Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XVI. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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LETTER XVI. - 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.: —
I have not written you for three days because so soon as the enemy moved from San Giovanni the Lord Lieutenant sent me here to provide quarters for the troops that are to arrive. Your Lordships will have learned from his letters that the enemy encamped day before yesterday at Ponte a Reno, but made no movement yesterday. The Lord President with the Marquis of Saluzzo and the Count Cajazzo, and all the rest of our troops, came here; and there remain in Bologna only the infantry of the Signor Giovanni, and those that are ordinarily stationed there. We have not yet heard to-day that the enemy has moved; and it is supposed either that they have not moved, or that they have made but little progress, so that it will take more than two days’ march for them to arrive here. If we hear of his coming here, we shall leave fifteen hundred men here. The Count Cajazzo has been sent with all his infantry to Ravenna, and thus we shall go on aiding and providing, so as to prevent the enemy from taking any important place. And if he does succeed in doing this, he will certainly be ruined; or he will be obliged to accept the truce that has been made. But if our evil fortune should prevent this truce from being definitely concluded, then it will be better to avoid it by continuing the war, than to show that we desire it eagerly. For the enemy have manifested their ill feeling so openly towards Italy, and more especially towards Florence, which they regard as their prey, that until they are undeceived upon that point they will look upon any arrangement as unreasonable, unless they are moved by the authority of the Viceroy in some way that I do not understand. For it is believed that the latter, the Fieramosca, and the Marchese del Guasto act most willingly in this matter; for he has gone expressly to Rome, and the Fieramosca, according to what he writes, has done the impossible on his part. And as to the Marchese, it is reported that, having asked for a safe-conduct to go to Naples through Romagna, and not having started yet, he has renewed his request, begging that it might be granted to him with the alternative to go through Florence and Rome, as he wished to speak with the Pope and discuss these matters with him; he complains much of the wickedness of those who disturb this peace. All this is very well, and may help us to get our troops together if the war is not given up; otherwise no reasonable agreement is to be hoped for. For what sort of an arrangement can you expect from an enemy, who, despite of having the Alps between you and himself, and with the number of troops which you have on foot, still asks one hundred thousand florins of you within the space of three days, and one hundred and fifty thousand within ten days? When he gets to Florence the first thing he will ask of you will be all the movable property you possess. For without doubt (would it were not so!) the only inducement they have for advancing is the hope of pillaging your city. And there is no other way of escaping these evils but to undeceive the enemy as to your ability to resist him; and if this is to be done, then it is better to do it in the mountains than within our city walls, and to employ all the forces we have to keep him there. For if the enemy is detained in the mountains but a short time he will have to disband, as we learn from reliable quarters that if they do not succeed within the present month in taking some one of the large places, in which they will not succeed unless the places are abandoned, then they must of necessity succumb. And even if you should not succeed in defending yourselves on the other side or within the mountains, there will be nothing to prevent you from bringing the forces which you have there over to this side. For I remember in the war with Pisa, that the Pisans, wearied by its long duration, began to discuss amongst themselves whether they ought not to make terms with you. Pandolfo Petrucci, anticipating such an attempt, sent Messer Antonio da Venafro to dissuade them from it. Messer Antonio addressed them in public meeting, and after many other things said to them, “that they had passed a very tempestuous sea, and wanted now to drown themselves in a well.” I do not mention this because I think that Florence is about to abandon herself to despair, but to give you certain hope of safety provided you are willing rather to spend ten florins to secure your safety, than forty that would serve to enslave and ruin you. I recommend myself to your Lordships, quæ bene valeant.
Bologna, 2 April, 1527.