List Of Contents | Contents of The Borgias, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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Concordia and Terni, and his confessor, Mansignore Graziano.  They
were charged to renew to Briconnet and Philippe de Luxembourg the
promise of the cardinalship, and had full powers of negotiation in
the name of their master, both in case Charles should wish to include
Alfonso II in the treaty, and in case he should refuse to sign an
agreement with any other but the pope alone.  They found the mind of
Charles influenced now by the insinuation of Giuliano della Ravere,
who, himself a witness of the pope's simony, pressed the king to
summon a council and depose the head of the Church, and now by the
secret support given him by the Bishops of Mans and St. Malo.  The
end of it was that the king decided to form his own opinion about the
matter and settle nothing beforehand, and continued this route,
sending the ambassadors back to the pope, with the addition of the
Marechal de Gie, the Seneschal de Beaucaire, and Jean de Gannay,
first president of the Paris Parliament.  They were ordered to say to
the pope--

(1) That the king wished above all things to be admitted into Rome
without resistance; that, an condition of a voluntary, frank, and
loyal admission, he would respect the authority of the Holy Father
and the privileges of the Church;

(2) That the king desired that D'jem should be given up to him, in
order that he might make use of him against the sultan when he should
carry the war into Macedonia or Turkey or the Holy Land;

(3) That the remaining conditions were so unimportant that they could
be brought forward at the first conference.

The ambassadors added that the French army was now only two days
distant from Rome, and that in the evening of the day after next
Charles would probably arrive in person to demand an answer from His

It was useless to think of parleying with a prince who acted in such
expeditious fashion as this.  Alexander accordingly warned Ferdinand
to quit Rome as soon as possible, in the interests of his own
personal safety.  But Ferdinand refused to listen to a word, and
declared that he would not go out at one gate while Charles VIII came
in at another.  His sojourn was not long.  Two days later, about
eleven o'clock in the morning, a sentinel placed on a watch-tower at
the top of the Castle S. Angelo, whither the pope had retired, cried
out that the vanguard of the enemy was visible on the horizon.  At
once Alexander and the Duke of Calabria went up an the terrace which
tops the fortress, and assured themselves with their own eyes that
what the soldier said was true.  Then, and not till then, did the
duke of Calabria mount an horseback, and, to use his own words, went
out at the gate of San Sebastiana, at the same moment that the French
vanguard halted five hundred feet from the Gate of the People.  This
was on the 31st of December 1494.

At three in the afternoon the whole army had arrived, and the
vanguard began their march, drums beating, ensigns unfurled.  It was
composed, says Paolo Giove, an eye-witness (book ii, p. 41 of his
History), of Swiss and German soldiers, with short tight coats of
various colours: they were armed with short swords, with steel edges
like those of the ancient Romans, and carried ashen lances ten feet
long, with straight and sharp iron spikes: only one-fourth of their
number bore halberts instead of lances, the spikes cut into the form
of an axe and surmounted by a four-cornered spike, to be used both
for cutting like an axe and piercing like a bayonet: the first row of
each battalion wore helmets and cuirasses which protected the head
and chest, and when the men were drawn up for battle they presented
to the enemy a triple array of iron spikes, which they could raise or
lower like the spines of a porcupine.  To each thousand of the
soldiery were attached a hundred fusiliers: their officers, to
distinguish them from the men, wore lofty plumes on their helmets.

After the Swiss infantry came the archers of Gascony: there were five
thousand of them, wearing a very simple dress, that contrasted with
the rich costume of the Swiss soldiers, the shortest of whom would
have been a head higher than the tallest of the Gascons.  But they
were excellent soldiers, full of courage, very light, and with a
special reputation for quickness in stringing and drawing their iron

