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LETTER X. - 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: —
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.
[* ]This Ginori had been taken prisoner and plundered by the Count de Ligny in Savoy, whilst going from Naples to France on commercial business.