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SECOND MISSION TO THE COURT OF FRANCE. - 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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SECOND MISSION TO THE COURT OF FRANCE.
Resolved upon, 14 January, 1504.*
You will proceed per post, via Milan, to Lyons, or wherever you may learn that his most Christian Majesty is to be found, and you will take with you two letters of credence, one to his Majesty, and the other to the Cardinal d’Amboise; also two letters without any address, which you will make use of where it may be most necessary; and another for our ambassador there, Niccolo Valori, to whom you will explain on your arrival all the instructions we have given you. You will communicate everything to him, so that he may fully understand the object of your mission, and that he may in turn inform you of all that has taken place, and what he may have learned of the affairs of France since your departure from here. After that you will present yourselves together before his Majesty, and make known to him all the points herein specified, which we desire particularly that his Majesty should fully understand, together with all the circumstances connected therewith; taking care not to omit any part, so as to make him see clearly to what condition our affairs here have been brought, and how they may yet be recovered; and that to save ourselves from destruction it has become necessary for us to see and understand clearly all his Majesty’s thoughts and designs.
One of the objects of your mission is that you may see with your own eyes what preparations they are making, and report to us immediately; giving us at the same time your own judgment and conjectures respecting them. And if these preparations are of such a character that we cannot depend upon them, either from their being too insignificant, uncertain, or too slow, then you must make his Majesty fully understand that it is quite impossible for us to provide forces enough to suffice for our safety; and that it would not be prudent for us to wait and place our reliance upon assistance that is not considerable, prompt, and real. Nor must you confine yourself to this only, but you must demonstrate to them the urgent necessity for us to seek our safety wherever we can find it; for the preservation of our state is before every other consideration, as that is the only small remnant of our liberties left to us, and which it behooves us to save by every effort in our power. And to arrive at this conclusion, it will be necessary for you to explain to his Majesty, as time and place may suit, the dangers with which we are threatened, on the one hand from the Venetians, and on the other hand from the Spaniards, who are acting in concert with each other. And you must make his Majesty comprehend the condition of our affairs; how on the one hand we are involved in war with Pisa, and how on the other the Venetians with an army are threatening our very borders; and how all our other neighbors, who ordinarily are badly disposed towards us, and more particularly so since the late defeat of the French, have already made terms with the Spaniards, or are upon the point of doing so; that we have but few troops, and these in great part scattered in different places, and the other part defeated in the kingdom of Naples whilst in his Majesty’s service; upon which points it is not necessary to give you any particular instructions, because during your stay here you had the opportunity of knowing it all yourself. The same with regard to the events in the Romagna, and what has been learned from Rome respecting the determination of the Spaniards, and what little we may hope for from the Pope. And should you lack information upon any of these points, you will be able to get it from Niccolo Valori, to whom everything has been written, and to whom copies of all documents and despatches have been sent, which he has most probably all with him. In stating the dangers to which we are exposed, and the evil intentions of our enemies, you may also mention the coming of our banished to Castello and to Sienna. After having related all these things, together with the circumstances connected therewith, which you must do in the most effective manner, you will conclude by telling his Majesty that in consequence of these things we have sent you to him to learn his intentions, and to know what provisions he is making to maintain what remains to him yet of possessions and friends here. You will also show to his Majesty that Lombardy is in no small danger, unless he remedies it actively, and shows to the whole world that he will and can save both states; and finally, that we desire his Majesty’s counsel and help to save us and our state.
We believe that the answer will be vigorous, and that a variety of projects will be proposed; but our intention is that you should say, and we charge you particularly to reply, that such plans and resolutions will not suffice us, but that it is essential that they should send help at once, and of such a character that his Majesty’s enemies, and those of his friends, will have to desist from molesting his and their states; and that unless the assistance rendered us be of that character, we shall risk being attacked, which we desire to avoid; and that we do not wish to be compelled to seek our safety by other means; the same as in the contrary case we are resolved never to abandon his Majesty’s friendship, but to share his fortunes, whatever they may be, provided we see the way clear for our preservation.
You will explain to Valori that the principal cause that has induced us to send you on this mission has been a letter received yesterday from Alessandro, informing us that the engagement of Baglioni had been broken,* and that we are consequently to provide for the payment of ten thousand scudi at the period of every fair; and that our letters have been retained. All this seems to us an indication that they have cut loose entirely from our interests, and think only of their own; and that they abandon their friends, who have suffered so much for their sake, and leave them a prey to their enemies; and that they have no memory either for our fidelity or for the services we have rendered them. And as these are matters of much importance, it seems to us that, having to speak of them, it will be proper to make them understand that we deem it necessary to conclude Baglioni’s engagement, for the reasons of which you are fully cognizant yourself, and in accordance with which we have several times written to Valori. And as to the payment of the ten thousand scudi, you can say that we have no wish to fail either in our good faith or in our obligations, but that it is quite impossible for us to burden ourselves with any new expenditures; and as Baglioni’s engagement was for the benefit of their cause, and was made at their request, we cannot assume either the one or the other responsibility, and that they must acquit us of the obligation.
And should it be said in reply that we had never ratified the engagement, you may answer, that it was nevertheless concluded, and that we had the Cardinal’s pledge for it, which we do not hold in so little respect but what we deem it necessary for our honor to have that engagement definitely concluded. And moreover, we think matters ought to be so arranged that we may be able to keep our faith and comply with our engagements; for to be obliged to suffer, and to be assailed at the same time without seeing any refuge, would be more than we are able to bear. You will furthermore demonstrate to his Majesty, that neither the conclusion of an engagement with Baglioni, nor the release from all other obligations, will suffice in all the dangers that surround us; but that it is necessary for his Majesty to rouse himself and provide such help as we have indicated above. Upon all these points you will confer also with the most reverend Legate, with Nemours, and with all such others as may be able to aid in this matter with his Majesty the king. We desire you to use the utmost diligence in all this, and write us the result as soon as possible. And when you have executed our commission, and obtained all the information possible, you will return to your post here, unless the ambassador should think otherwise.
In passing through Milan you will call upon the most illustrious lieutenant, and explain to him also all the same matters, in such manner as may be most suitable; and above all you will endeavor to make him sensible of the dangers to which that state is exposed from the neighboring Venetians, and from the spirit that animates them; as also from the Spaniards, who, it is understood, are gathering their troops for the purpose of an advance; and that one of the most effective remedies against all this would be to sustain Tuscany, and to preserve her life until she shall have recovered her former strength. You will urge him to write to his Majesty upon all the points upon which you will have spoken to him; for experience has shown that few counsels have greater effect in moving his Majesty than those of his own officers.
We have explained to you, Niccolo, our necessities in a general way, and have commissioned you to ask of his Majesty of France aid and counsel as to what to do in the midst of so many dangers; and we judge it unnecessary to say anything more, unless it should be specially asked for. In case it be said to you that his Majesty is willing to make provision in our favor, but that we must say what remedies we think necessary, you may reply, that in our judgment the first thing to do would be for his Majesty to pass the Alps and to come to Milan, and to send fresh troops there; and that these, as well as those already there, should be so organized, and quartered in such places, as not to be exposed to any danger; that his Majesty, by virtue of his authority, should reunite all the states of Tuscany, take into his pay either the Colonna or the Orsini and add to their strength, and if not all, then at least a part of them, such for instance as the Baglioni, by means of whom he could make sure of Sienna, a matter very necessary to be thought of; that he ought to keep his fleet in our waters; and that he should endeavor to have the Pope openly declare himself for him; and in addition, as we have already written on a former occasion, to assure himself of the Swiss and of others, upon which point the Ambassador will be able to inform you, to whom we have written every day, keeping him fully advised of all that has occurred, and of all our views.
I, Marcellus Virgilius.
From our Palace, on the day above written.
Magnificent and Illustrious Signori, etc.: —
I arrived here this morning at about the twenty-second hour, and have had an interview with Monseigneur de Chaumont. I explained to him the object of my mission to the king, and that I had come by way of Milan, so that his Lordship might hear from me direct what I had to communicate to the king, and that he might write to his Majesty, and recommend to him the interests of his friends and of his own states, and point out to him the dangers with which they are threatened, and the remedies that should be employed. After that I communicated to him all I was instructed to say, and endeavored to make him sensible of the necessity that we should have assistance; but that such assistance should be real, as indeed the dangers were that threatened us. For if your Lordships should be abandoned, you would inevitably expect to see your city pillaged, and witness her total ruin; or you would have to make terms with those who aim to force you to do so, even if the conditions were anything but good. I spoke of the Venetians according to my instructions, as also of your Lordships’ neighbors, and of the confusion into which they had been thrown, and how necessary it was for the king to preserve them as friends, as well as to win back again those whom he had lost. In fact, I did my best not to omit saying anything that was essential for him to know in relation to this matter, without transgressing your Lordships’ instructions.
Respecting the dangers with which you are threatened, and the remedies to be applied, his Lordship answered in a general way, first, that he did not believe that Gonsalvo intended to advance, and then that, even if he should, the king would take good care of his friends, as well as of his own states; and that you need have no apprehensions on that score, as his Majesty would not fail in his promises. And when I observed that these assurances did not suffice for those who had the enemy, so to say, on their backs, and related to him the evidence which we had of Gonsalvo’s intention to follow up his enterprise, his Lordship said, “When Gonsalvo sees his Majesty’s fleet increased to double its strength, and learns that there is a large force in Lombardy, he certainly will not advance.” I replied, that neither the fleet nor the troops in Lombardy could defend Tuscany. To which he rejoined that the Pope would be a good Frenchman, and that Giovanpaolo was in their pay, and that the Siennese would be able to make a stout resistance. I answered him by saying that both the Pope and the Siennese would want to see with their own eyes the assistance promised by the king, as neither of them had any forces of their own; that it was a good thing to have Gianpaolo Baglioni in one’s pay, but that his engagement ought to be definitely concluded. And I demonstrated to him how necessary it was to close this engagement, and not only to have Baglioni in their pay, but to bind him to serve the state.
I did my best to convince Monseigneur de Chaumont that there was no city in that part of Italy more suitable for being made a point of resistance than Perugia, by quartering there some four or five thousand infantry and four or five hundred men-at-arms; that its situation was one of the strongest, and that with such a number of troops it would be truly impregnable, and could not with safety be left in the rear. I persuaded him, so far as I was able, of the importance for them to preserve that city, and thus to acquire other Italian troops. After that we touched upon the subject of the alliances that should be concluded between your Lordships and the scattered little states of Italy, but to effect which would require the interposition of the king’s authority. His Lordship concluded to write to the king on that subject, as well as about the other matters which we had discussed. I begged him to send one of his own men to come with me, to which he replied that he would cause the post to run, and advised me to lose no time in finding the king, who, he believed, would give me a reply that would reassure your Lordships. And as I took my leave, he said in a voice loud enough for all around to hear, “Ne doutez de rien.” I have forgotten to tell your Lordships that the Lieutenant said nothing respecting the Venetians, except that he would make them attend to their fishing, and that they were sure of the Swiss.
This is all I have been able to get out of Monseigneur de Chaumont, and I have endeavored to give you his very words. Since then I have talked with one who is a friend of our city, and who recognized me, having been at court when I was there before; and having drawn me aside, he said to me, with great show of regret, that he augured ill of the king’s affairs, for he knew that he could not raise any more money; that he had but few men-at-arms here, who were dispersed in different places, that he had no infantry, and that it would require a long time to provide both, but that there were no indications of their taking any steps about it; that on the other hand the enemy were ready in their saddles, fresh, and with all the prestige of victory and good fortune; so that he really knew not what help there was, not alone for his Majesty’s friends, but for his own states even. All this my friend said to me lamentingly, like one who feared these things, but not desired them. At another time I will give you the name of this individual, when I can do so without danger to him in case my letter should miscarry. Beyond the above, I can say nothing to your Lordships about matters here, not having been able in so short a time to learn more. I leave to-morrow about noon for Lyons; and recommend myself to your Lordships.
