The Borgias
Alexandre Dumas, Pere

Part 4 out of 5

consistory, and afterwards ratified by the King of Hungary, the
republic of Venice, and the Kings of Castile and Portugal. The news
of the ratification arrived at Rome on the eve of the day on which
the people are accustomed to keep the anniversary of the foundation
of the Eternal City; this fete, which went back to the days of
Pomponius Laetus, acquired a new splendour in their eyes from the
joyful events that had just happened to their sovereign: as a sign of
joy cannon were fired all day long; in the evening there were
illuminations and bonfires, and during part of the night the Prince
of Squillace, with the chief lords of the Roman nobility, marched
about the streets, bearing torches, and exclaiming, "Long live
Alexander! Long live Caesar! Long live the Borgias! Long live the
Orsini! Long live the Duke of Romagna!"


Caesar's ambition was only fed by victories: scarcely was he master
of Faenza before, excited by the Mariscotti, old enemies of the
Bentivoglio family, he cast his eyes upon Bologna; but Gian di
Bentivoglio, whose ancestors had possessed this town from time
immemorial, had not only made all preparations necessary for a long
resistance, but he had also put himself under the protection of
France; so, scarcely had he learned that Caesar was crossing the
frontier of the Bolognese territory with his army, than he sent a
courier to Louis XII to claim the fulfilment of his promise. Louis
kept it with his accustomed good faith; and when Caesar arrived
before Bologna, he received an intimation from the King of France
that he was not to enter on any undertaking against his ally
Bentivoglio; Caesar, not being the man to have his plans upset for
nothing, made conditions for his retreat, to which Bentivoglio
consented, only too happy to be quit of him at this price: the
conditions were the cession of Castello Bolognese, a fortress between
Imola and Faenza, the payment of a tribute of 9000 ducats, and the
keeping for his service of a hundred men-at-arms and two thousand
infantry. In exchange for these favours, Caesar confided to
Bentivoglio that his visit had been due to the counsels of the
Mariscotti; then, reinforced by his new ally's contingent, he took
the road for Tuscany. But he was scarcely out of sight when
Bentivoglio shut the gates of Bologna, and commanded his son Hermes
to assassinate with his own hand Agamemnon Mariscotti, the head of
the family, and ordered the massacre of four-and-thirty of his near
relatives, brothers, sons, daughters, and nephews, and two hundred
other of his kindred and friends. The butchery was carried out by
the noblest youths of Bologna; whom Bentivoglio forced to bathe their
hands in this blood, so that he might attach them to himself through
their fear of reprisals.

Caesar's plans with regard to Florence were now no longer a mystery:
since the month of January he had sent to Pisa ten or twelve hundred
men under the Command of Regniero della Sassetta and Piero di Gamba
Corti, and as soon as the conquest of the Romagna was complete, he
had further despatched Oliverotto di Fermo with new detachments. His
own army he had reinforced, as we have seen, by a hundred men-at-arms
and two thousand infantry; he had just been joined by Vitellozzo
Vitelli, lord of Citta, di Castello, and by the Orsini, who had
brought him another two or three thousand men; so, without counting
the troops sent to Pisa, he had under his control seven hundred men-
at-arms and five thousand infantry.

Still, in spite of this formidable company, he entered Tuscany
declaring that his intentions were only pacific, protesting that he
only desired to pass through the territories of the republic on his
way to Rome, and offering to pay in ready money for any victual his
army might require. But when he had passed the defiles of the
mountains and arrived at Barberino, feeling that the town was in his
power and nothing could now hinder his approach, he began to put a
price on the friendship he had at first offered freely, and to impose
his own conditions instead of accepting those of others. These were
that Piero dei Medici, kinsman and ally of the Orsini, should be
reinstated in his ancient power; that six Florentine citizens, to be
chosen by Vitellozzo, should be put into his hands that they might by
their death expiate that of Paolo Vitelli, unjustly executed by the
Florentines; that the Signoria should engage to give no aid to the
lord of Piombino, whom Caesar intended to dispossess of his estates
without delay; and further, that he himself should be taken into the
service of the republic, for a pay proportionate to his deserts. But
just as Caesar had reached this point in his negotiations with
Florence, he received orders from Louis XII to get ready, so soon as
he conveniently could, to follow him with his army and help in the
conquest of Naples, which he was at last in a position to undertake.
Caesar dared not break his word to so powerful an ally; he therefore
replied that he was at the king's orders, and as the Florentines were
not aware that he was quitting them on compulsion, he sold his
retreat for the sum of 36,000 ducats per annum, in exchange for which
sum he was to hold three hundred men-at-arms always in readiness to
go to the aid of the republic at her earliest call and in any
circumstances of need.

But, hurried as he was, Caesar still hoped that he might find time to
conquer the territory of Piombino as he went by, and take the capital
by a single vigorous stroke; so he made his entry into the lands of
Jacopo IV of Appiano. The latter, he found, however, had been
beforehand with him, and, to rob him of all resource, had laid waste
his own country, burned his fodder, felled his trees, torn down his
vines, and destroyed a few fountains that produced salubrious waters.
This did not hinder Caesar from seizing in the space of a few days
Severeto, Scarlino, the isle of Elba, and La Pianosa; but he was
obliged to stop short at the castle, which opposed a serious
resistance. As Louis XII's army was continuing its way towards Rome,
and he received a fresh order to join it, he took his departure the
next day, leaving behind him, Vitellozzo and Gian Paolo Bagliani to
prosecute the siege in his absence.

Louis XII was this time advancing upon Naples, not with the
incautious ardour of Charles VIII, but, on the contrary, with that
prudence and circumspection which characterised him. Besides his
alliance with Florence and Rome, he had also signed a secret treaty
with Ferdinand the Catholic, who had similar pretensions, through the
house of Duras, to the throne of Naples to those Louis himself had
through the house of Anjou. By this treaty the two kings were
sharing their conquests beforehand: Louis would be master of Naples,
of the town of Lavore and the Abruzzi, and would bear the title of
King of Naples and Jerusalem; Ferdinand reserved for his own share
Apulia and Calabria, with the title of Duke of these provinces; both
were to receive the investiture from the pope and to hold them of
him. This partition was all the more likely to be made, in fact,
because Frederic, supposing all the time that Ferdinand was his good
and faithful friend, would open the gates of his towns, only to
receive into his fortresses conquerors and masters instead of allies.
All this perhaps was not very loyal conduct on the part of a king who
had so long desired and had just now received the surname of
Catholic, but it mattered little to Louis, who profited by
treasonable acts he did not have to share.

The French army, which the Duke of Valentinois had just joined,
consisted of 1000 lances, 4000 Swiss, and 6000 Gascons and
adventurers; further, Philip of Rabenstein was bringing by sea six
Breton and Provencal vessels, and three Genoese caracks, carrying
6500 invaders.

Against this mighty host the King of Naples had only 700 men-at-
arms, 600 light horse, and 6000 infantry under the command of the
Colonna, whom he had taken into his pay after they were exiled by the
pope from the States of the Church; but he was counting on Gonsalvo
of Cordova, who was to join him at Gaeta, and to whom he had
confidingly opened all his fortresses in Calabria.

But the feeling of safety inspired by Frederic's faithless ally was
not destined to endure long: on their arrival at Rome, the French and
Spanish ambassadors presented to the pope the treaty signed at
Grenada on the 11th of November, 1500, between Louis XII and
Ferdinand the Catholic, a treaty which up, to that time had been
secret. Alexander, foreseeing the probable future, had, by the death
of Alfonso, loosened all the bonds that attached him to the house of
Aragon, and then began by making some difficulty about it. It was
demonstrated that the arrangement had only been undertaken to provide
the Christian princes with another weapon for attacking the Ottoman
Empire, and before this consideration, one may readily suppose, all
the pope's scruples vanished; on the 25th of June, therefore, it was
decided to call a consistory which was to declare Frederic deposed
from the throne of Naples. When Frederic heard all at once that the
French army had arrived at Rome, that his ally Ferdinand had deceived
him, and that Alexander had pronounced the sentence of his downfall,
he understood that all was lost; but he did not wish it to be said
that he had abandoned his kingdom without even attempting to save it.
So he charged his two new condottieri, Fabrizio Calonna and Ranuzia
di Marciano, to check the French before Capua with 300 men-at-arms,
some light horse, and 3000 infantry; in person he occupied Aversa
with another division of his army, while Prospero Colonna was sent to
defend Naples with the rest, and make a stand against the Spaniards
on the side of Calabria.

These dispositions were scarcely made when d'Aubigny, having passed
the Volturno, approached to lay siege to Capua, and invested the town
on both sides of the river. Scarcely were the French encamped before
the ramparts than they began to set up their batteries, which were
soon in play, much to the terror of the besieged, who, poor
creatures, were almost all strangers to the town, and had fled
thither from every side, expecting to find protection beneath the
walls. So, although bravely repulsed by Fabrizio Colonna, the
French, from the moment of their first assault, inspired so great and
blind a terror that everyone began to talk of opening the gates, and
it was only with great difficulty that Calonna made this multitude
understand that at least they ought to reap some benefit from the
check the besiegers had received and obtain good terms of
capitulation. When he had brought them round to his view, he sent
out to demand a parley with d'Aubigny, and a conference was fixed for
the next day but one, in which they were to treat of the surrender of
the town.

But this was not Caesar Borgia's idea at all: he had stayed behind to
confer with the pope, and had joined the French army with some of his
troops on the very day on which the conference had been arranged for
two days later: and a capitulation of any nature would rob him of his
share of the booty and the promise of such pleasure as would come
from the capture of a city so rich and populous as Capua. So he
opened up negotiations on his own account with a captain who was on
guard at one of the gates. Such negotiations, made with cunning
supported by bribery, proved as usual more prompt and efficacious
than any others. At the very moment when Fabrizio Colonna in a
fortified outpost was discussing the conditions of capitulation with
the French captains, suddenly great cries of distress were heard.
These were caused by Borgia, who without a word to anyone had entered
the town with his faithful army from Romagna, and was beginning to
cut the throats of the garrison, which had naturally somewhat relaxed
their vigilance in the belief that the capitulation was all but
signed. The French, when they saw that the town was half taken,
rushed on the gates with such impetuosity that the besieged did not
even attempt to defend themselves any longer, and forced their way
into Capua by three separate sides: nothing more could be done then
to stop the issue. Butchery and pillage had begun, and the work of
destruction must needs be completed: in vain did Fabrizio Colonna,
Ranuzio di Marciano, and Don Ugo di Cardona attempt to make head
against the French and Spaniards with such men as they could get
together. Fabrizia Calonna and Don Ugo were made prisoners; Ranuzia,
wounded by an arrow, fell into the hands of the Duke of Valentinois;
seven thousand inhabitants were massacred in the streets among them
the traitor who had given up the gate; the churches were pillaged,
the convents of nuns forced open; and then might be seen the
spectacle of some of these holy virgins casting themselves into pits
or into the river to escape the soldiers. Three hundred of the
noblest ladies of the town took refuge in a tower. The Duke of
Valentinois broke in the doors, chased out for himself forty of the
most beautiful, and handed over the rest to his army.

The pillage continued for three days.

Capua once taken, Frederic saw that it was useless any longer to
attempt defence. So he shut himself up in Castel Nuovo and gave
permission to Gaeta and to Naples to treat with the conqueror. Gaeta
bought immunity from pillage with 60,000 ducats; and Naples with the
surrender of the castle. This surrender was made to d'Aubigny by
Frederic himself, an condition that he should be allowed to take to
the island of Ischia his money, jewels, and furniture, and there
remain with his family for six months secure from all hostile attack.
The terms of this capitulation were faithfully adhered to on both
sides: d'Aubigny entered Naples, and Frederic retired to Ischia.

