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MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS. - 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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DESCRIPTION OF THE
The Duke Valentino had returned from Lombardy, where he had gone to exculpate himself to King Louis XII. of France from the many calumnies that had been told of him on account of the revolt of Arezzo and other places in the Val di Chiana. He had stopped at Imola with the intention of uniting all his troops there for the purpose of attacking Giovanni Bentivogli, the tyrant of Bologna; as he wanted to bring that city under his dominion and make it the capital of his duchy of Romagna. When this project became known to the Vitelli and the Orsini and their adherents, they became apprehensive that the Duke would become too powerful; and that it was to be feared that after taking Bologna he would turn to destroy them, so as to remain alone under arms in Italy. They therefore appointed a meeting at Magione, in the Perugian territory, which was attended by the Cardinal, Pagolo, and the Duke Gravina Orsini, Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, Giampagolo Baglioni, tyrant of Perugia, and Messer Antonio da Venafro, envoy of Pandolfo Petrucci, chief of the government of Sienna. They discussed the aggrandizement of the Duke, and his intentions, and the necessity of checking his eager ambition, as otherwise there would be danger of their being destroyed with the rest of them. They resolved not to abandon the Bentivogli, and to endeavor to win the Florentines over to their side. Accordingly they sent agents to those places, promising help to the one, and urging the other to unite with them against the common enemy. This meeting became quickly known throughout Italy, and those peoples who were not satisfied to be under the rule of the Duke, amongst whom were the people of Urbino, took hope of a change for the better. Thus it came that, whilst minds were thus undecided, certain men of Urbino formed the plan to seize the castle of San Leo, which still held for the Duke, and availed themselves of the following opportunity. The governor was strengthening the castle, and, as he was getting some timbers brought in, the conspirators placed themselves in ambush; and whilst the drawbridge was encumbered by some beams that were being brought to the castle, so that the guard on the inside could not prevent them, the conspirators seized the opportunity and leaped upon the bridge, and thus obtained entrance into the castle. So soon as this capture became known, the whole country rose in rebellion, and recalled the old Duke; although the capture of the castle did not inspire the people with as much hope as the meeting at Magione, by means of which they hoped to obtain assistance.
So soon as the members of the assembly at Magione heard of this revolt in Urbino, they felt that they must not lose this opportunity. They at once called their troops together, for the purpose of seizing any other place that might still remain in the hands of the Duke, and sent again to Florence to solicit that republic to join them in extinguishing the conflagration that threatened her equally with themselves. They showed the Florentines how easy victory would be, and that they could never expect a more favorable opportunity. But actuated by their hatred against the Vitelli and the Orsini, from various causes, the Florentines not only declined to unite with them, but sent their secretary, Niccolo Machiavelli, to offer to the Duke Valentino shelter and assistance against his new enemies. He found the Duke at Imola, full of apprehensions because his own troops had suddenly and quite unexpectedly turned against him; so that he found himself disarmed at the very moment when war was almost upon him. But having taken courage again in consequence of the offers of the Florentines, he decided to protract the war with the few troops that he had, and to endeavor by peace negotiations to obtain assistance. This he managed in two ways: he sent to the king of France for troops, and at the same time engaged every man-at-arms, and others who followed the calling of mounted soldiers, and was careful to pay them all most exactly.
Notwithstanding all this, his enemies advanced and moved upon Fossombrone, where some of his troops had made a stand, but were routed by the Vitelli and the Orsini. This induced the Duke to try and stop these hostile attempts against him by peace negotiations; and being thoroughly skilled in the art of dissembling, he lost no chance of making his enemies understand that they were making war upon a man who was willing that they should have possession of all he had acquired, and that he merely wanted the title of prince, leaving them to have the principality. And so thoroughly did he persuade them of this that they sent the Signor Pagolo to him to negotiate a peace, and meantime they put up their arms.
But the Duke did not for a moment stop his preparations, and made every effort to increase both his infantry and his mounted force; and to prevent these preparations from being noticed, he distributed his troops separately through all the places of the Romagna. Meantime some five hundred French lances had come to him, and although he felt strong enough to revenge himself upon his enemies by open war, yet he thought it would be safer and more advantageous for him to keep up his deception, and not to stop his peace negotiations. And so well did he manage this matter, that he concluded a peace with them, according to which he confirmed to each of them their old engagements; he paid them four thousand ducats at once, and promised them not to disturb the Bentivogli. He also concluded a matrimonial alliance with Giovanni, and consented that none of them should ever be constrained to appear in person before him, except so far as it might suit themselves to do so. On the other hand, they promised to restore the duchy of Urbino to him, as well as all the other places which they had taken up to that day, to serve him in all his expeditions, and not to make war upon any one without his permission, nor to engage themselves in the service of any one else.
After the conclusion of this treaty, Guido Ubaldo, Duke of Urbino, fled again to Venice, having first caused all the fortresses in his state to be dismantled; for having full confidence in the population, he did not want these fortresses, which he believed he could not defend, to fall into the enemy’s hands, who might use them to restrain and oppress his friends. But the Duke Valentino, after having concluded this convention, and having distributed all his troops and the French lances throughout the Romagna, suddenly left Imola, about the end of November, and went to Cesena, where he remained many days, negotiating with the agents of the Vitelli and of the Orsini, who happened to be with their troops in the duchy of Urbino, as to what new enterprises were to be undertaken. But as nothing was concluded, Oliverotto da Fermo was sent to make him the offer, that, if he were disposed to undertake the conquest of Tuscany, they were ready to co-operate with him; but if not, then they would go and endeavor to capture Sinigaglia. To which the Duke replied, that he had no intention of carrying the war into Tuscany, as the Florentines were his friends; but that he should be well pleased that they should take Sinigaglia.
Very soon after that, news came that the place had capitulated, but that the citadel had refused to surrender to them, the governor being unwilling to give it up to any one except to the Duke in person; and therefore they urged him to come there at once. The opportunity seemed favorable to the Duke, and his going not likely to give umbrage, as he had been called by them, and did not go of his own accord. And to make things the more sure, he dismissed all the French troops, who returned to Lombardy, except the one hundred lances under the command of Monseigneur de Caudales, his brother-in-law; and having left Cesena about the middle of December, he went on to Fano. There he employed all the cunning and sagacity that he was capable of; he persuaded Vitelli and the Orsini to await him at Sinigaglia, assuring them that mistrust could not make the agreement between them more sincere nor more durable, and that, so far as he was concerned, he only wanted to be able to avail himself of the arms and advice of his friends. And although Vitellozzo remained very reluctant to accept the invitation, his brother’s death having taught him that a prince whom you have once offended is not to be trusted, yet he yielded to the persuasion of Pagolo Orsino, who had been corrupted by presents and promises of the Duke to wait for him at Sinigaglia. The Duke thereupon, before leaving for Fano, on the 30th of December, communicated his plan to eight of his most trusty followers, amongst whom were Don Michele and Monseigneur d’Enna, who afterwards became Cardinal. He directed them that so soon as Vitellozzo, Pagolo Orsino, the Duke Gravina, and Oliverotto came to meet him, each two of them should take one of these four between them, mentioning specially by name each one of the four which each two of them were to take between them; they were to entertain them until their arrival at Sinigaglia, and were not to permit them to leave until they had reached the Duke’s lodgings, where they were to make them prisoners. After that he ordered that all his armed force, consisting of more than two thousand horse and ten thousand infantry, should be at the break of day on the Metauro, a river five miles from Fano, and there to wait for him. Having met them there on the morning of the last day of December, he sent about two hundred of his mounted men ahead towards Sinigaglia, and then he started his infantry, after which he came himself with the remainder of his mounted force.
Fano and Sinigaglia are two cities of the Marches, situated on the shore of the Adriatic, and some fifteen miles distant from each other. Any one going to Sinigaglia has the mountains on his right hand; their base in some places stretches close down to the sea, so as to leave but a narrow space between, and at the widest place the distance between the mountains and the sea is barely two miles. The city of Sinigaglia is but little more than a bowshot’s distance from the foot of the mountains, and less than a mile from the shore. By the side of the city runs a little stream, which bathes that part of the walls of the city that looks up the road towards Fano. On approaching Sinigaglia the road runs for a considerable distance by the mountains; but on arriving at the stream that bathes the walls of Sinigaglia, the road turns to the left, and follows the banks of the stream for about a bowshot’s distance, until it comes to a bridge that spans the stream almost in face of the gate by which you enter Sinigaglia, not in a straight line, but obliquely. Before the gate there is a suburb composed of some houses and a square, one side of which is formed by the bank of the little stream.
The Vitelli and the Orsini, having given orders to await the coming of the Duke, had, by way of personally showing him honor, and for the purpose of lodging his troops, sent their own away to some castles about six miles distant from Sinigaglia, and had only left Oliverotto with his men in Sinigaglia; these consisted of one thousand infantry and one hundred and fifty mounted men, who were quartered in the above-mentioned suburb. Matters being thus arranged, the Duke Valentino went towards Sinigaglia; and when the head of his cavalry had reached the bridge, they did not pass it, but halted, and one half faced the river, and the other half fronted towards the country, leaving a space between them for the infantry to pass through, who entered the place without halting. Vitellozzo, Pagolo and the Duke Gravina, mounted on mules, and accompanied by a few horsemen, came to meet the Duke. Vitellozzo was without arms, and wore a cloak lined with green; he seemed very sad, as though he had a presentiment of the death that awaited him, which caused some astonishment, as his valor and former fortune were well known. It was said that, when he parted from his troops to come to Sinigaglia for the purpose of meeting the Duke, it seemed as though he bade them good by forever. He recommended his house and fortune to his captains, and admonished his nephews not to remember the fortune of their house, but only the valor of their fathers.
