others who have any business to transact at this court, help themselves; and whoever does not do the same may be said to think of gaining a lawsuit without paying an attorney.
Corcou has returned here; we leave it to your Lordships to judge of his reason for coming back. He has made such a report of the state of things at Florence, that, if Messer Giulio Scurcigliati, on whom, as a disinterested party, some reliance can be placed, had not arrived since then, affairs there would seem to be turning to everybody’s advantage except that of your Lordships. As this Messer Giulio will have fully reported to you of all he has done, we will not weary you with giving an account of it, but shall confine ourselves merely to his request to recommend to your Lordships a lawsuit that is pending between himself and the heirs of Paolo Antonio Bandini, in relation to which his Majesty will also write you.
As we have already stated in our previous letter, ambassadors from Germany are on the way here; but they are personages of less importance than what was reported a couple of months ago. His Majesty the king leaves to-morrow for Blois; we shall follow him there, hoping for the news that your Lordships’ ambassadors have really started. We shall continue with the utmost diligence to do all in our power for your advantage, and humbly recommend ourselves to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Francesco della Casa,
Melun, 14 September, 1500.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
On the 14th instant Francesco della Casa and myself wrote you our last joint despatch from Melun, and sent it with a duplicate of our previous one of the 8th, which was in reply to your Lordships’ two letters of the 16th and 30th ultimo. These were sent by royal post to Lyons to Francesco Martelli, under cover directed to Giovanni Martelli; we presume they have reached you, as also the original sent in the same way. From these letters, as well as from our previous one, which we sent by express messenger on the 3d instant, we think your Lordships will have fully understood the condition in which our affairs here are at the present time; also the extent of our ability to be of use here, and how very necessary it is to have started the ambassadors from Florence; also what determination you ought to come to with regard to the thirty-eight thousand francs, and whether it is your wish to temporize in this matter in the hope of obtaining anything from his Majesty. You will have learnt also how much importance the king attaches to this matter, and in what manner he speaks of it. We are in hourly expectation of letters that will bring us the information that your ambassadors have really started; for we are daily questioned upon this subject, and could have desired, as we have stated to your Lordships, to have been able to show such letters to the Cardinal d’Amboise on his return, so as to remove the dangers to which we are daily exposed of the king’s concluding some treaty prejudicial to the interests of our republic, and to close the mouths of your enemies, who employ every argument to prove to his Majesty that your Lordships are ready to turn their backs upon him on the first occasion; adding thereto the statement that you have sent an envoy to the Emperor of Germany, and have come to a secret understanding with the king of Naples; all of which it is easy to make his Majesty believe, for the reasons given in our former despatches.
His Majesty left Melun on the 14th instant to come here, as we wrote to your Lordships in our last; and Francesco della Casa went at the same time to Paris, being troubled with a slight fever, which he desired to have cured before the malady should become permanent; but according to what he writes me, he will be back very shortly. The king arrived here six days ago, and to-day the Cardinal d’Amboise also came, having been absent from here and at his own home since the 3d of this month. When I heard yesterday morning that his Eminence was coming, I thought it well promptly to mount and meet him where he was to lodge over night, both by way of showing him the courtesy of riding out to meet him, as also to have the opportunity of conversing with him at my convenience. It was thus that I came last night to a village about eight leagues from here, but as it was already late, I deferred speaking to his Eminence until this morning; and then I accosted him on the road, and in the most suitable and affectionate words that occurred to me I made known to him the sad condition in which your Lordships found yourselves, on account of the heavy expense which you had been obliged to incur in the past solely on account of France, and lately also in aiding his Majesty in his enterprise against Milan, and since then in the attempt upon Pisa; and that, whilst you were hoping at least to have his Majesty’s sympathy and to be able again to begin to recover your forces and your credit, you find yourselves daily assailed and discouraged by various calumnies, your reputation blackened, and all sorts of plots set on foot against you; so that every Italian here is encouraged to raise his hand against our republic. I related to him the loss of Librafatta, and that Vitellozzo, Baglioni, and the Orsini were up in arms, and that it was the general belief that they intended to employ them against your Lordships. And therefore I begged his Eminence not to withdraw his protection from you, but rather to persist in persuading his Majesty the king to treat you like his own children, and to do so in a manner that would make it known to everybody; and thereby to restore your credit and reputation, which it would be easy to do by the mere restitution to us of Pietrasanta, etc.
His Eminence replied with some feeling and at length, and argued that there had been no default on the part of his Majesty in complying with the terms of the treaty, and that he had loaned you his men-at-arms, and had offered to resume the attempt upon Pisa de novo, and afterwards to maintain troops on the Pisan territory; but that none of his propositions had been accepted by your Lordships; and that as to Librafatta you had only to blame yourselves, and not his Majesty, who had really good cause for complaining because of the money which he had to pay for your account, contrary even to the treaty stipulations. And then his Eminence went on speaking at length, and said that your Lordships did not act prudently, and would not make reparation in time, and that by and by you would not be able to do so. He asked whether the ambassadors had started, and the causes why their coming had been delayed so long, etc., etc. To all this I replied as fully as possible, earnestly contesting every point excepting the subject of the money, upon which he would listen to no argument, so that I was constrained, for the sake of not leaving the matter in dangerous suspense, to tell his Eminence that I had had an audience of his Majesty, and that, when the king complained of having been obliged to make this payment, I had begged his Majesty to be pleased to await the arrival of your ambassadors before coming to any determination, so that he might hear from them the justification of your Lordships and your devotion to his Majesty; and that, as the king had promised to be satisfied with this, I begged his Eminence to do the same, for I felt persuaded that the ambassadors had certainly started before this.
Thus your Lordships will see how your interests remain in suspense until the coming of your ambassadors. There was no other way of gaining time, and even this delay will quickly expire if they are not already on the way. Anyhow it cannot be said that we have failed to bring this matter to your notice, having written so often and so urgently to your Lordships about it, and pointed out to you that it was impossible for us to take any other course; and that, if your Lordships do not consent to the repayment of these thirty-eight thousand francs, all other thoughts of obtaining anything from his Majesty will be in vain; and that henceforth you will have to look upon him as your enemy. It may very possibly happen that, if we succeed in gaining time, the restitution of Pietrasanta may take place. Thus if your Lordships should fail either to send ambassadors here, or to advise us how we shall bear ourselves in this strait, and how we are to gain time in these matters, being without a single friend at court, having lost the favor of the king, who is surrounded by so many of your worst enemies, who present to him daily new projects, pointing out to him your weakness and the great advantages which he would derive from creating a state for himself around Pisa (as we have explained to you in previous despatches) and placing a governor there of tried fidelity, who, unable to maintain himself there except with the support of his Majesty, would of necessity be most loyally devoted to the king, — that then your Lordships, surrounded by the states of the king, would, without waiting for other forces, come to his Majesty with chains around your necks and lay a carte blanche at his feet. All these things are listened to, and there is danger lest they be carried into effect, as I have been given to understand by some one here. And what increases my apprehensions is, that, being lately at court, N. N. approached me, saying, “I have something to tell you; try and come to my house to-day.” I went there, and, finding him reticent and indisposed to say anything on any particular subject, I asked him why he had requested me to come to him, whereupon he said, “Are your ambassadors coming?” and when I replied that I believed they had started, he said, “If they are really coming they may be productive of good, and may prevent some acts that would be prejudicial to your Signoria.” But with my utmost efforts I could not draw anything more from his lips. I am greatly afraid, therefore, lest some secret intrigue is going on which the king may have so much at heart that this person was afraid to confide it to me. I have deemed it proper to write you all this exactly, so that your Lordships may judge of it more correctly than I can; and in any event to urge the coming of your ambassadors.
As already stated in our previous despatch, Italian affairs are much talked of here, and especially the army which the Pope has collected. But no one is able to say what direction it is going to take; whether it will march to the Romagna to attack Faenza, Rimini, and Pesaro, or whether it is intended to meet the Colonnesi. The latter is most generally believed, because that would best please his Majesty of France, and would also serve a better purpose with regard to the king of Naples; for if war be made against the allies of the latter, he would be compelled to defend them; and being thus weakened, it would be easier for his Majesty of France to make satisfactory terms with the king of Naples. Or if he should attempt the conquest of the kingdom of Naples, he would find success more easy. All of these matters I think must now be quite clear to your Lordships.
Respecting the coming of the ambassadors of the Emperor of Germany there are various reports; up to the present, it is not even known whether they have set foot on French soil. And it is evident that there is a slight feeling of uneasiness here with regard to Germany, which accounts for their giving just now less attention to Italian affairs, which may enable us more easily to temporize in your Lordships’ matters.