Thus, by a last terrible blow, never to rise again, fell this branch
of the house of Aragon, which had now reigned for sixty-five years.
Frederic, its head, demanded and obtained a safe-conduct to pass into
France, where Louis XII gave him the duchy of Anjou and 30,000 ducats
a year, an condition that he should never quit the kingdom; and
there, in fact, he died, on the 9th of September 1504. His eldest
son, Dan Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, retired to Spain, where he was
permitted to marry twice, but each time with a woman who was known to
be barren; and there he died in 1550. Alfonso, the second son, who
had followed his father to France, died, it is said, of poison, at
Grenoble, at the age of twenty-two; lastly Caesar, the third son,
died at Ferrara, before he had attained his eighteenth birthday.

Frederic's daughter Charlotte married in France Nicholas, Count of
Laval, governor and admiral of Brittany; a daughter was born of this
marriage, Anne de Laval, who married Francois de la Trimauille.
Through her those rights were transmitted to the house of La
Trimouille which were used later on as a claim upon the kingdom of
the Two Sicilies.

The capture of Naples gave the Duke of Valentinois his liberty again;
so he left the French army, after he had received fresh assurances on
his own account of the king's friendliness, and returned to the siege
of Piombino, which he had been forced to interrupt. During this
interval Alexander had been visiting the scenes of his son's
conquests, and traversing all the Romagna with Lucrezia, who was now
consoled for her husband's death, and had never before enjoyed quite
so much favour with His Holiness; so, when she returned to Rome she
no longer had separate rooms from him. The result of this
recrudescence of affection was the appearance of two pontifical
bulls, converting the towns of Nepi and Sermoneta into duchies: one
was bestowed on Gian Bargia, an illegitimate child of the pope, who
was not the son of either of his mistresses, Rosa Vanozza or Giulia
Farnese, the other on Don Roderigo of Aragon, son of Lucrezia and
Alfonso: the lands of the Colonna were in appanage to the two

But Alexander was dreaming of yet another addition to his fortune;
this was to come from a marriage between Lucrezia and Don Alfonso
d'Este, son of Duke Hercules of Ferrara, in favour of which alliance
Louis XII had negotiated.

His Holiness was now having a run of good fortune, and he learned on
the same day that Piombino was taken and that Duke Hercules had given
the King of France his assent to the marriage. Both of these pieces
of news were good for Alexander, but the one could not compare in
importance with the other; and the intimation that Lucrezia was to
marry the heir presumptive to the duchy of Ferrara was received with
a joy so great that it smacked of the humble beginnings of the
Borgian house. The Duke of Valentinois was invited to return to
Rome, to take his share in the family rejoicing, and on the day when
the news was made public the governor of St. Angelo received orders
that cannon should be fired every quarter of an hour from noon to
midnight. At two o'clock, Lucrezia, attired as a fiancee, and
accompanied by her two brothers, the Dukes of Valentinois and
Squillace, issued from the Vatican, followed by all the nobility of
Rome, and proceeded to the church of the Madonna del Papalo, where
the Duke of Gandia and Cardinal Gian Borgia were buried, to render
thanks for this new favour accorded to her house by God; and in the
evening, accompanied by the same cavalcade, which shone the more
brightly under the torchlight and brilliant illuminations, she made
procession through the whale town, greeted by cries of "Long live
Pope Alexander VI! Long live the Duchess of Ferrara!" which were
shouted aloud by heralds clad in cloth of gold.

The next day an announcement was made in the town that a racecourse
for women was opened between the castle of Sant' Angelo and the
Piazza of St. Peter's; that on every third day there would be a bull-
fight in the Spanish fashion; and that from the end of the present
month, which was October, until the first day of Lent, masquerades
would be permitted in the streets of Rome.

Such was the nature of the fetes outside; the programme of those
going on within the Vatican was not presented to the people; for by
the account of Bucciardo, an eye-witness, this is what happened--

"On the last Sunday of the month of October, fifty courtesans supped
in the apostolic palace in the Duke of Valentinois' rooms, and after
supper danced with the equerries and servants, first wearing their
usual garments, afterwards in dazzling draperies; when supper was
over, the table was removed, candlesticks were set on the floor in a
symmetrical pattern, and a great quantity of chestnuts was scattered
on the ground: these the fifty women skilfully picked up, running
about gracefully, in and out between the burning lights; the pope,
the Duke of Valentinois, and his sister Lucrezia, who were looking on
at this spectacle from a gallery, encouraged the most agile and
industrious with their applause, and they received prizes of
embroidered garters, velvet boots, golden caps, and laces; then new
diversions took the place of these."

We humbly ask forgiveness of our readers, and especially of our lady
readers; but though we have found words to describe the first part of
the spectacle, we have sought them in vain for the second; suffice it
to say that just as there had been prizes for feats of adroitness,
others were given now to the dancers who were most daring and brazen.

Some days after this strange night, which calls to mind the Roman
evenings in the days of Tiberius, Nero, and Heliogabalus, Lucrezia,
clad in a robe of golden brocade, her train carried by young girls
dressed in white and crowned with roses, issued from her palace to
the sound of trumpets and clarions, and made her way over carpets
that were laid down in the streets through which she had to pass.
Accompanied by the noblest cavaliers and the loveliest women in Rome,
she betook herself to the Vatican, where in the Pauline hall the pope
awaited her, with the Duke of Valentinois, Don Ferdinand, acting as
proxy for Duke Alfonso, and his cousin, Cardinal d'Este. The pope
sat on one side of the table, while the envoys from Ferrara stood on
the other: into their midst came Lucrezia, and Don Ferdinand placed
on her finger the nuptial ring; this ceremony over, Cardinal d'Este
approached and presented to the bride four magnificent rings set with
precious stones; then a casket was placed on the table, richly inlaid
with ivory, whence the cardinal drew forth a great many trinkets,
chains, necklaces of pearls and diamonds, of workmanship as costly as
their material; these he also begged Lucrezia to accept, before she
received those the bridegroom was hoping to offer himself, which
would be more worthy of her. Lucrezia showed the utmost delight in
accepting these gifts; then she retired into the next room, leaning
on the pope's arm, and followed by the ladies of her suite, leaving
the Duke of Valentinois to do the honours of the Vatican to the men.
That evening the guests met again, and spent half the night in
dancing, while a magnificent display of fireworks lighted up the
Piazza of San Paolo.

The ceremony of betrothal over, the pope and the Duke busied
themselves with making preparations for the departure. The pope, who
wished the journey to be made with a great degree of splendour, sent
in his daughter's company, in addition to the two brothers-in-law and
the gentlemen in their suite, the Senate of Rome and all the lords
who, by virtue of their wealth, could display most magnificence in
their costumes and liveries. Among this brilliant throng might be
seen Olivero and Ramiro Mattei, sons of Piero Mattel, chancellor of
the town, and a daughter of the pope whose mother was not Rosa
Vanozza; besides these, the pope nominated in consistory Francesco
Borgia, Cardinal of Sosenza, legate a latere, to accompany his
daughter to the frontiers of the Ecclesiastical States.

Also the Duke of Valentinois sent out messengers into all the cities
of Romagna to order that Lucrezia should be received as sovereign
lady and mistress: grand preparations were at once set on foot for
the fulfilment of his orders. But the messengers reported that they
greatly feared that there would be some grumbling at Cesena, where it
will be remembered that Caesar had left Ramiro d'Orco as governor
with plenary powers, to calm the agitation of the town. Now Ramiro
d'Orco had accomplished his task so well that there was nothing more
to fear in the way of rebellion; for one-sixth of the inhabitants had
perished on the scaffold, and the result of this situation was that
it was improbable that the same demonstrations of joy could be
expected from a town plunged in mourning that were looked for from
Imala, Faenza, and Pesaro. The Duke of Valentinais averted this
inconvenience in the prompt and efficacious fashion characteristic of
him alone. One morning the inhabitants of Cesena awoke to find a
scaffold set up in the square, and upon it the four quarters of a
man, his head, severed from the trunk, stuck up on the end of a pike.

This man was Ramiro d'Orco.

No one ever knew by whose hands the scaffold had been raised by
night, nor by what executioners the terrible deed had been carried
out; but when the Florentine Republic sent to ask Macchiavelli, their
ambassador at Cesena, what he thought of it, he replied:

"MAGNIFICENT LORDS,--I can tell you nothing concerning the execution
of Ramiro d'Orco, except that Caesar Borgia is the prince who best
knows how to make and unmake men according to their deserts.

The Duke of Valentinois was not disappointed, and the future Duchess
of Ferrara was admirably received in every town along her route, and
particularly at Cesena.

While Lucrezia was on her way to Ferrara to meet her fourth husband,
Alexander and the Duke of Valentinois resolved to make progress in
the region of their last conquest, the duchy of Piombino. The
apparent object of this journey was that the new subjects might take
their oath to Caesar, and the real object was to form an arsenal in
Jacopo d'Appiano's capital within reach of Tuscany, a plan which
neither the pope nor his son had ever seriously abandoned. The two
accordingly started from the port of Corneto with six ships,
accompanied by a great number of cardinals and prelates, and arrived
the same evening at Piombina. The pontifical court made a stay there
of several days, partly with a view of making the duke known to the
inhabitants, and also in order to be present at certain
ecclesiastical functions, of which the most important was a service
held on the third Sunday in Lent, in which the Cardinal of Cosenza
sang a mass and the pope officiated in state with the duke and the
cardinals. After these solemn functions the customary pleasures
followed, and the pope summoned the prettiest girls of the country
and ordered them to dance their national dances before him.

Following on these dances came feasts of unheard of magnificence,
during which the pope in the sight of all men completely ignored Lent
and did not fast. The object of all these fetes was to scatter
abroad a great deal of money, and so to make the Duke of Valentinois
popular, while poor Jacopo d'Appiano was forgotten.

When they left Piombino, the pope and his son visited the island of
Elba, where they only stayed long enough to visit the old
fortifications and issue orders for the building of new ones.

Then the illustrious travellers embarked on their return journey to
Rome; but scarcely had they put out to sea when the weather became
adverse, and the pope not wishing to put in at Porto Ferrajo, they
remained five days on board, though they had only two days'
provisions. During the last three days the pope lived on fried fish
that were caught under great difficulties because of the heavy
weather. At last they arrived in sight of Corneto, and there the
duke, who was not on the same vessel as the pope, seeing that his
ship could not get in, had a boat put out, and so was taken ashore.
The pope was obliged to continue on his way towards Pontercole, where
at last he arrived, after encountering so violent a tempest that all
who were with him were utterly subdued either by sickness or by the
terror of death. The pope alone did not show one instant's fear, but
remained on the bridge during the storm, sitting on his arm-chair,
invoking the name of Jesus and making the sign of the cross. At last
his ship entered the roads of Pontercole, where he landed, and after
sending to Corneto to fetch horses, he rejoined the duke, who was
there awaiting him. They then returned by slow stages, by way of
Civita Vecchia and Palo, and reached Rome after an absence of a
month. Almost at the same time d'Albret arrived in quest of his
cardinal's hat. He was accompanied by two princes of the house of
Navarre, who were received with not only those honours which beseemed
their rank, but also as brothers-in-law to whom the duke was eager
to show in what spirit he was contracting this alliance.


The time had now come for the Duke of Valentinois to continue the
pursuit of his conquests. So, since on the 1st of May in the
preceding year the pope had pronounced sentence of forfeiture in full
consistory against Julius Caesar of Varano, as punishment for the
murder of his brother Rudolph and for the harbouring of the pope's
enemies, and he had accordingly been mulcted of his fief of Camerino,
which was to be handed over to the apostolic chamber, Caesar left
Rome to put the sentence in execution. Consequently, when he arrived
on the frontiers of Perugia, which belonged to his lieutenant, Gian
Paolo Baglioni, he sent Oliverotta da Fermo and Orsini of Gravina to
lay waste the March of Camerino, at the same time petitioning Guido
d'Ubaldo di Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, to lend his soldiers and
artillery to help him in this enterprise. This the unlucky Duke of
Urbino, who enjoyed the best possible relations with the pope, and
who had no reason for distrusting Caesar, did not dare refuse. But
on the very same day that the Duke of Urbina's troops started for
Camerino, Caesar's troops entered the duchy of Urbino, and took
possession of Cagli, one of the four towns of the little State. The
Duke of Urbino knew what awaited him if he tried to resist, and fled
incontinently, disguised as a peasant; thus in less than eight days
Caesar was master of his whole duchy, except the fortresses of Maiolo
and San Leone.