When the three arrived before the Duke, they saluted him courteously, and were graciously received by him; and those to whom the Duke had committed their charge took them at once between them. But when the Duke noticed that Oliverotto was not with them, (he having remained with his troops at Sinigaglia, whom he kept arrayed in line in the square opposite his lodgings by the river, where he made them go through their exercises,) he gave a wink to Don Michele, to whose charge Oliverotto had been confided, to see that Oliverotto should not escape. Don Michele therefore rode ahead, and having found Oliverotto he told him that this was not the time to keep the troops out of their quarters, which might otherwise be taken from them by the troops of the Duke; and therefore he advised him to let the troops go into their quarters, and come himself with him to meet the Duke. Oliverotto followed this advice, and went to join the Duke, who so soon as he saw him called him; and after having duly saluted the Duke, he joined the others.
When they had entered Sinigaglia they all dismounted at the Duke’s lodgings, and, having entered with him into an inner chamber, they were all made prisoners. The Duke immediately mounted his horse and ordered the troops of Oliverotto and the Orsini to be disarmed and stripped. Oliverotto’s troops, being near by, were completely stripped, but those of the Vitelli and the Orsini, being at a distance and having apprehended the destruction of their masters, had time to unite, and, recalling the valor and discipline of the Orsini and the Vitelli, drew together, and succeeded in saving themselves despite of the efforts of the people of the country and the hostile troops. The Duke’s soldiers, not satisfied with plundering the troops of Oliverotto, began to sack Sinigaglia, and they would have completely pillaged the town, if the Duke had not repressed their rapacity by having a number of them put to death.
But when night came and the disturbances were stopped, the Duke thought it time to make way with Vitellozzo and Oliverotto; and having them both brought into the same chamber, he had them strangled. Neither of them before death said a single word worthy of their past lives. Vitellozzo conjured those who put him to death to implore the Pope to grant him a plenary indulgence for all his crimes. Oliverotto, weeping, cast all the blame for the injuries done the Duke upon Vitellozzo. Pagolo and the Duke Gravina Orsini were left alive until Duke Valentino heard that the Pope had seized the Cardinal Orsino, the Archbishop of Florence, and Messer Jacopo da Santa Croce. After having received this intelligence, the Signor Pagolo and the Duke Gravina were strangled in the same way as the others, at Castel della Pieve, on the 18th of January, 1503.
REPORT ON THE AFFAIRS OF GERMANY.
No one can doubt the power of Germany, for she abounds in population, wealth, and troops. As to riches, there is not a community that has not a considerable amount in the public treasury; it is said that Strasburg alone has several millions of florins so placed. This arises from the fact that they have no expenses for which they draw money from the treasury, except to keep up their munitions, which, when once provided, require very little to keep them up. The order established in these matters is really admirable; for they always keep in the public magazines grain, drink, and fuel enough for one year. They also keep a supply of the raw material for their industries, so that in case of siege they can feed the people, and supply those who live by the labor of their hands with the necessary materials for an entire year without any loss.
They spend nothing for soldiers, for they keep all their men armed and exercised, and on holidays these men, instead of amusing themselves with idle play, exercise themselves, some with the gun, some with the pike, and some with one or another kind of arms; for which exercises they have established prizes of honor and other rewards. These are their only expenses, for in other matters they spend very little; and thus every community is rich in public treasure.
The reason why the private citizens are rich is, that they live as if they were poor; they do not build, and spend nothing on dress or costly furniture in their houses. They are satisfied with having plenty of bread and meat, and a stove where they can take refuge from the cold; and those who have no other things are satisfied to do without them, and do not seek after them. They spend two florins in ten years for clothing to put on their backs; all live in this proportion, according to their rank, caring little for what they have not, but only for that which is strictly necessary; and their necessities are much less than ours. With such habits, it is natural that the money does not go out of the country, the people being content with what their country produces. But money is always being brought into the country by those who come to purchase the products of their industry, with which they supply almost all Italy. And the profit which they make is so much the greater, as the larger part of the money which they receive is for the labor of their hands only, and but little is for the raw material employed. And thus they enjoy their rough life and liberty, and for that reason they will not take service to go to war, unless they are exorbitantly paid; and this alone will not satisfy them, unless they are ordered by their communities. And therefore does the Emperor of Germany require much more money than any other sovereign, for the more prosperous the men are, the more unwillingly do they take service for the wars.
It may happen that the cities unite with the princes to favor the enterprises of the Emperor, or that they desire to do so by themselves, which would be quite sufficient. But neither cities nor princes would like the aggrandizement of the Emperor; for if he ever had any states of his own, or were to become powerful, he would so subdue and abase the princes, and would reduce them to that degree of obedience, that he could avail himself of them at his will, and not when it suited them; as the king of France does nowadays, and as was formerly done by King Louis XI., who by making war upon some of the princes, and killing others, reduced them to the degree of submission in which we see them now. The same would happen to the free cities of Germany, for the Emperor would want to reduce them to such a degree of obedience that he could control them at his pleasure, and obtain from them whatever he might ask, and not what might seem good to them.
The want of union between the free cities and the princes arises from the many contrary dispositions and interests that exist in that country. But reducing these to two principal divisions, it may be said that the Swiss are hostile to all Germany, and the princes to the Emperor. And yet it seems a strange thing to say that the Swiss and the free communities of Germany are inimical to each other, whilst both have one and the same object, namely to save their liberties, and to protect themselves against the princes. But their disunion arises from this, that the Swiss are not only hostile to the princes, the same as the free communities, but they are equally hostile to the gentlemen, for in their country there is no difference of rank; and all, with the exception only of those who sit as magistrates, enjoy without distinction an equal and entire liberty. This example of the Swiss alarms the gentlemen in the free communities, and their whole occupation is to keep up the disunion and enmity between them and the Swiss. These have furthermore for enemies all those men of the communities who make war their trade, owing to a natural jealousy lest these should be more esteemed than themselves. So that you cannot bring ever so few or so many together in one camp without their quarrelling or coming to blows.
As to the enmity of the princes towards the cities and the Swiss, that is so well known as to make any discussion of it unnecessary; the same with regard to the hostility between the Emperor and the princes. It is well to bear in mind that the Emperor, instigated by his hatred of the princes, and unable to lower their pretensions by himself, has sought the support of the free cities; and for the same reasons he has for some time past taken the Swiss into his service, and has to some extent gained their confidence.
Considering now all these differences, and adding those that exist between one prince and another, and one community and another, it will be seen how difficult it is to obtain in the Empire that unanimity which is so necessary for an Emperor to carry out his projects. But what makes the enterprises of Germany vigorous and easy of success is, that there is not in all Germany a prince who would dare to oppose the designs of the Emperor, as used to be the case formerly. And yet it must be borne in mind that it is quite a sufficient impediment for an Emperor not to be aided by the princes in any of his projects; for those who will not make open war upon him will nevertheless dare to refuse him their support, and those who will not dare to refuse him aid and support will yet dare not to fulfil the promises which they may have made to the Emperor, while some who will not even dare this will yet venture to be so slow in the execution of their promises, that their performance will no longer be in time to be of value. All this impedes and deranges the Emperor’s plans.
The truth of this was shown when the Emperor wanted to pass into Italy the first time, contrary to the wishes of the Venetians and the French. At the Diet held at that time in Constanz, the cities of Germany promised the Emperor sixteen thousand infantry and three thousand horse; and yet they could never get enough of them together to make five thousand men. The reason of this was, that, so soon as the contingent of one community arrived, that of another went home because they had completed their term of service. Some cities, for the purpose of exemption from service, gave money, which it was not difficult to induce the Emperor to accept. And for this and other reasons the promised number of troops was never brought together, and the enterprise failed in consequence.
The power of Germany certainly resides more in the cities than in the princes; for the latter are of two kinds, temporal and spiritual. The first have been reduced to great weakness, partly through their own acts, each principality being subdivided amongst several princes, in consequence of the laws of inheritance which they observe; and partly because the Emperor has debased their power, by the aid of the cities, as stated above, so that they have become as it were useless friends. As for the ecclesiastical princes, if not reduced by hereditary divisions, yet have they been brought very low by the ambition of their communities, sustained by the favor of the Emperor; so that the Archbishop Electors, and other dignitaries of this sort, have no power or influence in their own large communities. The consequence is that the division existing between them and their cities prevents their aiding the Emperor’s undertakings, even if they had the wish to do so.
But we come now to the free and imperial cities, which are the real nerve of the Empire, and have money as well as a good organization. For many reasons they enjoy their liberty with indifference, and have no desire to aggrandize their power; and what they do not desire for themselves they care little for others to have. Moreover, as there are a good many of them, and each one governs herself independently, their resolutions, when they wish to decide upon anything, are slow, and have not the desired efficiency. The following is an instance of it. Not many years since, the Swiss assailed the states of the Emperor Maximilian and Suabia. His Majesty agreed with these communities to repel the enemy, and the free cities obligated themselves to put and keep in the field fourteen thousand men; but they never got the half of that number together, for when the troops of one community arrived, those of another went home. So that the Emperor, despairing of success, made terms with the Swiss, leaving them the city of Basle. Now if such was the conduct of these communities where their own interests were involved, think what they would do to aid the enterprises of others. All these considerations taken together diminish the power of these cities considerably, and render them of little advantage to the Emperor.
Owing to the extensive trade which the Venetians have with the merchants of the German cities, they have understood this better than any one else; but in all matters that they have had to do or to negotiate with the Emperor, they have never swerved from a strictly honorable course. For if they had feared the German power, they would have employed some other means, either in the way of money or by the cession of some place; or if they had believed that that power could have been united, they would never have opposed it; but knowing the impossibility of that, they opposed it courageously, and bided their opportunity.
