Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER IX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER IX. - 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.: —
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.
[* ]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.