Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XXVII. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XXVII. - 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 enclosed of yesterday, in reply to your Lordships’ letter of the 20th, you will be informed of the events of that day. Since then I have received yours of the 21st, with a copy of the convention concluded between the people of Faenza and the Venetians. Having at the same time heard of the return of his Eminence of Volterra, I called upon him immediately and read him the letters and the articles of the convention. After carefully noting their contents, and particularly the postscript where your Lordships show that you had foreseen that the attack of the Venetians upon Romagna was made “with the consent of the Pope, he told me that he had conferred several times with the Cardinal d’Amboise about it, and that he had also had his suspicions on the subject, seeing the tardiness of the Pope’s measures,” but that having afterwards talked with his Holiness, and seeing how keenly he felt the conduct of the Venetians, he could no longer believe it. And thus with regard to the information which you give respecting those who had gone to Imola, our Cardinal said that your Lordships were either misinformed, or that the Pope had been deceived by his envoys, as they had no authority to speak for any one but for the Church. We shall nevertheless watch these things closely, and if we learn anything of moment your Lordships shall be promptly advised. Your letter was subsequently read to the Cardinal d’Amboise, and the articles of the convention were also shown him; and as the ambassador of the Emperor of Germany, who has repeatedly visited the Cardinal within the past few days, happened to be in his chamber at the time, the Cardinal called him to listen to the letter and the articles of the convention. Both the Cardinal and the ambassador manifested much resentment, and expressed themselves in the gravest and bitterest manner against the Venetians, intimating that this act of theirs might easily prove their ruin. In truth, there is such a general hatred manifested here against the Venetians, that we may hope that, if an occasion were to present itself, some harm would be done to them; for everybody cries out against them, not only those who hold their states from them, but all those lords and gentlemen of Lombardy who are subjects to the king of France (and these are not a few) cry into the ears of the Cardinal d’Amboise. And if he has not yet taken any action against them in the matter, it arises from the considerations which your Lordships understand, and which may cease either in consequence of a peace or a truce, or some other means, by which their condition would be improved. In short, the general opinion is that this attack of the Venetians upon Faenza will serve them as a door that will either open all Italy to them, or that will lead to their own ruin.
His Eminence of Volterra, with that prudence which he manifests on all occasions, enlarged upon the dangers to which our republic is exposed, and the inconvenience which she suffered from not having her troops within reach; and that the well-known ambition of the Venetians might easily give rise to a state of things that would not only make our own troops necessary, but also those of the king, to defend us against that inordinate desire for conquest of the Venetians, which, whilst it made them usurp the possessions of the Church, at the same time threatened those of Florence. D’Amboise became terribly excited at these words, and swore by God and on his soul, that if the Venetians committed such an outrage the king of France would leave all his other occupations, no matter how important, to come to our defence, and that upon that point your Lordships might be of good cheer, etc., etc. His Eminence of Volterra did not deem it proper to say anything more, judging that it was enough for the present to have warned D’Amboise of what might happen. I went afterwards to present myself at the feet of the Holy Father, where I found his Eminence of Volterra, and read your Lordships’ letter to him, as also the articles of the convention, his Eminence adding what he thought to the purpose. His Holiness repeated what he had already said to me on another occasion, that he was fully resolved not to suffer such a wrong done to the Church; and that, besides having sent the Bishop of Tivoli, he would also send the Bishop of Ragusa to make his intentions known in Romagna and to the Venetians; that he had caused the Duke of Urbino to withdraw his troops, and had written to order Vitelli to do the same. He said further, that, for the purpose of depriving the Venetians of every excuse for this attempt, which they pretended to be against the Duke Valentino and the Florentines, he had written to your Lordships, requesting you to withdraw your troops, and had ordered the Venetians to do the same; “and that with regard to the Duke Valentino he had taken measures that were known to Volterra;” that he would wait now to see what the Venetians would do after all this, and if they did not desist from their attempt, and did not make restitution of what they had taken, he would unite with France and the Emperor for no other purpose than the destruction of the Venetians, for which these sovereigns were well disposed. When his Eminence of Volterra replied that the Venetians said that they intended to hold those places and pay the same dues as the other lords, which they thought his Holiness would readily agree to, the Pope replied that he had no such intentions, for he wanted those cities in the hands of men of whom he could dispose at his pleasure.
Your Lordships will judge of the intentions of the Pope by what he says, and by the measures he has taken, and what is likely to be the result of this affair. You will also have received the Pope’s brief directing you to withdraw your troops from these places; for he has written to the Venetians to the same effect, for the reasons above explained. What the Venetians will do on receipt of this brief is not known; but your Lordships can watch them, and govern your actions according to your habitual prudence. And to conclude, as regards the intentions of his Holiness, your Lordships will see, as I have several times said, that he wants to keep all those places in his own hands and under his own control, and it is for this purpose that he has sent those Cardinals to Ostia, “the result of which was that, as the Duke refused to give up those places which he still held, the Pope had him arrested, as I have related in the enclosed. It seems to be the Pope’s determination to have those places, and to assure himself of the Duke’s person, who is actually now in the Pope’s power, being on board of one of the king’s galleys, under command of Mottino. It is not supposed that he will do him any other harm for the moment; nor is it known for certain that the Pope has ordered such of the Duke’s troops to be disarmed as have gone by land. But it is believed that this will naturally be done, as they come without a safe-conduct from any one.”
His Holiness will assume the tiara on Sunday next. Your Lordships can therefore start the ambassadors at your entire convenience; but his Eminence of Volterra suggests that the sooner the better, considering the Pope’s character, for he says that his Holiness seems to desire their coming, and would not be displeased at their arrival before the Genoese ambassadors, and that the first come will be the first despatched. His Eminence has charged me to advise your Lordships to urge their departure, for by doing so you will greatly advance yourselves in the Pope’s good graces without any inconvenience to yourselves.
From the camp I have nothing else to tell you but what I have already said in my letter of the 21st, for the weather continues most unfavorable, and, if this goes on so, the troops will be obliged to retire into quarters somewhere. Perhaps they may be able by means of some agreement to withdraw from each other’s front, for which the six months’ truce concluded at Perpignan gives some hopes. Your Lordships will be kept fully advised in relation to all this.
Rome, 24 November, 1503.