Milan, 22 January, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.:* —
Yesterday at about the twenty-second hour, Niccolo Machiavelli arrived here, and having heard from his own lips the reason of his coming, and having read his commission, and it being already late, we thought it well to defer until this morning all attempts to present him to the king. Accordingly we went to court this morning for that purpose, and, having endeavored to obtain an audience, I was told that it would be impossible to see his Majesty that day, as he was suffering somewhat from dysentery; but that, if the matter was pressing, we should speak to the Cardinal d’Amboise. I believe the excuse was true, for the king had refused to see some men sent by the Marquis of Mantua to present him some birds, for which he had asked the Marquis, and which he was very anxious to possess. Being thus precluded from seeing the king, we decided it would be well to see D’Amboise, and accordingly went to his lodgings. When I made known to him the arrival of the Secretary, he withdrew apart, where, after a few customary and suitable words on my part, Machiavelli presented his letters of credence to the Cardinal, and stated to him, so far as the time and the nature of the audience permitted, the object of his mission, which was in fact to point out the dangers by which our republic is threatened on the part of Gonsalvo and on that of the Venetians; as also from your being surrounded by a number of other enemies, some of whom have already declared themselves either for the Spaniards or the Venetians, and others were ready at any moment to do the same; and also because you have lost your troops in the kingdom of Naples, and find yourselves at the same time with the Pisans on your back, who were resorting to all the tricks of the infernal regions to injure you. He then showed that in all these threatening dangers you had but one confident hope, and that was in the assistance and arms of the king; but that inasmuch as the injuries were real, it was necessary that the help should also be real, and that he had been sent expressly to learn what assistance his Majesty intended to render us; and that it was earnestly desired that it should be of such character that our city might confidently rest her hopes upon them. All this Machiavelli said, with that animation which the subject demanded. Afterwards he added, that if his Majesty declined to grant us assistance, and such as the circumstances required, there would be nothing left for you but to make terms with those who were trying in every way to subjugate you.
His Eminence remained to listen to Machiavelli with evident displeasure, and showing himself to be much irritated; in his reply he complained much of these constant lamentations of your Lordships, who, being wise, should not in these times, and in the difficulties in which they are, use such language. He referred again to those points which I have already mentioned to your Lordships; saying that it was expected that the truce between Spain and themselves would be ratified, and that in less than a week they would be fully informed upon that point; and that his Majesty would not fail, in any way or point, to protect his allies or his own states; and that if your Lordships wished to take another course, they could not prevent you, but that you ought to think well before acting. To this I promptly replied, that there was not a man in all Florence who thought that you would have to take such a step, for every one confidently believed that the king would not let us want for help; and that what had been said on the subject was merely to show to what point our city might be driven, in case the support of his Majesty should fail us. Thereupon Machiavelli, with his wonted sagacity and adroitness, added, with the view of soothing his Eminence and to come to something definite, and also to have occasion to speak of Giovanpaolo, that it should be borne in mind, that the way to save Tuscany would be to save her walls; and that these walls on the side towards Gonsalvo were the Pope, Sienna, and Perugia. His Eminence did not let Machiavelli say anything more, but quickly answered that they were sure of the Pope and of Sienna, and that, as Perugia was a city belonging to the Church, she would do whatever the Pope wanted; and thereupon he rose and left us abruptly. I must not omit to tell your Lordships that, in complaining of your lamentations, and in attempting to show us that the king was doing all he could, his Eminence said that those troops that had come from Gaeta into Lombardy, as it were in nothing but their shirts, were not willing to stop south of the Alps, and that a great part of them were no longer there, notwithstanding the orders given to stop them, and the sending of Monseigneur de Guiche to reorganize them, as I have already reported in previous despatches. And when I expressed to the Cardinal my desire that the king should hear from the Secretary himself the same that he had heard, he said that it would have no other result than to cause fresh troubles to his Majesty, if to the difficulties with his troops there were added complaints from his friends. After this, we could not induce his Eminence to remain or to enter upon any other subject.
When the Cardinal had left us, Machiavelli and myself concluded that it would be well to have this matter made known in every possible way; and therefore Machiavelli together with Ugolino went to see Robertet, whom until now I had not visited, nor had he called upon me, as I had understood that he preferred that neither your Lordships’ ambassadors nor those from other states should be on such intimate terms with him, although in public they show him every mark of esteem and affection. When Machiavelli returned, he reported to me that Robertet, so soon as he saw him, said: “Do not talk to me now on any subject, for the Cardinal Legate has told me everything that you could possibly wish to say; and I repeat to you on his behalf that the truce with the Spaniard will, without fail, be ratified; and that whatever the terms may be, your safety will be provided for; and in case the truce should not be ratified, it will be known within a very few days. And I assure you that the king will defend Tuscany the same as Lombardy, for he has the safety of both equally at heart; and we must wait and see what issue the ratification of the truce will have.” The above is the substance of what we have been able to learn from these two personages, and your Lordships can now conjecture what you may have to hope for. Despite of Machiavelli’s tact, we did not succeed in touching upon the subject of Giovanpaolo, and we did not regret to defer it until another day, so as to avoid the appearance that Machiavelli had come here mainly on that account, which seemed to us the received impression here; for the abrupt breaking off of the interview by the Cardinal d’Amboise had apparently no other motive than to avoid a discussion of that matter. For after having told us that they had the best expectations for their cause from Pandolfo, and having briefly said of Perugia what we have above reported, he left us to go over to join Nemours and the other persons who were waiting for him. And notwithstanding that your Lordships had written to me to obtain the consent of the Cardinal to conclude the engagement of Giovanpaolo, the matter was in a measure left in suspense. But we shall do our utmost to bring it to a conclusion satisfactory to your Lordships; and if we fail, it will not be for want of efforts and diligence on our part.
I had written thus far on the 27th; it is now the 28th, and although both yesterday and to-day we endeavored to obtain an audience of the king, yet we did not succeed, owing to his Majesty’s indisposition both of mind and body, of which I have made mention in a previous despatch; for those who have charge of his health strive to keep him from seeing or hearing anything that might cause him displeasure. To-day, almost immediately after dinner, I received a message from his Eminence the Cardinal Legate to come to him; I therefore went at once to his house accompanied by Machiavelli. Being admitted to where he was, we found him in council, where there were present the Grandmaster of Rhodes, Nemours, Robertet, and eight or ten other personages of the long robe. His Eminence then said to me, within hearing of all present, that he had me call because he could not, on the arrival of your secretary two days since, tell me his whole mind, partly because he had not had the opportunity of communicating with the gentlemen of the Council on the subject, and partly for want of time; but he wished now to do his duty, so that I might write to your Lordships, and keep you in good heart. He then added, almost in the same words, what he had said to me on a previous occasion; namely, that there would have to be either peace or war; and whether it would be the one or the other would be definitely known anyhow within the present week. If it be peace, as they believed it would be, then your Lordships, being the king’s allies and confederates, might rest in security; and if it be war, then you would find that your interests and those of his Majesty would be regarded as identical, and that nothing would be left undone to secure your safety. That orders had been given to assemble twelve hundred lances in the duchy of Milan, and that your Lordships ought also to do what you could, and take care, if possible, to prevent any troops from entering into Pisa. Also that they intended, so soon as they received the answer from Spain, to despatch an envoy to your Lordships to reassure you, and to apprise you fully of their plans and intentions. And in the course of his remarks the Cardinal said, that the king well knew that he had not in all Italy more faithful friends than your Lordships and the Duke of Ferrara, and that his Majesty meant to keep you such. His Eminence was so much more cheerful than I had yet seen him, that this very cheerfulness, and the fact of his having sent to have me called for no other purpose than to repeat to me what he had already told me, left me in doubt as to what all this could signify. I replied for the moment, that, seeing his Eminence and the Council in such good spirits, I could but rejoice and augur favorably from it; and that I was quite sure that, in the event of peace or of a truce, your Lordships would have that position and that security which was due to your fidelity; but that in the event of war, your Lordships could do but little or nothing by yourselves; and that the twelve hundred lances would be a partial remedy if they were actually now in Lombardy, or would not have to lose time in getting there. And then I added such further remarks as seemed to me calculated to stimulate them to furnish you the needed help in case peace should not be had. I recalled to them the conduct of the Venetians, and the means and efforts employed by them to disturb and disorganize the duchy of Milan, and the states of the king. All I said was listened to with great attention; and Machiavelli, who was present as I have said, added that he would delay his departure until the decision of Spain should be received, so as to enable him to carry with him the good news of the agreement, or such resolve on the part of his Majesty respecting aid as would permit your Lordships to rely upon it with confidence; — to which D’Amboise replied that this was well. As the Council was more than usually numerous, I drew Machiavelli and Ugolino aside with me, and then reminded the Council, in any composition or agreement that might be arrived at, on no account to disparage our authority over Pisa; for if the Pisans were named by the Spaniards in any treaty of peace or truce, it would be looked upon as an evidence of their independence. Whereupon D’Amboise replied that such a thing would not be thought of, as they had the matter of Pisa much at heart. And referring again to our good faith, he spoke of the Venetians in a detrimental manner rather than otherwise, and spoke of Pandolfo in such terms as made me judge that they were not very sure of him, notwithstanding what he had previously said of Sienna, and which I have mentioned above; of Giovanni Bentivogli he said that he was an adherent of the Sforzas.
Your Lordships will see from all I have written what we have been able to learn, since the arrival of Machiavelli, of the situation of things here; and although his commission comprises, besides pointing out to the king and the Cardinal the dangers, the duty of seeing with his own eyes what assistance they are preparing to render us, and to learn their thoughts and designs, and then to report to you his own conclusions and conjectures as to the state of things here, nevertheless I do not deem it superfluous, or out of place, for my own satisfaction, to repeat to your Lordships what I have already written you on a former occasion. His Majesty the king, and Cardinal d’Amboise, as well as all the gentlemen and nobles here, are, in consequence of the events until now, more disposed for peace than for war. They are carrying on negotiations for such a peace both with Spain and with the Emperor of Germany; the negotiations with Spain are at the same point which I mentioned in a former despatch, and the ratification of the truce is expected to arrive here during this week. Everybody here at court speaks of it and confidently believes it, and the Spanish ambassadors themselves express that opinion, and regard its arrival as certain. As for myself, I cannot judge of this matter differently from what others do; although I think, according to the experience of the past, it may or may not be, and that the earnest affirmations of the ambassadors may merely be intended to lull the king asleep as to measures necessary to be taken. All this we shall know very soon, as the time is fixed for the answer to arrive; and then we shall see the result.
As to the peace which they are trying to bring about with the Emperor of Germany, nothing definite has as yet been done; true, day before yesterday an ambassador of the Emperor’s arrived here, who is the secretary of that sovereign and greatly esteemed by him. They went to meet him outside of the city, and received him with great honors; but it is said that he has no commission other than to establish relations with his Majesty the king, until the arrival of his colleague, who has gone to the Archduke for the purpose of conferring with him before coming here; but no opinion can be formed as yet whether a peace will be concluded or not. We must wait for time to form a judgment upon this matter; but after the arrival of the other ambassador I shall not fail to watch their movements, and to advise you fully; and so for the present I shall say no more about it, as it is not yet of as much importance for your Lordships as the matter of Spain; which, if concluded and the truce ratified, as is hoped here, will render your Lordships safe from Gonsalvo and his troops. The Venetians will then also take care not to wrong or injure you. But if the truce should not be ratified, to which all the French hold so much, then I should not know what to say of their thoughts and intentions, and what provisions will then have to be made other than what I had written to your Lordships before, and what I write now, and of which you will form such judgment as your wisdom will suggest. And if it so turns out that we shall have war, you can more immediately demand assistance through us, and they will no longer be able to take refuge in their hopes of peace, as they do now; for they must then show their hands, or satisfy your Lordships. As yet nothing has been said to me respecting the money due by your Lordships to the king at the time of the next fair; should they say anything to me about it, I shall reply in accordance with the instructions which Niccolo Machiavelli has brought with him.
