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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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Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
I left the camp on Monday, and arrived here at Piombino yesterday at the twentieth hour; and half an hour later I called upon his Lordship, and communicated to him what your Lordships had commissioned me by your instructions. He replied, that he had had negotiations for some time past with the Pisans to induce them to make terms with your Lordships; that his great desire was the tranquillity of Tuscany, and most particularly the good of your Lordships, whose servant he professes to be; that it was for the purpose of urging this negotiation that he had advised the Pisans through his confidential agent, Giovanni Cola, to send ambassadors here to confer with your envoys so as to arrive at some satisfactory arrangement; that he had made it a point to advise them to give their ambassadors power to treat of the sovereignty of their state, as without such power he knew it would be useless to enter into any negotiations. And after that he had advised your Lordships to grant a safe-conduct to these Pisan ambassadors, and to send some one here to treat with them; that your Lordships had consequently given the safe-conduct, but for so short a time and on such ambiguous terms as would make it better to break off the negotiations rather than endeavor to conclude an arrangement; that as your envoy had not arrived, and the safe-conduct was about to expire, he had, in his desire not to see the negotiation broken off, again applied for a prolongation of the safe-conduct, and had urged your sending an envoy here, but that the prolongation which you had accorded was for so short a time as to preclude the possibility of coming to any conclusion. From all these remarks, it was evident to me that the Signor of Piombino was under the impression that your Lordships mistrusted him; but he concluded by saying that he did not know whether the Pisan ambassadors had full powers or not, although the only thing they had communicated to him was that they had ample authority to treat and to conclude an arrangement; and that he inferred from this expression that they could treat with you in relation to the sovereignty of Pisa, as well as about any other matter that might come up between them and your Lordships; but that they had never been willing to tell him the exact object for which they had come to negotiate, nor to communicate to him any details. All this his Lordship confirmed with his oath, adding that he had been so angry with them in consequence that he had been on the point of sending them back. But finally he wanted to persuade me that it would be as well for me to hear what they had to say, as that would involve neither loss of time nor anything else. I replied that, as I wanted to conform strictly to your Lordship’s orders, there was nothing left for me but to remount and return; and I should have done so, but that, according to your Lordships’ instructions, I was to find out as far as possible what the Pisan ambassadors really wanted, provided that in my judgment they were serious in their desire to treat. But I could form no opinion on this point, as the Signor of Piombino had told me that he knew nothing of their intentions; unless, therefore, I heard them myself, I could not possibly find out their particular object, nor whether they really intended to treat with us.
I was moreover persuaded of the truth of the remark of the Signor of Piombino, that the mere hearing of what they had to say would neither give them courage nor time. For their safe-conduct held good anyhow until the 20th, and to listen to them would deprive them of all pretext for complaining to their people and the world at large that so solemn an embassy as theirs had been refused a hearing by your Lordships, which they would have held up as an evidence of your unfriendly disposition towards them, which is their only means of keeping up the excitement of the Pisans. Having consented, therefore, to see the ambassadors, with the understanding that I had done so merely to gratify the lord of Piombino, they came, and after a long preamble they complained that it had been promised to them that they should meet two or three of your citizens to treat with them, instead of which a mere secretary had come, and even he did not come direct from Florence. And finally, coming to the point, they said that the people of Pisa were disposed to do all that your Lordships wanted, for the sake of peace and union, provided they were assured of their lives, their property, and their honor. That they had no further instructions for this purpose; but even if they had a thousand others, the subject was one of such supreme importance that they could not venture to conclude anything without fresh instructions from their superiors. To the first part of their remarks, I replied as seemed to me proper; but as to the second part, I turned towards the lord of Piombino, saying that I made no reply, inasmuch as the ambassadors had really said nothing, and if they wanted a reply from me they would have to make some definite proposition. To this they answered that they had said enough in asking security for their lives, their honor, and their property. Whereupon I said that I could make no reply unless they stated what kind of security they required, and if their demand for security was reasonable and honorable it would not be wanting, inasmuch as your Lordships asked nothing more of them than obedience, and cared nothing about their lives, nor their property, nor their honor.
