Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER VI. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER VI. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 3.
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Magnificent Signori, 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.
[* ]Datary, an officer of the Chancery at Rome, who affixes the “datum Romæ,” etc. to the Pope’s Bulls.