The Duke of Gandia left a widow and two children Giovanni, a boy of three years of age, and Isabella, a girl of two. In the interests of her son, the widowed duchess applied to the Governor of Valencia in the following September for the boy's investiture in the rights of his deceased father. This was readily granted upon authority from Rome, and so the boy Giovanni was recognized as third Duke of Gandia, Prince of Sessa and Teano, and Lord of Cerignola and Monte foscolo, and the administration of his estates during his minority was entrusted to his uncle, Cesare Borgia.
The Lordship of Benevento the last grant made to Giovanni Borgia was not mentioned ; nor was it then nor ever subsequently claimed by the widow. It is the one possession of Gandia's that went to Cesare, who was confirmed in it by the King of Naples.
The Gandia branch of the Borgia family remained in Spain, prospered and grew in importance, and, incidentally, produced St. Francis de Borgia. This Duke of Gandia was Master of the Household to Charles V, and thus a man of great worldly consequence ; but it happened that he was so moved by the sight of the disfigured body of his master's beautiful queen that he renounced the world and entered the Society of Jesus, eventually becoming its General. He died in 1562, and in the fulness of time was canonized.
Cesare's departure for Naples as legate a latere to anoint and crown Federigo of Aragon was naturally delayed by the tragedy that had assailed his house, and not until July 22 did he take his leave of the Pope and set out with an escort of two hundred horse.
Naples was still in a state of ferment, split into two parties, one of which favoured France and the other Aragon, so that disturbances were continual. Alexander expressed the hope that Cesare might appear in that distracted kingdom in the guise of an "angel of peace," and that by his coronation of King Federigo he should set a term to the strife that was toward.
The city of Naples itself was now being ravaged by fever, and in consequence of this it was determined that Cesare should repair instead to Capua, where Federigo would await him. Arrived there, however, Cesare fell ill, and the coronation ceremony again suffered a postponement until August 10. Cesare remained a fortnight in the kingdom, and on August 22 set out to return to Rome, and his departure appears to have been a matter of relief to Federigo, for so impoverished did the King of Naples find himself that the entertainment of the legate and his numerous escort had proved a heavy tax upon his flabby purse.
On the morning of September 6 all the cardinals in Rome received a summons to attend at the Monastery of Santa Maria Nuova to welcome the returned Cardinal of Valencia. In addition to the Sacred College all the ambassadors of the Powers were present, and, after the celebration of the Mass, the entire assembly proceeded to the Vatican, where the Pope was waiting to receive his son. When the young cardinal presented himself at the foot of the papal throne Alexander opened his arms to him, embraced, and kissed him, speaking no word.
This rests upon the evidence of two eye witnesses,1 and the circumstance has been urged and propounded into the one conclusive piece of evidence that Cesare had murdered his brother, and that the Pope knew it. In this you have some more of what Gregorovius terms " inexorable logic." He kissed him, but he spake no word to him; therefore, they reason, Cesare murdered Gandia. Can absurdity be more absurd, fatuity more fatuous ? Lucus a non lucendo! To square the circle should surely present no difficulty to these subtle logicians.
It was, as we have seen, in February of 1498 that it was first rumoured that Cesare intended to put off the purple; and that the rumour had ample foundation was plain from the circumstance that the Pope was already laying plans whose fulfilment must be dependent upon that step, and seeking to arrange a marriage for Cesare with Carlotta of Aragon, King Federigo of Naples's daughter, stipulating that her dowry should be such that Cesare, in taking her to wife, should become Prince of Altamura and Tarentum.
1" Non dixit verbum Pape Valentinus, nec Papa sibi, sed eo deos culato, descendit de solio" (Burchard's Diarium, and " Solo lo bacio," in letter from Rome in Sanuto's Diarii).
But Federigo showed himself unwilling, possibly in consideration of the heavy dowry demanded and of the heavy draft already made by the Borgias through Giuffredo Borgia, Prince of Squillace upon this Naples which the French invasion had so impoverished. He gave out that he would not have his daughter wedded to a priest who was the son of a priest and that he would not give his daughter unless the Pope could contrive that a cardinal might marry and yet retain his hat.
It all sounded as if he were actuated by nice scruples and high principles; but the opinion is unfortunately not encouraged when we find him, nevertheless, giving his consent to the marriage of his nephew Alfonso to Lucrezia Borgia upon the pronouncement of her divorce from Giovanni Sforza. The marriage, let us say in passing, was celebrated at the Vatican on June 20, 1498, Lucrezia receiving a dowry of 40,000 ducats. But the astute Alexander saw to it that his family should acquire more than it gave, and contrived that Alfonso should receive the Neapolitan cities of Biselli and Quadrata, being raised to the title of Prince of Biselli.
Nevertheless, there was a vast difference between giving in marriage a daughter who must take a weighty dowry out of the kingdom and receiving a daughter who would bring a handsome dowry with her. And the facts suggest that such was the full measure of Federigo's scruples,
Meanwhile, to dissemble his reluctance to let Cesare have his daughter to wife, Federigo urged that he must first take the feeling of Ferdinand and Isabella in this matter.
While affairs stood thus, Charles VIII died suddenly at Amboise in April of that year 1498. Some work was being carried out there by artists whom he had brought from Naples for the purpose, and, in going to visit this, the king happened to enter a dark gallery, and struck his forehead so violently against the edge of a door that he expired the same day at the age of twenty eight. He was a poor, malformed fellow, as we have seen, and " of little understanding," Corn mines tells us ; " but so good that it would have been impossible to have found a kinder creature."