Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of The Borgias, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


The doge and the senators, who, as we said, were already apprised of
the event that had brought Carracciuolo before them, listened with
great interest and profound indignation; for they, as he told them,
were themselves insulted in the person of their general: they all
swore, on their honour, that if he would put the matter in their
hands, and not yield to his rage, which could only work his own
undoing, either his bride should be rendered up to him without a
smirch upon her bridal veil, or else a punishment should be dealt out
proportioned to the affront.  And without delay, as a proof of the
energy wherewith the noble tribunal would take action in the affair,
Luigi Manenti, secretary to the Ten, was sent to Imola, where the
duke was reported to be, that he might explain to him the great
displeasure with which the most serene republic viewed the outrage
perpetrated upon their candottiere.  At the same time the Council of
Ten and the doge sought out the French ambassador, entreating him to
join with them and repair in person with Manenti to the Duke of
Valentinois, and summon him, in the name of King Louis XII,
immediately to send back to Venice the lady he had carried off.

The two messengers arrived at Imola, where they found Caesar, who
listened to their complaint with every mark of utter astonishment,
denying that he had been in any way connected with the crime, nay,
authorising Manenti and the French ambassador to pursue the culprits
and promising that he would himself have the most active search
carried on.  The duke appeared to act in such complete good faith
that the envoys were for the moment hoodwinked, and themselves
undertook a search of the most careful nature.  They accordingly
repaired to the exact spot and began to procure information.  On the
highroad there had been found dead and wounded.  A man had been seen
going by at a gallop, carrying a woman in distress on his saddle; he
had soon left the beaten track and plunged across country.  A peasant
coming home from working in the fields had seen him appear and vanish
again like a shadow, taking the direction of a lonely house.  An old
woman declared that she had seen him go into this house.  But the
next night the house was gone, as though by enchantment, and the
ploughshare had passed over where it stood; so that none could say,
what had become of her whom they sought, far those who had dwelt in
the house, and even the house itself, were there no longer.

Manenti and the French ambassador returned to Venice, and related
what the duke had said, what they had done, and how all search had
been in vain.  No one doubted that Caesar was the culprit, but no one
could prove it.  So the most serene republic, which could not,
considering their war with the Turks, be embroiled with the pope,
forbade Caracciuala to take any sort of private vengeance, and so the
talk grew gradually less, and at last the occurrence was no more
mentioned.

But the pleasures of the winter had not diverted Caesar's mind from
his plans about Faenza.  Scarcely did the spring season allow him to
go into the country than he marched anew upon the town, camped
opposite the castle, and making a new breach, ordered a general
assault, himself going up first of all; but in spite of the courage
he personally displayed, and the able seconding of his soldiers, they
were repulsed by Astor, who, at the head of his men, defended the
breach, while even the women, at the top of the rampart, rolled down
stones and trunks of trees upon the besiegers.  After an hour's
struggle man to man, Caesar was forced to retire, leaving two
thousand men in the trenches about the town, and among the two
thousand one of his bravest condottieri, Valentino Farnese.

Then, seeing that neither excommunications nor assaults could help
him, Caesar converted the siege into a blockade: all the roads
leading to Faenza were cut off, all communications stopped; and
further, as various signs of revolt had been remarked at Cesena, a
governor was installed there whose powerful will was well known to
Caesar, Ramiro d'Orco, with powers of life and death over the
inhabitants; he then waited quietly before Faenza, till hunger should
drive out the citizens from those walls they defended with such
vehement enthusiasm.  At the end of a month, during which the people
of Faenza had suffered all the horrors of famine, delegates came out
to parley with Caesar with a view to capitulation.  Caesar, who still
had plenty to do in the Romagna, was less hard to satisfy than might
have been expected, and the town yielded an condition that he should
not touch either the persons or the belongings of the inhabitants,
that Astor Manfredi, the youthful ruler, should have the privilege of
retiring whenever he pleased, and should enjoy the revenue of his
patrimony wherever he might be.

The conditions were faithfully kept so far as the inhabitants were
concerned; but Caesar, when he had seen Astor, whom he did not know
before, was seized by a strange passion for this beautiful youth, who
was like a woman: he kept him by his side in his own army, showing
him honours befitting a young prince, and evincing before the eyes of
all the strongest affection for him: one day Astor disappeared, just
as Caracciuolo's bride had disappeared, and no one knew what had
become of him; Caesar himself appeared very uneasy, saying that he
had no doubt made his escape somewhere, and in order to give credence
to this story, he sent out couriers to seek him in all directions.

A year after this double disappearance, there was picked up in the
Tiber, a little below the Castle Sant' Angelo, the body of a
beautiful young woman, her hands bound together behind her back, and
also the corpse of a handsome youth with the bowstring he had been
strangled with tied round his neck.  The girl was Caracciuolo's
bride, the young man was Astor.

During the last year both had been the slaves of Caesar's pleasures;
now, tired of them, he had had them thrown into the Tiber.

The capture of Faenza had brought Caesar the title of Duke of
Romagna, which was first bestowed on him by the pope in full
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!"




CHAPTER XII

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

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com