the King's mercy, but Charles preferred an accommodation. Men said that Alexander had bribed the French ministers; probably he had, but, corrupt or incorrupt, they could scarcely have advised Charles otherwise. The Pope could not be formally deposed except through the instrumentality of a General Council, which could not easily be convoked, and which, if convoked, would in all probability refuse to take action. Spain might be expected to take the side of the Spanish Pope, and there seemed no good reason for anticipating that other nations would take part with France. The imputations on Alexander's morality were not regarded very seriously in so lax an age: and if, as a matter of fact, he had bought the papacy, the transaction could only be proved by the evidence of the sellers. If, on the other hand, Charles simply imprisoned the Pope without displacing him, he threw Christendom into anarchy, and incurred universal reprobation. To attempt the regeneration of the Church would imperil other projects nearer to Charles's heart, and would be as wide a departure from the original purposes of his expedition as in the thirteenth century the capture of Constantinople had been from the aim of the Fourth Crusade. These considerations might well weigh with Charles's counsellors in advising an agreement with the Pope, although they must have known that conditions extorted by compulsion would bind no longer than compulsion endured. They might indeed have obtained substantial security from the Pope, if they could have constrained him to yield the Castle of St Angelo; but this he steadfastly refused. Cannons were twice pointed at the ramparts; but history cannot say whether they were loaded, and only knows that they were never fired. It was at length agreed that the Pope should yield Civita Vecchia, make his Turkish captive over to the King, and give up his son Cesare as a hostage. Nothing was said of the investiture of Naples, and although Charles afterwards urged this personally upon the Pope at an interview, Alexander, with surprising constancy, continued to refuse, expressing however a willingness to arbitrate upon the claims of the competitors. On January 28, 1495, Charles left Rome to march upon Naples, and two days afterwards was taught the value of diplomatic pledges by the escape of Cesare Borgia, and by Alexander's refusal to surrender Civita Vecchia. A month afterwards the much-coveted Jem died,—of poison, it was said, administered before his departure from Rome; but this is to attribute to poison more than it is capable of performing. Others professed to know that the Prince had been shaved with a poisoned razor; but his death seems sufficiently accounted for by bronchitis and irregularity of living. Jem's death took place at Naples, which Charles had already entered as a conqueror. King Ferdinand's successor, Alfonso, timorous as cruel, and oppressed by a consciousness of the popular hatred, had abdicated and fled to Sicily, leaving his innocent son Ferrante (or Ferrantino) to bear the brunt of invasion. The fickle people of Naples, who had had ample reason to detest the severity of the late King
Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/267
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