I have omitted to tell your Lordships that, before leaving the Cardinal d’Amboiseto-day, I asked him whether he thought that I ought to call upon the newly arrived ambassador of the Emperor of Germany, since it was at his suggestion that I called, on my arrival, upon Monseigneur Philibert; I also asked him whether in his opinion I ought to call upon the Spanish ambassadors. He replied that I ought certainly to call upon both the one and the other, and spoke of them in the most amiable and honorable manner on the part of his Majesty of France. And accordingly I shall call upon both of them to-morrow, and should I learn anything of moment I will promptly advise your Lordships, quæ feliciter valeant.
Lyons, 29 January, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
I arrived here last Friday about the twenty-second hour, and thus fulfilled the promise made to your Lordships to be here within six days or sooner, deducting the time occupied in going to Milan. I have nothing to report as to my proceedings here, but confirm fully all that the Ambassador has written you at length. I am waiting for the expected ratification of the truce with Spain, after which I shall return, and bring with me either perfect security for our republic by means of the peace, or I shall bring instructions to prepare for war. And whether this will or will not result in safety for your Lordships I am not able to say; but I know well that it would be impossible to change the minds of the people here.
I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Lyons, 30 January, 1504.
N. B. — The individual whom I mentioned in my letter from Milan as having expressed to me so gloomy a judgment of the condition of the French there, is the Count Piccino da Novara. I write this so that your Lordships may attach more importance to his opinion, for he is well known by all who have been ambassadors to France.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
By the enclosed of the 27th, which has been retained until the 29th, your Lordships will have been informed of all that has taken place since the arrival of Machiavelli. That letter was not sent for want of the convenience of a courier, and from my desire to forward it free of expense. But as some one leaves this evening for Florence, I will not miss the opportunity of writing to your Lordships what I heard from the king, before whom I presented myself to-day immediately after dinner, accompanied by Machiavelli and Ugolino Martelli. We spoke to his Majesty conformably to what we had already twice said to the Cardinal d’Amboise, as reported in the enclosed. Nor did the king’s replies vary in general from what the Cardinal had said; but he added specially that he was organizing a new corps of fourteen hundred lances and twenty thousand infantry, and had given orders that very day that a cousin of D’Aubigny’s should be placed in charge of the citadel of Milan with one hundred Scottish lances, which he has collected for the purpose of reducing that stronghold to subjection; and that besides these he would send there some two or three hundred lances, of certain detached bands, which he would unite and send into that duchy. We did not fail to encourage him to this, and even to greater preparations, and to point out to him that it would be highly advantageous for him to re-engage as many Italian troops as possible, showing him the course pursued in that respect by his adversaries. His Majesty replied that he would do so, but that it was necessary that your Lordships should take into your pay as many as you possibly could; adding, that the Pope had written him that he was forming a corps of four hundred men-at-arms, and that although he had given the captaincy to the Duke of Urbino, wishing thus to honor the Prefect, yet that this was merely a matter of courtesy; and that he should give orders that these troops should be commanded by able men, and such as were experienced in the profession of arms. His Majesty affirmed most energetically, and showed by his manner, that he felt sure of the Pope; respecting Spanish affairs and the ratification of the truce, he expressed the same opinion as the Cardinal Legate, which I have communicated to you in the enclosed, and he said that by Friday the answer ought to be here, and that then your secretary could return to Florence, either with the news of the definite conclusion of the truce and peace, or of war. Here we did not fail to remind his Majesty, in the event of war being the result, of the measures necessary to be taken for the protection of his own interests as well as those of his allies; the most important of which measures were to have a large fleet at sea, and to strengthen Tuscany with good troops.
It remains for me to inform your Lordships that, before our interview with his Majesty, the envoy of the Marquis of Mantua, and another individual who came here by post, sent by that prince, had an audience of theking. I could learn nothing of the object of their coming, except what his Majesty told me so soon as I presented myself; namely, that these gentlemen had been sent by the Marquis of Mantua for no other purpose than to urge him to attack the Venetians; and that he, on his part, would not fail to furnish what troops and men-at-arms he could possibly raise for that purpose. His Majesty added, that the envoy from Ferrara had made him similar offers; to all which I replied in a becoming manner, urging his Majesty to take that course.
To-day the ambassadors of the Emperor of Germany dined with the Cardinal Legate; they have as yet not had an audience of the king, and it is believed that the reason is that his Majesty wishes first to know what propositions they bring, so as to prepare himself to manage the business with the more credit to himself. The ambassador from Genoa gave us to understand, this morning, that by order of his Majesty and his own government all their vessels that were in port were to be stopped, as he wished to arm them for his service; from the same source we learn the death of the Marquis of Saluzzo. We hear furthermore, from various quarters, that the king has sequestered all the revenues of Monsignor Ascanio; and that he has sent for a number of Milanese gentlemen, noted as being of the Sforza party, and has banished them to different places, fixing the time when they must report themselves there.
After writing thusfar, I went to make my visit to the Spanish ambassador, as agreed with the Cardinal Legate yesterday. I conversed with him on general matters, having due regard to the honor of both sovereigns, as well as that of your Lordships. He replied to me most graciously, and in the course of his remarks assured me that the ratification of the truce would unquestionably come, and would not be delayed beyond this week, and might even reach here this very night.
I mention this to your Lordships, so that you may know what I have learned from that ambassador; beyond which I have nothing to report.
I recommend myself humbly to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Lyons, 30 January, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
We wrote to your Lordships yesterday, since which it happened that, whilst the Cardinal d’Amboise was at chapel this morning, we approached his Eminence, who had been conversing for a considerable time with Monseigneur Philibert, and not without some discussion between them. After some general remarks and other observations, such as we have mentioned before, the Cardinal said that it seemed to him noteworthy that Gonsalvo was doing all he could to interrupt the peace negotiations, although he hoped that Gonsalvo would be constrained to obey; and even if he were not, that your Lordships, with the aid and favor of his Majesty of France, would not only be able to defend yourselves, but even to keep Gonsalvo in check. To all this we replied in such manner as we thought to the point, and which we will not weary your Lordships with repeating, having written the same thing before. A friend of your Lordships reported to me the same thing, with the further statement that there was an indication that, in the expected ratification of the agreement, there might be something that would delay its final conclusion until their Catholic Majesties should first be informed of Gonsalvo’s opinion upon it; but that nevertheless the ratification was regarded as certain. I should, however, feel that I had failed in my duty and my office, were I not to report to you daily what we hear.
Nothing else has occurred here worthy of your Lordships’ notice. To-day or to-morrow the other Imperial ambassador is expected here; he is called the Count Gaspar de Verespony, and comes accompanied by one of the Archduke’s confidential men. It was by the Emperor’s orders that these ambassadors went to the Archduke, so that their mission here might be conformable to the views of both father and son. According to what we hear, the ambassador who is already here is a man of high consideration, and bears the title of Chancellor of the Province, but he is not to have an audience of the king until after the arrival of his colleague. We have an excellent opportunity of finding out the designs of these ambassadors through one of their countrymen, who is in our interest. So far as we have been able to learn, they are greatly incensed against the Venetians, and inclined to make terms with the king here, intimating, however, that the Archduke will not yield any of the conditions for the protection of his property that had been subjects of discussion under the former treaty; and he particularly claims the kingdom of Naples as a dowry, as had already been a subject of negotiation. Iwrite these statements such as they are to your Lordships, inasmuch as they are secrets reserved for but a few. Some of the suspected Milanese who have been recalled are beginning to make their appearance here.
I have nothing further of interest to communicate at present, having written you yesterday at length; and nothing has occurred here but what I have stated above. I will only observe that we neither see nor hear anything as to preparations for war beyond the fact that everybody’s thoughts are directed to the providing of money. A good deal is said about laying a tax of ten per cent upon the priests, and about resorting to all possible measures for collecting this revenue, which, according to their opinion, will produce large sums. Beyond this I think of nothing else to mention. Bene valeant DD. VV., to whom I humbly recommend myself.
Lyons, this last day of January, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Should it seem to your Lordships that I have deferred too long since my arrival to write, it is owing solely to the want of facilities for sending my letters without involving you in expense. But we have not and shall not neglect to make every effort, by all the means at our command, to move and favorably dispose the king and the Cardinal Legate towards our republic; nor do we omit to do everything in our power to influence those who surround his Majesty to induce him to think of the security of your Lordships. It is this probably that has caused my receiving a visit at my lodgings to-day from Messer Claudio, who is much employed nowadays by the Cardinal Legate, and is the Datary* in place of Narbonne. He told me, on behalf of his Eminence, how well they were disposed, and how they gave their continuous thoughts to the means for relieving their own condition, and for the security of their friends, and that he had come again to ask me what I could suggest upon that point; adding, that it seemed to them that Pisa was in the greatest danger, and most exposed to the power and will of the enemy, who would, if they came there, cause more ruinous effects than anything else that could at present be thought of; and that, if it were possible to open some communication with the authorities of that city to encourage them not to despair and throw themselves into the arms of the Spaniards or the Venetians, it was believed that it would be most opportune, and for the common security and benefit; but that they would do nothing without the consent and participation of your Lordships; adding that, whenever it was in the power of his Majesty, there would not be wanting ways and means within a few years to satisfy your Lordships. I replied that your Lordships had brought the necessary remedies most urgently to the notice of his Majesty and of the Cardinal Legate, as well as to that of the Council when his Majesty himself was present; and that they must have seen from your letters, as also from your having so recently sent your secretary here by post, that your Lordships have not failed in your duty. But that I believed that it was our ill fortune that the consideration shown to us should have been so unequal to that which another potentate of Italy had received, who, through their coming into Italy, and by his having so often deceived them, had acquired so great a state in Lombardy and in the Romagna; whilst we, after such strict observance of our engagements, our constant fidelity, and the loss of one third of our state, had to make such efforts to persuade them, with so little satisfaction to ourselves as well as to them, to what was no less for the advantage of his Majesty the king, than for that of your Lordships. And if ours was but “a mere song,” as his Eminence the Cardinal Legate had been several times pleased to call it, we should leave it to others to sing it, were it not that we should be the first to suffer. But that if his Majesty wished to maintain his states in Italy, as well as his friends, then he ought to put faith in the Italians; and that it was of the first necessity for your Lordships, as the most effective remedy for your difficulties, that his Majesty should place at least eight hundred to one thousand men-at-arms in Lombardy, secure the Swiss by all means, and carefully watch matters in Genoa by keeping his fleet there; as also to draw towards himself as many friends in Italy as possible, and that mainly from amongst the military men. That his Majesty should bear in mind that neither the Pope nor your Lordships could or should be constrained by force, and that he ought to have confidence in us, whom, after so much experience, he ought to trust as he would his own subjects. And that if Gonsalvo, through the Cardinal Santa Croce or others, influenced the Pope adversely, no means should be left unemployed to show his Holiness that his Majesty, so far from abandoning his interests in Italy, has these as well as those of his friends constantly in his thoughts. That as to what preparations ought to be made in France, in view either of peace or of a mere truce, I could not venture to give any advice, although I would repeat the words of King Louis, who used to say that “it was always during the negotiations that he made greater and better preparations than during peace.” As regards Pisan affairs, I said that his Majesty knew well that it was the duty of an ambassador to hear all that was proposed, and then to communicate it to his government, and that I intended so to act. That I was well aware of the importance for Italy to be well armed, so that she might employ her force whenever necessary; for if powerful princes used words without arms to enforce them, it only served to compromise their dignity. I was answered, that this matter would present no difficulties, for they knew that the company of the Venetians was far from agreeable to the Pisans, and that they were more inclined to trust the French than the Spaniards; that if these negotiations with the Pisans succeeded, then both themselves and your Lordships would be relieved of great dangers; and if they did not succeed, your Lordships as well as his Majesty the king would better understand the Pisans, and that then by common accord better remedies could be devised; and that even if these negotiations with the Pisans were protracted for some length of time, your Lordships should not at once be discouraged.
