Front Page Titles (by Subject) COMMISSION GIVEN TO NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI, ENVOY TO HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY THE KING OF FRANCE (LOUIS XII.) - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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COMMISSION GIVEN TO NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI, ENVOY TO HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY THE KING OF FRANCE (LOUIS XII.) - 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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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.
[* ]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.