Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER IX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER IX. - 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: —
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.
[* ]This was the Archduke Philip, nephew of the Emperor Maximilian, and father of Charles of Austria, afterwards the Emperor Charles V.