The departure of Monseigneur de Ligny from Lyons for Genoa has for some days kept all minds in a state of suspense, and is variously interpreted. Some say that he has been sent by the king on some particular business of his own, and perhaps having reference to Pisa; others say that he has gone entirely on his own account, being in love with the daughter of the governor of Genoa; and upon this point more things are said here than I could venture to affirm. But whether it be the one thing or the other, I shall leave to the better judgment of your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, 26 September, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
My last despatch to your Lordships was of the 26th ultimo. I therein related to you the arrival here of his Most Christian Majesty, and that I was left alone here in consequence of Francesco della Casa having gone sick to Paris; also that the Cardinal d’Amboise had returned, and my efforts in your behalf with his Eminence; and how essentially necessary it was that your ambassadors should come, if you wished to prevent altogether, or at least delay, the carrying into effect of some projects with regard to Pisa, as well as other intrigues carried on here to your prejudice.
I judge that my letters have reached you safely, for I sent them to Rinieri Dei at Lyons by a special messenger, who was despatched by the agent of Messer Giovanni Bentivogli. Since then I have received your Lordships’ last of the 20th ultimo, by the hands of one of the Prefect’s men, specially sent here for the reasons mentioned in your Lordships’ letter to me. So soon as I received it, I presented myself first before the king, and afterwards before the Cardinal d’Amboise, and communicated to them your Lordships’ instructions to me; and explained to them that the necessity of defending yourselves had obliged you to take men-at-arms into your pay, and to claim the services of the Prefect,* in conformity with the treaties between your Lordships and his Majesty the king. And although the Prefect’s envoy had already spoken both to the king and the Cardinal, yet his Majesty sent me back to the latter, not forgetting, however, first to ask me whether the ambassadors were coming, and to complain about the money which he had paid out. I replied in the very words of your Lordships’ letter; namely, that you informed me that you would not write me again except through the ambassadors, adding, however, that I was firmly persuaded that they would certainly present themselves before his Majesty within the month of October.
His Eminence the Cardinal spoke to me at length, and whilst doing so, he took Monseigneur d’Alby, who was present, by the arm, so that his Lordship might hear him, and said: “The conduct of the Florentines begins to be inexplicable. We offered to keep for their defence five hundred men-at-arms and fifteen hundred infantry, but they would not have them; we then offered them one hundred, or two hundred, or as many as they might deem necessary, but they declined them, and now they go begging for help from others.” And then he turned to me and said, “Secretary, I really know not what to say to you.” When I attempted to reply to the charge that we had refused their men-at-arms, etc., he added, that we knew well how to give reasons for our conduct, but that his Majesty had nevertheless been obliged to pay the money which ought to have been paid by your Lordships. And then he asked me whether the ambassadors were coming, to which I answered the same as I had done to his Majesty the king; namely, that they ought to be here in the course of the present month, if not sooner; and that they would prove that our fidelity to his Majesty had increased rather than otherwise, and could not but continue to increase; and that they would exculpate your Lordships from all the calumnies that were daily originated by those who wished no good to your Lordships, and still less to the honor of his Majesty the king. And when I finally asked his Eminence what I should write to your Lordships in regard to the Prefect, he replied that an agent of the Prefect’s had arrived, and that they would give him their answer, which was all I could get out of his Eminence. I have nothing further to write to your Lordships on this subject; but as this agent is about to return to the Cardinal San Pietro in Vincola, and will be the bearer of this letter, your Lordships will be able to get full information from Pietro Soderini. But I must not omit to tell your Lordships that, after my conversation with the Cardinal d’Amboise, Robertet called me aside, and told me how much he had always had your interests at heart, and how he had always labored for your advantage, and that he had ever been ready to exert himself in your favor, and how grieved he was to see that you had abandoned your own cause; for that in so important and urgent a matter as the present, your not having ambassadors here gives offence to everybody, and is regarded as the result either of disunion amongst yourselves, or of discontent with the state of things here, or because you have not been well informed on the subject. For reason alone demanded that the ambassadors should have been sent here by post, so as to prevent the adoption by his Majesty of some unfriendly resolution, which is daily urged upon him. To all this I answered as for the moment seemed to me most suitable, affirming again that the present month would not pass without seeing the ambassadors here; and that everything would be satisfactorily arranged, provided there was no determination to wrong your Lordships anyhow, which I did not believe, etc., etc.
As I have already said in my former letter, Italian affairs are more talked about than anything else, and more particularly the Pope’s enterprise, which, as I wrote you in my last, was believed to be intended against the Colonnesi. But now we understand that it is just the contrary, and that the purpose is to march to the Romagna. I can say nothing further on the subject, but your Lordships are in a position to know the truth of the matter better than myself. I will merely say that everything is conceded to the Pontiff, more from an unwillingness on the part of the king to oppose the Pope’s unbridled desires, than from any wish to see him victorious; for Messer Giovanni Bentivogli has been written to, with the king’s special approval, to do all in his power for the defence of Faenza, and to act in the matter as a good relative, etc., etc.
I have nothing new to write to your Lordships respecting the embassy from Germany, for we do not yet know exactly when it is likely to arrive; his Majesty himself is altogether in doubt about it. The only thing of interest is that the Venetian ambassador is here to solicit aid against the Turk, more especially now since the loss of Modone and Corone is clearly known. Long consultations have been held on the subject, but as yet it is not known what conclusion has been come to. It was proposed to levy a tithe upon the priests, which formerly had been entirely consumed by the receivers, and which his Majesty intends to revive. With all this the Venetian ambassador is not very well satisfied.
Your Lordships must have heard that the Grand Turk has sent ambassadors to his Majesty here, to reply to the complaints which the king had communicated to the Turk through a herald, and how the Grand Master of Rhodes had placed this herald on the footing of an ambassador, by way of giving him more importance. Upon their arrival at Venice, the Turkish ambassadors were dismissed by his Majesty, at the request of the Venetians, who gave them to understand that they would not be welcome without full power to conclude a peace; and that they must not advance any further, but return whence they had come. His Majesty has since then repented this very much, having been informed that the Venetians had urged this advice upon him, so that he might not hear of the intrigues they were carrying on with the Turk adverse to his Majesty. The Grand Master of Rhodes was also greatly irritated, inasmuch as it was mainly upon his solicitations that the Turk had sent this embassy, and it is said that he has sent one of his knights here to accuse the Venetians, and to treat them as enemies. This is the reason why the aid asked by the Venetians of his Majesty is deferred, and that it will certainly not be rendered in time for this year.
I mention this matter very briefly, so as not to weary your Lordships’ patience, as I take it for granted that you have received from other sources more detailed and accurate accounts of the greater part of this affair.
I recommend myself most humbly to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, 2 October, 1500.
P. S. — I can but rejoice at the re-establishment of the Magistracy of the Ten, and thank God for it. Let us hope much good from it; for from a better government we have the right to hope for happier results. I shall avail myself of this information as I may judge best for the credit of our republic.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My last was of the 2d instant, and was sent by the agent of the Prefect; and although I have at this moment nothing special to communicate to your Lordships, beyond what I have urged upon you in every despatch, and have actually persuaded myself that your ambassadors are on the way here, nevertheless their coming seems to me of such supreme importance that I do not hesitate to weary your Lordships with the same story by every messenger that leaves here. And what makes me do so with even increased energy is, to see your enemies every day inventing some new schemes for their own advantage. Not more than a couple of days since, a report was spread at court that your Lordships had recalled, under heavy penalties, all the Florentine merchants that are in France; and this report was confirmed by some Frenchmen just up from Lyons. And although such things carry their justification with them so far as you are concerned, nevertheless they are heard, and together with other rumors that are set afloat every day they produce a bad impression. Until now we have kept these rumors in check by assuring the court of the near arrival of the ambassadors, through whom his Majesty will learn the good spirit that animates you in all things possible and reasonable for your Lordships. This has in part satisfied them, but if the actual departure of the ambassadors from Florence does not become known here very soon, I cannot foresee the consequences, but doubt much whether it will be anything to your advantage. On the other hand, however, if they do come, then I shall hope for good results, if anything good can be hoped for from here; for his Majesty the king has been very much annoyed for the last few days by the German affairs; for the embassy that was expected from there with so much solemnity will either not come at all, or will be reduced to a simple herald, or some other personage of similar rank. Since then we see manifest signs of doubts and suspicions; such as the ordering of three hundred lances into Lombardy again; the drawing closer to the Pope, and attaching more importance to it than usual; and where, as I stated in my last, Giovanni Bentivogli had been directed to act like a good relation with regard to Faenza, he has now been written to just the contrary, with special injunctions not to render any assistance whatever to that city. Moreover, they greatly favor the requests made by the Pope of the Venetians, namely, that they confer upon his son the Duke Valentino the title of Captain-General of their armies and the rank of gentleman, and give him a palace in Venice; all of which they hope to obtain. His Majesty’s conduct towards the Venetians is very much in the same style; he promises them more decidedly than he has ever done before to render them assistance against the Turk. And therefore I believe that the same causes will also place your Lordships upon a more favorable footing with his Majesty, provided that your ambassadors arrive here promptly; for the above-mentioned apprehensions with regard to Germany will not fail in their effects, nor are they likely to be removed, provided you will take advantage of this chance, as seems to me most reasonable. But if it does not very soon become known that your ambassadors are really coming, then his Majesty will be more inclined to believe the calumnies of your enemies than our justifications. Everything depends upon the faith which his Majesty may have as to their coming or not; and should he once think that you are his enemies, then he will take care that you shall not be able to injure him. I therefore pray your Lordships, with the utmost respect, that you will not fail of your duty to our republic in this matter; and that you will not be satisfied to have the ambassadors come in the ordinary way, but that they come by post at least as far as Lyons, for the importance of the matter merits every possible effort.
