Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER V. - 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 V. - 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 have deferred until this evening to send Baccino back with the two enclosed letters, so as to be able to give your Lordships fuller information about matters here; and more particularly to satisfy the desire you express to know the Duke’s disposition, and what he designs doing in regard to yourselves. But not having been able to get anything more out of his Excellency than what I have written, and there being at this moment a secretary of the Duke of Ferrara here, recently sent to his Excellency in relation to late events, I took occasion to talk with him. And going from one subject to another, he told me of his own accord that he had a special commission from his master to advise the Duke to form the talked of alliance with your Lordships; adding, as a suggestion of his own, that it seemed as though such an alliance had been too long thought about ever to be really concluded; and that he was resolved the first time that he should talk with the Duke to see whether he could not bring him to some definite conclusion which might afterwards be proposed to you by the Duke of Ferrara, and that he would talk further to me on the subject before his departure. I showed myself neither anxious to avoid nor to accept this offer, but rather thanked the secretary in a general way. He has since then had an interview with the Duke, and, meeting me again, he entered upon that subject, and told me that he had found his Excellency most favorably disposed; and that having finally told him that if he wished to conclude anything definite it would be necessary to specify particulars, and if he desired that the Duke of Ferrara should take some steps in the matter, etc., etc., his Excellency replied, “Not yet, but that he “would let him know in time.” But as this did not satisfy me, I took occasion to have a long conversation to-day with Messer Agapito, the Duke’s first secretary; and having discussed this matter as between two secretaries who say to each other frankly what each thinks best for the common interest, he spoke to me in the following lengthy argument: —
“See now how well it would be if our two governments could form an alliance together. The friends of your Signoria are equally the best friends of my Duke, and those who are hostile to my Duke are likewise the bitterest enemies of your Signoria. The Venetians are regarded with suspicion by both of us since the Duke has wrested Romagna from their hands. There was no occasion for your Signoria to take the Marquis of Mantua into their pay at this time; they could not be attacked, for the Duke can never more trust the Orsini and the Vitelli, for they have deceived him ever so often. But he thinks that your Signoria have lost a fine opportunity, particularly in giving the position that would have suited the Duke so well to some one else; and he does not know what arguments could now be presented to your Signoria, the Duke being covered with glory, most fortunate, and accustomed to conquer, and his power having increased whilst yours has diminished since the engagement of the Marquis of Mantua. And that it was reasonable that in any arrangement with you the Duke’s rank and honor should be augmented rather than diminished.”
After having spoken of the Duke’s good fortune apart from his successful enterprises, Messer Agapito spoke of recent events, and said that his Excellency could not ask for anything that suited his purpose better; for their result had been, that where the Orsini hoped to stir up all the world against his Excellency, everybody, on the contrary, had declared in his favor; that your Lordships had sent an embassy to him, that the Venetians had written him congratulatory letters, and that his Majesty the king of France had sent him troops; adding, that some account ought to be made of such signal good fortune.
In the course of his conversation, which was by no means a short one, Messer Agapito touched twice upon the subject of the engagement of the Duke as commander of your troops, saying that, unless the past could be undone, there was no chance of doing anything in that way for the future. I will not weary your Lordships by telling you what I replied, but can assure you that I omitted little that can be said to the purpose. But in the end I could not get anything more out of Messer Agapito, except that the Duke still had his eyes upon such an appointment.
I must not omit mentioning to your Lordships that the secretary from Ferrara, in talking with me as to the causes that could make the Duke so reluctant to move, said that he believed his Excellency had written to the Pope on the subject, and that he desired to proceed in the matter according to the Pope’s wishes. I believe, however, that there may be two other reasons; namely, either he does not want to forego the chance of that appointment now,since his affairs here wear a brighter aspect, and therefore he temporizes, etc., etc.; or hewants to wait, before the matter goes any further, until the next Gonfalonier shall have been installed in his palace; for this new order of things has raised the credit of the city of Florence to a degree that no one could have believed.*
I cannot and must not, Magnificent Signori, judge ofthese matters differently, but will continue from time to time to give you simply information as to the condition in which they are; up to the present hour, you are informed of the changes that have occurred. The more favorable the weather, the more difficult will it be to work the soil here; that is to say, the more favorable the condition of the Duke’s affairs, the more difficulty will you have in dealing with him.
Only one thing more I wish to say to your Lordships, and I do so with the utmostrespect; namely, if you make the Marquis of Mantua march promptly, you will at once bring back to reason all those who have strayed from it.
Imola, at the 4th hour of night,
[* ]This refers to the election of Pietro Soderini as perpetual Gonfalonier, which took place on the 20th of September, 1502.