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THIRD MISSION TO THE COURT OF FRANCE. * - 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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THIRD MISSION TO THE COURT OF FRANCE.*
2 June, 1510.†
After having executed all that the Ten have commissioned you to do, you will say to his Majesty the king, on my part, that I have no other desire in the world but three things, namely, the glory of God, the happiness of my country, and the welfare and honor of his Majesty the king of France. And as I cannot believe that my country can be happy without the glory and prosperity of the crown of France, I do not value the one without the other. You will also assure his Majesty, that my brother the Cardinal is inspired by the same feelings and opinions as myself; and if he has failed in his duty to call and pay his homage to his Majesty, it is because the Pope has never been willing to give him permission to do so; and that he is bound to show all respect and obedience to his first master, who combines with his great authority so violent and impetuous a disposition that even princes are obliged to treat him with deference. Thus my brother must be held excused, and you must make his excuses, and recommend him to his Majesty the king. You will, moreover, say to his Majesty that my sole desire is that he may maintain and increase his credit and power in Italy; but to do this he must keep the Venetians down, and preserve his good relations with the Emperor of Germany, as he has done until now. And if it were possible, it would be an admirable thing to induce the king of Hungary to make war upon the Venetians in Dalmatia; for if they were to lose that province they would be completely ruined, and the king need not fear that they will ever recover from it. But if this cannot be done, you will nevertheless urge his Majesty to continue to cause them all possible expenses in that direction by protracting the war as he has done hitherto, so as to exhaust the Venetians as much as possible. For if his Majesty desires to secure his possessions in Italy, he must give his attention mainly to two points; the one to preserve friendly relations with the Emperor, and the other to continue to harass and enfeeble the Venetians. If he does this, he will have the Pope and Spain for him, for the one has no good troops, and the other is not in a situation to do him any harm. You must make his Majesty understand how sorry I am that the Pope is likely to employ Swiss troops, and that his Majesty must do all in his power to prevent it, as that would make it easier for him to keep the Pope down and to temporize with him. For if the Pope adds the support of the Swiss to the advantages which his money gives him and to his own personal character, it would make him too strong and audacious, and might lead to disastrous results. You will add, that according to my judgment his Majesty ought to make every effort not to break with the Pope; for even if a Pope’s friendship is of no great value, yet his enmity may do great harm, through the influence of the Church, and because you cannot make direct war upon him without provoking the enmity of the whole world. It is of importance to the king, therefore, to keep on good terms with the pontiff, which ought not to be difficult on account of the Pope’s not having many firm supporters on whom he can rely. And if the Pope’s enmity can do him no harm, yet it may cause him to incur very heavy expenditures.
As to the Emperor, I have told you above, that I think it important that the king should temporize with him; and if the king, whilst incurring such heavy expenses out of love for the Emperor, were to ask him to cede Verona to him by way of compensation, I should very much desire him to do so, as it would more effectually secure to the king his possessions in Italy. But if this cannot be brought about, then you will suggest, on my part, that there is a third way that might be adopted; namely, to hand Verona over to some private gentleman, so that it would belong neither to the king nor the Emperor. Should this be done, it will afterwards be more easy for the king to get possession of it; for whoever is master of it will always find himself obliged to act according to the wishes of his more powerful neighbor.
You will call his Majesty’s attention to the fact that extraordinary fortifications are being built at Serezana, which if done by his order would be all very well, but if done without his knowledge then he ought to be informed of it, as it is a matter of much importance. And finally you will recommend me a thousand times to his Majesty.
Magnificent and Illustrious Signori, etc.: —
I arrived here to-day and found your Lordships’ two letters of the 26th and 29th ultimo, containing further advices as to the state of things in Italy; which I will communicate on my arrival at court, and make such use of as your Lordships direct and according as matters may have more or less changed during the six or seven days which it will yet take for me to get to the court. After my arrival there, I shall advise your Lordships fully of all I can learn as to how matters are going on here.
I have heard that the Bishop of Tivoli, the Pope’s ambassador, left here two days ago to go to the court, where he had been sent with all possible speed by the Pope to make known to the king the reasons for his having arrested Monseigneur d’Auch. Some one who met the Bishop on the road told me that he went most reluctantly to the court because he expected to have to treat of rather unpleasant matters; this person also learned from the Bishop that the king of Spain had a powerful fleet in Sicily, with ten thousand or more troops on board, which he kept there with the intention of employing them in case of need, either for his own use or for that of his allies in Italy. Your Lordships can learn from other sources with more certainty whether this be true or not. As for myself nothing could make me believe it if I saw the Pope less resolute against the French; but as his boldness must have some other support besides his mere sanctity, this sort of preparations must necessarily be true, or at least likely to become true.
Besides my duty of keeping your Lordships advised from day to day of what I learn here, I have nothing of importance to attend to excepting what relates to the presents that were promised at the conclusion of the late treaty with the king, as your Lordships may remember. It was for this reason that I remained so long on the road with Alessandro Nasi, so as to learn from him where those things were, and what I would have to do in the matter. He has fully informed me upon every point, and, as your Lordships will have learned all particulars from him, it is not necessary for me to repeat them here, and I shall confine myself to giving you merely the substance; namely, that by orders from the office in Florence he had promised to pay to Robertet and to Chaumont the amount due them at the next fair in August; and as they count upon this promise, it will have to be fulfilled. Nasi told me moreover that he did not think that the city could possibly exempt itself from the payment of the ten thousand ducats that had been sent here for account of the Cardinal d’Amboise, which had not been paid in consequence of the Cardinal’s death, and for the reasons which Nasi has made known to you.* And that he saw only one way to save that money, or at least to defer the payment of it for some time; and that was to divide the ten thousand ducats between the two above-named personages, as so much on account of their portion, and that this might probably satisfy them in full for what they have to receive; at any rate, it would remove from before their eyes this bait, which would attract their attention and desire so long as it was there. But the paying the amount over to them would either cause the matter not to be spoken of any more, or it would anyhow be a great convenience to your Lordships in making the payments. Your Lordships must therefore write me how I am to act in this matter, in case I should be spoken to on the subject. I shall leave here for the court in a couple of days, and will thence report at length to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Lyons, 7 July, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
I arrived here yesterday evening, but as it was at a late hour I did not make my arrival known to any one. This morning, however, I called upon Robertet, and explained to him the object of my coming. I treated him with all the ceremony and politeness due to so good a friend of our republic; and he manifested pleasure at my mission, telling me that I had come just in time, as his Majesty was on the point of sending an envoy to Florence to ascertain your Lordships’ intentions towards him; and that he had taken umbrage at Marc Antonio’s having been allowed to leave, and at the recall of your ambassador without his being at once replaced by another to attend to these matters; that it was necessary, therefore, to efface this alienation by acts of kindness; and that his Majesty would let me know his intentions, which I ought promptly to communicate to your Lordships by a special courier. I replied to his Lordship in suitable terms, justifying your Lordships, etc.; and to prove to him that in the Marc Antonio business you had been undecided up to the 26th of the past month, I read to him the letter which you had written to me that very day; and thus with the truth it was easy for me to excuse your Lordships completely. I told him of the pass which you had given to Marc Antonio to go to Bologna, and the reasons that had induced you to do it; to which Robertet promptly replied, that it was not to Bologna, but to Genoa, that Marc Antonio wanted to go.* I assured him that I had no knowledge whatever of that; “although by your letter of the 10th instant I was informed of the whole; but if he had learned that your Lordships had been in doubt whether you ought to refuse this pass to Marc Antonio and the Pope’s troops for Genoa, they would have thought they had discovered your intentions fully, and therefore I deemed it well that they should have the proposition and the reply here at the same time,” which, in whatever manner your Lordships may make it, will, I think, facilitate the reply which you will have to make to what I shall tell you further on.
I was afterwards introduced to his Majesty the king, and after presenting my credentials I stated to his Majesty in the most friendly and becoming language the object of my mission, and notified him of the appointment of an ambassador, who would be here so soon as the distinguished character of the individual and the condition of the roads and the seasons would permit. And I then entreated his Majesty to consider all these little things as merely ordinary matters, as in reality they were, and nothing else; and that a pass given to Marc Antonio did not deserve to excite hard thoughts and complaints against your Lordships, inasmuch as all your past acts were not such as deserved suspicions of this kind.
His Majesty received me most graciously, and said that he felt assured of your good faith and affection towards his person, for you had received many benefits at his hand that had been of great advantage to you, but that the time had come now to be more particularly assured of your feelings towards him; and then he said: “Secretary, I have no enmity either with the Pope or any one else; but as every day gives rise to new friendships as well as enmities, I desire that your Signori declare themselves without delay as to what and how much they will do in my favor if it should happen that either the Pope or any one else were to molest or attempt to molest my possessions in Italy. Therefore send an express at once, so that I may have a prompt reply, which they may make by letter or by word of mouth, as they may think proper. But I want to know who are my friends and who my enemies; and say to your Signori, that in return I offer them for the safety of their state all the forces of my kingdom, and if need be I will come myself.”
His Majesty charged me again to communicate this promptly to your Lordships, and to ask for an immediate reply; and told me to prepare this despatch together with Robertet. I replied to his Majesty that I had nothing to say in answer to what he had said to me, except that I would write to your Lordships with all the diligence which he had charged me to employ. I thought I could safely assure him that your Lordships were incapable of failing in the strict compliance with the stipulations of the treaty concluded with his Majesty, and that you were ready to do all that was reasonable and possible. To which his Majesty replied, that he had no doubts on that point, but that he wanted still more positive assurance. I also spoke to his Majesty of the sending of Tommaso to Venice, and of the object of his mission, to which he seemed to attach but little importance.
After this I accompanied Robertet to his lodgings, and remained some little time with him; he repeated to me the same thing that the king had said to me about writing to you, and we agreed that I should bring the letters to him, and that he would forward them by the king’s post to Lyons, and that I should arrange to have them sent from there by a special courier. I have accordingly written to that effect to Bartolommeo Panciatichi, and your Lordships will please to reimburse him the expense, of which he will inform you. Robertet touched again briefly upon the subjects of the ambassador and Marc Antonio; and although he was convinced of the truth of what I had told him, yet he observed that you had many enemies here, who promptly seized every opportunity to calumniate you; and therefore it was well in these times not to give them the chance to speak ill of you; and that it was important that they should be informed here by the first courier that the ambassador had already started, and that your Lordships should act towards Marc Antonio in such a manner as to show that his arrangement with the Pope had not been made with your consent, and that he remained on Lucchese territory, or was going elsewhere. “He then broached the subject of Genoese matters, and spoke of the favors which the Lucchese had shown to certain exiles, and how much they had helped in stirring up a revolution in Genoa;” but that the king was resolved to pay them for this, and that it would be well for you to think of this, as in troubles of that sort there was always something to be gained. He told me furthermore, that as soon as matters became so hot as to cause any apprehensions, the king would come down into Italy as quickly as any private person, even if it were in midwinter, and that then he would make no terms with any one that had shown himself hostile to him except at the point of the sword. These were times, therefore, when one ought to know how to take a resolution, particularly as experience had so often shown the king’s readiness for war, the strength and resources of this kingdom, the fortunate success of his enterprises, and his friendly disposition towards our city and government. So that any one not blinded by passion must see clearly that there was nothing that could interfere with the prosperity of France and the success of the king’s enterprises, except the king’s death, for which there were no reasonable grounds for apprehension at the present. “I recommend you, therefore, once more to write to your Signori that these are times when much can be gained by making one’s self agreeable.”
There is here at this moment a great embassy from the king of England, which is going to Rome. I have not been able to learn the object of it, but Robertet tells me, and I learn the same from others, that these ambassadors have made a general address to the king in presence of the principal nobles of the realm, in which they spoke in the most forcible manner of the strong friendship and union existing between their sovereign and the king of France; and that they had gone so far as to say that their sovereign esteemed the king of France to that degree that he looked upon him almost as his father. After this long interview I left Robertet.