I made my usual reply, that I would write to your Lordships, as you required me to do, for without special orders or instructions I could not venture to say anything on the subject. Your Lordships must know that all these arguments have been repeated by them several times, and that they evidently have this matter much at heart; for yesterday morning, at the Celestines, the Pope’s ambassador spoke to me about it, adding however that Pisa might be placed in the hands of the Pope, to which the French would perhaps consent. Nemours said the same thing afterwards to the ambassador from Ferrara, and urged him to persuade me to write at once to your Lordships about it. Your Lordships must now instruct me precisely what I am to answer, and how I shall conduct myself, and I shall keep strictly within your mandate and instructions.
The Imperial ambassadors together with the Archduke’s agent had an audience of his Majesty to-day; the impression is, that at this first interview only general matters were discussed. I have not yet called upon these ambassadors, for I was waiting until after they should have had their first audience. I shall speak again to the Cardinal Legate about it, and follow his suggestions, as I have had no instructions from your Lordships upon this point; his Eminence had approved my manner, as well as the remarks which I made to the Spaniards, which seemed to have been very agreeable to him. Through our German friend we learn, from what he has found out by pretty sure means from the Emperor’s ambassadors, and especially the younger one, that his Imperial Majesty is resolved, come what may, to make a descent into Italy this summer, with a large force of his own troops; but that his coming will not be very agreeable to King Frederic, for he knows that the Archduke wants the kingdom of Naples as a portion for his son. In the same way I learn that the ambassador who is called the Chancellor of the Province has frequent conferences with the Spanish ambassadors, and shows them marks of esteem and confidence, and that that ambassador bears the same relations to the Emperor as the Cardinal Legate does to the king of France. On the other hand, these Spaniards aver that their Catholic Majesties, by way of easing their minds and conscience, desire to re-establish the son of King Frederic upon the throne of Naples, by giving him their niece for wife. These diverse accounts would seem to indicate some difficulty in the peace negotiations. And although it would appear reasonable that the Emperor will not make a descent into Italy without the good pleasure of these two sovereigns, and without having concluded a peace with his Most Christian Majesty, yet it is said that he is collecting troops, and has asked the Swiss for five thousand Vj.as (?). These people are reported to be well inclined for such a descent, and particularly those of the three Cantons nearest to the confines of the duchy of Milan.
About four days ago a man from that country was brought before his Majesty and reported to him the above-mentioned order from the Emperor, and the favorable disposition of the Swiss for such an enterprise, together with some particulars as to their demand for a cession of Como and other places; but his Majesty showed that he did not attach much importance to this report, feeling quite sure of the Swiss.
Now I wished to inform your Lordships of all I could find out in relation to these matters, so that, in your wisdom, you may form your own judgment upon them; particularly seeing the delay in the arrival of the ratification of the agreement, and that the truce with Spain will soon expire, and that they are not doing much here in the way of preparations, but continue to affirm that they regard the ratification as certain. We must form our judgment therefore from one day to another, as events may occur; but we shall continue to be watchful, so as to keep your Lordships better informed if possible, and to be able the more promptly to solicit assistance, in case the ratification should after all not come. Niccolo Machiavelli will remain here a few days longer.
Yesterday a cousin of the Bailli d’Occan came to me, and told me he had not yet had his pay for six months’ service, and wanted us to provide for it. I answered him that I believed they did not keep their accounts well, but that I would write to your Lordships for instructions upon the matter; although things had come to that pass that it was necessary for you to think of spending no money except in defence of your own interests, which were closely united and bound up with the defence of the states of his Majesty. It was with some difficulty that I got rid of this man, who kept saying to me that he intended anyhow to speak to his Majesty and the Cardinal Legate about it. I beg your Lordships will instruct me in relation to this matter, for this man is a perfect wasp; they are all starved and ruined, and I wish very much you would write me whether I shall do anything to make it known that the engagement of Baglioni is terminated, for this cousin of his demands it. And although I told him in so many words that death settled everything, and that such was your Lordships’ understanding of the matter, yet I wish you would instruct me whether you think that I ought to go any further.
The generals have sent to claim from Ugolino the payment of ten thousand ducats due at the last fair, as had been agreed, and to ask at the same time whether the ten thousand ducats due at the present fair were ready, together with what was due on the past. Ugolino told me that he had replied that he would speak to me about it; but that this did not satisfy them, and that they wanted to speak to me themselves, as also to the king and the Cardinal Legate, inasmuch as this money had been assigned to them. When they come to talk to me about it, I shall reply in accordance with your Lordships’ instructions. I have nothing else of interest to communicate to your Lordships, to whom I recommend myself, quæ feliciter valeant.
Lyons, 2 February, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
I have to-day received your Lordships’ letters of the 26th, 28th, 29th, and 31st ultimo, and of the 1st instant, for which I had been truly anxious, for it had seemed to me a very long time to be without news from Florence. Your Lordships must have received my several letters which I have sent since the arrival of Machiavelli, written on the 27th, 29th, 30th, and 31st ultimo, and from which you will have learned all that we have been able to do since then, and what hopes and conjectures we have formed as to help from here for ourselves and the other allies and states which his Majesty has in Italy. Your Lordships will also have noticed what I wrote more especially in regard to Pisan affairs in my enclosed despatch of the 2d instant, which was not sent sooner because no couriers have been sent to Italy since then. And so as not to fail in anything that could possibly be done to promote your interests, and to arouse their feelings in our favor, we went immediately on receipt of your letters to his Majesty the king, whom I found still in bed, where he has been confined for more than a week. He seemed to me to look better than usual, and, according to what his Majesty himself said, he was in the best way of getting over his ailment. I communicated to him the advices I had from your Lordships, also those from the Romagna, as well as those from Rome which I had received from his Eminence of Volterra, who never fails to keep me fully posted by every courier upon every point which the interests of our republic make it necessary for me to know. I spoke again to his Majesty of the dangers that threaten, first his friends, and then his own states in Italy, and what measures were necessary to avert them. Although our conversation was fragmentary, as seems to be the way in which all business matters are treated here, yet I was careful to touch again upon all the points embraced in your Lordships’ instructions for the advantage of Italy. And as I surmissed that the Venetians are carrying on some secret negotiations with his Majesty, I advised him well to watch their proceedings, as they would certainly deceive him underhandedly; and I demonstrated to him that they had no real intention of making terms with him, but that it was a mere pretext for obtaining better terms in the arrangements they were negotiating with the Emperor of Germany and with Spain. Upon this point his Majesty replied to me to be of good cheer, that he would never make terms with the Venetians, and that the Milanese had offered him one hundred thousand ducats if he would make war upon Venice; and that he would in any event enter into an arrangement with the princes of the Empire and with the Emperor himself, and that conjointly with the Emperor they would beat Venice and Spain together, in case Spain did not consent to peace or to a truce. On the one hand his Majesty seemed to apprehend lest Gonsalvo should disturb the proposed peace, and on the other hand he spoke confidently of concluding an arrangement, unless the king of Spain should demand conditions that were not acceptable to him.
The hostile disposition of the king towards the Venetians manifests itself in many other ways besides his own words; for this very day, after the audience, I met the ambassador from Ferrara, who told me that he had also spoken with the king this morning, and that his Majesty had said to him that he wished that his Duke would, for the love of him, once more put on his armor against the Venetians, and that before dying he wanted anyhow to recover the states which they had taken from him. His Majesty entered fully into the reasons which I suggested to him relative to the affairs of Pisa, showing that he believed that it was from that quarter that your Lordships were more exposed to attack than from any other; and for that reason, he said, he had caused M. de Ravenstein to open certain secret negotiations with the Pisans, so that they might not throw themselves into the arms of Gonsalvo, or of any one else; adding, “that if two or three thousand infantry entered Pisa, they could disturb your Lordships’ state very much, and that in such case it would be very difficult to take the town by force.” His Majesty came back several times to this argument, so that it is evident that he had the matter much at heart, as I have explained to your Lordships at length in the enclosed despatch. And yet it is affirmed here that there is no intention to make any arrangement with Pisa without your consent and participation; it is necessary, therefore, that your Lordships should write me your views upon this point, and how I am to manage this matter if pressed to something definite. Respecting the provisions to be made for his own safety, and for that of his allies, his Majesty held the same views which I have before communicated to your Lordships; and although we have reminded him of the importance of taking Italian troops into his pay, yet it does not appear that he responds in a manner to give any hope for it; and what makes me believe that he is in no way disposed to do it is that the envoy of the Marquis of Mantua told me, that the said Marquis had sent a man expressly to ask the king’s permission to raise fifty Italian men-at-arms in place of the fifty French lances which he has engaged from his Majesty, but his request was not granted, which fact, in every respect, deserves your consideration. We did not omit to urge upon the king again to remember his friends in the agreement which is being negotiated, and to save them, which he has promised to do. After taking my leave of his Majesty, I thought it proper to call with Machiavelli upon the Grand Chancellor, whom, for good reasons, I had not seen since the arrival of Machiavelli. I was more particularly induced to do this, as I had not been able to speak to the Cardinal Legate; and accordingly we went to see the Chancellor, and said to him all we could under the circumstances respecting his Majesty’s affairs, as well as our own and those of the rest of Italy. His Lordship received us very cheerfully, and seemed to listen to my remarks with great interest; he spoke himself of passing events, and what he thought of them, and of his hopes for a favorable issue; and said, in substance, that the king, for his part, had not the least fear, for that whoever should attempt to assail the king in his proper states of France would find out their mistake. And here he gave us an account of the king’s forces, and referred to the example of the past, etc., etc. And as regards the duchy of Milan, they would anyhow within two months have a thousand French lances there, and could send there at any moment six thousand infantry; but that his Majesty did have some fears for his friends who were more open to attack. But looking at it on the other hand, that he held the duchy of Milan, which forms a considerable part of Italy, and that the Pope and all Tuscany were his friends, it seemed to him that he had more than a mere party in Italy, and that if they did their duty, sustained by the power and good will of the king, they would be well able to defend themselves. He came back several times to this point, saying that your Lordships ought to show some vigor and take good care of Livorno, pointing out its importance and its convenience for the French fleet, as well as for your defence.
I remained a long time with the Chancellor, and did not fail to reply to that part of his remarks which seemed most suitable; telling him that it was well for him to say that we ought to take vigorous measures, but that the difficulty was the lack of power to do so, giving him the reasons; and that therefore it was necessary that the king should make such display of vigor, and pointed out to him that there were two ways of his doing so. The one was to bring about a union between the Pope and all Tuscany, Bologna, Ferrara, and Mantua, so that these different members should become one body, and that their united power might act with greater effect; and to bring this about, it was necessary to send some sagacious man, charged with this object, to the several parties. The other way was for the king to take into his pay as many Italian captains as he possibly could, adding that there were not so many military men in Italy but what he could in a very short time engage the greater part of them, provided he was willing to spend his money for that purpose. And as an example we cited our own republic, which in former times, when she was not torn to pieces as now, had many times, with nothing but her money, taken their arms from her enemies. We also cited the example of Gonsalvo, who achieved victory with Italian troops. These arguments satisfied him, and he promised his efforts to bring about either one or the other. Upon the point of employing Italian troops, however, he stated that out of the one thousand lances which they were going to send into Lombardy, as stated above, there would be more than four hundred Italians; and he seemed to wish to infer that, so far as to the taking of Italians into their pay, they had done their part, and that it was for their friends now to do the rest.
