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LETTER. - 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 arrived yesterday evening at the fort of Cortona and learned that Pietro Bartelino had returned from Gianpaolo and was above. It being too late to reach Castiglione by daylight, and having, moreover, instructions from your Lordships to confer with Antonio, I went up to pass the night with him. I had a full conversation with him, and learned from Pietro how his business had turned out, respecting which he told me that he had just written to your Lordships. Early this morning, in good time, I was with Gianpaolo, and both before and after dinner I talked with him for over three hours, during which time I had ample opportunity to execute your Lordships’ commission, the three main points of which were, first, whether he would serve or not; second, in case of his refusal to serve, then to ascertain what his real motives are, — whether he merely wants to obtain better terms, or whether he has more important reasons; and finally, not to break with him, lest it should give him occasion, etc., etc.
For the purpose of treating all three of these points, I opened the conversation in accordance with your Lordships’ instructions, telling Baglioni that your Lordships complained of the obstacles which he alleged, and wondered that you had not heard of them before; offering him at the same time every assistance for the security of his state, for which offers he thanked your Lordships most kindly. He said that the reason of his not having informed you sooner was that he himself had not been aware of his situation before; but that he knew now the impending dangers and the machinations of the Colonnas and of his other enemies, and the intrigues which they had been carrying on, even within Perugia itself; and that so soon as he discovered these, he saw that it would be impossible for him to accept any obligations to others without manifest danger of losing his own state, and that it was much better for him now to have taken care of his own interests than to have accepted your money, and then have been obliged to leave perhaps in the midst of his duty. From this argument he passed abruptly to the manner in which you had acted towards him last year, and how, whilst he remained in camp, although written to daily by his people to come home, you had refused to give him leave; and that, so as not to break with you, he had engaged the Signor Bartolommeo to come to Perugia, which had excited such suspicion in your minds that he had to send him away again; that he did not intend to expose himself to the same thing this year, but believed that he would be able to settle his affairs and secure himself in such manner this year as to be able to serve your Lordships next year, adding that he was sure of being then your servant more than ever. And when I met these doubts of his with such arguments as I could offer, justifying your Lordships’ conduct of last year, he replied that he could not be satisfied, nor could he rely upon you, inasmuch as you had always, and even within the past few days, carried on negotiations with Fabrizio Colonna to engage him in your service; and that, although nothing definite had been done, yet you could hammer at this matter so long that it would be concluded, so that when it was done he would find himself in the midst of his enemies. And then he went on enlarging upon this matter, expressing his detestation of your engagement of the Savelli and the Colonnas, and blaming you for neglecting the Guelfs; adding that, if you had leaned upon them, and formed him and Bartolommeo d’Alviano and Vitelli into one body, things would have been better for them and for you; for then the Colonnas, who are their enemies, would have been kept down, and Pandolfo and the Lucchese, who are also your enemies, would have remained quiet, and Pisa would have fallen of itself. I replied to all this as well as I could, but he remained firm in maintaining that it would have been best for Florence to have formed all the above Orsini into one body; and then it escaped his lips that it was now too late for you to do this. He complained of the Perugian rebels who reside in Cortona, adding that, if he were accused of having broken his faith, and that it became necessary for him to justify himself, he was ready to do so; that he had submitted his argument to a number of learned Perugians who all decided that he was not bound by it. Respecting the Perugian rebels who are at Cortona, I told him that, knowing the character of those who had occasionally resided there, his Lordship ought not as much as mention the matter, and that I should be ashamed to reply to him upon that point. But as to his being able to justify his treating his engagement as not binding, I observed that, inasmuch as he had afforded me ample scope to discuss the value and importance of good faith, I was not conscious of having omitted anything that could be said under the circumstances. And then I gave my remarks such a turn as to show him that your Lordships’ displeasure at his resolution was more on his than on your own account. For even if you were at this moment unexpectedly deprived of one hundred and thirty men-at-arms, there were so many unemployed horses in Italy just now that there was no danger of your being obliged to remain on foot, or to be compelled to abandon any of your plans, and that thus your difficulties would be easily remedied; but that such was not the case with his. For even if you had never to complain of his want of good faith, assuming that his apprehensions were well founded and really obliged him to remain at home, yet every one knew the obligation under which he was to your Lordships, and was cognizant of his engagement as it stands, of the payments that had been regularly made, of the conveniences afforded him, of the engagement that had been made by him, and at his special request, for his son, and that his entire pay had been brought to him at his own house, and would therefore never excuse him, but would charge him with ingratitude and bad faith, and would regard him as a stumbling horse which nobody would ride for fear of getting his neck broken; that matters of this kind were not to be judged by learned doctors, but by gentlemen; and that whoever attached any value to wearing armor, and desired to win honor by his arms, could lose nothing that was prized so much as the reputation for good faith, and that it seemed to me that in this case he staked his very lightly. And as he persisted in saying that he could justify his conduct, I answered that men ought to do everything in their power never to be obliged to justify themselves, for justification presupposes error or the suspicion of error; that last year he had to justify himself with regard to the French, and in fact he had to justify himself too often. And thus I pricked him right and left, speaking to him as a friend, and as though merely coming from me; and although I noticed several times that he changed countenance, yet he gave no indication that could make me hope he would change his determination.
