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    The Duke Valentino

    by Niccolo Machiavelli
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    The Duke Valentino had returned from Lombardy, where he had been to
    clear himself with the King of France from the calumnies which had
    been raised against him by the Florentines concerning the rebellion of
    Arezzo and other towns in the Val di Chiana, and had arrived at Imola,
    whence he intended with his army to enter upon the campaign against
    Giovanni Bentivogli, the tyrant of Bologna: for he intended to bring
    that city under his domination, and to make it the head of his
    Romagnian duchy.

    These matters coming to the knowledge of the Vitelli and Orsini and
    their following, it appeared to them that the duke would become too
    powerful, and it was feared that, having seized Bologna, he would seek
    to destroy them in order that he might become supreme in Italy. Upon
    this a meeting was called at Magione in the district of Perugia, to
    which came the cardinal, Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina Orsini,
    Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, Gianpagolo Baglioni, the
    tyrant of Perugia, and Messer Antonio da Venafro, sent by Pandolfo
    Petrucci, the Prince of Siena. Here were discussed the power and
    courage of the duke and the necessity of curbing his ambitions, which
    might otherwise bring danger to the rest of being ruined. And they
    decided not to abandon the Bentivogli, but to strive to win over the
    Florentines; and they send their men to one place and another,
    promising to one party assistance and to another encouragement to
    unite with them against the common enemy. This meeting was at once
    reported throughout all Italy, and those who were discontented under
    the duke, among whom were the people of Urbino, took hope of effecting
    a revolution.

    Thus it arose that, men's minds being thus unsettled, it was decided
    by certain men of Urbino to seize the fortress of San Leo, which was
    held for the duke, and which they captured by the following means. The
    castellan was fortifying the rock and causing timber to be taken
    there; so the conspirators watched, and when certain beams which were
    being carried to the rock were upon the bridge, so that it was
    prevented from being drawn up by those inside, they took the
    opportunity of leaping upon the bridge and thence into the fortress.
    Upon this capture being effected, the whole state rebelled and
    recalled the old duke, being encouraged in this, not so much by the
    capture of the fort, as by the Diet at Magione, from whom they
    expected to get assistance.

    Those who heard of the rebellion at Urbino thought they would not lose
    the opportunity, and at once assembled their men so as to take any
    town, should any remain in the hands of the duke in that state; and
    they sent again to Florence to beg that republic to join with them in
    destroying the common firebrand, showing that the risk was lessened
    and that they ought not to wait for another opportunity.

    But the Florentines, from hatred, for sundry reasons, of the Vitelli
    and Orsini, not only would not ally themselves, but sent Nicolo
    Machiavelli, their secretary, to offer shelter and assistance to the
    duke against his enemies. The duke was found full of fear at Imola,
    because, against everybody's expectation, his soldiers had at once
    gone over to the enemy and he found himself disarmed and war at his
    door. But recovering courage from the offers of the Florentines, he
    decided to temporize before fighting with the few soldiers that
    remained to him, and to negotiate for a reconciliation, and also to
    get assistance. This latter he obtained in two ways, by sending to the
    King of France for men and by enlisting men-at-arms and others whom he
    turned into cavalry of a sort: to all he gave money.

    Notwithstanding this, his enemies drew near to him, and approached
    Fossombrone, where they encountered some men of the duke and, with the
    aid of the Orsini and Vitelli, routed them. When this happened, the
    duke resolved at once to see if he could not close the trouble with
    offers of reconciliation, and being a most perfect dissembler he did
    not fail in any practices to make the insurgents understand that he
    wished every man who had acquired anything to keep it, as it was
    enough for him to have the title of prince, whilst others might have
    the principality.

