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LETTER I. - 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 and Illustrious Signori, etc.: —
I arrived here yesterday at dusk, and found here the Cardinals Santa Croce, San Malo, Cosenza, and San Severino. Santa Croce is lodged outside the citadel, and the other three within. I thought it proper to speak first with Santa Croce, partly because he is as it were their chief, and partly because I regard him as being in some way more friendly to your Lordships than the others. I had a long conversation with him in relation to the Council; and finally he thought it advisable that I should accompany him into the citadel to speak with the other cardinals; and just as we were starting to go, Cosenza and San Severino came to see him. The three withdrew and remained together some three hours or more, during which time they despatched both letters and messengers. After that they had me called in, and I repeated to the three together all that I had already said to Santa Croce. They then made me leave the room, and after a long consultation they came out themselves and told me to follow them to the Castle. There they went in to see San Malo, who was confined to his bed by an attack of gout; after having remained with him some time, they had me called in and made me repeat before San Malo what I had previously told them. The sum and substance of my remarks consisted in making known to them how greatly the Pope was irritated against your Lordships when he was informed of what had been done at Pisa,* the dangers to which our merchants had been and were still exposed, the threats which the Pope had made to attack you with his temporal and spiritual weapons; and that for that reason your Lordships had charged me to go per post to Milan to see the Viceroy, and make known to him the Pope’s disposition and preparations, and your dangers, and to ask the Viceroy to suggest a remedy for all this. And that your Lordships had also commissioned me that, if on the way I should meet with their most reverend Lordships, I should make the same facts known to them; that you saw in all this two dangers, the one real and immediate, and the other a future danger. The present and real one was the plundering of your merchants and the interdict of your city, while war constituted the future danger. And to counteract the present danger, you begged their most reverend Lordships to be pleased not to come any nearer to Florence, so as to give our merchants time to settle their affairs; and that their reverend Lordships could do this without interfering with the Council, as none of the matters that were to be brought before it were ready; nor were you prepared to combat the Pope’s temporal or spiritual powers. And then I said all that could be said in relation to the disorders that existed upon these two points, and begged them anew, in your Lordships’ name, to be pleased to delay their further advance, which they could do perfectly well without interfering with their plans; and in my effort to persuade them, I omitted nothing that could possibly be said on the subject. I told them also of the preparations of the Pope, what they consisted in, and how much he expected from the Spaniards.
Having spoken to them thus this last time in presence of San Malo, they had a long consultation amongst themselves, and then had me recalled, whereupon San Severino replied to me in the name of the others. The sum and substance of his remarks was in justification of their undertaking, and how acceptable it ought to be to all Christians and to the Almighty himself; and that the greater the participation in it, the greater would be the glory derived from it. And that when it was published six months ago that the Council would be held at Pisa, your Lordships ought to have prepared yourselves for all the consequences that might result from it, and that they could not understand how, after having had so much time, any further delay could be of advantage to you. After that he went on trying to prove to me that you had nothing to apprehend from war, because his Majesty the king of France had never had so many troops in Italy as at the present time. And here he magnified matters as much as possible, concluding finally by saying that they did not intend under any circumstances to come to Florence, but would go direct to Pisa by way of Pontremoli. That it would, however, be ten or twelve days before they should leave, as they intended to wait for the French prelates who would be here within that time, to the number of forty or more, and that they would come accompanied by learned doctors and preachers to enable them to raise the interdict; and that whoever opposed them would be adjudged an heretic. He alleged that in the year 1409, three years after your Lordships had acquired Pisa, you permitted a Council to be held there against a Pope of great sanctity; that that Council was opened only by cardinals, and that you then had manifested no fears, although the cause for that Council was not so just, nor was the support you then had so powerful as at present, when you have that of the king of France.
At this point the Cardinal Santa Croce spoke in turn, and confirmed all that San Severino had said, adding that for the love of Christ and for the good of the Church your Lordships ought cheerfully to assume the burden of this Council; that the Council at Basle had been begun by a single abbot, whilst in the present case there would be so many cardinals and prelates that they would be able to carry on work of much greater difficulty; that they intended to raise all interdicts, and would so confound the Pope that he would have other things to think of than excommunications or war.
I replied to such part of these remarks as seemed to me to require an answer, by an attempt to persuade them not to go any farther; but I could not move them to any other conclusion than what I have stated above, that is to say, that they would not hasten their departure from here, and would go to Pisa by way of Pontremoli.
When I spoke yesterday with the Cardinal Santa Croce alone, I concluded from what he said that they would have gone to Pisa ere this, if they had seen your Lordships more decidedly favorable to the Council; but seeing your irresolution had caused them to hesitate themselves. If this be so, then I believe that my representation may cause them to hesitate still more, for they seem not to consider themselves safe in Pisa; and this may perhaps produce an effect which might not be to the purpose, for they have always desired to have the French army with them, and would desire it still more now.
In fact, I learn this morning that they have sent a messenger to the Viceroy at Milan, to solicit him to come in person with three hundred lances to escort them to Pisa whenever they are prepared to go. I shall be at Milan to-night, and will see with Francesco what can be done to prevent this. In the reply which Santa Croce made in the presence of the other cardinals, he stated that it would anyhow be necessary to hold two or three sessions more at Pisa, and that then, to accommodate and please your Lordships, they would raise the Council and transfer it elsewhere.
I learned yesterday evening that San Severino was to leave here this morning for Germany, on a mission to the Emperor; the object being to persuade him to order his prelates to Pisa, with the promise that, after the Council had once been organized at Pisa, then it might be transferred wherever else his Majesty pleased. Another object of this mission is said to be the negotiation of a marriage between the Emperor and a French princess; and also to try and recover from him certain castles in the Veronese territory that were formerly obtained from his father.
It is now two o’clock of the morning, and it is at this hour that San Severino is to start. I recommend myself to your Lordships.
Al Borgo a San Donnino, 13 September, 1511.
[* ]Certain initial acts had been done by the Council at Pisa on the 1st of September, to which allusion is made in the instructions.