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LETTER II. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 3.
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Magnificent Signori: —
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.