List Of Contents | Contents of The Borgias, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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her the day after.  Though Caesar hurried to Rome, he found when he
arrived that his father had been beforehand with him, and had made a
beginning of his conquests.

Another fortune also had been making prodigious strides during
Caesar's stay in France, viz. the fortune of Gian Borgia, the pope's
nephew, who had been one of the most devoted friends of the Duke of
Gandia up to the time of his death.  It was said in Rome, and not in
a whisper, that the young cardinal owed the favours heaped upon him
by His Holiness less to the memory of the brother than to the
protection of the sister.  Both these reasons made Gian Borgia a
special object of suspicion to Caesar, and it was with an inward vow
that he should not enjoy his new dignities very long that the Duke of
Valentinois heard that his cousin Gian had just been nominated
cardinal 'a latere' of all the Christian world, and had quitted Rome
to make a circuit through all the pontifical states with a suite of
archbishops, bishops, prelates, and gentlemen, such as would have
done honour to the pope himself.

Caesar had only come to Rome to get news; so he only stayed three
days, and then, with all the troops His Holiness could supply,
rejoined his forces on the borders of the Euza, and marched at once
to Imola.  This town, abandoned by its chiefs, who had retired to
Forli, was forced to capitulate.  Imola taken, Caesar marched
straight upon Forli.  There he met with a serious check; a check,
moreover, which came from a woman.  Caterina Sforza, widow of
Girolamo and mother of Ottaviano Riario, had retired to this town,
and stirred up the courage of the garrison by putting herself, her
goods and her person, under their protection.  Caesar saw that it was
no longer a question of a sudden capture, but of a regular siege; so
he began to make all his arrangements with a view to it, and placing
a battery of cannon in front of the place where the walls seemed to
him weakest, he ordered an uninterrupted fire, to be continued until
the breach was practicable.

When he returned to the camp after giving this order, he found there
Gian Borgia, who had gone to Rome from Ferrara and was unwilling to
be so near Caesar without paying him a visit: he was received with
effusion and apparently the greatest joy, and stayed three days; on
the fourth day all the officers and members of the court were invited
to a grand farewell supper, and Caesar bade farewell to his cousin,
charging him with despatches for the pope, and lavishing upon him all
the tokens of affection he had shown on his arrival.

Cardinal Gian Bargia posted off as soon as he left the supper-table,
but on arriving at Urbino he was seized with such a sudden and
strange indisposition that he was forced to stop; but after a few
minutes, feeling rather better, he went an; scarcely, however, had he
entered Rocca Cantrada when he again felt so extremely ill that he
resolved to go no farther, and stayed a couple of days in the town.
Then, as he thought he was a little better again, and as he had heard
the news of the taking of Forli and also that Caterina Sforza had
been taken prisoner while she was making an attempt to retire into
the castle, he resolved to go back to Caesar and congratulate him on
his victory; but at Fassambrane he was forced to stop a third time,
although he had given up his carriage for a litter.  This was his
last halt: the same day he sought his bed, never to rise from it
again; three days later he was dead.

His body was taken to Rome and buried without any ceremony in the
church of Santa Maria del Populo, where lay awaiting him the corpse
of his friend the Duke of Gandia; and there was now no more talk of
the young cardinal, high as his rank had been, than if he had never
existed.  Thus in gloom and silence passed away all those who were
swept to destruction by the ambition of that terrible trio,
Alexander, Lucrezia, and Caesar.

Almost at the same time Rome was terrified by another murder.  Don
Giovanni Cerviglione, a gentleman by birth and a brave soldier,
captain of the pope's men-at-arms, was attacked one evening by the
sbirri, as he was on his way home from supping with Dan Elisio
Pignatelli.  One of the men asked his name, and as he pronounced it,
seeing that there was no mistake, plunged a dagger into his breast,
while a second man with a back stroke of his sword cut off his head,
which lay actually at his feet before his body had time to fall.

The governor of Rome lodged a complaint against this assassination
with the pope; but quickly perceiving, by the way his intimation was
received, that he would have done better to say nothing, he stopped
the inquiries he had started, so that neither of the murderers was
ever arrested.  But the rumour was circulated that Caesar, in the
short stay he had made at Rome, had had a rendezvous with
Cerviglione's wife, who was a Borgia by birth, and that her husband
when he heard of this infringement of conjugal duty had been angry
enough to threaten her and her lover, too: the threat had reached
Caesar's ears, who, making a long arm of Michelotto, had, himself at
Forli, struck down Cerviglione in the streets of Rome.

