Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XXXVIII. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XXXVIII. - 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: —
I write to acknowledge your three letters of the 8th, 10th, and 13th instant, although I have not much to say in reply, your Lordships’ letters having been mainly replies to several of mine. But as your letters contain an explanation of what I had written you that Paolo Orsino had said to his Excellency the Duke, and as you manifest therein your good intentions of forming a closer alliance with his Excellency, and tell at the same time how much the Pope was pleased at your having sent an embassy to him; and as you moreover enter into some particulars, etc., etc.; it seemed to me well to ask for an audience of his Excellency, which, however, I could not obtain until yesterday evening at the fourth hour.
Deeming it advisable to communicate to his Excellency a portion of your letters, I read to him all those parts that relate to the above-named subjects. His Excellency listened very cheerfully to it all, and then expressed himself in the highest degree satisfied with what your Lordships write respecting Paolo Orsino. And upon the other points he repeated what he had already told me several times; namely, that he was anxious for an alliance with your Lordships, and that the closer it was, the more importance he attached to it, and the more agreeable would it be to him; and that he was the more ready to treat with you as he saw that his Holiness the Pope was most favorably disposed towards your Lordships; saying that he had lately had letters from his Holiness, in which he manifested not only a great desire to have the matter closed, but also such an affection for your Lordships that you could not wish it greater yourselves. His Excellency added, that he was more than ever pleased at this, for he saw in it the means for giving the strongest possible foundation to his power; and that with such a union between your Lordships, himself, and Ferrara, Mantua, and Bologna, neither himself nor any of the others would or could have anything to fear. That he entered into such a union with the more readiness, as it seemed to him to be his own act; and that he did it with all the frankness and sincerity that could be asked of a royal prince. That he remembered having told me that, when he was able to do but little, he had neither boasted nor promised anything, but had reserved his action until his state should be securely established; and that then he had made large offers to your Lordships. And that now since he had recovered Urbino, and that Camerino was at his disposal, and that without the Vitelli and the Orsini he found himself with ten thousand horse at his orders, he thought he could afford to promise largely; that therefore he placed all his forces at your service in case it should happen that you were assailed, and that he should not wait to be called, but would then prove by his acts what he to-day promised in words.
I fear, O Magnificent Signori, lest your Lordships may think that I put these words into the mouth of the Duke; for I myself, who heard him, and noted his very words and the terms which his Excellency employed in saying these things, and observed the gesticulations with which he accompanied them, can scarcely believe it. But I deem it my duty to write these things to your Lordships, as it is yours to judge of them and to think it well that I should tell you of it, but that it will be still better not to have occasion to put him to the proof. I thanked his Excellency on behalf of your Lordships in such terms as seemed to me proper, telling him how much importance your Lordships attached to his friendship and to his offers, etc., etc.
Turning suddenly to another subject, the Duke said to me: “You are not aware that a citizen of Pisa has arrived here, and has for several days past solicited an audience of me, which I have not yet granted him. In my endeavors to find out what he wants, I learn that he has come to inform me that the king of Spain had offered them his assistance, and that they were for accepting it, unless others were willing to aid them. I purpose giving this emissary an audience now, and he is for that purpose in the adjoining room. I do not want you to leave, for so soon as I shall have heard what he has to say, I will report it all to you.” After thanking his Excellency I withdrew, and thereupon the Pisan entered, and remained with the Duke about a quarter of an hour. When the Duke had dismissed him, he called me back and told me that “the Pisan had informed him that he had come on behalf of ‘The Ancients’ of Pisa; that the king of Spain had sent them word that hewas ready to supply them whatever quantity of grain they might want, and as much infantry and cavalry as they might need for their defence, on condition that they would promise to place themselves at his disposal and be his friends; that they would be obliged to accept these conditions unless they could be assured that help would come to them from some other quarter. And therefore they had sent him to his Excellency to make their excuse to him for whatever course they might take.” The Duke told me that he had replied by advising them to consider well what they did, and upon what course they entered. For they must see that the Italians were all French in sentiment; that the king of France was all powerful in Italy, and an enemy of the king of Spain; so that, if they were to ally themselves with Spain, they would find that they made enemies of all those who until now had sustained them. That all at once they would have the knife at their throat; for one of these fine mornings the king of France and his adherents would be under their walls, and that he himself would fly to besiege them, at the slightest word from the king.And therefore he advised them as a friend to remain as they were, and to preserve the friendship of the king of France, and to conform to his will, as he was the only one from whom they had anything to hope.
