Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XIX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XIX. - 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: —
My last despatch to your Lordships was of the 26th ultimo. I therein related to you the arrival here of his Most Christian Majesty, and that I was left alone here in consequence of Francesco della Casa having gone sick to Paris; also that the Cardinal d’Amboise had returned, and my efforts in your behalf with his Eminence; and how essentially necessary it was that your ambassadors should come, if you wished to prevent altogether, or at least delay, the carrying into effect of some projects with regard to Pisa, as well as other intrigues carried on here to your prejudice.
I judge that my letters have reached you safely, for I sent them to Rinieri Dei at Lyons by a special messenger, who was despatched by the agent of Messer Giovanni Bentivogli. Since then I have received your Lordships’ last of the 20th ultimo, by the hands of one of the Prefect’s men, specially sent here for the reasons mentioned in your Lordships’ letter to me. So soon as I received it, I presented myself first before the king, and afterwards before the Cardinal d’Amboise, and communicated to them your Lordships’ instructions to me; and explained to them that the necessity of defending yourselves had obliged you to take men-at-arms into your pay, and to claim the services of the Prefect,* in conformity with the treaties between your Lordships and his Majesty the king. And although the Prefect’s envoy had already spoken both to the king and the Cardinal, yet his Majesty sent me back to the latter, not forgetting, however, first to ask me whether the ambassadors were coming, and to complain about the money which he had paid out. I replied in the very words of your Lordships’ letter; namely, that you informed me that you would not write me again except through the ambassadors, adding, however, that I was firmly persuaded that they would certainly present themselves before his Majesty within the month of October.
His Eminence the Cardinal spoke to me at length, and whilst doing so, he took Monseigneur d’Alby, who was present, by the arm, so that his Lordship might hear him, and said: “The conduct of the Florentines begins to be inexplicable. We offered to keep for their defence five hundred men-at-arms and fifteen hundred infantry, but they would not have them; we then offered them one hundred, or two hundred, or as many as they might deem necessary, but they declined them, and now they go begging for help from others.” And then he turned to me and said, “Secretary, I really know not what to say to you.” When I attempted to reply to the charge that we had refused their men-at-arms, etc., he added, that we knew well how to give reasons for our conduct, but that his Majesty had nevertheless been obliged to pay the money which ought to have been paid by your Lordships. And then he asked me whether the ambassadors were coming, to which I answered the same as I had done to his Majesty the king; namely, that they ought to be here in the course of the present month, if not sooner; and that they would prove that our fidelity to his Majesty had increased rather than otherwise, and could not but continue to increase; and that they would exculpate your Lordships from all the calumnies that were daily originated by those who wished no good to your Lordships, and still less to the honor of his Majesty the king. And when I finally asked his Eminence what I should write to your Lordships in regard to the Prefect, he replied that an agent of the Prefect’s had arrived, and that they would give him their answer, which was all I could get out of his Eminence. I have nothing further to write to your Lordships on this subject; but as this agent is about to return to the Cardinal San Pietro in Vincola, and will be the bearer of this letter, your Lordships will be able to get full information from Pietro Soderini. But I must not omit to tell your Lordships that, after my conversation with the Cardinal d’Amboise, Robertet called me aside, and told me how much he had always had your interests at heart, and how he had always labored for your advantage, and that he had ever been ready to exert himself in your favor, and how grieved he was to see that you had abandoned your own cause; for that in so important and urgent a matter as the present, your not having ambassadors here gives offence to everybody, and is regarded as the result either of disunion amongst yourselves, or of discontent with the state of things here, or because you have not been well informed on the subject. For reason alone demanded that the ambassadors should have been sent here by post, so as to prevent the adoption by his Majesty of some unfriendly resolution, which is daily urged upon him. To all this I answered as for the moment seemed to me most suitable, affirming again that the present month would not pass without seeing the ambassadors here; and that everything would be satisfactorily arranged, provided there was no determination to wrong your Lordships anyhow, which I did not believe, etc., etc.
As I have already said in my former letter, Italian affairs are more talked about than anything else, and more particularly the Pope’s enterprise, which, as I wrote you in my last, was believed to be intended against the Colonnesi. But now we understand that it is just the contrary, and that the purpose is to march to the Romagna. I can say nothing further on the subject, but your Lordships are in a position to know the truth of the matter better than myself. I will merely say that everything is conceded to the Pontiff, more from an unwillingness on the part of the king to oppose the Pope’s unbridled desires, than from any wish to see him victorious; for Messer Giovanni Bentivogli has been written to, with the king’s special approval, to do all in his power for the defence of Faenza, and to act in the matter as a good relative, etc., etc.
I have nothing new to write to your Lordships respecting the embassy from Germany, for we do not yet know exactly when it is likely to arrive; his Majesty himself is altogether in doubt about it. The only thing of interest is that the Venetian ambassador is here to solicit aid against the Turk, more especially now since the loss of Modone and Corone is clearly known. Long consultations have been held on the subject, but as yet it is not known what conclusion has been come to. It was proposed to levy a tithe upon the priests, which formerly had been entirely consumed by the receivers, and which his Majesty intends to revive. With all this the Venetian ambassador is not very well satisfied.
Your Lordships must have heard that the Grand Turk has sent ambassadors to his Majesty here, to reply to the complaints which the king had communicated to the Turk through a herald, and how the Grand Master of Rhodes had placed this herald on the footing of an ambassador, by way of giving him more importance. Upon their arrival at Venice, the Turkish ambassadors were dismissed by his Majesty, at the request of the Venetians, who gave them to understand that they would not be welcome without full power to conclude a peace; and that they must not advance any further, but return whence they had come. His Majesty has since then repented this very much, having been informed that the Venetians had urged this advice upon him, so that he might not hear of the intrigues they were carrying on with the Turk adverse to his Majesty. The Grand Master of Rhodes was also greatly irritated, inasmuch as it was mainly upon his solicitations that the Turk had sent this embassy, and it is said that he has sent one of his knights here to accuse the Venetians, and to treat them as enemies. This is the reason why the aid asked by the Venetians of his Majesty is deferred, and that it will certainly not be rendered in time for this year.
I mention this matter very briefly, so as not to weary your Lordships’ patience, as I take it for granted that you have received from other sources more detailed and accurate accounts of the greater part of this affair.
I recommend myself most humbly to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, 2 October, 1500.
P. S. — I can but rejoice at the re-establishment of the Magistracy of the Ten, and thank God for it. Let us hope much good from it; for from a better government we have the right to hope for happier results. I shall avail myself of this information as I may judge best for the credit of our republic.
[* ]This was Giovanni della Rovere, Prefect of Rome and Lord of Sinigaglia. In virtue of the fifteenth article of the treaty with the king of France, mentioned elsewhere, this Prefect was to be Captain-General of the Florentine forces. This article was inserted into the treaty at the instance of the Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, brother of the Prefect, and generally called the Cardinal of San Pietro in Vincola, and who afterwards became Pope, under the name of Julius II.