Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XI. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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LETTER XI. - 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 of March I wrote to your Lordships by Baccino, reporting at length all that had taken place since the 24th of February up to the day of my writing. I sent a partial copy of it by the German courier Iocoso, who brought me your letter of the 4th of March. By the same despatch I informed you of the demands made by Messer Paolo de Lichtenstein, and sent three copies of it by way of Venice, Milan, and Trieste. Since then, on the 1st instant, I received a despatch from Mirandola by the hands of Simone, together with a copy of your letter of the 4th and your plenary powers. Your Lordships have reason to be well satisfied with this Simone, who has really served you well. I did not give this messenger any letters in return, as he was on his way to the court, whence he has not yet returned. Although I sent copies of my despatch of the 29th ultimo by four different routes, yet I send you still another by way of extra precaution. Yesterday Piero Borgo arrived with your letter of the 17th ultimo, in which you ask to be informed upon two principal points, namely, what progress the Emperor has made with his preparations for war, and what is the state of his peace negotiations. Upon both these points you will have been entirely satisfied if you have received my letter; and in case it should not have reached you, the annexed copy will give you in great part the desired information.
Respecting events here since then I have to report, that the army, which is at Caliano in the direction of Roveredo, attacked a body of some three thousand Venetian infantry who were guarding a mountain called Brettonico, under command of Jacopo Corso, Dionisio di Naldo, and Vitello Vitelli. They had fortified themselves well in their position; still, on arrival of the Germans they fled precipitately to their intrenchments, and after burning a number of houses on the mountain they withdrew the same evening to their camp. After this the Bishop of Trent conceived the idea of attacking Riva, a castle belonging to the Venetians, and situated on the Lago di Garda. He sat down before the place first with about two thousand men under his command, and then so urged the council that they consented to send him artillery and one half of the troops from Caliano. They had been about five days before Riva, and just as orders had been given to establish batteries, two thousand Grisons, who formed a part of this force, began to say that, although they had been promised four and a half . . . . per month, they had not received more than four; and they conducted themselves so badly about the provisions that the siege had to be raised with but little credit. A portion of the troops returned to Caliano, and a portion is here; of the Grisons only about five hundred have remained, the rest have gone home. The army has been greatly enfeebled by this affair, so that I believe there are but little over seven thousand men left.
After the camp before Riva was broken up, the Venetians burnt some villas in the neighborhood; and whilst a body of some three thousand of them were about to attack and burn a villa belonging to the Comte di Agresto on the 13th instant, about three hundred of the country people fell upon the Venetians and put them to flight, having captured and killed more than a hundred of them; being altogether a most discreditable affair for the Venetians. It is reported also that the Duke of Brunswick has killed some three hundred Venetians in the valley of the Cadore towards the Trevisan territory; but the scene of action being at so great a distance I cannot vouch for the truth of this. Moreover, it is said that a large force of Venetians, having gone to attack Fiume, a place on the seacoast belonging to the Emperor, were repulsed by the people of the country and some mounted men who happened to be there, and that over a thousand of the Venetians were slain. Thus much as regards the way in which the war is being carried on; in the annexed copy of my preceding despatch you will find an account of the number of troops engaged. Respecting the negotiations I cannot yet report anything more than what I have already said in my previous letter; for the Diet has not yet closed its labors, and the Emperor is at Ulm. As the course of the Swiss is of great importance in this enterprise, I would observe that you can obtain more reliable information upon that point than I can furnish from here; for you can ascertain whether those who went to Lombardy continue in the service of the king of France, or whether they are leaving there. It is said here that the Communes were greatly dissatisfied on account of this, and that, if these men do not immediately leave the French service, it might happen to his Most Christian Majesty as it did to the Duke of Milan, namely, that they will abandon him at the moment of going into action. But we must wait and see the end, for it is also reported, as I have already written, that three of the Cantons have furnished eight thousand men to the Emperor; and so it might well happen that there are Swiss on both sides, and that both parties may suffer in consequence.
Nothing has as yet been heard as to the league of which your Lordships speak; but I repeat that England, Aragon, and the Legate greatly desire peace with the king of France, but that the Emperor is not much disposed that way, but is inclined rather to make terms with the Venetians. About the beginning of March he sent the priest Lucas to them, who returned on the 12th, and the Emperor then sent him back to Trent with orders to wait there for further instructions, and about a week ago he went again to Venice. It is not known what negotiations are being carried on, but, on leaving, Lucas told me that we should hear some important news within twenty days. Some persons think that, if the Venetians really desire to come to terms with the Emperor, they will find no difficulty in doing so. But it is not known whether the princes who desire peace with the king of France would be satisfied in such event, and whether the Emperor may not find himself weaker after coming to an agreement with the Venetians than before; which has perhaps kept the Venetians back until now, a point which your Lordships will not fail to consider. Nor can anything positive be known respecting the negotiations until the close of the Diet; and even then, to know the truth, it may be necessary to see some beginning of the execution of the resolves of the Diet.
It is said that the Duke of Brunswick, brother to the one who is with the army in the Trevisan territory, is coming here with one thousand horse; and the German courier who brought me yours of the 17th says that he had met about two hundred of them on the road; but everything is magnified here according to people’s opinions and hopes. After all, what we see here is just what I have written, and now repeat to your Lordships; and no one can gainsay the opinion that in reality Germany can do a great deal, and only needs the will to do it, and that will she may exercise at any hour, and therefore no one can safely form an opinion as to what will be done. On the other hand, we see that a considerable time has passed without Germany’s displaying her will, and for that reason no one can say whether she ever will do it; and yet it is evident that her honor demands more than ever that she should. And thus none but the Almighty knows how it will all terminate.
I am here at the request of Messer Paolo de Lichtenstein, and will endeavor if possible to go to the court in a few days. Meantime, I beg your Lordships to be pleased to reply promptly to the demands of Messer Paolo, bearing in mind that these matters cannot be weighed exactly as in a balance, and without a reply from you I cannot act; I also beg to remind you once more, that without the money in hand nothing will ever be concluded here.
Luca da Monte Varchi, who has been commander in your service, has come here from the camp of the Venetians, and reports their infantry as most wretched, and that it will surely prove so if ever put into the field; as in fact we have already seen, for in every encounter they have come off losers. It is reported here to-day, and the news comes direct from the council, that Genoa has revolted, and that the French are shut up in the fortresses. If this be true, it will render the Emperor’s success still more easy and assured, and your republic may possibly find that his views will be materially changed from the propositions of Messer Paolo. But your Lordships ought to know the exact truth of the matter. Valete!
Francesco de Vettori.
Trent, 16 April, 1508.