Front Page Titles (by Subject) MISSION TO FRANCESCO GUICCIARDINI. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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MISSION TO FRANCESCO GUICCIARDINI. - 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 FRANCESCO GUICCIARDINI.
30 November, 1526.
Whenever our city and this Magistracy have in the past sent any one of its citizens on a mission similar to the present one, they always selected a person whom they believed capable; and having orally informed him of the business and of the manner of proceeding, they did not deem it necessary to give him further particular instructions, except in so far as it was a good usage of the city to remind him of the principal points of the commission which he bore. Therefore having chosen you, Niccolo, because of your capacity and integrity, the present instructions are given you, not to serve as your rule of proceeding, but to conform to the old established usage, and so that you may always remember that your commission consists in substance of the articles given below, to wit: — First, you will proceed as promptly as possible to join Messer Francesco Guicciardini, to whom you will explain (although it would scarcely seem necessary) the confusion existing in our city from want of troops, money, and chiefs. And although our means of security are very feeble for many reasons, despite of the arrival of the Lansquenets, which is known to you as well as to Guicciardini, nevertheless we should cheerfully face fortune and defend ourselves if we knew for certain that our forces were sufficient, and that the hopes which we have placed in others would not lead us to manifest ruin. It is this thought that occupies us constantly, so that only to-day we have sent Francesco Antonio Nori to the Count Pietro Navarra to induce him to accept the command of our troops. We shall make all possible provisions for our defence, if we can only be assured that the confederates and those who can help us do not withdraw to the rear. But as a republic, and one like ours especially, should keep several aims in view, carefully weighing each, so as to know their weakness or their strength, the uncertainty of the one and the security of the other, so as to be able to adopt the one that presents the least danger; therefore have we thought of sending you to his Lordship, as to one of our own citizens devotedly attached to his country, so that he may examine our situation, and say what he thinks of it according to his knowledge of events from day to day; and that we may know whether in his discretion they are of a character to allow us but little hope, and whether he, like ourselves, despairs of our safety. His Lordship must know that our idea is to open negotiations for some arrangement, rather than allow matters to come to such a point that it would be difficult to remedy them.
And as we intend to devolve the charge of this matter entirely upon him, after having made known to his Lordship our desire, which cannot be more earnest, you will leave him to negotiate as he deems proper. You will return from there so soon as you are well informed as to what his Lordship thinks of the plan of the war, of the conduct of the Lansquenets, of the demonstrations of the Duke of Ferrara, of the movement of the Spaniards of Milan and Pavia, and what is generally thought of them; of the hopes that can be based upon the Marquis of Saluzzo and the Venetian troops; and finally of all this tangled mass, both on the part of the confederates and our own, as well as the enemy’s; leaving the commission to negotiate to Messer Francesco, assuring him that such is our intention and desire, and that we thus give him all power to treat, governing himself, however, according to circumstances.
Magnificent and Illustrious Signori, etc.: —
I arrived here to-day at an early hour, and immediately called on his Lordship the Lieutenant, and presented your Lordships’ letters, and explained to him in detail the reasons of my coming. His Lordship said to me: “For the satisfaction of your Signori I will tell you first where our troops are, as well as those of the enemy; after that, I will tell you what is to be feared on the part of the enemy, and to be hoped for on the part of friends; and, lastly, what I think ought to be done in case we have to negotiate. The Lansquenets were yesterday at Quistello, a place in the Mantuan territory this side of the Lecchia; they have crossed the river to-day, and have taken the road towards Rizuolo and Gonzaga, which would indicate that they are taking the road towards Milan to join the Spaniards. These Germans number some fifteen or sixteen thousand, according to what we hear from various quarters, although one of my own men has written from Mantua that they do not number more than ten thousand. The Spaniards of Milan are still in that city, but begin to give indications of their intention to leave, having agreed with the Milanese to accept thirty thousand florins and depart; which accords with the route which the Lansquenets are taking. The Duke of Urbino finds himself, with all the troops he had brought with him, in the Mantuan territory, being quartered with the Germans, and shows no sign of moving from there, although I have several times solicited him to leave. True, he sends one of his captains to Piacenza with one thousand infantry, who will be there to-morrow. The Marquis of Saluzzo is at Vaure, a little place in the Bergamasque territory, fourteen miles from Milan and sixteen from Bergamo; he has all his troops with him, more than three hundred Venetian men-at-arms, and about one thousand infantry. The infantry of the Signor Giovanni, about three thousand in number, will be posted at Parma to-morrow. Besides these there are some four thousand troops there. So that, taking them all together, the League has over twenty thousand men in this province.
