Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER X. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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LETTER X. - 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.: —
On the 22d I wrote very fully to your Lordships upon various matters, and sent the letter by Baccini. Amongst other things I mentioned our departure from Meran to Innspruck by order of the Emperor, in consequence, it was said, of the Swiss having declared in favor of France; and that before our arrival at Innspruck the Emperor had gone to Suabia to hold a Diet for the purpose of stirring up the Suabian League against the Swiss; but that afterwards it was said to be against the Venetians, because the Swiss had resolved to support the Emperor. I mentioned also several other things in that despatch, of which I send full duplicate to-day by the same German courier by whom your Lordships sent me your last letters of the 4th instant. I write now briefly, and annex another copy of my previous despatch, and send it by Messer Paolo Lichtenstein, who has so requested me. This Messer Paolo is one of the three persons nearest to the Emperor; he sent for me at Innspruck and came to see me here at Botzen, and told me that the Emperor, being occupied with the Diet, had commissioned him to bring matters to a point with you; that he desired not only to satisfy his sovereign, but also to be agreeable to your Lordships; and knowing the position in which you are, namely, that you feared the Emperor, the king of France, and the Venetians, because you were not able alone to defend yourselves against either of these three powers, you could not do better than to make terms with the Emperor, who could defend you with arms in case of war, and in case of peace could secure you by treaties; and therefore he requested me to tell him what it was that you had asked of the Emperor when you made him your late offer.
Having replied to this, he said: “I believe it would be well that the Emperor should accord to you his guaranty, and that in return you should pay him sixty thousand ducats in three payments; the first, cash down upon the conclusion of the agreement; the second, in Italy, in two months after the first; and the third payment also in Italy, in two months after the second. That this seemed to him a reasonable arrangement, to which his sovereign and your Lordships ought to accede; that he would so write to the Emperor, whilst I should write to your Lordships.” I replied that this proposition involved three serious objections; the first, that the sum named was too large; the second, that the payments were too near together; and the third, that no place was fixed for the first cash payment, an objection which I have already explained in previous despatches. Messer Paolo made no further reply, but only asked me to write to you by three or four different routes, and said that he would aid me in sending the letters, the expense of which I was to bear. I insisted nevertheless in objecting to the payments being so near together, as well as to the other points, but could not obtain any modification of the terms except an extension of one month on the last payment. To enable him to report more precisely to the Emperor, as well as to avoid all misunderstandings, Messer Paolo asked me for a written memorandum of what I wanted, which I prepared for him; and I now enclose a copy of the same, in which our respective demands are stated, and to which I added, besides what my instructions called for, that, in case of the Emperor’s concluding a peace with any other power, he was to provide for the safety of our Republic.
In coming back here from Innspruck I met the German courier with your Lordships’ letter of 4th March, from which I see that you enlarge my powers. But although the demands made by Messer Paolo on behalf of the Emperor are perhaps less onerous than what you authorize me to concede, yet as there was a difference as regards the time of making the payments, and as I could not induce him to yield that point, I could not conclude an arrangement with him. Your Lordships will please now to examine the whole subject, and reply to me definitely, for you know the state of things here now as fully as I do. I must also briefly inform you that in the direction of Roveredo there are not less than eight thousand, and not more than ten thousand troops, of which some two thousand are mounted men; and in the direction of Treviso there are not less than four thousand nor more than six thousand. What other troops may yet be expected there I cannot say for certain. A little while ago it was said that a considerable number of horse were expected from Austria, and two thousand infantry from Bohemia, but as yet nothing has been seen of them. Respecting the Swiss, the reports are confused; some say that those who went to Milan to serve the king of France have returned, others deny this report.
Nothing can be known yet as to what will be done by the Diet, which was to open on Sunday last. True, it is reported to have been convoked particularly for three objects: the first, to come to some definite terms with the Swiss, ambassadors from three of the Cantons having already arrived; secondly, to extend the supplies of the Empire for another six months; and thirdly, to induce the Suabian League to concur in this war by extraordinary contributions. I do not think it will be possible to know what the Swiss will do; as to the supplies to the Empire, I do not believe there will be any difficulty; and as to the support of Suabia against the Swiss, that was already had during the eight months of the last war, and for this purpose they keep seven thousand men constantly under arms. What they will now do, and whether they will have more consideration for the Venetians than for the Swiss, on account of their commercial interests, that is not known; and even after the conclusion of the Diet it will be difficult to know the truth about this. As already mentioned, the Count Palatine is dead, and so is the Duke Albert of Bavaria, which is regarded as rather favorable to the Emperor’s enterprise than otherwise.
