Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER IX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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LETTER IX. - 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.: —
If I had not received your Lordships’ letter of the 10th instant, I might have believed either that the letters which I have written had failed to reach you, or that you had regarded them as altogether superfluous, as in truth they have been. And if, on the other hand, I have not returned, it is because the Lord Lieutenant thought it best that I should remain until the Imperialists had taken a route that would prove conclusively that they were not moving upon Tuscany. Or if they did take that route, I might charge myself with some of the measures that would have to be taken, according to the instructions which I received from your Lordships before my departure from Florence; and whilst here I have attended to some of the business confided to me by his Lordship. These are the reasons why I have not written to you more frequently, and which have prevented my return. Now, however, more for the purpose of obeying your Lordships than because it is necessary, I beg to inform you that the Imperialists are at San Giovanni, some ten miles from here, where they have been for several days, but have made no movement of any kind; and although they were tempted several times by our troops, and provoked to skirmish, yet they never budged. Their generals have attempted to negotiate with Ferrara, and we hear this morning from very reliable sources that they have actually concluded an arrangement, according to which the Duke is to furnish them 6,000 sacks of bread and flour, 200 hundred horses for their artillery, 20,000 pounds of coarse and 5,000 pounds of fine powder; and when all these things have been supplied, they are to come into Tuscany by the shortest route.
As to the army of the League there are here 10,000 infantry, 600 are at Ravenna, 4,000 at Pianora, and nearly all the corps of the Signor Giovanni; and the Count Guido has 3,000 in Modena. The greater part of the Venetian troops are with the Signor Malatesta Baglioni between Reggio and Parma; the Duke of Urbino with the remainder is on the other side of the Po, unless he has passed it within the last two days. The army of the League has placed itself in these different positions, so that the enemy shall not carry out any plan they may attempt. And it is supposed that, by holding these positions, it will be able to be in Romagna or in Tuscany before the enemy, and defend either Bologna or Modena in case they should attempt to attack either. And although until now opinions have varied much as to the enemy’s intentions, yet the latest reports which I have given you above have caused great apprehensions as to Tuscany; for the large quantity of provisions that are being collected, according to the accounts from various sources, confirm these apprehensions. On the other hand, we see no movement amongst the people subject to Ferrara, which the enemy would have to traverse to go into Romagna; for common sense would at least have made them clear the road.
The Marchese del Guasto, who is sick, sent to-day to ask for a safe-conduct to enable him to go with all his family into the kingdom of Naples by way of Romagna. It does not seem reasonable that he should want to pass through a country where after his passage they would raise the cry that his troops were about to attack the country. On the other hand, the shortest road is the one of Sasso, but it is regarded by those who know the country well to be the most difficult, and the Signor Federigo da Bozzolo expresses the same opinion of it in a letter written by him to the Lord Lieutenant; and I believe that they know very well, that both on this side and towards Florence the road has been cut and fortified, so as to render it still more difficult. To come by the Alps of Crespino or San Benedetto seems to us out of all reason, so that we doubt much whether they would not have to turn back and descend into the Lucchese territory by the Garfagnana, which amongst all these difficult routes is the easiest; and once having passed it, they would find inhabitants who would furnish them supplies, but would not combat them.
The road by the Marecchia, and passing the Borgo a San Sepolcro, respecting which it seems there are some fears, is easier than that of the Garfagnana, but is much less convenient than what is believed here; and for that reason it would be easier for them to fall back three days’ march, so as to enter the Lucchese territory promptly, where they would be received with open arms, instead of having to march six or eight days through the enemy’s territory, where they would be obliged to fight their way through from the beginning.
There is another route which has come into notice within the past few days, respecting which, however, there are great doubts; it begins below Bologna four miles in the direction of Imola; it crosses the Iddice and brings up at Cavrenno and at Pietramala, and runs from there along the Stale to Barberino. This was the route which the Duke Valentino took when he attacked Florence in 1501, and is considered much less wild than that of the Sasso. There is a messenger here sent by the inhabitants of Firenzuola to learn what measures are to be taken in case our troops should move in that direction; the Lord Lieutenant has conferred with this person about that road, and has learned the same thing from him. True, he says that about four miles from Stale there is a place called Covigliano, where there is a bad pass that can be made even worse; and about a mile from there is another pass called Castro, which is difficult by nature, but can be made still more so; and the Lord Lieutenant has sent this person back to Firenzuola to have this done; and your Lordships can have this road reconnoitred and have similar work done.
It is believed that the enemy will require some days before he can get his provisions together, and we are therefore on the watch; and there is no lack of vigilance on the part of the most illustrious Legate and the Lord Lieutenant to watch the enemy’s movements, and in any event to forestall him. This is all I have to write to your Lordships, to whom I recommend myself most humbly.
Bologna, 12 March, 1527.