Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/331

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291

ALEXANDER 291 ALEXANDER therefore, easily induced to enter a defensive alliance with Milan and Venice; the league was solemnly pro- claimeil. L'.") April, I-1"J3. It was cemented by the first of Lucrezia's marriages. Her first husband was a cousin of .scanio, Giovanni Sforza, Lord of I'esaro. The wedding was celebrated in the Vatican in the Cresence of the Pope, ten cardinals, and the chief no- tes of Home with their ladies; the revelries of the occasion, even wlien exaggerations and rumours are dismissetl, remain a blot upon the diaracter of Alex- ander. Ferrantu tall<od of war, but, tlirougli the mediation of Spain, lie came to terms with the Pope and, as a pledge of reconciliation, gave his grand- daughter, Sancia, in marriage to Alexander's young- est son Jofre, with the principality of Squillacc as dower. Cicsar Borgia was created Cardinal, 20 Sep- tember. Ferrante's reconciliation witli the Pope came none too soon. A few daj's after peace had been concluded, an en- voy of KingCliarlos VIII arrived in Rome to demand the investiture of N'ajilos for his master. Alexander returned a positive refusal; and wlicn Ferrante died, January, 1494, neglecting French protests and threats, he confirmed the succe.ssion of Ferrante's son, Alfonso II, and sent his nephew. Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, to Naples to crown him. The policy of Alexamler was dictate<l not only by a laudable desire to maintain the peace of Italy, but also because he was aware that a strong faction of his cardinals, with the resolute della Uovere at their head, was promoting the inva- sion of Charles as a means towards deposing him on the twofold charge of simony and immorality. In September, 1494, the French cro.sscd the Alps; on the last day of that year they made their entry into Home, needing no other weapon in their march through the peninsula, as .Mexander wittily remarked (Commines, vii, 1,)), than the chalk with which they marked out the lodgings of the troops. The barons of the Pope deserted him one after the other. Colonna and Sa- velli were traitors from the beginning, but he felt most keenly the defection of Virginio Orsini, the comman- der of his army. Many a saintlicr pope than Alexan- der VI would nave made the fatal mistake of yielding to brute force and surrendering unconditionally to the conqueror of Italy; the most heroic of the popes could not have sustained the stability of the Holy See at this crucial moment with greater firmness. I'rom the crumbling ramparts of St. Angelo, the defences of which were still incomplete, he looked calmly into the mouth of the French cannon; with equal intrepidity he faced the cabal of della Rovere's cardinals, clam- orous for his deposition. At the end of a furlinglit it was Charles who capitulated. He acknowledged Alexander as true Pope, greatly to the disgust of ilella Rovero, and "diil his iilial obedience", says Corn- mines, "with all imaginable humility"; but lie could not extort from the Pontiff an acknowledgment of his claims to Naples. Charles entered Naples, 22 Feb- ruary, 149,3, without strikinga blow. At his apiiroach the unpopular Alfonso abdicated in favour of liis son Ferrantiiin; the latter, failing to receive support, re- tired to seek the protection of Spain. Whilst Charles wasted over two months in fruitless attempts to induce the Pope by promi.scs and threats to sanction his usurpation, a powerful league, consisting of Ven- ice, Milan, the Kmpire, Spain, and the Holy See, was formed against him. I'inally, on 12 May, he crowned himself, but in the following July he was cutting his way home through the ranks of the allieil Italians. By the end of the year the French had re-cro.ssed into France. No one wished for their return, except the restless della Rovere, and the adherents of Savona- rola. The stor)' of the Florentine friar will be re- lated elsewhere; here it sullices to note that Alexan- der's treatment of him was marked by extreme patience and forbearance. The French invasion was the turning point in the I.-19 political career of Alexander VI. It had taught him that if he would be .safe in Home and be really mas- ter in the States of the Church, he must curb the in.so- lent and disloyal barons who had betrayed him in his hour of danger. Unfortunately, this laudable pur- po.se became more and more identified in his mind with schemes for the aggrandizement of his family There was no place in lii.i programme for a reform of abu.ses. Quite the contrary; in order to obtain money for his military operations he disposed of civil and spiritual privileges and offices in a scandalous manner. He resolved to begin with the Orsini, whose trea.son at the most critical moment had reduced him to tiesperate straits. The time seemed opportune; for Virginio, the head of the house, was a prisoner in the hands of Ferrantino. As commander of his troops he selected his youthful son Juan, Duke of Gandia. The struggle dragged on for months. The minor castles of the Orsini surrendered; but Brac- ciano, their main fortress, resisted all the efforts of the pontifical troops. They were finally obliged to rai.se the siege, and on 25 January, 1497, they were completely routeil at Soriano. Both siiles were now di.sposed to peace. On payment of 50,000 golden florins the Orsini received back all their castles exccjit Cervetri and -AnguiUara, which had been the original cause of their (juarrel with the Pope. In order to reduce the strong fortress of Ostia, held by French troops for Cartlinal della Uovere, Alexander wisely invoked the aid of Gonsalvo de Cordova and his Span- ish veterans. It surrendered to the "Great Cap- tain" within two weeks. Unsuccessful in obtaining for his family the possessions of the Orsini, the Pope now demanded the consent of his cardinals to the erection of Benevento, Terracina. and Pontecorvo into a duchy for the Duke of Gandia. Cardinal Piccolomini was the only member who dareil pro- test against this improper alienation of the property of the Church. A more powerful protest than that of the Cardinal of Sienna reverberated through the world a week later when, on the sixteenth of June, the body of the young Duke was fished out of the Ti- ber, with the throat cut and many gaping wounds. Historians have laboured in vain to discover who perpetrated the foul deed; but that it was a warning from Heaven to repent, no one felt more keenly than the Pope himself. In the first wild paroxysm of grief he spoke of resigning the tiara. Then, after three days and nights jiassed without food or sleep, he appeared in consistory and proclaimed his deter- mination to set about that reform of the Church "in hc.iil and members" for which the world had .so long been clamouring. A commission of cardinals anil canonists began industriously to frame ordinances which foreshadowed the disciplinarj' decrees of Trent. But tliev were never promulgated. Time gradually assuaged the sorrow and extinguished the contrition of Alexander. From now on Ca-sar's iron will w.is supreme law. That he aimed high from the start is evident from his resolve, opjxised at first by the Pope, to resign his cardinalate and other ecclesiastical dig- nities, and to become a .secular prince. The coiulition of Naples was alluring. The gallant F'errantino had ilicd childless and was succeeded by his uncle Fed- erigo, whose coronation was one of Ca>sar's last, pos- sibly also one of his first, ecclesiastical acts, hy se- curing the hand of Fcdcrigo's daughter, Carlotta, Princess of Tarento. he would become one of the most powerful barons of the kingdom, with ulterior pros- spects of wearing the crown. Carlotta's repugnance, however, could not be overcome. But in the course of the suit, another marriage was conclude<l which gave much scandal. Lucrezia's marriage with Sforza was <leclared null on the ground of the hitter's impo- tence, and she was given as wife to .lfonso of Bi- seglia, an illegitimate son of Alfonso 11. Meanwhile, affairs in France took an unexpected