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LETTER III. - 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 was of the 17th; I sent it through Pandolfini by royal post. Machiavelli arrived here safely day before yesterday. Besides your Lordships’ letter of the 10th, which he brought with him, he has informed me of the object of his mission; and as Robertet happens to be here, and his Majesty the king being about three leagues from here, we thought it best not to go to see him the first day, but to wait until the next morning when we should find Robertet with the king, so that he could be present at our audience in case it should be necessary to expedite some order. We therefore went next morning to court, having previously examined the instructions and made a brief of all the arguments that could influence the king to enter into your Lordships’ views. Accordingly we presented ourselves before his Majesty, and after the first homage of Machiavelli and the customary ceremonies, we read to his Majesty a statement prepared from your Lordships’ commission, in which we had embodied all the arguments that seemed most suitable and calculated to produce the desired effect of making his Majesty relish the better and consider with more attention the propositions we had to make. His Majesty listened cheerfully and attentively, showing that he attached great value to your representations and advice.
Our statement contained three principal points, the first of which was to urge his Majesty to make peace, and dissolve the Council by some reasonable agreement, and to offer him mediators, etc. To this the king replied, “Would to God that you could bring matters to that point, for there is nothing that I desire so much, and I should feel very grateful to whoever brings it about,” — showing us that upon that point he had always the same desire, and that he had never agreed to this Council except for the purpose of bringing the Pope to some agreement; and therefore he said, “If now we were to raise the Council, the Pope would not want to hear anything more of peace.” To this we replied, that that idea seemed to us without foundation, inasmuch as, according to all the indications, this Council was more apt to provoke war than peace, and that it was this apprehension that caused the Pope to look rather to a resort to arms than to ask for peace. To our second proposition, which had for its object a change in the locality where the Council was to be held, the king answered promptly and resolutely: “This also is impossible, for I see no way in which it could be done, as it is necessary that the cardinals and prelates should proceed to Pisa for certain indispensable acts that have to be done there. But measures could be taken so that they shall remain there as short a time as possible, and this I shall urge upon them.” He could not precisely specify these acts, not being familiar with the terms employed in business of this kind. And then his Majesty added: “For some days we have thought of everything that could relieve us from this burden and embarrassment, and have had the whole subject revised and studied minutely, so as to see whether it could be arranged that the Council should not be held at Pisa; but having in the first instance been convoked in that city, it has been found that the Council cannot be removed from there without prejudice to our rights. If it had been possible, we should gladly have had it transferred to Vercelli, to which place the cardinals and other members of the Council could easily remove for this purpose, after having made at Pisa their first, second, and third station” (that is the word he used). “I do not, therefore, see the possibility of yielding to your demands. And moreover, I cannot act without the will and consent of the King of the Romans and the cardinals, with whom I have agreed not to do anything in relation to this business without their concurrence. And after having given them the order to proceed there, and having invited our Gallican Church to take the same way, I do not see how I can now retract.”
And as we observed upon this point that the Council, if held at Pisa, would not merely bring upon us the censures of the Church, and reprisals upon the persons and goods of our merchants, but would also kindle a war of such a character that the republic could not support it, and which would expose him to the gravest troubles and endless expense, his Majesty replied that it was necessary that the merchants should be relieved as much as possible, although he really did not believe that the Pope would harm them in any way. As to the war that might result from it, his Majesty did not seem to fear it much, as he did not believe that the king of Spain would take a hand in it, for he had had most excellent letters and several embassies from that sovereign; and therefore he advised us to have no apprehensions upon that point. His Majesty and Robertet, as well as ourselves, came back several times to this subject, and we believe that we did not omit a single argument calculated to decide the king; so that his final conclusion was, that it was his will and desire to gratify your Lordships, but, as the Council had once been convoked at Pisa, it was impossible now to transfer it elsewhere. So far as we could judge from the King’s countenance, gesticulations, and words, as well as those of Robertet, we concluded that it was against his own inclination that his Majesty had refused to accede to your Lordships’ request, both on account of the danger to which it exposed us, in which he would be equally involved, as well as on account of the expense and anxiety which it would cause him; and that, if he alone had to decide this matter, he would not have refused. But the considerations referred to above seem to have prevented his complying with your Lordships’ wishes; and these considerations are the conventions made with the Emperor and the cardinals, his having directed all the clergy of the Gallican Church to attend the Council at Pisa, his having from the first published Pisa as the locality for its meeting, and finally his unwillingness to abandon these reasons without the Council’s having assembled at least once in that place.
Besides these there is another reason, which the king does not state, but which we have learned from Robertet, and which is of no less importance than all the others; namely, his Majesty fears lest some, if not all, of the cardinals would be angered by such a transfer, and that in their anger they might cause the King of the Romans to change, knowing perhaps how easy it is to turn him, having but quite lately had proof of his want of firmness. Having spent considerable time in this discussion, and being convinced that we could not obtain any other result upon the first two points, we came to the third, which had for its object to gain a delay of two or three months. The advantage of this, we argued, would be that, under color of being able within that time to negotiate some agreement, we should have the opportunity of seeing the issue of the Pope’s illness, of increasing the difficulties of war by delaying it until near winter, and finally of giving more time to our people for securing themselves more effectually. His Majesty was persuaded by our arguments, and promised us to do all he could, so that between now and All Saints no one should go to Pisa; and he directed that the cardinals be written to, to defer their departure. But I do not believe that his Majesty wants the cardinals openly to know the motives of this postponement, and therefore it will be done by various expedients. The first one will be not to send them copies of the safe-conduct which they have demanded; for they have declared that they will under no circumstances go to Pisa unless they have the original safe-conduct, or a copy of the same; and therefore they will not be written to by this post, so as the longer to delay their reply. This first expedient will accomplish what has been promised to us; and this delay seems to us to the purpose, as the cardinals will not go any farther without being thoroughly secured.
Your Lordships can see now what we have done and what we have gained up to the present; and for the future we shall not fail, not only to see that the promises are fulfilled, but also to endeavor to obtain what until now has been refused.
Respecting English affairs I do not see that there is any ground for apprehensions, and here they seem to feel entirely secure upon that point. They have recently again had letters from that sovereign and from his council, which have given great satisfaction. Of the Emperor nothing of particular importance is known, except that four days ago news came that he had gone in the direction of Trent, whereupon it was immediately decided that the imperial ambassador should leave in all haste to find his Majesty. I believe the reason for this was the fear lest the Emperor should change his intentions; and therefore they have sent his own ambassador back to him to keep him firm to his purpose, and to conclude some arrangement with him.
Since then, and just as the ambassador was about to leave, fresh advices have come from the Emperor which caused them not to carry out that intention, as these advices brought satisfactory assurances from that quarter.
Not having anything further to communicate at this time, I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Blois, 24 September, 1511.
P. S. — In speaking of peace the king charged me in the greatest secrecy to write to your Lordships, and to urge you to make every possible effort to bring about such a peace; not, however, on the part of his Majesty, but as being entirely on your own account. And to request your Lordships most particularly to let it be known only to very few persons. And to act in this matter with the greater confidence, your Lordships must know that his Catholic Majesty has given the king to understand that, for the purpose of facilitating an arrangement so far as in his power, he would be willing to let Bologna remain in the present state. Monsignore di Tivoli has been informed in part of the object of Machiavelli’s coming, and was well satisfied with it. He has promised to use his good offices with the Pope in favor of the object desired by your Lordships.