Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XVIII. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XVIII. - 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, 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.