Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XXVI. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XXVI. - 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: —
Yesterday I sent to your Lordships through Giovanni Pandolfini, and free of charge, four letters of the 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22d. The last informs you of the departure of the Cardinal Volterra for Ostia, for the purpose explained to your Lordships in mine of the 21st. Since then I received last night yours of the 20th, giving the news of the loss of Faenza. So soon as it was light this morning I went to the chamber of Messer Francesco di Castel del Rio, the person nearest to the Pope, and read him your Lordships’ letter. He told me that his Holiness had nothing so much at heart as the affairs of Romagna, and for that reason the news would be most painful to him. Still, as it was necessary that his Holiness should know it, he thought it best to avail of some favorable occasion to communicate it to him, and made me leave the letter, which I did most willingly, for it seemed to me in all respects proper that the Pope should know the facts. Deeming it well also to give the news to those Cardinals who have shown themselves most devoted to the Church in this matter, I spoke to Ascanio and Capaccio. Ascanio told me that he had also received the news, and that he was for doing everything possible for the good of the Church, etc., etc. Capaccio expressed himself in the most acceptable manner towards your Lordships, but added that he thought you had made a mistake in this Romagna business, in having supported those lords who have taken possession of these places again; that you ought to have abstained from interfering, or, if you wanted to do it, you should have done so in the name and under cover of the Church, and not in the name of any one else. Thus you would not have afforded the Venetians an occasion to oppose you, and to take to arms. These Venetians excuse themselves to the Pope on no other ground than this, and pretend to have taken arms against the cities of the Church, not for the purpose of holding them, but merely to prevent the Florentines from taking possession of them under cover of the Church.
Your Lordships know that I have ample ground for justifying your conduct in this matter, having been personally present at all the discussions and decisions come to by your Lordships on the subject, all of which I explained very fully to his Eminence the Cardinal Capaccio. He seemed satisfied, but remarked nevertheless that it would have been well not to have afforded the Venetians such a pretext. Under the circumstances, however, he said it was necessary to think of the remedies; and so far as he was concerned, he was for leaving nothing undone, and he thought that his Holiness was animated by the same feelings; and then he told me of the steps taken in sending the Bishops of Tivoli and Ragusa, etc., etc. After that I had a conversation with the Cardinal d’Amboise, who told me that I ought to communicate the news to the Pope; and that as for himself he would do all that was possible for the security of your Lordships and for the liberty and honor of the Church. At that moment Castel del Rio sent for me and informed me that he had shown your letter to the Pope, who was as much grieved at the events as could be imagined, and was resolved to leave nothing undone, as was well known to his Eminence of Volterra, who had gone on horseback to Ostia for no other purpose, and that on his return he would decide whether some more effective measures could not be taken, and that then all would be done. I did what I thought my duty with Castel del Rio, as well as with the other Cardinals; still I judge that my offices are the less needed in this matter, as the Cardinal Volterra neglects nothing that ought to be said or done by any one who has the welfare of his country and the general good at heart, as I have already written several times to your Lordships. And if the measures and remedies do not conform to his suggestions, and are not such as the necessities of the occasion demand, or as your Lordships might desire, you must only blame the malignity of the times and the ill fortune of the feeble. We must then await the return of our Cardinal from Ostia, and see what arrangements he may have concluded, and whether thereupon the Pope or the Cardinal d’Amboise will decide upon moving more promptly.
It is now the twenty-fourth hour, and, as his Eminence has not yet returned, I judge that he will not come back until to-morrow. I must not omit to tell your Lordships that it is publicly said here, (and I write it because I have heard it from a man of serious character, and who is in a position readily to know the truth,) that early this morning a messenger came to his Holiness from those Cardinals who went to Ostia to see the Duke Valentino, signifying that the Duke refused to place the fortresses of Romagna in the hands of the Pope; and that his Holiness, enraged at this news, has sent orders to have the Duke arrested, and that he is now held as prisoner. And further, that the Pope has immediately written to Sienna and Perugia, ordering such of the Duke’s troops as might come there to be immediately disarmed.
I do not know whether all this be true, but shall inform myself on the subject the moment our Cardinal returns, and will then at once write to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Rome, 23 November, 1503.