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LETTER 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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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.
[* ]Monseigneur d’Aubigny had been taken prisoner by the Spaniards in Calabria, but was released on the surrender of Gaeta.