Front Page Titles (by Subject) MISSION TO THE CHAPTER OF THE MINORITE BROTHERS AT CARPI. * - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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MISSION TO THE CHAPTER OF THE MINORITE BROTHERS AT CARPI. * - 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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MISSION TO THE CHAPTER OF THE MINORITE BROTHERS AT CARPI.*
INSTRUCTIONS OF THE EIGHT OF PRACTICE.
You will proceed to Carpi, and manage to be there the whole of Thursday, which you must not miss. Immediately on your arrival you will present yourself before his Reverence the Father-General of the Order of the Minorite Brothers, and his assistants, who are holding their general chapter in that place, and present to them our letters of credence. After that you will say to their Reverences on our part, that they must be well aware that our republic ever has been, is, and always will be well disposed towards all pious and ecclesiastical establishments, as is proved by the number of hospitals, monasteries, and convents founded by our ancestors; and that nothing has conduced more to these pious works than the edifying example of the habits and doctrines of these religious bodies, whose conduct moved their souls to exalt and support them. And you will add, that amongst those who have been special objects on the part of our republic, and have received most benefits at our hands, are the brothers of their order, because their honesty and their exemplary lives deserved it. Unfortunately, it is true that for some time past it has seemed, and still seems, to our best and most pious citizens, that there has manifested itself amongst the brothers a lack of that spirit of sanctity which formerly put them in such good odor; and that in consequence the laymen have relaxed their charitable zeal, which made them formerly shower benefits upon the brotherhood. And in seeking for the cause we have readily found that it arises from the relaxation of discipline that has taken place in their convents. And in trying to find a remedy for this, we learn that it is impossible for this order to recover its ancient reputation, unless they form a separate and distinct organization for our Florentine dominion. In adopting that course the brothers would more easily know and correct each other, and fear more to err. Fully persuaded that there is no other course to be taken, we wish you to urge and beg these reverend fathers to do our republic the favor to constitute themselves a distinct organization for the Florentine dominion, and separate from the rest of Tuscany.
If they do this, and we believe they will not hesitate, they will be doing an act that will be most agreeable to our entire city, which by former as well as by recent services rendered to their religion deserves to obtain what she so much desires. And they will be the cause of reviving in the convents which they possess in our dominion the ancient zeal, and in our city the charity of former days. They will also remove the causes of those scandals that are likely to break out if this favor is not conceded to us. You will endeavor, therefore, by all the means in your power, to persuade the reverend fathers that such is our great desire.
You will furthermore present to them the letters of the most illustrious and most reverend Legate, the Cardinale de’ Medici, and beg them on his behalf to render us this service, as his most reverend Lordship has verbally commissioned you to do. Nor can we believe that our prayers, the love of religion, and the authority of Monsignore the most reverend Legate will fail to move them. But if with all this you do not obtain the desired result, then you will politely signify to the reverend fathers that we are resolved not to give up our project; nor do we believe that Monsignore the most reverend Legate will cease to support us, until in one way or another we accomplish our desire.
Datum Florentiæ in loco Residentiæ sub die 11 Maii 1521.
Octo Viri Practicæ Civitatis Florentiæ.
OTHER INSTRUCTIONS BY FATHER HILARION.
Inprimis, you will present yourself to me at Carpi, and I will make known to you those brothers to whom it is important you should speak; and you must endeavor to be at Carpi during the 16th, at least before vespers.
The letter to Brother Francesco da Potenza should be presented as soon as possible; you will explain to him on the part of the most illustrious and most reverend Legate, that his reverend Lordship desires that our present organization should be divided, for the reasons given below; and as his Lordship has heard that this brother is opposed to such a division, you will endeavor to persuade him to change his mind and favor the measure. For his Lordship is certain that, if Brother Francesco will favor it, success will be the result; whilst the opposite course would be the reverse of agreeable to his most reverend Lordship, who will not disappoint either the citizens or the brothers.
You will have to add, that his most reverend Lordship anticipated that he would be opposed to the Florentine brothers, and that, if this were really the case, it would be agreeable to him that in all reasonable matters he should be the friend of his friends. In fine, you will try to convince him with those persuasive words that are so natural to you.
