Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XIV. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XIV. - 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.: —
I informed your Lordships by my preceding letter, which, for want of a courier, I send at the same time with this one, that I had arranged an audience with the Cardinal Legate; but the affairs of Germany and the departure of his Majesty unavoidably delayed it until yesterday morning. I repeated to his Eminence the advices received from your Lordships, and the measures suggested by you, begging him constantly that in their treaties they might for once recognize such signal fidelity and loyalty as yours. He replied that we should presently have occasion to be better satisfied than we had been for a long time past; and that I should write to your Lordships and to the Gonfaloniere, to be patient and of good cheer, and that you would very soon see that the results would correspond with the promises. And as his Eminence seemed to be in a favorable mood, I added that for once I would like to leave vague generalities, and participate in the good spirits which his countenance indicated. He said to me: “We send Messer Francesco da Narni to Florence and to Rome, and he will carry news that will be most welcome to you, and the union of all Tuscany, which you have desired so much, will be carried into effect. The convention with the Emperor was concluded yesterday, and the German ambassadors carry it with them, to return here with the ratification before Easter, and your interests are as well protected by it as our own.” Wishing to press him still further, especially as to the position in which Pisa would remain, and whether we ought to do anything in the matter, he replied that he would say no more about it until after the arrival of the ratification, lest it might do harm. His Eminence, nevertheless, let fall the following words, which seemed to me worth noting: “Keep yourselves well prepared and provided, and leave us to think and do the rest.” I did not want to enter upon the subject of the engagement of any Italian captain, for besides the intention which I knew him to have of giving you some of these Neapolitan barons, that cousin of the Bailli’s had told me that he would demand the confirmation of the engagement of fifty lances; and therefore I took my leave of his Eminence, who leaves here this forenoon. Your Lordships will doubtless have concluded an engagement with some one whom you consider suitable; for when the thing is once done, there will be much less difficulty in defending it here. Machiavelli has taken leave of his Eminence, and departs from him in a day or two. Robertet, in company with whom I walked on returning from the Cardinal Legate’s house as far as the church, confirmed the assurances of the Cardinal Legate; so that if this time your Lordships’ interests are not properly cared for, we may forever despair of their promises, seeing the manner in which they have spoken to us as well as to others. Upon asking the aforesaid Robertet as to the position in which the convention left the matter of Pisa, I could get nothing out of him, but he said: “Messer Francesco, as you know, goes to Florence, and by order of the Cardinal Legate I am to prepare special instructions for him; for the person who is here in the interest of Pisa is a man of extravagant views, and Messer Francesco is much better suited to the task.” Although Robertet did not answer my question, yet it seems to me proper to let you know what I did gather from him; for they either want to lull us into security, or they have not conceded Pisa to the Emperor, as some have supposed.
As it seemed to me that the sending of an envoy to Venice, which has been as good as decided upon, was a matter that concerned the Pope’s ambassador more than myself, I resolved to seek an interview with him before Robertet or the Cardinal Legate should see him on the subject. After having communicated to him the substance of the conversations I had had with them, I expressed my surprise that they had not said one word in relation to that decision; for I really thought it more to the purpose and more important than anything else, that the Venetians should for once understand the king’s intentions with regard to the affairs of his master. He replied: “Everything goes well, and it has been deemed best to defer saying anything because I have letters from the Bishop of Ragusa, to the effect that Messer Pietro Paolo will be in time at the castle of Furli. Rely upon it, your interests are more thought of than you believe. It would not be well further to disclose our purposes with regard to the Venetians, in case the ratification by his Imperial Majesty of the convention concluded by those ambassadors should not arrive; for such premature disclosures would only increase their pretensions. But be of good cheer, for his Holiness has no intention of remaining quiet. This union with and the support of the king will add to our credit and reputation, and will give others something to think about. His Holiness is anyhow resolved to arm, and if he, jointly with your Signoria, could raise one thousand men-at-arms, what with the other allies and the credit of the duchy of Milan, provided she remains as she is, the Venetians will have to think well of what they venture to undertake.” I did not delay in replying, “that we were fed with words, and they with facts.” As he wanted either to close the conversation, or give himself some importance, he said to me: “I have under the secret of a confession, and in articulo conscientiæ, what, if I could reveal it to you, would convince you that I am not speaking at hazard.” It is difficult to draw from the lips of men what they are not willing to tell; and I must leave it to your Lordships to form your own conclusion from such information as I have been able to gather.
