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The Borgias

Chapter 8
Caesar remained at Naples, partly to give time to the paternal grief to cool down,
and partly to get on with another business he had lately been charged with,
nothing else than a proposition of marriage between Lucrezia and Don Alfonso of
Aragon, Duke of Bicelli and Prince of Salerno, natural son of Alfonso II and
brother of Dona Sancha. It was true that Lucrezia was already married to the lord
of Pesaro, but she was the daughter of an father who had received from heaven
the right of uniting and disuniting. There was no need to trouble about so trifling a
matter: when the two were ready to marry, the divorce would be effected.
Alexander was too good a tactician to leave his daughter married to a son-in-law
who was becoming useless to him.
Towards the end of August it was announced that the ambassador was coming
back to Rome, having accomplished his mission to the new king to his great
satisfaction. And thither he returned an the 5th of September,--that is, nearly
three months after the Duke of Gandia's death,--and on the next day, the 6th,
from the church of Santa Maria Novella, where, according to custom, the
cardinals and the Spanish and Venetian ambassadors were awaiting him on
horseback at the door, he proceeded to the Vatican, where His Holiness was
sitting; there he entered the consistory, was admitted by the pope, and in
accordance with the usual ceremonial received his benediction and kiss; then,
accompanied once more in the same fashion by the ambassadors and cardinals,
he was escorted to his own apartments. Thence he proceeded to the pope's, as
soon as he was left alone; for at the consistory they had had no speech with one
another, and the father and son had a hundred things to talk about, but of these
the Duke of Gandia was not one, as might have been expected. His name was
not once spoken, and neither on that day nor afterwards was there ever again
any mention of the unhappy young man: it was as though he had never existed.
It was the fact that Caesar brought good news, King Frederic gave his consent to
the proposed union; so the marriage of Sforza and Lucrezia was dissolved on a
pretext of nullity. Then Frederic authorised the exhumation of D'jem's body,
which, it will be remembered, was worth 300,000 ducats.
After this, all came about as Caesar had desired; he became the man who was
all-powerful after the pope; but when he was second in command it was soon
evident to the Roman people that their city was making a new stride in the
direction of ruin. There was nothing but balls, fetes, masquerades; there were
magnificent hunting parties, when Caesar--who had begun to cast off his
cardinal's robe,--weary perhaps of the colour, appeared in a French dress,
followed, like a king by cardinals, envoys and bodyguard. The whole pontifical
town, given up like a courtesan to orgies and debauchery, had never been more
the home of sedition, luxury, and carnage, according to the Cardinal of Viterba,
not even in the days of Nero and Heliogabalus. Never had she fallen upon days
more evil; never had more traitors done her dishonour or sbirri stained her streets
with blood. The number of thieves was so great, and their audacity such, that no
one could with safety pass the gates of the town; soon it was not even safe within