Front Page Titles (by Subject) MISSION TO THE MARQUIS OF MANTUA, JOHN FRANCIS II. OF GONZAGA. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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MISSION TO THE MARQUIS OF MANTUA, JOHN FRANCIS II. OF GONZAGA. - 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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MISSION TO THE MARQUIS OF MANTUA, JOHN FRANCIS II. OF GONZAGA.
Resolved on, the4th of May, 1505.
You will proceed by post, and with all possible speed, to find the Marquis of Mantua, and definitely conclude his engagement, in relation to which we have this morning received an envoy from him. And by way of instructing you as to what you will have to do, we will tell you briefly that the articles which his Lordship will have to ratify are the same that have lately been decided upon in the Council of the Eighty, a copy of which you have herewith, and which are not to be modified or changed in any particular. The conclusion of this agreement will have to be effected anew by you for our account of the one part, and by his Lordship of the other part. And in case it should be necessary, you will use the powers we have given you for that purpose; or indeed his Lordship may ratify and accept it in the manner and form above indicated. The difficulties which he started were, as you know, that he wanted five hundred foot-soldiers, which demand has been altogether rejected, and you will reject it in the same way. His letter was to the effect that he wanted to give us only one hundred and fifty men-at-arms, and the remainder in light horse, which has also been refused, and you will do so still more emphatically. And the third involved an entire change in the eighth article, which defines the manner in which he is to serve us; but as this alteration seemed to us to annual the entire agreement, we have most energetically rejected it in toto, and wish you to do the same; for we do not want to be obliged to place ourselves in opposition either to the Most Christian King or to his Imperial Majesty. Nor do we want to contract an engagement at such great cost without being assured that the service is to be performed. All these demands having been excluded by us, he now comes back asking restitution of all the places which he or his people had seized, and which for a time had been held by him or his ancestors. And moreover he wanted us to give him leave to return, in his own person only, to his country, whenever there seemed to him necessity or urgent cause for it. Not wishing on our part to raise any more difficulties than what this negotiation naturally involves, and on the other hand being unwilling to change the whole character of the engagement, we have resolved upon a third course, and have promised the Marquis in a special letter what you will see in a copy of the same. Besides this, our illustrious Gonfaloniere has written him a letter, of which you will be the bearer, and of which you will make use in case of necessity, not otherwise. You must know furthermore that, in the article in which he speaks of the consent and good graces of the king in connection with this engagement, he had added certain words of the utmost import, to the effect that every question should at all times be subject to the will and pleasure of the king; such were the very words. But as this did not seem to us well, we object altogether to any such conditions, holding to the engagement already concluded, and to the clauses which it contains upon that point. Under any circumstances, to avoid all delay in this negotiation, should his Lordship desire some respectful reference to his Majesty the king in this agreement, we will cheerfully admit it, provided it signifies nothing more than what was in the beginning the mutual intention of both parties, namely, that this engagement was made with the consent and good pleasure of his Majesty. As the prompt settlement of this matter is of much importance to us, you will see that it is brought to an immediate conclusion; but should there be any difficulty that will prevent this, you will return here without delay. If, on the other hand, you conclude the affair without any difficulties, then you will urge his Lordship to start at once with the whole of his troops, or at least with a part of them, for you know how important time is for us.*
[* ]The refusal of Gianpaolo Baglioni to continue his engagement (Condotta) with the Florentine republic induced the latter to take the Marquis of Mantua into their pay, whom they engaged with three hundred men-at-arms and the title of Captain-General. Before the final ratification of the agreement difficulties arose, the principal one of which had its origin in an article demanded by the Marquis, that the whole should be subject to the decision of the king of France. The Florentines were unwilling to concede this to its full extent, and Machiavelli was sent to Mantua to conclude and ratify the agreement on suitable conditions. This ratification, however, was not effected, owing to new difficulties that were constantly interposed on account of the above article. Vide Buonaccorsi’s Journal, p. 103.