Getting together the three hundred men that constituted his army, Giovanni beat a hasty retreat to Pesaro's magnificent fortress, and that same night he secretly took ship to Ravenna accompanied by the Albanian Giacopo, and leaving his half-brother, Galeazzo Sforza di Cotignola, in command of the citadel. Thence Giovanni repaired to Bologna, and, already repenting his precipitate flight, he appealed for help to Bentivogli, who was himself uneasy, despite the French protection he enjoyed. Similarly, Giovanni addressed fresh appeals to Francesco Gonzaga; but neither of these tyrants could or dared avail him, and, whilst he was still imploring their intervention his fief had fallen into Cesare's power.
Ercole Bentivogli, with a small body of horse, had presented himself at the gates of Pesaro on October 21, and Galeazzo Sforza, having obtained safe-conduct for the garrison, surrendered.
Cesare, meanwhile, was at Fano, where he paused to allow his army to come up with him, for he had outridden it from Fossate, through foul wintry weather, attended only by his light horse. It was said that he hoped that Fano might offer itself to him as other fiefs had done, and—if Pandolfo Collenuccio is correct—he had been counselled by the Pope not to attempt to impose himself upon Fano, but to allow the town a free voice in the matter. If his hopes were as stated, he was disappointed in them, for Fano made no offer to him, and matters remained for the present as they were.
On the 27th, with the banners of the bull unfurled, he rode into Pesaro at the head of two thousand men, making his entrance with his wonted pomp, of whose dramatic values he was so fully aware. He was met at the gates by the Council, which came to offer him the keys of the town, and, despite the pouring rain under which he entered the city, the people of Pesaro thronged the streets to acclaim him as he rode.
He took up his lodgings at the Sforza Palace, so lately vacated by Giovanni—the palace where Lucrezia Borgia had held her Court when, as Giovanni's wife, she had been Countess of Pesaro and Cotignola. Early on the morrow he visited the citadel, which was one of the finest in Italy, rivalling that of Rimini for strength. On his arrival there, a flourish of trumpets imposed silence, while the heralds greeted him formally as Lord of Pesaro. He ordered one of the painters in his train to draw up plans of the fortress to be sent to the Pope, and issued instructions for certain repairs and improvements which he considered desirable.
Here in Pesaro came to him the famous Pandolfo Collenuccio, as envoy from the Duke of Ferrara, to congratulate Cesare upon the victory. In sending Collenuccio at such a time Ercole d'Este paid the Duke of Valentinois a subtle, graceful compliment. This distinguished poet, dramatist, and historian was a native of Pesaro who had been exiled ten years earlier by Giovanni—which was the tyrant's way of showing his gratitude to the man who, more than any other, had contributed to the bastard Sforza's succession to his father as Lord of Pesaro and Cotignola.
Collenuccio was one of the few literary men of his day who was not above using the Italian tongue, treating it seriously as a language and not merely as a debased form of Latin. He was eminent as a juris-consult, and, being a man of action as well as a man of letters, he had filled the office of Podesta in various cities; he had found employment under Lorenzo dei Medici, and latterly under Ercole d'Este, whom we now see him representing.
Cesare received him with all honour, sending the master of his household, Ramiro de Lorqua, to greet him on his arrival and to bear him the usual gifts of welcome, of barley, wine, capons, candles, sweet-meats, etc., whilst on the morrow the duke gave him audience, treating him in the friendliest manner, as we see from Collenuccio's own report to the Duke of Ferrara. In this he says of Cesare: "He is accounted valiant, joyous, and open-handed, and it is believed that he holds honest men in great esteem. Harsh in his vengeance, according to many, he is great of spirit and of ambition, athirst for eminence and fame."
Collenuccio was reinstated by Cesare in the possessions of which Giovanni had stripped him, a matter which so excited the resentment of the latter that, when ultimately he returned to his dominions, one of his first acts was to avenge it. Collenuccio, fearing that he might not stand well with the tyrant, had withdrawn from Pesaro. But Giovanni, with all semblance of friendliness, treacherously lured him back to cast him into prison and have him strangled—a little matter which those who, to the detriment of the Borgia, seek to make a hero of this Giovanni Sforza, would do well not to suppress.
A proof of the splendid discipline prevailing in Cesare's army is afforded during his brief sojourn in Pesaro. In the town itself, some two thousand of his troops were accommodated, whilst some thousands more swarmed in the surrounding country. Occupation by such an army was, naturally enough, cause for deep anxiety on the part of a people who were but too well acquainted with the ways of the fifteenth-century men-at-arms. But here was a general who knew how to curb and control his soldiers. Under the pain of death his men were forbidden from indulging any of the predations or violences usual to their kind; and, as a consequence, the inhabitants of Pesaro had little to complain of.
Justolo gives us a picture of the Duke of Valentinois on the banks of the River Montone, which again throws into relief the discipline which his very presence—such was the force of his personality—was able to enforce. A disturbance arose among his soldiers at the crossing of this river, which was swollen with rains and the bridge of which had been destroyed. It became necessary to effect the crossing in one small boat—the only craft available—and the men, crowding to the bank, stormed and fought for precedence until the affair grew threatening. Cesare rode down to the river, and no more than his presence was necessary to restore peace. Under that calm, cold eye of his the men instantly became orderly, and, whilst he sat his horse and watched them, the crossing was soberly effected, and as swiftly as the single craft would permit.
The duke remained but two days in Pesaro. On the 29th, having appointed a lieutenant to represent him, and a captain to the garrison, he marched out again, to lie that night at Cattolica and enter Rimini on the morrow.
There again he was received with open arms, and he justified the people's welcome of him by an immediate organization of affairs which gave universal satisfaction. He made ample provision for the proper administration of justice and the preservation of the peace; he recalled the fuorusciti exiled by the unscrupulous Pandolfaccio, and he saw them reinstated in the property of which that tyrant had dispossessed them. As his lieutenant in Rimini, with strict injunctions to preserve law and order, he left Ramiro de Lorqua, when, on November 2, he departed to march upon Faenza, which had prepared for resistance.
What Cesare did in Rimini was no more than he was doing throughout the Romagna, as its various archives bear witness. They bear witness no less to his vast ability as an administrator, showing how he resolved the prevailing chaos into form and order by his admirable organization and suppression of injustice. The same archives show us also that he found time for deeds of beneficence which endeared him to the people, who everywhere hailed him as their deliverer from thraldom. It would not be wise to join in the chorus of those who appear to have taken Cesare's altruism for granted. The rejection of the wild stories that picture him as a corrupt and murderous monster, utterly inhuman, and lay a dozen ghastly crimes to his account need not entail our viewing Cesare as an angel of deliverance, a divine agent almost, rescuing a suffering people from oppression out of sheer humanitarianism.
He is the one as little as the other. He is just—as Collenuccio wrote to Ercole d'Este—"great of spirit and of ambition, athirst for eminence and fame." He was consumed by the desire for power and worldly greatness, a colossus of egotism to whom men and women were pieces to be handled by him on the chess-board of his ambition, to be sacrificed ruthlessly where necessary to his ends, but to be husbanded and guarded carefully where they could serve him.
With his eyes upon the career of Cesare Borgia, Macchiavelli was anon to write of principalities newly-acquired, that "however great may be the military resources of a prince, he will discover that, to obtain firm footing in a province, he must engage the favour and interest of the inhabitants."
That was a principle self-evident to Cesare—the principle upon which he acted throughout in his conquest of the Romagna. By causing his new subjects to realize at once that they had exchanged an oppressive for a generous rule, he attached them to himself.
CHAPTER VII. THE SIEGE OF FAENZA
The second campaign of the Romagna had opened for Cesare as easily as had the first. So far his conquest had been achieved by little more than a processional display of his armed legions. Like another Joshua, he reduced cities by the mere blare of his trumpets. At last, however, he was to receive a check. Where grown men had fled cravenly at his approach, it remained for a child to resist him at Faenza, as a woman had resisted him at Forli.
His progress north from Pesaro was of necessity slow. He paused, as we have seen, at Rimini, and he paused again, and for a rather longer spell, at Forli, so that it was not until the second week of November that Astorre Manfredi—the boy of sixteen who was to hold Faenza—caught in the distance the flash of arms and the banners with the bull device borne by the host which the Duke of Valentinois led against him.
At first it had been Astorre's intent to follow the examples set him by Malatesta and Sforza, and he had already gone so far as to remove his valuables to Ravenna, whither he, too, meant to seek refuge. But he was in better case than any of the tyrants so far deposed inasmuch as his family, which had ruled Faenza for two hundred years, had not provoked the hatred of its subjects, and these were now ready and willing to stand loyally by their young lord. But loyalty alone can do little, unless backed by the might of arms, against such a force as Cesare was prepared to hurl upon Faenza. This Astorre realized, and for his own and his subjects' sake was preparing to depart, when, to his undoing, support reached him from an unexpected quarter.
Bologna—whose ruler, Giovanni Bentivogli, was Astorre's grandfather—in common with Florence and Urbino, grew daily more and more alarmed at the continual tramp of armed multitudes about her frontiers, and at the steady growth in numbers and in capacity of this splendid army which followed Casare—an army captained by such enemies of the Bentivogli as the Baglioni, the Orsini, and the exiled Malvezzi.
Bentivogli had good grounds for his anxiety, not knowing how long he might depend upon the protection of France, and well aware that, once that protection was removed, there would be no barrier between Bologna and Cesare's manifest intentions concerning her.
Next to Cesare's utter annihilation, to check his progress was the desire dearest just then to the heart of Bentivogli, and with this end in view he dispatched Count Guido Torella to Faenza, in mid-October, with an offer to assist Astorre with men and money.