Thus, not having been able to see the Cardinal Legate to-day, we have not gathered any further information than what we have above written. Your Lordships will now form such judgment of it as your wisdom will suggest, and see what hopes it will be safe to build upon it. And as there is as yet no solution of the Spanish business, no answer having been received from there, although there is some talk at court that it has come, I have not permitted Machiavelli to leave here, because our intention is to make his departure the occasion for pressing them here a little more, and to see whether we cannot get something more out of them, although I doubt it; and many persons begin to doubt whether this Spanish business has not been protracted on purpose, and that the French have been deceived. It is said that an agreement has been concluded with the Swiss, who promise to serve the king within the duchy of Milan and in France, but nowhere else. If this be true, then it is very opportune. The German ambassadors have to-day received an express from his Imperial Majesty, who is at Olemberg; this messenger made the trip in five days, and after his arrival Robertet passed full two hours or more with the ambassadors, and has written much. It is believed that they are drawing up the articles of agreement. Another envoy of the Archduke is expected here, who is said to hold a high position near that prince. It is evident now that the king mistrusts the treaty with Spain, and has entirely turned towards the Germans; and it is suspected that he is disposed to dissuade the Emperor from his purpose of coming into Italy, and thus save the Italians from seeing every day new faces. There is one indication that I have noticed which makes me believe that these things may well be so, for the Germans no longer exert themselves as much as they did, nor do they see the Spanish ambassadors as often as they used to do, and as I have mentioned in one of my letters. From all these facts your Lordships will form such conjectures as your wisdom will suggest; and if I have the opportunity of speaking with the Cardinal Legate to-morrow, as I think I shall, I will write to your Lordships what I learn from him, and will send it by the first messenger that is despatched for Italy. I have nothing further to say, except to recommend myself humbly to your Lordships, quæ felicissime valeant.
Lyons, 7 February, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Your Lordships will have seen from the enclosed of the 7th what has been done since the receipt of your last letters. Despite of all my efforts yesterday to speak to the Cardinal Legate I did not succeed, for he is suffering, it is said, from a violent catarrh, and neither dines nor sups in public, as is his wont. Being thus unable to do anything else, and feeling that we ought not to neglect anything we could possibly do, we went to see Robertet and pointed out to him very fully where the difficulty and complication of the matter really lies; and as he has better opportunities for communicating with the Legate, we left him certain extracts from the letters received, which briefly give the substance of all we have heard from Florence; and by way of spurring them up, we said to Robertet that Machiavelli was determined to return even without concluding anything. Robertet, showing that he was startled by this, said that Machiavelli ought to stay a few days longer, at least until the Spanish business was either closed or broken off, so that he might return with something definite. As mentioned in a former despatch, Robertet had from the first approved of your having sent Machiavelli here. I have seen the Pope’s ambassador, and, in talking over with him the events of the day, we agreed to call together this morning on the Cardinal Legate, to see whether we two could not bring matters to a better conclusion than what until now I had been able to do, having due regard to the information respecting the state of things in the Romagna contained in your Lordships’ letters; and to see whether we could not induce the Legate to take steps for bringing about that league of the Italian states which we had suggested. Also to know clearly whether they intended to engage Italian troops for the defence of the Church and their other friends, although I have great doubts upon this point, for the reasons which your Lordships will have noted in my enclosed despatch. We went accordingly this morning to call upon D’Amboise, but did not succeed in obtaining an interview, and have appointed another hour of the day for that purpose. As, however, this courier leaves, I would not miss the opportunity of writing to your Lordships what has been done up to the present. It is true that Robertet and the Chancellor have been with D’Amboise this morning, and, as they remained a long while with him, I believe they must have talked over among them the subject on which we have said so much to them. We have done all that can be done, and have not neglected trying to know all and do all in our power. I will not omit to inform your Lordships what I have learned from a friend who had a conversation with the Spanish ambassadors, who, upon his remarking as to the delay in the answer from Spain, said to him, that he must not be much surprised at that, for they doubted whether the king of Spain would settle anything until after having first freed the entire kingdom of Naples of the French; and that the king of Spain well knew what it meant to make a truce whilst Louis d’Ars was in Venosa, or in any other place within the kingdom of Naples. Every day some of the French, who come back from there, die; quite recently Sandricourt and the Bailli de la Montagne died. This is all that occurs to me to say. Bene valeant DD. VV., quibus me commendo.
Lyons, 9 February, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My last letters were of the 2d, 7th, and 9th instant, and were sent by a courier despatched by Neri Masi; they will have informed your Lordships of the state of things here, and what we have been able to do here since receiving your last letters. Although I endeavored to see the Cardinal Legate yesterday, as already stated in my last, yet I failed to obtain an interview, as he is still confined to his chamber, and no one has been admitted except the Chancellor, Nemours, and Robertet; and so far as I can learn, they have been occupied with orders and despatches for the regulation of matters in the kingdom of Naples and the duchy of Milan. Being however at the Legate’s lodgings this morning, I succeeded, after some little effort, in obtaining an interview with him. In reminding him of our affairs, I mentioned to him what the Spanish ambassadors were reported to have said about the delay of the ratification of the truce, of which I informed your Lordships in my last of the 9th; to which he immediately replied, although having listened attentively to all that had been said, that the Spanish ambassadors had notified him that the ratification had been received,* and that they intended to call upon him that evening in relation to that matter, and that he would then inform me of the result. I expressed my pleasure at this on account of the general good; and without any further remarks, seeing that he was very much occupied, I took my leave. Anxious to learn something more upon this important subject, I called at the king’s lodgings, thinking that from his frank way of speaking I might get a little more at the bottom of this matter. I was finally admitted to his Majesty, who was still at table, and at a convenient moment I broached in a suitable manner the subject of the news which I had heard from D’Amboise. His Majesty promptly replied that the ratification had come, but that he was not satisfied with it, and could have wished rather that it had not come; affirming, with an oath, that he would give a great deal not to have promised the Spaniards what he had done; but having given his word, he would keep it, for he would sooner die than break his pledge, affirming again that, if he were now called upon to make such a promise, he would certainly not do it; for that he had made entirely sure of the Swiss, and was upon the point of making terms with the Germans, from which he hoped great good; so that he was now in condition to chastise those who had offended him. And here he mentioned the Venetians by name, adding that, cost what it may, they must be destroyed; and that he felt sure that for such a purpose you would give your men-at-arms, and do all that was in your power. He said, furthermore, that he would very soon have one thousand men-at-arms in Lombardy, and that there was money enough ready to pay at once eight thousand Swiss, and make them descend into Italy whenever it might be necessary, either for his defence, or for that of his friends, or for attacking his enemies; and that he should not want for either men or money. Also, that he had issued a new order in France, besides the regular troops of the line, to organize and keep ready for service a corps of eighteen hundred nobles, each of whom was to have three horses for service. And he spoke again of the twenty thousand infantry which he kept ready, and said, with much animation, that he intended neither to abandon his own interests nor those of his friends, that he was in better health than he had been for ten years, and that his illness had been caused by nothing but his displeasure at the base conduct and wickedness of his troops; but that it was necessary for him to have patience, and to reorganize his forces, which he should not fail to do, leaving nothing undone in that respect. He also said, that we might consider the peace with the Emperor of Germany as assured, and that we ought to be of good cheer, as he should not fail in anything that was due to our republic, and would allow no one to touch a hair of your head; and that to be wanting to you now would in fact be wanting to himself; that he esteemed Florence as much as he did Milan or any other of his own states. And that if the Emperor passed through Italy to go to Rome, by whatever route he went, he would hold him in check by having him accompanied by a good portion of his own, and by some of your Lordships’ troops, so that the Emperor should not be able to do anything without the will and consent of others. That possibly it might happen that he would himself come into Italy; but that under any circumstances it would be proper to treat the Emperor well, to be liberal towards him in all outward ceremonies, and to show him all the customary honors due to so great a prince; and in case of any disaster befalling him on the road, we might aid him with some men and some money. And then his Majesty said: “I assure you that the Emperor is ill disposed towards those Venetians, and I know that you feel even worse towards them; and as for myself, I feel worse towards them than either of you.” After that his Majesty suddenly turned to Pisan affairs, and charged me to advise your Lordships to think of them, and that it would be well anyhow to have some stores and provisions sent into the town, saying that he had letters from there to the effect that they would gladly place themselves in his hands, but that he would not accept the proposition unless it was your Lordships’ wish that he should; and that he said this so that if any difficulty resulted from it that caused you dissatisfaction, he wished to be in a position of having done his duty towards you; and that he would not fail to remember your Lordships’ interests and necessities.
Your Lordships will observe that I have placed all his Majesty’s remarks together, without interrupting them by the replies which I made in the course of this interview, in which I did not fail to remind his Majesty in proper terms of those things that are essential for our republic. I have done this so that your Lordships, having all the remarks of his Majesty together before your eyes, may be the better able to weigh them, and to form such judgment of them as your wisdom may suggest, and then to instruct me how I am to conduct myself in relation to the events that may occur from day to day. I again venture, with all due respect, to call your Lordships’ attention to this Pisan business, and to ask you to instruct me whether I am to cut short their arguments or to continue to listen to them. Your Lordships moreover have heard that the ratification of the truce has really come, but with all my efforts to learn some of the particulars of it I have not succeeded. All I have learned, and that is neither from the king nor from the Cardinal Legate, but from some one who says that he has heard it from both, is that both parties are to have three months’ time within which they are to name their allies and adherents, that the truce is to last three years both on land and on the sea, and that the French and the Spaniards are both free to transport their merchandise from any one place to another. More than this I have not learned, and it is very possible that it contains but few other articles; for in the opinion of many with whom I have conversed, this truce is to serve merely as a suspension of arms; and it is believed that one of the advantages from it will be that the friends of the king in Italy will remain more secure. So far as I can learn, nothing is said of Don Federigo, or of any of the barons of the kingdom of Naples. There remains still this German matter, which deserves to be watched and carefully considered by every Italian, particularly if the Emperor comes into Italy, as seems to be decided, so soon as the treaty shall have been definitely concluded. And you will observe from the remarks of the king that the Emperor will not be able to attempt this passage by himself, but will have to be aided in it by others. It seems reasonable that the king will endeavor to relieve himself of as much expense as he can, and that he will aid the Emperor to procure for himself subventions of men and money from others. All this your Lordships will take into consideration with your habitual prudence.
In compliance with his Majesty’s suggestion I have called upon the German ambassadors. Certainly the Chancellor must be a man of great ability; he spoke of our republic in the name of his sovereign in the most honorable manner, and has promised also to do, both here and at home, all he can to serve the interests of your Lordships.
The arrival of this ratification from Spain has made these people here very anxious to collect the money which they claim that we have to pay them at the time of the present fair for their pretended protection; and their generals have already spoken three times to-day to Ugolino on the subject. And Monsignore di Ravel has a man here for the express purpose of soliciting for him, and he acts like all men who have but one thing to attend to, so that I have him all day at my ears. This illustrious Signore has written me a letter on the subject, which is herewith enclosed; and I beg your Lordships will be pleased to write me what I am to reply upon both the one and the other of these subjects; for the Cardinal Legate is so dissatisfied and displeased with Giovanpaolo Baglioni, that you cannot speak to him about it.
His Majesty will leave here on Sunday or Monday, unless something special should occur to prevent him; and I shall follow him in two or three days after; and Machiavelli will return by short stages to Italy, if nothing occurs meantime that will require him to make greater speed. I can think of nothing else to write except to recommend myself most humbly to your Lordships, quæ felicissime valeant.
Lyons, 11 February, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
By the enclosed of the 11th instant, your Lordships will have been informed of all that has occurred up to that day. I have since then been with the Legate this morning, who, so soon as he perceived me enter his room, called me to him and said to me that things were going on well, and that he hoped they would be going on still better; and that the Venetian ambassador had been with him, and had made numerous offers on the part of his Signoria, showing how anxious they were to please his Most Christian Majesty. Whereupon the Legate told me that he said to him, that, if the Venetians wished to be friends of the king, they ought to show proper regard for his friends in Italy, and especially mentioned your Lordships to him; for that if you were wronged, it was the same as if his Majesty himself had been injured directly. To which, he said, the ambassador replied, with an oath, that his Signoria had never so much as thought of wronging anybody, and that he might make himself easy on that score, for they had no intention of injuring any one, neither the Florentines nor any other friends of his Majesty.
