To return to the surrender of Faenza on April 26, 1501, we see Cesare on the morrow of that event, striking camp with such amazing suddenness that he does not even pause to provide for the government of the conquered tyranny, but appoints a vicar four days later to attend to it.
He makes his abrupt departure from Faenza, and is off like a whirlwind to sweep unexpectedly into the Bolognese territory, and, by striking swiftly, to terrify Bentivogli into submission in the matter of Castel Bolognese.
This fortress, standing in the duke's dominions, on the road between Faenza and Imola, must be a menace to him whilst in the hands of a power that might become actively hostile.
Ahead of him Cesare sent an envoy to Bentivogli, to demand its surrender.
The alarmed Lord of Bologna, having convened his Council (the Reggimento), replied that they must deliberate in the matter ; and two days later they dispatched their ambassador to lay before Cesare the fruits of these deliberations. They were to seek the duke at Imola ; but they got no farther than Castel S. Pietro, which to their dismay they found already in the hands of Vitellozzo Vitelli's men at arms. For, what time Bentivogli had been deliberating, Cesare Borgia had been acting with that promptness which was one of his most salient characteristics, and, in addition to Castel S. Pietro he had already captured Casalfiuminense, Castel Guelfo, and Mede cina, which were now invested by his troops.
When the alarming news of this swift action reached Bologna it caused Bentivogli to bethink him at last of Louis XII's advice, that he should come to terms with Cesare Borgia, and he realized that the time to do so could no longer be put off. He made haste, therefore, to agree to the surrender of Castel Bolognese to the duke, to concede him stipend for one hundred lances of three men each, and to enter into an undertaking to lend him every assistance for one year against any power with which he might be at war, the King of France excepted. In return, Cesare was to relinquish the captured strongholds and undertake that the Pope should confirm Bentivogli in his ancient privileges. On April 29 Paolo Orsini went as Cesare's plenipotentiary to Bologna to sign this treaty.
It was a crafty arrangement on Bentivogli's part, for, over and above the pacification of Cesare and the advantage of an alliance with him, he gained as a result the alliance also of those famous condottieri Vitelli and Orsini, both bitter enemies of Florence the latter intent upon the restoration of the Medici, the former impatient to avenge upon the Signory the execution of his brother Paolo. As an instalment, on account of that debt, Vitelli had already put to death Pietro da Marciano the brother of Count Rinuccio da Marciano when this gentleman fell into his hands at Medicina.
Two days before the treaty was signed, Bentivogli had seized four members of the powerful House of Marescotti. This family was related to the exiled Malvezzi, who were in arms with Cesare, and Bentivogli feared that communications might be passing between the two to his undoing. On that suspicion he kept them prisoners for the present, nor did he release them when the treaty was signed, nor yet when, amid public rejoicings expressing the relief of the Bolognese, it was published on May 2.
Hermes Bentivogli Giovanni's youngest son was on guard at the palace with several other young Bolognese patricians, and he incited these to go with him to make an end of the traitors who had sought to destroy the peace by their alleged plottings with Bentivogli's enemies in Cesare's camp. He led his companions to the chamber where the Marescotti were confined, and there, more or less in cold blood, those four gentlemen were murdered for no better reason ostensibly than because it was suspected they had been in communication with their relatives in the Duke of Valentinois's army. That was the way of the Cinquecento, which appears to have held few things of less account than human life.
In passing, it may be mentioned that Guicciardini, of course, does his ludicrous best to make this murder appear at least indirectly, since directly it would be impossible the work of Cesare Borgia.
As for Castel Bolognese itself, Cesare Borgia sent a thousand demolishers in the following July to raze it to the ground. It is said to have been the most beautiful castle in the Romagna ; but Cesare had other qualities than beauty to consider in the matter of a stronghold. Its commanding position rendered it almost in the nature of a gateway controlling, as we know, the road from Faenza to Imola, and its occupation by the Bolognese or other enemies in time of disturbance might be of serious consequence to Cesare. Therefore he ruthlessly ordered Ramiro de Lorqua to set about its demolition.
The Council of Castel Bolognese made great protest, and implored Ramiro to stay his hand until they should have communicated with the duke petitioning for the castle's preservation; but Ramiro a hard, stern man, and Cesare's most active officer in the Romagna told them bluntly that to petition the duke in such a matter would be no better than a waste of time. He was no more than right; for Cesare, being resolved upon the expediency of the castle's destruction, would hardly be likely to listen to sentimental reasonings for its preservation. Confident of this, Ramiro without more ado set about the execution of the orders he had received. He pulled down the walls and filled up the moat, until nothing remained so much as to show the place where the fortress had stood.
Another fortress which shared the fate of Castel Bolognese was the Castle of Sant' Arcangelo, and similarly would Cesare have disposed of Solarolo, but that, being of lesser importance and the inhabitants offering, in their petition for its preservation, to undertake, themselves, the payment of the Castellan, he allowed it to remain.