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LETTER VI. * - 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.: —
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.
[* ]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.