Front Page Titles (by Subject) INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI, SENT BY THE ILLUSTRIOUS TEN TO LOMBARDY AND FRANCE. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI, SENT BY THE ILLUSTRIOUS TEN TO LOMBARDY AND FRANCE. - 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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Deliberated on,6 September, 1511.
You are perfectly aware of all that has taken place here with regard to the Council to be held at Pisa; and on what grounds and for what reason we were disposed, on its first publication, to allow that Council to be held at Pisa; and that not many days afterwards we gave our full consent. But finding now that the greater part and the most substantial of these reasons no longer exist, and that we had offended the Pope by our course, and thereby exposed ourselves to the greatest danger, we have been forced by necessity to send you by post, and with the greatest possible despatch, first to those most reverend cardinals, and to the most illustrious Royal Lieutenant at Milan; and after that as far as the court of his Most Christian Majesty. And all our interest and aim in your mission is reduced to one single object; namely, to make every effort and use all means to have this Council, the beginning of which was so feeble and so perilous that an honorable and safe end can hardly be expected, abrogated by such means as can be found. Or if that cannot be, that it shall at least be transferred elsewhere; which ought now to be an easy matter, seeing what the attorneys of these cardinals have done at Pisa, and how by anticipation they have validated the reasons of this Pisan Council. And finally, if this cannot be done, then let us have, as a last resort, an adjournment for some months; as within that time various contingencies may arise that will enable the Council to arrive at a much better settlement of all these disorders. And even if no other result will be attained, still two or three months’ time will be a great advantage and an immense convenience to us. And we think that such a delay should not be refused to us, as it is called for by the very season which we are about to enter upon, and by the condition in which this matter now stands. For it seems probable that those who have not arrived up to to-day will not come to encounter the winter season here; and moreover, the French prelates could under ordinary circumstances not reach the place in two months.
Travelling, therefore, with all possible speed, you will take the road to Milan; but before arriving at Bologna, you will carefully inform yourself as to the whereabouts of Santa Croce, Narbonne, San Malo, and Cosenza, who some three or four days ago were supposed to be at Borgo a San Donnino, and were to pass through here on their way to Pisa. When you have ascertained where they are, you will go to the place where you will find them together, and in speaking to them all at the same time and to each one separately you will give them to understand that they are on no account to come to Florence; pointing out the trouble to which they would expose us, and the danger in which our merchants would be placed, with all their goods and movables at Rome as well as elsewhere; advising, exhorting, and entreating them on no account to take this route. You will add that you are going to Milan to make known to the Royal Lieutenant the report that has been spread, and the consequent apprehensions that the Spanish troops are about to march towards Piombino, and that a fleet is being fitted out at Naples, and that the Pope has already taken the Duke of Termini into his pay, and has appointed him his captain; adding all that may occur to you according to what we have told you here verbally. But should you not find the aforesaid cardinals on your route, because of their having gone in another direction, then you will proceed direct on the way to Milan and France. We believe that with the above-mentioned cardinals you will not require any other credentials than the letters patent which you take with you, and which will suffice to prove your person and your mission.
Having attended to this matter, you will take the diligence for Milan, where you will see Francesco Pandolfini, and, after having communicated to him our present instructions, you will together call upon the Viceroy, but in your interview with him you will confine yourselves to communicating to him that, whilst sending you to the court of his Most Christian Majesty, we desired also that his Excellency should be informed of the object of this mission. And without touching upon anything else, you will relate to him what has taken place at Rome; and what may happen to our merchants any day there and elsewhere; also the apprehensions with regard to Piombino and the Spaniards, as we have stated above. The reason why we deem it proper for you not to enter upon any other subject with him is, that we do not wish the object of your mission known before your arrival at court. We desire, nevertheless, that you should inform Francesco of everything, not only of the particulars of these instructions, but also of what we have stated to you verbally, so that he may in future proceed in conformity with our views, and govern himself in his actions according to these instructions.
Having accomplished this at Milan, you will proceed with the same diligence and speed to the court of his Most Christian Majesty. Immediately on arriving you will call to see Roberto,* and, after communicating to him these instructions, as well as what we have told you verbally, you will both together call upon his Majesty the king; and in addressing his Majesty you will begin by stating that we gave the concession of Pisa solely to please him; and then you will go on to show to what point matters have been brought here, and what has resulted and is likely to result in Rome, against our city as well as against our people and their goods. You will point out to his Majesty what our people have had to suffer in the way of interdicts, censures, war, and ransoms to be paid for persons and goods everywhere; and show the reasons why it has come to this, and what remedies there are for this state of things. And in explaining the cause of these evils to which we are subjected, you will remark that we have observed that the Emperor gives little or no attention to these matters; and that, whilst we believed that he would carry on the war advantageously, and that he was on his way to Florence, he was still near Trent, with little disposition to do anything more this year, and was constantly on the point of turning back. That he is carrying on most intimate negotiations with the Venetians, and has convoked a Diet in Germany for the day of San Gallo; and that all these things show manifestly that he gives little thought to our matters. To this may be added, that we have not heard of a single prelate’s coming from that great country to take part in this council. In the same way it has been observed that the French prelates that are to come manifest such tardiness as to cause the belief that they do not come of their own free will. But as this might possibly cause displeasure to the king, it seems to us best you should not refer to it, unless perhaps merely in a passing word, so as not to give umbrage to his Majesty. There are still other and more important points to touch upon; one of which is that, according to what we hear, some of the cardinals named in the edicts dissimulate their real views, and under various pretexts delay their coming to Pisa. Another matter, and one that has astonished us very much, is that a council should have been opened by only three persons sent to Pisa, and these of such a character as they are; and that they have declared that they wanted the forts in their hands, which would promptly be filled with armed men. Owing to the lack of reputation of these persons, great disorders have occurred, so that the city found herself placed under an interdict, and that the heads of the religious establishments have declared against such a Council. All this is the consequence of having made so feeble a beginning, and not having sent men capable of defending their motives, and who might with proper authority have given due character and reputation to such an undertaking, which, once discredited, can hardly be carried to a satisfactory conclusion. In consequence of these disorders, the Pope, finding neither reputation, favor, nor power within the Council, has manifested the most vigorous resentment, and, having no one else upon whom to pour out his wrath, has discharged it all upon us; and thence all the dangers which threaten us, and which are so well known to you. These are increasing with every day; and it is not likely that the Council will gain in favor, having shown such weakness in the beginning, for everybody will be disposed to believe that its end will be similar to its beginning. And as no one at present accepts the reasons alleged in favor of this Council at Pisa, they will be still less acceptable in the future.