The Duke of Valentinois forthwith returned to Camerino, where the
inhabitants still held out, encouraged by the presence of Julius
Caesar di Varano, their lord, and his two sons, Venantio and
Hannibal; the eldest son, Gian Maria, had been sent by his father to

The presence of Caesar was the occasion of parleying between the
besiegers and besieged. A capitulation was arranged whereby Varano
engaged to give up the town, on condition that he and his sons were
allowed to retire safe and sound, taking with them their furniture,
treasure, and carriages. But this was by no means Caesar's
intention; so, profiting by the relaxation in vigilance that had
naturally come about in the garrison when the news of the
capitulation had been announced, he surprised the town in the night
preceding the surrender, and seized Caesar di Varano and his two
sons, who were strangled a short time after, the father at La Pergola
and the sons at Pesaro, by Don Michele Correglio, who, though he had
left the position of sbirro for that of a captain, every now and then
returned to his first business.

Meanwhile Vitellozzo Vitelli, who had assumed the title of General of
the Church, and had under him 800 men-at-arms and 3,000 infantry, was
following the secret instructions that he had received from Caesar by
word of mouth, and was carrying forward that system of invasion which
was to encircle Florence in a network of iron, and in the end make
her defence an impossibility. A worthy pupil of his master, in whose
school he had learned to use in turn the cunning of a fox and the
strength of a lion, he had established an understanding between
himself and certain young gentlemen of Arezzo to get that town
delivered into his hands. But the plot had been discovered by
Guglielma dei Pazzi, commissary of the Florentine Republic, and he
had arrested two of the conspirators, whereupon the others, who were
much more numerous than was supposed, had instantly dispersed about
the town summoning the citizens to arms. All the republican faction,
who saw in any sort of revolution the means of subjugating Florence,
joined their party, set the captives at liberty, and seized
Guglielmo; then proclaiming the establishment of the ancient
constitution, they besieged the citadel, whither Cosimo dei Pazzi,
Bishop of Arezzo, the son of Guglielmo, had fled for refuge; he,
finding himself invested on every side, sent a messenger in hot haste
to Florence to ask for help.

Unfortunately for the cardinal, Vitellozzo's troops were nearer to
the besiegers than were the soldiers of the most serene republic to
the besieged, and instead of help--the whole army of the enemy came
down upon him. This army was under the command of Vitellozzo, of
Gian Paolo Baglioni, and of Fabio Orsino, and with them were the two
Medici, ever ready to go wherever there was a league against
Florence, and ever ready at the command of Borgia, on any conditions
whatever, to re-enter the town whence they had been banished. The
next day more help in the form of money and artillery arrived, sent
by Pandolfo Petrucci, and on the 18th of June the citadel of Arezzo,
which had received no news from Florence, was obliged to surrender.

Vitellozzo left the men of Arezzo to look after their town
themselves, leaving also Fabio Orsina to garrison the citadel with a
thousand men. Then, profiting by the terror that had been spread
throughout all this part of Italy by the successive captures of the
duchy of Urbino, of Camerino, and of Arezzo, he marched upon Monte
San Severino, Castiglione, Aretino, Cortone, and the other towns of
the valley of Chiana, which submitted one after the other almost
without a struggle. When he was only ten or twelve leagues from
Florence, and dared not on his own account attempt anything against
her, he made known the state of affairs to the Duke of Valentinois.
He, fancying the hour had came at last far striking the blow so long
delayed, started off at once to deliver his answer in person to his
faithful lieutenants.

But the Florentines, though they had sent no help to Guglielmo dei
Pazzi, had demanded aid from Chaumont dumbest, governor of the
Milanese, on behalf of Louis XII, not only explaining the danger they
themselves were in but also Caesar's ambitious projects, namely that
after first overcoming the small principalities and then the states
of the second order, he had now, it seemed, reached such a height of
pride that he would attack the King of France himself. The news from
Naples was disquieting; serious differences had already occurred
between the Count of Armagnac and Gonzalva di Cordova, and Louis
might any day need Florence, whom he had always found loyal and
faithful. He therefore resolved to check Caesar's progress, and not
only sent him orders to advance no further step forwards, but also
sent off, to give effect to his injunction, the captain Imbaut with
400 lances. The Duke of Valentinais on the frontier of Tuscany
received a copy of the treaty signed between the republic and the
King of France, a treaty in which the king engaged to help his ally
against any enemy whatsoever, and at the same moment the formal
prohibition from Louis to advance any further. Caesar also learned
that beside the 400 lances with the captain Imbaut, which were on the
road to Florence, Louis XII had as soon as he reached Asti sent off
to Parma Louis de la Trimouille and 200 men-at-arms, 3000 Swiss, and
a considerable train of artillery. In these two movements combined
he saw hostile intentions towards himself, and turning right about
face with his usual agility, he profited by the fact that he had
given nothing but verbal instructions to all his lieutenants, and
wrote a furious letter to Vitellozzo, reproaching him for
compromising his master with a view to his own private interest, and
ordering the instant surrender to the Florentines of the towns and
fortresses he had taken, threatening to march down with his own
troops and take them if he hesitated for a moment.

As soon as this letter was written, Caesar departed for Milan, where
Louis XII had just arrived, bringing with him proof positive that he
had been calumniated in the evacuation of the conquered towns. He
also was entrusted with the pope's mission to renew for another
eighteen months the title of legate 'a latere' in France to Cardinal
dumbest, the friend rather than the minister of Louis XII. Thus,
thanks to the public proof of his innocence and the private use of
his influence, Caesar soon made his peace with the King of France.

But this was not all. It was in the nature of Caesar's genius to
divert an impending calamity that threatened his destruction so as to
come out of it better than before, and he suddenly saw the advantage
he might take from the pretended disobedience of his lieutenants.
Already he had been disturbed now and again by their growing power,
and coveted their towns, now he thought the hour had perhaps came for
suppressing them also, and in the usurpation of their private
possessions striking a blow at Florence, who always escaped him at
the very moment when he thought to take her. It was indeed an
annoying thing to have these fortresses and towns displaying another
banner than his own in the midst of the beautiful Romagna which he
desired far his own kingdom. For Vitellozzo possessed Citta di
Castello, Bentivoglio Bologna, Gian Paolo Baglioni was in command of
Perugia, Oliverotto had just taken Fermo, and Pandolfo Petrucci was
lord of Siena; it was high time that all these returned into his own
hands. The lieutenants of the Duke of Valentinois, like Alexander's,
were becoming too powerful, and Borgia must inherit from them, unless
he were willing to let them become his own heirs. He obtained from
Louis XII three hundred lances wherewith to march against them. As
soon as Vitellozzo Vitelli received Caesar's letter he perceived that
he was being sacrificed to the fear that the King of France inspired;
but he was not one of those victims who suffer their throats to be
cut in the expiation of a mistake: he was a buffalo of Romagna who
opposed his horns to the knife of the butcher; besides, he had the
example of Varano and the Manfredi before him, and, death for death,
he preferred to perish in arms.

So Vitellozzo convoked at Maggione all whose lives or lands were
threatened by this new reversal of Caesar's policy. These were Paolo
Orsino, Gian Paolo Baglioni, Hermes Bentivoglio, representing his
father Gian, Antonio di Venafro, the envoy of Pandolfo Petrucci,
Olivertoxo da Fermo, and the Duke of Urbino: the first six had
everything to lose, and the last had already lost everything.

A treaty of alliance was signed between the confederates: they
engaged to resist whether he attacked them severally or all together.

Caesar learned the existence of this league by its first effects: the
Duke of Urbino, who was adored by his subjects, had come with a
handful of soldiers to the fortress of San Leone, and it had yielded
at once. In less than a week towns and fortresses followed this
example, and all the duchy was once more in the hands of the Duke of

At the same time, each member of the confederacy openly proclaimed
his revolt against the common enemy, and took up a hostile attitude.

Caesar was at Imola, awaiting the French troops, but with scarcely
any men; so that Bentivoglio, who held part of the country, and the
Duke of Urbino, who had just reconquered the rest of it, could
probably have either taken him or forced him to fly and quit the
Romagna, had they marched against him; all the more since the two men
on whom he counted, viz., Don Ugo di Cardona, who had entered his
service after Capua was taken, and Michelotto had mistaken his
intention, and were all at once separated from him. He had really
ordered them to fall back upon Rimini, and bring 200 light horse and
500 infantry of which they had the command; but, unaware of the
urgency of his situation, at the very moment when they were
attempting to surprise La Pergola and Fossombrone, they were
surrounded by Orsino of Gravina and Vitellozzo. Ugo di Cardona and
Michelotto defended themselves like lions; but in spite of their
utmost efforts their little band was cut to pieces, and Ugo di
Cardona taken prisoner, while Michelotto only escaped the same fate
by lying down among the dead; when night came on, he escaped to Fano.

But even alone as he was, almost without troops at Imola, the
confederates dared attempt nothing against Caesar, whether because of
the personal fear he inspired, or because in him they respected the
ally of the King of France; they contented themselves with taking the
towns and fortresses in the neighbourhood. Vitellozzo had retaken
the fortresses of Fossombrone, Urbino, Cagli, and Aggobbio; Orsino of
Gravina had reconquered Fano and the whole province; while Gian Maria
de Varano, the same who by his absence had escaped being massacred
with the rest of his family, had re-entered Camerino, borne in
triumph by his people. Not even all this could destroy Caesar's
confidence in his own good fortune, and while he was on the one hand
urging on the arrival of the French troops and calling into his pay
all those gentlemen known as "broken lances," because they went about
the country in parties of five or six only, and attached themselves
to anyone who wanted them, he had opened up negotiations with his
enemies, certain that from that very day when he should persuade them
to a conference they were undone. Indeed, Caesar had the power of
persuasion as a gift from heaven; and though they perfectly well knew
his duplicity, they had no power of resisting, not so much his actual
eloquence as that air of frank good-nature which Macchiavelli so
greatly admired, and which indeed more than once deceived even him,
wily politician as he was. In order to get Paolo Orsino to treat
with him at Imola, Caesar sent Cardinal Borgia to the confederates as
a hostage; and on this Paolo Orsino hesitated no longer, and on the
25th of October, 1502, arrived at Imola.

Caesar received him as an old friend from whom one might have been
estranged a few days because of some slight passing differences; he
frankly avowed that all the fault was no doubt on his side, since he
had contrived to alienate men who were such loyal lords and also such
brave captains; but with men of their nature, he added, an honest,
honourable explanation such as he would give must put everything once
more in statu quo. To prove that it was goodwill, not fear, that
brought him back to them, he showed Orsino the letters from Cardinal
Amboise which announced the speedy arrival of French troops; he
showed him those he had collected about him, in the wish, he
declared, that they might be thoroughly convinced that what he
chiefly regretted in the whole matter was not so much the loss of the
distinguished captains who were the very soul of his vast enterprise,
as that he had led the world to believe, in a way so fatal to his own
interest, that he could for a single instant fail to recognise their
merit; adding that he consequently relied upon him, Paolo Orsino,
whom he had always cared for most, to bring back the confederates by
a peace which would be as much for the profit of all as a war was
hurtful to all, and that he was ready to sign a treaty in consonance
with their wishes so long as it should not prejudice his own honour.

