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LETTER III. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 4.
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Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
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.
[* ]Alluding to the rebellion of Arezzo, which was excited by the Duke of Valentinois in 1502.