The Duke said that the Pisan envoy remained confounded, and could make no answer, except that they could exist no longer in the condition in which they were. His Excellency told me further, that he had replied to the Pisan envoy in the manner he did because he thought it would be believed by the Pisans, and would be of advantage to your Lordships. For in advising them to rely upon France, which was your friend, it was the same thing as advising them to rely upon you, without naming you, so as not to exasperate them still more. Moreover, he thought it would be beneficial to you to remove from your vicinity a war such as this might become. And in fact he thought that he ought to do anything to prevent the Pisans from committing such a folly, although he had some doubts whether he should succeed, seeing the state of desperation the Pisans were in. To all this the Duke added, that for the present he had answered them in this wise, but that in future he would shape his replies according to your Lordships’ instructions. I thanked his Excellency for this communication, saying that his reply to the Pisans seemed to me in all respects most prudent and well considered; that it was not for me to tell his Excellency how to act in this matter, for he well knew how much your Lordships had Pisa at heart; and that he knew also the condition of the other Italian affairs, which he would have to weigh in all his replies and in the negotiations which his Excellency might have occasion to have with the Pisans. I also told the Duke that I would write to your Lordships, and in case of my receiving any instructions on the subject I would at once communicate them to him.
Your Lordships will remember my having told you in a former letter that I had received different accounts of this negotiation, and how according to the one version the Pisan envoy had not yet spoken to the Duke, whilst according to the other he had had two interviews with him. For this reason I wished, before closing this letter, to speak again with both theparties who had made these statements to me, so as to see what I could learn from one and the other. I have, however, not yet been able to do so, but will endeavor to supply this deficiency in my next.
The affairs of Urbino remain in the same condition as when I last wrote; and of Camerino I know nothing but what the Duke told me, and which I have already mentioned to you; and which amounts to this, that the city is at the Duke’s disposal. His Excellency has sent orders for the artillery, which is at Furli, to be brought here. He gives money freely to the infantry and to the men-at-arms; and it is said that within a week he will break up his camp here and move by slow marches to Sinigaglia. Four days ago it was reported here that the French had experienced a complete rout in the kingdom of Naples; but the Duke told me yesterday that it had been merely an unimportant affair. Your Lordships are in a position to have more reliable intelligence.
I have endeavored to ascertain how the obligation should be drawn which your Lordships have to execute to the king of France and the Duke of Ferrara with regard to the treaty concluded with Bologna. A certain Messer Giovanpaolo, secretary of the Bentivogli, has told me that the treaty provided that his Excellency the Duke obligates himself, within two months after the ratification of the treaty, to bring about that his Majesty the king of France, the Duke of Ferrara, and the Illustrious Signoria of Florence shall guarantee the strict observance of the peace. And it seems that, as the Duke has to ask for this guaranty, the obligation has to be given for the Duke only. The above-named secretary seems to be of the same opinion; still, if the words of the treaty are as above stated, then they are liable to a different interpretation. But as yet the demand has not been made upon your Lordships; for since the ratification of the treaty, the question as to the dowry which the sister of Monseigneur d’Euna is to have has not yet been settled; this matter, however, is to be taken in hand to-day.
By your letter of the 8th your Lordships recommend to me again the case of Salvetto di Buosi, and I mentioned it to the Duke yesterday evening. After a good deal of discussion he came to the conclusion that he would save Salvetto’s life, contrary to the will of the Naldi family; but that he will not liberate him in opposition to them, for it did not seem to him wise for the benefit of one person to offend four; and that it would be a great satisfaction to him if Dionisio would content himself with that, as he could not do any more.
I recommend myself to your Lordships, and beg again that you will furnish me the means of support; I have here at my charge three servants and three horses, and cannot live upon promises. I began yesterday to run into debt; having spent seventy ducats up to the present time. You may ask the bailiff Niccolo Grillo about it, as he has been here with me. I might have my expenses paid by the court here, and may still have it done, but I do not wish that; and have not availed myself of that privilege hitherto, for it seemed to me for your Lordships’ honor and my own not to do it. But your Lordships must know whether I can with a good will go about asking for three ducats here, and for four of some one else.
Cesena, 18 December, 1502.
P. S. — Your Lordships know that when I obtained the safe-conduct from his Excellency, a few weeks ago, I had to promise to give to the Chancelry whatever Messer Alessandro Spannochi might deem proper; and it is certainly no pleasure for me to allege anything against the fulfilment of that promise. Now the clerks of the Chancelry are every day at my heels, and I owe them yet sixteen yards of damask. I beg your Lordships will have this provided for me through the merchants; for if I do not satisfy these clerks of the Chancelry, I shall nevermore be able to expedite anything through them, and especially confidential matters; for they manage all these things without any reference to the Duke. And, moreover, by sending this damask, your Lordships will relieve me of an obligation which I have contracted here. And thus I recommend myself specially in this matter to your Lordships.