In your Lordships’ letter of the 29th, you express a wish to know upon what the Pope founds the arrogance with which he acts towards the French. According to what I have been able to learn in the short time that I am here, no one knows anything positive about it, and therefore they mistrust everything and everybody. “Your Lordships see what they do to satisfy themselves as to your intentions, and they ought even to do more, and as promptly as possible to ascertain the intentions of other states.” I learn from a friend, what, however, is only conjecture, that the support upon which the Pope relies with most confidence at present is his money and the Swiss; and that he counts upon his authority to carry Spain and the Emperor along with him. From Spain he must have received good promises; for it was seen that in his enterprise against Bologna he left Rome without having concluded anything definite either with France or any other power, and yet by his sole audacity and authority he carried them all along with him.
For once, however, the rupture between the Pope and the king of France may be said to be positive, seeing how openly the Pope has shown himself in this affair of Genoa, and considering the complaints against him here. As to the Swiss, I know for certain that within the past eight days the Pope sent them thirty-six thousand ducats for six thousand men, which he wanted them to levy at once. The Swiss took the money, and then declared that they would not raise the men unless they had three months’ pay, and that the Pope must send eighteen thousand ducats more; and on the 11th of the month they sent a courier from Geneva to Rome to demand these additional eighteen thousand ducats. Some think that the Pope wanted these men to overturn the government of Genoa; but it is not known whether the Duke of Savoy will grant them passage through his territory. Thus no one can judge how all this will end, and we must wait for the results as they manifest themselves from day to day. The king ordered the recall of his ambassadors from Rome, but has since then suspended this order.
I beg your Lordships to come to some decision in relation to the matter I wrote about from Lyons. To-day Robertet told me frankly that he bore and had borne for you pondus diei et æstus, etc.
Blois, 18 July, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
On the 18th I wrote to your Lordships, and sent the letter through Robertet to Bartolommeo Panciatichi at Lyons, with instructions to forward it by express to Florence. I presume it has safely reached your hands; the reply is eagerly awaited here. Yesterday I called upon Monseigneur de Paris, one of the ministers at present at the head of affairs; I spoke to him ceremoniously, and in a manner suitable to the individual and the circumstances. This prelate is of a calm temper and is reputed wise; and truly he could not have spoken more discreetly of your Lordships and of the events that are approaching. He remarked, “that the Pope made a great mistake in exposing himself and all the states of Italy to great danger for no other purpose than to injure others; and that if this war was carried any further, it would be the greatest and most obstinate war that had been seen for a long time, because the king, just in proportion as he had bestowed benefits upon the Pope and had earnestly sought his friendship, so he would then show himself his bitter and unrelenting foe, and pursue him in his states and even in his person, and that he should feel himself justified in doing this before God and men.” And then, turning to other matters, he said, “that before God and men you could not be other than good Frenchmen, and that the king had never had any other opinion, and that you would see such military preparations in Italy for the defence of his own possessions, as well as those of his friends, as would relieve you of any apprehensions. And that even if the Pope were to declare himself your enemy, that ought in no way to hold you back; for his Majesty the king did not hesitate to declare himself against the Pope to serve your republic in the Arezzo business, and to oblige the son of the Sovereign Pontiff to come to him with the halter around his neck.* So that now you ought to render him similar service, and declare yourselves in good time, so that the benefit of it would be the more agreeable, and might also result in advantage to your Lordships.” He alluded here to the Lucca business.
I replied to Monseigneur de Paris in a becoming manner, and after leaving him I called on the Chancellor, who is a man of hot and passionate temper. He assailed me at once with reproaches, both in relation to the ambassador who had left, as well as to Marc Antonio, saying that these were acts of an evil nature and calculated to fill every one with suspicion. And although he poured out a perfect torrent of words, because I did not remain quietly to listen to all he had to say, yet he calmed down a little before I left him. In his remarks he said more particularly, “that, if your Lordships were really good friends of France, you would, whenever the Pope communicated to you anything adverse to France, give notice of it here, and on the other hand show the Pope that your Lordships did not wish to hold any communication with him; but that you had done nothing of the kind.” I replied, “that at the time of my departure from Florence there was not a man in the whole city who imagined that any difference could arise between his Majesty and the Pope; and that therefore it was not necessary to resort to any such measures; and that since my leaving Florence I did not know what the Pope could have said or done to your Lordships; but that as regards the affair of Marc Antonio you had communicated to the king all that had come to your knowledge, and that, if anything else of moment had occurred, you would certainly have communicated it also.” Thereupon I left him, as I have said, considerably calmed down.
I have yet to call on Monseigneur d’ Amiens, and Monseigneur de Bunicaglia, two other principal members of the council. I have not done so before, owing to the difficulty of finding them at home; during all these movements they are always together, and it is almost impossible to see them separately. I have, however, spoken to both of them together on my arrival, and since then in the presence of the king. I have called upon the Spanish ambassador, on whose behalf I have a thousand offers of service to make to your Lordships, which he says he has been charged with by his sovereign. I have also called upon the Emperor’s ambassadors, there being two, one resident here and the other arrived here only a few days since per post, for the purpose, as I hear, of preventing the king’s troops “from ceasing to make war upon the Venetians.” Besides their formal civilities, they assured me with many protestations that it would be impossible for his Imperial Majesty and the king to be more united than what they are; and that their sovereign would never separate himself from the king of France. Time will show how true this is.
Afterwards I called upon the Pope’s ambassador, who is really a most respectable gentleman, of great sagacity and experience in the affairs of state. I found him greatly dissatisfied with all these movements, and perfectly astonished that things have so suddenly come to the point of drawing the sword. And if he has told me the truth, he seems to be more doubtful than any one else as to the resources and arrangements of the Pope, assuring me that he knew nothing about them, and begging me to tell him whether I had received any information on the subject from your Lordships. He added, that when he reflected as to what sort of a war this was likely to be, and how desperate the attacks and defence, he actually trembled with fear. And, in conclusion, he lamented the errors committed in France as well as in Italy, of which the poor people and the smaller princes would be the first victims; and that, so far as he was concerned, he had left nothing undone to preserve peace, but that he had no longer any hope of it. “He seemed altogether amazed at the conduct of the Pope, for he did not see that he had at present any forces commensurate with these movements, nor did he see where the Pope could obtain them, or to what extent he could rely on them. And knowing the Pope to be prudent and serious, he could not believe that he would have acted lightly in these matters, inasmuch as he was well aware of his own needs and of those of the Church.” This is all I have been able to learn from this personage. In fact, no one here knows upon what foundations the Pope bases his actions, and thus, as I have said in a previous letter, “as nothing is really known here, they are afraid of everything and of everybody.”
News has been received here that twenty-two Venetian galleys have been signalled in our waters, but no one knows how they could have come there without the consent of Spain. We also learn to-day from Chaumont, that the Marquis of Mantua is free, and is going to Rome to see the Pope. Robertet has to-day communicated this fact to the Pope’s ambassador here. We are informed that some Genoese exiles have landed at Spezzia, and have approached within a few miles of Genoa; and this morning Robertet told me, with anything but a cheerful face, that Marc Antonio had gone in that direction. We hear consequently that it has been decided, unless they should change their mind, to break up the army that had been organized against the Venetians, and to leave five hundred lances with the Emperor’s troops, so as not to fail in the engagements which they have contracted with him, and to send three hundred lances to Ferrara with a like number of infantry. All the other men-at-arms and infantry will be sent into the territory of Parma, to be employed in the defence of Genoa, or against Tuscany, after Genoa shall have been secured, etc.
“I have had some intimation that these French troops may possibly go and establish themselves in the territory of the Lucchese, for the purpose of punishing them, and preventing their giving support to the Genoese exiles who have gone there from here; and at the same time to encourage you to declare in favor of the king of France. I have heard nothing further of interest up to the present. As to what is being said here of the Pope, your Lordships can readily imagine it: to throw off his authority, to summon him before a council, and to destroy his temporal and spiritual power, — these are some of the least evils with which they threaten him.”
I have nothing more to write, except to recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, 21 July, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My first letter to your Lordships since my arrival here at court was of the 18th, and, as it contained matters of the greatest importance, I sent it through Robertet to Bartolommeo Panciatichi at Lyons, in accordance with the king’s wishes, directing Bartolommeo, at the same time, to forward it to you by express. Although I feel quite sure that it has arrived safely, yet by way of extra precaution, and to make doubly sure, I enclose herewith a brief summary of its contents, which I could not send yesterday with the long letter I wrote to your Lordships, as the courier could not wait until I had written it. And therefore I resolved to send it to-day, and should not otherwise have written again, having reported to you fully yesterday all that had taken place here. So there is nothing left for me to say in this, except that after a solemn mass this morning his Majesty publicly, and in presence of the English ambassadors, ratified by a solemn oath the treaty that had been concluded between his Majesty and the king of England during the past month; it having been previously ratified by the king of England in the same way by a solemn oath. It is now said that these ambassadors will not go to Rome, as stated in my first letter, but that they will return to England. In fact, the Pope’s ambassador told me this morning that there was no truth in the first report that these ambassadors were going to Rome, as they had come here exclusively for the ratification of the treaty.
Since writing the above, I have seen Robertet, who overwhelmed me with complaints against your Lordships, telling me that yesterday evening the king had complained very much because you had not advised him of anything, nor given him any information about Italian affairs, although you knew more about them than any one else; and that this want of civility on your part was due to nothing else than because you had not yet fully relieved your mind of all the ill feeling against him. Robertet added to this many harsh expressions of his own, which I shall not repeat, as I do not wish to weary your Lordships. I excused your Lordships, and corrected these opinions as best I could; but, as every one that has ever been here knows, these people close their ears to all one can say to them, and therefore, O Magnificent Signori, if you desire not to lose the friendship of the French, you must show them that you really mean to be their friend. And if you cannot do this in any other way, at least do not fail to send frequent letters and information, and do not hesitate from time to time to send a special courier to keep them advised of the state of affairs in Italy, so as to give to whoever may be here the opportunity of showing your good will, and thus preserve your Lordships’ credit with them.
The blow which the Pope has attempted to inflict upon the French is of such a character, and is so keenly felt by the king, that I believe I am safe in expressing the opinion that he will revenge himself with great satisfaction and honor, or lose all his Italian possessions; and that he will promptly pass the mountains with double the vigor of former years; and everybody believes that he will do much more than what he threatens if England and the Emperor remain firm, of which there appears no doubt.
It is understood that the French have raised ten thousand men for the Genoese business, besides the men-at-arms which they have sent there. As these troops will be in your neighborhood, your Lordships will with your usual wisdom take a prompt resolution, which on that account will prove the more acceptable.
I recommend myself to your Lordships.
Blois, 22 July, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
I have received through Francesco Pandolfini two of your Lordships’ letters of the 12th instant. . . . . I shall write to-morrow to your Lordships more fully and more at my ease, and send these lines merely to acknowledge receipt of those letters, as a courier is just leaving for Milan; I send this under cover to Francesco Pandolfini. Since my being here I have written to your Lordships on the 18th, 21st, and 22d; and earnestly hope those letters have reached you safely. The French have received good news this morning from Genoa, and are all in the highest spirits about it. Valete!