I thanked his Eminence for what he had done, but showed him that that did not suffice, as it was only a temporary relief; and that it was necessary to think of means of placing the Venetians in such a position that they should not be able at their pleasure to assail any one, so that at no time either the king or his friends should be at their discretion. I think that the Legate told me the above of the Venetians for the purpose of allaying all suspicions which have been manifested here of late; for they have always had two great fears, the one of Gonsalvo, and the other of the Venetians. And as they seem to think that by means of this truce they have secured you against the Spaniards, so they wished to show that you had equally nothing to fear from the Venetians. His Eminence continued his remarks, and urged earnestly that you should look to the matter of Pisa, and that you ought to give it your attention now, whilst there is still time, so as to prevent the occurrence of anything that would be unsatisfactory to the king and your Lordships. And here he added, that his cousin Monseigneur de Bayeux, who had some influence in Pisa, had initiated certain negotiations, and drawn up certain articles to which the Pisans would consent, and which he would send to me, charging me to forward them to your Lordships, so that you might carefully consider them; and if these articles met your approval, then they would serve to put an end to those evils which for so long a time had kept Tuscany and all Italy feeble. I replied to all this the same as I had done before; namely, that I would communicate it all to your Lordships, and then await your instructions, without which I could not discuss the matter. I shall wait and see what these proposed articles amount to, and so soon as received I will forward them to your Lordships, and you will judge of them with your habitual wisdom. I have no further particulars of the truce to communicate to your Lordships, but am waiting to get a copy of it, which I certainly shall have so soon as it is published and proclaimed, and will then send it at once to your Lordships.
After leaving the Cardinal Legate, and knowing that Monseigneur de Trans had returned here from his embassy to Rome, and was confined at home by a slight indisposition, I went to call upon him, so as to learn something from him about the Pope and the affairs of Italy, as also to show him a courtesy which I did not think ought to be omitted. He seemed delighted at my visit, and talked to me much and for a long time of the affairs of Italy; and his remarks were in my opinion very judicious. He observed that things were at this moment in such condition that every one could revenge himself on the Venetians, and assure himself of them; but if the present opportunity were allowed to pass, and some prince should happen to die, there would be danger of being obliged to submit to their domination. After that he observed how reasonable it was, and how easily it could be done. And first he said, that Spain, having declined to have the king of France as copartner in the possession of the kingdom of Naples, would still less want the Venetians there; and that the Pope would naturally wish to recover his own, and to avenge the Church of the old wrongs done to her, as well as of the recent ones. And in the same way the Emperor ought to desire to put his foot into Italy on their territory, and to recover the possessions which the Venetians had taken from the empire. And that the king of France ought also gladly to concur in all this, not so much for the sake of restoring to the duchy of Milan what the Venetians had taken possession of, as for the purpose of securing himself against their power and malevolence. And if he were not stirred by these two motives, he ought to be moved by the satisfaction which it would give to his entire realm, and by the desire of every lord and every subject to make war upon the Venetians. But for the accomplishment of all this it was necessary to do everything that possibly could be done to prevent the Venetians from being named in the truce by either of the kings as allies or adherents.* And believing it certain that they would not be named under any circumstances by the king of France, all efforts should be made to prevent their being named by the king of Spain; and that for this purpose he saw no surer means than the intervention of the Pope. He told me that he purposed writing very fully on the subject, and that he had held the same language to the Cardinal Legate D’Amboise, who had seemed pleased at it; and that he intended also to speak to the king about it so soon as he should be able to go out. He spoke on this subject with a degree of vivacity and earnestness which I cannot possibly describe to your Lordships. And as the mode of proceeding urged by him seemed to me quite in your interest, I encouraged him with all the arguments of which I was master. He told me furthermore, that he should also write to his Eminence the Cardinal Volterra about it, so that he might remind his Holiness of what ought to be done, and to urge him to do it; and requested me to write also in the same sense to his Eminence. I did not think it amiss to do so, but in my letter I have been careful to speak as it were by the mouth of Monseigneur de Trans.
I write all these particulars to your Lordships so that, should you deem it advisable to urge this matter, you can instruct your ambassador at Rome accordingly, for his Eminence of Volterra can do a great deal towards it; and the consequence will be that either the king of Spain will abstain from naming the Venetians in the truce from fear of offending the Pope, or, if he persists in doing it, the French here will make greater efforts to win his Holiness over to their side, and perhaps, seeing the king of Spain’s disposition in the matter, they may resort to measures other than the truce. For his Majesty of France has said, with his own mouth, that if the king of Spain were not satisfied with what was reasonable, the Emperor and the Archduke would in less than three months be more hostile to him than he was himself; intimating thereby that to comprise the Venetians within the terms of the truce, or in any way to tie the hands of the Emperor, would be food for fresh quarrels, inasmuch as the Empire could not otherwise be satisfied.
This morning, whilst at church, I was assailed by those generals on account of the money of which your Lordships know; they told me that it must be provided anyhow. Since then the Cardinal Legate has twice sent to me for the same purpose, and was with difficulty put off, although I replied sharply, and alleged all the reasons and justifications that occurred to me at the moment. They say that this does not satisfy them; and that, as they are preparing for the defence of the duchy of Milan, we may rest perfectly secure on all sides; and therefore they press me for the money in such manner that it becomes necessary for me to have instructions as to what I am to do in the matter. I have omitted to tell your Lordships that the Cardinal Legate and Robertet request that the negotiations with Pisa may be kept secret, and the king desires the same of me as regards his frank remarks touching the Venetians.
It is said that at the farthest within a couple of days the other envoy of the Archduke, Monseigneur de Veri by name, will be here; and that on his arrival the treaty between his Majesty the king and the Emperor and the Archduke will be concluded, the conditions having been all agreed upon. This is all I have to communicate, except humbly to recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ felicissime valeant.
Lyons, 13 February, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
On the 11th and 13th instant I wrote to your Lordships through the agency of Neri Masi, and another letter, also of the 13th, I sent under cover of Tommaso del Bene, by one of the Duke Valentino’s men. In these I wrote particularly, and as nearly as possible in their very words, what the king and D’Amboise had told me, leaving it to your Lordships to form your own judgment therefrom, as regards your own as well as his Majesty’s interests. As Turpin, the treasurer, never fails when he meets me to remind me of the money which he claims to have been assigned to him, and the want of which impedes all other affairs, I did not wish to afford him the opportunity to speak to me on the subject in presence of either the king or the Cardinal Legate, lest I should answer him impatiently; and therefore I have been but rarely to call upon either one or the other. And not having consequently anything to communicate to your Lordships that I had heard directly from them, nor having been charged by them with any special commission, it seems to me not amiss to give you such information as I have been able to gather from persons who have good facilities for knowing all that goes on here. This may appear to your Lordships to differ from what I have written in several of my letters, but experience has shown that matters are often conducted here very differently from what men generally presume, and from what would seem reasonable.
I have been told that the king of Spain will name the Venetians as his friends and confederates. The French are said to be disposed to do the same, without reflecting what a reputation it would give to these Venetians, by letting the world see that each of these kings is anxious to have them with him. I made a friend of your Lordships ask the Cardinal Legate about it, as a matter that was of no less importance to his master than to others, and he replied, “We certainly have no intention of doing so; but as I see that you have been talking with the Spanish ambassadors, I would like to know what their king is going to do.” This reply does not seem to me to differ much from what has been told me by another friend, who is constantly near the king from pure loyalty, and who hears much, and who, speaking to me on the subject, remarked: “His Majesty of France is tired of war, and evidently anxious for peace; and he would not like to have it appear, in case of new complications, that he would have to avail himself of the reputation and credit of the Venetians, who, more easily than any one else, could molest the duchy of Milan. And a proof that the king is afraid of this is, that, so soon as he found himself obliged to fall back, he wanted to secure himself on that side, and sent an envoy exclusively for that purpose to Venice.” He added: “The possessions which the Venetians have at the foot of the mountains on the side of Germany are a barrier and a palisade that protects Lombardy against the Swiss as well as the Germans, which he would not like to have thrown down; although at present he is on good terms with the Emperor, and although in words that sovereign would be permitted to pass into Italy, yet in fact and reality he would never be allowed to do so.” My friend assured me, at the same time, that it was positively certain that by an arrangement of the king of France the offer would be made to the Emperor to send him the imperial crown on the part of his Holiness by a Legate.
I believe that this may well happen, for my authority is very reliable. It may also be that they may wish to stand upon both feet, and first to try and bring about that which they desire most, which may easily be gathered from many indications and from various conversations, although somewhat general, with the king and the Cardinal Legate; namely, that by means of this agreement made with the Emperor and the Archduke they can in some way make Spain understand that there is mistrust between them, because they will not allow the father to retrieve the affairs of the Empire, nor the son to refuse to keep the agreement which he has made, or to take the kingdom of Naples from them. And on the other hand, if a way be found to make them come to a good understanding, and to have it well confirmed between them, and if his Holiness (who plays the principal part in this game) takes it well to heart, it might easily be that the result would tend to insure the security of Italy and their own for a long time. The Cardinal Legate has recently written to the Pope with his own hand; and I have been told that if they see that he goes resolutely with them, and looks to the security of Italy, they will not fail to support him. But if otherwise, and they do not find that support in the Emperor and the Archduke which they had wished and hoped for, they will assuredly take the second part. And therefore to support the affair as much as possible at Rome would be to insure success rather more effectually than in any other way. And here we shall not fail to act in such manner as we shall think best calculated to satisfy your Lordships; and if I overstep the bounds of my duty, or write too freely, I beg your Lordships to believe that it arises simply from my devotion and zeal.
In a conversation which Ugolino had with Robertet, the latter told him that it was not necessary at present to think of uniting Italy, and that it was advisable rather not to let the intention become known. Although he went no further, yet I think it may be that they do not wish to give Spain the occasion of having to name the Venetians, etc., and that they want first clearly to know the Pope’s intentions. Certain it is, that if the Cardinal Legate does not take them under his protection, either because he believes that it would be of advantage to France, or for any other reason,they could not be in worse estimation, either with the king or with the general mass of the French. This matter sometimes disturbs the judgment of the Cardinal Legate, for, notwithstanding what he has said as to what the Venetians intend to do, and how he has spoken of them, the words which his Eminence used when he spoke of them the last time to us were not without some symptoms of justification, and were somewhat more friendly than usual. I must also mention to your Lordships, in connection with this subject, that when the king told the ambassador from Ferrara to write to his Duke that a month should not pass before he would have the Polesine restored to him, he charged the ambassador expressly not to have the matter talked about.
I place all these things before your Lordships just as I hear them, so that you may in your wisdom form a proper judgment of them. The treaty negotiations with Germany are being followed up; and although the French say that they are as good as concluded, yet I hear from a very reliable source that there is a great dispute about the investiture, and that the ambassadors of his Imperial Majesty say that they have no instructions upon that point; and I believe that the last messenger, whom they have despatched only a few days since, has been sent for no other purpose. I understand, and from different quarters, that it is the intention to put a part of these barons from the kingdom of Naples upon the Pope and upon your Lordships; and that they have also made some promises to the Marquis of Mantua in connection with this matter. They may perhaps have done this, because, not wishing to comply with the demands which he had made, they yet wished to show him that they had not lost sight of his case; or perhaps they think of satisfying him at the expense of others. Whatever they may do with regard to the Marquis, their intentions touching these barons are positively fixed; so that if anything is said to me on the subject, I know that I could only say in reply that I would write to your Lordships about it; yet if you would give me some instructions, I might shape my answer so as to meet their views to some little extent. Nothing further occurs to me to write, except to recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ felicissime valeant.
