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