For the past three or four days it has been rumored that his Majesty will leave here to go to Nantes, — not to remain there however very long, his intention being to proceed to Lyons; but I cannot say anything positive upon this or many other subjects, because the plans and resolutions are changed almost every hour. Your Lordships will therefore pardon me if you should find some contradictions in my letters.
I shall not write at length about relieving my own necessities, for your Lordships know that on my leaving Florence I had but eighty ducats, of which I spent thirty to come here by post. At Lyons I had to renew my entire outfit, and have to keep here three horses at the hostelry; and without money nothing can be done.
I recommend myself most humbly to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, October 8, 1500.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My last was of the 7th instant, in which I reported to your Lordships all that had occurred of interest up to the day. I had previously sent two other despatches, one of the 26th ultimo, and the other of the 2d instant; which I presume have safely reached your hands. Since then I have received your Lordship’s letters of the 26th ultimo, with report of the state of things in Florence. After carefully reading and examining their contents, and particularly all that relates to the coming of the ambassadors, and to the calumnies circulated about your Lordships, and to the arrangements of the Genoese for seizing Pietrasanta, I called upon his Eminence the Cardinal d’Amboise, as his Majesty had gone to a village some eight leagues from here, where he was going to pass the evening. And although it was hardly worth while to take much trouble to justify your Lordships from the calumnies, having already done so on previous occasions, to the extent that both his Majesty the king and the Cardinal had promised me to await the arrival of your ambassadors to know the truth and come to some decision, and that I could rather have wished to be able to announce the positive departure of the ambassadors from Florence; nevertheless, encouraged by your Lordships’ letters, I made it a point to declare to his Eminence your Lordships’ disposition, intentions, and desires; and demonstrated to him also how utterly without foundation were the calumnies spread about your Lordships, and in what evil disposition they had their origin; and in fact, that it was the calumniators, rather than the calumniated, who ought to be looked after. I furthermore said to his Eminence, that the future would prove the truth of all this, even if the past were insufficient to do so; and that his Majesty the king, as well as his Eminence himself, would be fully satisfied upon all these points, when your Lordships’ ambassadors should arrive here; and that these ambassadors were on the point of starting, and would assuredly be here in the course of this month. I begged his Eminence, at the same time, to keep his Majesty in his present favorable disposition, and to abide the arrival of the ambassadors, and not to listen to evil tongues, nor to come to any decision for the present, as in fact his Eminence had on a former occasion promised.
I then proceeded to speak of the Pietrasanta affair, and related to his Eminence the reports started by the Genoese, of their having a concession, etc.; I told him of the attempt which their commissary had made, and the injuries which your vassals had suffered at his hands. His Eminence listened patiently to all I said, without particularly replying to any one point; but suddenly he entered upon the same subject upon which he had already spoken to me several times, as reported by me to your Lordships; namely, that his Majesty was exceedingly displeased by your having refused to resume the war against Pisa, by your declining his offer of men-at-arms, and by your unwillingness to refund the money which he had paid to the Swiss and for artillery, etc., etc.; and that for that reason no thought could be given to your affairs, nor could anything be said in your favor. I replied, that as to your refusal to resume the war against Pisa, and the non-acceptance of the troops, I had no other excuse to offer than what I had already presented on former occasions; namely, as to the first, the actual impossibility of your doing so; and as to the latter, the bad disposition of those very troops; and I added that these excuses were so well founded, that neither his Majesty the king nor his Eminence himself could or ought to think differently. And as to the third point of complaint, namely, the money, that I had entreated his Majesty to await the arrival of the ambassadors, who were ready to start, and had instructions to satisfy his Majesty; and that if he wished to see your Lordships’ letters on that subject, I was prepared to show them to him. To this his Eminence replied in the precise following words: “Dixisti, verum est; sed erimus mortui antequam oratores veniant; sed conabimur ut alii prius moriantur.”* And when I replied that the time was short, and that there could be no loss by waiting, he said, “Come back here to-day at three o’clock in the afternoon, and you shall then know the king’s intentions, and the course which these things must take.”
The Cardinal left his house whilst talking to me, and continued his remarks on the way to church; and when we reached the chapel we found Messer Giulio Scurcigliati there waiting for the Cardinal, who, so soon as he saw him, called him, and said that he wished him to be present at this last interview between us, and that he would be obliged to him if he would return with me to his house at three o’clock; for knowing his devotion to your Lordships, he wanted him to be present and hear what was said. And thereupon I took my leave, his Eminence being very angry at what I had told him about Pietrasanta; and he immediately directed Robertet to write to Genoa and give orders that no Genoese should be allowed to enter Pietrasanta; and also to write to Beaumont to give strict orders to the commandant of the citadel to be well upon his guard, and under no circumstances to have any dealings with the Genoese. To the first letter he added a paragraph about the restitution of the stolen cattle, and to enjoin upon the people the preservation of good relations with their neighbors, etc. However, I shall endeavor to obtain a special letter upon this subject, and will send it to your Lordships.
In accordance with the Cardinal’s request, I returned to his house at three o’clock, and presented myself before his Eminence, and found Messer Giulio there. His Eminence spoke for more than half an hour, beginning with complaints of your obstinacy before the first treaty was concluded with his Majesty of France; and how badly your Lordships afterwards observed the stipulations of that treaty; and how tardy you had always been in all matters; and blaming us in a measure for the money spent in the recovery of Milan, after the revolt of that city. After that he came to the new treaty made with Pietro Soderini at Milan, and to the army that had been directed against Pisa; and how, from his affection for you, his Majesty’s arms had suffered dishonor in that affair; and how you had always lagged behind on every occasion of danger, although you had shown yourselves very brave in refusing to pay one farthing of the money for the Swiss and the artillery, etc., leaving it all to be paid by his Majesty. And finally he concluded by saying, that he was willing to forget all the other things, but that it was indispensable for your Lordships to decide upon refunding that money to his Majesty; that there was not a day but what the Lucchese, the Genoese, and the Pisans came about his Majesty’s ears with offers of large sums of money, without agreement or obligations of any kind; which his Majesty could not but admire, seeing on the one hand their excellent disposition, and noting on the other hand your obstinacy, first in refusing to pay despite your obligations under the treaty, and your delay now in putting off to do anything under pretence of waiting for the new ambassadors. “But I tell you,” said he, “from the affection which I have for your republic, although of course not equal to that which I have for the king, that these ambassadors of yours can neither negotiate, nor will they be listened to upon any point, unless payment is first made of the amount due to his Majesty; and if it is not understood that such is your intention, write therefore at once to your Signoria, for we do not wish to remain any longer in suspense upon this point, and let them understand that, whether they choose to be friends or enemies, in any event they will have to pay. But if you remain our friends, as you will if you are wise, his Majesty will pass Christmas at Lyons, and Easter at Milan. Up to the present he has sent two thousand lances into Italy, and over six thousand infantry, of those who have already been there; and we shall see whether Pisa will resist him, and whether those who oppose him are stronger than he is. His friends will know then that he is king, and that his promises will be strictly carried out.” And then, turning to Robertet, his Eminence told him to have the accounts got ready, and to give them to me, so that I might forward them to your Lordships.