Astorre, who had succeeded Galeotto Manfredi in the tyranny of Faenza at the age of three, had been and still continued under the tutelage of the Council which really governed his territories. To this Council came Count Torella with Bentivogli's offer, adding the proposal that young Astorre should be sent to Venice for his personal safety. But to this the Council replied that it would be useless, if that course were adopted, to attempt resistance, as the people could only be urged to it by their affection for their young lord, and that, if he were removed from their midst, they would insist upon surrender.
News of these negotiations reached Rome, and on October 24 Alexander sent Bentivogli his commands to refrain, under pain of excommunication, from interfering in the affairs of Faenza. Bentivogli made a feeble attempt to mask his disobedience. The troops with which he intended to assist his grandson were sent ostensibly to Castel Bolognese, but with instructions to desert thence and make for Faenza. This they did, and thus was Astorre strengthened by a thousand men, whilst the work of preparing his city for resistance went briskly forward.
Meanwhile, ahead of Cesare Borgia, swept Vitellozzo Vitelli with his horse into Astorre's dominions. He descended upon the valley of the Lamone, and commenced hostilities by the capture and occupation of Brisghella on November 7. The other lesser strongholds and townships offered no resistance to Cesare's arms. Indeed they were induced into ready rebellion against their lord by Dionigio di Naldo—the sometime defender of Imola, who had now taken service with Cesare.
On November 10 Cesare himself halted his host beneath the walls of Faenza and called upon the town to surrender. Being denied, he encamped his army for the siege. He chose the eastern side of the town, between the rivers Lamone and Marzano, and, that his artillery might have free play, he caused several houses to be demolished.
In Faenza itself, meanwhile, the easy conquest of the valley had not produced a good effect. Moreover, the defenders had cause to fear treachery within their gates, for a paper had been picked up out of the moat containing an offer of terms of surrender. It had been shot into the castle attached to an arbalest-bolt, and was intended for the castellan Castagnini. This Castagnini was arrested, thrown into prison, and his possessions confiscated, whilst the Council placed the citadel in the hands of four of its own members together with Gianevangelista Manfredi—Astorre's half-brother, and a bastard of Galeotto's. These set about defending it against Cesare, who had now opened fire. The duke caused the guns to be trained upon a certain bastion through which he judged that a good assault might be delivered and an entrance gained. Night and day was the bombardment of that bastion kept up, yet without producing visible effect until the morning of the 20th, when suddenly one of its towers collapsed thunderously into the moat.
Instantly, and without orders, the soldiers, all eager to be among the first to enter, flung themselves forward in utter and fierce disorder to storm the breach. Cesare, at breakfast—as he himself wrote to the Duke of Urbino—sprang up at the great noise, and, surmising what was taking place, dashed out to restrain his men. But the task was no easy one, for, gathering excitement and the frenzy of combat as they ran, they had already gained the edge of the ditch, and thither Cesare was forced to follow them, using voice and hands to beat back again.
At last he succeeded in regaining control of them, and in compelling them to make an orderly retreat, and curb their impatience until the time for storming should have come, which was not yet. In the affair Cesare had a narrow escape from a stone-shot fired from the castle, whilst one of his officers—Onorio Savelli—was killed by a cannon-ball from the duke's own guns, whose men, unaware of what was taking place, were continuing the bombardment.
Hitherto the army had been forced to endure foul weather—rain, fogs, and wind; but there was worse come. Snow began to fall on the morning of the 22nd. It grew to a storm, and the blizzard continued all that day, which was a Sunday, all night, and all the following day, and lashed the men pitilessly and blindingly. The army, already reduced by shortness of victuals, was now in a miserable plight in its unsheltered camp, and the defenders of Faenza, as if realizing this, made a sortie on the 23rd, from which a fierce fight ensued, with severe loss to both sides. On the 25th the snow began again, whereupon the hitherto unconquerable Cesare, defeated at last by the elements and seeing that his men could not possibly continue to endure the situation, was compelled to strike camp on the 26th and go into winter quarters, no doubt with immense chagrin at leaving so much work unaccomplished.
So he converted the siege into a blockade, closing all roads that lead to Faenza, with a view to shutting out supplies from the town; and he distributed troops throughout the villages of the territory with orders constantly to harass the garrison and allow it no rest.
He also sent an envoy with an offer of terms of surrender, but the Council rejected it with the proud answer that its members "had agreed, in general assembly, to defend the dominions of Manfredi to the death."
Thereupon Cesare withdrew to Forli with 150 lances and 2,500 foot, and here he affords a proof of his considerateness. The town had already endured several occupations and the severities of being the seat of war during the siege of the citadel. Cesare was determined that it should feel the present occupation as little as possible; so he issued an order to the inhabitants upon whom his soldiers were billeted to supply the men only with bed, light, and fire. What more they required must be paid for, and, to avoid disputes as to prices of victuals and other necessaries, he ordered the Council to draw up a tariff, and issued an edict forbidding his soldiers, under pain of death, from touching any property of the townsfolk. Lest they should doubt his earnestness, he hanged two of his soldiers on December 7—a Piedmontese and a Gascon—and on the 13th a third, all from the windows of his own palace, and all with a label hanging from their feet proclaiming that they had been hanged for taking goods of others in spite of the ban of the Lord Duke, etc.
He remained in Forli until the 23rd, when he departed to Cesena, which was really his capital in Roomagna, and in the huge citadel of which there was ample accommodation for the troops that accompanied him. In Forli he left, as his lieutenants, the Bishop of Trani and Don Michele da Corella—the "Michieli" of Capello's Relation and the "Michelotto" of so many Borgia fables. That this officer ruled the soldiers left with him in Forli in accordance with the stern example set him by his master we know from the chronicles of Bernardi.
In Cesena the duke occupied the splendid palace of Malatesta Novello, which had been magnificently equipped for him, and there, on Christmas Eve, he entertained the Council of the town and other important citizens to a banquet worthy of the repuation for lavishness which he enjoyed. He was very different in this from his father, whose table habits were of the most sparing—to which, no doubt, his Holiness owed the wonderful, almost youthful vigour which he still enjoyed in this his seventieth year. It was notorious that ambassadors cared little for invitations to the Pope's table, where the meal never consisted of more than one dish.
On Christmas Day the duke attended Mass at the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista with great pomp, arrayed in the ducal chlamys and followed by his gentlemen. With these young patricians Cesare made merry during the days that followed. The time was spent in games and joustings, in all of which the duke showed himself freely, making display of his physical perfections, fully aware, no doubt, of what a short cut these afforded him to the hearts of the people, ever ready to worship physical beauty, prowess, and address.
Yet business was not altogether neglected, for on January 4 he went to Porto Cesenatico, and there published an edict against all who had practised with the fuorusciti from his States, forbidding the offence under pain of death and forfeiture of possessions.
He remained in winter quarters until the following April, from which, however, it is not to be concluded that Faenza was allowed to be at peace for that spell. The orders which he had left behind him, that the town was constantly to be harassed, were by no means neglected. On the night of January 21, by arrangement with some of the inhabitants of the beleaguered city, the foot surrounding Faenza attempted to surprise the garrison by a secret escalade. They were, however, discovered betimes in the attempt and repulsed, some who had the mischance—as it happened—to gain the battlements before the alarm was raised being taken and hanged. The duke's troops, however, consoled themselves by capturing Russi and Solarolo, the last two strongholds in the valley that had held for Astorre.
Meanwhile, Cesare and his merry young patricians spent the time as agreeably as might be in Cesena during that carnival. The author of the Diario Cesenate is moved by the duke's pastimes to criticize him severely as indulging in amusements unbecoming the dignity of his station. He is particularly shocked to know that the duke should have gone forth in disguise with a few companions to repair to carnival festivities in the surrounding villages and there to wrestle with the rustics. It is not difficult to imagine the discomfiture suffered by many a village Hercules at the hands of this lithe young man, who could behead a bull at a single stroke of a spadoon and break a horseshoe in his fingers. The diary in question, you will have gathered, is that of a pedant, prim and easily scandalized. So much being obvious, it is noteworthy that Cesare's conduct should have afforded him no subject for graver strictures than these, Cesare being such a man as has been represented, and the time being that of carnival when licence was allowed full play.
The Pope accounted that the check endured by Cesare before Faenza was due not so much to the foul weather by which his army had been beset as to the assistance which Giovanni Bentivogli had rendered his grandson Astorre, and bitter were the complaints of it which he addressed to the King of France. Alarmed by this, and fearing that he might have compromised himself and jeopardized the French protection by his action in the matter, Bentivogli made haste to recall his troops, and did in fact withdraw them from Faenza early in December, shortly after Cesare had gone into winter quarters. Nevertheless, the Pope's complaints continued, Alexander in his secret, crafty heart no doubt rejoicing that Bentivogli should have afforded him so sound a grievance. As Louis XII desired, for several reasons, to stand well with Rome, he sent an embassy to Bentivogli to express his regret and censure of the latter's intervention in the affairs of Faenza. He informed Bentivogli that the Pope was demanding the return of Bologna to the States of the Church, and, without expressing himself clearly as to his own view of the matter, he advised Bentivogli to refrain from alliances with the enemies of the Holy See and to secure Bologna to himself by some sound arrangement. This showed Bentivogli in what danger he stood, and his uneasiness was increased by the arrival at Modena of Yves d'Allegre, sent by the King of France with a condotta of 500 horse for purposes which were not avowed but which Bentivogli sorely feared might prove to be hostile to himself.
