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LETTER XII. - 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.: —
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.
[* ]All within quotation marks in this and the subsequent letters was originally written in cipher.