If, therefore, in one of these cities the affairs that concern a great number of citizens are neglected, by how much greater reason will they be even more neglected in so great an empire. Moreover, these cities know very well that every acquisition made in Italy or elsewhere would only be for the benefit of the princes, and not for their own, inasmuch as the princes can enjoy them personally, which a community cannot do; and whenever the reward is unequal, men do not like to spend equally. Thus the power of these cities is great, but it is such that you cannot avail yourself of it. If those who fear Germany had examined the above-explained causes, and the results which this power has achieved for many years past, they would have seen to what extent it can be depended upon.
The German men-at-arms are very well mounted, and those parts that are usually protected are very well covered by armor, but their horses are heavy. And I must say that in a fight with Italians or French they would not be able to resist; not on account of the men, but they use no kind of general armor for the horses; their saddles are small and are without saddlebows, so that the least shock unhorses the men. Another thing that renders them less effective is that the lower part of their bodies, that is to say their thighs and legs, are not protected by any armor; thus they are unable to resist the first shock, in which the value of the men-at-arms and their service consists.
For that reason they cannot use short arms, as they and their horses are so easily wounded in those parts that are not protected by armor. This puts it in the power of every foot soldier to unhorse or run them through the body with his pike; and moreover, when their horses get very much excited, their weight prevents them from being properly controlled. Their infantry is excellent, and the men are of fine stature, — very different from the Swiss, who are small, and neither clean nor good-looking. The greater part of the infantry is armed only with a pike or a short sword, so as to be more active, expeditious, and light. They are in the habit of saying that they do this because they have no other enemy but the artillery, from the effects of which neither breastplate, corselet, nor gorget can protect them. They fear no other weapons, for they say that their discipline is such that it is impossible to penetrate their ranks, or to approach them nearer than the length of a pike.
They are most excellent troops for a battle in the open field, but are not good for a siege, nor for defending a city; and generally speaking, where they cannot preserve their order and their ranks they are not to be depended upon. Experience has proved this; for whenever they have had to do with Italians, and especially when they have had to besiege a town, as was the case at Padua and other places, they gave but poor account of themselves; whilst, on the contrary, wherever they found themselves in the open field, they have always shown to advantage. So at the battle of Ravenna, between the French and the Spaniards, the French would have lost the day if they had not had the German Lansquenets. For whilst the men-at-arms of the opposing armies were engaged hand to hand, the Spaniards had already routed the French and Gascon infantry; and if the Germans, with their well-ordered ranks, had not come to their support, they would have been all killed or taken prisoners. And so it was lately when the Catholic King declared war against France, and made an attack in Guienne; the Spaniards were more afraid of a body of ten thousand German troops which the king of France had, than of all the rest of his infantry, and avoided every occasion of meeting the Germans hand to hand.
SECOND REPORT ON THE AFFAIRS OF GERMANY.
In June last the Emperor held a Diet at Constanz of all the princes of Germany, to provide for his passage into Italy, for the purpose of being crowned. He had called this Diet of his own accord, and also because he had been urged to it by the Pope’s envoy, who promised him powerful support on the part of the pontiff. The Emperor demanded of the Diet for his enterprise three thousand mounted men and sixteen thousand infantry, and pledged himself to add as many as thirty thousand men of his own. The reasons why he did not ask for more troops for so important an enterprise were, first, that he believed that that number would suffice; persuaded that he would have the support of the Venetians and other powers of Italy, as I will explain hereafter. He could never have believed that the Venetians would fail him, as he had but lately rendered them important services, when they were afraid of France, after her conquest of Genoa; for he had then sent at their request two thousand troops to Trent. He started the report that he intended to assemble all the princes; but, instead, went off into Suabia to threaten the Swiss, if they did not abandon their alliance with France. This caused King Louis to return to Lyons immediately after taking Genoa; so that the Emperor believed that he had saved the Venetians from a war which they feared, and that therefore they ought to be very grateful to him; in fact, he said several times that “he had no better friends in all Italy than the Venetians.”
The other reason why the Emperor had asked for so small a number of troops from the Diet was, that they would much more readily grant him that small number, than if he had asked for more, and would more likely keep their promise. And because the Diet would more readily place them all under his command, without trying to give them commanders in the name of the Empire, who would be his companions rather than his captains. In fact, there were several members of the Diet, and the Archbishop of Mayence amongst them, who wished to push this enterprise with great vigor, and wanted to provide at least forty thousand men, and give them four commanders in the name of the Empire. Whereupon the Emperor became angry, and said, “I can carry this enterprise through by myself, and therefore want the honors of it.” The Diet thereupon voted him the nineteen thousand men, and decided moreover to give him one hundred and twenty thousand florins, to supply the army with necessaries, and to hire five thousand Swiss for six months, as he might think fit. The Emperor proposed that the men should assemble by the day of San Gallo, that seeming to him ample time to get them together, and convenient for their method of carrying on a war. He stated, moreover, that in the mean time he should be able to accomplish three things: the one, to win over the Venetians, whom he never mistrusted until the last moment, although their ambassador had been sent away, as was well known; the second, to make sure of the Swiss; and the third, to draw from the Pope and other states of Italy a goodly sum of money. He went on therefore with his negotiations; the day of San Gallo came, and the men began to collect, but the Emperor had not accomplished any one of the three things just mentioned. But as it seemed to him that he could not start, and not having as yet any doubts as to his final success, he sent some of the troops to Trent and some to other places; and did not stop his manœuvres until January came, and he had consumed one half of the time, and half of the supplies accorded to him by the Empire, without having accomplished anything. Finding himself in this position, he made the utmost efforts to win the Venetians. First he sent Fra Bianco to them, and then the priest Lucas; he sent the despot of the Morea, and at several intervals he sent his own heralds to them. But the more he went after them, the more they discovered his weakness, and the more they withdrew from him; for they found in all his promises not one of the motives that induce states to form alliances, which are either the common defence, or the fear of being attacked, or simply their advantage. But they saw clearly that they would enter into an alliance where all the expense and danger were theirs, whilst the advantage would be all the Emperor’s. The Emperor, however, having no other course open to him, decided to attack them without further loss of time; thinking that perchance this might induce them to change their course. Perhaps this proceeding may have been suggested to him by his envoys; or he may have hoped that such an attack might induce the Empire to keep its engagements, and might possibly even influence them to augment his subsidies, seeing that the first did not suffice. But as he knew that before the arrival of such increased support he could not continue the war, nor abandon the country to the discretion of the enemy, he called a Diet of the people of Tyrol to meet on the 8th of January at the town of Botzen, which is about a day’s march above Trent. This principality, which he had inherited from his uncle, gave him a revenue of more than three hundred thousand florins, without being obliged to lay any taxes. He could levy there over sixteen thousand troops, and the inhabitants there are nearly all wealthy. This Diet remained in session nineteen days, and finally concluded to concede to the Emperor one thousand men for his descent into Italy; and if that number did not suffice, they would give him five thousand for three months, and would even go as far as ten thousand men, if the defence of the country required it.
After this conclusion the Emperor went to Trent, and on the 6th of February he made two attacks, the one upon Roveredo, and the other upon Vicenza, having only five thousand men, or even less, for these two assaults. Thereupon he suddenly left, and with a body of only about fifteen hundred infantry and peasants threw himself into the Val di Codaura in the direction of Treviso, ravaging a valley and taking certain strongholds. But seeing that the Venetians did not budge, he left his troops without notice, and retraced his steps to ascertain the intention of the Empire. The troops which he had left in the Val di Codaura were all killed, in consequence of which he sent the Duke of Brunswick there, but nothing was afterwards heard of him. He convoked the Diet in Suabia for the third Sunday in Lent; but as he had perceived that the members were not well disposed towards him, he went off to Guelders, and sent the priest Lucas to the Venetians to try to bring about the truce, which was concluded on the 6th of the present month of June, after having lost all that he possessed in the Friuli, and being on the point of losing Trent also. But that place was defended by the people of the Tyrol; so far as the Emperor was concerned, however, and the troops of the Empire, Trent would have been lost; for these troops left for home at the most critical moment of the war, when their six months’ service had expired.
I know that people hearing this, and having seen it, will wonder and lose themselves in various conjectures, and cannot imagine why nothing has been seen of those nineteen thousand men which the Empire had promised, and how it is that Germany has not more keenly felt the loss of her honor, or how the Emperor could have deceived himself so completely. And thus every one varies in his ideas as to what is to be feared or hoped for the future, and what course matters may take. But as I was on the spot, and have heard the matter often discussed by many different persons, and having no other business but to observe this, I shall report all the facts that seemed to me worth noting. And if these observations do not explain everything distinctly, all of them taken together may perhaps solve the above questions. Nor do I give them as absolutely true or reasonable, but I report them only as having heard them; it seeming to me the duty of a servant to place before his master all that he learns and that may be of interest to him, so that he may make use of it for his advantage.
All whom I have heard speak on the subject agree that, if the Emperor could have done one of two things, he would certainly have succeeded in his designs upon Italy, considering the condition in which she is at present. And these things are, either that he should have changed his nature, or that Germany should have supported him in good earnest. Examining now the first, they say that, considering his resources, and supposing that he knew how to avail himself of them, he would not be inferior to any other monarch of Christendom. His states are said to give him a revenue of six hundred thousand florins, without any taxes, and his office as Emperor gives him an additional one hundred thousand florins. This income is entirely his own, and obliges him to no expense whatsoever. He does not expend one penny for either of the three items for which other sovereigns are obliged to provide; that is, he keeps no men-at-arms, he pays no garrisons of fortresses, nor any officials of the cities. For the gentlemen of the country owe him military service, the fortresses are guarded by the inhabitants, and the cities have their burgomasters, etc., who administer their affairs.
