Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XLVII. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XLVII. - 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 your Lordships briefly to-day, and sent the letter by a courier despatched by the French here, which did not afford me the time to write more fully. Still I informed you of the news which the French here had from their army on the Garigliano; namely, that the Spaniards’ infantry, from want of necessaries, and not being regularly paid, broke up their camp contrary to the will of Gonsalvo, who was in consequence obliged also to retreat with his cavalry to Sessa, where a great many of his troops are reported to be dying. It is also stated that the French, on hearing the noise of this retreat, sent some twenty horse to reconnoitre, who found the Spanish camp broken up as though in flight, and much of their heavy baggage, especially their cooking utensils, abandoned; and that these twenty horsemen had captured a portion of Signor Prospero Colonna’s baggage. This is all I have heard; should I learn anything more, I will report it to your Lordships. I have heard from Paolo Rucellai, who is on very friendly terms with the Orsini, that they have not yet received their quarter’s pay, according to promise, and that they had announced to Gonsalvo their intention to withdraw. We hear from all sides that there is great scarcity of money amongst the Spanish forces.
In a former letter I made known to your Lordships that the Signor Luca Savello had sent one of his men here to recommend himself, and to declare that he could no longer submit to the privations he was experiencing for want of money. Your Lordships have not yet replied to this, and Signor Luca’s messenger is in despair, and I know not what to say to him. Besides this Messer Ambrogio da Landriano came here yesterday in person with a letter of credit from the Bailli to the Cardinal, and complained bitterly to his Eminence and myself of the privations and misery which himself and his company are suffering; and he protests that, if the French had not supplied him with money, they would have died of hunger; and as he could not ask them for any more, he would be obliged to leave with his company, to the great discredit of your Lordships. That he was most unwilling to do this, having until now maintained his company as well as any other captain; and that out of his five hundred men, there were forty mounted and ten crossbowmen. He wants pay for at least one quarter and a half, besides the one hundred ducats due him on his former engagement.
I have promised him to write and recommend his case to your Lordships, which I do herewith, and beg you will send an answer which is so eagerly looked for. Messer Ambrogio left the camp eight days ago, and reports great scarcity of forage, bread, and shelter, and that there are not nine hundred good men-at-arms and only six thousand infantry left in camp, whilst the Spanish have received reinforcements of infantry. Nevertheless he thinks that the news of the retreat of the Spanish forces, which he learned here, is most likely to be true; for he affirms that they were not able to pay for provisions, and that for several weeks they had forced the people of the country to bring them supplies. But as they probably cannot force them any more, they have themselves been compelled to go and seek supplies wherever they can be had. He reports three causes that until now have prevented the French from being victorious. The first and most important is, that they have lost so much time under the walls of Rome, — the very time that would have been most suitable for advancing without being impeded either by the river or by rain, for Gonsalvo was not then prepared to encounter them. The second cause was, that they had not sufficient horses for their artillery, which prevented them from making more than two miles per day. And the third was the severe winter, which still continues; and Messer Ambrogio affirms that whenever they had attempted any movement the weather had become twice as bad as before.
With all this he avers that, even if Gonsalvo had not beaten a retreat, he would not have ventured to attack the French, on account of their being in a very strong position and ready to give battle to whoever might attack them. When asked as to the chances of an advance, he said, that although Gonsalvo had retreated, yet if the ground did not dry up, and when dry, if they were not provided with more oxen, buffaloes, or carthorses, it would be impossible for them to move their artillery. He reports that the Bailli d’Occan is greatly dissatisfied at not being paid; and his Eminence of Volterra suggests that, if your Lordships think that you can relieve yourselves of that expense, you should lose no time in doing it.
Your Lordships’ letters of the 10th and 11th, directed to his Eminence of Volterra, under the supposition that I was on the road to Florence, were received to-day. The reason of my not having left was explained in my previous letter; it was that the Cardinal deemed my presence here necessary, and objected to my departure. We learn from your letters the reason why we have no news from Pietro, or Messer Carlo, or from the Bishop of Perugia. It will all be explained in the quarter where it is required; and the same with regard to what you say respecting Don Michele and the news from France. All this will be most gratifying to his Holiness, and particularly the news of Don Michele; and we shall see to it that he is sent for at such place as your Lordships may indicate as most convenient to yourselves.
I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Rome, 14 December, 1503.
P. S. — I must not omit to tell your Lordships that some days ago a former secretary of the Cardinal San Angelo has been arrested for the purpose of learning the particulars of the death of that Cardinal.* And it is reported that he confessed two days since that he had poisoned him by order of Pope Alexander VI., and that he will be publicly burnt, and that the Cardinal’s cook and one of his butlers have fled. They are beginning here to take these matters up again. The Duke Valentino remains in the same situation which I have explained several times before. I beg to remind your Lordships that if you intend to proceed against him you must send a mandate to whomever you think proper, with power to substitute a procurator, etc., etc.
[* ]This Cardinal was Giovanni Michele, from Venice, nephew of Paul II. It was said that Pope Alexander VI. had him poisoned by his cook, Ezzelino da Furli.