This is all I can report to your Lordships of our long conversation. Our subsequent rather confused and desultory discussion tended all to the same effect, for he firmly held to his resolve to remain at home this year and not to serve any one; telling me also that within a few days he would cause four persons to be executed in Perugia who were his enemies; and that we must not take umbrage at him if he should collect troops, which he should do only to enable him to resist his enemies, and to dislodge some of them from certain castles which they occupied. He said that you could do this year without taking any men-at-arms into your pay, for he did not see that you were in condition to attack Pisa; but if nevertheless you did make an engagement with any one, you ought to avoid the Colonnas, and take either the Marquis of Mantua or some others who were not of the Colonna faction. In the course of his argumentation he let the remark escape him that he could tide over this year with such resources as he could procure from elsewhere. I did not fail to reply to these arguments in such manner as seemed to me suitable and to the point. But to justify himself to your Lordships and relieve them of all doubt as to his good faith he offered, in case you should decide upon a movement against Pisa, to come in person with some forty or fifty of his men; but that he should come merely as a friend, voluntarily, and not as being under any obligation to do so; and that he would be satisfied even if your Lordships employed him only as a pioneer.
Your Lordships will see from what I have written thus far that Gianpaolo is positively determined not to serve you; as also the reasons which he assigns for it, and which, he avers, have reference purely to his own interests. But here is what I learn from others, and I have it from two Florentines who are in his pay, one of whom is more skilful in intrigue than in action. Both tell me that this is all a concerted affair between Gianpaolo and Pandolfo, the Lucchese, and the Orsini faction. They do not know whether any others are implicated, but they do know there is a good deal going on; for Gianpaolo receives nightly some individual who is a courier, or seems like one. Messer Goro da Pistoja, they tell me, is very busy moving to and fro; at this moment he is absent, but they know not where. On Sunday Gianpaolo had a meeting with Pandolfo in the direction of Chiusi, under pretence of hunting. Their designs unquestionably are to take Pisa from you, and to do even worse if they can; their final object being to reduce you to the same condition as themselves, so that those who are well armed may fare well, whilst the others may look to their security as well as they can. They have made Gianpaolo trifle with you, so that you might have less time for making your preparations; nor would he as yet have made known his intentions if you had not sent him his pay; but upon learning that it was on the way, he wished to anticipate you, and so wrote that letter to Messer Vincenzio. I learn furthermore from these men, that in place of that letter Gianpaolo wished to have sent Ser Valerio to you, but that he did not want to come, saying that you would hang him for bringing such news to you. Those who influence Gianpaolo in all this have made him take this means of saying that he would not serve you, and that he wanted to remain at home, because they and he knew that you would be vexed by this wrong and would be apt to do something adverse to him, either by taking the Colonnas into your pay, or by some other means to guard yourselves against him, and thereby afford him the occasion for saying that he was justified in declaring openly against Florence; and therefore he advises you in the most friendly manner to remain without men-at-arms rather than engage the Colonnas. Those who have given me these particulars tell me that, unless you give Gianpaolo occasion, he will not declare against you, but will arrange to place all his troops under Bartolommeo d’ Alviano, or any one else, as may seem best to him. They also tell me that he has advised his soldiers to remain quiet and of good cheer, for that if he receives no money from the Florentines, he will have it from some one else; and he intimated as much to me himself in the conversation I had with him, which I reported above. They say furthermore, that he thinks you will not be able to raise troops, and that, if nevertheless you engage the Colonnas, he will cut off their roads for coming into Tuscany, and will not permit them to pass in any way. They also report that for the past two months Gianpaolo has been completely absorbed in his thoughts, as it were, and has never laughed with right good will. This I have noticed myself, for when I told him at our interview to reflect well upon the course he was going to take, which was of more importance for him than for Perugia, he replied, “Believe me, I have thought of it well, and have crossed myself more than half a dozen times, and have prayed God to direct me wisely.”