Orsino was the man Caesar wanted: full of pride and confidence in
himself, he was convinced of the truth of the old proverb that says,
"A pope cannot reign eight days, if he has hath the Colonnas and the
Orsini against him." He believed, therefore, if not in Caesar's good
faith, at any rate in the necessity he must feel for making peace;
accordingly he signed with him the following conventions--which only
needed ratification--on the 18th of October, 1502, which we reproduce
here as Macchiavelli sent them to the magnificent republic of

"Agreement between the Duke of Valentinois and the Confederates.

"Let it be known to the parties mentioned below, and to all who shall
see these presents, that His Excellency the Duke of Romagna of the
one part and the Orsini of the other part, together with their
confederates, desiring to put an end to differences, enmities,
misunderstandings, and suspicions which have arisen between them,
have resolved as follows:

"There shall be between them peace and alliance true and perpetual,
with a complete obliteration of wrongs and injuries which may have
taken place up to this day, both parties engaging to preserve no
resentment of the same; and in conformity with the aforesaid peace
and union, His Excellency the Duke of Romagna shall receive into
perpetual confederation, league, and alliance all the lords
aforesaid; and each of them shall promise to defend the estates of
all in general and of each in particular against any power that may
annoy or attack them for any cause whatsoever, excepting always
nevertheless the Pope Alexander VI and his Very Christian Majesty
Louis XII, King of France: the lords above named promising on the
other part to unite in the defence of the person and estates of His
Excellency, as also those of the most illustrious lords, Don Gaffredo
Bargia, Prince of Squillace, Don Roderigo Bargia, Duke of Sermaneta
and Biselli, and Don Gian Borgia, Duke of Camerino and Negi, all
brothers or nephews of the Duke of Romagna.

"Moreover, since the rebellion and usurpation of Urbino have occurred
during the above-mentioned misunderstandings, all the confederates
aforesaid and each of them shall bind themselves to unite all their
forces for the recovery of the estates aforesaid and of such other
places as have revolted and been usurped.

"His Excellency the Duke of Romagna shall undertake to continue to
the Orsini and Vitelli their ancient engagements in the way of
military service and an the same conditions.

"His Excellency promises further not to insist on the service in
person of more than one of them, as they may choose: the service that
the others may render shall be voluntary.

"He also promises that the second treaty shall be ratified by the
sovereign pontiff, who shall not compel Cardinal Orsino to reside in
Rome longer than shall seem convenient to this prelate.

"Furthermore, since there are certain differences between the Pope
and the lord Gian Bentivoglio, the confederates aforesaid agree that
they shall be put to the arbitration of Cardinal Orsino, of His
Excellency the Duke of Romagna, and of the lord Pandolfo Petrucci,
without appeal.

"Thus the confederates engage, each and all, so soon as they may be
required by the Duke of Romagna, to put into his hands as a hostage
one of the legitimate sons of each of them, in that place and at that
time which he may be pleased to indicate.

"The same confederates promising moreover, all and each, that if any
project directed against any one of them come to their knowledge, to
give warning thereof, and all to prevent such project reciprocally.

"It is agreed, over and above, between the Duke of Romagna and the
confederates aforesaid, to regard as a common enemy any who shall
fail to keep the present stipulations, and to unite in the
destruction of any States not conforming thereto.

"AGAPIT, Secretary."

At the same time, while Orsino was carrying to the confederates the
treaty drawn up between him and the duke, Bentivoglio, not willing to
submit to the arbitration indicated, made an offer to Caesar of
settling their differences by a private treaty, and sent his son to
arrange the conditions: after some parleying, they were settled as

Bentivaglio should separate his fortunes from the Vitelli and Orsini;

He should furnish the Duke of Valentinois with a hundred men-at-arms
and a hundred mounted archers for eight years;

He should pay 12,000 ducats per annum to Caesar, for the support of a
hundred lances;

In return for this, his son Hannibal was to marry the sister of the
Archbishop of Enna, who was Caesar's niece, and the pope was to
recognise his sovereignty in Bologna;

The King of France, the Duke of Ferrara, and the republic of Florence
were to be the guarantors of this treaty.

But the convention brought to the confederates by Orsino was the
cause of great difficulties on their part. Vitellozza Vitelli in
particular, who knew Caesar the best, never ceased to tell the other
condottieri that so prompt and easy a peace must needs be the cover
to some trap; but since Caesar had meanwhile collected a considerable
army at Imala, and the four hundred lances lent him by Louis XII had
arrived at last, Vitellozzo and Oliverotto decided to sign the treaty
that Orsino brought, and to let the Duke of Urbino and the lord of
Camerino know of it; they, seeing plainly that it was henceforth
impossible to make a defence unaided, had retired, the one to Citta
di Castello and the other into the kingdom of Naples.

But Caesar, saying nothing of his intentions, started on the 10th of
December, and made his way to Cesena with a powerful army once more
under his command. Fear began to spread on all sides, not only in
Romagna but in the whole of Northern Italy; Florence, seeing him move
away from her, only thought it a blind to conceal his intentions;
while Venice, seeing him approach her frontiers, despatched all her
troops to the banks of the Po. Caesar perceived their fear, and lest
harm should be done to himself by the mistrust it might inspire, he
sent away all French troops in his service as soon as he reached
Cesena, except a hundred men with M. de Candale, his brother-in-law;
it was then seen that he only had 2000 cavalry and 2000 infantry with
him. Several days were spent in parleying, for at Cesena Caesar
found the envoys of the Vitelli and Orsini, who themselves were with
their army in the duchy of Urbino; but after the preliminary
discussions as to the right course to follow in carrying on the plan
of conquest, there arose such difficulties between the general-in-
chief and these agents, that they could not but see the impossibility
of getting anything settled by intermediaries, and the urgent
necessity of a conference between Caesar and one of the chiefs. So
Oliverotto ran the risk of joining the duke in order to make
proposals to him, either to march on Tuscany or to take Sinigaglia,
which was the only place in the duchy of Urbino that had not again
fallen into Caesar's power. Caesar's reply was that he did not
desire to war upon Tuscany, because the Tuscans were his friends; but
that he approved of the lieutenants' plan with regard to Sinigaglia,
and therefore was marching towards Fano.

But the daughter of Frederic, the former Duke of Urbino, who held the
town of Sinigaglia, and who was called the lady-prefect, because she
had married Gian delta Rovere, whom his uncle, Sixtus IV, had made
prefect of Rome, judging that it would be impossible to defend
herself against the forces the Duke of Valentinais was bringing, left
the citadel in the hands of a captain, recommending him to get the
best terms he could for the town, and took boat for Venice.

Caesar learned this news at Rimini, through a messenger from Vitelli
and the Orsini, who said that the governor of the citadel, though
refusing to yield to them, was quite ready to make terms with him,
and consequently they would engage to go to the town and finish the
business there. Caesar's reply was that in consequence of this
information he was sending some of his troops to Cesena and Imola,
for they would be useless to him, as he should now have theirs, which
together with the escort he retained would be sufficient, since his
only object was the complete pacification of the duchy of Urbino. He
added that this pacification would not be possible if his old friends
continued to distrust him, and to discuss through intermediaries
alone plans in which their own fortunes were interested as well as
his. The messenger returned with this answer, and the confederates,
though feeling, it is true, the justice of Caesar's remarks, none the
less hesitated to comply with his demand. Vitellozzo Vitelli in
particular showed a want of confidence in him which nothing seemed
able to subdue; but, pressed by Oliverotto, Gravina, and Orsino, he
consented at last to await the duke's coming; making concession
rather because he could not bear to appear more timid than his
companions, than because of any confidence he felt in the return of
friendship that Borgia was displaying.

The duke learned the news of this decision, so much desired, when he
arrived at Fano on the 20th of December 1502. At once he summoned
eight of his most faithful friends, among whom were d'Enna, his
nephew, Michelotto, and Ugo di Cardona, and ordered them, as soon as
they arrived at Sinigaglia, and had seen Vitellozzo, Gravina,
Oliveratta, and Orsino come out to meet them, on a pretext of doing
them honour, to place themselves on the right and left hand of the
four generals, two beside each, so that at a given signal they might
either stab or arrest them; next he assigned to each of them his
particular man, bidding them not quit his side until he had reentered
Sinigaglia and arrived at the quarters prepared far him; then he sent
orders to such of the soldiers as were in cantonments in the
neighbourhood to assemble to the number of 8000 on the banks of the
Metaurus, a little river of Umbria which runs into the Adriatic and
has been made famous by the defeat of Hannibal.

The duke arrived at the rendezvous given to his army on the 31st of
December, and instantly sent out in front two hundred horse, and
immediately behind them his infantry; following close in the midst of
his men-at-arms, following the coast of the Adriatic, with the
mountains on his right and the sea on his left, which in part of the
way left only space for the army to march ten abreast.

After four hours' march, the duke at a turn of the path perceived
Sinigaglia, nearly a mile distant from the sea, and a bowshot from
the mountains; between the army and the town ran a little river,
whose banks he had to follow far some distance. At last he found a
bridge opposite a suburb of the town, and here Caesar ordered his
cavalry to stop: it was drawn up in two lines, one between the road
and the river, the other on the side of the country, leaving the
whole width of the road to the infantry: which latter defiled,
crossed the bridge, and entering the town, drew themselves up in
battle array in the great square.

On their side, Vitellazzo, Gravina, Orsino, and Oliverotto, to make
room for the duke's army, had quartered their soldiers in little
towns or villages in the neighbourhood of Sinigaglia; Oliverotto
alone had kept nearly 1000 infantry and 150 horse, who were in
barracks in the suburb through which the duke entered.

Caesar had made only a few steps towards the town when he perceived
Vitellozzo at the gate, with the Duke of Gravina and Orsina, who all
came out to meet him; the last two quite gay and confident, but the
first so gloomy and dejected that you would have thought he foresaw
the fate that was in store for him; and doubtless he had not been
without same presentiments; for when he left his army to came to
Sinigaglia, he had bidden them farewell as though never to meet
again, had commended the care of his family to the captains, and
embraced his children with tears--a weakness which appeared strange
to all who knew him as a brave condottiere.

The duke marched up to them holding out his hand, as a sign that all
was over and forgotten, and did it with an air at once so loyal and
so smiling that Gravina and Orsina could no longer doubt the genuine
return of his friendship, and it was only Vitellozza still appeared
sad. At the same moment, exactly as they had been commanded, the
duke's accomplices took their posts on the right and left of those
they were to watch, who were all there except Oliverotto, whom the
duke could not see, and began to seek with uneasy looks; but as he
crossed the suburb he perceived him exercising his troops on the
square. Caesar at once despatched Michelotto and d'Enna, with a
message that it was a rash thing to have his troops out, when they
might easily start some quarrel with the duke's men and bring about
an affray: it would be much better to settle them in barracks and
then come to join his companions, who were with Caesar. Oliverotto,
drawn by the same fate as his friends, made no objection, ordered his
soldiers indoors, and put his horse to the gallop to join the duke,
escorted on either side by d'Enna and Michelotto. Caesar, on seeing
him, called him, took him by the hand, and continued his march to the
palace that had been prepared for him, his four victims following

Arrived on the threshold, Caesar dismounted, and signing to the
leader of the men-at-arms to await his orders, he went in first,
followed by Oliverotto, Gravina, Vitellozzo Vitelli, and Orsino, each
accompanied by his two satellites; but scarcely had they gone
upstairs and into the first room when the door was shut behind them,
and Caesar turned round, saying, "The hour has come!" This was the
signal agreed upon. Instantly the former confederates were seized,
thrown down, and forced to surrender with a dagger at their throat.
Then, while they were being carried to a dungeon, Caesar opened the
window, went out on the balcony and cried out to the leader of his
men-at-arms, "Go forward!" The man was in the secret, he rushed on
with his band towards the barracks where Oliverotto's soldiers had
just been consigned, and they, suddenly surprised and off their
guard, were at once made prisoners; then the duke's troops began to
pillage the town, and he summoned Macchiavelli.

Caesar and the Florentine envoy were nearly two hours shut up
together, and since Macchiavelli himself recounts the history of this
interview, we will give his own words.

