Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER II. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
Return to Title Page for The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
LETTER II. - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Magnificent Signori: —
I wrote to your Lordships yesterday, and sent my letter by Campriano, who was to reach Florence this morning before day, for which I paid him two ducats, which I beg you will reimburse to Messer Agostino Vespucci. The courier Ardingo arrived here this morning with letters for several private persons; and as he brought none for me from your Lordships, I fear they were either left at Florence or lost on the road, and I remain in doubt as to how this has occurred.
As this courier is to return to Florence, I have concluded to write you by him what has taken place here since my first despatch. Being at court to day at about the twentieth hour, the Duke sent for me and told me that he wished to communicate some news he had received, so that I might give the information to your Lordships. He showed me a letter from Monseigneur d’Arles, the Pope’s ambassador in France, dated the 4th instant, in which he writes that the king and the Cardinal d’Amboise were well disposed to do what might be agreeable to him; and that so soon as they heard of his desire to have troops for his attempt upon Bologna, they had sent word to M. de Chaumont at Milan to send without delay M. de Lanques with three hundred lances to the Duke; and that if his Excellency should require it, he was to go with three hundred more lances towards Parma. He had sent to his Excellency a copy of the letter which the king had written to the said Chaumont, which the Duke read to me aloud, and wanted me to see the signature of M. d’Arles, as well as the letter written to him. I recognized the handwriting, having seen it often in France and at Florence. In fact, according to that copy, it would be impossible to give more explicit orders for the moving of these troops.
After having read these letters his Excellency said to me: “You see now, Secretary, that letter was written in reply to my request for an attack upon Bologna, and you will note how very positive it is. You may imagine, then, what I could obtain for the purpose of defending myself against those, the greater part of whom his Majesty looks upon as his worst enemies; for they have always sought to cause him some check in Italy. Believe me that this is a great thing for me, and the Vitelli and Orsini could not have declared against me at a time when they could have harmed me less. Nor could I have desired anything more advantageous for the consolidation of my states, for I shall know now against whom I shall have to be on my guard, and who are my real friends. And even if under these circumstances the Venetians were to declare against me, which I do not believe they will do, neither myself nor the king of France could desire anything better. I give you this information, and will make known to you from time to time what takes place, so that you may communicate it to your Signori, and so that they may see that I am far from abandoning my own case, and that I am not lacking in friends, amongst whom I should be glad to count your Signori, provided they promptly give me so to understand. And if they do not do so now, I shall leave them aside, and though I had the water up to my throat I should nevermore talk about friendship with them; though I should always regret having a neighbor to whom I could not render friendly service nor receive any from him.”
Thereupon the Duke asked me when I thought an answer would come to the letter I wrote yesterday to your Lordships; to which I replied, that I thought it ought not to be later than Wednesday. I then thanked his Excellency for having communicated to me those letters, and for his desire to entertain relations of friendship with our republic, expressing myself in such terms as I knew would be satisfactory to his Excellency, whilst at the same time I kept strictly within your Lordships’ instructions. His Excellency said also that he had forgotten, when I had spoken to him on a previous occasion, to reply to that part of my remarks in which I expressed your Lordships’ thanks for the restitution of the cloths, saying that he had done it most cheerfully and would always act in the same way whenever an opportunity occurred to render you a service; and that he had had more trouble to defend these cloths against the Orsini than any other business had ever caused him; that it had been from the first his intention to restore these cloths of his own accord, and without the intercession of any one, as that was his way of rendering a service. I thereupon asked the Duke for a general safe-conduct for all our citizens, which he promptly agreed to give, saying, however, that he did not understand such matters, and that I must speak with Messer Alessandro Spannochi about it, and prepare it with him, which I shall not fail to do. His Excellency having thus referred me in this matter to Messer Alessandro, I shall have to shape my course to suit his views; and although I have reason to believe, from the experience of the past, that he is well disposed towards us, yet I think it would be well if some of our merchants who stand well with him were to write to him and dispose him still more favorably; although I deem it well to caution those merchants not to venture too far in this matter, for in these days of change a country often belongs one day to one master and the next day to another.
His Excellency has talked to me again about the affair of San Leo, much to the same effect as I wrote you in my last; but says that only two small castles in the neighborhood of San Leo have revolted, whilst all the other places are still undecided, and that neither the Orsini nor the Vitelli have as yet made any open demonstrations against him. He told me also that three days since a certain Chevalier Orsino, one of the gentlemen of his suite, had gone to see the Orsini and the Vitelli, and that he looked momentarily for his return; and that Pandolfo continued to write him frequently and to send him messages to the effect that he had no intention of doing anything adverse to him.
On taking my leave of his Excellency he reminded me again to recall to your Lordships that if you remained undecided you would certainly lose, whilst by uniting with him you might be victorious.
