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234
MACHIAVELLI


with Soderini, assisted him in carrying out .his policy, suggested important measures of military reform which Soderini adopted, and finally was involved in ruin by his fall., The year 1 502 was marked by yet another decisive incident in Machiavelli's life. In October he was sent, much against his will, as envoy to the camp of Cesare Borgia, duke of Valentinois. The duke was then in Romagna, and it was Machiavelli's duty to wait upon and watch him. He was able now to observe those intricate intrigues which culminated in Cesare's murder of his disaffected captains. From what remains of Machiavelli's official letters, and from his tract upon the M ado che lsnne il dura Valentino per ammazzar Vilellozzo Vilelli, 'We' are able to appreciate the actual relations which existed between the two men, and the growth in Machiavelli's mind of a political ideal based upon his study of the duke's character. Machiavelli conceived the strongest admiration for Cesare's combination of audacity -with diplomatic prudence, for his ad roit use of cruelty and fraud, for his self-reliance, avoidance of half-measures, employment of native troops, and firm administration in conquered provinces. More than once, in letters to, his .friend Vettori, , no less than in the pages of the Principe, Machiavelli afterwards expressed his belief that Cesare Borgia's behaviour in the conquest of provinces, the cementing of a new state out of scattered elements, and the dealing with false friends or doubtful allies, was worthy of all commendation and of scrupulous imitav tion. As he watched Cesare Borgia at this, the m #st .brilliant period of his adventurous career, the man became idealized in his reflective but imaginative mind. Round him, as a hero, he allowed his own conceptions of the perfect prince to cluster. That-Machiavelli separated the actual Cesare. Borgia, , whom he afterwards saw, ruined and contemptible, at Rome, from this radiant creature of his political fancy, is probable.. That the Cesare of history does not exactly match the Duca Valentino of Machiavelli's writings is' certain, Still the fact remains that henceforth Machiavelli cherished the ideal image-of the statesman which he had modelled upon Cesare, and called this by the name of Valentino., T p n.. ., .1.. -,

On his return to Florence early in January 1 503, .Machiavelli began to occupy himself with a project which his.<recent» attendance upon Cesare Borgia had strengthened in his mind. The duties of his office obliged him to study the conditions of military service as they .then existed in Italy. He was familiar with the disadvantages under which republics laboured when they engaged professional captains of adventure and levied mercenary troops. The bad faith of the condottiere Paolo Vitelli (beheaded at Florence in 1499) had deeply impressed him. In the war with Pisa he had observed the insubordination and untrustworthiness of soldiers gathered from the dregs of different districts, serving under egotistical and irresponsible commanders. His reading in Livy taught him to admire the Roman systemof employing armies raised from the body of the citizens; and Cesare Borgials method of gradually substituting the troops of his own- duchy for aliens and mercenaries showed him that this plan might be adopted with success by the Italians. He was now determined, if possible, to furnish Florence with a national- militia. .The gonfalonier Soderini entered into his views. But obstacles of no small magnitude arose. The question of money was immediately pressing. Early in i 505 Machiavelli drew up for Soderini a speech, Discorso sulla provisions del danara, in which the duty and necessity of liberal expenditure for the protection of the state were expounded upon principles of sound political philosophy. Between this date and the last month of I 506, Machiavelli laboured at his favourite scheme, working out memorials on the subject for his office, and suggesting the outlines of, a 11¢NV military organization. On the oth of December 1506, his plan was approved by the signoria, and a special ministry, called the none di ordinanza e milizia, was appointed. Machiavelli-immediately became their secretary. The country districts of the Florentine dominion were now divided into departments, and levies of foot soldiers were made in order to secure a standing militia. A commander-in-chief had to be chosen for the. new troops. Italian jealousy shrank from conferring this important office on a Florentine, lest one member of the state should acquire a power dangerous to the whole. The choice of Soderini and Machiavelli fell, at this juncture, upon an extremely ineligible person, none other than Don Micheletto, Cesare Borgiafs cutthroat and assassin. It=is necessary to insist upon this point, since it serves to illustrate a radical infirmity in Machiavelli's genius; While forming and promoting his scheme, he was actuated by principles of political wisdom and by the purest patriotism. But hefailed to perceive that such as ruflian as Micheletto could not inspire the troops of Florence with that devotion to their country and that healthy moral tone' which should. distinguish a patriot army. Here, as elsewhere, he revealed his insensibility to the ethical element in human nature. Meanwhile Italy had been thescene of memorable=events, in most-of which Machiavelli took some part. Alexander VI. had died .suddenly of fever. Julius II.. had ascended the papal chair. The duke of Valentinois had been checked in mid-career of conquest. The collapse of the Borgias threw Central Italy into confusion; and Machiavelli had, in 1 505, to visit the Baglioni at Perugia and the Petrucci at Siena. In the following year he accompanied Julius upon his march through Perugia into the province of. Emilia, where the fiery pope subdued in person the rebellious cities of the Church. Upon these embassies Machiavelli represented the 'F Florentine dieci in quality of envoy. It was his duty to. keep the ministry informed by means of frequent dispatches and reports. All this while the war for the recovery of Pisa was slowly dragging on, With. I1Q»su'ccess or honour to the F Florentines. Machiavelli had toattend the camp and provide for levies .amid his many other occupations. And yet he found time for private literary work. In the autumn of 1 504 he began his Decennqll, or Annals of Italy, a poem composed in rough. terza rima. About the same time he composed a comedy on the model of Aristophanes, which is unfortunately lost. It seems to have been called Le Zlflaschere. Giuliano de Ricci tells us it was marked by stringent satire upon great ecclesiastics and statesmen, noless than by a tendency to “ascribe all human things to natural causesor to fortunel' t That phrase accurately describes the prevalent bias of its author's' mind. . .7 The greater part of, 1.506 and r 507 was;spent in organizing the new militia, corresponding on the subject, and scouring the country on enlistment service. But at the end of the latter year European affairs of no small moment, diverted;Machia, velli.ftom these humbler duties. Maximilian was planning a. journey into Italy in order to be crowned emperor at Rome, and was levying subsidies from the imperial burghs for his expenses. The Florentines thought his demands excessive. Though» they already had Francesco Vettori at his court, Soderini judgedit advisable .to send Machiavelli thither in December. He trar velled by Geneva, all through Switzerland, to Botzen, where he found the emperor. This journey was an important moment in his life. It enabled him to study the Swiss and the, Germans in their homes; and the report which he wrote on his return is among his most effective political studies. What is most remark: able in it is his concentrated effort to realize the 'exact political weight of the German nation, and to penetrate the causes of its strength and weakness. He attempts to grasp the 'national character as a whole, and, thence to deduce practical conclusions., The same qualities are noticeable in his Rilratti delle case di. Francla, which he drew up after an embassy to Louis XII.: at Blois .in 1510. These notes upon the French race are more, scattered than the reporton German affairs. But they reveal. no less acumen combined with imaginative. penetration into the very essence of national existence. ., ~ . Michiavelli returned from Germany in June 1508. The.rest of that, year and a large part of I 509 were spent in the affairs of the militia and the war of Pisa. Chiefly through his exertions, the war was terminated by the surrender of Pisa in June, r;5pg. Meanwhile the league of Cambray had disturbed the Peaceof Italy, and Florence found herself in a perilous position between Spain and France. Soderini's government grew weaker. The Medicean party lifted up its head. To the league of Cambray succeeded the Holy League. The battle of, Ravenna was fought,