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LETTER XIII. - 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 twenty-fourth hour, I received through Francesco del Magno three letters from your Lordships, one of the 19th and two of the 21st; and after having read and examined them carefully, I went to his Excellency the Duke to communicate to him your reply to his demands respecting which I wrote in my letter of the 16th. I told him of the arrival at Florence of Messer Guasparre by order of the Pope, and of his demands. To the first two, respecting the hundred lances and the Marquis of Mantua, he replied by declaring the one impossible, and that he had nothing to do with the Marquis, not wishing to begin his engagement before the month of March. As to the third, touching the alliance, etc., I related to him the determination you had come to, promptly to send an ambassador to the Pope, so as to learn his wishes more fully, and to treat of all matters of common interest. I did not in any way make known to the Duke your particular instructions, as suggested to me by you at the end of your last letter; and did not fail to try earnestly to convince him of your desire to be of service to him, and how far you were from having an understanding with any of his adversaries. And as it seemed to me to the purpose, I communicated to him that portion of your letter which refers to that matter.
His Excellency listened to me most graciously, as he always does; and then, having gone to a table upon which lay some letters, he said to me: “Before otherwise replying to you, I wish to show you a letter which his Majesty King Louis XII. has written to the Venetians, and of which Monseigneur d’Arles has sent me a copy in French. And for the better understanding of it, you must know that these Venetians, under pretext of friendship, have sent word to the king by their envoys, that their love for his Majesty made them apprehensive lest he should meet with some damage to his renown in Italy; that as his most devoted friends they felt themselves obliged to apprise him of the current rumors, and of the harm resulting to him from the protection which he had accorded and continued to accord to the Pope and the Duke of Valentinois, who without provocation usurped the possessions of others, wasted the provinces by war, and committed endless damage and disorders, discreditable to his Majesty who permitted it. That the wrongs of the past were as nothing compared to those lately done at Bologna, which his Majesty had undertaken to protect. The king, after hearing these things, replied to them by letter, so that the Venetians might keep it before their eyes, and thus more clearly understand his intentions.” After that the Duke read me that letter at length, which in effect justified all these calumnies, and concluded by an expression of his determination to reduce all the States of the Church to obedience, and that, if the Venetians were to oppose the attempts of the Pope, his Majesty would treat them as enemies.
Having finished reading that letter, his Excellency added: “I have told you several times, and repeat it to you again now, that I shall not lack support. The French lances will be here shortly; and thus the Pope will not permit me to want for money, nor the king of France to want for troops. Nor will I boast either by act or word, but I think my enemies are likely to have occasion to regret their treachery to me.” And then, turning the conversation upon the Orsini, he said: “That they had lately been guilty of the greatest treachery against him that had ever been committed. You know,” he said, “that I told you within the last few days that they were about to enter the duchy of Urbino in my stead, and according to my orders, which had been communicated to them by the Chevalier Orsino. Believing this, as they had raised the siege of the castle of Cagli, as I have told you, I wrote to Don Hugo di Cardona to march with his troops to Urbino, as the Orsini were coming to my support from the other side. He did so; but had it not been that he stopped on his way to demolish two small castles, my troops would have been all cut to pieces. For when they were about to advance, they were assailed by a great number of the people of the country, and were on the point of being surrounded by the Orsini, who ought to have been my friends. They have now made a descent into the territory of Fano, where, however, they take only what is necessary for their subsistence, pretending all the while to be my friends. Giampaolo Baglioni, another friend of the same sort, wanted to enter Fano, but did not succeed. You see now how they conduct themselves; they keep up friendly negotiations with me, and write me fine letters. To-day Signor Pagolo is to come here to see me, and to-morrow the Cardinal Orsino is to come, and thus they mock me in their fashion; but I temporize, listen to all I hear, and bide my time. By way of answer to what you told me on behalf of your Signoria, I readily accept their excuses, knowing that they are founded in truth. Nor could I be better satisfied with them than what I am, and with what they write me of having gone purposely to Sienna; and therefore I wish you to offer them, on my part, all the service I have it in my power to render them. I did not upon your arrival open myself so entirely to you, because my states were at that time in a very critical condition. Urbino had rebelled, and I knew not whom to rely upon. I found everything in disorder in these new states, and did not want your Signoria to believe that great fears had made me prodigal of promises. But now that my fears are less, I promise you more, and if necessary shall add thereto my deeds, when my apprehensions shall have been entirely dissipated.”