At the beginning of February Cesare moved his quarters from Cesena to Imola, and thence he sent his envoys to demand winter quarters for his troops in Castel Bolognese. This flung Bentivogli into positive terror, as he interpreted the request as a threat of invasion. Castel Bolognese was too valuable a stronghold to be so lightly placed in the duke's hands. Thence Bentivogli might, in case of need, hold the duke in check, the fortress commanding, as it did, the road from Imola to Faenza. He had the good sense, however, to compromise the matter by returning Cesare an offer of accommodation for his men with victuals, artillery, etc., but without the concession of Castel Bolognese. With this Cesare was forced to be content, there being no reasonable grounds upon which he could decline so generous an offer. It was a cunning concession on Bentivogli's part, for, without strengthening the duke's position, it yet gave the latter what he ostensibly required, and left no cause for grievance and no grounds upon which to molest Bologna. So much was this the case that on February 26 the Pope wrote to Bentivogli expressing his thanks at the assistance which he had thus given Cesare in the Faenza emprise.
It was during this sojourn of Cesare's at Imola that the abduction took place of Dorotea Caracciolo, the young wife of Gianbattista Caracciolo, a captain of foot in the Venetian service. The lady, who was attached to the Duchess of Urbino, had been residing at the latter's Court, and in the previous December Caracciolo had begged leave of the Council of Ten that he might himself go to Urbino for the purpose of escorting her to Venice. The Council, however, had replied that he should send for her, and this the captain had done. Near Cervia, on the confines of the Venetian territory, towards evening of February 14, the lady's escort was set upon by ten well-armed men, and rudely handled by them, some being wounded and one at least killed, whilst the lady and a woman who was with her were carried off.
The Podesta of Cervia reported to the Venetian Senate that the abductors were Spaniards of the army of the Duke of Valentinois, and it was feared in Venice—according to Sanuto—that the deed might be the work of Cesare.
The matter contained in that Relation of Capello's to the Senate must by now have been widespread, and of a man who could perpetrate the wickednesses therein divulged anything could be believed. Indeed, it seems to have followed that, where any act of wickedness was brought to light, at once men looked to see if Cesare might not be responsible, nor looked close enough to make quite sure. To no other cause can it be assigned that, in the stir which the Senate made, the name of Cesare was at once suggested as that of the abductor, and this so broadly that letters poured in upon him on all sides begging him to right this cruel wrong. So much do you see assumed, upon no more evidence than was contained in that letter from the Podesta of Cervia, which went no further than to say that the abductors were "Spaniards of the Duke of Valentinois' army." The envoy Manenti was dispatched at once to Cesare by the Senate, and he went persuaded, it is clear, that Cesare Borgia was the guilty person. He enlisted the support of Monsieur de Trans (the French ambassador then on his way to Rome) and that of Yves d'Allegre, and he took them with him to the Duke at Imola.
There, acting upon his strong suspicions, Manenti appears to have taken a high tone, representing to the duke that he had done an unworthy thing, and imploring him to restore the lady to her husband. Cesare's patience under the insolent assumption in justification of which Manenti had not a single grain of evidence to advance, is—guilty or innocent—a rare instance of self-control. He condescended to take oath that he had not done this thing which they imputed to him. He admitted that he had heard of the outrage, and he expressed the belief that it was the work of one Diego Ramires—a captain of foot in his service. This Ramires, he explained, had been in the employ of the Duke of Urbino, and in Urbino had made the acquaintance and fallen enamoured of the lady; and he added that the fellow had lately disappeared, but that already he had set on foot a search for him, and that, once taken, he would make an example of him.
In conclusion he begged that the Republic should not believe this thing against him, assuring the envoy that he had not found the ladies of the Romagna so difficult that he should be driven to employ such rude and violent measures.
The French ambassador certainly appears to have attached implicit faith to Cesare's statement, and he privately informed Manenti that Ramires was believed to be at Medola, and that the Republic might rest assured that, if he were taken, exemplary justice would be done.
All this you will find recorded in Sanuto. After that his diary entertains us with rumours which were reaching Venice, now that the deed was the duke's, now that the lady was with Ramires. Later the two rumours are consolidated into one, in a report of the Podesta of Cervia to the effect that "the lady is in the Castle of Forli with Ramires, and that he took her there by order of the duke." The Podesta says that a man whom he sent to gather news had this story from one Benfaremo. But he omits to say who and what is this Benfaremo, and what the source of his information.
Matters remaining thus, and the affair appearing in danger of being forgotten, Caracciolo goes before the Senate on March 16 and implores permission to deal with it himself. This permission is denied him, the Doge conceiving that the matter will best be dealt with by the Senate, and Caracciolo is ordered back to his post at Gradisca. Thence he writes to the Senate on March 30 that he is certain his wife is in the citadel of Forli.
After this Sanuto does not mention the matter again until December of 1503—nearly three years later—when we gather that, under pressure of constant letters from the husband, the Venetian ambassador at the Vatican makes so vigorous a stir that the lady is at last delivered up, and goes for the time being into a convent. But we are not told where or how she is found, nor where the convent in which she seeks shelter. That is Sanuto's first important omission.
And now an odd light is thrown suddenly upon the whole affair, and it begins to look as if the lady had been no unwilling victim of an abduction, but, rather, a party to an elopement. She displays a positive reluctance to return to her husband; she is afraid to do so—"in fear for her very life"—and she implores the Senate to obtain from Caracciolo some security for her, or else to grant her permission to withdraw permanently to a convent.
The Senate summons the husband, and represents the case to him. He assures the Senate that he has forgiven his wife, believing her to be innocent. This, however, does not suffice to allay her uneasiness—or her reluctance—for on January 4, 1504, Sanuto tells us that the Senate has received a letter of thanks from her in which she relates her misfortunes, and in which again she begs that her husband be compelled to pledge security to treat her well ("darli buona vita") or else that she should be allowed to return to her mother. Of the nature of the misfortunes which he tells us she related in her letter, Sanuto says nothing. That is his second important omission.
The last mention of the subject in Sanuto relates to her restoration to her husband. He tells us that Caracciolo received her with great joy; but he is silent on the score of the lady's emotions on that occasion.
There you have all that is known of Dorotea Caracciolo's abduction, which later writers—including Bembo in his Historiae—have positively assigned to Cesare Borgia, drawing upon their imagination to fill up the lacunae in the story so as to support their point of view.
Those lacunae, however, are invested with a certain eloquence which it is well not to disregard. Admitting that the construing of silence into evidence is a dangerous course, all fraught with pitfalls, yet it seems permissible to pose the following questions:
If the revelation of the circumstances under which she was found, the revelations contained in her letters to the Senate, and the revelations which one imagines must have followed her return to her husband, confirm past rumours and convict Cesare of the outrage, how does it happen that Sanuto—who has never failed to record anything that could tell against Cesare—should be silent on the matter? And how does it happen that so many pens that busied themselves greedily with scandal that touched the Borgias should be similarly silent? Is it unreasonable to infer that those revelations did not incriminate him—that they gave the lie to all the rumours that had been current? If that is not the inference, then what is?
It is further noteworthy that on January 16—after Dorotea's letter to the Senate giving the details of her misfortunes, which details Sanuto has suppressed—Diego Ramires, the real and known abductor, is still the object of a hunt set afoot by some Venetians. Would that be the case had her revelations shown Ramires to be no more than the duke's instrument? Possibly; but not probably. In such a case he would not have been worth the trouble of pursuing.
Reasonably may it be objected: How, if Cesare was not guilty, does it happen that he did not carry out his threat of doing exemplary justice upon Ramires when taken—since Ramires obviously lay in his power for years after the event? The answer to that you will find in the lady's reluctance to return to Caracciolo, and the tale it tells. It is not in the least illogical to assume that, when Cesare threatened that vengeance upon Ramires for the outrage which it was alleged had been committed, he fully intended to execute it; but that, upon taking Ramires, and upon discovering that here was no such outrage as had been represented, but just the elopement of a couple of lovers, he found there was nothing for him to avenge. Was it for Cesare Borgia to set up as a protector and avenger of cuckolds? Rather would it be in keeping with the feelings of his age and race to befriend the fugitive pair who had planted the antlers upon the brow of the Venetian captain.
Lastly, Cesare's attitude towards women may be worth considering, that we may judge whether such an act as was imputed to him is consistent with it. Women play no part whatever in his history. Not once shall you find a woman's influence swaying him; not once shall you see him permitting dalliance to retard his advancement or jeopardize his chances. With him, as with egotists of his type, governed by cold will and cold intellect, the sentimental side of the relation of the sexes has no place. With him one woman was as another woman; as he craved women, so he took women, but with an almost contemptuous undiscrimination. For all his needs concerning them the lupanaria sufficed.
Is this mere speculation, think you? Is there no evidence to support it, do you say? Consider, pray, in all its bearings the treatise on pudendagra dedicated to a man of Cesare Borgia's rank by the physician Torella, written to meet his needs, and see what inference you draw from that. Surely such an inference as will invest with the ring of truth—expressing as it does his intimate nature, and confirming further what has here been said—that answer of his to the Venetian envoy, "that he had not found the ladies of Romagna so difficult that he should be driven to such rude and violent measures."
CHAPTER VIII. ASTORRE MANFREDI
On March 29 Cesare Borgia departed from Cesena—whither, meanwhile, he had returned—to march upon Faenza, resume the attack, and make an end of the city's stubborn resistance.