Blois, 25 July, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Your Lordships’ letters of the 16th instant, sent to me through Francesco Pandolfini, being full of good news, “counsels, and resolutions, has had the effect of completely assuring the French that your Lordships desire to preserve their friendship. To come to particulars. So soon as I received those letters yesterday evening, I went to see Robertet, and informed him of everything. He was greatly rejoiced, and said, ‘It seems your Signori are now doing all that the king wished them to do; it will be well, therefore, that his Majesty should know all this.’ But as it was too late last night, I presented myself early this morning before the king, and related to him all the particulars, and read to him the contents of your letters. When I came to tell him of the adherents upon which he had counted, beginning with the Siennese, his Majesty said to me, ‘Do not these hold some town of yours, I know not exactly which?’ And on my answering, ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘If God gives me life, they will not hold it much longer, nor their own city either. Write this to your Signori, and bid them be of good cheer.’ When I came next to speak of the Marquis of Mantua, the king said that he had been liberated, but ought to be careful where he went. As to the Emperor, he said that he felt quite sure of him. But of the Swiss he said, ‘By my faith, I am in doubt whether to let them pass or not, for I do not know whether it would be better that the Pope should be unarmed, or that he should have armor on his back that will hurt him.’ And then he spoke of the character of the Swiss, saying that, with all his wealth and power, he had found it most difficult to manage them, and concluded that they would have treated him as they did the Duke Lodovico; but that he had taken measures to hold them to their engagements. After that his Majesty thanked your Lordships for the reply you intended to make to the Pope as to the passage of troops for Genoa; and as to the trouble which he caused you, he would order that all the troops which he had in the direction of Florence should always be at your call whenever you might have need of them. And as to the measures taken with regard to Genoa, he said,” Genoa was safe, for he had letters yesterday evening telling him that three thousand infantry had entered the city; also the son of Messer Gian Luigi del Fiesco with six hundred men, and a nephew of the Cardinale del Finale with as many more; and that the exiles, with the troops they had taken there, had withdrawn; and that his galleys, together with some Genoese vessels, had gone in pursuit of the Venetian galleys, which dared not wait for them. Thus his Majesty regards Genoa as safe, and the whole court is rejoicing and keeping holiday to-day. He told me that in consequence of this event the Venetians could neither advance nor attempt any movement of importance; for besides the large number of his own troops, there were those of the Emperor and of Spain, and that all this force was not only sufficient to hold the Venetians in check, but even to combat them. And then, speaking of the king of Spain, “his Majesty said to me that his fleet had gone there, but that he had not given the king of Spain any cause for enmity, nor did he believe that he had any such feeling towards him, for the very credit and influence which his friendship gave the king of Spain sustained him in Castile. And as to your Lordships, and the advice and information which you had sent him, he told me to go and see his Chancellor and Robertet, and give them a little memorandum of it. I have accordingly seen them since then, and they have taken note to send two hundred lances to Serezana, and thus recover that place from the hands of San Giorgio, and from Rafaellino, who had been sent to Savona. Thus it seems to me that the king and his counsellors attach much importance to your information and counsels; and therefore I hope that, if your Lordships deem it well to keep the king and his ministers in good humor, you will continue sedulously to send them similar information.”
This is all I have been able to learn from the king or his ministers in relation to the advices you have sent me. Nor is there any further news in relation to Genoese affairs beyond what his Majesty had told me.
All the above was written on the 25th. To-day is the 26th, and news from Genoa received to-day confirms what we had heard from there yesterday. A grand council of the people had been held, at which some three hundred citizens were present, and the question came up whether the funds of the Bank of San Giorgio should be employed to defend the city in behalf of the king of France; it was so decided with only eight dissenting votes. His Majesty spoke of it this morning with the English ambassadors, and said publicly that the Florentines had refused to allow the Pope’s troops to pass through their territory on their way to Genoa; and that the Florentines were his great and good friends.
I have called to see the ambassador of the Marquis of Mantua, to know how he viewed the liberation of his master.* He told me that he could not regard this liberation as having any other ground than the hope of the Pontiff to avail himself of services of the Marquis in the present movements, or perhaps some promise which the Marquis had made to the Pope. And when I told the ambassador that, if it were the latter, the Marquis must either break his old engagements with the king of France, or the new ones with the Pope, he answered, that promises made in captivity need not be observed, and that his master would never take sides against his Majesty of France; and that even if, for the sake of gaining his liberty, he had been forced personally to oppose the king, yet his states would never do anything to displease his Majesty, but would always remain firm in their devotion to him.
I am fully aware, as I have already said in former letters, that your Lordships desire much to know the course which Spain and the Emperor are going to take, and I should be very glad to be able to give you some information on that point, but cannot well see the way to do it, for it is not likely that these sovereigns would write here to communicate their intentions; and thus their ambassadors remain in the dark, and all that could be said here about it would be mere conjecture; and your Lordships are in a situation to form such conjectures much better than I can here. As regards England, I will only say that on Sunday last, as I have already mentioned in a former letter, the peace between the king of England, as represented by his ambassadors, and the king of France, was solemnly sworn in presence of all the foreign ambassadors and the whole court. And when I told his Majesty that the Pope also counted upon England, he laughed, and said, “You have heard yourself the oath of peace,” etc.
This movement of the Pope displeases everybody here; all seem to think that he seeks to ruin Christianity, and to accomplish the destruction of Italy. But as his attempt upon Genoa proved a failure, it is to be hoped that, if he does not persist in his obstinacy, and does not wish to cause so much ill, matters may yet be arranged, and the more easily if there are good intermediaries. For although the injury which the Pope intended to inflict upon the crown of France was very great, nevertheless as he failed in it, and, on the other hand, an attempt on the part of the king to revenge himself being fraught with much danger, inasmuch as there could not be a more honorable action for a prince than to attack another in defence of the Church, the result might well be that his Majesty, by openly attacking the Pope, would expose himself to the enmity of the whole world. Thus it is believed that he would readily yield to good counsels, and that even an attack upon Ferrara would not prevent it. It only remains, then, that the Pope should want that which ought to be. His pride having been brought down a little by the ill success of the attempt upon Genoa, he will have seen from the failure of his first steps that the difficulties of the enterprise are greater than he supposed. And if this shall have made him a little more timid, ways and means ought not to be wanting to make sure of him; particularly if, as I have said, there are good mediators. I have been requested, therefore, by a personage of worth and authority, to beg your Lordships not to hesitate to undertake this negotiation, and to use your influence to make the Pope understand all that you can discreetly say to him; for this person apprehends that, if it were attempted from here, it would not be well received. I wanted to write to your Lordships these last particulars, thinking that I should not transcend the bounds of my duty in communicating to you all I see and hear here at court. Valete!
Blois, 26 July, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My last letter was of the 26th, in reply to two from your Lordships of the 12th instant; in that letter I reported all that had taken place here up to that day, and particularly that those letters had caused his Majesty to be entirely satisfied with your Lordships. Yesterday I received another letter from you, of the 16th, and although the news it contains is already old, nevertheless, by way of showing his Majesty that you did not fail even for one day in your duty to him, I presented myself this morning before him, and communicated to him the entire contents of your letter, with all of which he was well satisfied; telling me that he had been already informed by the Grand Master that your Lordships had been very zealous in keeping him fully advised of every occurrence. His Majesty also told me that he had news from Chaumont that his troops had captured Monselice in the most glorious manner possible; and that, after taking the town by assault, they had with the same ardor taken the castle, where they had killed some six hundred men or more, not permitting one to escape. His Majesty smiled at this and said, “Last year I was looked upon as a bad man, because in a battle which I fought so many men were killed; now Monseigneur de Chaumont will be regarded the same.” His Majesty told me that the commander at Monselice had been a man from Berzighella, but he did not know his name, and that during the fight the Monselice men had all cried, “Julio!” “Julio!” All this his Majesty related to me with infinite pleasure. He told me also that he had no news from Genoa, but that order had been at once restored there, and everything satisfactorily settled. As Bartolommeo Panciatichi had written me from Lyons that all letters were opened in Lombardy, not excepting your Lordships’, I spoke to his Majesty about it, especially as your last letters were handed to me open, and begged him to be pleased to order the officials charged with that business to discontinue opening the letters to and from your Lordships. His Majesty said it should be done, and asked me to tell Robertet of it in his behalf; that a general order for the opening of letters had been given prior to my arrival, and that since my coming they had not thought of exempting your Lordships’ letters from this general order. I have since then spoken to Robertet about it, who promised me to send the necessary instructions in relation to it by the very next courier.
The ambassador from Ferrara told me this morning that the Pope’s troops, after taking the two castles mentioned in your Lordships’ letters of the 16th, have laid siege to another castle, but as he did not remember the name I cannot give it to you. On the approach of the Pope’s troops, the garrison of the castle made a sortie and captured twenty-three men-at-arms of the Pope’s forces. The King was delighted when he heard this. I asked the Ferrarese ambassador how many men the Pope had employed in this enterprise, but he could not tell me, and complained that his master did not keep him well informed. He said that he had urgently requested the king to aid the Duke with infantry, and that his Majesty had given him the best hopes. We shall see what will come of it.
As already mentioned in my former letters, it is reported that the Marquis of Mantua is at Bologna; and his ambassador here begins to apprehend that his liberation may make his condition rather worse as regards his states. His proceedings are being watched, which will enable us to form a better judgment of his conduct.
Whilst writing this the ambassador of the king of Würtemberg has returned here, it being now the twenty-third hour. He is a German gentleman, accompanied by a suite of about a dozen cavaliers. He was met on his entrance into the city and received with all the honors. So soon as I learn why he left here, and why he returns, I will inform your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, 29 July, 1510.
The English ambassadors left here two days ago to return to their country, laden with honors and presents.
P. S. — To-day is the 30th, and we have news this morning that the troops which had gone by land to overturn the government of Genoa, finding themselves pursued, have in great part re-embarked on board the Venetian fleet. Each galley has taken six cavaliers and their captain; and about one hundred cavaliers have rallied together to try and cut their way out. They are not without hopes here that some mishap may befall the Venetian fleet.
We also hear that the Marquis of Mantua has sent for his son, to place him in the hands of the Pope; whereupon the king has sent word to the ambassador of the Marquis to try to induce the Marchioness to oppose it, and the ambassador is of the opinion that she will never consent to it, and that secretly the Marquis would be pleased that she should refuse to give up the son.
The object of the Würtemberg ambassador’s coming is said to be the following. The king of France, seeing the conduct of the Swiss, and the hopes which the Pope builds upon them, has resolved, for the purpose of making them pause and reflect so that they may not so readily serve the Pope, to give them some trouble, or at least to menace them through the king of Würtemberg, who is their natural enemy. The Duke’s ambassador has passed nearly the whole of to-day at the council in deliberating as to the steps to be taken in this matter.
His Majesty has also sent the captain of his Swiss bodyguard to Switzerland, to try on the one hand to win back, if not all the Cantons, at least a part of them, and so we shall soon see whether by menaces or by persuasion these Swiss can be detached from the Pope.
Niccolo Machiavelliut supra.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Your Lordships are aware, from what I wrote you a few days since, that the Pope had not succeeded in his attempt to overturn the government of Genoa; and that the king of France, on the one hand, had been more frightened than hurt, and that, on the other hand, the Pope, by showing himself the open enemy of the king of France, so far from causing him any serious trouble, had rather strengthened his Majesty’s position, in more securely consolidating his authority in Genoa. His Holiness having thus failed in gaining the advantages which he had promised himself by this movement, it seemed to the good and sensible men of this court that possibly an agreement between the king and the Pope might be hoped for, if a loyal mediator could be found, who would intervene for the good of Christendom in general and Italy in particular. For it would be easy to show to the king in what position he would place himself if he attempted to make war upon the Pope, and what damage he might suffer himself by a proceeding, the cost of which would be certain, but the final result most doubtful. And in the same way the Pope could with like facility be persuaded of the ills which this war might bring not only to himself personally, but also to the temporal and spiritual authority of the Church, as well as to all Christendom.