Your Lordships will judge whether it would have been possible for me to have made a reply to such a proposition, even if I had been able to constrain them to listen to me with patience. Therefore I judged it best to confine my remarks to touching upon the most necessary points; I could not, however, refrain from saying that the fact of his Eminence complaining of all your Lordships’ actions, and particularly of those that really deserved the highest encomiums, encouraged me also to complain of the Pietrasanta business, and that the restitution of that place to your Lordships had not been made according to the terms of the treaty. This stirred and vexed his Eminence, who said that that was another business altogether; but that all this would be arranged provided your Lordships did not fail in the performance of your obligations. I continued the conversation, and said that I would attempt no further justification of your Lordships, nor weary myself by repeating what had been so often discussed and demonstrated, namely, that no default had ever been made by your Lordships in the performance of your engagements; nor would I say anything more respecting the last point, upon which depended his Majesty’s favorable or unfavorable disposition towards us, than what I had always said until now, namely, that the ambassadors were coming, and would give full satisfaction to the king, provided he demanded nothing unreasonable or impossible. For to demand either the one or the other could only be regarded as an attempt to injure our republic, which I could not believe was intended, because it would be injuring the best friends which his Majesty had in all Italy. I begged his Eminence not to give so ready an ear to the promises of the Genoese, the Lucchese, and the Pisans; and said that he ought not to listen to anything but what was to the honor of his Majesty the king, and to such promises as were likely to be fulfilled; and that he ought to consider whether a small present advantage was preferable to a great and continued benefit. But that I would report everything fully to your Lordships; and that the reply would be in the same spirit that had always been manifested by our republic, which by the heavy and fruitless expenditures to which she had been so long subjected ought to have extinguished all jealousy henceforward, and ought to excite compassion instead.
His Eminence replied to the last part of my remarks, that his Majesty the king regretted the sufferings to which our republic had been exposed, but could take no other action than what he had done; nor could it be reasonably expected that he should submit to a loss by paying out his own money. He advised me to write you at once, and that they would await your reply provided it was not delayed too long; that they wanted acts, having no longer any faith in words; and that the king’s friendship could only be preserved by your paying the amount in question, whilst to refuse it would provoke his enmity. And thereupon I took my leave.
Magnificent Signori, the enclosed memorandum will show you the amount that is claimed, and the reasons why you are held responsible for it. You will find that it comprises the amount which you are to pay for account of the Signor Lodovico, and for which you are held responsible the same as for the other items.* I have taken the memorandum just as it was brought to me, not wishing to examine the calculations, nor to make any further objections, as it would have been of no use to have done so, but might rather have made the condition of our case worse in some respects. I could truly wish this letter had wings, so as to enable me to have a prompt reply; but know not how to manage, having never received any instructions as to what to do in case it should become necessary to send a special courier. I shall pray the Almighty to aid me, and if I can find any one who will carry this despatch, I shall devote to it what little money I may yet have.
I have nothing further to say to your Lordships, unless it be to entreat you, with the utmost respect, to let me have your answer promptly, and, if you resolve to pay, then to prove it by deeds; for I doubt whether they will wait much longer, mainly on account of German affairs, which cause them a good deal of apprehension here, as mentioned in a former letter, and which has made them draw nearer to the Venetians and to the Pope. I want to see now how they will behave towards your Lordships, and how they will employ the money which they demand of you, or what they may obtain from others in the event of your refusing to pay; and how, in case you declare yourselves their enemies, they will act so as to render you harmless. But they are not willing at the same time to be in uncertainty as to your intentions, and leave Pisa open for any one to go in who may be disposed to make war upon them. Your Lordships will also remember, from all we have written, and from the conduct of the court since we have been here, that neither the king nor the Cardinal ever descended actually to ask us for the money, or to name their conditions to us as they are doing at present; but that they only complained to us on the subject on every occasion and in every place, and that they have entertained the Lucchese, have had dealings and close relations with the Pisans and the Genoese, and openly threatened your Lordships. It was this that induced me to go to the Cardinal and to express to him my surprise at his pretended dissatisfaction, and at the treaties that were being negotiated without reference or notice to your Lordships. And when I pressed his Eminence warmly as to what I should write to your Lordships, he refused to give me a definite reply, and referred me to Corcou, as I wrote you fully in my letter of the 3d of September. Then came your Lordships’ letters of the 30th of August, which afforded me the opportunity to speak of the coming of your ambassadors; and since then all my efforts have been devoted to urging your Lordships to hasten their departure, and to keeping matters here in suspense until their arrival. And what has occurred since then is reported above in this despatch. I have not deemed it amiss to make this little recapitulation, so that your Lordships may form a better idea of the state of things here, and may thus be enabled to determine what course will be for the greatest advantage to our republic.
I have no further news to communicate, unless it be that two days since there arrived here an ambassador from the Marquis of Mantua, together with one from the Marquis of Ferrara, and likewise an ambassador from the king of Naples. From this your Lordships will not fail in your wisdom to see that they all have more fear of this king than faith in each other; notwithstanding that Mantua is situated in a lake, and that the king of Naples has the Turk for his neighbor and is on good terms with the Emperor of Germany. I must therefore beg your Lordships again, with the utmost respect, to reflect well upon your answer, and to let me have it as quickly as possible. And yet Robertet has intimated to me that his Majesty the king will send some one to settle these matters; but as the Cardinal has not said anything to me on the subject, I cannot affirm the truth of it. Nor should I advise your Lordships to delay your answer on that account, for I am in daily fear lest something be resolved upon here that would make your answer come too late, and that thus you might be obliged to pay the amount in question without deriving any advantage from it, and without preserving the king’s friendship; and in that case our ambassadors would have to come here on wings to be able to ameliorate our situation in any degree, even if that be possible. Above all things, therefore, is it essential to act with the utmost promptitude, and hasten the time of the ambassadors’ departure.
Being unable to find any one willing to share in the expense of sending a special courier, or to pay the whole cost of it myself, I have been obliged to despatch it by the king’s post, and to direct it to Nasi at Lyons, at the cost of one franc; and have written him, for the love which he bears to our republic, promptly to forward it by special messenger, in case no regular courier is despatched from Lyons; and that your Lordships will reimburse him for it, and in case you do not, then to charge the cost of it to me. I pray your Lordships, therefore, to repay Nasi the amount which he has expended, and of which he will inform you; so that he may be willing to render us similar service on future occasions, and so that I may not be afraid to ask it of him, or that I may not have to pay it out of my private means.
I recommend myself to the good graces of your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, 11 October, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
This is the 14th of the month, and his Most Christian Majesty has resolved to send Odoardo Bugliotto, one of his body servants, and bearer of this, to learn more fully your Lordships’ intentions with regard to the money which he claims from you, as I have explained at length to your Lordships in my despatch of the 11th instant, which, for want of other facilities, I sent by the royal post to Nasi at Lyons, with instructions to forward it with all possible speed to your Lordships. There is no occasion for me to repeat what I have written before, inasmuch as the bearer of this will inform you fully as to the king’s intentions, and will supply any omissions I may have made. I will only repeat what the Cardinal d’Amboise told me, viz.: “That, friends or enemies, we would have to pay, and that thus your real intentions would be made known by your acts, for words and promises would no longer satisfy them.” Assuming that your Lordships have received my letters, and moreover as you will hear what the bearer of this will have to say, your Lordships will decide with your habitual prudence as to the course which it will be best to pursue. But I beg your Lordships, amongst other things in connection with this matter, to take some measures that will oblige the person who comes to you, if he cannot or will not favor your cause in any other way, at least to write the truth when he reports to the king. For the unfavorable reports that have been sent here on previous occasions are to a great degree the reasons that have provoked the anger of the king, and of the bad condition in which your interests are here at present.
Nothing further occurs to me to write, except to recommend myself humbly to the good graces of your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, 14 October, 1500.
His Majesty the king leaves this morning for Nantes, where he will remain a few days, and then return by way of Lyons, etc.
Magnificent Signori: —
Having written to your Lordships on the 11th instant, and stated at length all that his Eminence the Cardinal had said to me respecting the money they claim that your Lordships ought to pay, etc.; and having since then repeated the same in my despatch of the 14th, sent by the hands of Odoardo Bugliotto, who was sent to Florence by the king for a similar purpose, I should not have had occasion to write again to your Lordships, were it not that your despatch of the 3d instant had been received, which informs me of the nomination of Pier Francesco Tosinghi, and that he is to start on the 10th or 12th instant. Nothing could have given me more pleasure to learn, for the reasons which I have so repeatedly written to your Lordships, as well as on account of the distinguished character of the man, from whom we may hope for such fruit as it may still be possible to gather on this soil. And although since it was decided to send Odoardo to Florence I have not been so harassed every day about the delay in the arrival of the ambassadors, yet it seemed to me well to inform his Eminence the Cardinal what your Lordships have written me, namely, that the ambassador was to start, and must at the present moment be near Lyons; adding such words of my own as seemed to me suited to calm his feelings. His Eminence replied to me, in a few words, that it was well, and that the ambassador ought to hasten his journey. He asked me why there was only one ambassador, which I readily explained, although I do not know but what they may take umbrage at it; for your Lordships’ enemies here will not fail to comment upon it in a dozen different ways. But I shall continue to be on my guard, and shall spare no efforts to justify your Lordships, if need be. His Eminence subsequently asked me again to write and urge you to come to a good resolution with regard to the money due to his Majesty, and to prove it by acts; assuring me that they had no longer any faith in fair words or promises, and that they should clearly know what to expect, so soon as they should hear from Bugliotto. I replied that I would do so with the utmost diligence, although it seemed to me unnecessary to urge your Lordships to do what was proper, or what you possibly could do in the interest of the king; to which his Eminence replied, that it would have to be proved by facts.