During the past months, however, and notwithstanding the presence of the Borgia troops in the territory, the people of Faenza had been able to increase their fortifications by the erection of out-works and a stout bastion in the neighbourhood of the Osservanza Hospital, well beyond the walls. This bastion claimed Cesare's first attention, and it was carried by assault on April 12. Thither he now fetched his guns, mounted them, and proceeded to a steady bombardment of the citadel. But the resistance continued with unabated determination—a determination amounting to heroism, considering the hopelessness of their case and the straits to which the Faentini were reduced by now. Victuals and other necessaries of life had long since been running low. Still the men of Faenza tightened their belts, looked to their defences, and flung defiance at the Borgia. The wealthier inhabitants distributed wine and flour at prices purely nominal, and lent Astorre money for the payment of his troops. It is written that to the same end the very priests, their patriotism surmounting their duty to the Holy Father in whose name this war was waged, consented to the despoiling of the churches and the melting down of the sacred vessels.
Even the women of Faenza bore their share of the burden of defence, carrying to the ramparts the heavy stones that were to be hurled down upon the besiegers, or actually donning casque and body-armour and doing sentry duty on the walls while the men rested.
But the end was approaching. On April 18 the Borgia cannon opened at last a breach in the walls, and Cesare delivered a terrible assault upon the citadel. The fight upon the smoking ruins was fierce and determined on both sides, the duke's men pressing forward gallantly under showers of scalding pitch and a storm of boulders, launched upon them by the defenders, who used the very ruins of the wall for ammunition. For four hours was that assault maintained; nor did it cease until the deepening dusk compelled Cesare to order the retreat, since to continue in the failing light was but to sacrifice men to no purpose.
Cesare's appreciation of the valour of the garrison ran high. It inspired him with a respect which shows his dispassionate breadth of mind, and he is reported to have declared that with an army of such men as those who held Faenza against him he would have conquered all Italy. He did not attempt a second assault, but confined himself during the three days that followed to continuing the bombardment.
Within Faenza men were by now in desperate case. Weariness and hunger were so exhausting their endurance, so sapping their high valour that nightly there were desertions to the duke's camp of men who could bear no more. The fugitives from the town were well received, all save one—a man named Grammante, a dyer by trade—who, in deserting to the duke, came in to inform him that at a certain point of the citadel the defences were so weak that an assault delivered there could not fail to carry it.
This man afforded Cesare an opportunity of marking his contempt for traitors and his respect for the gallant defenders of Faenza. The duke hanged him for his pains under the very walls of the town he had betrayed.
On the 21st the bombardment was kept up almost without interruption for eight hours, and so shattered was the citadel by that pitiless cannonade that the end was in sight at last. But the duke's satisfaction was tempered by his chagrin at the loss of Achille Tiberti, one of the most valiant of his captains, and one who had followed his fortunes from the first with conspicuous devotion. He was killed by the bursting of a gun. A great funeral at Cesena bore witness to the extent to which Cesare esteemed and honoured him.
Astorre, now seeing the citadel in ruins and the possibility of further resistance utterly exhausted, assembled the Council of Faenza to determine upon their course of action, and, as a result of their deliberations, the young tyrant sent his ambassadors to the duke to propose terms of surrender. It was a belated proposal, for there was no longer on Cesare's part the necessity to make terms. The city's defences were destroyed, and to talk of surrender now was to talk of giving something that no longer existed. Yet Cesare met the ambassadors in a spirit of splendid generosity.
The terms proposed were that the people of Faenza should have immunity for themselves and their property; that Astorre should have freedom to depart and to take with him his moveable possessions, his immoveables remaining at the mercy of the Pope. By all the laws of war Cesare was entitled to a heavy indemnity for the losses he had sustained through the resistance opposed to him. Considering those same laws and the application they were wont to receive in his day, no one could have censured him had he rejected all terms and given the city over to pillage. Yet not only does he grant the terms submitted to him, but in addition he actually lends an ear to the Council's prayer that out of consideration for the great suffering of the city in the siege he should refrain from exacting any indemnity. This was to be forbearing indeed; but he was to carry his forbearance even further. In answer to the Council's expressed fears of further harm at the hands of his troopers once these should be in Faenza, he actually consented to effect no entrance into the town.
We are not for a moment to consider Cesare as actuated in all this by any lofty humanitarianism. He was simply pursuing that wise policy of his, in refraining from punishing conquered States which were to be subject henceforth to his rule, and which, therefore, must be conciliated that they might be loyal to him. But it is well that you should at least appreciate this policy and the fruit it bore when you read that Cesare Borgia was a blood-glutted monster of carnage who ravaged the Romagna, rending and devouring it like some beast of prey.
On the 26th the Council waited upon Cesare at the Hospital of the Osservanza—where he was lodged—to tender the oath of fealty. That same evening Astorre himself, attended by a few of his gentlemen, came to the duke.
To this rather sickly and melancholy lad, who had behind him a terrible family history of violence, and to his bastard brother, Gianevangelista, the duke accorded the most gracious welcome. Indeed, so amiable did Astorre find the duke that, although the terms of surrender afforded him perfect liberty to go whither he listed, he chose to accept the invitation Cesare extended to him to remain in the duke's train.
It is eminently probable, however, that the duke's object in keeping the young man about him was prompted by another phase of that policy of his which Macchiavelli was later to formulate into rules of conduct, expedient in a prince:
"In order to preserve a newly acquired State particular attention should be given to two points. In the first place care should be taken entirely to extinguish the family of the ancient sovereign; in the second, laws should not be changed, nor taxes increased."
Thus Macchiavelli. The second point is all that is excellent; the first is all that is wise—cold, horrible, and revolting though it be to our twentieth-century notions.
Cesare Borgia, as a matter of fact, hardly went so far as Macchiavelli advises. He practised discrimination. He did not, for instance, seek the lives of Pandolfaccio Malatesta, or of Caterina Sforza-Riario. He saw no danger in their living, no future trouble to apprehend from them. The hatred borne them by their subjects was to Cesare a sufficient guarantee that they would not be likely to attempt a return to their dominions, and so he permitted them to keep their lives. But to have allowed Astorre Manfredi, or even his bastard brother, to live would have been bad policy from the appallingly egotistical point of view which was Cesare's—a point of view, remember, which receives Macchiavelli's horribly intellectual, utterly unsentimental, revoltingly practical approval.
So—to anticipate a little—we see Cesare taking Astorre and Gianevangelista Manfredi to Rome when he returned thither in the following June. A fortnight later—on June 26—the formidable amazon of Forli, the Countess Sforza-Riario, was liberated, as we know, from the Castle of Sant' Angelo, and permitted to withdraw to Florence. But the gates of that grim fortress, in opening to allow her to pass out, opened also for the purpose of admitting Astorre and Gianevangelista, upon whom they closed.
All that is known positively of the fate of these unfortunate young men is that they never came forth again alive.
The record in Burchard (June 9, 1502) of Astorre's body having been found in the Tiber with a stone round his neck, suffers in probability from the addition that, "together with it were found the bodies of two young men with their arms tied, a certain woman, and many others."
The dispatch of Giustiniani to the effect that: "It is said that this night were thrown into Tiber and drowned the two lords of Faenza together with their seneschal," was never followed up by any other dispatch confirming the rumour, nor is it confirmed by any dispatch so far discovered from any other ambassador, nor yet does the matter find place in the Chronicles of Faenza.
But that is of secondary importance. The ugliest feature of the case is not the actual assassination of the young men, but the fact that Cesare had pledged himself that Astorre should go free, and yet had kept him by him—at first, it would seem, in his train, and later as a prisoner—until he put an end to his life. It was an ugly, unscrupulous deed; but there is no need to exaggerate its heinousness, as is constantly done, upon no better authority than Guicciardini's, who wrote that the murder had been committed "saziata prima la libidine di qualcuno."
Of all the unspeakable calumnies of which the Borgias have been the subject, none is more utterly wanton than this foul exhalation of Guicciardini's lewd invention. Let the shame that must eternally attach to him for it brand also those subsequent writers who repeated and retailed that abominable and utterly unsupported accusation, and more particularly those who have not hesitated to assume that Guicciardini's "qualcuno" was an old man in his seventy-second year—Pope Alexander VI.
Others a little more merciful, a little more careful of physical possibilities (but no whit less salacious) have taken it that Cesare was intended by the Florentine historian.
But, under one form or another, the lie has spread as only such foulness can spread. It has become woven into the warp of history; it has grown to be one of those "facts" which are unquestioningly accepted, but it stands upon no better foundation than the frequent repetition which a charge so monstrous could not escape. Its source is not a contemporary one. It is first mentioned by Guicciardini; and there is no logical conclusion to be formed other than that Guicciardini invented it. Another story which owes its existence mainly, and its particulars almost entirely, to Guicciardini's libellous pen—the story of the death of Alexander VI, which in its place shall be examined—provoked the righteous anger of Voltaire. Atheist and violent anti-clerical though he was, the story's obvious falseness so revolted him that he penned his formidable indictment in which he branded Guicciardini as a liar who had deceived posterity that he might vent his hatred of the Borgias. Better cause still was there in this matter of Astorre Manfredi for Voltaire's indignation, as there is for the indignation of all conscientious seekers after truth.
CHAPTER IX. CASTEL BOLOGNESE AND PIOMBINO
To return to the surrender of Faenza on April 26, 1501, we see Cesare on the morrow of that event, striking camp with such amazing suddenness that he does not even pause to provide for the government of the conquered tyranny, but appoints a vicar four days later to attend to it.
He makes his abrupt departure from Faenza, and is off like a whirlwind to sweep unexpectedly into the Bolognese territory, and, by striking swiftly, to terrify Bentivogli into submission in the matter of Castel Bolognese.
This fortress, standing in the duke's dominions, on the road between Faenza and Imola, must be a menace to him whilst in the hands of a power that might become actively hostile.