In the letters of the Signoria and the Cardinal to the council of the assistants, you are charged to beg them, in their name, to consent that a separate organization be formed by the brothers that are in the Florentine dominion. The reason of this is, that for some time past it is reported that some of the brothers stray very far from the exemplary and edifying life to which their rules oblige them. And as they are informed that these disorders arise from a lack of discipline, they judge, together with all the other respectable people, that this will be the only seasonable remedy; and you will use the following arguments to persuade them: —
1. Because they desire the brothers to be in good, and not in bad odor, — as they have been until now.
2. Because this measure is desired by many citizens, whom their Lordships wish to satisfy.
3. Because they know that, if this measure is not adopted, it would give rise to inconveniences, of which they do not wish to hear under any circumstances, but which they desire to provide against.
4. Because they know that the brothers of their dominion, especially the good men, claim this measure as necessary for their reformation, which they cannot and will not neglect.
5. Because their Lordships desire this measure to be adopted in the customary way of proceeding by the brotherhood, and influenced by their love for their religion; and they do not wish to think of any other means.
With the above arguments, excepting the last, you may urge the measure in the name of the most reverend Cardinal; persuading the fraternity on behalf of his most reverend Lordship to satisfy the Illustrious Signoria and the citizens. You can add to your reply that the most reverend Legate viva voce oraculi has twice tried within a few days to persuade the Vicar of the order, who wanted to refer the matter to the general chapter; and he now begs and exhorts their fraternity to consent. That he deems it expedient, for the purpose of removing all inconvenience, that they should do it; and that they ought to think well, that if they do not do it his most reverend Lordship has fully done his duty; and that, if at some time hereafter the citizens wished to adopt some other expedient, his most reverend Lordship would not fail his citizens nor his brothers. All these things you must arrange in such manner and with such words as may seem most suitable.
To the most Reverend and most Illustrious Cardinale Giulio de’ Medici.
Most Reverend Father: —
As these friars did not begin their chapter until Saturday, I could not execute my commission sooner. On that day they named for their Minister-General the Soncino, who had previously been their Vicar-General. On the Sunday following, they appointed twelve Assessors, who were so called this time because the brothers from across the mountains did not want that, according to the old custom of the Italians, they should create Diffinitori, with authority to determine and define questions of religion. By this change these Assessors are elected, and these together with the Minister-General have authority to hear and examine matters, and then to report them to the chapter, which body then has power to terminate them.
I therefore presented myself yesterday morning before the Minister and the Italian Assessor. I handed them my letters, and explained to them my commission in such manner and with such remarks as I thought best calculated to persuade them to the desired course of action; and I neglected no argument which your most reverend Lordship suggested to me verbally at my departure, and which were subsequently recalled to me by Brother Hilarion. Thereupon, the reverend fathers held a long consultation amongst themselves, and then had me called in and expressed to me first the great obligations which they owed to our republic, to your illustrious house, and finally to your most reverend Lordship; that they wanted not only in thought, but in fact, to do what would be most agreeable to all; and that they knew full well that the motives of the Magistracy of the Eight and the desires of your most reverend Lordship were good, and inspired by the most just and most reasonable considerations. But what was asked of them was in itself of such importance as no other question that the order had been called upon to treat for two hundred years; and therefore it was necessary to give it the most careful examination, together with the advice and opinion of the other fathers of the chapter, as they had no authority to act without them. That they would endeavor before the dissolution of the chapter to arrive at some definite conclusion, that would be satisfactory to the illustrious Magistracy of the Eight, as well as to your most reverend Lordship. But as the question was a knotty and difficult one, and could not be so readily disposed of, and at the same time to prove their good disposition to the illustrious Signori of the Eight and to your most reverend Lordship, and so that I should not be obliged to wait here several days in vain, they would write to the illustrious Signori and to your most reverend Lordship the same as they had told me, and that I could carry their reply away with me. And thus in all they said they showed on the one hand the desire they had to oblige those who had requested them, and on the other hand the importance and difficulty of the subject; alleging the same reasons which your most reverend Lordship may have heard on former occasions.
