Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XX. - 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: —
Your Lordships will have learned from my letter of the 5th that the Duke had gone to Salarolo to confer with those French gentlemen. During his absence I received yours of the 5th. His Excellency returned late yesterday evening, and to-day, after having reviewed the Swiss, who begin to arrive, he could not give me an audience until the first hour of the night. I informed him of the mission of Monsignore Volterra to France, and enlarged as far as was suitable upon the favorable character of the instructions given him as regards his Excellency and his states. And then I added that your Lordships had written me that you had been informed by your envoy at Rome that his Holiness the Pope manifested the same favorable disposition towards the Florentine republic as his Excellency; but that your Lordships nevertheless desired his influence with his Holiness whenever there might be occasion for it. Thereupon his Excellency asked me “what possible occasion could occur.” To which I answered, that “it might be in reference to the remission of some tithes.” He replied that he would do what was necessary, and desired me to thank your Lordships for the instructions given to your envoy to France, the Bishop of Volterra. He also asked me whether the Marquis of Mantua had accepted his military engagement, to which I answered that your Lordships had written me a few days ago that the matter was still in doubt. Thereupon his Excellency asked me, “And what military engagement does your government propose to offer me?” My reply was, that “I did not know your Lordships’ intentions, but that up to that moment I had been under the impression that his Excellency intended rather to take others into his service and pay.” To which the Duke answered, “Being by profession a soldier, and being a friend of your Signoria, would it be honorable for me not to be engaged by them? Nor do I believe that I deceive myself in thinking that I would serve them as well as any other captain.”
He then asked me how many men-at-arms your Lordships intended to keep on foot? To which I made answer, that I did not know your Lordships’ views upon that point, but I believed that you intended to keep at least four hundred. Thereupon he asked me how many the Marquis of Mantua had actually of his own, and how many our republic; and when I told him, he arose, saying, “That is no place for me then,” and withdrew to speak to a French gentleman, whereupon I took my leave. Before entering upon this discussion respecting his being engaged by your Lordships, and the number of men-at-arms, etc., etc., his Excellency said to me, speaking of the Orsini, that the ratification of the treaty had not yet been received, either because those who had to sign it were at some distance from each other, or because some of them were reluctant to sign, in consequence of Giovanni Bentivogli being vexed at being made of so little account as to have his interests referred to arbitration. But the Duke added that these difficulties caused him less embarrassment than they would have done at a former period, as he was better prepared now. He further observed to me, that it would be well in the mean time if your Lordships were to make some special arrangement with him, so that he might not be entirely dependent upon the other parties; assuring me at the same time that, if he should finally conclude the treaty with the Orsini, it would be done in good faith. And then he added, “Secretary, I beg you to tell me whether your Signoria will go further in sustaining me than by a mere general friendship?” And when I replied to him in accordance with your letters, he said, “I asked you this because, if such a general friendship suffices them, I shall be content with it also, and would not like to indulge the hope of any special engagement, which, if it be afterwards not concluded, would give rise to irritation between us. I desire to be dealt with in entire frankness, etc., etc.” It was after this that he entered upon the discussion which I have related above.
About two hours after this conversation with the Duke an agent of the Bentivogli came to me and told me that he had just had an audience from the Duke, and that shortly after my leaving the court the ratification of the treaty arrived; but that the Duke was nevertheless anxious to conclude a separate treaty with Bologna, and that he had commissioned him at once to send a messenger to the Protonotario to have him come here immediately. He has not yet arrived, having injured one of his toes. Moreover it is reported to-day that the castle of Pergola had surrendered to the troops of the Orsini, which things agitate the minds of a good many persons, but I cannot write differently to your Lordships from what I hear. It is said that the Swiss and the remainder of the French lances will reach here in the course of this week. Conversing with one of the Duke’s secretaries about the coming of these French, he told me that his Excellency had given orders for a part of them to stop at Parma, and not to approach any nearer here. Whereupon I said to him, “The Duke then does not wish to protect himself against his enemies?” He answered, “You are the cause of this, because your Signoria did not seize the opportunity to secure the Duke and themselves.” To which I observed, “that the means of so doing had not been indicated to us; but that your Lordships had never failed to do your utmost in behalf of your friends.”
I have spoken to the Duke about the Gaddi affair, and he told me to make his secretary remind him of it. For the present I think of nothing more, but shall go to court to-morrow to see whether I can learn anything respecting the articles of the treaty, and will advise your Lordships of whatever I may hear.
Imola, 8 November, 1502.