Matters being in this position, and having several times conversed with the Pope’s ambassador here, who is grieved to the heart by these movements, Robertet one evening sent for Giovanni Girolami, who is the business agent here of his Eminence the Cardinal Volterra, as Alessandro Nasi can tell you; and after having first talked with him about some of his private affairs, Robertet suddenly turned the conversation upon these troubles that are brewing, and complained to him bitterly about these movements, and demonstrated to him that they could not but cause regret and injury both to the victor and the vanquished. And going from one argument to another he concluded by saying that, if the Pope were disposed to make peace, he would be met half-way by the king; and that the Pope ought to do so, unless indeed the Almighty had inspired him with obstinacy for the ruin of the world. But that anyhow he did not see clearly how a peace could be brought about unless some third party intervened, inasmuch as the king would never be the first to yield, and as the Pope would probably take the same ground. And having therefore thought much as to how such an agreement might possibly be brought about, he saw but one way, and that was that your Lordships and the Cardinal Volterra should undertake the mediation, as any others would only spoil the matter by trying to gain advantages for themselves from this enmity. And then he intimated to Giovanni that it would be well that he should go himself for this purpose to Florence. Giovanni, on the one hand, expressed his willingness to go, but on the other hand declared that the negotiation should be managed in such a way that your Lordships should clearly see what sort of business they entered upon, and that you ought to be well assured of the intentions of the king, so as to be sure that neither you nor any one else should be duped; and that he believed, if this were done, you would readily undertake the mediation, knowing how greatly your Lordships desired peace and concord between the two sovereigns, and how much you dreaded discord, from which nothing but enmity and disaster would result. Nothing was concluded that evening, but another meeting was agreed upon.
When Giovanni related all this to me, I thought it best not to discourage this negotiation, but rather to urge it forward as much as possible, and communicated it to the Pope’s ambassador, not as to a party interested, but as to a mediator, who would be useful in such a negotiation. He thought the conversation with Robertet very opportune and to the purpose for those who really aimed at the good of all, and resolved to go and see the king. Having done so, he pointed out to his Majesty the dangers to which he exposed himself, and the frauds that had been practised underhandedly to bring the Pope to the point where he was. He showed his Majesty first the suspicions which the king of Spain had conceived in regard to their alliance; for scarcely two months since the reported treaty between them, the king of Spain, having become suddenly apprehensive that the treaty would operate to his disadvantage, sent a fleet to Sicily, under pretence of another enterprise. Afterwards, when the disputes with Ferrara broke out, the Spanish representative here persuaded the king of France not to abandon Ferrara, whilst the Spanish envoy at Rome demonstrated to the Pope that his Majesty of France had done wrong to defend the Duke of Ferrara; and that it was in this way that they had brought matters to the point where they wanted them. His Majesty ought therefore to think well as to the course he was about to engage in; for if the Pope had tried to do him an injury, he had not succeeded in the attempt, and therefore it would be well to forget it rather than to give him cause to think of attempting another, which might succeed. To all this he added a number of other reasons, which I will not relate lest I should become tedious. The king listened to all this patiently, and then replied: “I admit the truth of all you say, but what would you have me do? I shall never be the first to declare myself. The Pope has struck a blow at me, but I will bear all except the loss of honor and my state. But I promise you faithfully that if the Pope makes any demonstration of affection towards me, be it only the thickness of my fingernail, I will go the length of my arm to meet him; but otherwise I shall not move an inch.”
The ambassador thought that he had sufficiently discovered the king’s disposition in the matter, and took his leave. After that he passed more than an hour with Robertet discussing the best way of proceeding in this business; and in view of what Giovanni Girolami had said, they concluded it would be best to have him go to Florence, and try to persuade your Lordships to undertake the task of acting as mediators between the Pope and his Majesty of France; but that it would be necessary for you to act as though it were spontaneous with you, and that you should send at once one or two ambassadors to Rome for this particular purpose. When informed of their conclusion, I observed to them that, to induce your Lordships the more readily to undertake this office of mediators, it would be necessary that I should be able to write to you that this attempt would be most agreeable to his Majesty and that your undertaking it would be very gratifying to him; and that, if his Majesty was not willing to say this to me himself, it should at least be said to me by his counsellors. And so it was decided that Robertet should communicate the whole project to the king; namely, the sending of Giovanni to Florence, and your proposed intervention, as well as the manner of making it known to your Lordships. Robertet was entirely satisfied with this, and this morning, whilst his Majesty had gone to breakfast, Monseigneur de la Tremouille, who for two weeks has assisted at every council together with Robertet and the Chancellor, called me, and, after some sharp words against the Pope, said to me that, notwithstanding all this, as Giovanni Girolami was going to Florence, he wished to tell me on the part of the king that his Majesty was satisfied and would have great pleasure in your Lordships’ intercession between the Pope and himself, and that you should send ambassadors to Rome for this purpose, and manage the whole affair as you thought best. The business then stands thus. Giovanni, who will bring you this letter, goes per post to Florence, and will tell you orally all I have written, and give you any further particulars that you may wish to know in relation to this affair. And so that your Lordships may know how this affair is to be managed to the satisfaction of France, Robertet said (and doubtless with the full knowledge of the king) that if the Pope would submit his claims upon Ferrara to arbitration, his Majesty would be satisfied, and would not care to whose hands the Pope were to confide this arbitration. This, however, relates rather to the conclusion of the affair, than to the way of initiating it; it would suffice that the Pope should put a stop to the preparations he is making against the king of France, such as the stirring up of the Swiss and the other powers; and that his Holiness should orally express to your ambassadors his wish to be a father to the king, provided that his Majesty would act the part of a good son to him. And that the Pope should write a brief to the king to that effect, who upon receiving it would be prepared to send an envoy to Rome; and that, if the negotiations were begun in this way, he doubted not but what good would result from it.
Your Lordships will now with your habitual prudence take into consideration what I have written, and what Giovanni will communicate to you, and will then decide upon such measures as you may deem most proper; but in all this business the greatest promptness is most necessary.
I have not discouraged these overtures, because I think that the enmity between these two sovereigns would be one of the greatest misfortunes that could befall our city, for the reasons which you have seen and heard from the first origin of the difficulty; and therefore I have regarded all means as good that may be employed to bring about a peace. And I cannot but think that in becoming mediators your Lordships will gain great advantages, whether the negotiation succeeds or not. If it succeeds, then it will bring about the peace we so much hope for and desire, and we shall escape the dangers which the war would bring to our very doors. And the more important the part which you take in the matter, the greater will be the satisfaction and the advantages which you will derive from it. For you will have laid both the king and the Pope under obligations, having labored for their interests no less than for your own. And if it does not succeed, his Majesty of France will remain equally obliged to you for having done that which he approved of, and for having given him, in the face of the whole world, more just grounds than ever for his contentions with the Pope. Nor will the Pontiff be able to complain of you if, after your efforts to persuade him to a peace, which he has rejected, you should take part against him in the war. All these considerations induced me to become so readily mixed in these negotiations, and if your Lordships approve of my course, I should prize it highly; but if not, then I must entreat you to excuse me, for in my position here I could not view the matter differently.
His Majesty is pushing his arrangements and preparations most vigorously. He has ordered a meeting of a general council of all the prelates of his realm for the middle of September, at Orleans. He has taken the Duke of Würtemberg into his pay, so as to have German troops and check the movements of the Swiss, and at the same time he has sent the captain of his Swiss guard amongst them to try and recover, if not all, at least a part of the Cantons. He has ordered all the captains of his infantry to make out their muster-rolls, so as to be ready to start at any moment, and has ordered out the ban and rearban for the protection of his realm, also a supply of horses for a remount if necessary; and has also prescribed new ways of raising money for the expenses of the war, without touching his private treasury.
The arrival of Monseigneur de Gurck is looked for here; he is the most important man of the Emperor. The king intends to propose to Monseigneur de Gurck that the Emperor shall hold himself in readiness to march in the spring with such troops as he may have or may be able to raise. His Majesty is resolved to accompany him in person to Rome with twenty-five hundred lances and thirty thousand infantry; and he has sworn on his soul to achieve two things, at the risk of losing his kingdom, namely, to have the Emperor crowned in Rome, and to make a Pope to his own liking.
The king of Spain has written a letter most favorable to the projects of the king of France, and censuring the Pope’s attempt against Genoa; offering to his Majesty of France twelve of his armed galleys, to be employed for or against whomever his Majesty pleases. These letters are in every way favorable to France, and do not spare the Pope in the least. His Majesty has also ordered a fleet to be fitted out by spring proportionate to his land forces.
Your Lordships can imagine now how great in the sight of God and men will be the merits of him who shall put a stop to all these movements, and who by his wisdom will prove himself the physician to cure all these ills.
The great importance of these matters has almost made me forget to mention the arrival at this court, two days ago, of an ambassador from Lucca; but I will not weary you now with any particulars respecting him, as Giovanni is fully informed, and will tell you all about him.
Blois, 3 August, 1510.
I have given Giovanni Girolami private instructions, in which I mention the Pope’s ambassador, and say that this affair has been conducted thus far entirely in accordance with his counsels, and that he has taken upon himself to manage his Holiness so as to bring him round to this proposition; bearing in mind that the war which he is making against the king of France is founded upon two things: the one, suspicion; and the other, the wrongs he imagines he has received at the hands of the king in the matter of Ferrara. As to the first, namely, the suspicions, he must pretend to share them, but at the same time show the Pope the necessity of adopting some prudent measures to secure himself against the apprehended danger, against which neither his arms nor ours would suffice, and upon those of others we cannot rely. He must also tell the Pope what the king of Spain has written in favor of France, without referring to the Pope; and the same with regard to the messages sent here by the Duke of Savoy. But it might very possibly be arranged that the other princes would guarantee the promises of the king of France, and this would be the safest plan to adopt, without having to upset the whole world. Valete!
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Since the departure of Giovanni Girolami from here with full information as to the state of affairs here, and with instructions (which your Lordships will have found enclosed in my letter) to see whether some way could not be found for an arrangement between the king and the Pope, I have received your Lordships’ letters of the 26th ultimo. As his Majesty has gone on a pleasure excursion some three leagues from here, I went to see Robertet and communicated to him the contents of your letters; and amongst other things I mentioned the news that the troops which had left Genoa had taken refuge at Camajore, a place belonging to Lucca. To this Robertet replied that he had letters from Genoa with quite contrary information, namely, that Marc Antonio’s men had taken refuge on Pisan territory, where they had been stripped by the peasants; but that your Lordships had compelled these country people to make restitution of everything they had taken from these troops, which had caused great dissatisfaction to his Majesty, who concluded from this, and other similar acts of yours, that you did not go with him entirely. I told him that my letters said exactly the contrary, and that it was not reasonable that these cavaliers, who could with perfect safety take refuge on Lucchese territory, should have sought it within your Lordships’ dominions. It would be well, therefore, that your Lordships should inform me fully as to how this affair really occurred.
Yesterday I thought it proper to go to see the king, and whilst with his Majesty I told him what your Lordships had written; namely, that, having received his Majesty’s letter on the very day that you had written to me, you could not reply to it at once; but as you had already by your acts manifested your good intentions, it might reasonably be assumed that you would do the same in your letters. His Majesty said that he believed it, but then at once began to speak on the same subject that Robertet had spoken about; namely, the plundering of certain troops by the peasants, and the reported restitution by your Lordships; to which I made the same reply that I had made to Robertet. And his Majesty then said, “The Grand Master has by my orders notified the Signori to keep their troops ready, so that I may make use of them whenever I require them; and I now tell you to say the same thing to them, for in the daily current of events I think no less of their interests than of my own.” And thereupon I took my leave, for as his Majesty had been on horseback till the twentieth hour, he could not prolong my audience.