Behind them rode the cavalry, the flower of the French nobility, with
their gilded helmets and neck bands, their velvet and silk surcoats,
their swords each of which had its own name, their shields each
telling of territorial estates, and their colours each telling of a
lady-love.  Besides defensive arms, each man bore a lance in his
hand, like an Italian gendarme, with a solid grooved end, and on his
saddle bow a quantity of weapons, some for cutting and same for
thrusting.  Their horses were large and strong, but they had their
tails and ears cropped according to the French custom.  These horses,
unlike those of the Italian gendarmes, wore no caparisons of dressed
leather, which made them more exposed to attack.  Every knight was
followed by three horses--the first ridden by a page in armour like
his own, the two others by equerries who were called lateral
auxiliaries, because in a fray they fought to right and left of their
chief.  This troop was not only the most magnificent, but the most
considerable in the whole army; for as there were 2500 knights, they
formed each with their three followers a total of 10,000 men.  Five
thousand light horse rode next, who carried huge wooden bows, and
shot long arrows from a distance like English archers.  They were a
great help in battle, for moving rapidly wherever aid was required,
they could fly in a moment from one wing to another, from the rear to
the van, then when their quivers were empty could go off at so swift
a gallop that neither infantry or heavy cavalry could pursue them.
Their defensive armour consisted of a helmet and half-cuirass; some
of them carried a short lance as well, with which to pin their
stricken foe to the ground; they all wore long cloaks adorned with
shoulder-knots, and plates of silver whereon the arms of their chief
were emblazoned.

At last came the young king's escort; there were four hundred
archers, among whom a hundred Scots formed a line on each side, while
two hundred of the most illustrious knights marched on foot beside
the prince, carrying heavy arms on their shoulders.  In the midst of
this magnificent escort advanced Charles VIII, both he and his horse
covered with splendid armour; an his right and left marched Cardinal
Ascanio Sforza, the Duke of Milan's brother, and Cardinal Giuliano
della Rovere, of whom we have spoken so often, who was afterwards
Pope Julius II.  The Cardinals Colonna and Savelli followed
immediately after, and behind them came Prospero and Fabrizia
Colonna, and all the Italian princes and generals who had thrown in
their lot with the conqueror, and were marching intermingled with the
great French lords.

For a long time the crowd that had collected to see all these foreign
soldiers go by, a sight so new and strange, listened uneasily to a
dull sound which got nearer and nearer.  The earth visibly trembled,
the glass shook in the windows, and behind the king's escort thirty-
six bronze cannons were seen to advance, bumping along as they lay on
their gun-carriages.  These cannons were eight feet in length; and as
their mouths were large enough to hold a man's head, it was supposed
that each of these terrible machines, scarcely known as yet to the
Italians, weighed nearly six thousand pounds.  After the cannons came
culverins sixteen feet long, and then falconets, the smallest of
which shot balls the size of a grenade.  This formidable artillery
brought up the rear of the procession, and formed the hindmost guard
of the French army.

It was six hours since the front guard entered the town; and as it
was now night and for every six artillery-men there was a torch-
bearer, this illumination gave to the objects around a more gloomy
character than they would have shown in the sunlight.  The young king
was to take up his quarters in the Palazzo di Venezia, and all the
artillery was directed towards the plaza and the neighbouring
streets.  The remainder of the army was dispersed about the town.
The same evening, they brought to the king, less to do honour to him
than to assure him of his safety, the keys of Rome and the keys of
the Belvedere Garden just the same thing had been done for the Duke
of Calabria.

The pope, as we said, had retired to the Castle S. Angelo with only
six cardinals, so from the day after his arrival the young king had
around him a court of very different brilliance from that of the head
of the Church.  Then arose anew the question of a convocation to
prove Alexander's simony and proceed to depose him; but the king's
chief counsellors, gained over, as we know, pointed out that this was
a bad moment to excite a new schism in the Church, just when
preparations were being made for war against the infidels.  As this
was also the king's private opinion, there was not much trouble in
persuading him, and he made up his mind to treat with His Holiness.

But the negotiations had scarcely begun when they had to be broken
off; for the first thing Charles VIII demanded was the surrender of
the Castle S. Angelo, and as the pope saw in this castle his only
refuge, it was the last thing he chose to give up.  Twice, in his
youthful impatience, Charles wanted to take by force what he could
not get by goodwill, and had his cannons directed towards the Holy
Father's dwelling-place; but the pope was unmoved by these
demonstrations; and obstinate as he was, this time it was the French
king who gave way.

This article, therefore, was set aside, and the following conditions
were agreed upon:

That there should be from this day forward between His Majesty the
King of France and the Holy Father a sincere friendship and a firm

Before the completion of the conquest of the kingdom of Naples, the
King of France should occupy, for the advantage and accommodation of

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