List Of Contents | Contents of The Borgias, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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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

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