The Borgias HTML version

Chapter 12
Caesar's ambition was only fed by victories: scarcely was he master of Faenza
before, excited by the Mariscotti, old enemies of the Bentivoglio family, he cast
his eyes upon Bologna; but Gian di Bentivoglio, whose ancestors had possessed
this town from time immemorial, had not only made all preparations necessary
for a long resistance, but he had also put himself under the protection of France;
so, scarcely had he learned that Caesar was crossing the frontier of the
Bolognese territory with his army, than he sent a courier to Louis XII to claim the
fulfilment of his promise. Louis kept it with his accustomed good faith; and when
Caesar arrived before Bologna, he received an intimation from the King of
France that he was not to enter on any undertaking against his ally Bentivoglio;
Caesar, not being the man to have his plans upset for nothing, made conditions
for his retreat, to which Bentivoglio consented, only too happy to be quit of him at
this price: the conditions were the cession of Castello Bolognese, a fortress
between Imola and Faenza, the payment of a tribute of 9000 ducats, and the
keeping for his service of a hundred men-at-arms and two thousand infantry. In
exchange for these favours, Caesar confided to Bentivoglio that his visit had
been due to the counsels of the Mariscotti; then, reinforced by his new ally's
contingent, he took the road for Tuscany. But he was scarcely out of sight when
Bentivoglio shut the gates of Bologna, and commanded his son Hermes to
assassinate with his own hand Agamemnon Mariscotti, the head of the family,
and ordered the massacre of four-and-thirty of his near relatives, brothers, sons,
daughters, and nephews, and two hundred other of his kindred and friends. The
butchery was carried out by the noblest youths of Bologna; whom Bentivoglio
forced to bathe their hands in this blood, so that he might attach them to himself
through their fear of reprisals.
Caesar's plans with regard to Florence were now no longer a mystery: since the
month of January he had sent to Pisa ten or twelve hundred men under the
Command of Regniero della Sassetta and Piero di Gamba Corti, and as soon as
the conquest of the Romagna was complete, he had further despatched
Oliverotto di Fermo with new detachments. His own army he had reinforced, as
we have seen, by a hundred men-at-arms and two thousand infantry; he had just
been joined by Vitellozzo Vitelli, lord of Citta, di Castello, and by the Orsini, who
had brought him another two or three thousand men; so, without counting the
troops sent to Pisa, he had under his control seven hundred men- at-arms and
five thousand infantry.
Still, in spite of this formidable company, he entered Tuscany declaring that his
intentions were only pacific, protesting that he only desired to pass through the
territories of the republic on his way to Rome, and offering to pay in ready money
for any victual his army might require. But when he had passed the defiles of the
mountains and arrived at Barberino, feeling that the town was in his power and
nothing could now hinder his approach, he began to put a price on the friendship
he had at first offered freely, and to impose his own conditions instead of
accepting those of others. These were that Piero dei Medici, kinsman and ally of