"He summoned me," says the Florentine ambassador, "and in the calmest
manner showed me his joy at the success of this enterprise, which he
assured me he had spoken of to me the evening before; I remember that
he did, but I did not at that time understand what he meant; next he
explained, in terms of much feeling and lively affection for our
city, the different motives which had made him desire your alliance,
a desire to which he hopes you will respond. He ended with charging
me to lay three proposals before your lordships: first, that you
rejoice with him in the destruction at a single blow of the mortal
enemies of the king, himself, and you, and the consequent
disappearance of all seeds of trouble and dissension likely to waste
Italy: this service of his, together with his refusal to allow the
prisoners to march against you, ought, he thinks, to excite your
gratitude towards him; secondly, he begs that you will at this
juncture give him a striking proof of your friendliness, by urging
your cavalry's advance towards Borgo, and there assembling some
infantry also, in order that they may march with him, should need
arise, on Castello or on Perugia. Lastly, he desires--and this is
his third condition--that you arrest the Duke of Urbino, if he should
flee from Castello into your territories, when he learns that
Vitellozzo is a prisoner.

"When I objected that to give him up would not beseem the dignity of
the republic, and that you would never consent, he approved of my
words, and said that it would be enough for you to keep the duke, and
not give him his liberty without His Excellency's permission. I have
promised to give you all this information, to which he awaits your

The same night eight masked men descended to the dungeon where the
prisoners lay: they believed at that moment that the fatal hour had
arrived for all. But this time the executioners had to do with
Vitellozzo and Oliverotto alone. When these two captains heard that
they were condemned, Oliverotto burst forth into reproaches against
Vitellozzo, saying that it was all his fault that they had taken up
arms against the duke: not a word Vitellozzo answered except a prayer
that the pope might grant him plenary indulgence for all his sins.
Then the masked men took them away, leaving Orsino and Gravina to
await a similar fate, and led away the two chosen out to die to a
secluded spot outside the ramparts of the town, where they were
strangled and buried at once in two trenches that had been dug

The two others were kept alive until it should be known if the pope
had arrested Cardinal Orsino, archbishop of Florence and lord of
Santa Croce; and when the answer was received in the affirmative from
His Holiness, Gravina and Orsina, who had been transferred to a
castle, were likewise strangled.

The duke, leaving instructions with Michelotto, set off for
Sinigaglia as soon as the first execution was over, assuring
Macchiavelli that he had never had any other thought than that of
giving tranquillity to the Romagna and to Tuscany, and also that he
thought he had succeeded by taking and putting to death the men who
had been the cause of all the trouble; also that any other revolt
that might take place in the future would be nothing but sparks that
a drop of water could extinguish.

The pope had barely learned that Caesar had his enemies in his power,
when, eager to play the same winning game himself, he announced to
Cardinal Orsino, though it was then midnight, that his son had taken
Sinigaglia, and gave him an invitation to come the next morning and
talk over the good news. The cardinal, delighted at this increase of
favour, did not miss his appointment. So, in the morning, he started
on horseback for the Vatican; but at a turn of the first street he
met the governor of Rome with a detachment of cavalry, who
congratulated himself on the happy chance that they were taking the
same road, and accompanied him to the threshold of the Vatican.
There the cardinal dismounted, and began to ascend the stairs;
scarcely, however, had he reached the first landing before his mules
and carriages were seized and shut in the palace stables. When he
entered the hall of the Perropont, he found that he and all his suite
were surrounded by armed men, who led him into another apartment,
called the Vicar's Hall, where he found the Abbate Alviano, the
protonotary Orsino, Jacopo Santa Croce, and Rinaldo Orsino, who were
all prisoners like himself; at the same time the governor received
orders to seize the castle of Monte Giardino, which belonged to the
Orsini, and take away all the jewels, all the hangings, all the
furniture, and all the silver that he might find.

The governor carried out his orders conscientiously, and brought to
the Vatican everything he seized, down to the cardinal's account-
book. On consulting this book, the pope found out two things: first,
that a sum of 2000 ducats was due to the cardinal, no debtor's name
being mentioned; secondly, that the cardinal had bought three months
before, for 1500 Roman crowns, a magnificent pearl which could not be
found among the objects belonging to him: on which Alexander ordered
that from that very moment until the negligence in the cardinal's
accounts was repaired, the men who were in the habit of bringing him
food twice a day on behalf of his mother should not be admitted into
the Castle Sant' Angelo. The same day, the cardinal's mother sent
the pope the 2000 ducats, and the next day his mistress, in man's
attire, came in person to bring the missing pearl. His Holiness,
however, was so struck with her beauty in this costume, that, we are
told, he let her keep the pearl for the same price she had paid for

Then the pope allowed the cardinal to have his food brought as
before, and he died of poison on the 22nd of February--that is, two
days after his accounts had been set right.

That same night the Prince of Squillace set off to take possession,
in the pope's name, of the lands of the deceased.


The Duke of Valentinois had continued his road towards Citta di
Castello and Perugia, and had seized these two towns without striking
a blow; for the Vitelli had fled from the former, and the latter had
been abandoned by Gian Paolo Baglione with no attempt whatever at
resistance. There still remained Siena, where Pandolfo Petrucci was
shut up, the only man remaining of all who had joined the league
against Caesar.

But Siena was under the protection of the French. Besides, Siena was
not one of the States of the Church, and Caesar had no rights there.
Therefore he was content with insisting upon Pandolfo Petrucci's
leaving the town and retiring to Lucca, which he accordingly did.

Then all on this side being peaceful and the whole of Romagna in
subjection, Caesar resolved to return to Rome and help the pope to
destroy all that was left of the Orsini.

This was all the easier because Louis XII, having suffered reverses
in the kingdom of Naples, had since then been much concerned with his
own affairs to disturb himself about his allies. So Caesar, doing
for the neighbourhood of the Holy See the same thing that he had done
far the Romagna, seized in succession Vicovaro, Cera, Palombera,
Lanzano, and Cervetti ; when these conquests were achieved, having
nothing else to do now that he had brought the pontifical States into
subjection from the frontiers of Naples to those of Venice, he
returned to Rome to concert with his father as to the means of
converting his duchy into a kingdom.

Caesar arrived at the right moment to share with Alexander the
property of Cardinal Gian Michele, who had just died, having received
a poisoned cup from the hands of the pope.

The future King of Italy found his father preoccupied with a grand
project: he had resolved, for the Feast of St. Peter's, to create
nine cardinals. What he had to gain from these nominations is as

First, the cardinals elected would leave all their offices vacant;
these offices would fall into the hands of the pope, and he would
sell them;

Secondly, each of them would buy his election, more or less dear
according to his fortune; the price, left to be settled at the pope's
fancy, would vary from 10,000 to 40,000 ducats;

Lastly, since as cardinals they would by law lose the right of making
a will, the pope, in order to inherit from them, had only to poison
them: this put him in the position of a butcher who, if he needs
money, has only to cut the throat of the fattest sheep in the flock.

The nomination came to pass: the new cardinals were Giovanni
Castellaro Valentine, archbishop of Trani; Francesco Remolini,
ambassador from the King of Aragon; Francesco Soderini, bishop of
Volterra; Melchiore Copis, bishop of Brissina; Nicolas Fiesque,
bishop of Frejus; Francesco di Sprate, bishop of Leome; Adriano
Castellense, clerk of the chamber, treasurer-general, and secretary
of the briefs; Francesco Boris, bishop of Elva, patriarch of
Constantinople, and secretary to the pope; and Giacomo Casanova,
protonotary and private chamberlain to His Holiness.

The price of their simony paid and their vacated offices sold, the
pope made his choice of those he was to poison: the number was fixed
at three, one old and two new; the old one was Cardinal Casanova, and
the new ones Melchiore Copis and Adriano Castellense, who had taken
the name of Adrian of Carneta from that town where he had been born,
and where, in the capacity of clerk of the chamber, treasurer-
general, and secretary of briefs, he had amassed an immense fortune.

So, when all was settled between Caesar and the pope, they invited
their chosen guests to supper in a vineyard situated near the
Vatican, belonging to the Cardinal of Corneto. In the morning of
this day, the 2nd of August, they sent their servants and the steward
to make all preparations, and Caesar himself gave the pope's butler
two bottles of wine prepared with the white powder resembling sugar
whose mortal properties he had so often proved, and gave orders that
he was to serve this wine only when he was told, and only to persons
specially indicated; the butler accordingly put the wine an a
sideboard apart, bidding the waiters on no account to touch it, as it
was reserved for the pope's drinking.

[The poison of the Borgias, say contemporary writers, was of two
kinds, powder and liquid. The poison in the form of powder was a
sort of white flour, almost impalpable, with the taste of sugar, and
called Contarella. Its composition is unknown.

The liquid poison was prepared, we are told in so strange a fashion
that we cannot pass it by in silence. We repeat here what we read,
and vouch for nothing ourselves, lest science should give us the lie.

A strong dose of arsenic was administered to a boar; as soon as the
poison began to take effect, he was hung up by his heels; convulsions
supervened, and a froth deadly and abundant ran out from his jaws; it
was this froth, collected into a silver vessel and transferred into a
bottle hermetically sealed, that made the liquid poison.]

Towards evening Alexander VI walked from the Vatican leaning on
Caesar's arm, and turned his steps towards the vineyard, accompanied
by Cardinal Caraffa; but as the heat was great and the climb rather
steep, the pope, when he reached the top, stopped to take breath;
then putting his hand on his breast, he found that he had left in his
bedroom a chain that he always wore round his neck, which suspended a
gold medallion that enclosed the sacred host. He owed this habit to
a prophecy that an astrologer had made, that so long as he carried
about a consecrated wafer, neither steel nor poison could take hold
upon him. Now, finding himself without his talisman, he ordered
Monsignors Caraffa to hurry back at once to the Vatican, and told him
in which part of his room he had left it, so that he might get it and
bring it him without delay. Then, as the walk had made him thirsty,
he turned to a valet, giving signs with his hand as he did so that
his messenger should make haste, and asked for something to drink.
Caesar, who was also thirsty, ordered the man to bring two glasses.
By a curious coincidence, the butler had just gone back to the
Vatican to fetch some magnificent peaches that had been sent that
very day to the pope, but which had been forgotten when he came here;
so the valet went to the under butler, saying that His Holiness and
Monsignors the Duke of Romagna were thirsty and asking for a drink.
The under butler, seeing two bottles of wine set apart, and having
heard that this wine was reserved for the pope, took one, and telling
the valet to bring two glasses on a tray, poured out this wine, which
both drank, little thinking that it was what they had themselves
prepared to poison their guests.

Meanwhile Caraffa hurried to the Vatican, and, as he knew the palace
well, went up to the pope's bedroom, a light in his hand and attended
by no servant. As he turned round a corridor a puff of wind blew out
his lamp; still, as he knew the way, he went on, thinking there was
no need of seeing to find the object he was in search of; but as he
entered the room he recoiled a step, with a cry of terror: he beheld
a ghastly apparition; it seemed that there before his eyes, in the
middle of the room, between the door and the cabinet which held the
medallion, Alexander VI, motionless and livid, was lying on a bier at
whose four corners there burned four torches. The cardinal stood
still for a moment, his eyes fixed, and his hair standing on end,
without strength to move either backward or forward; then thinking it
was all a trick of fancy or an apparition of the devil's making, he
made the sign of the cross, invoking God's holy name; all instantly
vanished, torches, bier, and corpse, and the seeming mortuary
chamber was once more in darkness.

Then Cardinal Caraffa, who has himself recorded this strange event,
and who was afterwards Pope Paul IV, entered boldly, and though an
icy sweat ran dawn his brow, he went straight to the cabinet, and in
the drawer indicated found the gold chain and the medallion, took
them, and hastily went out to give them to the pope. He found supper
served, the guests arrived, and His Holiness ready to take his
place at table; as soon as the cardinal was in sight, His Holiness,
who was very pale, made one step towards him; Caraffa doubled his
pace, and handed the medallion to him; but as the pope stretched
forth his arm to take it, he fell back with a cry, instantly followed
by violent convulsions: an instant later, as he advanced to render
his father assistance, Caesar was similarly seized; the effect of the
poison had been more rapid than usual, for Caesar had doubled the
dose, and there is little doubt that their heated condition increased
its activity.

