List Of Contents | Contents of The Borgias, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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He sent two ambassadors to invite the young king to claim the rights
of Anjou usurped by Aragon; and with a view to reconciling Charles to
so distant and hazardous an expedition, offered him a free and
friendly passage through his own States.

Such a proposition was welcome to Charles VIII, as we might suppose
from our knowledge of his character; a magnificent prospect was
opened to him as by an enchanter: what Ludovica Sforza was offering
him was virtually the command of the Mediterranean, the protectorship
of the whole of Italy; it was an open road, through Naples and
Venice, that well might lead to the conquest of Turkey or the Holy
Land, if he ever had the fancy to avenge the disasters of Nicapolis
and Mansourah.  So the proposition was accepted, and a secret
alliance was signed, with Count Charles di Belgiojasa and the Count
of Cajazza acting for Ludovica Sforza, and the Bishop of St. Malo and
Seneschal de Beaucaire far Charles VIII.  By this treaty it was

That the King of France should attempt the conquest of the kingdom of

That the Duke of Milan should grant a passage to the King of France
through his territories, and accompany him with five hundred lances;

That the Duke of Milan should permit the King of France to send out
as many ships of war as he pleased from Genoa;

Lastly, that the Duke of Milan should lend the King of France 200,000
ducats, payable when he started.

On his side, Charles VIII agreed:--

To defend the personal authority of Ludowico Sforza over the duchy of
Milan against anyone who might attempt to turn him out;

To keep two hundred French lances always in readiness to help the
house of Sforza, at Asti, a town belonging to the Duke of Orleans by
the inheritance of his mother, Valentina Visconti;

Lastly, to hand over to his ally the principality of Tarentum
immediately after the conquest of Naples was effected.

This treaty was scarcely concluded when Charles VIII, who exaggerated
its advantages, began to dream of freeing himself from every let or
hindrance to the expedition.  Precautions were necessary; for his
relations with the great Powers were far from being what he could
have wished.

Indeed, Henry VII had disembarked at Calais with a formidable army,
and was threatening France with another invasion.

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, if they had not assisted at the fall
of the house of Anjou, had at any rate helped the Aragon party with
men and money.

Lastly, the war with the emperor acquired a fresh impetus when
Charles VIII sent back Margaret of Burgundy to her father Maximilian,
and contracted a marriage with Anne of Brittany.

By the treaty of Etaples, on the 3rd of November, 1492, Henry VII
cancelled the alliance with the King of the Romans, and pledged
himself not to follow his conquests.

This cost Charles VIII 745,000 gold crowns and the expenses of the
war with England.

By the treaty of Barcelona, dated the 19th of January, 1493,
Ferdinand the Catholic and Isabella agreed never to grant aid to
their cousin, Ferdinand of Naples, and never to put obstacles in the
way of the French king in Italy.

This cost Charles VIII Perpignan, Roussillon, and the Cerdagne, which
had all been given to Louis XI as a hostage for the sum of 300,000
ducats by John of Aragon; but at the time agreed upon, Louis XI would
not give them up for the money, for the old fox knew very well how
important were these doors to the Pyrenees, and proposed in case of
war to keep them shut.

Lastly, by the treaty of Senlis, dated the 23rd of May, 1493,
Maximilian granted a gracious pardon to France for the insult her
king had offered him.

It cost Charles VIII the counties of Burgundy, Artois, Charalais, and
the seigniory of Noyers, which had come to him as Margaret's dowry,
and also the towns of Aire, Hesdin, and Bethune, which he promised to
deliver up to Philip of Austria on the day he came of age.

By dint of all these sacrifices the young king made peace with his
neighbours, and could set on foot the enterprise that Ludavico Sforza
had proposed.  We have already explained that the project came into
Sforza's mind when his plan about the deputation was refused, and
that the refusal was due to Piero dei Medici's desire to make an
exhibition of his magnificent jewels, and Gentile's desire to make
his speech.

Thus the vanity of a tutor and the pride of his scholar together
combined to agitate the civilized world from the Gulf of Tarentum to
the Pyrenees.

