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LETTER VII. - 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: —
To-day at about the twentieth hour, whilst I was at court, your Lordships’ courier arrived with your letters of the 13th. As they contain much the same with regard to the negotiations, etc., as your previous one of the 10th, to which I have replied at length by mine of the 11th, 12th, and 13th, and as their general tenor was of no special importance, I should not have cared to bring them to the notice of his Excellency the Duke but for the information they contain from Borgo about the movement of the artillery and infantry. That seemed to me of importance, and, knowing that it would be greatly appreciated by the Duke, I sought to obtain an audience from him. But his Excellency was extremely occupied in reviewing some detachments of infantry, which defiled in succession before his palace to be mustered into service. I gave a copy of the article of Giovanni Ridolfi to one of the Duke’s secretaries, so that he might present it to him as a matter of importance. So soon as the Duke had read it, he had me called in, and said to me, “What think you of the news?” After having read it, I replied, that if I had to judge of it by the place whence it was written, and by the character of the man who had written it, I could not but affirm that it was true. For the Borgo was only five miles from Castello, and Giovanni is a most prudent man, and as highly esteemed as any one in that city. Whereupon the Duke said: “I can guess how this matter is. You see that Vitellozzo has only started the infantry and the detached lances, but not the men-at-arms, so that he may be able to excuse himself from the charge of treason against me, which would probably be brought against him if he had contravened me with the troops whom I have paid. This movement of the artillery may also be merely a feint on the part of Vitellozzo, for he has certain pieces of artillery belonging to me, which I sent to demand of him only a few days ago. He may therefore make my troops believe that he is sending those pieces back to me under escort, so that they may not be seized by the people of Agobbio; and to the people of Agobbio he may pretend that he is coming to their assistance. But we shall soon see the upshot of all this, and I wait with the utmost impatience for them to declare themselves openly; although I do not believe that the Orsini will do so because of certain negotiations that are going on; and besides, my troops ought to present themselves before Urbino this day.”
After conversing for some time with the Duke upon this subject, I availed of the occasion to let him know how openly your Lordships had favored Grechetto and Bianchino, and how cheerfully you had given leave of absence to Maglianes; and that although these were but small things, yet that out of small things great ones grow; and that the intentions of men could be judged of even in the smallest things. I then told him in a few words, according to your Lordships’ instructions, of your favorable disposition in all other matters, looking always to what was reasonable and possible, and provided that he showed your Lordships all due and suitable respect. At the same time I thanked him for the favorable answers he had given me about the safe-conducts, and that your Lordships would be pleased to have them soon forthcoming in fact. His Excellency thanked your Lordships upon the first point, saying that he regarded the smallest service rendered him by your Lordships as of the greatest magnitude to him; and closed his remarks with general expressions, but in most obliging and friendly language. As to the safe-conducts, he called Messer Alessandro Spannochi, and said to him, “Arrange yourself here with the secretary, and try to put this safe-conduct into shape.” And thus I left his Excellency after some further conversation, in which he told me particularly of the disposition of the king of France to be agreeable to him, and that the day before Odoardo Baglio had been here to confirm to him orally what the king of France had several times written to him, and that he would soon see the practical evidences of his Majesty’s friendly disposition.
In my letter of the 9th, which I retained here until the 10th, I wrote so fully to your Lordships respecting the forces which the Duke has, and the assistance which he expects, that it seems superfluous to write more. The condition of his affairs is greatly improved since it is understood that the Venetians are resolved not to attack him, and since it is seen that he has the upper hand again in the duchy of Urbino, which he had looked upon as lost. To this must be added the fact, if indeed it be true, that the Orsini have submitted or are about to submit themselves to him. But of this we have not heardanything more, notwithstanding that the Signor Paolo Orsino is about to come here, as I have stated in one of my letters of yesterday.
His Excellency has, moreover, taken the Signor Lodovico della Mirandola into his pay, with sixty men-at-arms and sixty light-horse. Besides this, he has ordered the son of the general of Milan, who was formerly the general of Savoy, and who had been sent to enlist those fifteen hundred Swiss infantry, to collect one hundred and fifty men-at-arms in Lombardy, of which the Duke is going to give him the command. Thus the men-at-arms which he expects to have together here in the course of a month are as follows. First, those of his own gentlemen and the three companies under the Spanish captains, which I have mentioned in one of my letters, and those which he is collecting in his possessions in Romagna; — all these taken together will make about 500 men-at-arms. Then there is the Signor Lodovico, and the son of the general of Milan, who will bring about 210; and he counts upon having as many light-horse as he has men-at-arms. As to infantry, I estimate that he will find in Sienna and in the duchy of Urbino about 2,500; and he will have just as many more as he has money wherewith to pay them. Thus you see that he is collecting them from all quarters.
As to what your Lordships say in your postscript, that I should temporize and make no definite engagements, and endeavor to find out the Duke’s real intentions, I think I have thus far done the first two, and have tried my best to do the third, of which my letter of the 13th gives ample evidence; and therefore it would be superfluous to repeat it again now. I believe truly that, besides the other reasons which I have mentioned why the Duke remains undecided, there may be another, and that is that he wishes you to be governed in these matters by the king of France, since you show that you are waiting for his consent.
As I have already mentioned above, Odoardo Baglio was here yesterday; I called upon him, but had no opportunity to learn anything from him, which matters little, as he tells me that he has instructions to go to Florence to your Lordships. Having returned to the palace, Messer Alessandro Spannochi told me that he had again spoken to the Duke about the safe-conduct, but that to make it general would rather be a disadvantage for the Duke than otherwise. And when I wanted to reply to this objection, he said, “I shall have occasion to-morrow to be with Messer Agapito, and we will then see what can be done.” I can say nothing more on this subject except that it would be very much to the purpose if some friend of Messer Agapito were to write to him on the subject. We hear nothing whatever either from Bologna or from the direction of Urbino.
I recommend myself to your Lordships.
Imola, 15 October, 1502.