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LETTER I. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527) 
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. 4.
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Magnificent and Illustrious Signori: —
I arrived yesterday at Nepi, and the Pope with the court came the same day; as his Holiness had left Rome the day before, he declined to attend to any business yesterday evening, and thus I did not see him. But this morning I presented myself before him immediately after his breakfast; and before rising from table he gave me an audience in presence of their Eminences of Volterra and Pavia,* and of Messer Gabriello, who has lately come from Florence; and so that your Lordships may know at the same time what I said and the replies made to me, I shall report both, word for word, as follows: —
“Most Holy Father, your Holiness knows how devoted my illustrious Signoria have ever been to the Holy See, and how they have always fearlessly and unhesitatingly exposed themselves to every danger for the purpose of sustaining and increasing its dignity. This ancient devotion is increased twofold with regard to the person of your Holiness, because, even before attaining your present elevated position, they found in you a father and protector of our republic. It is proper, therefore, that they should desire the increase of the dignity and power of your Holiness; for such increase will also strengthen their hope of obtaining from your Holiness whatever they need for the welfare of their country. Nor could they give higher praise or show greater satisfaction with the enterprise, of which your Holiness has caused them to be informed by your envoy, than to pronounce it good and holy, and truly worthy of the sanctity and goodness of your Holiness. It is true that many circumstances and considerations of importance, both general and particular, kept them for a time in suspense and made them tardy in their decision, for they had learned that King Ferdinand was going to Naples, which, considering that some would not be satisfied with this, might give rise to some disturbances. They understand that the Emperor is with his army on the confines of Venetia, the government of which has sent its troops into the Friuli, and has appointed two Proveditori, and given them great power and authority.” (I said this because I had heard yesterday from a person worthy of all confidence that this news was true.) “Now this invasion of the Emperor,” continued I, “if he advances any further, is of the greatest importance, for it may cause great trouble in Italy, and therefore deserves to be taken into serious consideration. As to their own affairs, my Signoria have the war with Pisa on hand, which is as onerous as ever, if not even more so; for the Pisans show constantly an increased audacity. My Signoria have moreover dismissed this year some two hundred men-at-arms, and have kept barely enough for their defence, with no other commander for their troops but Marc Antonio, and to deprive themselves of his services might cause them serious harm. They hear that the Venetians are greatly dissatisfied with this enterprise, and that their Ambassador at Rome has given proof of it. Another point which my Signoria have noticed, and which your Holiness must pardon me for mentioning, is that it seems to them that the affairs of the Church are not managed in conformity with those of other princes, for they see the towns of the Church left by one door and reentered by another; as has just been done by the Morattini in Furli, whence they have expelled those who were placed there by your Holiness. Moreover, we see no indications of any movement on the part of France, which destroys all faith in what your Holiness has publicly promised himself from there. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding these considerations, the importance of which is fully appreciated by your Holiness, my Signoria is resolved not to deviate from, nor fail in, its purpose of giving their aid to this holy enterprise, and are resolved to do whatever may be agreeable to your Holiness, whenever they see that the aid of which we were told by your envoy has become a reality. And as I believe that I cannot better express the wishes and intentions of my Signoria, nor lay bare the truth more effectually than by reading to your Holiness the instructions given me by my Signoria, I ask permission to read the same.” And having said this, I drew the instructions from my pocket and read them word for word.
