ENEMY WITHOUT A FACE: A letter to Ludovico Sforza
Io ho uno che per aversi di me promesse cose assai men che debite, essendo rimaso ingannato del suo prosuntuoso desiderio, ha tentato di tornai tutti li amici, e perchè li ha trovati savi e non leggieri al suo volere, m’ha minacciato che troverrà tale inve[n]zione che mi torrà e benifattori. Onde io ho di questo informato vostra Signoria, acciò [che volendo questo seminare li usati scandoli, non trovi terreno atto a ricevere i pensieri e li atti della sua male natura] che tentando lui fare di vostra Signoria strumenti della sua iniqua e malvagia natura, rimanga ingannato di suo desiderio.
I know one who promised me many things, less than my due, being deceived of his presumptuous desires, has tried to deprive me of all my friends; and as he has found them wise and not pliable to his will, he has threatened me that, having found means of denouncing me, he would deprive me of my benefactors. Hence I have informed your Lordship of this, to the end [that this man who wishes to sow the usual scandals may find no soil fit for sowing the thoughts and deeds of his evil nature] so that he, trying to make your Lordship the instrument of his iniquitous and malicious nature, may remain deceived of his desire.
[ NOTE: Just as in another note of a similar tone, it is unclear exactly who or what Leonardo was referring to, and indeed if there was a personal threat of any kind - it is not unlikely, just not confirmed, and not including the name of the person doesn’t mean he was making this up. It simply means he was also safeguarding himself, as a letter like this in the wrong hands could be used against him. It is also unknown if he ever sent this to Sforza. ]