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LETTER XI. - 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.: —
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.