Alexander VI was in the very centre of the impending earthquake, and
before Italy had any idea that the earliest shocks were at hand he
had profited by the perturbed preoccupation of other people to give
the lie to that famous speech we have reported.  He created cardinal
John Borgia, a nephew, who during the last pontificate had been
elected Archbishop of Montreal and Governor of Rome.  This promotion
caused no discontent, because of John's antecedents; and Alexander,
encouraged by the success of this, promised to Caesar Borgia the
archbishopric of Valencia, a benefice he had himself enjoyed before
his elevation to the papacy.  But here the difficulty arose an the
side of the recipient.  The young man, full-blooded, with all the
vices and natural instincts of a captain of condottieri, had very
great trouble in assuming even the appearance of a Churchman's
virtue; but as he knew from his own father's mouth that the highest
secular dignities were reserved far his elder brother, he decided to
take what he could get, for fear of getting nothing; but his hatred
for Francesco grew stronger, for from henceforth he was doubly his
rival, both in love and ambition.

Suddenly Alexander beheld the old King Ferdinand returning to his
side, and at the very moment when he least expected it.  The pope was
too clever a politician to accept a reconciliation without finding
out the cause of it; he soon learned what plots were hatching at the
French court against the kingdom of Naples, and the whole situation
was explained.

Now it was his turn to impose conditions.

He demanded the completion of a marriage between Goffreda, his third
son, and Dada Sancia, Alfonso's illegitimate daughter.

He demanded that she should bring her husband as dowry the
principality of Squillace and the county of Cariati, with an income
of 10,000 ducats and the office of protonotary, one of the seven
great crown offices which are independent of royal control.

He demanded for his eldest son, whom Ferdinand the Catholic had just
made Duke of Gandia, the principality of Tricarico, the counties of
Chiaramonte, Lauria, and Carinola, an income of 12,000 ducats, and
the first of the seven great offices which should fall vacant.

He demanded that Virginio Orsini, his ambassador at the Neapolitan
court, should be given a third great office, viz.  that of Constable,
the most important of them all.

Lastly, he demanded that Giuliano delta Rovere, one of the five
cardinals who had opposed his election and was now taking refuge at
Ostia, where the oak whence he took his name and bearings is still to
be seen carved on all the walls, should be driven out of that town,
and the town itself given over to him.

In exchange, he merely pledged himself never to withdraw from the
house of Aragon the investiture of the kingdom of Naples accorded by
his predecessors.  Ferdinand was paying somewhat dearly for a simple
promise; but on the keeping of this promise the legitimacy of his
power wholly depended.  For the kingdom of Naples was a fief of the
Holy See; and to the pope alone belonged the right of pronouncing on
the justice of each competitor's pretensions; the continuance of this
investiture was therefore of the highest conceivable importance to
Aragon just at the time when Anjou was rising up with an army at her
back to dispossess her.

For a year after he mounted the papal throne, Alexander VI had made
great strides, as we see, in the extension of his temporal power.  In
his own hands he held, to be sure, only the least in size of the
Italian territories; but by the marriage of his daughter Lucrezia
with the lord of Pesaro he was stretching out one hand as far as
Venice, while by the marriage of the Prince of Squillace with Dona
Sancia, and the territories conceded to the Duke of Sandia, he was
touching with the other hand the boundary of Calabria.

When this treaty, so advantageous for himself, was duly signed, he
made Caesar Cardinal of Santa Maria Novella, for Caesar was always
complaining of being left out in the distribution of his father's

Only, as there was as yet no precedent in Church history for a
bastard's donning the scarlet, the pope hunted up four false
witnesses who declared that Caesar was the son of Count Ferdinand of
Castile; who was, as we know, that valuable person Don Manuel
Melchior, and who played the father's part with just as much
solemnity as he had played the husband's.

The wedding of the two bastards was most splendid, rich with the
double pomp of Church and King.  As the pope had settled that the
young bridal pair should live near him, Caesar Borgia, the new
cardinal, undertook to manage the ceremony of their entry into Rome
and the reception, and Lucrezia, who enjoyed at her father's side an
amount of favour hitherto unheard of at the papal court, desired on
her part to contribute all the splendour she had it in her power to
add.  He therefore went to receive the young people with a stately
and magnificent escort of lords and cardinals, while she awaited them
attended by the loveliest and noblest ladies of Rome, in one of the
halls of the Vatican.  A throne was there prepared for the pope, and
at his feet were cushions far Lucrezia and Dona Sancia.  "Thus,"
writes Tommaso Tommasi, "by the look of the assembly and the sort of
conversation that went on for hours, you would suppose you were
present at some magnificent and voluptuous royal audience of ancient
Assyria, rather than at the severe consistory of a Roman pontiff,
whose solemn duty it is to exhibit in every act the sanctity of the
name he bears.  But," continues the same historian, "if the Eve of

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