Your Lordships requestme to ascertain the condition of Messer Giovanni Bentivogli’s affairs here. Now, as all doubts as to the preservation of his state arise from the enterprise which the Pope is carrying on against the Romagna, I will begin my explanations with that. Your Lordships will remember that, soon after our first arrival here, we informed you how the Pope pressed the king to aid him in this attempt against the Romagna, and how the king procrastinated and kept the Pope along with promises. For being at that time still more hopeful as to the affairs of Germany, his Majesty wanted the Pope to employ his power against the Colonnesi, as was then generally believed, for the reasons which we wrote you in some of our former communications. And the king had given his consent that, if the Pope should nevertheless attempt this attack upon theRomagna, Messer Giovanni Bentivogli should act the part of a relative, inasmuch as his Majesty had not yet charged the Venetians, as he has done since, to give up the protection of the Romagna. But as since then the ambassadors of the German Emperor have not arrived, and as his Majesty is in daily apprehension of being attacked, he was, as it were, forced to consent to the Pope’s carrying out his plans against the Romagna. For inall the possible events that may occur in Italy, his Majesty counts more upon the Pope than upon any of the other Italian potentates; partly because the Pontiff has always proved himself better armed than any other, and has suffered less from wars hitherto, and has fewer obstacles to surmount, and is moreover head of the Church, etc., etc. The Cardinal d’Amboise aims also at the same mark; for he, beingreally the man that governs, has drawn upon himself the envy and enmity of all the other powerful lords, and therefore hopes through the Pope’s influence so to increase his own credit as to be able the better to resist the envy of the others. It is said, even, that in the creation of the new legates on account of the Turkish affairs the Pope will name the Cardinal his legate for France.
The Venetians also, being afraid of the Turk, and advised by the king to give up the protection of the towns of the Romagna, have done so readily; hoping that the Pope would move all Christian potentates in their favor. They judge moreover, that they will not lose much if those towns were to fall into the hands of the Duke Valentino, as they have taken him under their protection, and have adopted him as their son, and, as is generally supposed, will make him Captain-General of their forces.
Now the well-known insatiable rapacity of the Pope makes everybody here suppose that the same reasons that have made his Majesty and the Venetians yield their consent to the Pope’s attempt upon the Romagna will also cause them to consent to his attempt uponMesser Giovanni Bentivogli. And fearing this, Messer Giovanni, together with the Duke of Ferrara, have made the greatest efforts to induce his Majesty to consent to their rendering assistance to their friends of the Romagna; and it is only quite lately that Monseigneur d’Aubigny, at their request, sent one of his men here expressly for that purpose; who, however, could obtain no further answerfrom his Majesty, than that he could not interfere, as it was a matter of the Church, and that he could not consent to his allies making any opposition to her. And quite lately, when the envoy of Messer Giovanni spoke to his Majesty on the subject, and pointed out to him the danger to which his lord would be exposed, unless he could depend upon his Majesty’s protection in the event of the Pope’s succeeding in his present under-taking, he obtained, after much talking, the following reply: “That when it had come to the point that the Pontiff was actuallyabout to attack Messer Giovanni, that then hisMajesty would hear the reasons of the Pope and of Messer Giovanni, and would then decide against whoever was in the wrong.” This is in fact all that can be learnt here in relation to Messer Giovanni’s affairs; and as I have it from the best authority, I believe it to be the truth.
I have notyet said anything to your Lordships about Agostino Semenza, for the reason that several days ago Giulio Scurcigliati received letters from Messer Antonio Cola, an agent of the Prefect of Rome, informing him of the coming of this envoy, but giving at the same time much more importance to his mission, and a reply highly favorable to affairs here. But as I reported that information fully in a former communication, it seems to me not worth while to bring it up again now.
I stated to Messer Giulio your Lordships’ favorable disposition towards him, on account of the good services which he has rendered, etc. He thanks your Lordships, and entreats you again to expedite his business. He has never himself written to your Lordships, but has always made every occurrence of interest here promptlyknown to his particular friends in Florence.
Since his Majesty’s arrival here a number of high personages have come here, amongst them Monseigneur de Ligny, Monseigneur de la Tremouille, the Prince of Orange, etc., but not a word has been said about German affairs; nevertheless, there are great apprehensions upon that point; and so soon as the Ogni Santi (All Saints) is over, the court will at once move from here to Lyons.
The ambassadors from Naples are supposed to have arrived at Lyons, and the marriage between the Princess, daughter of King Frederick, and Monsignor della Roccia, is regarded as definitely arranged. The Cardinale di San Severino is expected here.* Beyond this I have nothing to write, but to recommend myself to the good graces of your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
From Nantes in Brittany, 25 October, 1500.
P. S. — I was just about to seal this despatch when Ugolino Martelli received a letter from Lyons, informing him, amongst other things, that the thirty-five scudi, which he had to pay for expediting my despatch of the 3d September from Melun, had not yet been refunded to him; and that Giovanni Martelli had written that he had as much as given it up. He complains very much to me about it, and I can only say in reply, that he is entirely right, and that I would write to your Lordships about it. I entreat you, therefore, so to arrange this matter that I may not have to pay it myself; and that, should occasion arise, I may not be compelled to do as it happened to me once at Blois, where I was obliged to send an important despatch by the king’s post as far as Lyons. Valete!
Magnificent and Illustrious Signori, etc., etc.: —
Although I hardly think it necessary to ask your Lordships for my leave, firmly believing that you will have sent it to me by the ambassador, as my remaining here after his arrival would be superfluous; nevertheless the necessity for my being at Florence is so urgent that, in case my leave should not have been sent, I do not wish to be wanting to myself, and therefore entreat your Lordships with the utmost respect to be pleased to grant me that favor. For, as you are aware, my father died a month before my departure, and since then I have lost a sister; and my private affairs are so unsettled and without order, that my property is in every way actually going to waste. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will kindly grant my request, so that I may in some measure restore order to my own affairs. I should want to remain in Florence only one month, after which I am willing either to come back to France, or to go to any other place where it may please your Lordships to send me. I recommend myself most humbly to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Nantes, 25 October, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
Since writing my last of the 27th ultimo, I have received your Lordships’ letter of the 21st, which refers to some particulars of a despatch of the 10th which has not yet come to hand. I am therefore at a loss how to execute your Lordships’ orders. I have determined, nevertheless, to speak to the king and the Cardinal about your Lordships’ apprehensions on account of the rumors that have reached you from many quarters as to the evil disposition of the army of the Duke Valentino towards your Lordships; and how seriously this matter disturbs you, being without any organized force of men-at-arms. I therefore relied altogether upon his Majesty, and entreated him to be pleased to aid you with such means as he might deem necessary; and that on your part you would not fail to do everything in your power to save your liberty; and that if you were assailed by the Orsini and the Vitelli, you would seek to defend yourselves. His Majesty, being at the moment very much occupied, made no reply except that I should speak to the Cardinal d’Amboise about it. I therefore went immediately to see his Eminence, and spoke to him in the same sense as I had done to his Majesty; adding such further remarks in favor of your cause as the time permitted. He replied that he did not believe that the Pope would attempt to engage in any enterprise in Italy, without first conferring with his Majesty the king on the subject; and as he had not done so, he did not think the Pope would make any such attempt. But should he yet consult his Majesty, or attempt such an attack independently, then in the first case his Majesty would not give his consent, and in the latter he would lend you his assistance, provided you maintained your friendly relations with his Majesty. And then he began to complain again of the delay in the coming of your ambassadors, etc., etc. And as to the part of the Colonnesi, he reflected a moment, and then said, “Preserve the friendship of the king, and then you will not need his assistance; but if you lose his good graces, all the help will not suffice you.”
I replied in a becoming manner; but respecting the Lucchese it seemed to me best neither to touch upon that subject nor to make any further reply, for I did not want to irritate them more than what they are already until the arrival of your ambassador, hoping that his instructions may be satisfactory to the king, and that then we may be able to discuss the point in question more freely, particularly as, according to the time of his departure from Florence, the ambassador ought shortly to be here.
