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LETTER V. - 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 Signori, etc.: —
Since Machiavelli’s arrival here I have written four letters to your Lordships, three of which, however, were very much of the same tenor. The first, of the 17th instant, was sent by the hands of Rafaelle Rucellai, and contained an account of the manner in which I communicated to his Majesty my instructions from your Lordships, to which he listened with pleasure and promised to give a reply on the following day, but which he has deferred from day to day since the 13th until now, without my knowing the cause of this delay; although I did not fail adroitly to solicit an answer. In the same letter I gave you some account of the state of things here, and have since then sent you a duplicate of it by Diavolaccio on the 25th, together with my letter of the 24th with his Majesty’s reply, to the effect “that he was not willing to accept the offer of forty thousand ducats, but wanted an immediate loan of twenty-five thousand ducats, in consideration of which he would give a guaranty for the conservation of your possessions, which was to be deposited in the hands of the Fuggers, with the condition that, when he should have arrived on the banks of the Po, you should send ambassadors to him with power to conclude a definite agreement with him upon all points. And upon the conclusion of such an agreement the Fuggers were to give up to your Lordships the letter of guaranty, and the twenty-five thousand ducats loaned by you are to be credited to you on account of whatever sum might then have been agreed upon. But in case no agreement should be arrived at, then the Emperor is to repay you within one year the amount loaned, and is to receive back from the Fuggers the letter of guaranty.
“I wrote you at the same time what reply I had made to this proposition, and the long conversation which I had had on the subject, and that I had been unable to obtain any other terms. I also mentioned that his Majesty’s project was being pushed with increased vigor; but as I assume that that letter reached you safely, I shall not now repeat all I said therein, and shall confine myself merely to touching upon the main points. Nevertheless, I sent you, out of respect to his Majesty’s wishes, a copy of the same through the Emperor’s hands, as he had so commanded me. And as I was told that, in view of the danger of my not receiving your letters in future, because of the destruction of the roads, I should advise you to send your letters to Bologna to the care of Doctor Rabelar, a confidential agent of the Emperor’s who had facilities for forwarding them, I would request you at the same time to send duplicates of them also by your own couriers. In another letter I wrote you that I had learned from a great personage at this court that he believed he would be able to induce his Majesty to give you the guaranty upon your paying him the sum of twenty thousand ducats at once, with a promise of another like sum in four months; but as this personage is not always near the Emperor, it is quite possible that he may deceive himself. I mentioned furthermore, that Lang had said to Pigello that he would take no part in the matter unless at least one hundred thousand ducats were offered. I sent a copy of that letter also by way of Ferrara on the 26th, so that at least one would reach you anyhow, and I added, that the reason why I thought the Emperor would be more difficult in his demands than at first was the return of Lang from Augsburg, where he had collected considerable sums of money. I had understood, moreover, that the twelve Cantons were resolved to remain neutral, so that he would have but little or nothing to spend there.”*
Afterwards, on the 28th, your Lordships’ courier Baccino arrived with letters of the 19th, in which you inform me of your having sent Mancino to me on the 23d ultimo; but he has never made his appearance here. So much time having elapsed since then makes me fear that he has met with some mishap; and you must know that, with the exception of Machiavelli, the last letter or messenger from your Lordships was a letter sent by Simone, dated November 4. Your last by Baccino does not require a reply, for it seems to me that he was sent to me by your Lordships more for the purpose of having some one by whom I could write in return than for any other reason.
There have been rumors here of disturbances in Bologna, but we have heard since that they amounted to nothing.
From your Lordships’ letter it would seem that, according to the reports from Rome and Mantua, the preparations of the Emperor are slacking off; but from my own observations I can tell you that they are being pushed with rather increased energy. I wrote you from Augsburg why the troops that had entered the Mantuan territory had turned back; and that the Venetians had disarmed them on their return, but have since then restored their arms to them. I also wrote about the Diet which the Emperor was to hold here, which was, however, not a general Diet of Germany, but was confined only to the inhabitants of the Tyrol, for the purpose of obtaining money from them; and that this Diet had resolved to furnish now one thousand infantry to be paid by them for three months. But that hereafter, when hostilities had actually commenced, and in case the Emperor should have need of more, they would send him five thousand additional, and organize ten thousand for the protection of the country.
