King Louis XII dispatched the Sieur de Sarenon by sea, with a fleet of three ships and five galleys, to the end that he should conduct the new duke to France, which fleet was delayed so that it did not drop its anchors at Ostia until the end of September.
Meanwhile, Cesare's preparations for departure had been going forward, and were the occasion of a colossal expenditure on the part of his sire. For the Pope desired that his son, in going to France to assume his estate, and for the further purposes of marrying a wife, of conveying to Louis the dispensation permitting his marriage with Anne of Brittany, and of bearing the red hat to Amboise, should display the extraordinary magnificence for which the princes of cultured and luxurious Italy were at the time renowned.
His suite consisted of fully a hundred attendants, what with esquires, pages, lacqueys and grooms, whilst twelve chariots and fifty sumpter mules were laden with his baggage. The horses of his followers were all sumptuously caparisoned with bridles and stirrups of solid silver ; and, for the rest, the splendour of the liveries, the weapons and the jewels, and the richness of the gifts he bore with him were the amazement even of that age of dazzling displays.
ALLEGED PORTRAIT OF CESARE BORGIA, BY GIORGIONE. (In the Pinacoteca Comunale, Forli.)
In Cesare's train went Ramiro de Lorqua, the Master of his Household ; Agabito Gherardi, his secretary; and his Spanish physician, Gaspare Torella the only medical man of his age who had succeeded in discovering a treatment for the pudendagra which the French had left in Italy, and who had dedicated to Cesare his learned treatise upon that disease.
As a body guard, or escort of honour, Cesare took with him thirty gentlemen, mostly Romans, among whom were Giangiordano Orsini, Pietro Santa Croce, Mario di Mariano, Domenico Sanguigna, Giulio Alberini, Bartolomeo Capranica, and Gianbattista Mancini all young, and all members of those patrician families which Alexander VI had skilfully attached to his own interest.
The latest of these was the Orsini family, with which an alliance was established by the marriage celebrated at the Vatican on September 28 of that same year between Fabio Orsini and Girolama Borgia, a niece of the Pope's.
Cesare's departure took place on October 1, in the early morning, when he rode out with his princely retinue, and followed the Tiber along Trastevere, without crossing the city. He was mounted on a handsome charger, caparisoned in red silk and gold brocade the colours of France, in which he had also dressed his lacqueys. He wore a doublet of white damask laced with gold, and carried a mantle of black velvet swinging from his shoulders. Of black velvet, too, was the cap on his auburn head, its sable colour an effective background for the ruddy effulgence of the great rubies " as large as beans " with which it was adorned.
Of the gentlemen who followed him, the Romans were dressed in the French mode, like himself, whilst the Spaniards adhered to the fashions of their native Spain.
He was escorted as far as the end of the Banchi by four cardinals, and from a window of the Vatican the Pope watched the imposing cavalcade and followed it with his eyes until it was lost to view, weeping, we are told, for very joy at the contemplation of the splendour and magnificence which it had been his to bestow upon his beloved son " the very heart of him," as he wrote to the King of France in that letter of which Cesare was the bearer.
On October 12 the Duke of Valentinois landed at Marseilles, where he was received by the Bishop of Dijon, whom the king had sent to meet him, and who now accompanied the illustrious visitor to Avignon. There Cesare was awaited by the Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere. This prelate was now anxious to make his peace with Alexander and presently we shall look into the motives that probably inspired him, a matter which has so far, we fancy, escaped criticism for reasons that we shall also strive to make apparent. To the beginnings of a reconciliation with the Pontiff afforded by his touching letter of condolence on the death of the Duke of Gandia, he now added a very cordial reception and entertainment of Cesare; and throughout his sojourn in France the latter received at the hands of della Rovere the very friendliest treatment, the cardinal missing no opportunity of working in the duke's interests and for the advancement of his ends.
The Pope wrote to the cardinal commending Cesare to his good graces, and the cardinal replied with protestations which he certainly proceeded to make good.
Delia Rovere was to escort Cesare to the king, who was with his Court then at Chinon, awaiting the completion of the work that was being carried out at his Castle of Blois, which presently became his chief residence. But Cesare appears to have tarried in Avignon, for he was still there at the end of October, nor did he reach Chinon until the middle of December. The pomp of his entrance was a thing stupendous. We find a detailed relation of it in Brantome, translated into prose from some old verses which, he tells us, that he found in the family treasury. He complains of their coarseness, and those who are acquainted with the delightful old Frenchman's own frankness of expression may well raise their brows at that criticism of his. Whatever the coarse liberties taken with the subject of which we are not allowed more than an occasional glimpse and despite the fact that the relation was in verse, which ordinarily makes for the indulgence of the rhymer's fancy the description appears to be fairly accurate, for it corresponds more or less with the particulars given in Sanuto.
At the head of the cavalcade went twenty four sumpter mules, laden with coffers and other baggage under draperies embroidered with Cesare's arms prominent among which would be the red bull, the emblem of his house, and the three pointed flame, his own particular device. Behind these came another twenty four mules, caparisoned in the king's colours of scarlet and gold, to be followed in their turn by sixteen beautiful chargers led by hand, similarly caparisoned, and their bridles and stirrups of solid silver. Next came eighteen pages on horseback, sixteen of whom were in scarlet and yellow, whilst the remaining two were in cloth of gold. These were followed by a posse of lacqueys in the same liveries and two mules laden with coffers draped with cloth of gold, which contained the gifts of which Cesare was the bearer. Behind these rode the duke's thirty gentlemen, in cloth of gold and silver, and amongst them came the duke himself.