I cannot express in writing with what demonstrations of affection the Duke spoke, and what efforts he made to justify the past, in all of which the chief persons of his court concur. Although I tell your Lordships all this, yet it is not likely that the Duke will long remain in this mood; his object is to know clearly your intentions, if not by your first, then by your second answer. I wish to make this known to your Lordships, for if you judge that the course which I have suggested is a good one, you must not persuade yourselves that you will always be in time to adopt it; for the Duke told me at the first interview that, although for the moment he was not obliged to have any considerations for the Orsini, yet such would be the case if he should become reconciled with them. This manifests itself in many ways that are easier to understand than to explain in writing. I beg your Lordships, therefore, to come to some decision, and to write me how I am to bear myself in this matter; also not to fail to instruct me what answer I am to make to the Duke’s request, that in case of any movement on the part of the Vitelli you should direct your troops towards the Borgo. Whatever instructions your Lordships may have to give me, I beg you will be pleased to write them, so that I may the more readily obtain an audience and more easily gain time. And should you really wish to conclude anything essential, then the more importance you give yourselves in the negotiation, the better and the more advantageously will you be able to carry it through. Thus it would be very much to the purpose if you were to reinforce me by sending some one here in the capacity of ambassador or otherwise.
I must now give your Lordships some particulars of the situation of things here. So soon as the Duke heard of the loss of San Leo, he caused the duchy of Urbino to be evacuated, and resolved to concentrate all his efforts on maintaining his power in Romagna with what troops he had, until he should have strengthened himself sufficiently to be able to attack those who had molested him. For this purpose he sent at once Messer Ramiro to scour the whole country, and to visit all the fortresses and put them in condition for defence. He wrote to Don Hugo di Cardona, one of his Spanish captains, who was with his troops on the borders of Urbino, to withdraw towards Rimini; and sent Don Michele Coreglia with money to collect some thousand of infantry, with which to join the other troops; and to-day he has distributed money to some eight hundred infantry from the Val di Lamona and sent them forward in the same direction. At the present the Duke has altogether not over twenty-five hundred paid infantry, and out of all his men-at-arms he has only about one hundred lances left to him, and these are composed mainly of his own gentlemen, who can put about four hundred horses into the field for service. Besides these he has three companies of fifty lances each under three Spanish captains; these, however, have been considerably diminished in number, from having been a long time without pay. The infantry and mounted men which he is now trying to raise, and the auxiliaries upon which he counts, are as follows. He has sent Rafaello dei Pazzi to Milan to form a company of five hundred Gascons out of the adventurers that are in Lombardy; a man of experience has been sent to the Swiss to engage fifteen hundred of them; and five days ago he mustered six thousand infantry into his service from his own states, and which he can have together in two days. As to men-at-arms and light cavalry, he has caused it to be published that he will take into his pay all such as are within his own states, and they are at once to report themselves to him. He has as much artillery, and in good condition, as almost all the rest of Italy together. He despatches frequent letters and special messengers to Rome, to France, and to Ferrara, and is hopeful of receiving from everywhere whatever he asks for. With regard to Rome there can be no doubt; as to France your Lordships know what I have above written on that subject; but what he asks from Ferrara I know not.
As regards your Lordships his Excellency counts upon having you as friends, on account of France and the character of his enemies, or that you will remain neutral. On the other hand, we see all his enemies armed and ready at any moment to light a general conflagration; and yet the people are at heart all for Romagna, but they have been badly treated by the Duke, who has always favored his soldiers more than the inhabitants.
It is feared that the Venetians have a hand in all these movements, and that according as the affair succeeds it may also have the support of Spain and Germany, and of all those who are jealous of the power of France. But if all be true that his Excellency has told me, none of the Vitelli or the Orsini have as yet stirred since the events of Urbino, except Messer Giovanni Bentivogli, who has sent three of them to Castel San Piero, a few miles from here, and four detachments of infantry under the command of Ramazotto and Del Mancino; but has caused them to return home again, according to what his Excellency told me to-day. From the side of the Venetians we hear nothing, except that they have some troops at Ravenna, who have been there for some time; but this also comes to me from a source that is not authentic.
I have thought that my duty required me to inform your Lordships fully of the condition in which matters are here, and how I regard them; and I have done so with the same fidelity which is at once my duty and my habit. I leave it now to your Lordships to judge of them according to your wisdom, and recommend myself to you.
Imola, 9 October, 1502.
P. S. — Messer Alessandro Spannochi told me yesterday evening, just as I was about to despatch Ardingo, that the Duke wanted to send some one this morning to Rome by way of Florence, and desired me to delay the departure of my courier. I could not, therefore, send him off until now at the twenty-second hour, and on the 10th of the month. Having spoken with Messer Alessandro about a general safe-conduct for all our people, he told me to wait a couple of days, and that then he would try and do what would be agreeable to me. I shall not fail to do my best in this matter.
I recommend myself to your Lordships.