The remedies for this state of things are in our judgment but few. Peace, however, would settle everything honorably, and relieve all parties from their present anxieties; but of this we do not wish you to speak, except as a last resort. After having shown to his Majesty how little is to be hoped for from this Council, and what has been the cause of its feebleness, you will make every effort to persuade and beg his Majesty to be pleased to have it discontinued, seeing how difficult it would be to carry it on. And if all these reasons do not satisfy his Majesty, then you must endeavor, by pointing out to him our present and future dangers, to persuade him to relieve us from this care and anxiety, and show him that now, since the initiative measures have been taken at Pisa, the Council might readily be transferred to some other locality. This is, in fact, what we should desire most in case you cannot obtain a discontinuance of the Council, and therefore we want you to urge it most vigorously, leaving nothing undone that can help to induce the king to consent to such a transfer.
The reasons for this are numerous. First of all, the holding of the Council at Pisa is really tantamount to holding it under the very hands of the Pope; for it may be taken for granted that it will at once provoke a fresh war by land and by sea, in which his Majesty would be obliged to take a hand, if he does not wish that his friends shall perish for having tried to please him. But such a war would not take place if the Council were held in a locality not so accessible to the Pope with his army and his allies. And then there is the fact that the Emperor has never been satisfied that the Council should be held in Pisa, which doubtless is the reason why he and the prelates of Germany have shown such indifference in the matter. There are furthermore the reasons which we have so many times written to Roberto Acciaiuoli; namely, the ruinous state of Pisa, the unproductiveness of the country, the bad harvest this year, and the fact that the place can so easily be harassed by a hostile fleet. Above all must it be taken into consideration, in connection with the first reason, that a war resulting from the holding of the Council in Pisa would be a very dangerous one, because all the states involved in it will necessarily be divided, some declaring for and some against the Pope. His Majesty will therefore have to bear in mind that, if matters take this course, the burden of the war will fall upon him, if not entirely, at least in great part. It is necessary, then, that by means of these reasons, and such others as may suggest themselves to you, you should strive to persuade his Majesty to be satisfied that we may henceforth refuse Pisa to any one for the purpose of holding such a Council.
And if you cannot even obtain this, then you must, as a last resort, make every possible effort that for two or three months to come no further action shall be taken in Pisa without a consultation between the cardinals and the other promoters of the Council, as they might possibly disagree. There would be a manifest and natural reason for such a consultation, as the cardinals are still in Lombardy, and the bishops and abbots have not yet made their appearance. You will also point out to his Majesty the great advantage of this, especially so far as we are concerned, for it would afford us the time the better to settle our own affairs and those of the nation. Nor would it be at all extraordinary that it should bring with it some other good results, and that it should dispose minds more favorably to a peace, which it would be most reasonable the Pope should desire, and to which his Majesty has always been well inclined. But of this peace it is necessary you should speak so as not to fail in any part of the object of your mission; at the same time urging and entreating his Majesty, for the purpose of avoiding the troubles of war, or for an infinity of other reasons, not to allow any opportunity to be lost that may present itself for concluding peace, but rather to seize every chance that may be given him, and to that end to proffer him all our best efforts and good offices. You must endeavor to learn what the results of your efforts may be, and what difficulties may present themselves; not only for the purpose of advising us, but also to enable us to do all that in your judgment may seem necessary to be done in the matter.
And we desire particularly that you should fully make known our disposition in this business, so that his Majesty the king and every one else may know that we have no aim or desire for anything else than peace; and that we shall ever be ready to do all that is possible and becoming to our quality to bring it about.
We remind you to write to us from Milan and from France, promptly and carefully, all that you may have done; what hope there is for the accomplishment of our desire, and what may ultimately be the result of this whole affair of the Council.
Ex Palatio Florentino, die 10 Septembris MDXI.
Decemviri Libertatis et Baliæ Reipubl. Flor.
[* ]Roberto Acciaiuoli, Florentine Ambassador to the Court of France, where he arrived at the very moment of Machiavelli’s departure, after having fulfilled the object of his previous mission to France.