He might nevertheless, if he were, for instance, like the king of Spain, provide in a little time such means as would insure the success of any enterprise. For with a revenue of eight to nine hundred thousand florins the Empire would not be so small a matter, nor would his country be so niggardly, but what he could easily increase his income; and thus with the convenience of declaring war suddenly, having troops prepared for war in every place, and being provided with money, he could carry the war promptly to every point, and fall unawares upon his enemies. Add to this the credit which it gives him to have the nephew of the king of Castile with him, the Duke of Burgundy, and the Count of Flanders, and his connection with England. All these things would be of such advantage, if well used, that all his designs upon Italy would without a doubt prove successful. But the Emperor, with all this income, never has a penny; and what is worse, no one knows what becomes of all his revenues.
As to the management of other matters, the priest Lucas, who is one of the Emperor’s principal agents, told me this: “The Emperor asks counsel of no one, but all the world advises him; he wants to do everything himself, but does nothing in his own way. And notwithstanding that he never communicates to any one, of his own accord, the secret designs which he has formed, yet, as their execution makes them known, he is dissuaded from them by the persons he has about him, who draw him off from his original plans. And those two qualities which many persons praise in him, the liberality and facility of his character, are the very qualities that ruin him.” This is the very reason why his intended descent into Italy caused such alarm. For his necessities increase with his victories, and it is not reasonable to suppose that he would have immediately changed his ways; and unless he should do so, if all the leaves on all the trees in Italy had become ducats, they would not suffice him. There is nothing that with money in hand he would not have obtained; and therefore were those considered wise by many who hesitated to give him money the first time, so as not to have to hesitate still more about giving it to him a second time. And if he could not by any other means have obtained money from any prince, he would have asked it by way of loan; and if he could not have borrowed it, all the expenditures made until then would have been thrown away. I will give you a strictly true instance of this. When Messer Pagolo,* on the 29th of March, made his demand, Messer Francesco Vettori having been despatched by him, I went to see him with the draft of the treaty, prepared according to your request; and when he came to that part which says, “Non possit Imperator petere aliam summam pecuniarum,” etc., he wanted to have the word “jure” inserted before “petere.” And when I asked him why, he replied that the Emperor wanted it so as to enable him to ask the money of us by way of loan; whereupon I answered him in such manner as was satisfactory to him. It must be observed that the Emperor’s frequent needs of money are the consequences of his frequent irregularities, and these necessities give rise to his frequent demands and the frequent Diets. And the little estimation in which he is held causes his feeble resolutions and their still more feeble execution.
But if the Emperor had come into Italy, you would not have been able to pay him with Diets, as Germany does; and his liberality would have been so much the worse for him, as he requires more money for carrying on a war than any other sovereign; for his people, being free and rich, are not influenced either by necessity or by affection, but serve him only by express orders of their communities, and at their own price; so that if, at the end of thirty days, the money for their pay has not come, they leave at once, and neither prayers nor promises nor threats will prevail upon them to stay, if the money is wanting. And when I say that the Germans are rich, the truth of it is easily proved. They become rich in great part because they live as if they were poor; for they neither build, nor dress, nor furnish their houses expensively. It is enough for them to have plenty of bread and meat, and to have a stove behind which they take refuge from the cold. Those who have no more conveniences do without them, and do not seek after them; they spend about two florins in ten years on their back, and every one lives according to his rank in that proportion. Nobody cares for what he has not, but only for that which is necessary to him, and their necessities are very much less than ours. The result of these habits is that no money leaves their country, as the people are content with what their country produces; and thus they enjoy their rough and free life, and will not enlist to go to war, unless they are overpaid. And even that would not suffice, if the communities do not command their going; for these reasons the Emperor requires much more money than the king of Spain, or any other sovereign, whose people have different habits.
The Emperor’s good and easy nature is the cause why all persons whom he has about him deceive him. One of the men attached to his person has told me that he can be deceived once by everybody and everything, until he has found them out. But there are so many men and so many things, that he is exposed every day to being deceived, even if he were constantly on his guard. He has endless good qualities, and if he could overcome his two qualities of weakness and easy nature, he would be a most perfect man; for he is a good commander, governs his country with great justice, is affable and gracious in his audiences, and has many other qualities of a most excellent prince; and to conclude, if he could modify the two above-mentioned defects, it is judged that he would succeed in everything he undertakes.
The power of Germany cannot be doubted by any one, for she has abundant population, wealth, and armies. As to her wealth, there is not a community that has not a considerable amount in the public treasury; it is generally said that Strasburg has several millions of florins so placed. This arises from the fact that they have no expenses from which they draw money from the treasury, except to keep up their munitions, which, when once provided, require very little to keep them up. The order established in these matters is really admirable; for they always keep in their public magazines grain, drink, and fuel enough for one year. They also keep a supply of the raw material for their industries, so that, in case of siege, they can feed the people and supply those who live by the labor of their hands for an entire year without loss. They spend nothing for soldiers, for they keep all their men armed and exercised. For salaries and other matters they spend very little, so that every community has its public treasury well filled.
It remains now that these communities unite with the princes to favor the designs of the Emperor, or that they should do so themselves without the princes, which would suffice. Those who occupy themselves with these matters say that the cause of their dissensions is to be found in the many different dispositions that exist in that country. And as to a general want of unity, they say that the Swiss are regarded as enemies by all Germany, the free cities are so regarded by the princes, and in the same way the princes by the Emperor. It may seem strange to say that the Swiss and the free cities are hostile to each other, as they both have one and the same object; namely, that of preserving their liberties and protecting themselves against the princes. But their division arises from this, that the Swiss are not only hostile to the princes, the same as the free cities, but they are also inimical to the gentlemen in the cities, because in their country there are neither princes nor nobles, and everybody enjoys perfect liberty, without any distinction amongst men, excepting only those who are members of the magistracies. This example of the Swiss alarms the nobles who still exist in the free cities, and all their efforts are directed to keeping alive this disunion and hostility. The Swiss have for enemies also all those men of the cities who devote themselves to military pursuits, being instigated by a natural jealousy, for they imagine themselves less esteemed; so that it is impossible to bring together few or many of the two countries in the same camp without their quarrelling and coming to blows.
As to the enmity of the princes towards the communities and the Swiss, it is unnecessary to say anything, as it is a notorious fact; the same as the hostility between the Emperor and the said princes. And you must know that, as the Emperor’s greatest repugnance is towards the princes, not being able by himself to humble them, he has availed himself of the support of the communities; and for the same reasons he has for some time past had negotiations with the Swiss, whose confidence he has of late gained to some degree. So that, taking into consideration all these divisions, and adding thereto those which exist between one prince and another, and one community and another, it seems almost impossible to bring about that union which is so essentially necessary for the Emperor. But what has kept everybody hopeful, and made the affairs of the Emperor for some time past so promising, and his enterprises likely to succeed, is the fact that there is not a prince in all Germany who could venture to oppose the Emperor’s designs, as has already been said above. This has been and still is the truth; and people deceive themselves in supposing that it is only war and sedition in Germany that can defeat the Emperor’s projects, for he can be thwarted as effectually merely by not supporting him. And those who would not dare to declare war against him would not hesitate to refuse him their assistance, whilst those who would not venture to refuse him their support will not fulfil the promises they have made him; and those who would not even risk doing this will yet manage to delay their compliance with their promises until their execution would no longer be of use to the Emperor. All this offends the Emperor and deranges his plans.
The truth of this may be seen in the fact that the Diet had promised him nineteen thousand men, as stated above, but we have never seen as many as five thousand together. This could only have arisen either from the above-explained causes, or because the Emperor accepted money instead of men, and was possibly satisfied to take five instead of ten.
And to explain still further as to the power and union of Germany, I would say that this power resides more in the communities than in the princes; for the princes are of two kinds, namely, temporal and spiritual. The temporal princes are reduced to a condition of great weakness, partly by their own action, each principality being divided between several princes, according to the custom of succession which they observe, and which requires such equal division; and partly because the Emperor, aided by the communities, has diminished their power, so that they have become useless as friends and little to be feared as enemies. As for the ecclesiastical princes, if their power has not been annihilated by hereditary divisions, the ambition of the communities favored by the Emperor has reduced their authority very low; so that the Archbishop Electors, and other similar dignitaries, can effect nothing in their own large communities. The consequence is, that neither themselves nor their cities, being thus divided amongst themselves, can do anything to aid the Emperor’s enterprises, even if they wished to do so.
But we come now to the free and imperial cities, which are the very nerve of the country, and who possess riches and well-regulated organization. These are for many reasons very lukewarm in their disposition to aid the Emperor’s projects; their chief aim is the preservation of their liberty, and not increase of their dominions; and what they do not desire for themselves, they care not that others should acquire. Moreover, there being so many of them, and all accustomed to govern themselves, causes their support to come very slow, even if they are willing to grant it; so that their usefulness is no longer in time. The following is an instance of this. Nine years ago the Swiss assailed the states of Maximilian and of Suabia. The Emperor agreed with the free cities to repel the enemy, and the cities promised to keep fourteen thousand men under arms, at his disposal; but they never had half of that number together, for when the contingent of one city came, the others went away; so that the Emperor, despairing of the enterprise, made terms with the Swiss, and abandoned to them the town of Basle. Now if they act in this way where their own interests are concerned, it is easy to judge as to what they are likely to do to aid the enterprises of others. All these circumstances taken together, therefore, reduce their power very much, and make it of little advantage to the Emperor.