The two stricken men were carried side by side to the Vatican, where
each was taken to his own rooms: from that moment they never met

As soon as he reached his bed, the pope was seized with a violent
fever, which did not give way to emetics or to bleeding; almost
immediately it became necessary to administer the last sacraments of
the Church; but his admirable bodily constitution, which seemed to
have defied old age, was strong enough to fight eight days with
death; at last, after a week of mortal agony, he died, without once
uttering the name of Caesar or Lucrezia, who were the two poles
around which had turned all his affections and all his crimes. His
age was seventy-two, and he had reigned eleven years.

Caesar, perhaps because he had taken less of the fatal beverage,
perhaps because the strength of his youth overcame the strength of
the poison, or maybe, as some say, because when he reached his own
rooms he had swallowed an antidote known only to himself, was not so
prostrated as to lose sight for a moment of the terrible position he
was in: he summoned his faithful Michelotto, with those he could best
count on among his men, and disposed this band in the various rooms
that led to his own, ordering the chief never to leave the foot of
his bed, but to sleep lying on a rug, his hand upon the handle of his

The treatment had been the same for Caesar as for the pope, but in
addition to bleeding and emetics strange baths were added, which
Caesar had himself asked for, having heard that in a similar case
they had once cured Ladislaus, King of Naples. Four posts, strongly
welded to the floor and ceiling, were set up in his room, like the
machines at which farriers shoe horses; every day a bull was brought
in, turned over on his back and tied by his four legs to the four
posts; then, when he was thus fixed, a cut was made in his belly a
foot and a half long, through which the intestines were drawn out;
then Caesar slipped into this living bath of blood: when the bull was
dead, Caesar was taken out and rolled up in burning hot blankets,
where, after copious perspirations, he almost always felt some sort
of relief.

Every two hours Caesar sent to ask news of his father: he hardly
waited to hear that he was dead before, though still at death's door
himself, he summoned up all the force of character and presence of
mind that naturally belonged to him. He ordered Michelotto to shut
the doors of the Vatican before the report of Alexander's decease
could spread about the town, and forbade anyone whatsoever to enter
the pope's apartments until the money and papers had been removed.
Michelotto obeyed at once, went to find Cardinal Casanova, held a
dagger at his throat, and made him deliver up the keys of the pope's
rooms and cabinets; then, under his guidance, took away two chests
full of gold, which perhaps contained 100,000 Roman crowns in specie,
several boxes full of jewels, much silver and many precious vases;
all these were carried to Caesar's chamber; the guards of the room
were doubled; then the doors of the Vatican were once more thrown
open, and the death of the pope was proclaimed.

Although the news was expected, it produced none the less a terrible
effect in Rome; for although Caesar was still alive, his condition
left everyone in suspense: had the mighty Duke of Romagna, the
powerful condottiere who had taken thirty towns and fifteen
fortresses in five years, been seated, sword in hand, upon his
charger, nothing would have been uncertain of fluctuating even for a
moment; far, as Caesar afterwards told Macchiavelli, his ambitious
soul had provided for all things that could occur on the day of the
pope's death, except the one that he should be dying himself; but
being nailed down to his bed, sweating off the effects the poison had
wrought; so, though he had kept his power of thinking he could no
longer act, but must needs wait and suffer the course of events,
instead of marching on in front and controlling them.

Thus he was forced to regulate his actions no longer by his own plans
but according to circumstances. His most bitter enemies, who could
press him hardest, were the Orsini and the Colonnas: from the one
family he had taken their blood, from the other their goods.

So he addressed himself to those to whom he could return what he had
taken, and opened negotiations with the Colonnas.

Meanwhile the obsequies of the pope were going forward: the vice-
chancellor had sent out orders to the highest among the clergy, the
superiors of convents, and the secular orders, not to fail to appear,
according to regular custom, on pain of being despoiled of their
office and dignities, each bringing his own company to the Vatican,
to be present at the pope's funeral; each therefore appeared on the
day and at the hour appointed at the pontifical palace, whence the
body was to be conveyed to the church of St. Peter's, and there
buried. The corpse was found to be abandoned and alone in the
mortuary chamber; for everyone of the name of Borgia, except Caesar,
lay hidden, not knowing what might come to pass. This was indeed
well justified; for Fabio Orsino, meeting one member of the family,
stabbed him, and as a sign of the hatred they had sworn to one
another, bathed his mouth and hands in the blood.

The agitation in Rome was so great, that when the corpse of Alexander
VI was about to enter the church there occurred a kind of panic, such
as will suddenly arise in times of popular agitation, instantly
causing so great a disturbance in the funeral cortege that the guards
drew up in battle array, the clergy fled into the sacristy, and the
bearers dropped the bier.

The people, tearing off the pall which covered it, disclosed the
corpse, and everyone could see with impunity and close at hand the
man who, fifteen days before, had made princes, kings and emperors
tremble, from one end of the world to the other.

But in accordance with that religious feeling towards death which all
men instinctively feel, and which alone survives every other, even in
the heart of the atheist, the bier was taken up again and carried to
the foot of the great altar in St. Peter's, where, set on trestles,
it was exposed to public view; but the body had become so black, so
deformed and swollen, that it was horrible to behold; from its nose a
bloody matter escaped, the mouth gaped hideously, and the tongue was
so monstrously enlarged that it filled the whole cavity; to this
frightful appearance was added a decomposition so great that,
although at the pope's funeral it is customary to kiss the hand which
bore the Fisherman's ring, not one approached to offer this mark of
respect and religious reverence to the representative of God on

Towards seven o'clock in the evening, when the declining day adds so
deep a melancholy to the silence of a church, four porters and two
working carpenters carried the corpse into the chapel where it was to
be interred, and, lifting it off the catafalque, where it lay in
state, put it in the coffin which was to be its last abode; but it
was found that the coffin was too short, and the body could not be
got in till the legs were bent and thrust in with violent blows; then
the carpenters put on the lid, and while one of them sat on the top
to force the knees to bend, the others hammered in the nails: amid
those Shakespearian pleasantries that sound as the last orison in the
ear of the mighty; then, says Tommaso Tommasi, he was placed on the
right of the great altar of St. Peter's, beneath a very ugly tomb.

The next morning this epitaph was found inscribed upon the tomb:


that is,

"Pope Alexander sold the Christ, the altars, and the keys:
But anyone who buys a thing may sell it if he please."


From the effect produced at Rome by Alexander's death, one may
imagine what happened not only in the whole of Italy but also in the
rest of the world: for a moment Europe swayed, for the column which
supported the vault of the political edifice had given way, and the
star with eyes of flame and rays of blood, round which all things had
revolved for the last eleven years, was now extinguished, and for a
moment the world, on a sudden struck motionless, remained in silence
and darkness.

After the first moment of stupefaction, all who had an injury to
avenge arose and hurried to the chase. Sforza retook Pesaro,
Bagloine Perugia, Guido and Ubaldo Urbino, and La Rovere Sinigaglia;
the Vitelli entered Citta di Castello, the Appiani Piombino, the
Orsini Monte Giordano and their other territories; Romagna alone
remained impassive and loyal, for the people, who have no concern
with the quarrels of the great, provided they do not affect
themselves, had never been so happy as under the government of

The Colonnas were pledged to maintain a neutrality, and had been
consequently restored to the possession of their castles and the
cities of Chiuzano, Capo d'Anno, Frascati, Rocca di Papa, and
Nettuno, which they found in a better condition than when they had
left them, as the pope had had them embellished and fortified.

Caesar was still in the Vatican with his troops, who, loyal to him in
his misfortune, kept watch about the palace, where he was writhing on
his bed of pain and roaring like a wounded lion. The cardinals, who
had in their first terror fled, each his own way, instead of
attending the pope's obsequies, began to assemble once more, some at
the Minerva, others around Cardinal Caraffa. Frightened by the
troops that Caesar still had, especially since the command was
entrusted to Michelotto, they collected all the money they could to
levy an army of 2000 soldiers with Charles Taneo at their head,
with the title of Captain of the Sacred College. It was then hoped
that peace was re-established, when it was heard that Prospero
Colonna was coming with 3000 men from the side of Naples, and Fabio
Orsino from the side of Viterbo with 200 horse and more than 1000
infantry. Indeed, they entered Rome at only one day's interval one
from another, by so similar an ardour were they inspired.

Thus there were five armies in Rome: Caesar's army, holding the
Vatican and the Borgo; the army of the Bishop of Nicastro, who had
received from Alexander the guardianship of the Castle Sant' Angelo
and had shut himself up there, refusing to yield; the army of the
Sacred College, which was stationed round about the Minerva; the army
of Prospero Colonna, which was encamped at the Capitol; and the army
of Fabio Orsino, in barracks at the Ripetta.

On their side, the Spaniards had advanced to Terracino, and the
French to Nepi. The cardinals saw that Rome now stood upon a mine
which the least spark might cause to explode: they summoned the
ambassadors of the Emperor of Germany, the Kings of France and Spain,
and the republic of Venice to raise their voice in the name of their
masters. The ambassadors, impressed with the urgency of the
situation, began by declaring the Sacred College inviolable: they
then ordered the Orsini, the Colonnas, and the Duke of Valentinois to
leave Rome and go each his own way.

The Orsini were the first to submit: the next morning their example
was followed by the Colonnas. No one was left but Caesar, who said
he was willing to go, but desired to make his conditions beforehand:
the Vatican was undermined, he declared, and if his demands were
refused he and those who came to take him should be blown up

It was known that his were never empty threats and they came to terms
with him.

[Caesar promised to remain ten miles away from Rome the whole time
the Conclave lasted, and not to take any action against the town or
any other of the Ecclesiastical States: Fabio Orsino and Prospero
Colonna had made the same promises.]

[It was agreed that Caesar should quit Rome with his army, artillery,
and baggage; and to ensure his not being attacked or molested in the
streets, the Sacred College should add to his numbers 400 infantry,
who, in case of attack or insult, would fight for him.
The Venetian ambassador answered for the Orsini, the Spanish
ambassador for the Colonnas, the ambassador of France for Caesar.]

At the day and hour appointed Caesar sent out his artillery, which
consisted of eighteen pieces of cannon, and 400 infantry of the
Sacred College, on each of whom he bestowed a ducat: behind the
artillery came a hundred chariots escorted by his advance guard.

The duke was carried out of the gate of the Vatican: he lay on a bed
covered with a scarlet canopy, supported by twelve halberdiers,
leaning forward on his cushions so that no one might see his face
with its purple lips and bloodshot eyes: beside him was his naked
sword, to show that, feeble as he was, he could use it at need: his
finest charger, caparisoned in black velvet embroidered with his
arms, walked beside the bed, led by a page, so that Caesar could
mount in case of surprise or attack: before him and behind, both
right and left, marched his army, their arms in rest, but without
beating of drums or blowing of trumpets: this gave a sombre, funereal
air to the whole procession, which at the gate of the city met
Prospero Colonna awaiting it with a considerable band of men.

Caesar thought at first that, breaking his word as he had so often
done himself, Prospero Colonna was going to attack him. He ordered a
halt, and prepared to mount his horse; but Prospera Colonna, seeing
the state he was in, advanced to his bedside alone: he came, against
expectation, to offer him an escort, fearing an ambuscade on the part
of Fabio Orsino, who had loudly sworn that he would lose his honour
or avenge the death of Paolo Orsina, his father. Caesar thanked
Colanna, and replied that from the moment that Orsini stood alone he
ceased to fear him. Then Colonna saluted the duke, and rejoined his
men, directing them towards Albano, while Caesar took the road to
Citta Castellana, which had remained loyal.

