On November 3 Julius II issued briefs to the Romagna, ordering obedience to Cesare, with whom he was now in daily and friendliest intercourse.
In the Romagna, meanwhile, the disturbances had not only continued, but they had taken a fresh turn. Venice, having reseated Malatesta on the throne, now vented at last the covetousness she had ever, herself, manifested of that dominion, and sent a force to drive him out again and conquer Rimini for the Republic.
Florence, in a spasm of jealous anger at this, inquired was the Pope to become the chaplain of Venice, and dispatched Macchiavelli to bear the tale of these doings to Julius.
Under so much perpetual strife the strength of the Romagna was gradually crumbling, and Cesare, angry with Florence for never going beyond lip service, expressed that anger to Macchiavelli, informing the ambassador that the Signory could have saved the Romagna for him with a hundred men at arms.
The duke sent for Giustiniani, the ambassador of Venice, who, however, excused himself and did not go. This within a week of the new Pope's election, showing already how men discerned what was in store for Valentinois. Giustiniani wrote to his Government that he had not gone lest his going should give the duke importance in the eyes of others.1 The pettiness and meanness of the man, revealed in that dispatch, will enable you to attach to Giustiniani the label that belongs to him.
To cheer Valentinois in those days of depression came news that his subjects of Imola had successfully resisted an attack on the part of the Venetians. So stimulated was he that he prepared at once to go, himself, into the Romagna, and obtained from the Pope, from d'Amboise, and from Soderini, letters to Florence desiring the Signory to afford him safe conduct through Tuscany for himself and his army.
The Pope expressed himself, in his letter, that he would count such safe conduct as a great favour to himself, and urged the granting of it out of his " love for Cesare," owing to the latter's 11 great virtues and shining merits." 2 Yet on the morrow of dispatching that brief, this man, who was accounted honest, straightforward, and imbued with a love of truth, informed Giustiniani or else Giustiniani lied in his dispatches that he understood that the Venetians were assailing the Romagna, not out of enmity to the Church, but to punish the demerits of Cesare, and he made it plain to Giustiniani that, if he complained of the conduct of the Venetians, it was on his own behalf and not on Cesare's, as his aim was to preserve the Romagna, not for the duke, but for the Church.
1 " Per non dar materia ad altri che fazino un po di lui mazor es timazion di quel che fanno quando lo vedessero in parte alcuna favorito." Giustiniani. Dispatch of November 6, 1503.
2 " In quo nobis rem gratissimam facietis ducis enim ipsum propter ejus insignes virtutes et praeclara merita praecipuo affectur et caritate praecipua complectimur." Archivio di Stato, Firenze. (See Alvisi, Doct. 96.)
With the aim we have no quarrel. It was laudable enough in a Pontiff. But it foreshadows Cesare's ruin, in spite of the love protesting letter to Florence, in spite of the bargain struck by virtue of which Julius had obtained the pontificate. Whether the Pope went further in his treachery, whether, having dispatched that brief to Florence, he sent other communications to the Signory, is not ascertainable; but the suspicion of some such secret action is inspired by what ensued.
On November 13 Cesare was ready to leave Rome ; but no safe conduct had arrived. Out of all patience at this, he begged the Pope that the captain of the pontifical navy should prepare him five galleons at Ostia, by which he could take his foot to Genoa, and thence proceed into Romagna by way of Ferrara.
Macchiavelli, at the same time, was frenziedly importuning Florence to grant the duke the desired safe conduct lest in despair Cesare should make a treaty with Venice " or with the devil " and should go to Pisa, employing all his money, strength, and influence to vent his wrath upon the Signory. But the Signory knew more, perhaps, than did Macchiavelli, for no attention was paid to his urgent advice.
On the 19th Cesare left Rome to set out for Genoa by way of Ostia, and his departure threw Giustiniani into alarm fearing that the duke would now escape.
But there was no occasion for his fears. On the very day of Cesare's departure Julius sent fresh briefs to the Romagna, different indeed from those of November 3. In these he now expressed his disapproval of Alexander's having conferred the vicar ship of the Romagna upon Cesare Borgia, and he exhorted all to range themselves under the banner of the Church, under, whose protection he intended to keep them.
Events followed quickly upon that. Two days later news reached the Pope that the Venetians had captured Faenza, whereupon he sent a messenger after Valentinois to suggest to the latter that he should surrender Forli and the other fiefs into pontifical hands. With this Cesare refused to comply, and, as a result, he was detained by the captain of the navy, in obedience to the instructions from Julius. At the same time the Pope broke the last link of the treaty with Cesare by appointing a new Governor of Romagna in the person of Giovanni Sacchi, Bishop of Ragusa. He commanded the latter to take possession of the Romagna in the name of the Church, and he issued another brief the third within three weeks demanding the State's obedience to the new governor.
On November 26, Remolino, who had been at Ostia with Cesare, came to Rome, and, throwing himself at the feet of the Pontiff, begged for mercy for his lord, whom he now accounted lost. He promised Julius that Cesare should give him the countersigns of the strongholds, together with security for their surrender. This being all that the Pope could desire, he issued orders that Cesare be brought back to Rome, and in Consistory advised the Sacred College by way, no doubt, of exculpating himself to men who knew that he was refusing to pay the price at which he had bought the Papacy that the Venetians in the Romagna were not moving against the Church, but against Cesare himself wherefore he had demanded of Cesare the surrender of the towns he held, that thus there might be an end to the war.