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LETTER III. * - 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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My last of the 16th ultimo was sent by my courier Simone from Memmingen; since then I have made in one stretch about five hundred miles, sometimes in the suite of the Emperor and sometimes in that of the Cardinal, so that on the 9th I reached Botzen, where the Emperor had already arrived; and two days after Machiavelli also came, who had travelled by way of Savoy and Switzerland, and who, fearing that he might not be safe in Lombardy, where he had been subjected to a very harsh examination, had destroyed all his letters. But he gave me your instructions verbally, which were to this effect: that you were willing to offer to the king† as high a sum as fifty thousand ducats, beginning with thirty thousand and going finally up to fifty thousand, — endeavoring to make the best terms possible for our republic. Payment to be made in at least three instalments: the first, when the Emperor shall be with his army in a city that is entirely Italian; the second, upon his entering on Tuscan territory; and the third, in three months after, or, better still, on his arrival at Rome, as can best be arranged. In return, you demand of the Emperor the restitution of all your possessions, and the conservation of all your present state and dominion; but if restitution cannot be made, you will yield that point. But you desire to have the Emperor understand that you regard fifty thousand ducats as no small matter, and will not abate one tittle of the other matters. On the contrary, you want that in the drawing up of the treaty it shall be stated in the most ample manner, in words and terms, that you shall be secure against having to pay anything more than the stipulated amount, either to his Majesty directly or indirectly, or to any of his princes or generals, or any one else for his account; and that you are not to be vexed by any further demands, either by him or any of his people who may follow him into Italy, or who may come afterwards; and to the effect that the present state of our republic shall remain unharmed and intact, and that you shall continue to exercise the jurisdiction and full possession of your city, and of all castles, villages, and places, the same as you exercise and possess at the present time; and that your dignity, authority, and pre-eminence shall in no wise be diminished, either by himself or any of his people. Machiavelli said a good deal more upon this point, but all to the same effect. I asked immediately an audience of the king, and the evening after Machiavelli’s arrival I was received by his Majesty, and exposed to him in as few words as possible your Lordships’ views and intentions. At first I offered thirty thousand ducats in three payments, demanding that the Emperor should in return promise restitution and conservation, as communicated to me by Machiavelli. Thereupon Collaun answered, in presence of the Emperor, that this was a less offer than what you had made in 1502, and that our demands were at the same time greater; and that as to restitution, it was not worth while to speak of it. Seeing that the negotiation was likely to be broken off, if I did not give up the question of restitution, and that I should not be listened to any further if I did not increase the sum, I thought it well to go as far as forty thousand ducats, and to make the first payment more considerable, so that the king, in view of the greater immediate payment, to which he attaches great value, might condescend to accept that offer, and that thus your Lordships would save ten thousand ducats. And therefore I said that, knowing how well you were disposed towards his Majesty, I would venture in your Lordships’ name to promise forty thousand ducats, of which sixteen thousand should be paid upon his entrance into the first town wholly Italian, and the remainder in two subsequent payments, according as might be agreed on the conclusion of this arrangement. I added, that although you attached the highest importance to Pisan affairs, and that your rights there were well founded, yet to show to his Majesty that you would leave nothing undone to prove to him your filial devotion, your Lordships would be content to say nothing about Pisa, but asked merely for the conservation and security of your present dominions. His Majesty listened with evident pleasure to what I said, and it seemed to me, so far as I could judge from external indications, that he was inclined to accept this proposition; but at the same time he made Collaun reply to me that he was pleased to have this offer, and would give me an answer the following day.
Before I took my leave he called Pigello* aside and asked him who this Secretary was that had just arrived, and by what route he had come; adding that it seemed to him the Florentines were making a good beginning. It was Wednesday evening, the 12th, when I had this audience, and should have had the answer on the 13th; but it has been put off from day to day, and has not been received up to the present, and for that reason I decided upon writing, so that your Lordships might not remain in uncertainty as to Machiavelli’s mission. This delay may be caused by the absence of Lango† from court, he having gone to Augsburg to obtain money; but he is expected back very shortly, for I have been told that the Emperor was pleased with the offer which I have made, and that his hesitation results from his apprehension that it may prove nothing but words by which you would not hold yourselves bound; and that, even if an actual agreement were made upon that basis, the first payment would have to be raised to twenty thousand ducats. I have been furthermore told, that it was Messer Paolo de Lichtenstein and Serentano, two of the most important men here, as I have written you before, who cause this delay in the answer, for the sake of obtaining better terms; and that it will be necessary to secure their good will and friendship. As I have neither instructions nor orders upon this point, I could do nothing in the matter except with words, which I employed with great warmth, but know not whether that has sufficed them. I wanted to write you this, so that you may understand the whole matter as well as I do myself, and that, in case nothing should be concluded, you may deliberate as to what is to be done, and inform me of your resolve.
