Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XLIX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XLIX. - 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 wrote last from Gualdo on the 6th, having previously written from Sassoferrato on the 4th, and on the 2d from Conrinaldo, besides two letters from Sinigaglia on the last of December, and one from Pesaro on the 28th; and I look anxiously for your acknowledgment of them all. People here wonder that you have not written, or in some way sent your congratulations to the Duke upon what he has lately done for your advantage; for he is persuaded that our whole republic should feel under great obligations to him. He says that the killing of Vitellozzo and the destruction of the power of the Orsini would have cost you two hundred thousand ducats, and, moreover, that you would never have done it so effectually yourselves as it was done by him.
Since my last letter little of importance has taken place, but what you will have heard of much sooner from another quarter. Now that Castello and Perugia have made their submission, there remains nothing for the Duke except his enterprise against Sienna. The Duke did not accept those places for himself, nor will he make terms with them, but has referred them to Rome, saying that all he aimed at was to have them return to their obedience to the Church, and to suppress the factions in those places, and to deliver them from their tyrants. And to give more color to these professions, he has refused until now permission to the banished to return to Perugia. It seems even that he has promised to the deputies who came to him from Perugia that the banished shall not return there, telling them that his intention had not been to deliver them from one tyrant for the purpose of replacing him by ten others.
Yesterday evening we reached Ascesi, and remain here to-day; and to-morrow morning the army, without baggage trains, for so it is ordered, is to march to Torsiano, seven miles from here. This being but a small place, those who cannot be lodged within will be quartered in the vicinity. After that, it is said, the next halt will be at Chiusi in the Siennese territory, provided he can first cross the Chiana, and then enter the town, which it seems he intends doing either by consent or by force. Yesterday evening the city of Sienna sent deputies here, who had a long interview with the Duke. I understand the object of their mission is to learn the reasons that have induced his Excellency to threaten that city with war, as it is publicly said that he has the intention of doing. The deputies say they are prepared to justify the conduct of the city of Sienna, etc.
The Duke is reported to have replied to them, that he has ever regarded the city of Sienna as his good friend, and does so still; that it never was his intention to make war upon her, but that he has an intense hatred against Pandolfo Petrucci, who is his mortal enemy since he conspired to drive him from his states. That whenever the city of Sienna shall take ways and means to expel Pandolfo, peace would instantly be made; but in the contrary case, he had come with his army for the purpose of doing it. The Duke added, that he should be sorry to be obliged to injure others, but he felt that he would be excused by God and by men, and even by the Siennese themselves, as being forced to it by necessity and a just anger against a man who, not content to tyrannize over one of the finest cities of Italy, wanted to ruin others, for the sake of dictating laws to all his neighbors. And without any other conclusion, as I understand, the interview was broken off; the ambassadors agreeing to write to their government.
Thus matters remain undecided, and no one can venture to foretell the result. For on the one hand there is the Duke with his unheard of good fortune, with a courage and confidence almost superhuman, and believing himself capable of accomplishing whatever he undertakes; and on the other hand there is a man at the head of a state of great reputation, which he governs with great sagacity, and without an enemy either foreign or domestic, having either conciliated or put them to death, and having plenty of good troops, — if it is true, as reported, that Gianpaolo Baglioni has withdrawn and joined him in Sienna. And even if for the moment they are without any hope of help, yet time is apt to bring it. There is nothing else to be done but to wait and see the end, which cannot be delayed many days. Should this matter lead to open hostilities, then your Lordships will assuredly be called on by the Duke for assistance, and he will demand that you attack from your side. Indeed, I wonder that he has not already done so, but I believe the reason is that the Duke hopes that this affair of Sienna will take the same course as those of Castello and Perugia, and therefore he is not disposed to place himself under obligations to your Lordships.
I have nothing more to write respecting matters here, and must refer your Lordships to my former letters, both as regards the Duke’s forces and his disposition. But to sum up the whole in two words, as to his forces he has some five hundred men-at-arms, eight hundred light cavalry, and about six thousand infantry. As to his disposition and intentions towards your Lordships, his language always has been and continues to be full of affection, as I have written you several times; and he spoke on the subject so reasonably, and with so much animation, that, if one could believe him to be sincere, we might rest assured without any uneasiness. But the experience of others makes one fear for one’s self; and the manner in which he acted towards your Lordships when there was a question of an arrangement with you deserves serious consideration. For it is evident that his Excellency had the desire to renew his former engagement with our republic; and when he found there was no chance for that, he avoided the subject, and passed it over lightly, saying that a general alliance was sufficient for him, as though he saw clearly that he could not force you to it now, and wanted to bide his time, when he should be able to do so. He seemed to think that he could temporize with perfect convenience, it being quite clear to him that your Lordships would do nothing against him out of regard for France, and in view of the character of his enemies, as well as of your own weakness; and thus he sees only advantage in delay. What I infer from all this, and wish to call specially to your Lordships’ attention, is that when the Duke shall have carried his enterprise against Sienna to a successful conclusion, the time for which is drawing near, he will think that the opportunity which he has planned and expected has at last come. And I submit humbly to your Lordships, that, if I judge this matter wrongly, it is owing partly to my want of experience and partly to the fact that I see only the things that are passing here, and from these I can form no other conclusions than those given above. And now I leave the whole to the wisdom of your Lordships, to whom I recommend myself.
I have learned this evening that certain plenipotentiaries have come here secretly; I shall try to find out further particulars, which I will communicate to your Lordships.
Ascesi, 8 January, 1503.
P. S. — I have already mentioned to your Lordships that Messer Goro of Pistoja is prisoner here, and that he might be redeemed for two hundred ducats, or even less, and delivered into your hands. I await your Lordships’ reply in relation to this matter.