Ahead of him Cesare sent an envoy to Bentivogli, to demand its surrender.
The alarmed Lord of Bologna, having convened his Council (the Reggimento), replied that they must deliberate in the matter; and two days later they dispatched their ambassador to lay before Cesare the fruits of these deliberations. They were to seek the duke at Imola; but they got no farther than Castel S. Pietro, which to their dismay they found already in the hands of Vitellozzo Vitelli's men-at-arms. For, what time Bentivogli had been deliberating, Cesare Borgia had been acting with that promptness which was one of his most salient characteristics, and, in addition to Castel S. Pietro he had already captured Casalfiuminense, Castel Guelfo, and Medecina, which were now invested by his troops.
When the alarming news of this swift action reached Bologna it caused Bentivogli to bethink him at last of Louis XII's advice, that he should come to terms with Cesare Borgia, and he realized that the time to do so could no longer be put off. He made haste, therefore, to agree to the surrender of Castel Bolognese to the duke, to concede him stipend for one hundred lances of three men each, and to enter into an undertaking to lend him every assistance for one year against any power with which he might be at war, the King of France excepted. In return, Cesare was to relinquish the captured strongholds and undertake that the Pope should confirm Bentivogli in his ancient privileges. On April 29 Paolo Orsini went as Cesare's plenipotentiary to Bologna to sign this treaty.
It was a crafty arrangement on Bentivogli's part, for, over and above the pacification of Cesare and the advantage of an alliance with him, he gained as a result the alliance also of those famous condottieri Vitelli and Orsini, both bitter enemies of Florence—the latter intent upon the restoration of the Medici, the former impatient to avenge upon the Signory the execution of his brother Paolo. As an instalment, on account of that debt, Vitelli had already put to death Pietro da Marciano—the brother of Count Rinuccio da Marciano—when this gentleman fell into his hands at Medicina.
Two days before the treaty was signed, Bentivogli had seized four members of the powerful House of Marescotti. This family was related to the exiled Malvezzi, who were in arms with Cesare, and Bentivogli feared that communications might be passing between the two to his undoing. On that suspicion he kept them prisoners for the present, nor did be release them when the treaty was signed, nor yet when, amid public rejoicings expressing the relief of the Bolognese, it was published on May 2.
Hermes Bentivogli—Giovanni's youngest son—was on guard at the palace with several other young Bolognese patricians, and he incited these to go with him to make an end of the traitors who had sought to destroy the peace by their alleged plottings with Bentivogli's enemies in Cesare's camp. He led his companions to the chamber where the Marescotti were confined, and there, more or less in cold blood, those four gentlemen were murdered for no better reason—ostensibly—than because it was suspected they had been in communication with their relatives in the Duke of Valentinois's army. That was the way of the Cinquecento, which appears to have held few things of less account than human life.
In passing, it may be mentioned that Guicciardini, of course, does his ludicrous best to make this murder appear—at least indirectly, since directly it would be impossible—the work of Cesare Borgia.
As for Castel Bolognese itself, Cesare Borgia sent a thousand demolishers in the following July to raze it to the ground. It is said to have been the most beautiful castle in the Romagna; but Cesare had other qualities than beauty to consider in the matter of a stronghold. Its commanding position rendered it almost in the nature of a gateway controlling, as we know, the road from Faenza to Imola, and its occupation by the Bolognese or other enemies in time of disturbance might be of serious consequence to Cesare. Therefore he ruthlessly ordered Ramiro de Lorqua to set about its demolition.
The Council of Castel Bolognese made great protest, and implored Ramiro to stay his hand until they should have communicated with the duke petitioning for the castle's preservation; but Ramiro—a hard, stern man, and Cesare's most active officer in the Romagna—told them bluntly that to petition the duke in such a matter would be no better than a waste of time. He was no more than right; for Cesare, being resolved upon the expediency of the castle's destruction, would hardly be likely to listen to sentimental reasonings for its preservation. Confident of this, Ramiro without more ado set about the execution of the orders he had received. He pulled down the walls and filled up the moat, until nothing remained so much as to show the place where the fortress had stood.
Another fortress which shared the fate of Castel Bolognese was the Castle of Sant' Arcangelo, and similarly would Cesare have disposed of Solarolo, but that, being of lesser importance and the inhabitants offering, in their petition for its preservation, to undertake, themselves, the payment of the Castellan, he allowed it to remain.
Scarcely was the treaty with Bologna signed than Cesare received letters from the Pope recalling him to Rome, and recommending that he should not molest the Florentines in his passage—a recommendation which Alexander deemed very necessary considering the disposition towards Florence of Vitelli and Orsini. He foresaw that they would employ arguments to induce Valentinois into an enterprise of which all the cost would be his, and all the possible profit their own.
The duke would certainly have obeyed and avoided Tuscany, but that—precisely as the shrewd Pope had feared—Vitelli and Orsini implored him to march through Florentine territory. Vitelli, indeed, flung himself on his knees before Cesare in the vehemence of his supplications, urging that his only motive was to effect the deliverance from his unjust imprisonment of Cerbone, who had been his executed brother's chancellor. Beyond that, he swore he would make no demands upon Florence, that he would not attempt to mix himself in the affairs of the Medici, and that he would do no violence to town or country.
Thus implored, Cesare gave way. Probably he remembered the very circumstances under which Vitelli had joined his banner, and considered that he could not now oppose a request backed by a promise of so much moderation; so on May 7 he sent his envoys to the Signory to crave leave of passage for his troops through Florentine territory.
Whilst still in the Bolognese he was sought out by Giuliano de'Medici, who begged to be allowed to accompany him, a request which Cesare instantly refused, as being contrary to that to which he had engaged himself, and he caused Giuliano to fall behind at Lojano. Nor would he so much as receive in audience Piero de'Medici, who likewise sought to join him in Siennese territory, as soon as he perceived what was toward. Yet, however much the duke protested that he had no intention to make any change in the State of Florence, there were few who believed him. Florence, weary and sorely reduced by the long struggle of the Pisan war, was an easy prey. Conscious of this, great was her anxiety and alarm at Cesare's request for passage. The Signory replied granting him the permission sought, but imposing the condition that he should keep to the country, refraining from entering any town, nor bring with him into Florentine territory Vitelli, Orsini, or any other enemy of the existing government. It happened, however, that when the Florentine ambassador reached him with this reply the duke was already over the frontier of Tuscany with the excluded condottieri in his train.
It was incumbent upon him, as a consequence, to vindicate this high-handed anticipation of the unqualified Florentine permission which had not arrived. So he declared that he had been offended last year by Florence in the matter of Forli, and again this year in the matter of Faenza, both of which cities he charged the Signory with having assisted to resist him, and he announced that, to justify his intentions so far as Florence was concerned, he would explain himself at Barberino.
There, on May 12, he gave audience to the ambassador. He declared to him that he desired a good understanding with Florence, and that she should offer no hindrance to the conquest of Piombino, upon which he was now bound; adding that since he placed no trust in the present government, which already had broken faith with him, he would require some good security for the treaty to be made. Of reinstating the Medici he said nothing; but he demanded that some satisfaction be given Vitelli and Orsini, and, to quicken Florence in coming to a decision, he pushed forward with his army as far as Forno dei Campi—almost under her very walls.
The Republic was thrown into consternation. Instantly she got together what forces she disposed of, and proceeded to fling her artillery into the Arno, to the end that she should be constrained neither to refuse it to Cesare upon his demand, nor yet to deliver it.
Macchiavelli censures the Signory's conduct of this affair as impolitic. He contends that the duke, being in great strength of arms, and Florence not armed at all, and therefore in no case to hinder his passage, it would have been wiser and the Signory would better have saved its face and dignity, had it accorded Cesare the permission to pass which he demanded, rather than have been subjected to behold him enforce that passage by weight of arms. But all that now concerned the Florentines was to be rid of an army whose presence in their territory was a constant menace. And to gain that end they were ready to give any undertakings, just as they were resolved to fulfil none.
Similarly, it chanced that Cesare was in no less a hurry to be gone; for he had received another letter from the Pope commanding his withdrawal, and in addition, he was being plagued by Vitelli and Orsini—grown restive—with entreaties for permission to go into either Florence or Pistoja, where they did not lack for friends. To resist them Cesare had need of all the severity and resolution he could command; and he even went so far as to back his refusal by a threat himself to take up arms against them if they insisted.
On the 15th, at last, the treaty—which amounted to an offensive and defensive alliance—was signed. By the terms of this, Florence undertook to give Cesare a condotta of 300 lances for three years, to be used in Florentine service, with a stipend of 36,000 ducats yearly. How much this really meant the duke was to discover two days later, when he sent to ask the Signory to lend him some cannon for the emprise against Piombino, and to pay him the first instalment of one quarter of the yearly stipend before he left Florentine territory. The Signory replied that, by the terms of the agreement, there was no obligation for the immediate payment of the instalment, whilst in the matter of the artillery they put him off from day to day, until Cesare understood that their only aim in signing the treaty had been the immediate one of being rid of his army.
The risk Florence incurred in so playing fast-and-loose with such a man, particularly in a moment of such utter unfitness to resist him, is, notwithstanding the French protection enjoyed by the Signory, amazing in its reckless audacity. It was fortunate for Florence that the Pope's orders tied the duke's hands—and it may be that of this the Signory had knowledge, and that it was upon such knowledge, in conjunction with France's protection, that it was presuming. Cesare took the matter in the spirit of an excellent loser.