The Venetians, owing to their extensive commercial relations with the merchants of the German cities, have understood this better than any one in Italy, and have therefore more effectually opposed the power of the Empire. But if they had feared that power, they would not have ventured to oppose it; and even if they had opposed it, and had believed that it had been possible for the whole Empire to unite against them, they would never have attacked it.
But as they were satisfied of the impossibility of such union, they did not hesitate to show themselves so bold as has been seen. Nevertheless, all the Italians that are at the Emperor’s court, and whom I have heard discuss all these questions, remain firmly attached to the hope that all Germany is on the point of uniting, and that the Emperor will throw himself into her arms; and that the plans that were discussed last year at the Diet of Constanz as regards the generals and the troops will be carried out; and that the Emperor will now yield from necessity, and the Diet will do so voluntarily, so as to recover the honor of the empire; and that they will care little about the truce, which had been concluded by the Emperor and not by them. To this others reply, that it is well not to put too much faith in things that are yet to happen, because it is seen every day that those matters which interest a great many in a city are often neglected, and that such will be the case to a much greater degree in a whole country. Moreover, the cities know that the conquest of ltaly would not be for their benefit, but for that of the princes, who can personally enjoy that country, which they could not do. And where the benefit is unequal, people are not willing to bear equal expenses; and thus opinions remain undecided, without being able to determine the events that are yet in the future.
This all that I have learned respecting Germany. As to other matters that may influence peace or war between the different princes of that country, I have heard a good deal said, but as it was all based upon mere conjectures, of which you may have more correct information and certainly better judgment, I leave them without saying anything more about them. Valete!
DISCOURSE ON THE AFFAIRS OF GERMANY AND ON THE EMPEROR.
Having written on my return here last year all I knew about the affairs of Germany and the Emperor, I am really at a loss as to what more to say on the subject. I shall confine myself therefore to a few remarks about the character of the Emperor. There is not, and perhaps never has been, a prince more wasteful than he is. This is the reason why he is always in want, and why he never has money enough, no matter in what situation he may find himself. He is very fickle, wanting one thing to-day, and next day caring nothing about it; he takes counsel from no one, and yet believes everybody. He desires what he cannot have, and leaves that which he can readily obtain; and therefore he always takes contradictory resolutions.
On the other hand he is most warlike, and knows how to maintain and conduct an army well, preserving justice and discipline. He bears any kind of fatigue as well as any other man inured to it; is courageous in danger, and as a general is not inferior to any man of the present day. He is affable in his audiences, but will grant them only when it suits him; he does not like ambassadors to come and pay their court to him, unless he sends for them; he is extremely reticent; he lives in a constant state of agitation of mind and body, and often undoes in the evening what he has concluded in the morning. This makes the missions near him very difficult, for the most important duty of an ambassador, whether sent by a prince or a republic, is to conjecture well the future, both as to negotiations and events; for he who is able to form wise conjectures, and make them well understood by his government, renders an important service, and enables his government to take timely measures. The envoy who does this does honor to himself, and benefits the government at home; and the contrary is the case when the conjectures are badly made. To illustrate this more particularly, assume that you are in a place where the question is between making war or negotiating. To perform your duty well, you have to say what the prevailing opinion is respecting the one and the other. War has to be measured by the number and quality of the troops, by the amount of money, by conduct, and by fortune; and it is to be presumed that that party which has most of these advantages is likely to be victorious. After having well considered thus who is likely to be successful, it is necessary to make it well understood here, so that the republic and yourselves may the better decide upon the course to be adopted. The negotiations are of different kinds, that is, they will be partly between the Venetians and the Emperor, partly between the Emperor and France, partly between the Emperor and the Pope, and partly between the Emperor and yourselves. Respecting the last it ought to be easy to conjecture rightly, and to judge of the Emperor’s intentions with regard to yourselves, — what he really wants, which way his mind is turned, and what could make him draw back or go forward; and having found that out, to judge whether it be more advantageous to temporize or to conclude. But it will be for you to decide as to how far your commission extends in relation to these matters.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE AFFAIRS OF FRANCE.
The Crown and the King of France are at this time more flourishing, rich, and powerful than they have ever been; and for the following reasons.
First, the Crown, being hereditary in the same family, has become rich; for as it happens sometimes that the king has no sons nor heirs to his properties, his states and substance have fallen to the Crown. As this has been the case with several kings, the Crown has been greatly enriched by the many states that have thus come to her. Such was the case with the duchy of Anjou, and such will happen to the present king, Louis XII., who, having no male heirs, will leave to the Crown the duchy of Orleans and the state of Milan; so that at this time all the best fiefs of France belong to the Crown, and not to private barons.
Another and most important cause of the power of this king is, that formerly France was kept disunited by the powerful barons, who dared on every occasion to take up arms against the king; as was the case with the Dukes of Guienne and of Bourbon, but who are now most submissive; and thus the Crown has become more powerful. A further reason is, that every neighboring prince did not hesitate to attack the kingdom of France; for there was always either the Duke of Brittany, or a Duke of Guienne, or of Burgundy, or of Flanders, ready to aid him, and to grant him passage through his territory and give him asylum in case of defeat. This happened whenever the English were at war with France, for they always caused the king embarrassments through the Duke of Brittany; as did the Duke of Burgundy by means of the Duke of Bourbon. But now that Brittany, Guienne, and the Bourbonese, as well as the greater part of Burgundy, are the most submissive provinces of France, the neighboring princes have no longer the same facilities for invading the kingdom of France; on the contrary, these provinces would now prove hostile to such an invader. And the king, having acquired these provinces, has himself become more powerful thereby, whilst the enemy has become weaker.
There is still the further reason that nowadays the richest and most powerful barons of France are of royal blood and lineage, so that, if the superior branch were to lack heirs, the Crown may descend to them. And therefore each maintains his good relations to the Crown, hoping that either himself or his descendants may some day attain that high rank.
To rebel, therefore, or to be mixed up in any way with such opposition, might be of greater injury than advantage to him. This came near happening to the present king, when made prisoner in the war of Brittany, in which he took part with that Duke against the French. And at the death of King Charles VIII. the question came up whether, by his defection from the Crown, he did not forfeit his rights to the succession. But the riches which he had accumulated by his economies enabled him to secure partisans; and the most immediate successor to the throne, if he had been out of the way, namely, the Duke of Angoulême, was but a child; and thus the present king received the crown, for the reasons stated, and from the general favor which he enjoyed.
The final reason is, that the properties of the barons of France are not divided amongst the heirs, as is the case in Germany and in the greater part of Italy; but they go entirely to the oldest sons, who are the real heirs. The other brothers submit patiently, but, aided by the older brother, they nearly all take to the profession of arms, and strive in that career to achieve a rank and wealth that will enable them also to purchase a state, and in this hope they live. And thence it comes that the French men-at-arms are nowadays the best, for they are all nobles or sons of lords, and count upon achieving the same rank as their fathers.
The infantry that is raised in France cannot be good for much, for it is a long time since they have had a war, and therefore they have no experience whatever. They are moreover all of the lower order and tradesmen from the country, and are so subordinated to the nobles and so abject in all their actions as to have become actually debased; and for that reason the king does not employ them in war, for they have given but poor proof of courage. There are however some Gascons amongst them whom the king employs, as being somewhat better than the others. This may be because they are from near the Spanish borders and bear some slight resemblance to the inhabitants of that country, although they have acted for some years past more like robbers than like real soldiers. Still, in the attack and defence of places they have not proved themselves bad, but in the open field they are good for nothing; differing in that respect very much from the Germans and the Swiss, who have no equals in the open field, but are not worth much in the attack or defence of a city. I believe this arises from the fact that in the two latter cases they cannot preserve the discipline and order which they keep in their camps; and therefore the king of France always employs Swiss or Lansquenets, for his men-at-arms have no confidence in the Gascons when opposed to an enemy. If the French infantry equalled in goodness their men-at-arms, then there can be no doubt but what they would defend themselves successfully against all other princes.
The French are by nature more ferocious than vigorous and adroit; and if you can resist the fury of their first onset, you will find them so depressed and so entirely discouraged, that they become cowardly like women. They do not support fatigue nor discomforts, and soon become neglectful of everything, so that it is easy to surprise them in disorder, and to overcome them. We have had repeated experience of this in the kingdom of Naples; and lately again on the Garigliano, where their forces were nearly double that of the Spaniards, so that it was supposed they could at any moment swallow them up. But so soon as winter began to make itself felt and the great rains commenced, they began to go off one by one into the neighboring places, to find more comfort. And thus their camp remained without sufficient force and in disorder, so that the Spaniards proved victorious, contrary to all expectation.
The same thing would have happened to the Venetians, who would not have lost the battle of Vaila if they had been content to observe the French for about ten days; but the impetuosity of Bartolommeo d’ Alviano encountered a still greater impetuosity. The Spaniards experienced the same thing at Ravenna; for if they had not attacked the French, these would have been disorganized from lack of discipline and want of provisions, which the Venetians interrupted in the direction of Ferrara, and which could have been cut off by the Spaniards on the side of Bologna. But as the first acted without good advice, so the other acted with even less judgment, and the French remained victorious, although at the cost of much blood. And though the struggle was great, it would have been greater still if the main strength of the two armies had been of the same character. But the strength of the French army consisted mainly in men-at-arms, whilst that of the Spaniards was chiefly in infantry; and for that reason the slaughter was not greater. Whoever, therefore, wishes to defeat the French must beware of their first onset; whilst keeping them at bay for a time will defeat them, for the above-stated reasons. And therefore Cæsar said that “at the beginning the French were more than men, but in the end less than women.”
