Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/263

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

reposed in him by his energy in reestablishing public order and in reinvigorating the administration of justice.

It must always be a question how far Alexander can be said to have ascended the papal throne with a definite intention, either of aggrandising his children or of consolidating his authority as a temporal ruler by the subjugation of his petty vassals. That he meant to promote his children's interests in every practicable manner may well be believed; but that he did not contemplate their elevation to sovereign rank seems manifest from his making the most able and promising of them, his second son Cesare, a Prince of the Church, by exalting him to the cardinalate at the age of eighteen. The Pope's views for his family, however, had necessarily to be expanded in proportion as his secular policy became one of conquest; and, supposing him to have succeeded to the papal throne without any definite intention of subduing his turbulent barons, the need for such a course was soon impressed upon him. A seemingly quite harmless provision made by Innocent VIII for his natural son Franceschetto Cibo gave the first occasion for disturbance. Cibo, a peaceable and insignificant person, recognising his inability to defend the lands with which he had been invested, prudently sold them, and escaped into private life. But the purchaser was Virginio Orsini, a member of a great baronial house already far too powerful for the Pope's security, and whose alternate quarrels and reconciliations with the rival family of the Colonna had for centuries been a chief source of disturbance in the patrimony of St Peter. What was still more serious, the purchase-money was believed to be supplied by Ferdinand King of Naples, whom Orsini had aided in his war with Innocent VIII, and who thus obtained a footing in the Papal States; and the Cardinal della Rovere espoused the cause of Orsini so warmly as to find it prudent to retire (January, 1493) to his bishopric of Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber, where he threatened to intercept the food supplies of Rome. Alexander naturally allied himself with Milan, Venice, and other States inimical to the King of Naples, and a general war seemed about to break out, when it was composed (July) by the intervention of Spain, which had penetrated the designs of the young French King, new to the throne and athirst for glory, for the conquest of Naples, and dreaded the opportunity and advantage that would be afforded him if Naples became embroiled with the Pope. A singular change of relations followed. The King of Naples became to all appearance the Pope's most intimate ally. Alexander's third son married a Neapolitan princess. He became estranged from his recent allies in Venice and Milan, and the Milanese Cardinal Sforza, till now apparently omnipotent at the papal court, lost all credit, notwithstanding the marriage of the Pope's daughter Lucrezia to the despot of Pesaro, a prince of Sforza's house. Yet within two months things took another aspect, when Alexander ignored Ferdinand's wishes in a nomination of Cardinals