I did not fail to reply to them in the warmest manner possible, and urged them to leave these difficulties aside, and frankly to come to a definite result; telling them particularly that I had not been sent by the illustrious magistracy to dispute about this matter, which they had themselves most carefully examined and discussed, but to make known their wishes to the reverend fathers, and to beg them to satisfy the same, which could only be done by complying with their request. I said, furthermore, that I saw two points in their answer calculated to displease the illustrious Signori; the one was the prolixity of their resolution, and the other, their attempt to negotiate about it, and remit the question to the chapter. For they well knew that, when a few persons do not want to do a thing and wish to make difficulties, they remit it to the multitude. But that this point had been thought of, and provided against in such manner that not only their reverences united, but the Minister-General by himself, had authority from the Pope to conclude such a separation, without having to submit it to the chapter; and that, moreover, the briefs themselves imposed this upon them, saying, “habito prius maturo examine, et super hoc onerando conscientias vestras.” But that we must not think ill of them, as they would really do everything in their power to satisfy us. And thus, after many words on both sides, no other conclusion was reached.
Before speaking to all the fathers together, I had a special conversation with Father Potenza, and presented to him your most reverend Lordship’s letter, and pressed him hard, on your part, to show himself favorable to your wishes in this matter, intimating to him dexterously that it was wisdom on the part of men to know how to give that which they could neither sell nor keep. It is impossible to evince greater warmth in desiring to favor the matter than he did, protesting that he was the slave of your most reverend Lordship, whose slightest indications were commands for him. After that I spoke with all the others, one at a time, employing more ardent and pressing language than I had done in speaking to them all in a body, as your reverend Lordship had suggested to me. All pointed out the difficulty of carrying the matter through, and the disorder that would result from it if done; but all of them protested that your most reverend Lordship should be satisfied. From the expressions used by some of them, I am inclined to believe that they will commit the matter to their Minister-General, who, accompanied by three or four of the other fathers, will come to Tuscany to discuss and settle the matter there. If this course is taken, then Brother Hilarion feels sure that it will be concluded to our satisfaction.
Having thus done all that I have reported to your most reverend Lordship, and having the letters which the reverend fathers have charged me with, Brother Hilarion thought that I had better mount and use all diligence to reach Florence on Wednesday evening in time to enable the Eight of Practice to write another letter that would reach them before the dissolution of the chapter, which is fixed for Saturday or Sunday next. That letter should say to them that the Eight are not at all satisfied with the delay of the fathers in coming to a decision, and should conclude, in few but earnest words, that no other decision would satisfy them except such as would effectually make the desired division.
I arrived this evening here in Modena with that commission and order, but find that riding in such haste does not at all agree with me, owing to my being quite indisposed. I remember, also, that by order of your most reverend Lordship I was to remain here one or two days; and therefore thought it well to write to your most reverend Lordship, and give you information upon all points, which will answer the same as my coming in person, especially as it will be there quicker, in case you should conclude to write to them again before the dissolution of the chapter.
Messer Gismondi dei Sali, business agent of the Signor Alberto, has rendered very great service in this affair, of which I wished to bear testimony to your most reverend Lordship; for in words and in acts he shows himself most devoted to your most reverend Lordship, to whom I recommend myself.
[* ]After eight years of strictly private life Machiavelli reappeared in the public service through the efforts of the Cardinale Giulio de’ Medici, afterwards Pope Clement VII., and was sent by the Magistracy of the Eight of Practice as Nuncio or Ambassador to the Chapter of the Minorite Brothers, which was held at Carpi in 1521. The object of this mission was to induce this brotherhood to form a separate and distinct organization for the Florentine dominion, it being desired by these friars themselves, and especially by a certain Brother Hilarion of that order, who had the confidence of the above-named Cardinale de’ Medici, and was mainly instrumental in inducing him to have this mission decided upon. Machiavelli remained but a few days at Carpi, where he also received a commission from the Consuls of the Wool Guild to procure a good preacher for the Metropolitan Church of Florence for the next Lent.