Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XXV. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XXV. - 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: —
Since writing my last of the 27th ultimo, I have received your Lordships’ letter of the 21st, which refers to some particulars of a despatch of the 10th which has not yet come to hand. I am therefore at a loss how to execute your Lordships’ orders. I have determined, nevertheless, to speak to the king and the Cardinal about your Lordships’ apprehensions on account of the rumors that have reached you from many quarters as to the evil disposition of the army of the Duke Valentino towards your Lordships; and how seriously this matter disturbs you, being without any organized force of men-at-arms. I therefore relied altogether upon his Majesty, and entreated him to be pleased to aid you with such means as he might deem necessary; and that on your part you would not fail to do everything in your power to save your liberty; and that if you were assailed by the Orsini and the Vitelli, you would seek to defend yourselves. His Majesty, being at the moment very much occupied, made no reply except that I should speak to the Cardinal d’Amboise about it. I therefore went immediately to see his Eminence, and spoke to him in the same sense as I had done to his Majesty; adding such further remarks in favor of your cause as the time permitted. He replied that he did not believe that the Pope would attempt to engage in any enterprise in Italy, without first conferring with his Majesty the king on the subject; and as he had not done so, he did not think the Pope would make any such attempt. But should he yet consult his Majesty, or attempt such an attack independently, then in the first case his Majesty would not give his consent, and in the latter he would lend you his assistance, provided you maintained your friendly relations with his Majesty. And then he began to complain again of the delay in the coming of your ambassadors, etc., etc. And as to the part of the Colonnesi, he reflected a moment, and then said, “Preserve the friendship of the king, and then you will not need his assistance; but if you lose his good graces, all the help will not suffice you.”
I replied in a becoming manner; but respecting the Lucchese it seemed to me best neither to touch upon that subject nor to make any further reply, for I did not want to irritate them more than what they are already until the arrival of your ambassador, hoping that his instructions may be satisfactory to the king, and that then we may be able to discuss the point in question more freely, particularly as, according to the time of his departure from Florence, the ambassador ought shortly to be here.
Afterwards, on All Souls’ Day, came your Lordships’ letter of the 10th ultimo, and, after carefully studying its contents, I returned again to the Cardinal, and explained to him briefly the causes of your apprehensions; and that it would be easy for the Duke Valentino, after once having taken Faenza, to make an attack upon Florence, and, having one of your rebels with him, it would not be difficult for him to make a hostile attempt against your liberties. Such an act would prove an injury to your Lordships and a dishonor to his Majesty. And we being his Majesty’s most devoted and trusted friends, it would be very proper for his Eminence to write to the Pope and to the Duke Valentino that whatever they might attempt against your Lordships would be the same as if they attempted it against his Majesty.
Thereupon his Eminence took me by the hand and led me to the Grand Chancellor and the Marquis of Rothelin, who were near by, and then began again, as he had done several times before, to speak of all the trouble he had taken for your Lordships’ benefit, and of the dishonor to which the king had been subjected from his affection for you; but that you had broken the treaties by refusing to pay the money due by you to the Swiss, etc.; and that now, being afraid of the Pope, you claimed the aid and support of the king, which his Majesty, however, would not grant unless it was clearly understood whether or not you intended to remain his friends. For to write anything in your favor would be acting adversely to the people of Lucca, Sienna, and your other enemies, whom his Majesty did not want to become his enemies when your Lordships ceased to be his friends.
I replied to the first point the same as I had already done several times; and as to the others, I said that there was no reason to have any doubts as to your Lordships’ friendship, any more than there was for having any particular consideration for either the Lucchese or the Siennese, when the question was as to his Majesty’s giving you his aid and support; for that I could not recall either the one or the other having rendered his Majesty any special service. Nor did I know what they had been able to do in time of peace or in war, nor what service could be hoped for from them now. But that I well knew what your Lordships had done for the present king, as well as for his predecessor; and that in their time of adversity, when the fidelity of friends is put to the test, you alone of all the Italian powers had remained faithful; that you did not deserve to be treated thus, and that a Most Christian King ought not to allow your Lordships to be subjected to it. The Cardinal replied to me merely in the following words: “Write to your ambassador to come at once, or to send his instructions to you, so that we may know the intentions of your government. After that we shall not fail on our part to do all that ought to be done for your Signoria.” I told him of the Pope’s envoy that had been sent to Pisa on the 12th, to which he answered in an excited manner, that that was nothing, and that I had better do what he had recommended, etc.
The day after, which was yesterday, Robertet came to meet me, saying, “I have special orders from his Majesty and from the Cardinal to write to Monseigneur d’Aubigny at Milan, and to our ambassador at Rome, and to charge the one to signify to the Pope, and the other to the Duke Valentino, how displeased his Majesty was to learn that there was talk in the army which was at present in the Romagna of going with rebels and other enemies to attack the Florentines, which his Majesty would not in any way permit.” In short, he told me that he was instructed to write as strongly as possible in favor of your Lordships. I asked him to give me that letter, but he said that he had no instructions to that effect, and that he thought it was better so, as otherwise it might appear as though we had begged for such action.
This is all I have to communicate to your Lordships in reply to your last letter, nor is there anything else new here, except that his Majesty the king leaves to-day for Tours, where he is to give an audience to the ambassadors from Germany.
Nantes, 4 November, 1500.