“If the Pope does not let them suffer for want of money, and they can all be brought together, we may perhaps continue to be safe; but if they lack the subsidies of his Holiness, the others will become lukewarm, and we shall have much to fear. Beyond doubt, if all these troops are kept together and are well paid, the enemy, whether they remain quiet or advance, will not be able to achieve any great results, without which, from lack of money, they will not be able to maintain themselves. For, remaining thus separated, and not agreeing amongst themselves nor having confidence in each other, little good can be expected from them. Since the enemy has shown signs of wishing to unite, he will in my opinion give us some days of quiet to think of peace or war; but when once he has united all his forces it is not reasonable to expect that he will lose any time, but will attack either the Venetian possessions, or those of the Church, or he will move into Tuscany. In the first two cases, you will have time to think of your affairs. In the third, I cannot for certain promise you other assistance than the six or seven thousand troops which the Church has here; because, with my knowledge of the Venetian character, you cannot count upon them for anything under similar circumstances. As to the French, I cannot say whether they will rather follow the advice of the Venetians, or that which will remind them of your necessities, and I will therefore express no opinion on the subject, but shall abide events. Therefore write to your Signori all I have told you, and assure them that I shall not fail to make every effort to unite our troops, and to solicit Venice and Rome not to abandon us, but to do what I have said to you above.”
Respecting the negotiating of a peace here, the lieutenant said to me: “It seems a useless thing to me, and of no advantage; for any attempt to corrupt the Germans, or to make terms with them, would not succeed, as they and the Spaniards form the same corps. Peace negotiations should therefore be carried on with those who are authorized thereto by the Emperor, and I do not believe that the Constable de Bourbon, or any other of the commanders on this side, is so authorized. But I believe the Viceroy and Don Hugo, who are on your side, have the authority; for we hear that the Viceroy with a portion of the fleet has landed at San Stefano, a port belonging to the republic of Sienna. Peace negotiations can therefore be initiated much better at Florence; and I believe the Pope has already moved in the matter, which is likely to have a good effect. In short, we see that these movements on this side will give us time to think of remedies, either by peace or by other means, and it will be well for you to make this known to your Signori.”
This is the substance of what I have been able to learn from the Lord Lieutenant, and I deem it proper to advise you of it by these presents, so that your Lordships may understand the whole matter. I shall remain here a couple of days longer, to see whether anything special occurs, so that I may return more fully informed about the state of things here.
I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
P. S. — Your Lordships will have heard of the death of the Signor Giovanni, whose loss is regretted by everybody.*
Modena, 2 December, 1526.
Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
In my letter of yesterday I reported at length what I had learned from the Lieutenant respecting affairs here, and have nothing of importance to add, but shall repeat the same very briefly, viz.: — If the enemy comes in your direction, you will be able to avail yourselves of the troops which the Church has here; these number about seven thousand infantry. But you must not count even upon all these, as a portion of them will have to be left here. Perhaps you may be able to make use of the French troops, but the Lieutenant has serious doubts upon that point. As to the Venetians, it seems pretty certain that they will want to remain at home. With regard to the commanders whom you can employ presently or with their troops, your Lordships must know that there are here but three of any importance upon whom you can rely with any degree of confidence. These are the Count Guido, Pagolo Luzzasco, commander of the Mantuan troops, and Guido Vaina; of these three your Lordships can have the one that suits you best. We have news to-day from several quarters that the Lansquenets are stationed between Guastalla and Berselli, so that they can move either upon Piacenza or Parma; and although we have no official information about this, yet it comes to us from so many quarters that we believe it.
Of the Spaniards of Milan we hear nothing further than what I wrote yesterday. The Duke of Ferrara does not stir yet; still there are two indications from which we may judge that the country is likely to be troubled. These are, first, that some months ago a truce was concluded between the inhabitants of Ferrara and those of Carpi, to the effect that the territories of each should reciprocally be respected; this truce has just expired, and the people of Carpi have declined to renew it. The other indication is, that the Duke used to keep the relays for the post that ran from Ferrara to Reggio in this place. He has now removed them, and placed them on the roads that run entirely on his own territory.
The Lieutenant, seeing that the war was being removed from here and was drawing towards Parma and Piacenza, mounted to-day at the twenty-third hour, and rode, accompanied by the Count Guido and Guido Vaina, towards Parma. I shall therefore leave here to-morrow morning, and return to Florence by short journeys, so as not to fatigue myself unnecessarily, having nothing to communicate to your Lordships beyond what I have already written. For as to peace or any other agreement that would have to be negotiated here, the Lieutenant thinks it an idle undertaking, and calculated to do harm without profiting any one. I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Modena, 3 December, 1526.
[* ]This was Giovanni de’ Medici, Capitano delle Bande Nere, who died on the 24th of November, 1526. He was the son of the famous Catharine Sforza and another Giovanni de’ Medici.