Not a hint of his chagrin and resentment did he betray; instead, he set about furnishing his needs elsewhere, sending Vitelli to Pisa with a request for artillery, a request to which Pisa very readily responded, as much on Vitelli's account as on the duke's. As for Florence, if Cesare Borgia could be terribly swift in punishing, he could also be formidably slow. If he could strike upon the instant where the opening for a blow appeared, he could also wait for months until the opening should be found. He waited now.
It would be at about this time that young Loenardo da Vinci sought employment in Cesare Borgia's service. Leonardo had been in Milan until the summer of 1500, when he repaired to Florence in quest of better fortune; but, finding little or no work to engage him there, he took the chance of the duke of Valentinois's passage to offer his service to one whose liberal patronage of the arts was become proverbial. Cesare took him into his employ as engineer and architect, leaving him in the Romagna for the present. Leonardo may have superintended the repairs of the Castle of Forli, whilst he certainly built the canal from Cesena to the Porto Cesenatico, before rejoining the duke in Rome.
On May 25 Cesare moved by the way of the valley of Cecina to try conclusions with Giacomo d'Appiano, Tyrant of Piombino, who with some Genoese and some Florentine aid, was disposed to offer resistance to the duke. The first strategic movement in this affair must be the capture of the Isle of Elba, whence aid might reach Piombino on its promontory thrusting out into the sea. For this purpose the Pope sent from Civita Vecchia six galleys, three brigantines, and two galleons under the command of Lodovico Mosca, captain of the papal navy, whilst Cesare was further reinforced by some vessels sent him from Pisa together with eight pieces of cannon. With these he made an easy capture of Elba and Pianosa. That done, he proceeded to lay siege to Piombino, which, after making a gallant resistance enduring for two months, was finally pressed to capitulate.
Long before that happened, however, Cesare had taken his departure. Being awaited in Rome, he was unable to conduct the siege operations in person. So he quitted Piombino in June to join the French under d'Aubigny, bound at last upon the conquest of Naples, and claiming—as their treaty with him provided—Cesare's collaboration.
CHAPTER X. THE END OF THE HOUSE OF ARAGON
Cesare arrived in Rome on June 13. There was none of the usual pomp on this occasion. He made his entrance quietly, attended only by a small body of men-at-arms, and he was followed, on the morrow, by Yves d'Allegre with the army—considerably reduced by the detachments which had been left to garrison the Romagna, and to lay siege to Piombino.
Repairing to his quarters in the Vatican, the duke remained so close there for the few weeks that he abode in Rome on this occasion(1) that, from now onward, it became a matter of the utmost difficulty to obtain audience from him. This may have been due to his habit of turning night into day and day into night, whether at work or at play, which in fact was the excuse offered by the Pope to certain envoys sent to Cesare from Rimini, who were left to cool their heels about the Vatican ante-chambers for a fortnight without succeeding in obtaining an audience.
1 "Mansit in Palatio secrete," says Burchard.
Cesare Borgia was now Lord of Imola, Forli, Rimini, Faenza and Piombino, warranting his assumption of the inclusive title of Duke of Romagna which he had taken immediately after the fall of Faenza.
As his State grew, so naturally did the affairs of government; and, during those four weeks in Rome, business claimed his attention and an enormous amount of it was dispatched. Chiefly was he engaged upon the administration of the affairs of Faenza, which he had so hurriedly quitted. In this his shrewd policy of generosity is again apparent. As his representative and lieutenant he appointed a prominent citizen of Faenza named Pasi, one of the very members of that Council which had been engaged in defending the city and resisting Cesare. The duke gave it as his motive for the choice that the man was obviously worthy of trust in view of his fidelity to Astorre.
And there you have not only the shrewdness of the man who knows how to choose his servants—which is one of the most important factors of success—but a breadth of mind very unusual indeed in the Cinquecento.
In addition to the immunity from indemnity provided for by the terms of the city's capitulation, Cesare actually went so far as to grant the peasantry of the valley 2,000 ducats as compensation for damage done in the war. Further, he supported the intercessions of the Council to the Pope for the erection of a new convent to replace the one that had been destroyed in the bombardment. In giving his consent to this—in a brief dated July 12, 1501—the Pope announces that he does so in response to the prayers of the Council and of the duke.
Giovanni Vera, Cesare's erstwhile preceptor—and still affectionately accorded this title by the duke—was now Archbiship of Salerno, Cardinal of Santa Balbina, and papal legate in Macerata, and he was chosen by the Pope to go to Pesaro and Fano for the purpose of receiving the oath of fealty. With him Cesare sent, as his own personal representative, his secretary, Agabito Gherardi, who had been in his employ in that capacity since the duke's journey into France, and who was to follow his fortunes to the end.
However the people of Fano may have refrained from offering themselves to the duke's dominion when, in the previous October, he had afforded them by his presence the opportunity of doing so, their conduct now hardly indicated that the earlier abstention had been born of reluctance, or else their minds had undergone, in the meanwhile, a considerable change. For, when they received the brief appointing him their lord, they celebrated the event by public rejoicings and illuminations; whilst on July 21 the Council, representing the people, in the presence of Vera and Gherardi, took oath upon the Gospels of allegiance to Cesare and his descendants for ever.
In the Consistory of June 25 of that year the French and Spanish ambassadors came formally to notify the Holy Father of the treaty of Granada, entered into in the previous November by Louis XII of the one part, and Ferdinand and Isabella of the other, concerning the conquest and division of the Kingdom of Naples. The rival claimants had come to a compromise by virtue of which they were to undertake together the conquest and thereafter share the spoil—Naples and the Abruzzi going to France, and Calabria and Puglia to Spain.
Alexander immediately published his Bull declaring Federigo of Naples deposed for disobedience to the Church, and for having called the Turk to his aid, either of which charges it would have taxed Alexander's ingenuity—vast though it was—convincingly to have established; or, being established, to censure when all the facts were considered. The charges were no better than pretexts for the spoliation of the unfortunate king who, in the matter of his daughter's alliance with Cesare, had conceived that he might flout the Borgias with impunity.
On June 28 d'Aubigny left Rome with the French troops, accompanied by the bulk of the considerable army with which Cesare supported his French ally, besides 1,000 foot raised by the Pope and a condotta of 100 lances under Morgante Baglioni. As the troops defiled before the Castle of Sant' Angelo they received the apostolic benediction from the Pope, who stood on the lower ramparts of the fortress.
Cesare himself cannot have followed to join the army until after July 10, for as late as that date there is an edict indited by him against all who should offer injury to his Romagna officers. At about the same time that he quitted Rome to ride after the French, Gonsalo de Cordoba landed a Spanish army in Calabria, and the days of the Aragon dominion in Naples were numbered.
King Federigo prepared to face the foe. Whilst himself remaining in Naples with Prospero Colonna, he sent the bulk of his forces to Capua under Fabrizio Colonna and Count Rinuccio Marciano—the brother of that Marciano whom Vitelli had put to death in Tuscany.
Ravaging the territory and forcing its strongholds as they came, the allies were under the walls of Capua within three weeks of setting out; but on July 17, when within two miles of the town, they were met by six hundred lances under Colonna, who attempted to dispute their passage. It was Cesare Borgia himself who led the charge against them. Jean d'Auton—in his Chronicles of Louis XII—speaks in warm terms of the duke's valour and of the manner in which, by words and by example, he encouraged his followers to charge the Colonna forces, with such good effect that they utterly routed the Neapolitans, and drove them headlong back to the shelter of Capua's walls.
The allies brought up their cannon, and opened the bombardment. This lasted incessantly from July 17—which was a Monday—until the following Friday, when two bastions were so shattered that the French were able to gain possession of them, putting to the sword some two hundred Neapolitan soldiers who had been left to defend those outworks. Thence admittance to the town itself was gained four days later—on the 25th—through a breach, according to some, through the treacherous opening of a gate, according to others. Through gate or breach the besiegers stormed to meet a fierce resistance, and the most horrible carnage followed. Back and back they drove the defenders, fighting their way through the streets and sparing none in the awful fury that beset them. The defence was shattered; resistance was at an end; yet still the bloody work went on. The combat had imperceptibly merged into a slaughter; demoralized and panic-stricken in the reaction from their late gallantry, the soldiers of Naples flung down their weapons and fled, shrieking for quarter. But none was given. The invader butchered every human thing he came upon, indiscriminant of age or sex, and the blood of some four thousand victims flowed through the streets of Capua like water after a thundershower. That sack of Capua is one of the most horrid pages in the horrid history of sacks. You will find full details in d'Auton's chronicle, if you have a mind for such horrors. There is a brief summary of the event in Burchard's diary under date of July 26, 1501, which runs as follows:
"At about the fourth hour last night the Pope had news of the capture of Capua by the Duke of Valentinois. The capture was due to the treason of one Fabrizio—a citizen of Capua—who secretly introduced the besiegers and was the first to be killed by them. After him the same fate was met by some three thousand foot and some two hundred horse-soldiers, by citizens, priests, conventuals of both sexes, even in the very churches and monasteries, and all the women taken were given in prey to the greatest cruelty. The total number of the slain is estimated at four thousand."
D'Auton, too, bears witness to this wholesale violation of the women, "which," he adds, "is the very worst of all war's excesses." He informs us further that "the foot-soldiers of the Duke of Valentinois acquitted themselves so well in this, that thirty of the most beautiful women went captive to Rome," a figure which is confirmed by Burchard.
"What an opportunity was not this for Guicciardini! The foot-soldiers of the Duke of Valentinois acquitted themselves so well in this, that thirty of the most beautiful women went captive to Rome."
