Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XIV. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XIV. - 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: —
By my last of yesterday I notified your Lordships of the receipt of your letter of the 8th, per express, and stated the reasons why I had delayed until this morning to communicate it to the Pope. His Holiness being indisposed, it was with difficulty that I could explain everything to him; nevertheless, he manifested great displeasure at the conduct of the Venetians, and if he had at this moment a strong force at his command, he would perhaps take things differently; for the present, he intends sending a deputy to Venice. His Holiness will not decide upon the matter by himself, nor will he consult the whole College, but only a few of the Cardinals of each order; for he considers such a decision as a grave matter, because of the consequences that may result from it. He says he will have to deliberate upon this through to-morrow. But so far as seemed to him well, he would now make show to believe that the Venetians in their conduct have been actuated by hatred of the Duke, or by some other special reason, and not by a desire to seize upon the states of the Church, of which his Holiness, as their immediate lord, intends always to keep the control in his own hands, so that he may dispose of them according to his judgment and the dictates of justice. And if such be the case, then it will be well indeed; but if not, then his Holiness will resort to the strongest measures, and will call upon all the other princes for aid against them, for he is determined not to let this matter pass lightly. His Holiness says that he intends also to write to Ferrara and Bologna, and will here speak with the Cardinal of Este and the Protonotario Bentivogli on the subject. And by way of an immediate remedy for the state of things made known to him by your letter of the 6th, he has despatched a brother of Messer Francesco da Castel del Rio, and a Messer Baldassare Biascia, who are to seek Dionisio di Naldo, and are to endeavor, by even the largest promises, to bring him back to his allegiance to the Church. They are also to try and influence the other populations of that province to place themselves in the hands of the Pope, if they wish to escape from imminent perils, and put an end to all factions. And having been informed that the mere credit of his election had saved Fano, it seemed to him that he had already done not a little, and was therefore the more hopeful as to the rest. He told me also that the Venetians had already sent troops and banners into Fano, although they pretended that their object was to preserve it for the Church.
The Pope, moreover, urges your Lordships to do your utmost to save these states from falling into any other hands, no matter whose; and to advise and to labor to induce them to submit themselves to the Sovereign Pontiff, so that he may dispose of them according to the will of God and justice. It has been represented to his Holiness what you have already done up to the present time, and how honestly and frankly you have acted; but that the condition of your republic would not permit you to do more, and that it was necessary for his Holiness himself to oppose the attempts of the Venetians, etc., etc. This was the only conclusion we could arrive at.
I shall endeavor to urge the sending of this deputy to Venice, and we shall then see what results have been achieved by the mission to Dionisio di Naldo. No efforts are spared here to try and stir up his Holiness against the Venetians, in accordance with your Lordships’ views, “and his Eminence of Volterra does his duty to his country without reserve,”* and does not cease to press D’Amboise and all the other Cardinals who have any influence with his Holiness; they all yield readily to his requests, both with an eye to their own interests and to those of the Church. The Cardinal d’Amboise particularly is most zealous, but promises for the present neither men nor any other assistance except letters. He hopes for the success of the French, or that possibly some arrangement may be effected with the Emperor and the Archduke, that may shape matters according to his views, and more especially this affair of Venice.
Your Lordships will see from the above what effect has been produced by the information given in your letters of the 6th and 8th, and repeated afterwards on the 9th, of which I received the copy to-day. And to enable your Lordships the better to understand what course the Pope is likely to take, or what assistance you may count upon receiving from him against the projects of the Venetians, I will repeat what I have already written in several previous despatches to your Lordships. Whoever examines the present state of things at Rome will find that all the important affairs of the day centre here. The first and most important of these is the difference between France and Spain; the second is the affair of Romagna; after that come those of the factions of the Roman barons, and of the Duke Valentino. The Pope finds himself in the midst of these broils, and although he was elected to this dignity by great favor and by his reputation, yet as he has occupied the papal chair but for a short time, and having as yet neither troops nor money, and being under obligations to everybody for his election and for the general support he has received, he cannot as yet take a decided part in anything; and therefore he is obliged rather to pretend neutrality until the changes of time and things oblige him to declare himself, or until he is so firm in his seat that he may favor one or the other party, and engage in any enterprise he may please.
