Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XIX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XIX. - 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: —
Not having been able to send the two enclosures of the 14th and 16th sooner, they will now go at same time with this. I cannot oblige the merchants to do other than what they please, and cannot therefore promise you more regular advices from here; but whenever there is any danger of my letters being delayed too long, I shall do as in the present case, and send them in some other way by paying for them. Yesterday at an early hour came your Lordships’ letters of the 13th and 14th; those of the 10th and 11th having reached me some four hours sooner. The last two require no reply, having been written when your Lordships were still uncertain as to an answer to yours of the 8th; and in response to the other two, I have also but little to say, as you have received mine of the 12th, per express, which fully informs you of the state of things here, and what you may hope for in the way of assistance. I refer again to that letter, and more especially to what I have written in the enclosed. His Eminence of Volterra is nevertheless of opinion that I should present myself again at the feet of the Pope, and read to him your instructions, so as to learn what his Holiness may now have to say; and also to communicate to him your views in relation to the Duke’s affairs, and to sound him as regards his opinion of the whole business.
Efforts were made to procure me an audience, which, however, I did not get until three o’clock yesterday evening, when I read to the Holy Father those parts of your letters which it was proper he should know. When I came to that part where you say that Messer Ottaviano da Campo Fregoso had taken the field with cavalry and infantry sent by the Duke of Urbino, his Holiness became very angry, and said, “The Duke will be here in a couple of days, when I will shut him up in the Castel San Angelo.” He then listened with great attention to the remainder of your letter; and after having heard it all he said that he felt obliged to your Lordships for reminding him of what was for the honor of the Church, and for your efforts, etc., etc.; and that for his part he had done and would continue to do his utmost, as was well known to his Eminence of Volterra; that he had sent some one to Venice to let them know his intentions, and that he would also send some one of distinction to Romagna to reanimate the lords and the people of that province, and to induce those who had strayed from their allegiance to him to return. I replied to his Holiness in what I thought suitable terms, but obtained no further information from him; it is evident, however, that he does all he can, as I have mentioned in my previous letters. I then touched upon the affairs of the Duke Valentino, “and explained to his Holiness why your Lordships had not granted the desired safe-conduct to the Duke; to which he replied that it was well, and that he agreed with you entirely,” and lifted up his head in a very significant manner. From this it will be seen what before may have been doubted, that his Holiness thought it an eternity before he could get rid of the Duke; and yet he wanted him to go away satisfied, and so as not to afford him grounds for complaining of the non-observance of the pledges on the part of the Pope; as it might still happen that he might wish to avail himself of the Duke for his own purposes in the affairs of Romagna; and thus he would not close the door to his being able to make use of the Duke. But that he cared nothing about what you or any third party might do against the Duke.
“Looking now at all the Pope’s actions as I have explained to your Lordships in previous letters, we see that he intends getting those cities into his hands, and that by sending an envoy to the Venetians he hopes to obtain their consent, etc., etc. And if that plan does not succeed, he will try and get possession of them through some one else, who will hold them for the time. And perhaps he thinks that the Duke, upon finding himself abandoned by you, will cede to him that part of Romagna which he still retains; and that, once having possession of those towns, the others will easily follow.” Such I believe to be the Pontiff’s conduct and intentions, as your Lordships will see; and whatever resistance you make to the Venetians will naturally be most welcome to his Holiness.
Your Lordships will learn from the enclosed of the 14th what has been decided upon by the Pope and the Duke, and those other Cardinals; all of which was agreed upon and arranged, as the result has shown since then, “to feed the Duke with hopes and to urge his departure, which the Pope evidently desires.”