Lyons, 17 February, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Not having had an opportunity of sending mine of the 17th sooner, it will be enclosed with this; at the same time I send your Lordships a copy of the articles of the truce, which were published here yesterday. I believe this publication has been hastened by the very great desire which the king has to get away from here; for it is said that he is so disgusted with this place that it will be a long time before he returns to it. On the occasion of this publication it seemed to me proper to call upon the Spanish ambassadors, and I learned from them, what seemed to me to be said for some special purpose, that it had been well considered to have the truce published on a fixed day, and that they had taken so much time for it, in order that during the interval Gonsalvo might make himself master of all that remained of the kingdom of Naples; so that there should not be the smallest place left, nor the least spark that could rekindle a great conflagration, which would never take place with the consent of their Catholic Majesties, who were both most anxious for peace. And that matters here would not be impeded by them, as they should remain content with Spanish and Sicilian affairs, leaving those of Italy to whom they belonged, namely, Don Federigo. It may be that such is really their intention, but (to continue, with all due respect, my habit of writing to your Lordships without any reserve) I know not whether they may not have spoken to me thus because they knew that certain charges were made against them here; or they may have heard some remarks by the Archduke, and wished to justify themselves in anticipation, and at the same time delay and protract some other business. Although I had resolved on account of those unfortunate men of the Bailli, who are really starving and constantly after me, not to frequent the court, yet on the publication of the truce, and because of certain rumors that had come to my ears respecting Piombino, I was unwilling to miss presenting myself before his Most Christian Majesty; and being promptly admitted, I again expressed my pleasure at this publication of the truce, and asked whether I should have to write to your Lordships anything but good news on the part of his Majesty; after which I endeavored adroitly to learn from him whether he had heard anything of those rumors that were being circulated about Piombino, and about the treaty with the Emperor, always recommending to his Majesty the interests of our republic.
In answer to my first remarks about the truce, the king came back to what he had told me before, — that, were it not for his determination to keep his faith, etc., he did not know how things would go on, and that we should soon see or hear of something, — showing both by his language and gestures that he was not much pleased with the business. If I am not mistaken, they are following the same track that I mentioned to your Lordships in my enclosed despatch. You will be better able to judge than myself whether matters will go on well or otherwise. One thing is very clear, and I have it from very good authority, namely, that the Pope’s support is of great importance to both parties, whether it be to make them observe the truce, or whether it be to make the Spaniards disclose their purpose, and to alienate them from the Venetians. Respecting Piombino, his Majesty said, “The Genoese ambassador has been to confer with me on the subject, but from my own people I have heard nothing.” And as that ambassador had told him that the people of Piombino had cried, “Marzocco and St. George!” I asked his Majesty whether he would have been pleased if the movement had succeeded; to which he replied, “Yes,” that it would have given him pleasure. Beyond all doubt it is well with these people to be of the country that is spoken of. His Majesty then touched upon Pisan matters, with which I have already wearied your Lordships; and although I tried twice to interrupt him, yet he invariably returned to the same subject, but dealt always in generalities, referring us first to the Cardinal Legate and then to Robertet. There are evidently points in the negotiations that do not suit his Majesty very well, for he said that they were engaged in trying to modify them with Monseigneur de Bayeux, the protector of the Pisans; after which he would give me a copy for your Lordships.
As to the treaty with the Emperor, his Majesty said that the negotiations were not yet concluded, although they had reached a point that left him no doubt but what it would be concluded anyhow; and then he made me such large promises that your Lordships’ interests should be treated exactly as his own, that, if ever faith can be put in the promises of a king,we must believe in these. Upon this subject I have also caused the Chancellor of the Province and Monseigneur Philibert adroitly to be sounded, but found nothing but what was satisfactory. This Chancellor is evidently a man of importance; he speaks of our republic with great affection, and from his familiar conversation, which at times reveals his real thoughts, it appears that his sovereign is resolved anyhow to make this voyage into Italy; and several times has asked some of our Florentines how his master would be received and honored in Florence, adding, that unless such preparations are made as are suitable for such an occasion, (which is very doubtful for the reasons before written you,) it will be another generation before Italy will see an Emperor face to face.
The Archduke has sent M. de Veri here, and, from what I hear, he was not much pleased to find that the ratification had arrived. He is daily with the Imperial ambassadors, and they have long conferences with the people of the government here, the particulars of which it is difficult to ascertain. They have positively declared that they do not intend to follow the court; but I hear that they have since then changed their minds, and if the king leaves to-morrow, as it is said he will, they will follow him, for it is believed that they have not yet concluded their treaty.
It is necessary that your Lordships should instruct me what to do about this money of Ravel’s and of the Bailli’s men, for the manner in which they go on about us is not very creditable to our republic. The Cardinal Legate has offered to lend me some money wherewith to satisfy them, and this might perhaps be done now more easily than at some other time. I apprehend that I shall have to give something to each man, so as to relieve myself of their importunities; for it is most unpleasant to have to do with such people. Machiavelli will be able to tell you whether I have resisted their claims or not. Nevertheless there are things that are more difficult to carry through than one thinks at first; I therefore beg your Lordships to favorme with a prompt reply. I must not omit to tell your Lordships that I am informed that Monseigneur de Ravenstein has designs of his own in connection with the affairs of Piombino.
Monseigneur d’Aubigny* has arrived, and of all who have returned from the kingdom of Naples, none have been received by his Majesty with more pleasure than he. I made it a point to call upon him in your name, and found him most friendlily disposed towards our republic, and thoroughly versed in Italian affairs. But every one holds his judgment in suspense, fearing to run counter to thedesigns of the Cardinal Legate. I also called on Madame de Bourbon, whom the queen had called here at the time of the king’s indisposition; this lady showed herself well disposed to your Lordships, to whom I recommend myself.
Lyons, 18 February, 1504.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
The want of couriers is the cause of the delay in the arrival of my despatches, and compels me to allow my letters to your Lordships to accumulate here, which would be much more disagreeable to me still, were it not that I see that you are constrained to do the same; for it is only to-day that I have received yours of the 2d, 3d, 5th, 8th, 10th, and 12th instant, with copies of advices from Rome and the Romagna, which are very full and to the point. We called immediately with your letters upon his Majesty, informing him of the conduct of the Venetians, which is so contrary to their pledges; mentioning at the same time all such other matters as seemed to us proper; and we begged his Majesty that, inasmuch as the Secretary has to return to Florence, to be pleased to enable him to carry some good resolution back with him to your Lordships. I also availed myself of the occasion to tell and repeat to his Majesty all those matters with which your Lordships have charged me; which was not a difficult task, as his Majesty allows every one to speak to him at length. It would be well if it were so with the Cardinal Legate, where things are discussed drop by drop, and then decided. His Majesty replied, that, if this treaty with the Emperor should be concluded, it would surround you with a beautiful garland; and that we ought to wait, and we should soon hear of a matter that would please us greatly; and that he intended to send an envoy to Florence and to Rome, through whom your Lordships would be informed of certain orders and measures that were intended to be beneficial to your Lordships and to all Italy, referring us at the same time for particulars to the Cardinal Legate.
In relation to the treaty with the Emperor, his Majesty said that it was near its conclusion; but what gave him particular pleasure was that he had the signature of the Swiss in his hands, by which they bound themselves to furnish him upon his requisition twelve to sixteen thousand men, and that he felt perfectly sure of them. And here he enlarged considerably upon your Lordships’ matters, not omitting the orders given and provisions made for his kingdom and for the duchy of Milan, which are the same that I have communicated to your Lordships in former despatches. We did not omit to urge him again to take into his pay also some Italian captain, pointing out to him the good effects that would result from it, asking him at the same time, with proper tact, which one he judged to be the best. Upon this point his Majesty replied that he certainly intended to take some one of the Italian captains into his pay, but that it was necessary that the Pope and your Lordships should first make the beginning. And as he said nothing as to any preference, I resumed the subject, saying that your Lordships purposed doing so, for seeing what turn matters were taking you could not remain unarmed; and that it seemed to you of advantage, both for the sake of securing their good will, as well as for the purpose of taking them from others, to try and secure some of the best captains, either of the house of Colonna, or of the Orsini, or even Gianpaolo Baglioni. His Majesty urged us by all means to speak to the Cardinal Legate about it. For the purpose, therefore, of seeing whether I could learn anything special from him, I called upon the Cardinal Legate, and having first informed him of the news I had from your Lordships, and of the recent doings of the Venetians, and of the present state of things in the Romagna, which until now was safe rather by the providence of God, seeing the death of the Signor . . . . . etc., than by the help of man, I told his Eminence that the king had referred us to him. He replied that there were at this moment too many witnesses present to enter upon a discussion of these matters, but that he would at another time give me a long audience, on which occasion he would like to have the Marquis de Final present; and then he called Monseigneur de Trans and the aforesaid Marquis, and in presence of all the government officials who were there, he said: “You see that Imola and Furli are not lost, as Monseigneur de Trans has stated.” And when I repeated to him that, in view of these events, your Lordships felt constrained to arm yourselves; and that there was no more effective way of depriving the enemy of his arms than to try and engage one of the best captains, either of the house of Orsini or Colonna, or Gianpaolo, and that his Majesty the king ought to do the same; his Eminence replied that these men were all impostors, but that if we would be governed by his advice all would go well; and thereupon, seeing the number of persons present, our interview terminated.
Before seeing the Cardinal Legate again it seemed to me advisable to see the Pope’s ambassador; and having called at his house, I informed him of the arrival of Messer Pietro Paolo at Florence, and of your Lordships’ instructions, using such terms as I judged best for facilitating my object, which was to learn from him as far as possible the intentions of the court of Rome, before seeing the Cardinal Legate again. His Lordship made me read a number of letters which he had received from Rome, amongst others one from Capaccio, full of wisdom, and really very much to the point as regards Italian affairs. He suggests to him many things in the name of the Sovereign Pontiff, and advises the ambassador to urge the French to take such measures against the Venetians that the Church may not fall a prey to them, as all that has been done hitherto has been ineffectual; adding that his Majesty’s ambassador at Venice goes so far as to inform the Venetians by simulated letters of all that is to happen, so that, under a dissembled ignorance, they may openly engage in their various enterprises. Thus your Lordships see how these French people act; for although they know that the Venetians have won over their ambassador, as I have before written to your Lordships, yet they do not attempt to remedy it. Afterwards he communicated to me that he hoped to induce his Majesty to write to the Venetian Senate that, if they did not desist from troubling the possessions of the Church, he would have to give them proofs of his displeasure; and that, in consequence of the conduct of the present French ambassador at Venice, another would probably be sent, and who would be furnished with special letters from his Majesty. Two or three persons are spoken of for that post, but I cannot tell your Lordships anything positive about this. The individual likely to be sent to urge the union of all Tuscany will, I think, be Messer Francesco da Narni, with whom, seeing the disposition of the people here, I have done my best to place myself on a friendly footing; but according to what Robertet tells me, it is uncertain whether he will leave here soon; the envoy to Venice, however, will start within a day or two.
I learn that the Spanish ambassadors have told the ambassador of the Pope that if the aforesaid Venetians are named by their most Catholic king, it will be with the condition that they shall give satisfaction to his Holiness the Pope; and in that case they would also be named by the French. This matter depends now entirely upon the agreement with the Emperor; for if these people here do not arrange this difference after their experience with the Spaniards, it is not likely that they would want also to embroil themselves with the Venetians. When this treaty is concluded, in the way they desire here, I shall certainly hope for some good results from it; and as all this has to be judged of by the actions of the Legate, I have his movements as carefully watched as I can with the means at my disposal. The late news from Furli has disconcerted him very much, and your Lordships may believe me if I tell you that, if the Pope does what he can, there is still some hope that we may get well out of the affair.
I have arranged with the Pope’s ambassador that he shall remain present at my appointed audience with the Cardinal Legate, which I would gladly have deferred longer, for I believe I shall not be able to learn anything more from him, unless it be that he would press me again in relation to his wish that your Lordships should engage some of those Neapolitan barons, in reference to which I would like to have some light and instructions from your Lordships. As already stated in one of my previous letters, Turpin has undertaken to send to your Lordships for the money due to the king. I neither advised him to take this course nor did I dissuade him; as to myself personally they cannot cause me the least annoyance, no matter what sinister measures they may employ; but I would not have them make the slightest demonstration that might be discreditable to our city, which I believe these men of the Bailli’s capable of, for they are desperate and utterly ruined; and it is a bad thing to have to do with men of that sort. One of the first men of the government has complained that theking speaks so freely of the Venetians, which has produced a bad effect, and we come in for a share of the blame. The Venetian ambassador attends to nothing else but trying to justify himself, and to think of means for giving effect to his protestations. I continue under all circumstances to write you freely all I hear, and for which you will make such allowance as your Lordships’ wisdom may suggest.