Under his nimble, malicious, unscrupulous pen that statement is re-edited until not thirty but forty is the number of the captured victims taken to Rome, and not Valentinois's foot, but Valentinois himself the ravisher of the entire forty! But hear the elegant Florentine's own words:
"It was spread about [divulgossi]" he writes, "that, besides other wickednesses worthy of eternal infamy, many women who had taken refuge in a tower, and thus escaped the first fury of the assault, were found by the Duke of Valentinois, who, with the title of King's Lieutenant, followed the army with no more people than his gentlemen and his guards.(1) He desired to see them all, and, after carefully examining them [consideratele diligentemente] he retained forty of the most beautiful."
1 This, incidentally, is another misstatement. Valentinois had with him, besides the thousand foot levied by the Pope and the hundred lances under Morgante Baglioni, an army some thousands strong led for him by Yves d'Allegre.
Guicciardini's aim is, of course, to shock you; he considers it necessary to maintain in Cesare the character of ravenous wolf which he had bestowed upon him. The marvel is not that Guicciardini should have penned that utterly ludicrous accusation, but that more or less serious subsequent writers—and writers of our own time even—instead of being moved to contemptuous laughter at the wild foolishness of the story, instead of seeking in the available records the germ of true fact from which it was sprung, should sedulously and unblushingly have carried forward its dissemination.
Yriarte not only repeats the tale with all the sober calm of one utterly destitute of a sense of the ridiculous, but he improves upon it by a delicious touch, worthy of Guicciardini himself, when he assures us that Cesare took these forty women for his harem!
It is a nice instance of how Borgia history has grown, and is still growing.
If verisimilitude itself does not repudiate Guicciardini's story, there are the Capuan chronicles to do it—particularly that of Pellegrini, who witnessed the pillage. In those chronicles from which Guicciardini drew the matter for this portion of his history of Italy, you will seek in vain for any confirmation of that fiction with which the Florentine historian—he who had a pen of gold for his friends and one of iron for his foes—thought well to adorn his facts.
If the grotesque in history-building is of interest to you, you may turn the pages of the Storia Civile di Capua, by F. Granata, published in 1752. This writer has carefully followed the Capuan chroniclers in their relation of the siege; but when it comes to these details of the forty ladies in the tower (in which those chroniclers fail him) he actually gives Guicciardini as his authority, setting a fashion which has not lacked for unconscious, and no less egregious, imitators.
To return from the criticism of fiction to the consideration of fact, Fabrizio Colonna and Rinuccio da Marciano were among the many captains of the Neapolitan army that were taken prisoners. Rinuccio was the head of the Florentine faction which had caused the execution of Paolo Vitelli, and Giovio has it that Vitellozzo Vitelli, who had already taken an instalment of vengeance by putting Pietro da Marciano to death in Tuscany, caused Rinuccio's wounds to be poisoned, so that he died two days later.
The fall of Capua was very shortly followed by that of Gaeta, and, within a week, by that of Naples, which was entered on August 3 by Cesare Borgia in command of the vanguard of the army. "He who had come as a cardinal to crown King Federigo, came now as a condottiero to depose him."
Federigo offered to surrender to the French all the fortresses that still held for him, on condition that he should have safe-conduct to Ischia and liberty to remain there for six months. This was agreed, and Federigo was further permitted to take with him his moveable possessions and his artillery, which latter, however, he afterwards sold to the Pope.
Thus the last member of the House of Aragon to sit upon the throne of Naples took his departure, accompanied by the few faithful ones who loved him well enough to follow him into exile; amongst these was that poet Sanazzaro, who, to avenge the wrong suffered by the master whom he loved, was to launch his terrible epigrams against Alexander, Cesare, and Lucrezia, and by means of those surviving verses enable the enemies of the House of Borgia to vilify their memories through centuries to follow.
Federigo's captains Prospero and Fabrizio Colonna, upon being ransomed, took their swords to Gonzalo de Cordoba, hoping for the day when they might avenge upon the Borgia the ruin which, even in this Neapolitan conquest they attributed to the Pope and his son.
And here, so far as Naples is concerned, closes the history of the House of Aragon. In Italy it was extinct; and it was to become so, too, in Spain within the century.
CHAPTER XI. THE LETTER TO SILVIO SAVELLI
By September 15 Cesare was back in Rome, the richer in renown, in French favour, and in a matter of 40,000 ducats, which is estimated as the total of the sums paid him by France and Spain for the support which his condotta had afforded them.
During his absence two important events had taken place: the betrothal of his widowed sister Lucrezia to Alfonso d'Este, son of Duke Ercole of Ferrara, and the publication of the Bull of excommunication (of August 20) against the Savelli and Colonna in consideration of all that they had wrought against the Holy See from the pontificate of Sixtus IV to the present time. By virtue of that Bull the Pope ordered the confiscation of the possessions of the excommunicated families, whilst the Caetani suffered in like manner at the same time.
These possessions were divided into two parts, and by the Bull of September 17 they were bestowed, one upon Lucrezia's boy Roderigo, and with them the title of Duke of Sermoneta; the other to a child, Giovanni Borgia (who is made something of a mystery) with the title of Duke of Nepi and Palestrina.
The entire proceeding is undoubtedly open to grave censure, since the distribution of the confiscated fiefs subjects to impeachment the purity of the motives that prompted this confiscation. It was on the part of Alexander a gross act of nepotism, a gross abuse of his pontifical authority; but there is, at least, this to be said, that in perpetrating it he was doing no more than in his epoch it was customary for Popes to do. Alexander, it may be said again in this connection, was part of a corrupt system, not the corrupter of a pure one.
Touching the boy Giovanni Borgia, the mystery attaching to him concerns his parentage, and arises out of the singular circumstance that there are two papal Bulls, both dated September 1, 1501, in each of which a different father is assigned to him, the second appearing to supplement and correct the first.
The first of these Bulls, addressed to "Dilecto Filio Nobili Joanni de Borgia, Infanti Romano," declares him to be a child of three years of age, the illegitimate son of Cesare Borgia, unmarried (as Cesare was at the time of the child's birth) and of a woman (unnamed, as was usual in such cases) also unmarried.
The second declares him, instead, to be the son of Alexander, and runs: "Since you bear this deficiency not from the said duke, but from us and the said woman, which we for good reasons did not desire to express in the preceding writing."
That the second Bull undoubtedly contains the truth of the matter is the only possible explanation of its existence, and the "good reasons" that existed for the first one are, no doubt, as Gregorovius says, that officially and by canon law the Pope was inhibited from recognizing children. (His other children, be it remembered, were recognized by him during his cardinalate and before his elevation to St. Peter's throne.) Hence the attempt by these Bulls to circumvent the law to the end that the child should not suffer in the matter of his inheritance.
Burchard, under date of November 3 of that year, freely mentions this Giovanni Borgia as the son of the Pope and "a certain Roman woman" ("quadam Romana").
On the same date borne by those two Bulls a third one was issued confirming the House of Este perpetually in the dominion of Ferrara and its other Romagna possessions, and reducing by one-third the tribute of 4,000 ducats yearly imposed upon that family by Sixtus IV; and it was explicitly added that these concessions were made for Lucrezia and her descendants.
Three days later a courier from Duke Ercole brought the news that the marriage contract had been signed in Ferrara, and it was in salvoes of artillery that day and illuminations after dark that the Pope gave expression to the satisfaction afforded him by the prospect of his daughter's entering one of the most ancient families and ascending one of the noblest thrones in Italy.
It would be idle to pretend that the marriage was other than one of convenience. Love between the contracting parties played no part in this transaction, and Ercole d'Este was urged to it under suasion of the King of France, out of fear of the growing might of Cesare, and out of consideration for the splendid dowry which he demanded and in the matter of which he displayed a spirit which Alexander contemptuously described as that of a tradesman. Nor would Ercole send the escort to Rome for the bride until he had in his hands the Bull of investiture in the fiefs of Cento and Pieve, which, with 100,000 ducats, constituted Lucrezia's dowry. Altogether a most unromantic affair.
The following letter from the Ferrarese ambassador in Rome, dated September 23, is of interest in connection with this marriage:
"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE AND MOST NOBLE LORD,
"His Holiness the Pope, taking into consideration such matters as might occasion displeasure not only to your Excellency and to the Most Illustrious Don Alfonso, but also to the duchess and even to himself, has charged us to write to your Excellency to urge you so to contrive that the Lord Giovanni of Pesaro, who, as your Excellency is aware, is in Mantua, shall not be in Ferrara at the time of the nuptials. Notwithstanding that his divorce from the said duchess is absolutely legitimate and accomplished in accordance with pure truth, as is publicly known not only from the proceedings of the trial but also from the free confession of the said Don Giovanni, it is possible that he may still be actuated by some lingering ill-will; wherefore, should he find himself in any place where the said lady might be seen by him, her Excellency might, in consequence, be compelled to withdraw into privacy, to be spared the memory of the past. Wherefore, his Holiness exhorts your Excellency to provide with your habitual prudence against such a contingency."
Meanwhile, the festivities wherewith her betrothal was celebrated went merrily amain, and into the midst of them, to bear his share, came Cesare crowned with fresh laurels gained in the Neapolitan war. No merry-makings ever held under the auspices of Pope Alexander VI at the Vatican had escaped being the source of much scandalous rumour, but none had been so scandalous and disgraceful as the stories put abroad on this occasion. These found a fitting climax in that anonymous Letter to Silvio Savelli, published in Germany—which at the time, be it borne in mind, was extremely inimical to the Pope, viewing with jaundiced eyes his ever-growing power, and stirred perhaps to this unspeakable burst of venomous fury by the noble Este alliance, so valuable to Cesare in that it gave him a friend upon the frontier of his Romagna possessions.