By the extent of her territory and the advantages derived from her large rivers, France is very productive and opulent; but the abundant productions of the soil, as well as manual labor, have little or no value, owing to the scarcity of money amongst the people, who can scarcely get enough together to pay their dues to the lord proprietor, although the amounts are but very small. This arises from their not having an outlet for the productions of the soil, for every man gathers enough to sell some; so that if in any one place a man wanted to sell a bushel of grain, he would not find a purchaser, everybody having grain to sell. And of the money which the gentlemen draw from their tenants, they spend nothing except for their clothing; for they have cattle enough to give them meat, innumerable fowls, lakes full of fish, and parks with an abundance of every variety of game; and thus almost every gentleman lives upon his estates. In this way all the money accumulates in the hands of the proprietors, and their wealth is accordingly great; whilst the people, when they have a florin, deem themselves rich.
The prelates of France draw two fifths of their revenues and wealth from the kingdom, there being a good many bishoprics having incomes from temporal as well as spiritual sources. And as they have abundant supplies of all the necessaries of life, all the revenues and moneys that come into their hands never leave them again, according to the avaricious nature of prelates and churchmen; and all the money that is collected by the chapters and colleges of the Church is spent for silver, jewels, and costly church ornaments. Thus the Church properties and what the prelates possess privately in the way of money and silver plate, etc., amount to an immense treasure.
In the council for the direction and management of the affairs of the crown and the state of France, the prelates always constitute the majority; the other lords care nothing about this, for they know that the execution of the decisions always devolves upon them; and thus both are satisfied, the first with the direction, and the others with the execution; although at times old and experienced officers are called into the council, when military matters have to be discussed and decided, so that they may guide the prelates, who have no practical experience in these matters.
In virtue of a certain pragmatic sanction* obtained long ago from the Popes, all the Church benefices of France are bestowed by their colleges; so that, in case of the death of a bishop or an archbishop, the canons of the Church meet and confer the benefice upon the individual amongst themselves who seems to them to merit it most. It happens not unfrequently that this gives rise to dissensions amongst them, for there are always some who are favored on account of their riches, and others for their virtues and good works. The monks proceed in the same way in the election of their superiors. The other small Church benefices are bestowed by the bishops who have such livings in their gift. And if the king ever attempts to disparage this pragmatic sanction by appointing a bishop of his own choice, he would have to employ force to put him in possession, which the canons would refuse him; and if they had to yield to this force, they would abide the death of the king to expel that bishop from his see, and give it to the one elected by themselves.
The Frenchman is naturally covetous of other people’s goods, of which, together with his own, he is afterwards prodigal. Thus, the Frenchman will rob most skilfully, to eat, or to waste what he has robbed, or even to enjoy it together with the very person whom he has robbed; entirely different from the Spaniard, who will never let you see again what he has taken from you.
France fears the English, because she remembers the incursions and devastations by the latter in the realm; so that the very name of English is a terror to the people, who do not bear in mind that France is nowadays in a very different position from what she was in those unhappy times. For she is armed, experienced in war, and united, and has possession of those very provinces which served the English as a basis for their operations, such as the duchies of Brittany and of Burgundy. Moreover, the English are no longer disciplined, for it is a long while since they have had a war, so that none of the people now living have ever seen an enemy’s face; and then there is no one save the Archduke who would be willing to see them on the Continent.
The French would be much afraid of the Spaniards on account of their sagacity and vigilance. But every time that the king of Spain would attack France, he would have to do it at great disadvantage; for from that point in his kingdom from which his troops would have to start to the foot of the Pyrenees which stretch into France, the distance is so great and the country so sterile that if the French make a stand at the entrance of the Pyrenees by way of Perpignan or Guienne, the enemy’s army would be disorganized, if not from want of reinforcements, at least from the difficulty of obtaining provisions, which would have to be brought from a great distance. For the country which has to be traversed is uninhabited on account of its sterility, and those who do inhabit it have scarcely enough to sustain their own existence. For these reasons, the French do not fear the Spaniards in the direction of the Pyrenees.
Nothing is to be apprehended by the French of the Flemish, whose country is so cold that they cannot raise sufficient provisions, and particularly grain and wine, which they have to procure from Burgundy, Picardy, and some other provinces of France. Moreover, the people of Flanders live by the labor of their hands, and they readily sell the produce of their manufactures, as well as other merchandise, at the French fairs; chiefly at Lyons and Paris. They have no outlet for their wares by sea, nor in Germany, for the Germans produce and manufacture themselves even more than the Flemish. Thus, when their trade with France is interrupted, they have no other market for their merchandise, and thus their goods remain on their hands, and they are not able to purchase provisions; and therefore the Flemish never have war with France, unless they are forced to it.
The Swiss are much feared by the French, owing to their close proximity, and the facility with which they can make sudden and unexpected attacks, against which, owing to their rapidity, it is impossible to provide in time. These incursions of the Swiss, however, are mere predatory raids; for as they have neither artillery nor horses, and as the strong places which the French possess near the frontier are well supplied with munitions, the Swiss are not able to make much progress. And then the nature of the Swiss is better suited to battles in the open field than to sieges or to the defence of places. But the French of the frontier do not like to come to an open hand-to-hand fight with the Swiss, for they have no good infantry that can withstand the Swiss, and the men-at-arms without infantry do not amount to much. The country, moreover, is so formed that lances and other mounted men can but illy manœuvre there, whilst the Swiss go most unwillingly far from their frontiers to reach level ground; for they would leave behind them strong places well supplied with everything, as stated above. They would also be afraid to expose themselves thus to be short of provisions, and to be unable to return to their homes, after having penetrated into the open country.
There is nothing to be feared from the side towards Italy; for the Apennine Mountains and the fortresses at their base would arrest any one who wished to attack the kingdom of France. And the country behind them is so unproductive that they would starve; or they would have to leave these strongholds behind them, which would be great folly; or they would have to go to work and take these fortresses. However, France has nothing to fear from the side of Italy, for the reasons above stated, and because there is not in all Italy a prince capable of assaulting France, and Italy herself is not united, as she was in the time of the Romans.
On the south side, France is sufficiently protected by the Mediterranean, in the ports of which there are always vessels enough, belonging to the king of France or other proprietors, to be able to defend that part of the kingdom from any unexpected attack. Against a premeditated attack there is always time to prepare, for whoever contemplates it needs time to make the necessary preparations and arrangements, and this will quickly become known to everybody. And all these provinces are generally provided with a garrison of men-at-arms, for the greater security.
Little is spent in guarding the country, for the people are most obedient, so that fortresses are not needed for the preservation of quiet within the realm; and on the frontiers, where there would otherwise be some occasion for such expenditure, the garrisons of men-at-arms make such expense unnecessary. For against a great invasion there is always time to prepare, as the invader himself would need time to gather his forces for such an attempt.
The French people are submissive and most obedient, and hold their king in great veneration. They live at a very small expense, owing to the great abundance of the products of the soil; and every one has a small property to himself. They dress coarsely, in cheap cloth, and neither the men nor the women use silk in any way, for it would at once be noted by the gentlemen.
According to the last computation there are thirty-six bishoprics in France, and eighteen archbishoprics. Of parishes there are one million* seven hundred, including seven hundred and forty abbeys. Of the priories there is no account.
I have not been able to ascertain the ordinary or extraordinary revenues of the Crown; I have asked a great many persons, and they have all replied that the revenue depended entirely on the will of the king. Some one, however, has told me that a portion of the ordinary revenue, that is to say, that part which is specially called “the king’s money,” and which is derived from the gabel on bread, wine, meat, etc., yields about 1,700,000 scudi. The extraordinary revenue is derived from taxes, and these are fixed high or low according to the king’s will. And if these revenues are insufficient, then loans are resorted to, which are, however, rarely repaid. The royal letters by which these loans are called for, are drawn up in the following form: “The king, our master, recommends himself to you, and, having need of money, he begs you will lend him the sum specified in this letter.” The amount is then paid into the hands of the receiver of the place, there being one in every place, who receives all revenues, whether resulting from the gabels, taxes, or loans. The domains of the Crown have no other regulations for the payment of dues except the will of the king, as said above.
The authority of the barons over their vassals is complete. Their revenues consist of bread, wine, and meat, the same as those stated above, and so much for every hearth per year; this, however, does not exceed six or eight sous per hearth for every three months. The barons cannot raise taxes nor loans without the king’s consent, which he rarely grants.
The Crown exacts from the barons nothing but the impost upon salt, and never taxes them except on the occasion of some extraordinary necessity.
The regulations established by the king with regard to extraordinary expenses, for war as well as for other purposes, are that he commands the treasurers to pay the soldiers, and accordingly they pay the amount into the hands of those who review the troops. The pensioners and the gentlemen go to the Generals of Finance, and make them give them a discharge; that is, an order for their payment from month to month; and every three months they go to the receiver of the province where they reside, and are promptly paid.
The gentlemen of the king number two hundred; their pay is twenty scudi per month, and they are paid ut supra, and each hundred have a chief; these used to be Messire Guyon d’Amboise, the Seigneur de Ravel, and the Vidame Louis de Brézé.
The number of pensioners is not known; some of them are paid little, others much, just as it may please the king. They live in the hope of advancement, but there is nothing fixed as regards this.
The duty of the Generals of Finance is to levy so much per hearth, and so much for taxes with the consent of the King; and to see that the expenses, ordinary as well as extraordinary, are paid at the proper time, that is, the discharges, as explained above.
The treasurers keep the money, and pay it out according to the orders and discharges of the Generals of Finance.