Magnificent Signori, when I left yesterday morning to go and see the king, it was in company with Robertet; and during the whole distance of three leagues from here to where the king was, we talked over all the affairs of Italy, and in a general way also the events of the day. I say in a general way, for no one has communicated to me any details of their plan for attacking the Pope. For these French people do not trust us altogether, and will, in fact, never trust your Lordships until you declare yourselves openly in their favor and join them with arms in hand. The character of the French is naturally suspicious, and they suspect your Lordships the more, because they know you to be prudent, and therefore not apt to expose your interests to great risks. It is this that gave rise to the request which they made, and which I communicated to your Lordships in my letter of the 18th, and which they now renew. And you may believe as you do the Evangely, that, if war breaks out between the Pope and his Majesty of France, you will not be able to avoid declaring yourselves in favor of one of the parties, wholly irrespective of the regards you may have for the other; the present demand is proof of this. And as, in case of being obliged to do what I have just said, your city will be exposed to some risk, it is the opinion of your friends here that it would be wise for you not to run that risk without receiving some advantages by way of compensation. I have mentioned to your Lordships that the king told me that he bore your interests in mind; and Robertet has on several occasions said to me, “You never say anything to me about Lucca; it is time now to think of something.” And even to-day, whilst conversing with him, he came back to the same subject, and asked me whether the duchy of Urbino would suit us. I turned the conversation, as I always do on similar occasions, and did not permit him to know my mind; for I make it a point to avoid entering upon a discussion of any subject respecting which I do not know your Lordships’ views. I notice, however, that my reserve increases their suspicions, and makes them the more pressing to have you declare yourselves for them. Nor do I believe that the strictest observation of the terms of the treaty will suffice them; they want more than that; for whilst the treaty stipulations refer only to the defensive, they want to force you to the offensive, so as to commit you the more effectually to them. Thus they believe that, if the war does take place, you will be obliged to declare yourselves in their favor, or become their enemy. But do not persuade yourselves that this would make them hesitate, or that they cannot do without you; for their pride and confidence in their power will never allow them to come down to that point, and if such considerations were to restrain them for one moment, they would quickly disregard them. And therefore those persons here who are really attached to you think that it will be necessary for your Lordships, without waiting for time to press or necessity to oblige you, to attend to present events; to reflect well, and then take the direct course for the object you aim at; and that in any event you form definite resolutions. And when you think the time come for you to be obliged to declare yourselves out and out in favor of the king of France, then you ought at a suitable moment to think of your own interests; for when the question presents itself of the possible loss of your allies and your state, it is proper also that you should think of the advantages and profits that may be gained. For if you think it well to risk your fortunes with those of France, then it comes to this, that you can dispose of a good part of Tuscany as you may think proper, and contribute to the enterprise of another with an annual subsidy during a suitable length of time; and as opportunity is anyhow but short-lived, it behooves you to come to a prompt decision. And as I am not a personage of sufficient consequence to begin negotiations of such importance, your Lordships ought to charge the ambassador with it who is now on the way here, and as quickly as possible instruct him as to what arguments to advance in this negotiation; so that he may not be in the dark as to your Lordships’ intentions when he arrives here, and so that he may be able promptly to say, “Yes,” or “No”; for they do not mean to lose any time here.
To have a clearer understanding of the state of things here, you must know that the French have their thoughts fixed upon two things; namely, the first, to make peace with the Pope, provided he will make the first advances; of this Robertet has again repeated to me his assurances. And the second is, if peace is not made, then to win over to their side the Emperor of Germany; for they do not see themselves how they could succeed in the war alone and without the Emperor for an ally. I should believe in peace, were it not that those who are said to desire it most themselves spoil the chance of it; for to bring the Pope to the point where they want him, they ought to have delayed sending assistance to Ferrara, and should not have talked about changing the government of Bologna, so as not to arouse the suspicions of the Pope and exasperate him the more. All this they promised at the tiem when Giovanni Girolami was sent, but they do not stand by their promises, and thus they fail in projects of this kind.
“As to the Emperor, they make him larger or smaller offers, according as they think they have greater or less need of him; and the king has repeatedly said to a person who is not given to tell lies: ‘The Emperor has several times urged me to divide Italy with him, but I have always refused my consent; now, however, the Pope obliges me to do it.’ Your Lordships are thus exposed to two dangers in this war between the Pope and the king; the one that your ally may be defeated, and the other that the king of France makes terms with the Pope to your detriment. It would be well, therefore, that your ambassador should arrive here before Monseigneur de Gurck. Those of the Italians here who have anything to lose think that to avoid these dangers it is above all things necessary to see whether the Pope can be induced to make peace with the king of France, and if that cannot be done, then to convince the king that to hold the Pope in check it needs neither so many emperors nor so much noise; for those who in the past have made war upon the Pope have either overreached him, as was done by Philippe le Bel, or they caused him to be shut up in the Castel San Angelo by his own barons; and these are by no means so entirely exhausted but what means can be found to stir them up again. Thus in my ride yesterday with Robertet I talked of nothing else; I pointed out to him all the examples of the past, and told him, moreover, that in making war openly against the Pope they could not succeed without exposing themselves to great dangers; for if they attempted it by themselves, he could not but see that all the consequences would fall upon France alone; and on the other hand, if she had an ally, she would have to divide Italy with that ally, with whom she would afterwards have to have a conflict, that would prove much more dangerous than the one she had had to sustain against the Pope.”
Robertet agreed with me upon all points, and we need not despair of impressing their minds here with these examples, if there were only some few Italians of consideration here, who would take pains to do so.
I have written all this at length to your Lordships, with no other intention than to cause you to think well upon all that is going on here, in case there should be anything in it that can be turned to advantage for our city. And I entreat your Lordships to instruct your ambassador promptly and fully, so that by the force of your authority and his own he may open negotiations upon such points as your Lordships may deem advantageous to your city and conducive to your liberty. Valete!
Blois, August 9, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Yesterday I received your Lordships’ reply to my letter of the 18th, and this morning I came here to Saiburg, where the king is, for the purpose of communicating to him the contents of your letter; this I have done, and will report to your Lordships in detail and more at my ease in my next letter; the present one I write on my knee, and in haste for the mail which is just about to leave. I send this by way of Ferrara. After my audience with the king, your Lordships’ letters of the 13th instant arrived. I regret exceedingly the unfortunate fate of my letters in Lombardy. Ten days ago, or more, I spoke to the king and to Robertet about providing for the prompt transmission of my letters, which both promised me. I have now complained to Robertet, who was surprised, and promised to write again most earnestly about it. To enable your Lordships to know which of my letters may have miscarried, I will state that I wrote on the 18th, 21st, 22d, 26th, and 29th ultimo, and on the 3d instant per Giovanni Girolami, and last on the 9th instant. Rest assured that I have not failed to do my duty in this respect. “After Robertet had spoken with the king, he told me on the part of his Majesty that it would be very agreeable to him that your Lordships should secretly give some aid to the Duke of Ferrara; such, for instance, as to lend him money on good security; and if you did not like to do it publicly in your own name, then to have it done through some of your private citizens. He has since then written to me very fully about this, and I have replied that I would write to your Lordships on the subject, alleging the difficulties that might present themselves in this matter, as I will explain to you in my next more fully.”* I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
From the Royal Chateau of Saiburg,
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
In my lines to your Lordships of yesterday, which I sent by the ambassador of the Marquis of Mantua, I stated briefly that I had been a considerable time with the king and Robertet after receipt of yours of the 28th in reply to mine of the 18th. “I communicated to them the contents of your letter, which seemed very satisfactory to them; and his Majesty said to me, ‘You will see my chancellor, Robertet, and my other ministers, who will acquaint you with my wishes.’ ”
I had hardly left the king when your Lordships’ letter of the 13th came, informing me of the neglect and delay to which your Lordships’ letters as well as mine have been subjected in Lombardy. I went at once back to Robertet, and communicated to him the information contained in your letter, and complained to him, etc., etc. I told him also of the dangers to which our merchants had been exposed in consequence of the Pope’s having merely heard of the demands which the king had made on my arrival. He manifested surprise at the first, and said he would again give instructions about forwarding the letters; but as to the second, he said that he did not know where the Pope could have heard of it; he would, however, remind the king to be more cautious hereafter.
“His Majesty returned here to-day; and after dinner Monseigneur de l’Oratellis and the other five members of the council had me called, and the Chancellor, after a long exordium upon the services rendered by France to Florence, beginning from the time of Charlemagne and coming down to the present King Louis, said that his Majesty had understood that the Pope, moved by a diabolical spirit that had taken possession of his mind, wanted to renew his attempt against Genoa, in which case it might well be that Monseigneur de Chaumont would have need of your troops to defend his Majesty’s possessions. He therefore desired that your Lordships should keep your troops on foot, so that they might be ready for active service at any moment that Monseigneur de Chaumont should call for them. And that his Majesty also wished you to keep a few thousand regular infantry on the frontier ready for service; and that in this wise you would lay the king and the house of France under eternal obligations to you. I replied to all this in accordance with what your Lordships had written me in your letter of the 28th in answer to mine of the 18th, that they ought to bear in mind that your dominion was entirely surrounded by the states of the Pope, who upon the least suspicion had threatened to have our merchants plundered, and would certainly do so upon the slightest demonstration on the part of your Lordships, and that moreover he would leave every other war for the purpose of combating you. And that therefore, inasmuch as his Majesty could do very well without our being mixed up in the matter, he ought to have some little consideration for your Lordships. And as regards troops, we had but very few on the frontier, and that these would have to be paid whenever ordered to be ready to march, and any expenditure in addition to what we were already burdened with would be actually insupportable by our city. They answered nearly all at the same moment to my remarks, saying that the troops would be wanted only for a few days to repel an attack, and that your Lordships ought to remember that the king was as solicitous about your honor and interests as about his own. That his Majesty’s preparations were on such a scale that he would make cœlum novum et terram novam in Italy, to the detriment of his enemies and the exaltation of his friends; and that I ought for these reasons to write to your Lordships and hand the letter to Robertet to be forwarded, which he promised to do.”
I wrote to your Lordships on the 9th, giving full account of the state of things here; if time permits, I will enclose a copy of it with this letter, for I see that things are going in the way I said they would; “that is to say, these people here want to involve you irretrievably in this war, and for that reason you should ponder well what I have written before, and bethink yourselves as to what advantages you may be able to gain; for according to their proposition we should be much exposed to loss.”
The Emperor has sent a herald to the army of the Church to warn the Duke of Urbino and the other commanders not to molest Ferrara, “at which the generals laughed.” According to what we hear from there the Pope’s affairs are prospering, for he has taken Cotignola and Luco. Monseigneur de Gurck has not yet arrived, but is expected daily.
I have written to your Lordships on the 18th, 21st, 22d, 26th, and 30th ultimo, and the 3d, 9th, and 12th instant. Your Lordships will see now that my letters have been stopped somewhere on the road. The French are taking the course which I indicated in my letter of the 3d; it is evident that they are not disposed to reject the treaty of peace, whilst on the other hand they are making great preparations for war, as I have mentioned already in former letters. Valete!
Blois, 13 August, 1510.
Nothing more is said about the horses restored to Marc Antonio, and I keep quiet about it.
I send copy of my letter of the 9th hereto appended, or rather herewith enclosed.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My last to your Lordships was of the 13th, and, assuming that it has arrived safely, I do not now repeat its contents. Yours of the 7th with the copy from Rome came yesterday; and those of the 4th, with which Reino had been charged, have, according to what Bartolommeo Panciatichi writes, remained in Lombardy; not for want of great efforts on my part many days ago with his Majesty, as well as his counsellors. His Majesty told me that he had given orders to allow these letters to pass, and the ministers say they have written about it. They all profess to be astonished at this detention of my letters, and I can do nothing more than to remind them of their promises, which of course I shall do.