Afterwards, on All Souls’ Day, came your Lordships’ letter of the 10th ultimo, and, after carefully studying its contents, I returned again to the Cardinal, and explained to him briefly the causes of your apprehensions; and that it would be easy for the Duke Valentino, after once having taken Faenza, to make an attack upon Florence, and, having one of your rebels with him, it would not be difficult for him to make a hostile attempt against your liberties. Such an act would prove an injury to your Lordships and a dishonor to his Majesty. And we being his Majesty’s most devoted and trusted friends, it would be very proper for his Eminence to write to the Pope and to the Duke Valentino that whatever they might attempt against your Lordships would be the same as if they attempted it against his Majesty.
Thereupon his Eminence took me by the hand and led me to the Grand Chancellor and the Marquis of Rothelin, who were near by, and then began again, as he had done several times before, to speak of all the trouble he had taken for your Lordships’ benefit, and of the dishonor to which the king had been subjected from his affection for you; but that you had broken the treaties by refusing to pay the money due by you to the Swiss, etc.; and that now, being afraid of the Pope, you claimed the aid and support of the king, which his Majesty, however, would not grant unless it was clearly understood whether or not you intended to remain his friends. For to write anything in your favor would be acting adversely to the people of Lucca, Sienna, and your other enemies, whom his Majesty did not want to become his enemies when your Lordships ceased to be his friends.
I replied to the first point the same as I had already done several times; and as to the others, I said that there was no reason to have any doubts as to your Lordships’ friendship, any more than there was for having any particular consideration for either the Lucchese or the Siennese, when the question was as to his Majesty’s giving you his aid and support; for that I could not recall either the one or the other having rendered his Majesty any special service. Nor did I know what they had been able to do in time of peace or in war, nor what service could be hoped for from them now. But that I well knew what your Lordships had done for the present king, as well as for his predecessor; and that in their time of adversity, when the fidelity of friends is put to the test, you alone of all the Italian powers had remained faithful; that you did not deserve to be treated thus, and that a Most Christian King ought not to allow your Lordships to be subjected to it. The Cardinal replied to me merely in the following words: “Write to your ambassador to come at once, or to send his instructions to you, so that we may know the intentions of your government. After that we shall not fail on our part to do all that ought to be done for your Signoria.” I told him of the Pope’s envoy that had been sent to Pisa on the 12th, to which he answered in an excited manner, that that was nothing, and that I had better do what he had recommended, etc.
The day after, which was yesterday, Robertet came to meet me, saying, “I have special orders from his Majesty and from the Cardinal to write to Monseigneur d’Aubigny at Milan, and to our ambassador at Rome, and to charge the one to signify to the Pope, and the other to the Duke Valentino, how displeased his Majesty was to learn that there was talk in the army which was at present in the Romagna of going with rebels and other enemies to attack the Florentines, which his Majesty would not in any way permit.” In short, he told me that he was instructed to write as strongly as possible in favor of your Lordships. I asked him to give me that letter, but he said that he had no instructions to that effect, and that he thought it was better so, as otherwise it might appear as though we had begged for such action.
This is all I have to communicate to your Lordships in reply to your last letter, nor is there anything else new here, except that his Majesty the king leaves to-day for Tours, where he is to give an audience to the ambassadors from Germany.
Nantes, 4 November, 1500.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
On the 4th instant I wrote to our illustrious Signoria in reply to two of their despatches of the 11th and 21st ultimo. His Majesty the king having since then left Nantes for Tours, I resolved not to separate myself from the court (although they went by cross-roads); thinking that your Lordships’ answer to the propositions which Odoardo Bugliotto had gone to submit on the part of his Majesty to our illustrious Signoria might arrive during this time. And this happened just as I had supposed; for just as his Majesty reached Champagne, a small village about ten leagues from Tours, the letters from your Lordships arrived, with the answer given by our illustrious Signoria to Odoardo. But as I arrived on the 18th at about two o’clock in the night, I put off until morning to ask for an audience and to speak in accordance with your Lordships’ instructions. The next morning I went to court, and by chance found his Eminence the Cardinal d’Amboise alone and unoccupied. I deemed it best to seize this opportunity, notwithstanding my intention to speak first to his Majesty the king, and approaching his Eminence I told him that I had received letters from your Lordships, with a copy of the answer given to Odoardo; but that it was hardly worth while to repeat it to him, as his Majesty had been fully informed of it by Odoardo himself. I added that your Lordships felt persuaded that their answer and resolution would not be entirely satisfactory to his Majesty, considering the necessities to which circumstances had exposed him. But considering, on the other hand, the anxieties which your Lordships had experienced, and to which you were still exposed, and the heavy expenses which your Lordships had borne, and were still compelled to bear from not being able to recover your possessions, and from your desire to sustain the name and fame of France in Italy, you could not believe but what his Most Christian Majesty would accept their resolution, and would be satisfied to bear for a short time the delay in the payment of a portion of the amount claimed, in recognition of the services which our republic had rendered to him. And if to this were added the restitution of Pietrasanta, which would be no more than reasonable, and which your Lordships’ fidelity had so well merited, and to which a strict observance of the treaty stipulations and the malevolence of the Lucchese fairly entitled you, it would completely resuscitate our republic, and would encourage the Florentine people to devote their substance and their blood to the service of his Most Christian Majesty; and would so restore their credit and reputation, that neither the Pope nor the Venetians would venture to assail their state or their liberties, as they are now presuming to do. I enlarged upon these points as much as the subject and the patience of the Cardinal would permit. His Eminence replied that it was true that, by your answer to Odoardo, your Lordships confessed your indebtedness to his Majesty, and had ordered an immediate payment of ten thousand ducats at Milan; but that this did not satisfy his Majesty, who had suffered great inconvenience from having disbursed this money for your account; and that it would be of no use to argue in favor of your Lordships, unless the whole amount had actually been paid; and that myself, as well as the ambassador, whenever he should arrive, must expect an unfavorable answer from the king. As his Eminence afforded me the time to do so, I replied by showing him at length that his Majesty’s displeasure, if real, was nevertheless very unreasonable; not because he wanted to have back what belonged to him, but in failing to look at it in the way a father should towards his sons, which would be to accept their acts, not according to his wishes, but according to their ability. I enlarged upon this view of the matter with such arguments as the nature of the case suggested; but could obtain no other conclusion from his Eminence than that this money was required by his Majesty to pay the men-at-arms which he had in Lombardy; still, if your Lordships wanted a little time on a portion of this money, they would have to come to an understanding about it with Monseigneurs d’Aubigny and de Chaumont, governors at Milan; and if they were willing to wait a few months, his Majesty would also be satisfied. I observed that this was not the answer which I had anticipated, and which our republic had confidently counted upon. And as I knew that it would only humiliate and discourage your Lordships, I was not willing to communicate it; for I felt persuaded that your Lordships, deprived of all hope of achieving any good, would give yourselves up to despair; and believing that such an answer would neither be of advantage to his Majesty nor to your Lordships, I was not willing to write it; but would rather wait in the hope of a different response, such as your Lordships merited for your good faith, as well as for the actual services rendered to his Most Christian Majesty. Unable to obtain anything else from his Eminence, I took my leave, and the same morning saw his Majesty the king, and spoke to him in the same spirit; and in the most earnest and effective language that I could command, I pointed out to his Majesty how faithful your Lordships had ever been to him, and how sincere your desire was to satisfy him; and how easy it was for his Majesty to show his affection for your Lordships. I also explained the reasons that made the immediate payment of the amount due to his Majesty quite impossible at this moment, etc. But not to weary your Lordships by repeating the same thing over and over again, I will merely state that I omitted to say nothing that I thought would be of service for his Majesty to hear on this subject. But I could obtain nothing from him except the usual complaints as to the money paid out by him, and the dishonor to his arms by our fault. And although I replied in a becoming manner to all these complaints, yet I failed to convince his Majesty upon any one point, nor did I succeed in gaining any other fruit from this interview.
After that we came on to Tours on the same day, and there had a conversation with a friend from whom I have been in the habit of obtaining secret information about the Pope, and more particularly as to the negotiations now going on between the Pope and the Venetians. He confided to me that the ambassador of his Majesty of France at present at Venice, suborned by the Pope’s ambassador, had stated in the Venetian Senate that he had learned from various sources, all worthy of faith, that the Florentines, the Bolognese, the Duke of Ferrara, and the Marquis of Mantua had formed a close league amongst themselves, under the pretext of mutual defence of their states, but in reality for the purpose of turning their combined arms against his Majesty of France, whenever the Emperor of Germany should make an attack upon Lombardy. And that your illustrious Signoria ought to be very careful to inform his Majesty of this, from a feeling of obligation to him for all the benefits received, etc., etc. My friend told me furthermore, that, when the French ambassador made this statement to the Senate, they replied, that this was very probable, for the parties named were all armed, and pretended to be dissatisfied with the conduct of the French; that the Senate would write to their ambassador, and that he also ought to write to the king about it.