The power of the Grand Chancellor is absolute; he can grant pardons, and can condemn at his pleasure “etiam in capitalibus sine consensu regis.” He can relieve litigants from the charge of contumacy; but he can grant pardons only with the consent of the king, for all pardons are granted by royal letters sealed with the great royal seal, and he is charged with the keeping of this great seal. His salary is ten thousand francs per year, and an allowance of eleven thousand francs for his table. By table is understood giving dinner and supper to as many members of the council as follow the Grand Chancellor, that is, to the advocates and gentlemen that are attached to him, whenever it pleases them to eat with him, which privilege they use very often.
The pension which the king of France paid to the king of England was fifty thousand francs per year; its object was the repayment of certain outlays made by the father of the present king of England in the duchy of Brittany. But this pension is now terminated, and is paid no more.
At present there is in France but one Grand Seneschal; but when there are several seneschals, — I do not mean grand, as there is only one, — then their jurisdiction extends over the ordinary and extraordinary men-at-arms, who are obliged to obey this Grand Seneschal because of the dignity of his office.
The number of governors of provinces depends upon the will of the king, who pays them what he pleases; they are named by him for life or for a year, according to his pleasure. The other governors, and even lieutenants of the small places, are all appointed by the king; and in fact all the offices of the realm are bestowed or sold by the king, and by no one else.
Every year a general statement of expenses is prepared, sometimes in August, sometimes in October or in January, according to the pleasure of the king. The Generals of Finance present an account of the ordinary revenues and expenses of the year, and then a balance is established between the receipts and the expenses, and the amount of the pensions and the number of the pensioners are increased or diminished according to the king’s orders.
The amount of distributions amongst the gentlemen and pensioners is unlimited; they do not require the approval of the Chamber of Accounts; the king’s authority is all-sufficient.
The functions of the Chamber of Accounts consist in revising the accounts of all who have anything to do with the administration of the moneys of the Crown, such as the Generals of Finance, the treasurers, and the receivers.
The University of Paris is paid from the revenues of the endowments of the colleges, but very poorly.
There are five Parliaments, namely, Paris, Rouen, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and the Dauphiné, and there is no appeal from any of them.
The best Universities are the following four: Paris, Orleans, Bourges, and Poitiers; after these come Tours and Angiers, but these are not worth much.
Garrisons are placed wherever the king wills it, and as many men as seems good to him, both of artillery and of infantry. Nevertheless, all the places have a few pieces of artillery in store. And within the last two years they have established them in a great many places in the kingdom, at the cost of the places where such depots have been formed, by increasing the taxes one penny per head of cattle or per measure of grain. Ordinarily, when the kingdom is at peace, there are only four places that are garrisoned; these are Guienne, Picardy, Burgundy, and Provence. These garrisons change places, and are increased in numbers according to the apprehensions of danger in either one or the other province.
I have made great efforts to find out what amount of money is assigned to the king for the expenses of his household and for his person, and find that he has all he asks for.
The archers are four hundred in number, and they are charged with the guard of the king’s person. Amongst them are one hundred Scotchmen; each man receives three hundred francs per year, and a doublet of the king’s livery. The king’s body-guard is composed of twenty-four men, who never leave his side; they have each four hundred francs per year; their captains are Monseigneur d’Aubigny, Crussol, and the Captain Gabriel.
The foot guard is composed of Germans, one hundred of which are paid twelve francs per month; they used to be three hundred, with ten francs per month pay; and two suits of clothing, one for winter and one for summer, that is to say, a doublet and hose of the king’s livery. The one hundred footguards used to have the doublet of silk in the time of King Charles VIII.
The fourriers are charged with providing lodgings for the court; they are thirty-two in number, and receive three hundred francs per year and a doublet of the king’s livery. In providing the lodgings they divide themselves into four sections, and each section has a quartermaster, who receives six hundred francs per year. The first section, commanded by a quartermaster, or in his absence by a lieutenant, remains in the place which the court leaves, so as to settle with the proprietors who have furnished the quarters; the second division accompanies the king; the third section proceeds to the place where the king is to arrive on the first day; and the fourth goes to where the king is to arrive on the following day. They proceed with such remarkable order that every one on his arrival finds his lodgings fully prepared, even to a woman of pleasure.
The Provost of the Palace is an officer that always follows the king’s person, and his office is one of absolute authority, and wherever the court goes, his tribunal is the first, and even the inhabitants of the place may be condemned by him, the same as by the king’s lieutenant. Those who are seized by him for any criminal cause cannot appeal to the Parliaments. His pay is ordinarily six thousand francs per year. He has two civil justices under him, who are paid by the king six hundred francs per year each. He has also a lieutenant for criminal cases, who commands thirty archers, and these are paid the same as the archers mentioned above. He decides in civil and in criminal matters, and when the complainant has been confronted with the accused in the presence of the provost, it suffices for him to decide the case.
The king has eight house stewards; but they are not all paid equally, for some have one thousand francs per year, and others less, according to the king’s pleasure. The Grand Master of the household, who has succeeded Monseigneur de Chaumont, is the Marquis de Palisse, whose father formerly held the same charge. His pay is eleven thousand francs per year; and his authority does not extend beyond commanding the other house stewards.
The Admiral of France has command of all the naval forces and all the harbors of the kingdom; he can dispose according to his pleasure of all the vessels of the fleet. The present Admiral is Monseigneur Pregent de Bedoux, and his salary is ten thousand francs per year.
The order of knighthood has no fixed number; the knights are as many as the king may choose to name. On their admission to the order they swear to defend the Crown and never to bear arms against it. They cannot be deprived of their title during their lifetime. Their pay is at most four thousand francs per year, and some have less, for they have not all the same grade.
The office of the chamberlains is to entertain the king, to precede him to his chamber, and to assist in advising him; in truth, they enjoy the greatest consideration throughout the country. They receive large pensions, — six, eight, ten, and eleven thousand francs per year; but some receive nothing, for the king often confers this title upon persons whom he wishes to honor for their services, and even upon foreigners. They have, however, the privilege of being exempt from paying any gabels in any part of the kingdom, and whilst at court they dine at the chamberlains’ table, which is the first after that of the king.
The Grand Equerry always remains near the king; his duty is to supervise the other twelve equerries of the king, the same as the Grand Master of the household, the Grand Seneschal, and the Grand Chamberlain over their subordinates. He has charge of the king’s horses, and aids him in mounting and dismounting. He has charge also of the king’s equipages, and carries the king’s sword before him.
The councillors of state have a pension of from six to eight thousand francs, as may please the king. They are now the Bishop of Paris, the Bishop of Beauvais, the Bailli of Amiens Monseigneur de Bussy, and the Grand Chancellor. But in reality Robertet and the Bishop of Paris govern everything.
Since the death of the Cardinal d’Amboise of Rouen, no one keeps open table. And as the Grand Chancellor has not been replaced, the Bishop of Paris performs the duties of that office.
The reason why the king of France claims the duchy of Milan is that his grandfather had married a daughter of the Duke of Milan who died without male heirs. The Duke Giovanni Galeazzo had two daughters, and I know not how many sons. One of the daughters was Madonna Valentina, who married the Duke Louis of Orleans, grandfather of the present King Louis XII., descendant of the race of Pepin. When the Duke Giovanni Galeazzo died, he was succeeded by his son Duke Filippo, who died without any legitimate children, leaving only an illegitimate daughter. Thereupon, according to report, the state of Milan was illegally usurped by the Sforzas; for it was said that that state should have gone to the successor and heir of Madonna Valentina. And in fact the day when the Duke of Orleans allied himself with the house of Milan, he joined to his arms of three fleur-de-lis a snake, which may be seen to this day.
Every parish in France keeps one man, who is well paid, and is called the Franc-archer, and who is obliged to keep a good horse, and be fully provided with arms and armor, whenever the king requires him to follow him to the scene of war outside of the kingdom, or for any other cause. These Franc-archers are obliged to go into whatever province in the realm is attacked or threatened. According to the number of parishes, there must be 1,700,000 of these Franc-archers.*
The fourriers and quartermasters are obliged by their office to furnish every one that follows the court with lodgings; those who are attached to the court are ordinarily lodged with the well-to-do people of the place. And to prevent any occasion for complaint, either by the owner of the house or the lodger, a tariff of prices has been established, which serves for all alike, and which fixes the price of a chamber at one sou per day; the chamber must be supplied with a bed and a couch, and these must be changed once a week. Besides this, every man pays two farthings per day for the linen; that is to say, table-cloth, towels, napkins, and for vinegar and other condiments. The linen must be changed at least twice per week; but as the people have plenty of linen, they change it more or less frequently, as may be asked by the lodger. The chambers must also be kept clean, and the beds properly made.
The price for stabling each horse is also two sous per day, and the lodger is not bound to pay anything more, except that he must have the manure removed every day. There are a good many who pay less, either because of the good nature of the proprietor, or the good disposition of the lodger; but the above is the regular tariff for the court.
The reasons for the recent pretensions of the English upon France are the following. Charles VI. married his legitimate daughter Catharine to the legitimate son of the king of England, Henry VI. No mention was made in the contract of Charles VII., who afterwards became king of France. Besides the dowry of Catharine, Charles VI. stipulated that his son-in-law, Henry VI., husband of Catharine, should become heir to the crown of France; and that in case the said Henry VI. should die before his father-in-law, Charles VI., but leave legitimate or natural male children, then these said children of Henry VI. should be the heirs and successors of Charles VI. These dispositions, however, were declared null and contrary to the fundamental law of the kingdom, because of the passing over of Charles VII. by his father. The English, on the other hand, claim that Charles VII. was the fruit of adultery.
In England there are two archbishoprics, 22 bishoprics, and 52,000 parishes.
OF THE NATURE OF THE FRENCH.
They think so much of the present advantage or disadvantage, that they remember but slightly past injuries or benefits, and take little heed of the future, good or evil.