Immediately after receipt of the above-mentioned letter of your Lordships of the 7th, I presented myself before his Majesty the king, and communicated to him the contents of that letter; which, being very full and acceptable, were listened to by his Majesty with the greatest pleasure; and particularly, it seemed to me, on account of the conclusions presented by our ambassador at Rome; namely, “that if the Pope found terms of agreement that were satisfactory and to the purpose of which I wrote in my letter of the 3d, then to advise his Majesty to profit, with his habitual wisdom, by this discouragement of the Pope; and to avail himself of it as promptly as possible for making a favorable peace, provided his Holiness consented, rather than to think of punishing him by a war, the end of which no one could foresee; and to remember that such movements were not becoming to Christians, nor to one who had seen all his desires gratified, as was the case with his Majesty. The king replied to this with an earnestness which it would be difficult to describe; averring with oaths that, inasmuch as it was not he who had originated the war against the Pope, so it would not be his fault if peace were not made. After that he went on with many words to complain of the Pope’s conduct, and how, since the defeat of the Venetians, he had never been able to make him listen to reason; and although he was himself entirely disposed to make peace, yet he had not neglected to provide for war. That he had again sent three hundred lances into Italy that had just come from Burgundy, and three thousand infantry; for he did not intend merely to defend himself and his friends, but he wanted also to attack his enemies. He thanked your Lordships and praised you very much for the information given him, and assured me that he would be greatly pleased to receive similar advices from you daily. Thereupon I took my leave of his Majesty; and as the council was assembled in session, I thought it well to go there, and in the presence of all I made them the same communications that I had made to the king. It would be impossible for me to tell your Lordships with what pleasure I was listened to by the whole council, and all declared that what your Lordships had done was a real service and the act of a good friend.”
I have no other news to communicate to your Lordships, excepting what the envoy from Ferrara had told me, that the Grand Master had received full authority to defend Ferrara cum totis viribus; and some days afterwards I saw him in very good humor.
An agent of the Marquis of Mantua has come here secretly; and since his arrival here they are all much more favorably disposed towards the Marquis; and it is supposed that he also wanted to avail himself of the occasion like the king of Spain.
His Majesty stated this morning that Gio Paolo Baglioni had been killed by a bolt from a crossbow; your Lordships ought to know whether or not this be true.
“Since the receipt of this news the same friend of mine whom I mentioned in my letter of the 3d is very hopeful that the treaty will be concluded, provided your Lordships will actively intervene, particularly as he has letters from Rome that encourage similar hopes. This friend and Robertet are most anxious to know what decision your Lordships have come to with regard to my letter of the 3d, and since the arrival of Giovanni Girolami. Yesterday my friend had a long conversation with the king, and, after telling his Majesty what he had heard from Rome, he suggested to him the same course of action that I had done, and received the same answer. He had, moreover, pointed out to his Majesty that the same persons who had caused him and the Pope to draw the sword were now doing their utmost to induce them to sheathe it again; on the one hand demonstrating to the king here the impossibility of the Pope’s ever acquiescing in any peace, and on the other hand proving to the Pope that he could never trust the king. So long as this question is pending, one of the parties imagines that his state is perfectly secure, whilst the other thinks that he will soon gain a portion of it. My friend added that he knew that Monseigneur de Gurck was coming here with his account already made out; but that if he found more favorable terms here he would accept them, and if not, then he would return to those who had made him fairer promises. His Majesty sees the force of all these arguments, and assents; but in the end it came to this, that he said, ‘What is it that you would have me do? I am not going to allow the Pope to beat me.’ From this reply and from other indications it is evident that the king has decided most reluctantly upon this war; but if pushed to it by the force of circumstances, then he is resolved to make it the most magnificent war that has yet been seen in Italy. His intention is to temporize this winter, and to conclude firm alliances with England and the Emperor; and having gained these two powers he cares nothing for Spain, and says to every one that will listen to him that he looks upon the king of Spain as no more than king of Castile. And by way of more surely winning the support of the two above-named sovereigns, and to leave nothing undone, he has ordered in the midst of all this the convocation of a council of the Gallican Church. A large number of these prelates have already arrived, and they are busy in preparing for the meeting which has been appointed to take place at Orleans; and at this council the obedience to the Pope will be formally abolished, and if England and the Emperor concur, they will elect a new Pope; and in the spring the king will descend into Italy with such an overwhelming force that it will not be war, but simply a promenade to Rome. Such are the plans of the king if peace is not made, and provided the two sovereigns leave the direction of affairs in his hands to be managed as the Almighty may deem for the best. In truth, if your Lordships were situated elsewhere, all this would be very desirable, so that our priests might also taste a little of the bitterness of this world.”*
I entreat your Lordships with the utmost earnestness, if you do not wish me to sell my horses and return on foot to Florence, to direct Bartolommeo Panciatichi to advance me fifty scudi; for I am here with three horses. On my return I will give full account of my expenditures, and I rely upon your Lordships’ acting in this matter with your wonted goodness. Valete!
Blois, 18 August, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My last of the 18th instant informed your Lordships fully of all that was passing here, and at the same time I replied to the letters which your Lordships had written me up to that date. Since then I have received your two despatches of the 10th and 11th; and as the king is suffering from a cough which is prevalent throughout this whole country, I have communicated to Robertet such portion of the information contained in your letters as in my judgment I thought proper he should know, and gave him moreover a note of it, so that he might show it to his Majesty, etc.
Although your Lordships have been informed from Rome that the Pope almost despairs of being able to count upon the Swiss, yet it is evident that the French here are very apprehensive and suspicious of them, and the more so, as I am informed, because the Swiss boast of being able at any time to make a road over the Alps, which no one can prevent, nor hinder them from coming down in the neighborhood of Savona. Being accustomed to carry their provisions with them, they could pass above Genoa and get into the Lucchese territory by the Riviera di Levante, without being exposed to attack; and they could not be prevented getting from there into the Bolognese territory, where they would unite with the Papal forces. I do not know the country myself, and may possibly be mistaken, and some persons think it a very long and round-about way; but however that may be, the truth is that the French stand in great fear of these Swiss; and I venture to say that, if they were to declare themselves in favor of the French, these would care but little for all the other powers.
They had also become somewhat distrustful of the Emperor, because nothing more had been heard of Monseigneur de Gurck; yesterday, however, news was received that he had started on the 13th instant. So they have recovered their confidence a little, and are of good cheer upon that point: for if the Emperor were to abandon the French, their want of German infantry would then oblige them to look to their own homes rather than to other people’s.
I wrote to your Lordships that the ambassador from Ferrara was well pleased with the preparations which the king had ordered for the benefit of the Duke; but I have since then found him in a very different humor, complaining that the French order one thing to-day and recall it to-morrow. It seems to me that he fears that in the end his Duke may fare badly. He complains also that the French have their ideas turned too much towards the next spring, thinking that the arrival of the king with a powerful army will remedy everything; but they do not take into account that in the mean time some of their allies may meet with disaster.
I learn from a good source that the Marquis of Mantua has promised to serve the Pope with his person and his state, so soon as his Holiness shall have made himself master of Ferrara, but that in the mean time he will remain neutral.
Nothing else occurs to me to say, unless it be to recommend myself again to your Lordships, and to beg you to instruct Bartolommeo Panciatichi to pay me the fifty scudi of which I am in great need, as stated in my letter of the 18th, to enable me not only to return home, but to have myself cured; for I am still suffering from the effects of the cough, which has left my stomach in such wretched condition that I have no appetite for anything. I must add, that there is an extraordinarily great mortality at Paris: more than a thousand persons die per day. May the Almighty not abandon us! Valete!
Blois, 24 August, 1510.
For some days past the question has been discussed between the king and his councillors of sending a representative of his Majesty to reside near your Lordships; and to hasten his coming to Florence it has been proposed to charge Monseigneur de Chaumont with sending him. I do not know whether anything has been done in the matter, for it is five days since I have seen or spoken to any one, having been confined to my chamber by this cough. Iterum valete!
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
The last letters I have from your Lordships were of the 11th instant. Since then you will have received mine of the 3d, 9th, 12th, 13th, 18th, and 24th instant, from which if they have reached you safely, you will have seen how matters are progressing here.
Yesterday we had news of the capture of Modena, in consequence of which a council was held yesterday and to-day in relation to that matter; but I do not know as yet what has been decided upon. True, I have seen the ambassador from Ferrara, who was going to the council; he seemed discontented, and repeated to me what I wrote you in my last he had said to me, namely; “that the French had promised him a number of times powerful help, and had actually given the orders for it, but that these were afterwards revoked, as though they thought the Duke could help himself. On the other hand, they boast of their great preparations, without thinking of what may happen in the mean time, or that those who suffer the evils have also to bear the cost. Robertet, as stated in my last letter, has been ill with this cough, and having called to see him a couple of days ago, and being alone with him, we had a long conversation about Italian affairs. Having the time, and the opportunity being favorable, I told him that, if this war between them and the Pope went on, it would be necessary that the king, for his own good as well as yours, should decide as to the manner of availing himself of your Lordships’ assistance; and as this subject was now under consideration, it would be well to review and discuss what you were able to do, how you were situated, and what service you could render the king. The first thing to bear in mind, I said, was the fact that you were poor, and that in consequence of the long wars in which you had been engaged, and the expenditures which you had been obliged to incur and from which you were not yet entirely liberated, you could not be called powerful nor well supplied as regards money. After that the geographical position of our territory must be taken into consideration, being entirely surrounded by the Pope and his allies, which made it easy for his Holiness, with but little expense to himself, to give you much trouble, and subject you to much danger and enormous costs. That the late inconsiderable demonstration of the Venetian fleet had obliged you to send thousands of troops to Pisa, which certainly could not have been done without costing you large sums of money; and therefore it was necessary, after having carefully considered the matter, that the king should bear in mind, when he claimed your assistance against the Pope, that your aid should be efficient and advantageous to him, and not insufficient and hurtful. For if this aid was not to be of great advantage to his Majesty, and only served to saddle you with another war, the king would be obliged, not only to return to your Lordships the aid lent him, but also to add some of his own troops, so that where his Majesty has now to provide for the defence of Ferrara, Genoa, the Friuli, and Savoy, he would then also have to provide for the safety of Florence and Tuscany. Such aid from you would therefore be more injurious than useful to his Majesty; and for that reason I begged him to be very careful and to weigh matters maturely; for if they wanted to act wisely they must regard this much as certain, that, if the war against the Pope went any further, the Florentines would be of greatest assistance to the king if they defended themselves with all the ability they possess, so as not to need any help from his Majesty; particularly considering the situation of their territory, and the facility with which the Pope could attack them on so many sides. When, therefore, the matter came to be discussed in council, and they wanted the Florentines to act and speak, I begged him to see that their purposes respecting the Florentines should be well weighed and digested; for if these were carefully considered, I doubted not that on the whole the resolutions of the council thereupon would also be wise. And that it behooved his Lordship more than any one else to see to this, because he understood Italian affairs better than any of the other members of the council. It seemed to me that Robertet was pleased with my arguments, and he showed me that he had taken notes of them. Nevertheless, I could not rid myself of the idea which I have stated in a previous letter, namely, that they desire anyhow to implicate you openly in this war, in case it should be pushed on; and consequently I do not cease to say the same thing to the others, doing so, however, always in such a manner as not to allow them to imagine that I say all this merely to avoid observing the stipulations of the treaty.” But where the reasons are so palpable and manifest such suspicions ought not to be entertained.
The king will leave here on Sunday or Monday next to go to Tours, where that Council is to be held which was originally convoked to meet at Orleans. He still intends to carry out his project in the spring. “And as I have written before, it will make a brilliant show if England and the Emperor stand by him; but if these should fail him, and the Swiss hold to the Pope, then his Majesty will confine himself exclusively to the protection of his own states; and it is believed that he will not be able to attempt any other enterprise unless he shall first have detached some of these Swiss. All others who may have need of his Majesty must have patience.”
Great hopes are founded here upon the coming of Monseigneur de Gurck. It was said at first that he was to start on the 13th, but nothing further has been heard of him. The imperial ambassadors manifest not the least apprehension as to any discord between the Emperor and the king of France; and they have said that within a few days the Pope would have such a dog at his heels as would make him think of other things than making war upon Ferrara. They report that three thousand Bohemian infantry and two thousand German cavalry are coming through the Friuli to attack the Venetians. Time will show whether this be true or not.
“Since writing the above, I have spoken with the ambassador from Ferrara, who tells me that it has been decided that Chaumont is immediately to send three hundred lances and two thousand infantry to Parma, where they are to join the fourteen hundred infantry which the Duke has at Reggio. Their object will be to go and retake Modena, in the event of the Pope’s army attacking Mirandola; but if the Papal army remains at Modena, then the above-mentioned troops on the one hand, and on the other hand those that are with Monseigneur de Chatillon will attack the Pope’s forces at Modena; and the ambassador has no doubt that, if these orders are not changed or the Pope’s forces not greatly increased, the Pope’s army will be obliged to withdraw, whether he will or not.”