When there, Caesar found himself not only master of his own fate but
of others as well: of the twenty-two votes he owned in the Sacred
College twelve had remained faithful, and as the Conclave was
composed in all of thirty-seven cardinals, he with his twelve votes
could make the majority incline to whichever side he chose.
Accordingly he was courted both by the Spanish and the French party,
each desiring the election of a pope of their own nation. Caesar
listened, promising nothing and refusing nothing: he gave his twelve
votes to Francesco Piccolomini, Cardinal of Siena, one of his
father's creatures who had remained his friend, and the latter was
elected on the 8th of October and took the name of Pius III.

Caesar's hopes did not deceive him: Pius III was hardly elected
before he sent him a safe-conduct to Rome: the duke came back with
250 men-at-arms, 250 light horse, and 800 infantry, and lodged in his
palace, the soldiers camping round about.

Meanwhile the Orsini, pursuing their projects of vengeance against
Caesar, had been levying many troops at Perugia and the neighbourhood
to bring against him to Rome, and as they fancied that France, in
whose service they were engaged, was humouring the duke for the sake
of the twelve votes which were wanted to secure the election of
Cardinal Amboise at the next Conclave, they went over to the service
of Spain.

Meanwhile Caesar was signing a new treaty with Louis XII, by which he
engaged to support him with all his forces, and even with his person,
so soon as he could ride, in maintaining his conquest of Naples:
Louis, on his side, guaranteed that he should retain possession of
the States he still held, and promised his help in recovering those
he had lost.

The day when this treaty was made known, Gonzalvo di Cordovo
proclaimed to the sound of a trumpet in all the streets of Rome that
every Spanish subject serving in a foreign army was at once to break
his engagement on pain of being found guilty of high treason.

This measure robbed Caesar of ten or twelve of his best officers and
of nearly 300 men.

Then the Orsini, seeing his army thus reduced, entered Rome,
supported by the Spanish ambassador, and summoned Caesar to appear
before the pope and the Sacred College and give an account of his

Faithful to his engagements, Pius III replied that in his quality of
sovereign prince the duke in his temporal administration was quite
independent and was answerable for his actions to God alone.

But as the pope felt he could not much longer support Caesar against
his enemies for all his goodwill, he advised him to try to join the
French army, which was still advancing on Naples, in the midst of
which he would alone find safety. Caesar resolved to retire to
Bracciano, where Gian Giordano Orsino, who had once gone with him to
France, and who was the only member of the family who had not
declared against him, offered him an asylum in the name of Cardinal
dumbest: so one morning he ordered his troops to march for this town,
and, taking his place in their midst, he left Rome.

But though Caesar had kept his intentions quiet, the Orsini had been
forewarned, and, taking out all the troops they had by the gate of
San Pancracio, they had made along detour and blocked Caesar's way;
so, when the latter arrived at Storta, he found the Orsini's army
drawn up awaiting him in numbers exceeding his own by at least one-

Caesar saw that to come to blows in his then feeble state was to rush
on certain destruction; so he ordered his troops to retire, and,
being a first-rate strategist, echelonned his retreat so skilfully
that his enemies, though they followed, dared not attack him, and he
re-entered the pontifical town without the loss of a single man.

This time Caesar went straight to the Vatican, to put himself more
directly under the pope's protection; he distributed his soldiers
about the palace, so as to guard all its exits. Now the Orsini,
resolved to make an end of Caesar, had determined to attack him
wheresoever he might be, with no regard to the sanctity of the place:
this they attempted, but without success, as Caesar's men kept a good
guard on every side, and offered a strong defence.

Then the Orsini, not being able to force the guard of the Castle
Sant' Angelo, hoped to succeed better with the duke by leaving Rome
and then returning by the Torione gate; but Caesar anticipated this
move, and they found the gate guarded and barricaded. None the less,
they pursued their design, seeking by open violence the vengeance
that they had hoped to obtain by craft; and, having surprised the
approaches to the gate, set fire to it: a passage gained, they made
their way into the gardens of the castle, where they found Caesar
awaiting them at the head of his cavalry.

Face to face with danger, the duke had found his old strength: and he
was the first to rush upon his enemies, loudly challenging Orsino in
the hope of killing him should they meet; but either Orsino did not
hear him or dared not fight; and after an exciting contest, Caesar,
who was numerically two-thirds weaker than his enemy, saw his cavalry
cut to pieces; and after performing miracles of personal strength and
courage, was obliged to return to the Vatican. There he found the
pope in mortal agony: the Orsini, tired of contending against the old
man's word of honour pledged to the duke, had by the interposition of
Pandolfo Petrucci, gained the ear of the pope's surgeon, who placed a
poisoned plaster upon a wound in his leg.

The pope then was actually dying when Caesar, covered with dust and
blood, entered his room, pursued by his enemies, who knew no check
till they reached the palace walls, behind which the remnant of his
army still held their ground.

Pius III, who knew he was about to die, sat up in his bed, gave
Caesar the key of the corridor which led to the Castle of Sant'
Angelo, and an order addressed to the governor to admit him and his
family, to defend him to the last extremity, and to let him go
wherever he thought fit; and then fell fainting on his bed.

Caesar took his two daughters by the hand, and, followed by the
little dukes of Sermaneta and Nepi, took refuge in the last asylum
open to him.

The same night the pope died: he had reigned only twenty-six days.

After his death, Caesar, who had cast himself fully dressed upon his
bed, heard his door open at two o'clock in the morning: not knowing
what anyone might want of him at such an hour, he raised himself on
one elbow and felt for the handle of his sword with his other hand;
but at the first glance he recognised in his nocturnal visitor
Giuliano della Rovere.

Utterly exhausted by the poison, abandoned by his troops, fallen as
he was from the height of his power, Caesar, who could now do nothing
for himself, could yet make a pope: Giuliano delta Rovere had come to
buy the votes of his twelve cardinals.

Caesar imposed his conditions, which were accepted.

If elected, Giuliano delta Ravere was to help Caesar to recover his
territories in Romagna; Caesar was to remain general of the Church;
and Francesco Maria delta Rovere, prefect of Rome, was to marry one
of Caesar's daughters.

On these conditions Caesar sold his twelve cardinals to Giuliano.

The next day, at Giuliano's request, the Sacred College ordered the
Orsini to leave Rome for the whole time occupied by the Conclave.

On the 31st of October 1503, at the first scrutiny, Giuliano delta
Rovere was elected pope, and took the name of Julius II.

He was scarcely installed in the Vatican when he made it his first
care to summon Caesar and give him his former rooms there; then,
since the duke was fully restored to health, he began to busy himself
with the re-establishment of his affairs, which had suffered sadly of

The defeat of his army and his own escape to Sant' Angelo, where he
was supposed to be a prisoner, had brought about great changes in
Romagna. Sesena was once more in the power of the Church, as
formerly it had been; Gian Sforza had again entered Pesaro; Ordelafi
had seized Forli; Malatesta was laying claim to Rimini; the
inhabitants of Imola had assassinated their governor, and the town
was divided between two opinions, one that it should be put into the
hands of the Riani, the other, into the hands of the Church; Faenza
had remained loyal longer than any other place; but at last, losing
hope of seeing Caesar recover his power, it had summoned Francesco,
a natural son of Galeotto Manfredi, the last surviving heir of this
unhappy family, all whose legitimate descendants had been massacred
by Borgia.

It is true that the fortresses of these different places had taken no
part in these revolutions, and had remained immutably faithful to the
Duke of Valentinois.

So it was not precisely the defection of these towns, which, thanks
to their fortresses, might be reconquered, that was the cause of
uneasiness to Caesar and Julius II, it was the difficult situation
that Venice had thrust upon them. Venice, in the spring of the same
year, had signed a treaty of peace with the Turks: thus set free from
her eternal enemy, she had just led her forces to the Romagna, which
she had always coveted: these troops had been led towards Ravenna,
the farthermost limit of the Papal estates, and put under the command
of Giacopo Venieri, who had failed to capture Cesena, and had only
failed through the courage of its inhabitants; but this check had
been amply compensated by the surrender of the fortresses of Val di
Lamane and Faenza, by the capture of Farlimpopoli, and the surrender
of Rimini, which Pandolfo Malatesta, its lord, exchanged for the
seigniory of Cittadella, in the State of Padua, and far the rank of
gentleman of Venice.

Then Caesar made a proposition to Julius II: this was to make a
momentary cession to the Church of his own estates in Romagna, so
that the respect felt by the Venetians for the Church might save
these towns from their aggressors; but, says Guicciardini, Julius II,
whose ambition, so natural in sovereign rulers, had not yet
extinguished the remains of rectitude, refused to accept the places,
afraid of exposing himself to the temptation of keeping them later
on, against his promises.

But as the case was urgent, he proposed to Caesar that he should
leave Rome, embark at Ostia, and cross over to Spezia, where
Michelotto was to meet him at the head of 100 men-at-arms and 100
light horse, the only remnant of his magnificent army, thence by land
to Ferrara, and from Ferrara to Imala, where, once arrived, he could
utter his war-cry so loud that it would be heard through the length
and breadth of Romagna.

This advice being after Caesar's own heart, he accepted it at once.

The resolution submitted to the Sacred College was approved, and
Caesar left for Ostia, accompanied by Bartolommeo della Rovere,
nephew of His Holiness.

Caesar at last felt he was free, and fancied himself already on his
good charger, a second time carrying war into all the places where he
had formerly fought. When he reached Ostia, he was met by the
cardinals of Sorrento and Volterra, who came in the name of Julius II
to ask him to give up the very same citadels which he had refused
three days before: the fact was that the pope had learned in the
interim that the Venetians had made fresh aggressions, and recognised
that the method proposed by Caesar was the only one that would check
them. But this time it was Caesar's turn to refuse, for he was
weary of these tergiversations, and feared a trap; so he said that
the surrender asked for would be useless, since by God's help he
should be in Romagna before eight days were past. So the cardinals
of Sorrento and Volterra returned to Rome with a refusal.

The next morning, just as Caesar was setting foot on his vessel, he
was arrested in the name of Julius II.

He thought at first that this was the end; he was used to this mode
of action, and knew how short was the space between a prison and a
tomb; the matter was all the easier in his case, because the pope, if
he chose, would have plenty of pretext for making a case against him.
But the heart of Julius was of another kind from his; swift to anger,
but open to clemency; so, when the duke came back to Rome guarded,
the momentary irritation his refusal had caused was already calmed,
and the pope received him in his usual fashion at his palace, and
with his ordinary courtesy, although from the beginning it was easy
for the duke to see that he was being watched. In return for this
kind reception, Caesar consented to yield the fortress of Cesena to
the pope, as being a town which had once belonged to the Church, and
now should return; giving the deed, signed by Caesar, to one of his
captains, called Pietro d'Oviedo, he ordered him to take possession
of the fortress in the name of the Holy See. Pietro obeyed, and
starting at once for Cesena, presented himself armed with his warrant
before Don Diego Chinon; a noble condottiere of Spain, who was
holding the fortress in Caesar's name. But when he had read over the
paper that Pietro d'Oviedo brought, Don Diego replied that as he knew
his lord and master was a prisoner, it would be disgraceful in him to
obey an order that had probably been wrested from him by violence,
and that the bearer deserved to die for undertaking such a cowardly
office. He therefore bade his soldiers seize d'Oviedo and fling him
down from the top of the walls: this sentence was promptly executed.