This friend of mine told me, moreover, that the Pope’s ambassador here had express instructions to persuade the king of the truth of this statement, and to suggest that he could easily avert this trouble by putting Piero de’ Medici in power again in Florence, and in that way establish a government there that would be entirely devoted to his Majesty. That by doing this he would deprive Ferrara, Mantua, and Bologna of their head, and thus prevent them from carrying on their machinations against the king. Adding to all this, that inasmuch as the Cardinal de’ Medici was a churchman, it was the duty of his Holiness to act thus, particularly as this Cardinal had supplicated the Pope to aid him in his efforts to re-enter his own country and home; and that his Holiness, moved by just such prayers, had been compelled to consent to grant him such aid. But that his Holiness asked no other help from his Majesty the king than to preserve a strict neutrality; and that by consenting to this, and showing that he had abandoned your friendship, and withdrawn the protection hitherto extended to the other princes, he would add to the Pope’s credit and reputation to that degree, that in a short time he should feel encouraged with his own forces, and such as the Venetians would furnish him, to deprive Giovanni Bentivogli of his state, and to compel your Lordships to re-establish Piero de’ Medici in Florence; and that thus he would make Ferrara and Mantua come to him with the halter around their necks. And by way of giving still more credit to this enterprise and to his desire, the Pope begged his Majesty, besides granting his consent, also to send a few hundred lances to the borders of the Bolognese territory, whilst the Venetians would send theirs where they would be of most use.
My friend tells me, furthermore, that all these things are already done, and that they urge, beg, and importune his Majesty the king to give his sanction to it all; and that it was for no other purpose that they had brought Piero de’ Medici from France to Pisa, but to have him near at hand for the execution of their designs.
Upon hearing all this, which seemed to me a plot worthy of our Most Holy Father the Pope, I resolved to say something to his Eminence of Amboise on the subject; and seizing the first suitable moment, I complained to his Eminence of the malignity of your Lordships’ enemies, but spoke only in general terms, without mentioning either the Pope or the Venetians; saying that they persuaded themselves they could make his Majesty the king believe that your Lordships wanted to alienate themselves from him; that I did not want, for the purpose of opposing these rash and infamous calumnies, to allege either our good faith in the past, nor the present proofs of it, but wished merely to show how unreasonable it was that your Lordships should hope for help from the Emperor, who had not even been able to help or defend Milan, which was regarded as belonging to him; and that knowing this you should be willing to make an enemy of a king whom your Lordships imagined they had laid under obligations to them, by so many perils and expenditures which they had borne and incurred for his sake. Nor could I comprehend how the Bolognese or the Ferrarese could place their hopes on any one else but his Majesty of France, being by the very position of their states obliged, under all circumstances, to follow the fortunes of whoever possessed Milan; the one from fear of the Pope, and the other from dread of the Venetians. But that his Majesty ought to be well on his guard against those who sought the destruction of his friends, for no other purpose than their own aggrandizement, and to enable them the more easily to wrench Italy from his hands. That his Majesty ought to prevent all this by adopting the practice of sovereigns who wish to establish their power in a foreign province; namely, to weaken the powerful, conciliate the subjected, sustain their friends, and to beware of associates, that is to say, of such as want to exercise an equal share of power with them in that province. And if his Majesty would look around and see who were the parties that desired to be his associates and share his power in Italy, he would find that it was not your Lordships, nor Ferrara, nor Bologna, but those who in the past had always sought to dominate the country.
His Eminence heard me patiently, and then replied, that the king was in the highest degree prudent; that his ears were long, but his belief short; that he listened to everything, but put faith only in what he could touch with his hands and prove true. And that besides having written to Rome and Milan some time ago, when I had first spoken to him on the subject, he had only three days since written again, of his own motion, and in the most earnest manner, in commendation of your interests. And that although Monseigneur d’Allegri had been allowed to go with a hundred lances into the Romagna to aid the Duke Valentino, yet it was with the express injunction in every way to favor your interests; and that your Lordships would see, when your ambassador arrived, that his Majesty would not be wanting in his duty, if you did not fail on your part, and offered more acceptable terms as to the payment of the money due him. Since then Robertet has spoken to me in the same spirit, assuring me that his Majesty would not himself do anything wrong towards you, nor would he permit others to do so, if only the Florentines would not harm themselves by their disunion and by harboring within their walls persons who had little love for the liberties of the republic; to which, he said, your Lordships ought to look carefully. In replying to his Eminence I had no difficulty in justifying your Lordships upon this matter of disunion, the idea of which it is above all things important to remove from their minds, for the mere belief of it would produce as bad consequences here as the reality would with you in Florence.
I have nothing further of interest to communicate, for no one speaks of the propositions which the German ambassadors have brought. Those who visit them are observed and noted, as well as those who talk about them with too much curiosity.
Whilst writing I received a letter from Pier Francesco Tosinghi, in answer to several of mine, which I addressed to him at a venture. I learn from this letter that his Magnificence arrived at Lyons on the 2d instant, and was to have left there on the 15th on his way here. I expect him with impatience, and may God grant him better fortune than what those have had who have hitherto been charged with this mission.
I recommend myself to the good graces of your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Tours, 21 November, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
On the 21st instant I replied to your Lordships’ letter, and informed you fully of what his Majesty and the Cardinal d’Amboise had told me about the answer given by the Illustrious Signoria of Florence to Odoardo. I also wrote you about the intrigues set on foot by the Pope and the Venetians for the purpose of making your Lordships suspected to his Majesty, and what D’Amboise had said to me on the subject. Although I have nothing of special interest to say, yet I will not lose the opportunity of some one’s going to Italy to inform your Lordships of what has occurred here since my last.
Not being altogether satisfied with the answer made me by the resolution which your Lordships have recently taken with regard to the sum claimed by his Majesty; and news having reached here that the Duke Valentino had seized the Val di Lamona, and that he counted upon obtaining possession of Faenza erelong, and then hearing that Piero de’ Medici was at Pisa, and moreover that a new ambassador had arrived from Lucca, with instructions, it is said, to pay at once ten thousand ducats to his Majesty on condition that Pietrasanta should be given up to them; and in addition to all this that Messrs. de la Palisse and de Chatillon had been sent by the queen to Pisa as governors; — in view of all this, I say, I determined to present myself once more before his Majesty. I pointed out to him again, that if the answer given by our illustrious Signoria to Odoardo was not exactly according to his Majesty’s wishes, it was owing to the absolute impossibility of doing better, in consequence of the heavy expenses to which you had been and continued to be subjected, having the victorious army of the Duke Valentino on your borders, who constantly threatened to assail your Lordships, not so much with his own forces as with those of his Majesty, and who constantly boasts of being thus supported, which is calculated to produce very bad effects unless his Majesty promptly put a stop to it. To all this his Majesty replied at once: “Why, we have written in duplicate to our lieutenants in Italy, that, if the Duke Valentino should attempt anything against the Florentines or the Bolognese, they should instantly march against the Duke Valentino, so that upon this point you may rest in perfect security.”
And then his Majesty began his usual complaints; and as to the other matters that I had touched upon, namely, the queen’s having sent governors to Pisa, and the proposition of the Lucchese with regard to Pietrasanta, his Majesty replied, in general terms, that we had broken our agreements with him in not having at the very first made payment of the money due him, and that even now we were not willing to do so in a way that he might avail himself of. And to all I could say or allege, (and I talked to him so long that I feared to abuse his patience,) I could obtain no further reply. And when I finally said to him that your ambassador would be here within two days, he answered, “Perhaps he may come too late.”
Thereupon I left his Majesty and went to seek Robertet, and in discussing with him all I have written above, he told me there was no truth in the story of Monseigneur de la Palisse having been sent to Pisa; and that if Piero de’ Medici was really at Pisa, he was not there by order of the king, but because he had been called there by the Duke Valentino, to see whether his presence there could in any way advance the Duke’s projects. And that it was perfectly true that his Majesty had written three times, or even oftener, to his lieutenants in favor of your Lordships and of the Bolognese; adding, under a pledge of secrecy, “That the success of the Duke Valentino had become very distasteful to his Majesty.” And as to the Lucchese, he told me that they were making every possible effort to get Pietrasanta back again, offering ten thousand ducats, and even more, for it, and that there was danger of their success owing to the king’s dissatisfaction with your tardiness in paying his claims. And when I had replied to all this in a becoming manner, he stated as his general conclusion, that according to his own judgment, as well as what he had heard others say to his Majesty the king and to the Cardinal d’Amboise respecting your Lordships’ interests, it seemed to him certain that, if your Lordships would endeavor not to injure yourselves, when it came to the proof, you need never apprehend anything that was not for your advantage. And with this assurance I took my leave of his Lordship. I now await the arrival of the ambassador with the greatest impatience, so as to see what turn your affairs will take, and to be able to judge of them more correctly.