A proclamation by order of the king has been published here to-day, and is to be published throughout the entire realm, that no one shall dare to send to Rome in relation to church benefices or any other clerical object, under penalty of losing life and property; and at the same time the king has released all his subjects from their obedience to the Pope. It is well known here that the Pope boasts of having a treaty of peace with the king of France in his pocket, and this has increased the indignation against him.
I assure your Lordships that it is quite possible that this may be true to-day; but if the king succeeds in effecting a firm alliance with the Emperor, the Pope will find that he has been led into error, so that if any one were to tell him so, he would be telling him the truth. And if his Majesty does not avail himself of this occasion for his own advantage, he may very likely have reason to repent it; for to detach the Emperor from the king of France, he would in all reason have to give and promise him greater advantages than what the king of France can offer and give. And as I have already written in a former letter, his Majesty of France will not refuse any conditions that the Emperor may demand, for every other wound and every other injury will seem to him more honorable and bearable than those inflicted upon him by the Pope. Whether waking or sleeping, the king thinks and dreams of nothing but the wrong which he imagines he has received at the hands of the Pope, and his mind is filled with nothing but thoughts of revenge. I have been told again by a person high in authority, that the Emperor aims at nothing less than to engage the king in a partition of Italy between them.
I have no other news to communicate to your Lordships, to whom I recommend myself.
Blois, 27 August, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My last letter was of the 27th, in which I reported all that occurred to me of interest, and yesterday after dinner I received your Lordships’ despatches of the 17th, with a copy of the letter to Pandolfini. I communicated to Robertet what you had decided “with reference to the coming of Giovanni Girolami, for I could not speak to the king about it, as he had never been willing to say the least word on the subject, and there was no occasion to mention it to others. Robertet was pleased with your decision, but nevertheless said that he feared, if the Pope wanted now to treat, it would be too late; still the negotiations could do no harm, provided due regard was had to the king’s honor. He told me that the Pope’s forces had gone to Mirandola, where they encountered the French and met with a terrible repulse.” He told me also that an agent from Germany had arrived per post, and brought amongst other news the positive departure of Monseigneur de Gurck on the 13th instant. “He does not approve that you should have excused your not sending the troops by alleging the negotiations with Rome; for the king does not wish that it should be thought that the attempt to make peace had originated with him, and for that reason he did not want to talk with me about it, nor would he permit that any of his ministers should write to you about it; he desired that the whole should be regarded as coming from you. Your having mentioned it to Chaumont was therefore bad, and his Majesty is very much displeased about it. He approves my silence on the subject at the meeting of the council to-day, as I shall relate more particularly hereafter.” I had this conversation with Robertet yesterday evening at the first hour of night, and after the following circumstances had occurred. “So soon as I had received your Lordships’ despatch, and had learned the contents of your letter to Pandolfini respecting your Lordships’ resolution about the troops asked for by Chaumont, I went to see the king, but did not succeed in obtaining an audience, as his Majesty was still suffering from the cough, and was at the time locked in with the queen; and therefore, so as not to lose any time, I went to the Chancellor’s hotel where the council was assembled. Having been admitted to their presence, I told them that before your Lordships had received my letter, which I had been charged by the council to write to you on the 3d instant, and by which his Majesty the king requests that your Lordships should hold your troops in readiness to march at any moment that the Grand Master asked for them, in the event of the Pope’s renewing his attempt against Genoa, the Grand Master had sent an express to your Lordships with the request immediately to send your troops into Lombardy to be employed there in the service of the king. Whereupon your Lordships, desirous above all to observe the treaty stipulations, wanted without delay to order their mobilization. But as it required some little time to expedite them, you wished, in the interest of the king as well as your own, during that interval to point out to his Majesty and to Chaumont the importance of such a step, so that they might know that your Lordships had foreseen all the evils that could result from it. And therefore you gave them to understand that it would be well for his Majesty to bear in mind that his enemy was the Pope, whose forces completely enveloped the Florentine territory on all sides; and to demand now that your Lordships should send your troops away from home would in reality be nothing less than to demand leaving you unarmed in the very midst of your enemies, by whom you might at any moment be crushed; and that this would necessarily lead to one of two evils, namely, either that you would be overwhelmed, or that the king not only would be obliged at once to send your troops back to you, but would also have to add some of his own; and that in addition to the cost of defending Ferrara, aiding the Emperor, opposing the Swiss, and guarding Genoa, his Majesty would also, at his own considerable expense, have to defend Tuscany and Florence, or submit to their loss. And that consequently your Lordships begged them to be pleased to consider, on the one hand, the advantage to be derived from sending your Lordships’ troops away from home, which would be absolutely null; and on the other hand, the damage which it would cause to his Majesty’s interests, as well as the dangers to which it would expose those of your Lordships, which would indeed be serious. And that I did not believe the council had ever entertained a more hazardous resolution, and one that would in all respects be useless and full of danger. And that for these reasons your Lordships had wished me to bring these considerations once more before the council, as there was still time; and that your Lordships had no doubt but what they would have to recognize the truth of this, that the Pope would be more effectually curbed by leaving our men-at-arms in Tuscany, than by sending them elsewhere. And as I had told them before, so now I reaffirmed it, that if this war with the Pope went on, it would be advantage enough for the king not to be obliged to have the trouble of defending you, considering the situation of your territory, as well as your weakness and the exhausted condition of your treasury.
It seemed to me advisable to dwell mainly upon the subject of expense and of danger to them as well as to your Lordships, without touching any other points, for if I had referred to any other point that depended upon them, it would have excited either their anger or their scorn and derision; for, as Girolami knows, Robertet is the only person fully cognizant of the whole matter. And although it was with the consent of the king that they have entered upon this affair, which was initiated by Robertet, the others having merely followed him, yet it is necessary to manage this negotiation discreetly, and not to publish it to the whole world. They all listened to me with great attention, and when I had finished they said that I had spoken wisely; that they would see the king that very morning, and believed they should be able to give me a satisfactory answer, for they knew how necessary it was to save your Lordships and not to expose you to danger.”
This morning after Mass, as the king was walking in the garden, I approached his Majesty and told him all I had said yesterday to the council, adding moreover what I thought proper to sustain my arguments. His Majesty said in reply, that he would think of it all, and would then let me have his answer. After that I spoke with every member of the council separately, and solicited each one to try and obtain the king’s reply as soon as possible, pointing out to them the importance of avoiding delay. They told me to come to the council to-day, and I accordingly went there after my dinner, but had to wait a long time before being admitted, “and then the Chancellor said to me that, the gentlemen of the council having heard the statement I had made to them this morning on the part of your Lordships, and as the reasons I had adduced seemed to them sound, and knowing as they did the character of the Pope and the situation of your dominions, they accepted the good will of your Lordships the same as though you had actually sent the troops; and that they had concluded it would be best that your troops should remain in Tuscany. They wished, however, that your Lordships should hold the troops in readiness, as also the infantry you have at Lunigiana, so that they might be promptly sent to support the king’s interests in case the Pope should attempt to molest Genoa. That they did not give me this as a formal answer, but merely as a resolution formed amongst themselves; that to-morrow, however, after having seen the king, they would give me a final answer. I did not think it worth while to discuss their reply any further; for on the one hand I do not think you could well refuse to succor Genoa, and on the other hand they ask that for which they have no present necessity. For if the French army is superior to that of the Pope, and the Swiss do not pass the Alps, then I do not see what the Pope could possible do at Genoa. And thus I left the council to await their final and complete answer to-morrow, which ought to be the same as what I have written above, unless letters should arrive meantime from Chaumont that would disturb matters by some sinister interpretation. I have omitted no effort to bring this matter to a conclusion to-day, but have not been able to obtain anything further.” Thus far I have written to-day, the 30th.
This is the 31st, and this morning before Mass, at the moment when Monseigneur de Paris and Monseigneur the Treasurer Robertet were coming from the king, I joined them; “and then Robertet told me that his Majesty had confirmed the resolution of the council precisely as the Grand Chancellor had stated it to me yesterday evening; namely, that your troops are to remain in Tuscany, but that you are to hold them in readiness, and the infantry which you have at Lunigiana likewise, so that thay may at a moment’s notice be able to render assistance to Genoa, whenever a necessity for it should arise.”
Two days ago a proclamation was published here, forbidding any one, on pain of corporal punishment and fine, to go or send to Rome on any business with the Pope or the Apostolic Chamber. I learn from a friend “that the French army have orders to take Piombino if they can, and to sack it. If this be true, then the affair may possibly be over by this time.”
The king leaves on Monday next for Tours, to assist at the Council which he has ordered to be held there. Valete!
Blois, 30 August, 1510, — retained till 31st.
I beg to remind your Lordships most respectfully of the request made in a previous letter, to let me have fifty scudi through the agency of Panciatichi.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
My last was of the 30th ultimo, but was forwarded on the 31st. I sent it in duplicate, one through Bartolommeo Panciatichi at Lyons, and the other by the royal post to care of Francesco Pandolfini. The substance of that letter was, that after considerable delay I have obtained from the king that your troops are to remain in Tuscany, but that you are to keep them on foot the same as the infantry which you have at Lunigiana, so that they may at any moment go to help Genoa, whenever it might become necessary. Girolami arrived yesterday, and brought me your Lordships’ letters of the 22d, and repeated to me verbally what your Lordships had written me respecting the negotiations with Rome, and about the troops. The matter of the troops being settled, there is no occasion to say anything more on that subject.
As to the negotiations with Rome, I repeated to Robertet what I had already told him according to your previous letters, and he made me the same answer, namely, that we must wait and see what will come of it. This morning I spoke with his Majesty the king, and told him that troops were being raised at Perugia and at Sienna, and that the Pope’s army was being increased. I also pointed out to his Majesty that by the capture of Modena his Holiness still more completely surrounded your dominions, and became daily more threatening; and that your Lordships desired to have his Majesty informed of this for the sake of having his Majesty’s advice and assistance when you should stand in need of it. His Majesty replied, that I should write you on every occasion unhesitatingly to help yourselves, and that he should not fail you, as he had already said several times. He told me also, that he had at this moment fifteen thousand infantry in his pay; that he had to render help at many points, but that all would be settled at one blow; that he wished me to see Robertet, and make him show me what he had directed him to write to Chaumont. Thereupon I went to see Robertet, who showed me that the king had written formally to Chaumont as follows: “The governor of Genoa informs us that the Pope desires to change the government of Florence, and therefore, as we have already written, we do not want you to call for any troops from the Florentine government, as we wish that they should employ them for their own defence; and write to their Lordships boldly to prepare for anything that may happen, and that in case of need you will not fail them.”
I did not neglect to do my duty with Robertet, and to remind him that we wanted facts at the proper time; and that even now it was necessary to take active measures against the Pope, or things would not go well; and that if Ferrara was lost, it would involve other losses, that would bring shame to the king and injury to his friends. Robertet answered that the Pope needed a good thrashing; and at these words he laughed and slapped me on the shoulder, as much as to say, and he will get it very soon. More than that I could not get out of him; although he said that he would be glad to see a couple of hundred more of French lances pass the Apennines, but that they would have to get them together first, and see what the Swiss were going to do.