After discussing this question of security for some time, they finally came to this point, namely, that they had thought of various ways of having this security, but had found none other than this: namely, that your Lordships should leave them all within the walls of Pisa, and take for yourselves all the remainder of their dominion; and that they considered it a great gift for you to obtain a just title to so much that you had never possessed before. Thereupon I turned to the lord of Piombino and said: “It must be evident to your Lordship now that these gentlemen are not in earnest, but are merely laughing at you; for I believe that if they had said this at first, and you had supposed them to be in earnest, you would have declined the trouble of intervening in a matter that would have resulted in this. But since matters have come to this point, and so that your Lordship and the people of Pisa may fully know our intentions, and that you and they may know how this negotiation will have to be managed, I tell you that if you do not intend to put into our hands Pisa unrestricted, with all her territory and jurisdiction, the same as before the rebellion, it will be useless for you to come here or elsewhere for the purpose of negotiating an arrangement, or to give so much trouble to the lord of Piombino, or any one else. And the same as regards the demand for security for your lives, your fortunes, and your honor; if you are not disposed to rely upon the good faith of my Signoria, it will be equally useless for you to weary any one to bring about an agreement, for the good faith of my Signoria has never yet required a bondsman; and should it ever need one, none could be found that would be sufficient. But your most certain and real security will ever depend upon the loyalty with which you throw yourselves into the arms of my Signoria.” And then I enlarged upon this in such terms as I thought would be most effective in moving them; after which I turned towards the deputies of the country people, and said that I felt sorry for their simplicity; that they were playing a game at which they could not win, for if the Pisans should carry off the prize in this contest they would not want the country people any longer as their companions, but as slaves, and would send them back to their ploughs. But if, on the other hand, Pisa were taken, which they might expect at any hour, then they would lose their properties, their lives, and everything else. At this Messer Federigo del Virajo began to cry out that I was trying to create a division amongst them, and that what I had said was not proper language for me to hold. The country deputies never said a word, but seemed to relish my remarks, and particularly what I had said in the course of the interview, “that if the Pisans did not want peace, they would have war, and more of it than they cared to have.” Giovanni da Vico said twice, in a loud and resolute manner, “We want peace, we want peace, ambassador!” And the lord of Piombino spoke to the Pisan ambassadors in a loud and angry voice, saying that they had deceived him, etc.
And thereupon I left, saying to his Lordship that I would return to the camp promptly the next morning, and that, if night had not come on during our discussion, I should have left that very evening. His Lordship remained with the Pisan ambassadors for at least two hours later, and at three o’clock of the night he sent me word that he wished to speak with me in the morning before my departure. At two o’clock this morning he sent for me, and told me that, after my leaving the ambassadors in the evening, he had washed their heads for them as they deserved; so that they told him that they would reflect during the night whether there was not some way for them to obtain the desired security, and that they hoped yet to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion. And that they had come this morning to tell him that they had thought of a middle course which they thought would please your Lordships, and which might also prove acceptable to their own people; but that they could not mention it to him until after having first submitted it to the authorities of Pisa, and therefore they intended to return there, either all of them, or half their number, as he thought best, so that they might come back with some definite proposition.
His Lordship added that he had advised them to send only a part of their number back to Pisa, because he thought it best not to break the thread of this negotiation, but that after all he had advised them to do in this matter whatever I thought best. I replied to his Lordship, that I was of the contrary opinion, and that it seemed to me they ought all to go, for possibly your Lordships might not be willing to extend the safe-conduct, in which event the remaining here of a part would lead to a more complete rupture than if they had all returned to Pisa. “Let them go back, then,” said I, “and let them dispose their people to do what I told them yesterday. Let them get full power, and send it to your Lordship with such propositions as they may determine upon, and then we shall not fail to believe them, and they may thus effect some good.” His Lordship, however, adhered to his opinion, as though he had conceived a great jealousy lest your Lordships should not be willing that this negotiation should be carried on here, so that he said to me: “See now, and undeceive your Signori, and make them understand that this negotiation will either come to no conclusion, or that it will have to be concluded here; I understand very well why you advise the return of all the ambassadors to Pisa, so as to remove the negotiations from here.” I did my best to undeceive him upon this point, and did not leave him until he had positively decided to send them all back.
I then returned to my lodgings, and was on the point of mounting my horse, when Messer Giovanni Cola came and told me that his Lordship had informed the Pisans that it was best for them all to leave; to which, however, they did not agree, as they wanted that at least two of their number should remain, namely, Messer Federigo dal Vivajo, and Filippo di Puciarello; whereupon I told him, “You see now that my Signoria judged rightly that these ambassadors first deceived his Lordship of Piombino, and then wanted to carry on these negotiations in Pisa; and it was only for the purpose of discovering their real intentions that I advised his Lordship to send them all back.” He replied that his master was very angry about it, and had protested to them that they need not expect another safe-conduct from you, as he would not ask for it, and that the ambassadors had replied to him that they would take such measures as they were able to; and thereupon I left. I shall stop to-night at Allumiera, and on Sunday or Monday I hope to be with your Lordships. I have written this despatch so that you may know as promptly as possible all that has taken place here. The courier has promised to deliver this in Florence on Saturday at dinner-time, and if he does so your Lordships will please pay him one florin, which I have promised him.
I have not been able to verify the list of all the Pisans that came here with the ambassadors, owing to the shortness of the time. But I have talked with Rubertino about it, and he told me that they were all here; and my servants who waited with them at the door of the audience-chamber told me that there was a crowd of one hundred and sixty or more.
I recommend myself to your Lordships.
Piombino, 15 March, 1509.