I will only now remind your Lordships, with the utmost respect, of a matter that we wrote about very fully on our first coming here, but which we have not touched upon since, partly because we did not wish to appear presumptuous, and also because you have in Florence some extremely prudent citizens, who are much more experienced than ourselves in the ways of this court; namely, that your Lordships should arrange to have some one here who will act as your friend, and who will defend and protect your interests, the same as is done by all others who have any business with this court; and indeed I cannot but think that the ambassador who is coming here is fully prepared upon this point. And I can assure your Lordships that, if your ambassador cannot at least give some proofs of gratitude to Robertet, he will find himself completely at a loss here, to such an extent and degree that he will hardly be able to expedite an ordinary letter.
The embassy from Germany, which consists of a M. Philip de Nanso (Nassau) and two other gentlemen, had yesterday its first audience of his Majesty the king. There were present the Cardinal d’Amboise, Monseigneurs de la Tremouille and d’Aubigny, the Grand Chancellor, the Maréchal de Gié, the Prince of Orange, the Marquis de Rothelin, and Monseigneur de Clary, together with the ambassadors of the Pope, of Spain, and of Venice, and three or four Italian gentlemen. The address of the ambassadors was in ordinary and general terms, to the effect that the Empire deemed it necessary that all Christendom should arm for the purpose of putting a stop to the violence of the infidels; and that, unless this were done, the Christian republic would with difficulty be able to maintain itself against the daily spoliations of the Turk. And as it was impossible for all Christendom to arm, unless peace prevailed between the Empire and his most Christian Majesty, as chiefs of Christendom, they had been sent here for no other purpose than to promote such a peace. The ambassador touched upon no other point in his address, and employed only such words and phrases as are customary on similar ceremonious occasions. After the audience his Majesty appointed four commissioners to negotiate this treaty of peace. This commission consists of his Eminence the Cardinal, the Grand Chancellor, Monseigneur de Bourbon, and the Maréchal de Gié; and the whole is to be completed this week, after which, it is said, his Majesty will leave for Blois; and nothing more is said about Lyons.
I recommend myself to the good graces of your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Tours, 24 November, 1500.
Magnificent Signori: —
Having received several letters from the Magistracy of the Ten, in reply to several of my despatches addressed to your Lordships, and having in turn informed the said Magistracy of all that relates to the interests of our republic, I deem it superfluous to repeat the same things to your most excellent Lordships. The only thing that induces me to write now is to present my homage to your Lordships, and to recommend myself most humbly to your good graces. I am furthermore moved to write by the affection I bear to Messer Giulio Scurcigliati of Naples; not for any particular service that he has rendered to me personally, but because of his warm, fruitful, constant, and affectionate labors in favor of the liberties of our republic. And therefore I beg most earnestly to recommend this gentleman to your Lordships; and humbly to ask that, if you desire to have him continue your friend and defender here, and if your Lordships do not wish to be charged with ingratitude by the whole court here at seeing all Messer Giulio’s services unrecognized, you will be pleased to aid him with your sovereign hand, and to favor him by looking into the litigation in which he is involved with the heirs of Pierantonio Bandini. For I assure your Lordships that when he received the news, some three days ago, that a decision in the matter had not been rendered because of the inhibition, etc., etc., he became so furious at the wrong which he conceived had been done him, that, if I had not been present, he would have rushed to the court to cry out and complain of the injury, etc.
He complains of several things: firstly, that your Lordships had remitted his case to the ordinary tribunal, whilst it ought to have been summarily adjudged by your Lordships yourselves; secondly, that this ordinary tribunal had so protracted the matter that it afforded time to his adversaries to obtain an order of inhibition; thirdly, that the woman has been relieved from banishment; and fourthly, that the person who is charged with watching his interests at Florence has deprived him of all hope of being able to obtain his rights by these proceedings; and finally, that in the inhibition his adversaries had called him “merchant and usurer.” He claims that he asks no more than his own capital, and is willing to forego all accrued interest.
So far as I am concerned, Magnificent Signori, I know nothing of Scurcigliati’s case, but I do know that so long as your relations with his Majesty are so uncertain, and as it were in the air, few persons can be of service to you, whilst it is in every one’s power to injure you; and therefore I have thought it not amiss, but rather necessary on the whole, to manage this man and temporize with him. And if you do not, he will, at the receipt of the first letter from Florence, rush like lightning through the court, and the evil he will say of you will be more readily believed than all the good he has said before. For he is a man of some influence and credit here, — a fluent talker, most audacious, importunate, and terrible, and of uncontrollable passions, — and therefore apt to carry through whatever he undertakes. I have enlarged upon this matter solely from my devotion to my country; and my belief that it was for her good has made me write as I have done. Your most excellent Lordships will, I trust, hold me excused, and will act in the whole matter with your wonted goodness and wisdom.
I recommend myself most humbly to your Lordships.
Tours, 24 November, 1500.
THE MAGISTRACY OF THE TEN TO FRANCESCO DELLA CASA AND NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI.
Spectabiles Viri, etc.: —
As we have promised you several times that upon the arrival of our ambassador at court we would give you leave to return here, we have this day passed a resolution to that effect, inasmuch as two days since we had letters from our said ambassador, dated the last day of November, announcing his arrival. And having replied to him and instructed him upon all points that occurred to us, we have nothing to communicate to you except to instruct you to return here as soon as you can, which we do herewith. Before leaving, you will give full information to the ambassador of all that you have done during your stay at court.
Ex Palatio Florentino, 12 December, 1500.
[* ]This mission had its cause in the events referred to in this commission. Buonaccorsi refers to it on page 34 of his Diary; and the account he gives of it merits being reproduced here, on account of the light it throws upon the whole affair: —
[* ]The treaty with the king of France was concluded at Milan, 12 October, 1499, by Monsignore Cosimo de’ Pazzi, Bishop of Arezzo, and Pietro Soderini, who afterwards became perpetual Gonfalonier. The republic of Florence obligated herself by this treaty to defend the French possessions in Italy, with four hundred men-at-arms and three thousand infantry; also to aid the king of France in the conquest of Naples with five hundred men-at-arms and a subsidy of fifty thousand florins. And the king of France, on his part, bound himself to defend the Florentines, against whoever might attack them, with six hundred lances and four thousand infantry; and to put them in possession of Pisa again, and all the other places which they had lost by the coming of Charles VIII. into Italy, excepting such as were held by the Genoese.
[* ]This was the Archduke Philip, nephew of the Emperor Maximilian, and father of Charles of Austria, afterwards the Emperor Charles V.
[* ]This Ginori had been taken prisoner and plundered by the Count de Ligny in Savoy, whilst going from Naples to France on commercial business.
[* ]Alluding to the expression applied to the descent of Charles VIII. into Italy, that he conquered it with a piece of chalk; that is, sending his quartermaster ahead, who merely marked with a piece of chalk the houses where the French troops were to be quartered.
[* ]This Marquis was the Signor Alberico Malaspina, Marquis of Massa, who, in virtue of the conventions or agreements concluded at Milan on the 12th of October, 1499, was on the following 17th of February proclaimed amongst the allies and confederates of the republic of Florence, together with Jacopo IV. d’Appiani, Lord of Piombino, and Morello Malaspina, Marquis of Treschietto.
[* ]This was Giovanni della Rovere, Prefect of Rome and Lord of Sinigaglia. In virtue of the fifteenth article of the treaty with the king of France, mentioned elsewhere, this Prefect was to be Captain-General of the Florentine forces. This article was inserted into the treaty at the instance of the Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, brother of the Prefect, and generally called the Cardinal of San Pietro in Vincola, and who afterwards became Pope, under the name of Julius II.
[* ]“It is true you say so, but we shall be dead before these ambassadors come; we will endeavor, however, that others shall die before.”
[* ]The Signor Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, and surnamed “Il Moro,” had loaned certain sums of money to the republic of Florence to enable them to carry on the war against Pisa. According to Article 14 of the treaty concluded at Milan in 1499, the Florentines promised to pay to the king of France whatever amount they might owe at the time to the deposed Duke Lodovico.
[* ]Federigo di San Severino of Milan, with the title of Cardinale di San Teodore.
[* ]This letter is directed to “The Ten of Liberty and Peace,” who had been re-established, as stated elsewhere.