I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Lyons, 19 February, 1504.
P. S. — Monseigneur de Nemours* was also much pleased at the good news of the truce, and begs to remind you of his David, which he is very desirous to have, and wishes it could be sent to Livorno. Your Lordships will I hope deign to instruct me what I am to say to him on the subject.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
I informed your Lordships by my preceding letter, which, for want of a courier, I send at the same time with this one, that I had arranged an audience with the Cardinal Legate; but the affairs of Germany and the departure of his Majesty unavoidably delayed it until yesterday morning. I repeated to his Eminence the advices received from your Lordships, and the measures suggested by you, begging him constantly that in their treaties they might for once recognize such signal fidelity and loyalty as yours. He replied that we should presently have occasion to be better satisfied than we had been for a long time past; and that I should write to your Lordships and to the Gonfaloniere, to be patient and of good cheer, and that you would very soon see that the results would correspond with the promises. And as his Eminence seemed to be in a favorable mood, I added that for once I would like to leave vague generalities, and participate in the good spirits which his countenance indicated. He said to me: “We send Messer Francesco da Narni to Florence and to Rome, and he will carry news that will be most welcome to you, and the union of all Tuscany, which you have desired so much, will be carried into effect. The convention with the Emperor was concluded yesterday, and the German ambassadors carry it with them, to return here with the ratification before Easter, and your interests are as well protected by it as our own.” Wishing to press him still further, especially as to the position in which Pisa would remain, and whether we ought to do anything in the matter, he replied that he would say no more about it until after the arrival of the ratification, lest it might do harm. His Eminence, nevertheless, let fall the following words, which seemed to me worth noting: “Keep yourselves well prepared and provided, and leave us to think and do the rest.” I did not want to enter upon the subject of the engagement of any Italian captain, for besides the intention which I knew him to have of giving you some of these Neapolitan barons, that cousin of the Bailli’s had told me that he would demand the confirmation of the engagement of fifty lances; and therefore I took my leave of his Eminence, who leaves here this forenoon. Your Lordships will doubtless have concluded an engagement with some one whom you consider suitable; for when the thing is once done, there will be much less difficulty in defending it here. Machiavelli has taken leave of his Eminence, and departs from him in a day or two. Robertet, in company with whom I walked on returning from the Cardinal Legate’s house as far as the church, confirmed the assurances of the Cardinal Legate; so that if this time your Lordships’ interests are not properly cared for, we may forever despair of their promises, seeing the manner in which they have spoken to us as well as to others. Upon asking the aforesaid Robertet as to the position in which the convention left the matter of Pisa, I could get nothing out of him, but he said: “Messer Francesco, as you know, goes to Florence, and by order of the Cardinal Legate I am to prepare special instructions for him; for the person who is here in the interest of Pisa is a man of extravagant views, and Messer Francesco is much better suited to the task.” Although Robertet did not answer my question, yet it seems to me proper to let you know what I did gather from him; for they either want to lull us into security, or they have not conceded Pisa to the Emperor, as some have supposed.
As it seemed to me that the sending of an envoy to Venice, which has been as good as decided upon, was a matter that concerned the Pope’s ambassador more than myself, I resolved to seek an interview with him before Robertet or the Cardinal Legate should see him on the subject. After having communicated to him the substance of the conversations I had had with them, I expressed my surprise that they had not said one word in relation to that decision; for I really thought it more to the purpose and more important than anything else, that the Venetians should for once understand the king’s intentions with regard to the affairs of his master. He replied: “Everything goes well, and it has been deemed best to defer saying anything because I have letters from the Bishop of Ragusa, to the effect that Messer Pietro Paolo will be in time at the castle of Furli. Rely upon it, your interests are more thought of than you believe. It would not be well further to disclose our purposes with regard to the Venetians, in case the ratification by his Imperial Majesty of the convention concluded by those ambassadors should not arrive; for such premature disclosures would only increase their pretensions. But be of good cheer, for his Holiness has no intention of remaining quiet. This union with and the support of the king will add to our credit and reputation, and will give others something to think about. His Holiness is anyhow resolved to arm, and if he, jointly with your Signoria, could raise one thousand men-at-arms, what with the other allies and the credit of the duchy of Milan, provided she remains as she is, the Venetians will have to think well of what they venture to undertake.” I did not delay in replying, “that we were fed with words, and they with facts.” As he wanted either to close the conversation, or give himself some importance, he said to me: “I have under the secret of a confession, and in articulo conscientiæ, what, if I could reveal it to you, would convince you that I am not speaking at hazard.” It is difficult to draw from the lips of men what they are not willing to tell; and I must leave it to your Lordships to form your own conclusion from such information as I have been able to gather.
Afterwards I called upon the Chancellor of the Province, who leaves to-morrow, well pleased with the attentions shown him, and with the results achieved; they have presented him with money and shown him all honor. I have again expressed to him the good will and devotion of your Lordships to his sovereign, and the hopes which you build upon him in all your necessities, of which he would always have proof whenever occasion should present itself. The Chancellor showed himself much pleased at all this, and assured me that his sovereign would undoubtedly come into Italy; and he promised me to make known to the Emperor these demonstrations of good will which I had made in your Lordships’ name. And he affirmed this intended voyage of the Emperors so positively, that it will either take place, or he will be completely dishonored; for it is said that he has the entire confidence of his sovereign, and that whatever he decides is invariably done. I am resolved to see him again, for Robertet told Ugolino, within the last few days, that, if their negotiations with Pisa did not succeed, this Chancellor would be apt to have that city restored to your Lordships; for that he was a man who gladly took a part in affairs where he saw a profit. If this seems different from what they told me on other occasions, it is because of their nature and habits always to have more than one plan; thus your Lordships will not blame me, but rather hold me excused for writing all I hear.
I shall see the Grand Chancellor again before his departure, which will not be until next Monday. Since the return of the Legate he has almost invariably intervened in all the negotiations that have been going on; should I not learn anything more from him I will so inform your Lordships. But if matters are treated more openly, as some think will be the case, then it may perhaps be easier to learn something more. Everything, however, has its counterpoise, for if that should be the case, then the Admiral will have to take a more active part in them; and so far as I hear, he has never been well inclined to the interests of Italy. But I will write more fully to your Lordships respecting this movement, if I find that there is any foundation for it. Your Lordships will hold me excused if, as I think, you will receive no letters from me for a month to come; for the king, tired of being confined so long to one place, wishes to stop in every town, and it will be very difficult to follow him there. And when the court is not fixed in any one place, nothing can be done, nor can any information be obtained. Added to this comes another inconvenience: Ugolino is sick, and it is the beginning of a long illness, although there is no danger; but, in truth, his knowledge of the language and the usages of the country make him most useful to me. God willing, I shall follow the court on Monday or Tuesday.
The Cardinal Legate has caused one hundred ducats to be paid to the Bailli’s men, and tells me that he has done it to save me from some insult, for which there would be no remedy because of the agreement which the Bailli holds. The Legate says that your Lordships may expect to receive this account, and hopes you will pay it, for the men-at-arms insisted on being paid; and truly, if the Legate had not taken this course, I should have had these men around me by dozens wherever I went. Very little is heard of the terms of the treaty that is being negotiated, but it is said that both parties bind each other by many oaths; and that the Emperor concedes the duchy of Milan to the king of France, who is to pay him a sum of money and to furnish him men for the passage into Italy. As to the Signor Lodovico (Il Moro) it is said that the German ambassadors wanted to relieve themselves of that responsibility, but that nevertheless at the meeting of the two sovereigns they will decide about him; and that his Most Christian Majesty has pledged himself to liberate him, and to give him the means of living in France. Of Don Federigo both Spaniards and French speak most honorably; in a former letter I told your Lordships all I had heard on the subject, and of the intentions of the Spaniards, who affirm most positively that their Catholic Majesties intend to restore him to the throne, and to make his son marry the dowager queen of Naples, that is to say, the one who was the wife of King Ferdinand. The secretary of King Federigo tells me that the French wanted to give to the Prince Germaine de Foix, niece of the king and queen of France; and that he has lately pressed both the king and the Cardinal Legate very hard to make the Spaniards declare whether they really mean what they say, or whether, for some selfish purpose, they merely feign this promise to reinstate Don Federigo, etc. But, as he says, they declined to do so, although it would have been much more to their honor than the truce which they have just concluded; and that it must be either that they intend to blind these Catholic kings, or that they fear that, if their plans were to become known to the Archduke, it might lead to results directly contrary to what these French aim at.
Your Lordships will judge of this as well as of the other matters with your habitual wisdom. I recommend myself and beg you will excuse me, for I must follow the court, and so long as it keeps moving I shall not be able to do anything; and so I will say no more at present. Bene valeant DD. VV.
Lyons, 22 February, 1504.
Magnificent Signori: —
Since the arrival of the ratification of the truce by Spain I have been, as it were, constantly with one foot in the stirrup to return to Florence; but his Magnificence the Ambassador thought that I ought not to leave here until after the departure of Messer Francesco da Narni, who has been deputed to Florence for reasons which your Lordships will have learned from the Ambassador. It had been at first determined that I should leave at the same time with Messer Francesco; but upon more careful reflection it was deemed best that I should not accompany him, lest it should detract from the importance of his mission, and make it appear as though it had been solicited by your Lordships. Thus it is that I find myself still here, my only business now being to wait for a companion; but I shall start without fail on Friday next, when the Ambassador will also leave here to follow the king. I recommend myself a thousand times to your Lordships, and refer for all important matters to what your Ambassador writes and has written, for he is most sagacious, zealous, and devoted to his country. Bene valete!
Lyons, 25 February, 1504.
[* ]Niccolo Machiavelli was sent to France, where Niccolo Valori was the ambassador of the Florentine republic, in consequence of the apprehensions conceived by the Florentine government lest Gonsalvo de Cordova, after having defeated the French on the Garigliano, and captured Gaeta, and after having assured to his Catholic Majesty of Spain the possession of the kingdom of Naples, should move upon Florence for the purpose of changing its government, re-establish the Sforzas in Milan, and thus utterly destroy the power of the French in Italy. The result of this mission was the assurance that Florence should be withdrawn from the treaty existing between France and Spain, in which the Florentines were specially named and comprised by the king of France as his allies and adherents. See the Diary of Buonaccorsi, p. 35, and Guicciardini, Lib. VI.
[* ]This was the military engagement (condotta) of Giovanpaolo Baglioni, made by the Florentines in their name, but for account of King Louis XII. of France, of which mention is made in the preceding Mission to Rome.
[* ]Nearly all the letters of this Legation were written by Niccolo Valori, who was Florentine Ambassador at the Court of France. It has been supposed, nevertheless, that it would be acceptable to the reader to have them printed, partly because they throw much light upon the state of things at the Court of France at that time, and partly because they were in substance concerted with Machiavelli and written (perhaps?) jointly with him; although in point of style they lack the terseness and lucid compactness of Machiavelli’s despatches.
[* ]Datary, an officer of the Chancery at Rome, who affixes the “datum Romæ,” etc. to the Pope’s Bulls.
[* ]The truce between the Spanish and the French was concluded for three years, with the agreement that each party was to name their friends and adherents within the space of three months. The Florentines were named by the French.
[* ]The Venetians were proposed by the king of Spain, but the French refused to accept them, because of their hostility to the Church; and thus they were not named.
[* ]Monseigneur d’Aubigny had been taken prisoner by the Spaniards in Calabria, but was released on the surrender of Gaeta.
[* ]This was Pierre de Rohan, Maréchal di Gié, to whom the Florentine Signoria had promised a bronze statue of David, which had been ordered of Michel Angelo, 12th August, 1502. The Maréchal, however, having fallen into disgrace with the king, the David was sent as a present to the treasurer, Florimonde de Robertet, who placed it in the court-yard of his palace at Blois. The palace still exists, but the bronze David is no longer there.