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The Borgias

Chapter 13
The time had now come for the Duke of Valentinois to continue the pursuit of his
conquests. So, since on the 1st of May in the preceding year the pope had
pronounced sentence of forfeiture in full consistory against Julius Caesar of
Varano, as punishment for the murder of his brother Rudolph and for the
harbouring of the pope's enemies, and he had accordingly been mulcted of his
fief of Camerino, which was to be handed over to the apostolic chamber, Caesar
left Rome to put the sentence in execution. Consequently, when he arrived on
the frontiers of Perugia, which belonged to his lieutenant, Gian Paolo Baglioni, he
sent Oliverotta da Fermo and Orsini of Gravina to lay waste the March of
Camerino, at the same time petitioning Guido d'Ubaldo di Montefeltro, Duke of
Urbino, to lend his soldiers and artillery to help him in this enterprise. This the
unlucky Duke of Urbino, who enjoyed the best possible relations with the pope,
and who had no reason for distrusting Caesar, did not dare refuse. But on the
very same day that the Duke of Urbina's troops started for Camerino, Caesar's
troops entered the duchy of Urbino, and took possession of Cagli, one of the four
towns of the little State. The Duke of Urbino knew what awaited him if he tried to
resist, and fled incontinently, disguised as a peasant; thus in less than eight days
Caesar was master of his whole duchy, except the fortresses of Maiolo and San
The Duke of Valentinois forthwith returned to Camerino, where the inhabitants
still held out, encouraged by the presence of Julius Caesar di Varano, their lord,
and his two sons, Venantio and Hannibal; the eldest son, Gian Maria, had been
sent by his father to Venice.
The presence of Caesar was the occasion of parleying between the besiegers
and besieged. A capitulation was arranged whereby Varano engaged to give up
the town, on condition that he and his sons were allowed to retire safe and
sound, taking with them their furniture, treasure, and carriages. But this was by
no means Caesar's intention; so, profiting by the relaxation in vigilance that had
naturally come about in the garrison when the news of the capitulation had been
announced, he surprised the town in the night preceding the surrender, and
seized Caesar di Varano and his two sons, who were strangled a short time after,
the father at La Pergola and the sons at Pesaro, by Don Michele Correglio, who,
though he had left the position of sbirro for that of a captain, every now and then
returned to his first business.
Meanwhile Vitellozzo Vitelli, who had assumed the title of General of the Church,
and had under him 800 men-at-arms and 3,000 infantry, was following the secret
instructions that he had received from Caesar by word of mouth, and was
carrying forward that system of invasion which was to encircle Florence in a
network of iron, and in the end make her defence an impossibility. A worthy pupil
of his master, in whose school he had learned to use in turn the cunning of a fox
and the strength of a lion, he had established an understanding between himself
and certain young gentlemen of Arezzo to get that town delivered into his hands.
But the plot had been discovered by Guglielma dei Pazzi, commissary of the