The facts prove the truth of this; for to begin with the most important affair, his Holiness passes for being French by natural affection, yet in his dealings with Spain he bears himself in such wise that they have no reason to complain of him. Still he does not go so far in this that France could take umbrage at it, and circumstances cause both parties to excuse him. In the affair of Romagna, the Venetians on the one hand aggravate him, and on the other hand you cry out; so that it is natural that his Holiness should be harassed by it, for he is a man of spirit, who desires that the Church shall increase and not diminish under his Pontificate. And yet your Lordships have seen above how he controls himself, and how on the one hand he accepts the excuses of the Venetians, feigning to believe that they are influenced in their conduct by their hatred of the Duke, and not by any desire to injure the Church, whilst on the other hand he manifests to your Lordships his dissatisfaction with the conduct of the Venetians, and takes all the precautions and measures which in reality he is able to do at present. As to the barons, it is easy for the Pope to manage them, as the chiefs of the factions are not here; the Orsini being represented here by the Archbishop of Florence and by the Signor Giulio, and the Colonnese by their own Cardinal and certain individuals of no importance. There only remains then the Duke Valentino, for whom it is believed that his Holiness has a natural aversion; and yet he manages him for two reasons. The first, because he wishes to keep his word with him, of which it is claimed that the Pope is the most tenacious observer; and because of his obligations to him on account of his election, which he owes in great part to the Duke. The other is because, the Pope being still without troops, the Duke is better able than any one else to offer resistance to the Venetians; and for that reason the Pope urges his departure, and has addressed briefs to your Lordships, soliciting free passage and safe-conduct for the Duke, and also favors his cause in other ways. Although I have indicated all this in my previous despatches, yet it seems to me necessary to explain it more fully at this time, for I feel the importance that you should know the Pope’s intentions, and what he would and could do, and what he desires that you should do; so that your Lordships may fully understand him, and not hope for anything more from here. And that it behooves your Lordships to bethink yourselves of other means, either by supporting the Duke, or by such measures as you may have in your power. You may assume that the Pope will have to be satisfied with things as they are, and with whatever course the affairs of Romagna may take, provided that that promise does not slip from the hands of the Church or its vicars.
The Duke sent for me to-day, and I found him in a very different mood from what he was the last time, as I wrote you in my letters of the 6th and 7th. He said many things to me, which being reduced to one amount to this: that we must think no more of the past, but only of the common good, and strive to prevent the Venetians from making themselves masters of Romagna. He told me that the Pope had promised to aid him, and had written briefs for that purpose; and that your Lordships should also think of giving him your support, and that you might in return count upon him for anything. I answered in a general way, and assured him that he might rely upon your Lordships.
After that I had a long conversation with Messer Alessandro di Francia, who told me that they would probably despatch a courier to-night, with the Pope’s brief and other letters that have been written by the Cardinal Volterra and myself to your Lordships in relation to the safe-conduct, which they were confident of obtaining. He told me further that the Duke hesitated as to the course he should take, and did not know whether he should go by land with his troops, which number about four hundred horse and about as many infantry, or whether he should let his troops go by land whilst he would go by sea to Livorno, and then join his troops on Florentine territory, where he could meet some of your citizens and conclude his arrangements with you; but that he did not want to be delayed, and therefore desired to find the articles of agreement all duly prepared, so that he might have nothing to do but merely to sign them. He desired that you should write to Livorno, so as to insure him a proper reception in case he should take that route. I replied that I would write to your Lordships, and gave him good hope. Your Lordships can now think of all this, and consult and resolve and prepare yourselves as to the manner in which you will act with regard to the Duke. Messer Alessandro told me that the Duke would send some one to Florence to digest and draw up the agreement with you, and that he would not like to send any one of little authority; at the same time he could not with safety send a personage of great authority, but so soon as he should be in position to do so, he would send such a person.
The letters which your Lordships have sent for the Pope have been presented to him, and he offers his thanks, etc., etc. I again beg to refer to my despatch of yesterday.
Rome, 11 November, 1503.
[* ]This passage, and others in the subsequent letters included within quotation marks, are supposed to have been written in cipher.