The first documented mention of the militia project in Machiavelli's correspondence occurred in a letter of 29 May 1504 from his friend Francesco Soderini, the cardinal of Volterra and the brother of the gonfalonier Piero Soderini.
Another obstacle was the fears of the ottimati, who had reason to view the very idea of the gonfalonier having several thousand armed peasants at his disposal as a serious threat to their own dominant position.
the Gonfalonier began, with the authority of the signoria, but without consultation, to enroll soldiers in the contado.
36) The gonfalonier promptly heeded the advice, and shortly afterwards the notoriously cruel Spanish condottiere don Michele di don Giovanni da Coriglia da Valenza, better known as don Michelotto, was contracted to lead the newly created militia.
Although His Lordship the Gonfalonier understands public necessity and is exerting every effort to that end, nevertheless, stimulated by your writing, we recall at present a nd shall not cease to recall in the future what you write about it, which we still judge to be necessary.
In his reply to Machiavelli of 4 March, the cardinal promised to intercede with his brother, the gonfalonier, on his behalf concerning the militia.
The fact that Francesc Soderini in his letter to the gonfalonier repeats the claim from Machiavelli lost letter that a military reform of the Florentine republic c an be effectively introduced only if justice and discipline are observed in the city as well as the contado adds further credibility to this inference.
Writing to the gonfalonier, with Machiavelli's letter in front of him, the Cardinal simply passed on Machiavelli's comments on the need of a firm rule in the city and the contado and his advice to place a "severe and rigid" captain, similar to Manlius torquatus, at the head of the militia.