Infantry and cavalry continue to arrive here daily, and since I have been here some six hundred or more horse must have passed. The troops of the Duke of Königsberg, amounting to four hundred, are but a short distance from here. More than two thousand infantry have passed since my arrival here; but the country is so large that it is impossible to see or hear of all; so that a large army might suddenly issue from here, which previously would not have seemed possible. At one time matters had advanced to that point that the Emperor came as far as here; but he left again this morning to visit certain castles in the vicinity, and it is believed that he will proceed to Trent within eight days, where he will find infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Every one can judge of the consequences, and one of three things must necessarily result; either the Emperor will only reap shame and lose his credit even in Austria, or he must attack Italy, or conclude an honorable peace. Certainly he will in no way want to incur shame, and therefore we must suppose that, if he is not able to effect an agreement according to his own views, he will have to decide upon war, and that very promptly.
I cannot judge how the Emperor stands with the Venetians. “Generale da Landriano returned from Venice on the 28th, after having been there for three days. I am ignorant as to what he brings from there; and on asking the Chancellor he told me that he did not know, adding that the General had been to see him, but told him nothing. I do not augur favorably from this, particularly as I learn from your letter that matters are cooling off in the direction of Rome. I apprehend that the Emperor, seeing that he cannot get any money from Rome, of which he is constantly in need, may conclude some arrangement with the Venetians; but I have nothing positive on the subject. It is possible that I may learn something more about it before closing this letter.”
I heard to-day that a herald had returned from Verona, whom his Majesty had sent there to inform the authorities of that city of his intended passage, and to demand quarters for twenty-five thousand men. It is said that the Proveditori of Verona replied to the herald, that if his orders were to engage quarters for that number of unarmed persons he might do so; but in the contrary case he must let it alone, and must inform his Majesty that, if he intended to pass through as his father had done, he would be received with due honors, but if otherwise, he would not be received at all.
“Whether the Pope has furnished any money to the Emperor or not, I cannot say; and although some of the principal personages of the court aver that he has, yet I have not believed it, and presume that they said so merely to induce you to move, etc. I have, indeed, learned that certain moneys recently collected have been deposited with the Fuggers, but it may well be that this was also done with the idea of producing the same effect. But your Lordships have means of learning the truth about this at Rome, which I have not here. I have not heard of his Majesty’s having made any new convention with the king of Aragon, but I learn that the marriage project with England is definitely decided upon. No money has been received from Italy, unless it be from Sienna, which, however, I cannot say for certain, although I have seen such indications that I believe it. According to what I hear, his Majesty has gathered troops in three places: in the Friuli he has the troops of the country; in Burgundy he has many of the nobles and a considerable army; but according to my own observations his best troops are in the direction of Trent. He might make a movement by way of the Valtelline, for the league of the Grisons and the Valdenses, which form no part of the twelve Cantons, furnish three thousand infantry paid by the Emperor.
“Respecting our own matters I have nothing new to say, for I must await your reply; and, as I have always said, the Emperor has marked you for a very high amount, and I do not believe that he can be beaten down unless an immediate payment should make him lower his demands. I have made every effort to find out his Majesty’s intentions as regards giving you the guaranty; but Lang has always avoided the question, saying that it was for us to make an offer; and he added, ‘When I asked you, you had no powers to conclude anything,’ and that it would be proper for your Lordships to send a mandate to enable the arrangement to be concluded. I beg your Lordships to think well of all these points, and above all to send the ambassadors whilst the passes are still open; for the farther they come this way, the more reason shall we have to believe that they will prove of advantage to our city. And to tell you what I think, I do not believe that the Emperor will give you the guaranty of protection unless you pay him cash down unconditionally; for he seems to think more of ten thousand ducats cash than of twenty thousand on time.”
Not a word has been said to me of the letter presented by the Pisans to your commissioner, and which he declined to receive; nor has anything been said to me by the Emperor, or by any one else for him, about Genoese affairs. True, there was a Genoese here who complained to me that your Lordships had caused one of his compatriots to be arrested at San Pietro a Sieve, but that he did not know the cause; adding, that he had obtained letters from the Emperor in the manner which your Lordships write that you have been informed; and that his Majesty would send me some word on the subject, which, however, has not been done, or I should have made it duly known to your Lordships, as I have invariably done with regard to everything else that has been communicated to me by his orders.
The ambassador from Ferrara is informed that the Emperor has at last made known his conclusion, as follows: “If the Duke will give me money in Germany, then we will discuss the subject of the investiture there; but if he delays it until I get into Italy, then we will wait until then to talk on the subject.” And thus the matter remains in suspense.
Botzen, February 1, 1508.
[* ]All within the quotation marks was written in cipher in this, as well as in the subsequent letters.