Your Lordships wish to know the intentions of the king of France; I think my letters must have pretty well informed you upon that point. However, his Majesty is waiting for the spring, and meantime he is negotiating with the Emperor, and is making all other necessary preparations for his enterprise. He would like to temporize until spring, and spend as little money as possible, for all these little expenditures put him in a bad humor. This reason, and the belief that the Duke of Ferrara is able to defend himself, have caused the troubles at Modena; and the same reasons may cause other similar troubles, to his own detriment and that of a third party; for he hopes that by his mere coming he will at once settle all troubles, and looks upon all money spent before that as good as thrown out of the window. It is true, he could very well send two hundred more lances to Ferrara, which might save it and would not involve any extra expense. It is not his Majesty’s fault that this is not done, but it is the fault of those who manage the details of the king’s business here and in Lombardy. God grant that time may not show how great a loss the death of the Cardinal d’Amboise has been to the king as well as to others; for were he living now, Ferrara would never have suffered so much. For the king is not accustomed to attend to the details of all these things and neglects them, whilst those whose duty it is to attend to them take no authority upon themselves either to act or to remind the king what he ought to do; and so, whilst the physician gives no thought to the sick man, and the servant forgets him, the patient dies.
During my interview with Robertet, a painter brought a portrait of the late Cardinal d’Amboise, which caused Robertet to exclaim with a sigh, “O, my master, if thou wert living, we should now be with our army at Rome!” This exclamation confirms me more fully in all I have said above.
I had written thus far when Robertet suggested that it would be well that Giovanni Girolami should report in person to his Majesty what your Lordships had done with regard to the negotiations with Rome after his arrival at Florence. Accordingly he did so, and his Majesty was well satisfied with all the measures you have taken; so that as his Majesty manifests his views in relation to this negotiation more clearly than before, the subject might now be treated more openly here as well as at Rome. God grant that some good beginning may be made in this matter, before they change their opinion or disposition here!
I have nothing new to communicate to your Lordships, and can only confirm all I have written before. As to the Swiss, everything is being done to try and effect some arrangement with them, and I learn from good authority that they have already secured eight of the Cantons. If the king’s troops with the Grand Master withdraw from the Swiss frontier, it may be taken as an indication that terms have been made with them; but if they remain there, then we may conclude that some apprehension as regards the Swiss still prevails. But whenever they do withdraw, then your Lordships will be able to get more prompt and reliable information about it through Pandolfini.
I have told your Lordships in a former letter as to what measures had been taken with regard to Ferrara, and shall therefore not repeat it now. The reported loss of the city cannot be true, for we have no news of it here, and there seems to be no apprehension of it here.
The king leaves to-morrow for Tours, where the council is to meet. God grant that all may go for the best! Valete!
Blois, 2 September, 1510.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
In my last of the 2d, I repeated, amongst other things, what I had written on the 31st ultimo, namely, that the king had decided that your troops should remain in Tuscany for the protection of your dominions; and that his Majesty had been induced, moreover, in accordance with your wishes, to send two hundred lances over the Apennines in support of Tuscan interests in case they should be needed. The king is resolved to do this anyhow, whenever the whole or part of his troops are relieved from the necessity of watching the Swiss. I wrote you many details in relation to matters here, and refer to that letter respecting these things. Since then I have received your Lordships’ letters of the 24th and the 25th, with copy of the one of the 22d, which require no further answer beyond what I have already written in my aforementioned letter. Still, as they contain some important news, I went to Robertet, in the absence of the king, and communicated it all to him, for which he charged me to thank your Lordships, although it was evident that he had already received the same information in some other way. “I reminded him again of the importance that the king should look more closely to the interests of his friends in Italy than what he had done hitherto; to which Robertet replied as before, that all the present expenditures on the part of the king had no other object than that; and that he had at present more than sixteen thousand men in the field; and that the Swiss, either by agreement or necessity, would be obliged to leave the Church, and that thus the king would be more at liberty to see to everything, for until now it had required no little effort on his part to hold the Swiss in check; for by thus restraining the Swiss the power of the Pope was diminished, and the security of the king’s friends increased. After that, Robertet began to speak of the Pope, saying that this attempt of his Holiness to make war upon the king of France was simply foolishness, and that a month would not pass without the Pope’s becoming sensible of the situation in which he had placed himself; that Monseigneur de Gurck was now in Burgundy on his way here; and that if the king’s life was spared for another year we should see greater things than had ever been seen before.”
“Magnificent Signori, respecting the state of things here and all the above arguments I can say no more than to repeat what I have said and written before, that is to say, if the king lives, and England and the Emperor stand firmly by him, then your Lordships may count upon seeing him at Florence in the month of March next. Either of these two sovereigns would have to make very extraordinary demands of the king for him not to concede them; and as his Majesty is entirely decided not to go forward with his enterprise until next spring, it results naturally that Ferrara must suffer meantime; and it may well be that others will likewise have to suffer; for his Majesty dislikes every expense, and considers all money spent now as just so much thrown away. But as your Lordships say in your letter of the 22d that I must spur up the king and remind him of his promises, I can assure you that I have not remained quiet upon this point; and that I have stirred myself so much that I have perhaps gone too far. When the news came of the loss of Modena I went to the council and complained of this disorder, and pointed out to them the danger to which this would expose Ferrara, and the necessity of providing against it; and I concluded by telling them that, if Ferrara were lost, it would carry with it the loss of Tuscany and that of all the allies of France beyond Ferrara; thus making use of every argument that I thought it well to employ. But the cause of all this tardiness on the part of the king is what I wrote to your Lordships on the 2d instant, and have repeated above.
“I learn from a friend that, at a late council held by his Majesty in relation to Italian affairs and this new enterprise, all with one accord concluded that the only way to have less trouble and more security in Italy would be to increase the power and influence of your Lordships. The same suggestion has come to my ears from more than one quarter; thus, when the king comes into Italy, as it is said and believed that he will, and your Lordships are able to maintain yourselves in your present position, you may, in compensation for the trouble and expense which you apprehend, hope also for much good, provided your representative here manages the matter with skill and prudence, as will doubtless be done by his Magnificence, the ambassador who is coming here. And if in this affair you run some risks, your Lordships are too intelligent not to know that great results are not achieved without some danger.”
I expect your ambassador on Monday or Tuesday next at Tours; in the course of a couple of days I will post him thoroughly as to the state of affairs here, and then, with your Lordships’ gracious permission, I hope to return to Florence.
At the king’s departure from here the Pope’s ambassador was informed that he was not to come to Tours, but was to remain here or go where he liked. “The ambassador therefore decided to go to Avignon, which will cause a serious interruption in the negotiations with Rome; for it was he who had conducted these negotiations until now, and I apprehend that without him nothing satisfactory can be effected. I must not omit to tell your Lordships that some persons here think that there will be difficulty in the king’s passing into Italy, for the following three reasons: first, because the mass of the French people will not submit to be burdened with extraordinary expenses; secondly, because the greater part of the gentlemen will refuse to go to Italy, where so many in former invasions have lost their fortunes and some their lives; and thirdly, because the queen and the first princes will not be satisfied to have the king leave the realm and expose his person to danger. The answer to all this is the same as was made ten years ago; and that the king has always gone and come back when it pleased him; for where everything depends upon the will of one man, the others will soon want the same thing as himself.” Valete.
5 September, 1510.
The king will take four or five days to reach Tours, as he intends stopping at some of the villages on the way, to hunt. By that time the ambassador will have arrived, and as I cannot get any news in the mean time, nor transact any business with the court, this will probably be the last letter which your Lordships will receive from me in relation to passing events; for after the arrival of your ambassador, I shall leave it entirely to his Magnificence to write you. Iterum valete!
May it please your Lordships, if you have not done so already, to order Panciatichi to pay me fifty scudi, so that I may return, and repay to Niccolo Alamanni thirty scudi which he has lent me.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
Yesterday I received your Lordships’ letter of the 26th ultimo addressed to me, and yours of the 27th for the ambassador Roberto Acciaiuoli; as I have no news of him, I deemed it proper to read your letter to him. In regard to the further reasons which your Lordships say you have for not sending your troops into Lombardy, there is no occasion that his Magnificence should take any more trouble about this matter, or even speak of it any more, unless he should be spoken to about it; for it was all settled on the last day of August that your troops are to remain in Tuscany. The king is, moreover, disposed to send two hundred lances across the Apennines, provided that they are no longer wanted for the purpose of keeping the Swiss in check, or that there should already be French troops enough in Italy to accomplish both at the same time. This they ought to be able to do, for the three hundred lances that were lately sent for have arrived, also the one hundred pensionaries of the king, which constitute, in fact, a body of more than one hundred and fifty lances. I have strongly urged the sending of the two hundred over the Apennines, and shall recommend the ambassador to do the same; for if they are sent, it will give your Lordships all the advantages you desire; but if on the contrary they are not sent, then it will indispose the French to ask again for troops from you, when they see that you continually call upon them for troops; and thus it will in any event produce a good effect.
Since my letter of the 31st ultimo, I have written on the 2d and the 5th instant, giving your Lordships an account of matters here; nothing new of interest has occurred since then.
The imperial ambassadors are every day with the king; they are very active, and are expecting Monseigneur de Gurck. Great preparations are being made here for the meeting of the Ecclesiastical Council; and according to what I hear, a number of questions have been prepared for discussion. Amongst these I understand are the following: whether it is lawful for the Pope to make war upon a Christian prince without having first summoned and heard him; whether it is lawful for the Pope to make war upon his Most Christian Majesty, even after having first summoned him; whether a Pope who has obtained the Papacy by bribery, and sold the benefices of the Church, ought to be recognized as the Pope; whether a Pope who has been proved guilty of numberless disgraceful acts ought to be recognized as Pope. These and many other similar points are to be discussed by this Council; after which they will put into execution what they believe to be most dishonoring to the Pope and most advantageous for themselves. The other parts of your Lordships’ letters, respecting the discussion of a new confederation and the advantages proposed to you, will all be communicated to your ambassador, who will govern himself in these questions according to your instructions and his own prudence.
We have nothing new from Ferrara calculated to diminish their hope of being able to defend that state; and as to the Swiss it would seem that, notwithstanding their having seized the pass, the French still hope confidently to win them over to their side, or to hold them in check.
It is now the twentieth hour, and a messenger has just arrived from the ambassador notifying me that his Magnificence will be here this evening. I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Tours, 10 September, 1510.
[* ]This mission of Machiavelli to France relates to the first movements of Pope Julius II. against the French. The Pope had been the originator of the celebrated League of Cambray against the Venetians; but as those had been completely crushed by the French at Vaila, the jealousy of Julius II. was excited by this victory and the advantages which France secured by the terms of the treaty with the league. He became suddenly reconciled to the Venetians, and formed an alliance with that republic; and thenceforward he directed all his efforts against the French, with the view of driving them out of Italy. The republic of Florence feared to become compromised in the war which was about to break out between the king of France, Louis XII., and Pope Julius II. Machiavelli was sent to France mainly for the purpose of having Florence released from openly furnishing assistance to the French, and at the same time to relieve the republic of the suspicion of having become alienated from France, and of having an understanding with the Pope. Machiavelli remained at the court of France until he was replaced by Robert Acciaiuoli, who was sent there as ambassador.
[† ]The instructions from the Magistracy of the Ten to Machiavelli have not been found.
[* ]The Cardinal d’Amboise, Archbishop of Rouen, had died at Lyons on the 25th of May, 1510.
[* ]Marc Antonio had been sent by the Pope to stir up the city of Genoa against the king of France; but he did not succeed in the attempt, and came very near being taken prisoner and stripped.
[* ]Alluding to the rebellion of Arezzo, which was excited by the Duke of Valentinois in 1502.
[* ]Those portions of this letter comprised in quotation marks were written in cipher, and are not given in the “Italia” edition of Machiavelli’s works, from which this translation is chiefly made, nor in any other edition published prior to 1877. I have found them, however, in the edition published at Florence in 1877, under the direction of L. Passerini and G. Milanesi, which unfortunately remains incomplete owing to the death of one of the editors.
[* ]The Marquis of Mantua had been made prisoner of war by the Venetians on the 7th of August, 1509.
[* ]This passage within quotation marks was written in cipher, and has not appeared in any edition prior to that of Passerini and Milanesi.
[* ]All within quotation marks in this and the subsequent letters was originally written in cipher.