I leave your Lordships now to form your own judgment upon all this. You advised me verbally to be careful not to break with Gianpaolo; and therefore, when he argued with me, and endeavored to show by the most earnest protestations how entirely devoted he was to our republic, as you would find out more and more every day, and that if you took umbrage at his present decision, he would send his son Malatesta Baglioni to you as a hostage, I asked him why he had not ratified his engagement. He replied at once, and without reflecting, that he would do so most cheerfully whenever your Lordships wished it. I answered him, that I had no instructions upon that point, and that your Lordships had not said anything to me about it; but that he could let your Lordships know, so as to ascertain your wishes in the matter. Whereupon he promptly sent a messenger to Perugia to ask Ser Valerio to come to him, saying that he would immediately despatch him to your Lordships with that commission, and I saw nothing improper in my approving of this. In conclusion, when I took my leave of him, he said to me, “that this year he would not serve your Lordships on any account nor at any price; but that, if you decided upon renewing the siege of Pisa, he would come as a friend with forty or fifty men; and that I should assure your Lordships that he had no intention of wronging you, nor of allying himself with any one who intended to injure you, and that it was only the necessity of being obliged to remain at home, and nothing else, that had caused him to decide as he had done; but that, if you wished, he would willingly give you his son.”
I have entered fully upon all the above details, so that your Lordships may judge of them with your habitual prudence; nor have I hesitated in writing so much at length, contrary to my disposition, but the subject seemed to me of such importance that I thought I could not err in communicating to you all I had heard and seen here. As to the number of men-at-arms* which Gianpaolo Baglioni has, and their whereabouts, I have learned that about twenty of the old are wanting, but that within the past few days he has taken twenty-eight men-at-arms into his pay from the Prefect and the Duke of Urbino. These are quartered throughout his entire state, and here in Cortona he has but three men-at-arms. According to public report he will have altogether within a month one hundred men-at-arms and one hundred light-horse.*
I did not stop longer at Castiglione, as it seemed to me that I had obtained all the information I was instructed to gather in relation to these matters, and moreover I could not have written you from that place the half of what I have written. And had I remained there one day longer, I should have been taken for a spy and should have been detained there with little satisfaction or credit to your Lordships; and therefore I concluded to come away, thinking that it would be a greater error to remain than to be obliged to return there. This evening I shall stop at Cortona, and to-morrow I shall speak to the commandant of Arezzo, and the following day, God willing, I hope to be back in Florence. I recommend myself to your Lordships.
11 April, 1505.
I have given two ducats to the courier Carlo who leaves to-dayat the twenty-third hour; he has promised to reach Florence before your Lordships go home, and if he fails in this he is to return the two ducats.
MISSION TO THE MARQUIS OF MANTUA, JOHN FRANCIS II. OF GONZAGA.
[* ]Gente d’ Arme. Men-at-arms were gentlemen who fought on horseback. Every man-at-arms had with him five persons; namely, three archers, one equerry, and a page or varlet. When Charles VII. began to organize the French nobility into a regular body of cavalry, he formed them into fifteen companies, called Compagnies d’Ordonnance; and as each man-at-arms had five other men in his suite, each company consisted of six hundred men. There were besides a great number of volunteers who followed these companies at their own expense, in the hope of being admitted as a man-at-arms. See Artaud, Machiavel, Tom. I. pp. 127.
[* ]In a collection of original letters addressed to Niccolo Machiavelli and belonging to a Florentine patrician family, there is one from Boscherino, captain of a squadron of Gianpaolo’s, dated April 16, 1505, from which can be inferred what relations Machiavelli had with this captain in connection with this mission; and as it throws some light upon this business, the letter is here given.
Nobilis Vir, et mi observandiss., etc.: —
When you left, it was agreed that, in case the Lord Gianpaolo did not accept the engagement, your Nobility would inform me, or that you would procure me a position with some other Condottiere, equal to what I hold here. And as I am extremely anxious not to remain without employment, I make bold to trouble you in this matter; but feel assured that your humanity will excuse me, and that you will try to satisfy my earnest wishes in the manner I desire, and as agreed between us. And although I am not able in whole or in part to compensate your Nobility, yet the Almighty and your humanity will supply my insufficiency, and to these I cease not to recommend myself, which is all I have to say excepting ever to recommend myself, etc., etc.
Your servant, Boscherino,Captain of Squadron of the Lord Giovanpaolo Baglioni.