    And the duke succeeded so well in this that they sent Signor Pagolo to
    him to negotiate for a reconciliation, and they brought their army to
    a standstill. But the duke did not stop his preparations, and took
    every care to provide himself with cavalry and infantry, and that such
    preparations might not be apparent to the others, he sent his troops
    in separate parties to every part of the Romagna. In the meanwhile
    there came also to him five hundred French lancers, and although he
    found himself sufficiently strong to take vengeance on his enemies in
    open war, he considered that it would be safer and more advantageous
    to outwit them, and for this reason he did not stop the work of

    And that this might be effected the duke concluded a peace with them
    in which he confirmed their former covenants; he gave them four
    thousand ducats at once; he promised not to injure the Bentivogli; and
    he formed an alliance with Giovanni; and moreover he would not force
    them to come personally into his presence unless it pleased them to do
    so. On the other hand, they promised to restore to him the duchy of
    Urbino and other places seized by them, to serve him in all his
    expeditions, and not to make war against or ally themselves with any
    one without his permission.

    This reconciliation being completed, Guido Ubaldo, the Duke of Urbino,
    again fled to Venice, having first destroyed all the fortresses in his
    state; because, trusting in the people, he did not wish that the
    fortresses, which he did not think he could defend, should be held by
    the enemy, since by these means a check would be kept upon his
    friends. But the Duke Valentino, having completed this convention, and
    dispersed his men throughout the Romagna, set out for Imola at the end
    of November together with his French men-at-arms: thence he went to
    Cesena, where he stayed some time to negotiate with the envoys of the
    Vitelli and Orsini, who had assembled with their men in the duchy of
    Urbino, as to the enterprise in which they should now take part; but
    nothing being concluded, Oliverotto da Fermo was sent to propose that
    if the duke wished to undertake an expedition against Tuscany they
    were ready; if he did not wish it, then they would besiege Sinigalia.
    To this the duke replied that he did not wish to enter into war with
    Tuscany, and thus become hostile to the Florentines, but that he was
    very willing to proceed against Sinigalia.

    It happened that not long afterwards the town surrendered, but the
    fortress would not yield to them because the castellan would not give
    it up to any one but the duke in person; therefore they exhorted him
    to come there. This appeared a good opportunity to the duke, as, being
    invited by them, and not going of his own will, he would awaken no
    suspicions. And the more to reassure them, he allowed all the French
    men-at-arms who were with him in Lombardy to depart, except the
    hundred lancers under Mons. di Candales, his brother-in-law. He left
    Cesena about the middle of December, and went to Fano, and with the
    utmost cunning and cleverness he persuaded the Vitelli and Orsini to
    wait for him at Sinigalia, pointing out to them that any lack of
    compliance would cast a doubt upon the sincerity and permanency of the
    reconciliation, and that he was a man who wished to make use of the
    arms and councils of his friends. But Vitellozzo remained very
    stubborn, for the death of his brother warned him that he should not
    offend a prince and afterwards trust him; nevertheless, persuaded by
    Pagolo Orsini, whom the duke had corrupted with gifts and promises, he
    agreed to wait.

    Upon this the duke, before his departure from Fano, which was to be on
    30th December 1502, communicated his designs to eight of his most
    trusted followers, among whom were Don Michele and the Monsignor
    d'Euna, who was afterwards cardinal; and he ordered that, as soon as
    Vitellozzo, Pagolo Orsini, the Duke di Gravina, and Oliverotto should
    arrive, his followers in pairs should take them one by one, entrusting
    certain men to certain pairs, who should entertain them until they
    reached Sinigalia; nor should they be permitted to leave until they
    came to the duke's quarters, where they should be seized.

    The duke afterwards ordered all his horsemen and infantry, of which
    there were more than two thousand cavalry and ten thousand footmen, to
    assemble by daybreak at the Metauro, a river five miles distant from
    Fano, and await him there. He found himself, therefore, on the last
    day of December at the Metauro with his men, and having sent a
    cavalcade of about two hundred horsemen before him, he then moved
    forward the infantry, whom he accompanied with the rest of the men-at-

    Fano and Sinigalia are two cities of La Marca situate on the shore of
    the Adriatic Sea, fifteen miles distant from each other, so that he
    who goes towards Sinigalia has the mountains on his right hand, the
    bases of which are touched by the sea in some places. The city of
    Sinigalia is distant from the foot of the mountains a little more than
    a bow-shot and from the shore about a mile. On the side opposite to
    the city runs a little river which bathes that part of the walls
    looking towards Fano, facing the high road. Thus he who draws near to
    Sinigalia comes for a good space by road along the mountains, and
    reaches the river which passes by Sinigalia. If he turns to his left
    hand along the bank of it, and goes for the distance of a bow-shot, he
    arrives at a bridge which crosses the river; he is then almost abreast
    of the gate that leads into Sinigalia, not by a straight line, but
    transversely. Before this gate there stands a collection of houses
    with a square to which the bank of the river forms one side.