His Holiness listened attentively and cheerfully, first to my discourse and then to the instructions; and after a few kind words replied, that, “Upon carefully considering what I had said and read, it seemed to him that your Lordships feared three things: the first, that the king of France would not furnish any assistance; the second, that he was himself lukewarm in the matter; and the third, lest he should make terms with Messer Giovanni Bentivogli and allow him to remain in Bologna, or perhaps, after having expelled him, permit him to return. To the first of these three,” his Holiness said, “I reply, that I cannot more effectually prove to you the good will of the king of France than by showing it to you under his own hand; and for this his signature will suffice without looking for any other proof.” And thereupon he called Monseigneur d’Aix, formerly Bishop of Sisteron, and made him produce the instructions which he had brought back with him from France, showing me the king’s signature in his own hand, and read to me himself two paragraphs which treated of Bolognese matters. The first of these encouraged the Pope in this enterprise against Bologna, offering him four hundred to five hundred lances under Monseigneur d’Allegri or the Marquis of Mantua, or both of them, just as he might please. And in the second he said that the agreement which he had with Messer Giovanni had no importance for him, as it obliged him to protect Messer Giovanni only in his own states, but not in those of the Church, and advised the Pope to act “quickly, quickly,” using these very words, at the same time suggesting to him by all means to avoid exciting the jealousy of the Venetians who are at Faenza. After that his Holiness read me the other letters from the king, and signed with his own hand; the one dated in the month of May, which Sisteron had brought with him, and the other of this month and directed to the Grand Master at Milan, ordering him to furnish four hundred to five hundred lances whenever called for either by Monseigneur d’Aix in person, or by any one else authorized for the purpose by the Pope. After having read these paragraphs and letters from the king, his Holiness said that he did not know what more he could show me to prove the good will of the king, and that this ought to suffice your Lordships. As to his own lukewarmness in this matter, he said that he was on the road, going in his own person, and that he did not believe that he could act with more zeal or earnestness than thus to go in his own person to direct the enterprise. And as to the third point, the leaving Messer Giovanni in Bologna, or permitting him to return after having once driven him out, he said that he would on no account leave him there, and that it would be folly for Messer Giovanni to attempt to remain as a private citizen, as he certainly would not permit him to remain in any other capacity. And once having got rid of Messer Giovanni, it was his intention to settle matters in Bologna in such a way that in his time Messer Giovanni would never return there; but as to what any subsequent Pope might do in the matter, he said he did not know. His Holiness concluded by saying that it would be agreeable to him to have me accompany him, and that he thanked your Lordships for what you had promised him thus far, and that he felt assured that you would not fail in the rest, seeing the good faith of the king of France, upon which point you had had doubts; and that within a few days he would let me know something, etc.
I do not write what I said in reply, not wishing to weary your Lordships; but will only assure you that I conformed in all respects strictly to your instructions. Nor will I omit to mention that in the course of the interview his Holiness whispered something into the ear of Monseigneurs the Cardinals Volterra and Pavia, and then turned and said to me: “I have told you that I desire to bestow a signal benefit upon your Signoria, but will not promise to do it now, as I could not perform it. Whenever I shall be able to do it, I will promise, and shall not fail in the performance; I will do it anyhow.” Thereupon I rose from before the feet of his Holiness, and having withdrawn with Monseigneur d’Aix, who, as already stated, was present at my interview, the said Monseigneur d’Aix told me that all the difficulties he experienced in France in inducing his Majesty the king to consent to this enterprise had arisen from the fact that his Majesty did not believe that it would ever be carried out; but seeing now that it was really under way, the king’s desire to serve the Pope had been doubled. I replied to him, that great astonishment had been created in Florence by the arrival there a few days since of an agent from Milan, sent by the Grand Master to Messer Giovanni to encourage him by assurances that the king would not fail him, etc. He answered that I ought not to be astonished at this, for that either the Grand Master had sent this agent proprie motu to render some one a service according to French custom, or if he had been sent with the consent of the king, it was that he saw that the affairs of Rome did not progress, and that really nothing had been begun. And that he himself was the less surprised at it, for being at court in presence of the king, after the treaty with the Pope had actually been made, his Majesty aloud in his presence bade an agent from Bologna to be of good cheer and fear nothing, for the Pope had asked his support only against Perugia, and that if he claimed it for any other purpose he would not serve him.
