Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XVII. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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LETTER XVII. - 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.: —
In my last of the 2d, I repeated, amongst other things, what I had written on the 31st ultimo, namely, that the king had decided that your troops should remain in Tuscany for the protection of your dominions; and that his Majesty had been induced, moreover, in accordance with your wishes, to send two hundred lances over the Apennines in support of Tuscan interests in case they should be needed. The king is resolved to do this anyhow, whenever the whole or part of his troops are relieved from the necessity of watching the Swiss. I wrote you many details in relation to matters here, and refer to that letter respecting these things. Since then I have received your Lordships’ letters of the 24th and the 25th, with copy of the one of the 22d, which require no further answer beyond what I have already written in my aforementioned letter. Still, as they contain some important news, I went to Robertet, in the absence of the king, and communicated it all to him, for which he charged me to thank your Lordships, although it was evident that he had already received the same information in some other way. “I reminded him again of the importance that the king should look more closely to the interests of his friends in Italy than what he had done hitherto; to which Robertet replied as before, that all the present expenditures on the part of the king had no other object than that; and that he had at present more than sixteen thousand men in the field; and that the Swiss, either by agreement or necessity, would be obliged to leave the Church, and that thus the king would be more at liberty to see to everything, for until now it had required no little effort on his part to hold the Swiss in check; for by thus restraining the Swiss the power of the Pope was diminished, and the security of the king’s friends increased. After that, Robertet began to speak of the Pope, saying that this attempt of his Holiness to make war upon the king of France was simply foolishness, and that a month would not pass without the Pope’s becoming sensible of the situation in which he had placed himself; that Monseigneur de Gurck was now in Burgundy on his way here; and that if the king’s life was spared for another year we should see greater things than had ever been seen before.”
“Magnificent Signori, respecting the state of things here and all the above arguments I can say no more than to repeat what I have said and written before, that is to say, if the king lives, and England and the Emperor stand firmly by him, then your Lordships may count upon seeing him at Florence in the month of March next. Either of these two sovereigns would have to make very extraordinary demands of the king for him not to concede them; and as his Majesty is entirely decided not to go forward with his enterprise until next spring, it results naturally that Ferrara must suffer meantime; and it may well be that others will likewise have to suffer; for his Majesty dislikes every expense, and considers all money spent now as just so much thrown away. But as your Lordships say in your letter of the 22d that I must spur up the king and remind him of his promises, I can assure you that I have not remained quiet upon this point; and that I have stirred myself so much that I have perhaps gone too far. When the news came of the loss of Modena I went to the council and complained of this disorder, and pointed out to them the danger to which this would expose Ferrara, and the necessity of providing against it; and I concluded by telling them that, if Ferrara were lost, it would carry with it the loss of Tuscany and that of all the allies of France beyond Ferrara; thus making use of every argument that I thought it well to employ. But the cause of all this tardiness on the part of the king is what I wrote to your Lordships on the 2d instant, and have repeated above.
“I learn from a friend that, at a late council held by his Majesty in relation to Italian affairs and this new enterprise, all with one accord concluded that the only way to have less trouble and more security in Italy would be to increase the power and influence of your Lordships. The same suggestion has come to my ears from more than one quarter; thus, when the king comes into Italy, as it is said and believed that he will, and your Lordships are able to maintain yourselves in your present position, you may, in compensation for the trouble and expense which you apprehend, hope also for much good, provided your representative here manages the matter with skill and prudence, as will doubtless be done by his Magnificence, the ambassador who is coming here. And if in this affair you run some risks, your Lordships are too intelligent not to know that great results are not achieved without some danger.”
I expect your ambassador on Monday or Tuesday next at Tours; in the course of a couple of days I will post him thoroughly as to the state of affairs here, and then, with your Lordships’ gracious permission, I hope to return to Florence.
At the king’s departure from here the Pope’s ambassador was informed that he was not to come to Tours, but was to remain here or go where he liked. “The ambassador therefore decided to go to Avignon, which will cause a serious interruption in the negotiations with Rome; for it was he who had conducted these negotiations until now, and I apprehend that without him nothing satisfactory can be effected. I must not omit to tell your Lordships that some persons here think that there will be difficulty in the king’s passing into Italy, for the following three reasons: first, because the mass of the French people will not submit to be burdened with extraordinary expenses; secondly, because the greater part of the gentlemen will refuse to go to Italy, where so many in former invasions have lost their fortunes and some their lives; and thirdly, because the queen and the first princes will not be satisfied to have the king leave the realm and expose his person to danger. The answer to all this is the same as was made ten years ago; and that the king has always gone and come back when it pleased him; for where everything depends upon the will of one man, the others will soon want the same thing as himself.” Valete.
5 September, 1510.
The king will take four or five days to reach Tours, as he intends stopping at some of the villages on the way, to hunt. By that time the ambassador will have arrived, and as I cannot get any news in the mean time, nor transact any business with the court, this will probably be the last letter which your Lordships will receive from me in relation to passing events; for after the arrival of your ambassador, I shall leave it entirely to his Magnificence to write you. Iterum valete!
May it please your Lordships, if you have not done so already, to order Panciatichi to pay me fifty scudi, so that I may return, and repay to Niccolo Alamanni thirty scudi which he has lent me.