Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER IX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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LETTER IX. - 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.: —
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.