Another unexpected death followed so quickly on that of Don Giovanni
Cerviglione that it could not but be attributed to the same
originator, if not to the same cause.  Monsignore Agnelli of Mantua,
archbishop of Cosenza, clerk of the chamber and vice-legate of
Viterbo, having fallen into disgrace with His Holiness, how it is not
known, was poisoned at his own table, at which he had passed a good
part of the night in cheerful conversation with three or four guests,
the poison gliding meanwhile through his veins; then going to bed in
perfect health, he was found dead in the morning.  His possessions
were at once divided into three portions: the land and houses were
given to the Duke of Valentinois; the bishopric went to Francesco
Borgia, son of Calixtus III; and the office of clerk of the chamber
was sold for 5000 ducats to Ventura Bonnassai, a merchant of Siena,
who produced this sum for Alexander, and settled down the very same
day in the Vatican.

This last death served the purpose of determining a point of law
hitherto uncertain: as Monsignore Agnelli's natural heirs had made
some difficulty about being disinherited, Alexander issued a brief;
whereby he took from every cardinal and every priest the right of
making a will, and declared that all their property should henceforth
devolve upon him.

But Caesar was stopped short in the midst of his victories.  Thanks
to the 200,000 ducats that yet remained in his treasury, Ludovico
Sforza had levied 500 men-at-arms from Burgundy and 8000 Swiss
infantry, with whom he had entered Lombardy.  So Trivulce, to face
this enemy, had been compelled to call back Yves d'Alegre and the
troops that Louis XII had lent to Caesar; consequently Caesar,
leaving behind a body of pontifical soldiery as garrison at Forli and
Imola, betook himself with the rest of his force to Rome.

It was Alexander's wish that his entry should be a triumph; so when
he learned that the quartermasters of the army were only a few
leagues from the town, he sent out runners to invite the royal
ambassadars, the cardinals, the prelates, the Roman barons, and
municipal dignitaries to make procession with all their suite to meet
the Duke of Valentinois; and as it always happens that the pride of
those who command is surpassed by the baseness of those who obey, the
orders were not only fulfilled to the letter, but beyond it.

The entry of Caesar took place on the 26th of February, 1500.
Although this was the great Jubilee year, the festivals of the
carnival began none the less for that, and were conducted in a manner
even more extravagant and licentious than usual; and the conqueror
after the first day prepared a new display of ostentation, which he
concealed under the veil of a masquerade.  As he was pleased to
identify himself with the glory, genius, and fortune of the great man
whose name he bore, he resolved on a representation of the triumph of
Julius Caesar, to be given on the Piazzi di Navona, the ordinary
place for holding the carnival fetes.  The next day, therefore, he
and his retinue started from that square, and traversed all the
streets of Rome, wearing classical costumes and riding in antique
cars, on one of which Caesar stood, clad in the robe of an emperor of
old, his brow crowned with a golden laurel wreath, surrounded by
lictors, soldiers, and ensign-bearers, who carried banners whereon
was inscribed the motto, 'Aut Caesar aut nihil'.

Finally, an the fourth Sunday, in Lent, the pope conferred upon
Caesar the dignity he had so long coveted, and appointed him general
and gonfaloniere of the Holy Church.

In the meanwhile Sforza had crossed the Alps and passed the Lake of
Como, amid acclamations of joy from his former subjects, who had
quickly lost the enthusiasm that the French army and Louis's promises
had inspired.  These demonstrations were so noisy at Milan, that
Trivulce, judging that there was no safety for a French garrison in
remaining there, made his way to Navarra.  Experience proved that he
was not deceived; for scarcely had the Milanese observed his
preparations for departure when a suppressed excitement began to
spread through the town, and soon the streets were filled with armed
men.  This murmuring crowd had to be passed through, sword in hand
and lance in rest; and scarcely had the French got outside the gates
when the mob rushed out after the army into the country, pursuing
them with shouts and hooting as far as the banks of the Tesino.
Trivulce left 400 lances at Novarra as well as the 3000 Swiss that
Yves d'Alegre had brought from the Romagna, and directed his course
with the rest of the army towards Mortara, where he stopped at last
to await the help he had demanded from the King of France.  Behind
him Cardinal Ascanio and Ludovico entered Milan amid the acclamations
of the whole town.

Neither of them lost any time, and wishing to profit by this
enthusiasm, Ascanio undertook to besiege the castle of Milan while

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