Afterwards I called upon the Chancellor of the Province, who leaves to-morrow, well pleased with the attentions shown him, and with the results achieved; they have presented him with money and shown him all honor. I have again expressed to him the good will and devotion of your Lordships to his sovereign, and the hopes which you build upon him in all your necessities, of which he would always have proof whenever occasion should present itself. The Chancellor showed himself much pleased at all this, and assured me that his sovereign would undoubtedly come into Italy; and he promised me to make known to the Emperor these demonstrations of good will which I had made in your Lordships’ name. And he affirmed this intended voyage of the Emperors so positively, that it will either take place, or he will be completely dishonored; for it is said that he has the entire confidence of his sovereign, and that whatever he decides is invariably done. I am resolved to see him again, for Robertet told Ugolino, within the last few days, that, if their negotiations with Pisa did not succeed, this Chancellor would be apt to have that city restored to your Lordships; for that he was a man who gladly took a part in affairs where he saw a profit. If this seems different from what they told me on other occasions, it is because of their nature and habits always to have more than one plan; thus your Lordships will not blame me, but rather hold me excused for writing all I hear.
I shall see the Grand Chancellor again before his departure, which will not be until next Monday. Since the return of the Legate he has almost invariably intervened in all the negotiations that have been going on; should I not learn anything more from him I will so inform your Lordships. But if matters are treated more openly, as some think will be the case, then it may perhaps be easier to learn something more. Everything, however, has its counterpoise, for if that should be the case, then the Admiral will have to take a more active part in them; and so far as I hear, he has never been well inclined to the interests of Italy. But I will write more fully to your Lordships respecting this movement, if I find that there is any foundation for it. Your Lordships will hold me excused if, as I think, you will receive no letters from me for a month to come; for the king, tired of being confined so long to one place, wishes to stop in every town, and it will be very difficult to follow him there. And when the court is not fixed in any one place, nothing can be done, nor can any information be obtained. Added to this comes another inconvenience: Ugolino is sick, and it is the beginning of a long illness, although there is no danger; but, in truth, his knowledge of the language and the usages of the country make him most useful to me. God willing, I shall follow the court on Monday or Tuesday.
The Cardinal Legate has caused one hundred ducats to be paid to the Bailli’s men, and tells me that he has done it to save me from some insult, for which there would be no remedy because of the agreement which the Bailli holds. The Legate says that your Lordships may expect to receive this account, and hopes you will pay it, for the men-at-arms insisted on being paid; and truly, if the Legate had not taken this course, I should have had these men around me by dozens wherever I went. Very little is heard of the terms of the treaty that is being negotiated, but it is said that both parties bind each other by many oaths; and that the Emperor concedes the duchy of Milan to the king of France, who is to pay him a sum of money and to furnish him men for the passage into Italy. As to the Signor Lodovico (Il Moro) it is said that the German ambassadors wanted to relieve themselves of that responsibility, but that nevertheless at the meeting of the two sovereigns they will decide about him; and that his Most Christian Majesty has pledged himself to liberate him, and to give him the means of living in France. Of Don Federigo both Spaniards and French speak most honorably; in a former letter I told your Lordships all I had heard on the subject, and of the intentions of the Spaniards, who affirm most positively that their Catholic Majesties intend to restore him to the throne, and to make his son marry the dowager queen of Naples, that is to say, the one who was the wife of King Ferdinand. The secretary of King Federigo tells me that the French wanted to give to the Prince Germaine de Foix, niece of the king and queen of France; and that he has lately pressed both the king and the Cardinal Legate very hard to make the Spaniards declare whether they really mean what they say, or whether, for some selfish purpose, they merely feign this promise to reinstate Don Federigo, etc. But, as he says, they declined to do so, although it would have been much more to their honor than the truce which they have just concluded; and that it must be either that they intend to blind these Catholic kings, or that they fear that, if their plans were to become known to the Archduke, it might lead to results directly contrary to what these French aim at.
Your Lordships will judge of this as well as of the other matters with your habitual wisdom. I recommend myself and beg you will excuse me, for I must follow the court, and so long as it keeps moving I shall not be able to do anything; and so I will say no more at present. Bene valeant DD. VV.
Lyons, 22 February, 1504.