They are cavillers rather than prudent; and care little what is said or written of them. They are more eager for money than for blood, and are liberal only in fine speeches.
If a gentleman disobeys the king in a matter concerning a third person, there is nothing for him to do but to obey anyhow, if it still be in time; and if it is not in time, then he will have to stay away from the court for four months. This has cost us Pisa twice; once when Entraghes held the citadel, and the second time when the French laid siege to the town.
Whoever wishes to carry a point at court must have plenty of money, great activity, and good fortune.
If they are asked to do a favor, their first thought is, not whether they can render the favor, but what advantage they can derive from it for themselves.
The first agreements you make with them are always the best.
If they cannot be useful to you, they make you fine promises; but if they can serve you, they do it with difficulty or never.
In adversity they are abject, and in prosperity they are insolent.
They weave their bad warp well and forcibly.
He who wins victory is for the time most in favor with the king; but he who loses is rarely so. And therefore any one who is about to engage in any undertaking should consider first whether he is likely to succeed or not, and whether it is likely to please the king or not. This point, being well known to the Duke Valentino, enabled him to march with his army upon Florence.
In many instances they are not very particular about their honor, being in this respect very different from the Italian gentlemen; and therefore they attached but little importance to their having sent to Sienna to claim Montepulciano without any attention being paid to their demand.
They are fickle and light-minded, and have faith only in success. They are enemies of the language of the Romans, and of their fame.
Of the Italians none have a good time at court except those who have nothing more to lose, and nothing to hope for.
TO RAFFAELLO GIROLAMI, ON HIS DEPARTURE, 23 OCTOBER, 1522, AS AMBASSADOR TO THE EMPEROR CHARLES V., IN SPAIN.
Honorable Raffaello, —
Embassies are amongst those functions in a republic that confer most honor upon a citizen; and any one incapable of filling such an office cannot be regarded as competent to take part in the government of the state. You are about to go as ambassador to Spain, a country not known to you, and materially differing in manners and customs from those of Italy; and it is moreover the first time that you are charged with such a commission. Thus, if you give good proof of yourself, as everybody hopes and believes, you will derive great honor from it, which will be the greater in proportion to the difficulties which you have to encounter. And as I have some experience in affairs of this kind, I will tell you what I know about them, not from presumption, but simply out of the love I bear to you.
Every honest man knows how to acquit himself faithfully of a mission that has been confided to him; the difficulty is to do it adequately. Now he executes it adequately who knows well the character of the sovereign to whom he is accredited, and that of those who govern him, and who knows best how to adapt himself to whatever may open and facilitate the way for a favorable reception. For difficult as every enterprise is, yet gaining the ear of the sovereign renders it easy. Above all things an ambassador must endeavor to acquire great consideration, which is obtained by acting on every occasion like a good and just man; to have the reputation of being generous and sincere, and to avoid that of being mean and dissembling, and not to be regarded as a man who believes one thing and says another.
This sincerity and this frankness are of great importance; for I know some men who, from being cunning and dissembling, have so entirely lost the confidence of the prince, that they have never more been able to negotiate with him. And yet if it be sometimes necessary to conceal facts with words, then it should be done in such manner that it shall not appear; or should it be observed, then a defence should be promptly ready. Alessandro Nasi was greatly esteemed in France from having the reputation of being sincere; whilst some others, from being regarded as the contrary, were held in great contempt. I believe that you will the more easily observe this line of conduct, as it seems to me that your very nature commands it.
An ambassador will also derive great honor from the information which he communicates to his government; and this embraces three kinds, relating either to matters in course of negotiation, or to matters that are concluded and done, or respecting matters yet to be done; and to conjecture rightly the issue which they are likely to have. Two of these are difficult, but one is most easy. For to know things after they are done is generally speaking most easy, unless it should happen to be that an alliance is being formed between two princes to the detriment of a third party, and that it should be important to keep it secret until the time for divulging it shall have come; as happened with regard to the league between France, the Pope, the Emperor, and Spain, concluded at Cambray, against the Venetians, which resulted in the destruction of the Venetian republic.
It is very difficult to penetrate the secret of such conclusions, and it is therefore necessary to depend upon one’s judgment and conjectures. But to find out all the intrigues, and to conjecture the issue correctly, that is indeed difficult, for you have nothing to depend upon except surmises aided by your own judgment. But as the courts are generally filled with busy-bodies, who are always on the watch to find out what is going on around them, it is very desirable to be on friendly terms with them all, so as to be able to learn something from each one of them. Their good will is readily won by entertaining them with banquets and gaming. I have seen very grave gentlemen who allow gambling in their houses, for the sole purpose of having that class of men coming to see them, so as to be able to converse with them; for what one does not know another does know, and very often it happens that amongst them all the whole affair is known. But he who wants another to tell him all he knows must in return tell the other some things that he knows, for the best means of obtaining information from others is to communicate some information to them. And therefore if a republic desires that her ambassador shall be honored, they cannot do a better thing than to keep him amply supplied with information; for the men who know that they can draw information from him will hasten to tell him all they know. I suggest to you, therefore, that you remind the Eight, the Archbishop, and the Secretaries to keep you fully advised of all that occurs in Italy, even the smallest item; and if anything of interest happens at Bologna, Sienna, or Perugia, let them inform you of it, and above all let them keep you advised of the affairs of the Pope, of Rome, of Lombardy, and of the kingdom of Naples. And although all these matters have nothing to do with your business, yet it is necessary and useful for you to know them, for the reasons which I have given you above. It is in this way that you have to find out the intrigues that are carried on around you; and as amongst the things you will thus learn some are true and some false, although probable, you must weigh them carefully with your judgment, and take cognizance of those that seem to you the nearest the truth, and not notice the others.
When you thoroughly understand and have examined these matters, you will be able to appreciate their aim and object, and communicate your judgment to your government. But to prevent such judgment on your part from seeming presumptuous, it is well in your despatches, after discussing the intrigues that are being carried on and the men who are engaged in them, to employ phrases something like this: “Considering now all I have written, the shrewd men here judge that it will produce such or such an effect.”
This plan carefully followed has, in my day, done great honor to many ambassadors, whilst the contrary course has brought shame and blame upon them. I have known others, again, who for the purpose of filling their despatches with more information make a daily record of all they hear, and in the course of eight or ten days prepare a despatch from all these notes, taking from the mass of news they have thus gathered that which seems to them most interesting and likely to be true.
I have also known wise men, who had experience in embassies, adopt the plan of placing before the eyes of their government, at least once in every two months, a complete report of the state and condition of the republic or kingdom to which they are accredited as ambassadors. Such information, when exact, does great honor to him who sends it, and is of greatest advantage to those who receive it; for it is much easier to come to a decision when fully informed upon these points, than when ignorant of them. And to enable you more precisely to understand this part of your duty, I will more fully explain it.
You arrive in Spain, you present and explain your commission and office; and then write home at once and give notice of your arrival at your post, and state what you have communicated to the Emperor, and what reply he has made; leaving it for another letter to give a particular account of the affairs of the kingdom, of the character of the sovereign, and of all that a few days’ stay in the country may have enabled you to report. After that, you must note with the utmost care and industry all that concerns the Emperor and the kingdom of Spain, and you will make a full report upon it. And to come to details, I would say that you must closely observe the character of the man: whether he governs himself, or allows himself to be governed; whether he is avaricious or liberal; whether he loves war or peace; whether he has a passion for glory or for anything else; whether he is beloved by his people; whether he prefers to reside in Spain or in Flanders; what kind of men he has about him as counsellors; whether their thoughts are turned to new enterprises, or whether they are disposed to enjoy their present good fortune, and what authority they have with him; whether he changes them often, or keeps them long; whether the king of France has any friends amongst them, and whether they are likely to be corrupted. And then it will also be well to think of the lords and barons who are most around him; find out what power they have, and how far they are satisfied with him; and in case of their being malcontent, how they could injure him; and whether it be possible for France to corrupt any of them. You must also find out about his brother, how he treats him, whether he is beloved by him, and whether he is content, and whether he could cause trouble within the kingdom, or in his other states. You must also learn the character of the people, and whether the league that took up arms is altogether quieted, or whether there is any apprehension of their rising up again, and whether France could rekindle that fire.
You must endeavor to penetrate the Emperor’s projects: what his views are as to Italian affairs; whether he aspires to the possession of Lombardy, or whether he intends to leave that state for the Sforzas to enjoy; and whether he desires to come to Rome, and when; what his intentions are with regard to the Church; what confidence he has in the Pope, and whether he is satisfied with him; and, in the event of his coming into Italy, what good or what ill the Florentines may have to hope or fear.
All these points carefully considered and skilfully reported to the government will do you great honor. And not only is it necessary to write it once, but it is well every two or three months to refresh the remembrance of them, adding thereto an account of any new events that may have taken place; but with such skill that it may seem prompted by wisdom and necessity, and not by presumption.
University Press: John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.
[* ]This description is contained in an official letter written by Machiavelli to the Magistracy of the Ten at the very time when he was the Florentine envoy to the Duke Valentino. The slight difference between that letter and the description, is one of words only, and not of facts. The beginning of the letter is as follows: —
[* ]This is Paolo de Lichtenstein, confidential agent of the Emperor Maximilian, mentioned by F. Vettori in his despatches to the Signoria of Florence. See Letter X. of the Mission to the Emperor, ante, page 132.
[* ]This pragmatic sanction was anterior to the concordat between Francis I. and Leo X. It was issued by Charles VII. in 1438, and was the foundation of the liberties of the Gallican Church.
[* ]This must be an error, and probably meant one hundred thousand.
[* ]This is undoubtedly an error, the same as in one of the preceding pages when speaking of the number of parishes; it means probably 100,000, instead of 1,000,000.