Having made a suitable reply to his Excellency’s remarks, and having returned to the subject of the Orsini and the negotiations, I thought it proper to say to him as coming from myself: “Your Excellency sees how frankly my noble Signoria is in accord with you; for at the very height of your peril they have sent me to assure you of their friendly disposition and their devotion. Regardless of reproaches for increasing your reputation and lowering that of your enemies, they have broken off all negotiations with them, and have opened to your Excellency a free passage through their territories, which acts merit recognition and should not be forgotten. I beg, therefore, to remind and urge upon your Excellency, that, if you should come to treat with the Orsini or any of the others, you will remember our devotion to you, and will therefore not conclude any arrangement contrary to the constant professions of friendship on the part of your Excellency for my Signoria.”
To this the Duke answered that he entertained no such thought, adding: “You know that Antonio da Venafro has been to see me in the name of the Orsini, and, amongst much other news which he has given me, he brought forward a proposition to change the government of Florence. I replied, that the Florentine government was the friend of the king of France, to whom I am devoted, and that it had never offended me; and what was still more, I was on the point of forming an alliance with it. To this Antonio replied by urging me on no account to conclude such an alliance, but to let him return and effect a good arrangement between us. Whereupon I said to him, with the view of not giving him any encouragement in that direction: ‘We have gone so far that I cannot now go back; nevertheless, I repeat to you that I am willing to listen to you and to continue negotiations with you, but will never conclude any arrangement adverse to the interests of Florence, unless that republic should give me special occasion for so doing.’ And in case Messer Antonio should return, rest assured,” continued the Duke to me, “that I will tell you all he may say to me concerning your affairs; this I shall do anyhow.” And thus terminated this conversation with the Duke on this and many other subjects, which it is not worth while to report; whereupon I took my leave of his Excellency.
Your Lordships are informed now of the language held by the Duke, of which I have not written the half; and you will now weigh the matter with your usual sagacity, having due regard to the individual who uttered it. As to the situation of things here I would observe that ever since my being here the government of the Duke has been maintained exclusively by his good fortune, which is founded upon the confident opinion that the king of France will furnish him troops, and that the Pope will supply him with money. Another matter which has operated no less in his favor is the tardiness of his enemies in pressing him; and in my judgment they are no longer able to do him any harm, for he has provided all the important places with garrisons, and the fortresses with ample means of defence. These precautions have so cooled the spirits of his enemies that the Duke can now securely await the arrival of fresh forces. As all these places are commanded by citadels within, they know that, if they were to commit any folly, the Duke on his arrival would let the French troops upon them; and thus the mere apprehension has kept them quiet, if not all, at least the greater part of them.
The city of Pesaro being most suspected by the Duke, he has sent Don Michele Coraglia there with such troops as were left to him; and feeling more sure of Fano, he has left that city to the care of its own inhabitants. But as Rimini has and continues to cause him anxiety, he has thrown a strong garrison into that city. Of Cesena, Faenza, and Furli he has no apprehensions, the inhabitants of the latter city being hostile to the Lady Catharine Sforza, and the other two having no lords. The Duke himself is here at Imola, and can repress any movement on the part of the Bolognese. Having organized things in this wise, he only awaits the arrival of the French to take the field; and according to the report of Rafaello de’ Pazzi they must anyhow be by this time in the duchy of Ferrara. He also reports having left eight hundred Gascons at . . . . . . some thirty miles from here. The six hundred Ferrarese infantry which the Duke had ordered to be raised there have just arrived here. To-day he has expedited the Chancellor of the Signor of Mirandola with money and instructions to have him raise troops; and this captain promises to be here with his troops within ten days. On the other hand, the enemy have partly surrounded Fano, and it is reported to-day that they have opened the siege in regular form. Moreover the Bolognese are in force at Castel San Piero, and for two days have scoured and wasted the country, and are reported this evening to be in the neighborhood of Doccia, three miles from here.
Your Lordships will judge of these matters as may seem fit in your wisdom. As you have sent an ambassador to Rome, my longer stay here will be superfluous. I beg therefore that your Lordships will consent to my recall; for my private interests at home are going to ruin, and I have expended all the money you have given me, as is well known to those who serve me here.
Imola, 23 October, 1502.
P. S. — To day is the 24th, and it is announced that the Signor Paolo Orsino will be at Cesena to-night, and that he will be here to-morrow to confer with the Duke.