The appalling publication, which is given in full in Burchard, was fictitiously dated from Gonzola de Cordoba's Spanish camp at Taranto on November 25. A copy of this anonymous pamphlet, which is the most violent attack on the Borgias ever penned, perhaps the most terrible indictment against any family ever published—a pamphlet which Gregorovius does not hesitate to call "an authentic document of the state of Rome under the Borgias"—fell into the hands of the Cardinal of Modena, who on the last day of the year carried it to the Pope.
Before considering that letter it is well to turn to the entries in Burchard's diary under the dates of October 27 and November 11 of that same year. You will find two statements which have no parallel in the rest of the entire diary, few parallels in any sober narrative of facts. The sane mind must recoil and close up before them, so impossible does it seem to accept them.
The first of these is the relation of the supper given by Cesare in the Vatican to fifty courtesans—a relation which possibly suggested to the debauched Regent d'Orleans his fetes d'Adam, a couple of centuries later.
Burchard tells us how, for the amusement of Cesare, of the Pope, and of Lucrezia, these fifty courtesans were set to dance after supper with the servants and some others who were present, dressed at first and afterwards not so. He draws for us a picture of those fifty women on all fours, in all their plastic nudity, striving for the chestnuts flung to them in that chamber of the Apostolic Palace by Christ's Vicar—an old man of seventy—by his son and his daughter. Nor is that all by any means. There is much worse to follow—matter which we dare not translate, but must leave more or less discreetly veiled in the decadent Latin of the Caerimoniarius:
"Tandem exposita dona ultima, diploides de serico, paria caligarum, bireta ed alia pro illis qui pluries dictas meretrices carnaliter agnoscerent; que fuerunt ibidem in aula publice carnaliter tractate arbitrio presentium, dona distributa victoribus."
Such is the monstrous story!
Gregorovius, in his defence of Lucrezia Borgia, refuses to believe that she was present; but he is reluctant to carry his incredulity any further.
"Some orgy of that nature," he writes, "or something similar may very well have taken place. But who will believe that Lucrezia, already the legal wife of Alfonso d'Este and on the eve of departure for Ferrara, can have been present as a smiling spectator?"
Quite so. Gregorovius puts his finger at once upon one of the obvious weaknesses of the story. But where there is one falsehood there are usually others; and if we are not to believe that Lucrezia was present, why should we be asked to believe in the presence of the Pope? If Burchard was mistaken in the one, why might he not be mistaken in the other? But the question is not really one of whom you will believe to have been present at that unspeakable performance, but rather whether you can possibly bring yourself to believe that it ever took place as it is related in the Diarium.
Gregorovius says, you will observe, "Some orgy of that nature, or something similar, may very well have taken place." We could credit that Cesare held "some orgy of that nature." He had apartments in the Vatican, and if it shock you to think that it pleased him, with his gentlemen, to make merry by feasting a parcel of Roman harlots, you are—if you value justice—to be shocked at the times rather than the man. The sense of humour of the Cinquecento was primitive, and in primitive humour prurience plays ever an important part, as is discernible in the literature and comedies of that age. If you would appreciate this to the full, consider Burchard's details of the masks worn at Carnival by some merry-makers ("Venerunt ad plateam St. Petri larvati...habentes nasos lungos et grossos in forma priaporum") and you must realize that in Cesare's conduct in this matter there would have been nothing so very abnormal considered from the point of view of the Cinquecento, even though it were to approach the details given by Burchard.
But even so, you will hesitate before you accept the story of that saturnalia in its entirety, and before you believe that an old man of seventy, a priest and Christ's Vicar, was present with Cesare and his friends. Burchard does not say that he himself was a witness of what he relates. But the matter shall presently be further considered.
Meanwhile, let us pass to the second of these entries in the diary, and (a not unimportant detail) on the very next page of it, under the date of November 11. In this it is related that certain peasants entered Rome by the Viridarian Gate, driving two mares laden with timber; that, in crossing the Square of St. Peter's, some servants of the Pope's ran out and cut the cords so that the timber was loosened and the beasts relieved of their burden; they were then led to a courtyard within the precincts of the palace, where four stallions were loosed upon them. "Ascenderunt equas et coierunt cum eis et eas graviter pistarunt et leserunt," whilst the Pope at a window above the doorway of the Palace, with Madonna Lucrezia, witnessed with great laughter and delight, the show which it is suggested was specially provided for their amusement.
The improbabilities of the saturnalia of the fifty courtesans pale before the almost utter impossibility of this narrative. To render it possible in the case of two chance animals as these must have been under the related circumstances, a biological coincidence is demanded so utterly unlikely and incredible that we are at once moved to treat the story with scorn, and reject it as a fiction. Yet not one of those many writers who have retailed that story from Burchard's Diarium as a truth incontestable as the Gospels, has paused to consider this—so blinded are we when it is a case of accepting that which we desire to accept.
The narrative, too, is oddly—suspiciously—circumstantial, even to the unimportant detail of the particular gate by which the peasants entered Rome. In a piece of fiction it is perfectly natural to fill in such minor details to the end that the picture shall be complete; but they are rare in narratives of fact. And one may be permitted to wonder how came the Master of Ceremonies at the Vatican to know the precise gate by which those peasants came. It is not—as we have seen—the only occasion on which an excess of detail in the matter of a gate renders suspicious the accuracy of a story of Burchard's.
Both these affairs find a prominent place in the Letter to Silvio Savelli. Indeed Gregorovius cites the pamphlet as one of the authorities to support Burchard, and to show that what Burchard wrote must have been true; the other authority he cites is Matarazzo, disregarding not only the remarkable discrepancy between Matarazzo's relation and that of Burchard, but the circumstance that the matter of that pamphlet became current throughout Italy, and that it was thus—and only thus—that Matarazzo came to hear of the scandal.(1)
1 The frequency with which the German historian cites Matarazzo as an authority is oddly inconsistent, considering that when he finds Matarazzo's story of the murder of the Duke of Gandia upsetting the theory which Gregorovius himself prefers, by fastening the guilt upon Giovanni Sforza, he devotes some space to showing—with perfect justice—that Matarazzo is no authority at all.
The Letter to Silvio Savelli opens by congratulating him upon his escape from the hands of the robbers who had stripped him of his possessions, and upon his having found a refuge in Germany at the Emperor's Court. It proceeds to marvel that thence he should have written letters to the Pope begging for justice and reinstatement, his wonder being at the credulity of Savelli in supposing that the Pope—"betrayer of the human race, who has spent his life in betrayals"—will ever do any just thing other than through fear or force. Rather does the writer suggest the adoption of other methods; he urges Savelli to make known to the Emperor and all princes of the Empire the atrocious crimes of that "infamous wild beasts" which have been perpetrated in contempt of God and religion. He then proceeds to relate these crimes. Alexander, Cesare, and Lucrezia, among others of the Borgia family, bear their share of the formidable accusations. Of the Pope are related perfidies, simonies, and ravishments; against Lucrezia are urged the matter of her incest, the supper of the fifty courtesans, and the scene of the stallions; against Cesare there are the death of Biselli, the murder of Pedro Caldes, the ruin of the Romagna, whence he has driven out the legitimate lords, and the universal fear in which he is held.
It is, indeed, a compendium of all the stories which from Milan, Naples, and Venice—the three States where the Borgias for obvious reasons are best hated—have been disseminated by their enemies, and a more violent work of rage and political malice was never uttered. This malice becomes particularly evident in the indictment of Cesare for the ruin of the Romagna. Whatever Cesare might have done, he had not done that—his bitterest detractor could not (without deliberately lying) say that the Romagna was other than benefiting under his sway. That is not a matter of opinion, not a matter of inference or deduction. It is a matter of absolute fact and irrefutable knowledge.
To return now to the two entries in Burchard's Diarium when considered in conjunction with the Letter to Silvio Savelli (which Burchard quotes in full), it is remarkable that nowhere else in the discovered writings of absolute contemporaries is there the least mention of either of those scandalous stories. The affair of the stallions, for instance, must have been of a fairly public character. Scandal-mongering Rome could not have resisted the dissemination of it. Yet, apart from the Savelli letter, no single record of it has been discovered to confirm Burchard.
At this time, moreover, it is to be remembered, Lucrezia's betrothal to Alfonso d'Este was already accomplished; preparations for her departure and wedding were going forward, and the escort from Ferrara was daily expected in Rome. If Lucrezia had never been circumspect, she must be circumspect now, when the eyes of Italy were upon her, and there were not wanting those who would have been glad to have thwarted the marriage—the object, no doubt, of the pamphlet we are considering. Yet all that was written to Ferrara was in praise of her—in praise of her goodness and her modesty, her prudence, her devoutness, and her discretion, as presently we shall see.
If from this we are to conclude—as seems reasonable—that there was no gossip current in Rome of the courtesans' supper and the rest, we may assume that there was no knowledge in Rome of such matters; for with knowledge silence would have been impossible. So much being admitted, it becomes a matter of determining whether the author of the Letter to Silvio Savelli had access to the diary of Burchard for his facts, or whether Burchard availed himself of the Letter to Silvio Savelli to compile these particular entries. The former alternative being out of the question, there but remains the latter—unless it is possible that the said entries have crept into the copies of the "Diarium" and are not present in the original, which is not available.
This theory of interpolation, tentatively put forward, is justified, to some extent at least, by the following remarkable circumstances: that two such entries, having—as we have said—absolutely no parallel in the whole of the Diarium, should follow almost immediately the one upon the other; and that Burchard should relate them coldly, without reproof or comment of any kind—a most unnatural reticence in a writer who loosed his indignation one Easter-tide to see Lucrezia and her ladies occupying the choir of St. Peter's, where women never sat.