This mark of fidelity might have proved fatal to Caesar: when the
pope heard how his messenger had been treated, he flew into such a
rage that the prisoner thought a second time that his hour was come;
and in order to receive his liberty, he made the first of those new
propositions to Julius II, which were drawn up in the form of a
treaty and sanctioned by a bull. By these arrangements, the Duke of
Valentinois was bound to hand over to His Holiness, within the space
of forty days, the fortresses of Cesena and Bertinoro, and authorise
the surrender of Forli. This arrangement was guaranteed by two
bankers in Rome who were to be responsible for 15,000 ducats, the sum
total of the expenses which the governor pretended he had incurred in
the place on the duke's account. The pope on his part engaged to
send Caesar to Ostia under the sole guard of the Cardinal of Santa
Croce and two officers, who were to give him his full liberty on the
very day when his engagements were fulfilled: should this not happen,
Caesar was to be taken to Rome and imprisoned in the Castle of Sant'
Angelo. In fulfilment of this treaty, Caesar went down the Tiber as
far as Ostia, accompanied by the pope's treasurer and many of his
servants. The Cardinal of Santa Croce followed, and the next day
joined him there.

But as Caesar feared that Julius II might keep him a prisoner, in
spite of his pledged word after he had yielded up the fortresses,
he asked--through the mediation of Cardinals Borgia and Remolina,
who, not feeling safe at Rome, had retired to Naples--for a safe-
conduct to Gonzalva of Cordova, and for two ships to take him there;
with the return of the courier the safe-conduct arrived, announcing
that the ships would shortly follow.

In the midst of all this, the Cardinal of Santa Croce, learning that
by the duke's orders the governors of Cesena and Bertinoro had
surrendered their fortresses to the captains of His Holiness, relaxed
his rigour, and knowing that his prisoner would some day or other be
free, began to let him go out without a guard. Then Caesar, feeling
some fear lest when he started with Gonzalvo's ships the same thing
might happen as on the occasion of his embarking on the pope's
vessel--that is, that he might be arrested a second time--concealed
himself in a house outside the town; and when night came on, mounting
a wretched horse that belonged to a peasant, rode as far as Nettuno,
and there hired a little boat, in which he embarked for Monte
Dragone, and thence gained Naples. Gonzalvo received him with such
joy that Caesar was deceived as to his intention, and this time
believed that he was really saved. His confidence was redoubled
when, opening his designs to Gonzalvo, and telling him that he
counted upon gaining Pisa and thence going on into Romagna, Ganzalva
allowed him to recruit as many soldiers at Naples as he pleased,
promising him two ships to embark with. Caesar, deceived by these
appearances, stopped nearly six weeks at Naples, every day seeing the
Spanish governor and discussing his plans. But Gonzalvo was only
waiting to gain time to tell the King of Spain that his enemy was in
his hands; and Caesar actually went to the castle to bid Gonzalvo
good-bye, thinking he was just about to start after he had embarked
his men on the two ships. The Spanish governor received him with his
accustomed courtesy, wished him every kind of prosperity, and
embraced him as he left; but at the door of the castle Caesar found
one of Gonzalvo's captains, Nuno Campeja by name, who arrested him as
a prisoner of Ferdinand the Catholic. Caesar at these words heaved a
deep sigh, cursing the ill luck that had made him trust the word of
an enemy when he had so often broken his own.

He was at once taken to the castle, where the prison gate closed
behind him, and he felt no hope that anyone would come to his aid;
for the only being who was devoted to him in this world was
Michelotto, and he had heard that Michelotto had been arrested near
Pisa by order of Julius II. While Caesar was being taken to prison
an officer came to him to deprive him of the safe-conduct given him
by Gonzalvo.

The day after his arrest, which occurred on the 27th of May, 1504,
Caesar was taken on board a ship, which at once weighed anchor and
set sail for Spain: during the whole voyage he had but one page to
serve him, and as soon as he disembarked he was taken to the castle
of Medina del Campo.

Ten years later, Gonzalvo, who at that time was himself proscribed,
owned to Loxa on his dying bed that now, when he was to appear in the
presence of God, two things weighed cruelly on his conscience: one
was his treason to Ferdinand, the other his breach of faith towards


Caesar was in prison for two years, always hoping that Louis XII
would reclaim him as peer of the kingdom of France; but Louis, much
disturbed by the loss of the battle of Garigliano, which robbed him
of the kingdom of Naples, had enough to do with his own affairs
without busying himself with his cousin's. So the prisoner was
beginning to despair, when one day as he broke his bread at breakfast
he found a file and a little bottle containing a narcotic, with a
letter from Michelotto, saying that he was out of prison and had left
Italy for Spain, and now lay in hiding with the Count of Benevento in
the neighbouring village: he added that from the next day forward he
and the count would wait every night on the road between the fortress
and the village with three excellent horses; it was now Caesar's part
to do the best he could with his bottle and file. When the whole
world had abandoned the Duke of Romagna he had been remembered by a

The prison where he had been shut up for two years was so hateful to
Caesar that he lost not a single moment: the same day he attacked one
of the bars of a window that looked out upon an inner court, and soon
contrived so to manipulate it that it would need only a final push to
come out. But not only was the window nearly seventy feet from the
ground, but one could only get out of the court by using an exit
reserved for the governor, of which he alone had the key; also this
key never left him; by day it hung at his waist, by night it was
under his pillow: this then was the chief difficulty.

But prisoner though he was, Caesar had always been treated with the
respect due to his name and rank: every day at the dinner-hour he was
conducted from the room that served as his prison to the governor,
who did the honours of the table in a grand and courteous fashion.
The fact was that Dan Manuel had served with honour under King
Ferdinand, and therefore, while he guarded Caesar rigorously,
according to orders, he had a great respect for so brave a general,
and took pleasure in listening to the accounts of his battles. So he
had often insisted that Caesar should not only dine but also
breakfast with him; happily the prisoner, yielding perhaps to some
presentiment, had till now refused this favour. This was of great
advantage to him, since, thanks to his solitude, he had been able to
receive the instruments of escape sent by Michelotto. The same day
he received them, Caesar, on going back to his room, made a false
step and sprained his foot; at the dinner-hour he tried to go down,
but he pretended to be suffering so cruelly that he gave it up. The
governor came to see him in his room, and found him stretched upon
the bed.

The day after, he was no better; the governor had his dinner sent in,
and came to see him, as on the night before; he found his prisoner so
dejected and gloomy in his solitude that he offered to come and sup
with him: Caesar gratefully accepted.

This time it was the prisoner who did the honours: Caesar was
charmingly courteous; the governor thought he would profit by this
lack of restraint to put to him certain questions as to the manner of
his arrest, and asked him as an Old Castilian, for whom honour is
still of some account, what the truth really was as to Gonzalvo's and
Ferdinand's breach of faith with him. Caesar appeared extremely
inclined to give him his entire confidence, but showed by a sign that
the attendants were in the way. This precaution appeared quite
natural, and the governor took no offense, but hastened to send them
all away, so as to be sooner alone with his companion. When the door
was shut, Caesar filled his glass and the governor's, proposing the
king's health: the governor honoured the toast: Caesar at once began
his tale; but he had scarcely uttered a third part of it when,
interesting as it was, the eyes of his host shut as though by magic,
and he slid under the table in a profound sleep.

After half a hour had passed, the servants, hearing no noise, entered
and found the two, one on the table, the other under it: this event
was not so extraordinary that they paid any great attention to it:
all they did was to carry Don Manuel to his room and lift Caesar on
the bed; then they put away the remnant of the meal for the next
day's supper, shut the door very carefully, and left their prisoner

Caesar stayed for a minute motionless and apparently plunged in the
deepest sleep; but when he had heard the steps retreating, he quietly
raised his head, opened his eyes, slipped off the bed, walked to the
door, slowly indeed, but not to all appearance feeling the accident
of the night before, and applied his ear for some minutes to the
keyhole; then lifting his head with an expression of indescribable
pride, he wiped his brow with his hand, and for the first time since
his guards went out, breathed freely with full-drawn breaths.

There was no time to lose: his first care was to shut the door as
securely on the inside as it was already shut on the outside, to blow
out the lamp, to open the window, and to finish sawing through the
bar. When this was done, he undid the bandages on his leg, took down
the window and bed curtains, tore them into strips, joined the
sheets, table napkins and cloth, and with all these things tied
together end to end, formed a rope fifty or sixty feet long, with
knots every here and there. This rope he fixed securely to the bar
next to the one he had just cut through; then he climbed up to the
window and began what was really the hardest part of his perilous
enterprise, clinging with hands and feet to this fragile support.
Luckily he was both strong and skilful, and he went down the whole
length of the rope without accident; but when he reached the end and
was hanging on the last knot, he sought in vain to touch the ground
with his feet; his rope was too short.

The situation was a terrible one: the darkness of the night prevented
the fugitive from seeing how far off he was from the ground, and his
fatigue prevented him from even attempting to climb up again. Caesar
put up a brief prayer, whether to Gad or Satan he alone could say;
then letting go the rope, he dropped from a height of twelve or
fifteen feet.

The danger was too great for the fugitive to trouble about a few
trifling contusions: he at once rose, and guiding himself by the
direction of his window, he went straight to the little door of exit;
he then put his hand into the pocket of his doublet, and a cold sweat
damped his brow; either he had forgotten and left it in his room or
had lost it in his fall; anyhow, he had not the key.

But summoning his recollections, he quite gave up the first idea for
the second, which was the only likely one: again he crossed the
court, looking for the place where the key might have fallen, by the
aid of the wall round a tank on which he had laid his hand when he
got up; but the object of search was so small and the night so dark
that there was little chance of getting any result; still Caesar
sought for it, for in this key was his last hope: suddenly a door was
opened, and a night watch appeared, preceded by two torches. Caesar
for the moment thought he was lost, but remembering the tank behind
him, he dropped into it, and with nothing but his head above water
anxiously watched the movements of the soldiers, as they advanced
beside him, passed only a few feet away, crossed the court, and then
disappeared by an opposite door. But short as their luminous
apparition had been, it had lighted up the ground, and Caesar by the
glare of the torches had caught the glitter of the long-sought key,
and as soon as the door was shut behind the men, was again master of
his liberty.

Half-way between the castle and the village two cavaliers and a led
horse were waiting for him: the two men were Michelotto and the Count
of Benevento. Caesar sprang upon the riderless horse, pressed with
fervour the hand of the count and the sbirro; then all three galloped
to the frontier of Navarre, where they arrived three days later, and
were honourably received by the king, Jean d'Albret, the brother of
Caesar's wife.

From Navarre he thought to pass into France, and from France to make
an attempt upon Italy, with the aid of Louis XII; but during Caesar's
detention in the castle of Medina del Campo, Louis had made peace
with the King of Spain; and when he heard of Caesar's flight, instead
of helping him, as there was some reason to expect he would, since he
was a relative by marriage, he took away the duchy of Valentinois and
also his pension. Still, Caesar had nearly 200,000 ducats in the
charge of bankers at Genoa; he wrote asking for this sum, with which
he hoped to levy troops in Spain and in Navarre, and make an attempt
upon Pisa: 500 men, 200,000 ducats, his name and his word were more
than enough to save him from despair.

The bankers denied the deposit.

Caesar was at the mercy of his brother-in-law.

One of the vassals of the King of Navarre, named Prince Alarino, had
just then revolted: Caesar then took command of the army which Jean
d'Albret was sending out against him, followed by Michelotto, who was
as faithful in adversity as ever before. Thanks to Caesar's courage
and skilful tactics, Prince Alarino was beaten in a first encounter;
but the day after his defeat he rallied his army, and offered battle
about three o'clock in the afternoon. Caesar accepted it.

For nearly four hours they fought obstinately on both sides; but at
length, as the day was going down, Caesar proposed to decide the
issue by making a charge himself, at the head of a hundred men-at-
arms, upon a body of cavalry which made his adversary's chief force.
To his great astonishment, this cavalry at the first shock gave way
and took flight in the direction of a little wood, where they seemed
to be seeking refuge. Caesar followed close on their heels up to the
edge of the forest; then suddenly the pursued turned right about
face, three or four hundred archers came out of the wood to help
them, and Caesar's men, seeing that they had fallen into an ambush,
took to their heels like cowards, and abandoned their leader.

Left alone, Caesar would not budge one step; possibly he had had


Back to Full Books