List Of Contents | Contents of The Borgias, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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of Florence into a battlefield.

Still, against all probabilities, this bold answer saved the town.
The French supposed, from such audacious words, addressed as they
were to men who so far had encountered no single obstacle, that the
Florentines were possessed of sure resources, to them unknown: the
few prudent men who retained any influence over the king advised him
accordingly to abate his pretensions; the result was that Charles
VIII offered new and more reasonable conditions, which were accepted,
signed by both parties, and proclaimed on the 26th of November during
mass in the cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore.

These were the conditions:

The Signoria were to pay to Charles VIII, as subsidy, the sum of
120,000 florins, in three instalments;

The Signoria were to remove the sequestration imposed upon the
property of the Medici, and to recall the decree that set a price on
their heads;

The Signoria were to engage to pardon the Pisans, on condition of
their again submitting to the rule of Florence;

Lastly, the Signoria were to recognise the claims of the Duke of
Milan over Sarzano and Pietra Santa, and these claims thus
recognised, were to be settled by arbitration.

In exchange for this, the King of France pledged himself to restore
the fortresses that had been given up to him, either after he had
made himself master of the town of Naples, or when this war should be
ended by a peace or a two years' truce, or else when, for any reason
whatsoever, he should have quitted Italy.

Two days after this proclamation, Charles VIII, much to the joy of
the Signoria, left Florence, and advanced towards Rome by the route
of Poggibondi and Siena.

The pope began to be affected by the general terror: he had heard of
the massacres of Fivizzano, of Lunigiane, and of Imola; he knew that
Piero dei Medici had handed over the Tuscan fortresses, that Florence
had succumbed, and that Catherine Sforza had made terms with the
conqueror; he saw the broken remnants of the Neapolitan troops pass
disheartened through Rome, to rally their strength in the Abruzzi,
and thus he found himself exposed to an enemy who was advancing upon
him with the whole of the Romagna under his control from one sea to
the other, in a line of march extending from Piombina to Ancona.

It was at this juncture that Alexander VI received his answer from
Bajazet II: the reason of so long a delay was that the pope's envoy
and the Neapolitan ambassador had been stopped by Gian della Rovere,
the Cardinal Giuliano's brother, just as they were disembarking at
Sinigaglia.  They were charged with a verbal answer, which was that
the sultan at this moment was busied with a triple war, first with
the Sultan of Egypt, secondly with the King of Hungary, and thirdly
with the Greeks of Macedonia and Epirus; and therefore he could not,
with all the will in the world, help His Holiness with armed men.
But the envoys were accompanied by a favourite of the sultan's
bearing a private letter to Alexander VI, in which Bajazet offered on
certain conditions to help him with money.  Although, as we see, the
messengers had been stopped on the way, the Turkish envoy had all the
same found a means of getting his despatch sent to the pope: we give
it here in all its naivete.