Having gone at about the twenty-second hour in the suite of the Pope to view the fortress of this place, which is very remarkable, his Holiness, seeing me, called me aside, and reiterated to me the same assurances that he had made in reply to my address in the morning, saying that he had arranged and settled most satisfactorily all questions that could keep your Lordships in doubt, and then repeated verbum ad verbo what he had said to me in the morning. And when I replied in the words of my instructions, that “your troops would not be the last,” his Holiness said that he had three kinds of troops in his service, namely, his own, those of France, and yours. Of his own he had four hundred men-at-arms, well paid, which he would send in advance, and that he expected moreover one hundred Stradiotes, who were coming from the kingdom of Naples and whom he had supplied with money; and that he would also have the troops of Gianpaolo Baglioni, either under his own command, or that of some one else, as might seem best to him; and that he had his purse full of infantry; so that when all these troops were assembled yours might also come to take their place, as you did not want them to be the last; that he wished me to write all this to your Lordships, and that he would keep me informed from day to day of whatever might occur. He added, that he did not expect, nor did he ask, favors from the Venetians, whose sole aim was, and had been, to place themselves at the head of this enterprise by giving him their support. But that he had refused them, as he did not wish to concede to them what they had taken from the Church to his own great detriment and to your prejudice; and if he should not be able to do more than to persist in refusing to make such concessions to the Venetians, this of itself ought to induce your Lordships to hasten to co-operate with him, regardless of all other considerations; and the more so, as it was not to be presumed that he would stop there if his first efforts proved successful.
I replied in a becoming manner, confining myself, however, entirely to general terms; and cannot report on this first day more to your Lordships than what I have heard his Holiness say. But I presume from his last remarks that many days will not pass before he will ask you to start your troops, although those of the king of France may not yet have stirred; for it has been intimated to him to avail himself of these only in case of necessity, and not otherwise, because of the heavy expense which they would involve, and also to avoid incurring the hostility of this country, which seems so well disposed towards him.
Ramazotto, one of the captains of his Holiness, is here, and promises to raise two thirds of the mountain population here in favor of the Pope, who caresses him much. This Pontiff has constantly in his suite some six or seven cardinals, whose presence seems to be agreeable to him, either for the purpose of counselling with them or for other reasons. The other cardinals are dispersed at large through the surrounding places; but at the Pope’s entrance into Viterbo they are all to be with him.
The route of his Holiness, according to what I hear, is to be the following: to-morrow he will remain here, on Sunday he goes to Viterbo, where he will remain three days; from there he goes to Orvieto, thence to Piegaio, and thence to Perugia, where he may remain a greater or less time. But his intentions are not known as to the way of settling the affairs of that place, or what arrangements he may make with Gianpaolo. It is said that the latter will come to meet the Pope, perhaps even before the latter leaves Viterbo. From Perugia the Pope will go to Urbino, where he proposes to levy four thousand infantry; and it is stated by persons in authority that before reaching Cesena the Duke of Ferrara will come to meet him, and the Marquis of Mantua likewise.
Nothing else occurs to me worth writing. I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ felices valeant.
Civita Castellana, 28 August, 1506.
P. S. — I have forgotten to tell your Lordships that the Pope has said, even in full consistory, that Ferdinand, king of Naples and of Aragon, had some time ago given orders to his ambassador at Rome not to leave that city, as he wanted him to meet him at one of the neighboring ports, where he expected to be in a few days. But that he has since then written to the said ambassador to follow the court and find his Holiness; and thus the ambassador has come with a commission from that king to proceed to Bologna, according as the Pope might wish, and to make known to Messer Giovanni and to the government that, if they did not yield to the Church, they must look upon him as their enemy, and as their severest persecutor; and that he was prepared to come in person for the purpose of reducing them to submission. If on the contrary, however, they were disposed to make terms with the Pope, then he wished to be the mediator and conservator of such an accord, and would promise that neither the person of Messer Giovanni nor that of his children, nor their patrimonial estates, should in any way be molested. Iterum valete.
Die qua in literis.
[* ]This was Messer Francesco da Castel del Rio, Bishop of Pavia, and Cardinal, etc.