Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XVI. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XVI. - 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: —
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.
[* ]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.