"Bajazet the Sultan, son of the Sultan Mahomet II, by the grace of
God Emperor of Asia and Europe, to the Father and Lord of all the
Christians, Alexander VI, Roman pontiff and pope by the will of
heavenly Providence, first, greetings that we owe him and bestow with
all our heart.  We make known to your Highness, by the envoy of your
Mightiness, Giorgio Bucciarda, that we have been apprised of your
convalescence, and received the news thereof with great joy and
comfort.  Among other matters, the said Bucciarda has brought us word
that the King of France, now marching against your Highness, has
shown a desire to take under his protection our brother D'jem, who is
now under yours--a thing which is not only against our will, but
which would also be the cause of great injury to your Highness and to
all Christendom.  In turning the matter over with your envoy Giorgio
we have devised a scheme most conducive to peace and most
advantageous and honourable for your Highness; at the same time
satisfactory to ourselves personally; it would be well if our
aforesaid brother D'jem, who being a man is liable to death, and who
is now in the hands of your Highness, should quit this world as soon
as possible, seeing that his departure, a real good to him in his
position, would be of great use to your Highness, and very conducive
to your peace, while at the same time it would be very agreeable to
us, your friend.  If this proposition is favourably received, as we
hope, by your Highness, in your desire to be friendly towards us, it
would be advisable both in the interests of your Highness and for our
own satisfaction that it should occur rather sooner than later, and
by the surest means you might be pleased to employ; so that our said
brother D'jem might pass from the pains of this world into a better
and more peaceful life, where at last he may find repose.  If your
Highness should adapt this plan and send us the body of our brother,
We, the above-named Sultan Bajazet, pledge ourselves to send to your
Highness, wheresoever and by whatsoever hands you please, the sum of
300,000 ducats, With which sum you could purchase some fair domain
for your children.  In order to facilitate this purchase, we would be
willing, while awaiting the issue, to place the 300,000 ducats in the
hands of a third party, so that your Highness might be quite certain
of receiving the money on an appointed day, in return for the
despatch of our brother's body.  Moreover, we promise your Highness
herewith, for your greater satisfaction, that never, so long as you
shall remain on the pontifical throne, shall there be any hurt done
to the Christians, neither by us, nor by our servants, nor by any of
our compatriots, of whatsoever kind or condition they may be, neither
on sea nor on land.  And for the still further satisfaction of your
Highness, and in order that no doubt whatever may remain concerning
the fulfilment of our promises, we have sworn and affirmed in the
presence of Bucciarda, your envoy, by the true God whom we adore and
by our holy Gospels, that they shall be faithfully kept from the
first point unto the last.  And now for the final and complete
assurance of your Highness, in order that no doubt may still remain
in your heart, and that you may be once again and profoundly
convinced of our good faith, we the aforesaid Sultan Bajazet do swear
by the true God, who has created the heavens and the earth and all
that therein is, that we will religiously observe all that has been
above said and declared, and in the future will do nothing and
undertake nothing that may be contrary to the interests of your

"Given at Constantinople, in our palace, on the 12th of September
A.D.  1494."

This letter was the cause of great joy to the Holy Father: the aid of
four or five thousand Turks would be insufficient under the present
circumstances, and would only serve to compromise the head of
Christendom, while the sum of 300,000 ducats--that is, nearly a
million francs--was good to get in any sort of circumstances.  It is
true that, so long as D'jem lived, Alexander was drawing an income of
180,000 livres, which as a life annuity represented a capital of
nearly two millions; but when one needs ready mangy, one ought to be
able to make a sacrifice in the wav of discount.  All the same,
Alexander formed no definite plan, resolved on acting as
circumstances should indicate.

But it was a more pressing business to decide how he should behave to
the King of France: he had never anticipated the success of the
French in Italy, and we have seen that he laid all the foundations of
his family's future grandeur upon his alliance with the house of
Aragon.  But here was this house tattering, and a volcano more
terrible than her own Vesuvius was threatening to swallow up Naples.
He must therefore change his policy, and attach himself to the
victor,--no easy matter, for Charles VIII was bitterly annoyed with
the pope for having refused him the investiture and given it to

In consequence, he sent Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini as an envoy to
the king.  This choice looked like a mistake at first, seeing that
the ambassador was a nephew of Pius II, who had vigorously opposed
the house of Anjou; but Alexander in acting thus had a second design,
which could not be discerned by those around him.  In fact, he had
divined that Charles would not be quick to receive his envoy, and
that, in the parleyings to which his unwillingness must give rise,
Piccolomini would necessarily be brought into contact with the young
king's advisers.  Now, besides his ostensible mission to the king,
Piccalamini had also secret instructions for the more influential
among his counsellors.  These were Briconnet and Philippe de
Luxembourg; and Piccolomini was authorised to promise a cardinal's
hat to each of them.  The result was just what Alexander had
foreseen: his envoy could not gain admission to Charles, and was
obliged to confer with the people about him.  This was what the pope
wished.  Piccolomini returned to Rome with the king's refusal, but
with a promise from Briconnet and Philippe de Luxembourg that they
would use all their influence with Charles in favour of the Holy
Father, and prepare him to receive a fresh embassy.

But the French all this time were advancing, and never stopped more
than forty-eight hours in any town, so that it became more and more
urgent to get something settled with Charles.  The king had entered
Siena and Viterbo without striking a blow; Yves d' Alegre and Louis
de Ligny had taken over Ostia from the hands of the Colonnas; Civita
Vecchia and Corneto had opened their gates; the Orsini had submitted;
even Gian Sforza, the pope's son-in-law, had retired from the
alliance with Aragon.  Alexander accordingly judged that the moment
had came to abandon his ally, and sent to Charles the Bishops of

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