Your Lordships see now the course I have taken in this negotiation, and the reasons that have been given me for the Emperor’s not having replied; so that, considering the gracious manner in which I was listened to by his Majesty and his remarks to Pigello, I have reason to believe that what I have been told is true to a great degree. According to your instructions, it remains for me still to offer the fifty thousand ducats; but I do not believe that the difficulty consists in the greater or less sum, but rather in the amount of the first payment, which they would like me to raise as much as possible. For my part, whatever answer may be made, I am not for going as high as fifty thousand ducats, nor for promising twenty thousand as the first payment, without first having your reply, for I judge that the state of things here will afford me time to await your instructions. But should I see the contrary, and that things come to a certain point, which they may reach at any moment, then I shall not hesitate to yield both the one and the other. And as you charge me to make the first payment only when the Emperor with his army shall have arrived at a city wholly upon Italian soil, I am discreetly endeavoring to ascertain the exact position of Trent; and the people of the country tell me that the boundary line between Italy and Germany runs more than a mile this side of Trent. I mention this so that you may be fully informed upon every point; although I do not think that you can withdraw from the offer which I have made under your instructions without incurring obloquy, and exciting great indignation on the part of the Emperor.
I have little to add to what I have before written about affairs here. The Emperor is now within seven leagues of Trent; he has convoked a diet of his own subjects here, to induce them to aid him with some money in this enterprise. They have not yet decided upon anything, but will most probably accord him some men and money. There are but few troops here in the place where we are now, but between here and Trent troops are quartered in every village, and are said to amount altogether to one thousand horse and about four thousand infantry; and within a few days they confidently expect some fifteen hundred horse that have remained behind, also a large force of infantry, although if the Emperor has money he can raise in this country as many infantry as he may want.
As I have written several times before, it is thought that, if his Majesty will pay the Swiss, the majority of them will come to serve him; but he would prefer their remaining neutral, which they refuse, saying that they cannot live without pay from some one; and in the end it will result in the Emperor’s taking them into his pay, provided he has money.
As regards the subject of money I am still of the opinion that his Majesty will have difficulty in providing it, and for that reason it may still be that he will make an arrangement either with France or with the Venetians. But anyhow, to whatever arrangement he may have to resort to enable him to come into Italy, he will do it gladly, if he cannot get the money together in any other way; although he is making every effort to be able to move without any such arrangement or help from Italy. Notwithstanding that there were rumors that the different princes and cities of the Empire had resolved in the Diet to pay the troops furnished to the Emperor for six months only, yet it is now reported that they have extended it for six months more.
The Venetians seem to occupy themselves with providing for the defence of their frontiers. Nevertheless they permit letters and everything else to pass without hindrance; and you have probably heard that, after disarming the infantry as they were leaving the Mantuan territory, upon which they had come, they have nevertheless restored these arms by sending them back.
A marriage is said to have been arranged between the son of the Archduke and a daughter of the king of England, and every one looks upon it as positively fixed. Nothing else occurs to me to write except to recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Botzen 17 January, 1508.
[* ]These despatches of Francesco Vettori are given here, because they were in great part written by Machiavelli, and serve to explain this mission.
[† ]“The king” here means the King of the Romans, a title borne by the Emperor Maximilian and other German Emperors.
[* ]Pigello Portinari, a Florentine.
[† ]Matthew Lang was secretary, minister, and favorite of the Emperor Maximilian. He afterwards became successively Bishop of Gurck (a city in Carinthia between Villach and Gratz), and Cardinal. He played an important part in all the affairs of the Emperor.