This much as regards the war. Now as to peace, especially with his Most Christian Majesty of France, that is favored by the kings of both Spain and of England, and perhaps also by the Pope; and the Legate says he has already written about it to the king of France. A few days since there arrived from Lombardy, or perhaps from France, a certain Messer Niccolo Frigio, whom the Legate had sent there for that purpose by order of the Emperor, but it is not known what he brings. It may also well be that some negotiations have been opened with the Venetians; for a certain priest Lucas has been several times in that direction. As to the relations of the other Italian powers with the Emperor, we only know that up to the present the Pope has confined himself merely to good words, and it is not likely that he will do more unless he should see somewhat more progress made by the Emperor. Nor has Ferrara given anything thus far, and for a long time the Duke did not even reply to his ambassador; I suppose that, inasmuch as he has plenty of money, he would rather wait and see a little more progress made, even at the risk of its costing him somewhat more later to make terms with the Emperor, so as to be relieved of apprehensions as to the king of France and the Venetians. I learn from a good source, that the Marquis of Mantua will declare for the Emperor whenever he can do so with safety to himself. So far as is known, the Lucchese have never sent any ambassador to the Emperor. The Siennese alone have given him any money, and the term of the second payment is running on.
Your Lordships can now take all these different speculations as to peace and war into consideration, and then determine what course to adopt, particularly as you are informed with regard to the preparations made by France and Venice, respecting which I am entirely in the dark; for ever since Machiavelli’s arrival here I have heard nothing on the subject, either by letters from your Lordships, or in any other way. You can also ascertain whether it is true that the Swiss who went to Lombardy to serve the king of France have returned from there, as has been reported, which in the event of war would insure the Emperor’s success. You will also bear in mind how easily his Most Christian Majesty and the Venetians may be disposed to peace rather than to war, seeing the unfavorable conditions to which a war with the Emperor would expose them, being constantly obliged to think of defending themselves at the expense of much treasure, without being able in turn to attack him because of the nature of the country and the Emperor’s adherents; so that, even if the Emperor’s affairs were very low, he might still be able to obtain honorable terms of peace from them. After having well weighed all these points, your Lordships will, I trust, reply, and instruct me what to do, whether matters remain in the same condition as at present, or whether they have changed either for better or worse. I beg you will also instruct me whether I am to act in the same way, if I learn that peace is to be made, as when I see them resolved upon war; or whether I am to act differently in either one or the other of these supposed cases. And if your Lordships are decided upon making terms, then I beg that you will not fail to send me promptly and at length the points to be stipulated, and especially those that are for your advantage. This you might communicate to me in cipher, underlining all those words which on no consideration you would have changed. In fact you might send the whole in cipher, with a blank signed by the notary before whom the ciphered communication has been written; and the deciphered despatch could afterwards be written on the blank. Your Lordships will please also think of promptly expediting the money for the first payment, without which nothing can be concluded; in fact, one day’s delay might spoil everything. By adopting the above plan I could easily conceal the cash payment under the agreement, as your Lordships charge me to do in your last letter. No other way of making the payments will be as acceptable to them here as to have them made through the Fuggers, and for this purpose you will have to arrange yourselves with the Fuggers in such manner as may seem best to you.
I must furthermore beg that in your answer to this you will instruct me, in case you deem it best not to conclude an arrangement with the Emperor, what I am to say to keep him satisfied and gain time; for it will not be possible to conceal from him the arrival of your messenger; and as it will be necessary to tell him something, I would like to have your orders upon that point. Please also inform me what you understand by the words “in Italy,” in connection with the proposed terms above mentioned.
Your Lordships will please note that the demands made by Messer Paolo were not made by order of the Emperor, but emanated solely from him, inasmuch as he has power only to negotiate, but not to conclude anything definitely. This results probably from the fact that they imagine here that by gaining time they can shape matters to their own advantage; and that is also your Lordships’ position in the matter.
Botzen, 29 March.