Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XXXIII. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XXXIII. - 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: —
Day before yesterday I received a letter from your Lordships in reply to several of mine. Having in my last, of the 2d, given your Lordships full account of the state of things here, and nothing new having occurred here since then, I have really nothing to write about. Nevertheless, so as not to keep your Lordships in suspense for want of letters, I deem it well to write the present. Having been ten days without attempting to speak with his Excellency the Duke, and the treaty between him and the Bentivogli having been concluded, I thought it well yesterday to seek an occasion to see the Duke, who promptly granted me an audience. Before I could say a word to his Excellency, he said to me: “I had the desire to speak to you some five or six days ago, for during his last visit here the Signor Paolo Orsino told me that your Signoria had sent two envoys to him at Urbino, to propose to him that, if he or his son would engage to serve the republic of Florence, they would make terms with him, provided he should accomplish some results to their advantage in the affair of Pisa. But that he had declined the proposition, although there was nothing to hinder him from accepting your Lordships’ offer of an engagement even to acting against his Excellency.”
I asked him whether the Signor Paolo had given him the names of the two envoys, and whether he had not shown him their letters of credence; or whether the said Signor Paolo had never in the past told him any lies. His Excellency replied that the letters had not been shown him, nor had the Signor Paolo told him who the two were; but as to lies, Signor Paolo had told him plenty. And thus the matter ended in a laugh, although at first the Duke spoke in an angry manner, showing that he believed what Signor Paolo had told him, and regretted it. It seems to me that it would not be amiss if your Lordships were to write me something on the subject, so that I might show it to his Excellency. We conversed afterwards for a full hour on various matters, which it would be superfluous to report to you, as they were of no importance. I will only mention that I infer in substance from what his Excellency said, that he is still of the same mind as to contracting an alliance with your Lordships and maintaining it; and that he would never himself do anything adverse to you, nor permit others to do so. For he regarded any weakness or diminution of your power the same as a diminution of his own. At the same time, he intimated to me that he was disposed to a certain extent to accept your propositions, if you declined to agree to his. He did not say this clearly in so many words, but I thought I could gather as much from his remarks. And although I tried to find out his real sentiments, yet I did not succeed, as I could not answer him except in general terms. We then spoke of the conduct of the Venetians, and how they had kept up intelligence with Rimini through a citizen of Venice, who lived there, and whom he had caused to be hanged to save their honor. He told me of the fears they had conceived on seeing his army collected there, and of the honors they had shown to an agent of his whom he had sent to Venice to buy some guns, honors such as were entirely unusual on their part, and undeserved on the part of the agent. He then spoke of the affairs of Pisa, and of the vigorous attack which your Lordships had made upon that city, and he expressed the opinion that its capture would be the most glorious achievement that any captain could accomplish. From that the Duke suddenly turned the conversation upon Lucca, saying that it was a rich city, and a fine morsel for a gormand; and thus we passed considerable time with similar conversation.
His Excellency said, furthermore, that he had been very glad to conclude the treaty with the Bentivogli; that he wanted to act towards them as a brother, and that God himself had had a hand in bringing about that treaty; for at the beginning he had entered upon that negotiation not at all as a serious matter, but that afterwards all at once the Pope had disposed him favorably to it, and that he then consented to it with as much satisfaction as possible. He added, that if your Lordships, Ferrara, and Bologna, and himself, were to go together, then he would have nothing to fear from anybody: first, because the king of France is the common friend of all the parties, and so long as he remained in Italy he would protect them or increase their power; and secondly, because even if the king should experience some reverses, his alliance with them would afford him such support at all times that no one would presume to raise a hand against it.
The Duke told me that the stipulations of the treaty provided that his Majesty the king, your Lordships, and the Duke of Ferrara guaranteed the faithful observance of the treaty by each of the contracting parties; and that he believed your Lordships would not refuse. I replied, that I could not speak positively, but I believed that, whenever it was a question of peace and tranquillity, your Lordships would always lend your ready concurrence; and more especially when associated in the matter with the king of France.
I asked his Excellency whether there was anything new from Urbino, and what he intended to do with his army, and whether it was his purpose to dismiss the French lances. He replied, that he had letters yesterday informing him that the Signor Paolo and Messer Antonio del Monte were at a castle about five miles from Urbino, and had requested the Duke Guido to join them there; which, however, he had not done as yet, having been prevented by an attack of gout, and that they had therefore resolved to go to him; also, that the inhabitants of Penna a San Marino had sent a deputation to the said Signor Paolo to make terms with him; and that as regards himself he contemplated withdrawing within three days from here, and moving as far as Cesena with all his army, and he would then act as circumstances might require. He said further, that for the present he would not dismiss a single Frenchman; but that when once he had settled his affairs he would retain no more than two hundred to two hundred and fifty lances, for these troops were really insupportable and destructive to the country; adding, that where he had intended to have only about four hundred and fifty French lances, he had more than six hundred, because all those that Monseigneur de Chaumont had with him at Parma had come to him in small detachments, having understood, as they said, that here “we lived by the grace of God.” After some further conversation of this sort I took my leave of his Excellency, and have really nothing further to write to your Lordships about the state of things here; for, as I said at the beginning of my letter, matters remain here much as when I last wrote you. We have the same troops here, and still expect to start from one day to another; and your Lordships see what the Duke himself has told me as to the course he intends to pursue. I hear nothing different from private sources, and to guess is difficult.
Not knowing when the goods of our merchants are to leave Ancona, or where they are to go, I can think of no way of facilitating the matter. I recommend myself to your Lordships, and beg you will grant my recall, and thus at the same time save the public treasury the expense, and myself the discomforts which I experience. For since the last twelve days I find myself really sick; and if I go on thus, I fear I shall be brought home in my coffin.
Have the goodness to direct the bearer of this to be paid one gold scudo, for he has promised to be in Florence to-morrow before three o’clock.
Imola, 6 December, 1502.