The marriage contract shows that by this time Vannozza had removed her residence to Piazza Branchis. In addition to this she had by this time acquired a villa with its beautiful gardens and vineyards in the Suburra near S. Pietro in Vincoli. She is also known to have been the proprietor of an inn the Albergo del Leone in Via del Orso, opposite the Torre di Nona, for she figures with della Croce in a contract regarding a lease of it in 1483.
1 The gold florin, ducat, or crown was equal to ten shillings of our present money, and had a purchasing power of five times that amount.
With her entrance into second nuptials, her relations with Cardinal Roderigo came to an end, and his two children by her, then in Rome Lucrezia and Giuffredo went to take up their residence with Adriana Orsini (nee de Mila) at the Orsini Palace on Monte Giordano. She was a cousin of Roderigo's, and the widow of Lodovico Orsini, by whom she had a son, Orso Orsini, who from early youth had been betrothed to Giulia Farnese, the daughter of a patrician family, still comparatively obscure, but destined through this very girl to rise to conspicuous eminence.
For her surpassing beauty this Giulia Farnese has been surnamed La Bella and as Giulia La Bella was she known in her day and she has been immortalized by Pinturicchio and Guglielmo della Porta. She sat to the former as a model for his Madonna in the Borgia Tower of the Vatican, and to the latter for the statue of Truth which adorns the tomb of her brother Alessandro Farnese, who became Pope Paul III.
Here in Adriana Orsini's house, where his daughter Lucrezia was being educated, Cardinal Roderigo, now at the mature age of some six and fifty years, made the acquaintance and became enamoured of this beautiful golden headed Giulia, some forty years his junior. To the fact that she presently became his mistress somewhere about the same time that she became Orso Orsini's wife is due the sudden rise of the House of Farnese. This began with her handsome, dissolute brother Alessandro's elevation to the purple by her lover, and grew to vast proportions during his subsequent and eminently scandalous occupation of the Papal Throne as Paul III.
In the year 1490 Lucrezia was the only one of Roderigo's children by Vannozza who remained in Rome.
Giovanni Borgia was in Spain, whither he had gone on the death of his brother Pedro Luis, to take possession of the Duchy of Gandia, which the power of his father's wealth and vast influence at the Valen cian Court had obtained for that same Pedro Luis. To this Giovanni now succeeded.
Cesare Borgia now aged fifteen had for some two years been studying his humanities in an atmosphere of Latinity at the Sapienza of Perugia. There, if we are to believe the praises of him uttered by Pompilio, he was already revealing his unusual talents and a precocious wit. In the preface of the Syllabica on the art of Prosody dedicated to him by Pompilio, the latter hails him as the hope and ornament of the House of Borgia 11 Borgiae familiae spes et decus."
From Perugia he was moved in 1491 to the famous University of Pisa, a college frequented by the best youth of Italy. For preceptor he had Giovanni Vera of Arcilla, a Spanish gentleman who was later created a cardinal by Cesare's father. There in Pisa Cesare maintained an establishment of a magnificence in keeping with his father's rank and with the example set him by that same father.
It was Cardinal Roderigo's wish that Cesare should follow an ecclesiastical career ; and the studies of canon law which he pursued under Filippo Decis, the most celebrated lecturer on canon law of his day, were such as peculiarly to fit him for that end and for the highest honours the Church might have to bestow upon him later. At the age of seventeen, while still at Pisa, he was appointed prothonotary of the Church and preconized Bishop of Pampeluna.
Sixtus IV died, as we have seen, in August 1482.
The death of a Pope was almost invariably the signal for disturbances in Rome, and they certainly were not wanting on this occasion. The Riario palaces were stormed and looted, and Girolamo Riario the Pope's " nepot " threw himself into the castle of Sant' Angelo with his forces.
The Orsini and Colonna were in arms, " so that in a few days incendiarism, robbery, and murder raged in several parts of the city. The cardinals besought the Count to surrender the castle to the Sacred College, withdraw his troops, and deliver Rome from the fear of his forces; and he, that he might win the favour of the future Pope, obeyed, and withdrew to Imola." 1
The cardinals, having thus contrived to restore some semblance of order, proceeded to the creation of a new Pontiff, and a Genoese, Giovanni Battista Cibo, Cardinal of Malfetta, was elected and took the name of Innocent VIII.
Again, as in the case of Sixtus, there is no lack of those who charge this Pontiff with having obtained his election by simony. The Cardinals Giovanni d' Aragona (brother to the King of Naples) and Ascanio Sforza (brother of Lodovico, Duke of Milan) are said to have disposed of their votes in the most open and shameless manner, practically putting them up for sale to the highest bidder. Italy rang with the scandal of it, we are told.
Under Innocent's lethargic rule the Church again began to lose much of the vigour with which Sixtus had inspired it. If the reign of Sixtus had been scandalous, infinitely worse was that of Innocent a sordid, grasping sensualist, without even the one redeeming virtue of strength that had been his predecessor's. Nepotism had characterized many previous pontificates; open paternity was to characterize his, for he was the first Pope who, in flagrant violation of canon law, acknowledged his children for his own. He proceeded to provide for some seven bastards, and that provision appears to have been the only aim and scope of his pontificate.
1 Macchiavelli, Istorie Fiorentine.
Not content with raising money by the sale of preferments, Innocent established a traffic in indulgences, the like of which had never been seen before. In the Rome of his day you might, had you the money, buy anything, from a cardinal's hat to a pardon for the murder of your father.
The most conspicuous of his bastards was Francesco Cibo conspicuous chiefly for the cupidity which distinguished him as it distinguished the Pope his father. For the rest he was a poor spirited fellow who sorely disappointed Lorenzo de' Medici, whose daughter Maddalena he received in marriage. Lorenzo had believed that, backed by the Pope's influence, Francesco would establish for himself a dynasty in Romagna. But father and son were alike too invertebrate the one to inspire, the other to execute any such designs as had already been attempted by the nepots of Calixtus III and Sixtus IV.
Under the weak and scandalous rule of Innocent VIII Rome appears to have been abandoned to the most utter lawlessness. Anarchy, robbery, and murder preyed upon the city. No morning dawned without revealing corpses in the streets; and if by chance the murderer was caught, there was pardon for him if he could afford to buy it, or Tor di Nona and the hangman's noose if he could not.
It is not wonderful that when at last Innocent VIII died Infessura should have blessed the day that freed the world of such a monster.
But his death did not happen until 1492. A feeble old man, he had become subject to lethargic or cataleptic trances, which had several times already deceived those in attendance into believing him dead. He grew weaker and weaker, and it became impossible to nourish him upon anything but woman's milk. Towards the end came, Infessura tells us, a Hebrew physician who claimed to have a prescription by which he could save the Pope's life. For his infusion1 he needed young human blood, and to obtain it he took three boys of the age of ten, and gave them a ducat apiece for as much as he might require of them. Unfortunately he took so much that the three boys incontinently died of his phlebotomy, and the Hebrew was obliged to take to flight to save his own life, for the Pope, being informed of what had taken place, execrated the deed and ordered the physician's arrest. " Judeus quidem aufugit, et Papa sanatus not est," concludes Infessura.
Innocent VIII breathed his last on July 25, 1492.
1 The silly interpretation of this afforded by later writers, that this physician attempted transfusion of blood silly, because unthinkable in an age which knew nothing of the circulation of the blood has already been exploded.