    The Vitelli and Orsini having received orders to wait for the duke,
    and to honour him in person, sent away their men to several castles
    distant from Sinigalia about six miles, so that room could be made for
    the men of the duke; and they left in Sinigalia only Oliverotto and
    his band, which consisted of one thousand infantry and one hundred and
    fifty horsemen, who were quartered in the suburb mentioned above.
    Matters having been thus arranged, the Duke Valentino left for
    Sinigalia, and when the leaders of the cavalry reached the bridge they
    did not pass over, but having opened it, one portion wheeled towards
    the river and the other towards the country, and a way was left in the
    middle through which the infantry passed, without stopping, into the

    Vitellozzo, Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina on mules, accompanied by a
    few horsemen, went towards the duke; Vitellozo, unarmed and wearing a
    cape lined with green, appeared very dejected, as if conscious of his
    approaching death--a circumstance which, in view of the ability of the
    man and his former fortune, caused some amazement. And it is said that
    when he parted from his men before setting out for Sinigalia to meet
    the duke he acted as if it were his last parting from them. He
    recommended his house and its fortunes to his captains, and advised
    his nephews that it was not the fortune of their house, but the
    virtues of their fathers that should be kept in mind. These three,
    therefore, came before the duke and saluted him respectfully, and were
    received by him with goodwill; they were at once placed between those
    who were commissioned to look after them.

    But the duke noticing that Oliverotto, who had remained with his band
    in Sinigalia, was missing--for Oliverotto was waiting in the square
    before his quarters near the river, keeping his men in order and
    drilling them--signalled with his eye to Don Michelle, to whom the
    care of Oliverotto had been committed, that he should take measures
    that Oliverotto should not escape. Therefore Don Michele rode off and
    joined Oliverotto, telling him that it was not right to keep his men
    out of their quarters, because these might be taken up by the men of
    the duke; and he advised him to send them at once to their quarters
    and to come himself to meet the duke. And Oliverotto, having taken
    this advice, came before the duke, who, when he saw him, called to
    him; and Oliverotto, having made his obeisance, joined the others.

    So the whole party entered Sinigalia, dismounted at the duke's
    quarters, and went with him into a secret chamber, where the duke made
    them prisoners; he then mounted on horseback, and issued orders that
    the men of Oliverotto and the Orsini should be stripped of their arms.
    Those of Oliverotto, being at hand, were quickly settled, but those of
    the Orsini and Vitelli, being at a distance, and having a presentiment
    of the destruction of their masters, had time to prepare themselves,
    and bearing in mind the valour and discipline of the Orsinian and
    Vitellian houses, they stood together against the hostile forces of
    the country and saved themselves.

    But the duke's soldiers, not being content with having pillaged the
    men of Oliverotto, began to sack Sinigalia, and if the duke had not
    repressed this outrage by killing some of them they would have
    completely sacked it. Night having come and the tumult being silenced,
    the duke prepared to kill Vitellozzo and Oliverotto; he led them into
    a room and caused them to be strangled. Neither of them used words in
    keeping with their past lives: Vitellozzo prayed that he might ask of
    the pope full pardon for his sins; Oliverotto cringed and laid the
    blame for all injuries against the duke on Vitellozzo. Pagolo and the
    Duke di Gravina Orsini were kept alive until the duke heard from Rome
    that the pope had taken the Cardinal Orsino, the Archbishop of
    Florence, and Messer Jacopo da Santa Croce. After which news, on 18th
    January 1502, in the castle of Pieve, they also were strangled in the
    same way.
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