When the Duke learned through letters from Florence that your Lordships had not granted the desired safe-conduct for him, he sent for me; and after my audience with the Pope I went to him. His Excellency complained of your refusing him the safe-conduct, and said that he had already sent his cavalry, supposing that they would be admitted on Florentine territory, and that he intended to start himself in the expectation that the safe-conduct would be sent to him anyhow, as he could not have anticipated a refusal, and could not understand your fearing on the one hand lest those towns should fall into the hands of the Venetians, and on the other hand your closing the way to all succor; that perchance he might take a different course, which might be injurious to your Lordships; and that although he was aware of the danger of his coming to an arrangement with the Venetians, yet the force of circumstances might cause him to do so; for he would obtain great advantages from them, which he was disposed to accept to some extent, and which would be a mortal injury to you. I replied to the Duke, that the safe-conduct was not absolutely refused, and that he had been given to understand that your Lordships wanted to know on what footing you really were with him, and to settle that point first, and then to establish such relations of friendship as should properly exist between two states that desire to be on good terms and to act in good faith towards each other; that your Lordships were not in the habit of rashly or hastily entering into anything, and did not intend to begin doing so now, and therefore it would be well for him to send some experienced person, who was fully informed as to his intentions, to Florence, and I doubted not that your Lordships would do what was for the advantage of our republic and her friends. The Duke replied that he had sent his troops forward, and was himself on the point of going by water, and that he had wished before his departure to have a clear understanding of what he might hope for from your Lordships. To which I answered, that I would at once write to your Lordships this morning and give you notice of his Excellency’s having started his troops, and of his having sent an envoy to you to ask you to admit his troops on Florentine territory; that this envoy would meantime arrive in Florence, and would negotiate direct with your Lordships; and that I had not a doubt but that some satisfactory arrangement would be effected, of which his envoy might advise his Excellency wherever he might be. The Duke seemed in a measure satisfied, but answered that if your Lordships hesitated or dealt unfairly with him, which would become manifest within four or five days, the time necessary for his envoy to come to Florence and write, he would make terms with the Venetians and with the Devil himself; or he would go and join the Pisans, and would devote all his money, his power, and what allies remained to him to injure our republic. The person whom the Duke has selected for the mission to your Lordships is a certain Messer Vanno, the Duke’s fosterbrother, who was to have started this morning; but it is now the eighteenth hour, and I have not yet heard of his departure; it is possible that the Duke may have changed his purpose. His Excellency agreed also with the Cardinal d’Amboise to leave this morning for Spezzia, according to the original plan. He intended to take with him on board, and in vessels of his own, some five hundred men selected from amongst his gentlemen followers and his infantry; but up to the present moment nothing has been heard of his departure. Possibly he may wish to wait until he is in some measure assured of your Lordships’ intentions.
“Your Lordships will observe that my answers to the Duke were only intended to give some little encouragement to his hopes, so that he might have no excuse for remaining here any longer, and so that the Pope, in his desire to get rid of him, might not oblige you to give the Duke the asked for safe-conduct. When the Duke’s envoy arrives in Florence, your Lordships need not pay much attention to him, and may act in the matter as may seem best to you; reflecting whether it be more important to break off or to conclude the negotiation. The Duke’s cavalry that have gone towards Florence, under command of Carlo Baglioni, number one hundred men-at-arms and two hundred and fifty light-horse. Your Lordships will take measures to find out their whereabouts, and should you deem it well that they should in a measure be disarmed, you can do so whenever you think proper; and when informed of your Lordships’ intentions, I shall act towards the Duke accordingly. I beg your Lordships will not fail to write me in case anything else should occur.”
Your letters are communicated to the Cardinal d’Amboise and the other Cardinals; and his Eminence of Volterra does all that is possible to stir up everybody, and to keep them on the lookout,as I have already mentioned in my enclosure of the 16th. And if everything here does not go on as you could wish, it will be the fault of circumstances, and not because the thing is not thought of or not urged.
“Respecting the security demanded by the Duke, D’Amboise says that you must act as best suits yourselves”; in relation to other matters, he complains much and shrugs his shoulders. Your Lordships’ letter of the 15th was received this morning, in reply to which nothing else occurs to me. The Citerna business is still delayed, for the reasons given in my letter of the 13th. I will endeavor to bring it to a speedy termination, and with the greatest possible advantage. Of the French army we have no further news, nor can we expect any so long as this weather continues. In consequence of the inundations around the Garigliano, the Spaniards cannot attack the French, and the latter cannot advance.
The assumption of the tiara by the Pope is postponed until Sunday week. Pagolo Rucellai has given me to understand that the privilege of extracting saltpetre is within his control, and that if your Lordships desire any particular conditions in this matter, which he will be able to manage, he desires to be informed.
We are now at the twenty-first hour, and an hour and a half since I received your letter of the 15th, in which your Lordships point out to me the extremely difficult condition of the affairs of Romagna. But as I had a long interview with his Holiness on that subject yesterday, and as his Eminence of Volterra saw him also to-day, it has seemed to me best to defer until to-morrow to communicate to him the contents of your letter, so as not to weary his Holiness with that subject; the more so, as we do not believe that we shall obtain anything more from him. The Pope can do no more than to write and send agents, and all this he has done. I believe the Bishop of Ragusa will be sent to Romagna, and that he will start immediately.
I recommend myself to your Lordships.
Rome, 18 November, 1503.
P. S. — I send this by the hands of Giovanni Pandolfini, who leaves at the twenty-second hour. Your Lordships will please pay him the customary compensation.