It may well be that it was about this time that Cesare, his ambition spreading as men's ambition will spread with being gratified was considering the consolidation of Central Italy into a kingdom of which he would assume the crown.
It was a scheme in the contemplation of which he was encouraged by Vitellozzo Vitelli, who no doubt conceived that in its fulfilment the ruin of Florence would be entailed which was all that Vitelli cared about. What to Cesare would have been no more than the means, would have been to Vitelli a most satisfactory end.
Before, however, going so far there was still the work of subjugating the States of the Church to be completed, as this could not be so considered until Urbino, Camerino, and Sinigaglia should be under the Borgia dominion.
For this, no doubt, Cesare was disposing during that Easter of 1502 which he spent in Rome, and during which there were heard from the south the first rumblings of the storm of war whereof ill starred Naples was once more for the third time within ten years to be the scene. The allies of yesterday were become the antagonists of to day, and France and Spain were ready to fly at each other's throats over the division of the spoil, as a consequence of certain ill definitions of the matter in the treaty of Granada. The French Viceroy, Louis d'Armagnac, and the great Spanish Captain, Gonzalo de Cordoba, were on the point of coming to blows.
Nor was the menace of disturbance confined to Naples. In Florence, too, the torch of war was alight, and if as he afterwards swore Cesare Borgia had no hand in kindling it, it is at least undeniable that he complacently watched the conflagration, conscious that it would make for the fulfilment of his own ends. Besides, there was still that little matter of the treaty of Forno dei Campi between Cesare and Florence, a treaty which the Signory had never fulfilled and never intended to fulfil, and Cesare was not the man to forget how he had been fooled.
But for the protection of France which she enjoyed, Florence must long ere this have been called to account by him, and crushed out of all shape under the weight of his mailed hand. As it was she was to experience the hurt of his passive resentment, and find this rather more than she could bear.
Vitellozzo Vitelli, that vindictive firebrand whose original motive in allying himself with Cesare had been the hope that the duke might help him to make Florence expiate his brother's blood, finding that Cesare withheld the expected help, was bent at last upon dealing, himself, with Florence. He entered into plots with the exiled Piero de' Medici to restore the latter to his dominion ; he set intrigues afoot in Pisa, where his influence was vast, and in Siena, whose tyrant, Pandolfo Petrucci, was ready and willing to forward his designs, and generally made so disturbing a stir in Tuscany that the Signory became gravely alarmed.
Cesare certainly took no apparent active part in the affair. He lent Vitelli no aid ; but neither did he attempt to restrain him or any other of the Borgia condottieri who were allied with him.
The unrest, spreading and growing sullenly a while, burst suddenly forth in Arezzo on June 4, when the cries of " Medici! " and " Marzocco ! " rang in its streets, to announce that the city was in arms against the government of Florence. Arezzo followed this up by summoning Vitelli, and the waiting, watchful condottiero was quick to answer the desired call. He entered the town three days later at the head of a small body of foot, and was very shortly afterwards followed by his brother Giulio Vitelli, Bishop of Citta di Castello, with the artillery, and, presently, by Gianpaolo Baglioni with a condotta of horse.
A few days later Vitelli was in possession of all the strongholds of the Val di Chiana, and panic stricken Florence was speeding ambassadors hot foot to Rome to lay her complaints of these matters before the Pope.
Alexander was able to reply that, far from supporting the belligerents, he had launched a Bull against them, provoked by the poisoning of the Bishop de' Pazzi.
Cesare looked on with the inscrutable calm for which Macchiavelli was presently to find him so remarkable. Aware as he was of the French protection which Florence enjoyed and could invoke, he perceived how vain must ultimately prove Vitelli's efforts, saw, perhaps, in all this the grave danger of ultimate ruin which Vitelli was incurring. Yet Vitelli's action served Cesare's own purposes, and, so that his purposes were served, there were no other considerations likely to weigh with that cold egotist. Let Vitelli be caught in the toils he was spinning, and be choked in them. Meanwhile, Florence was being harrowed, and that was all to Cesare's satisfaction and advantage. When sufficiently humbled, it might well befall that the Republic should come on her knees to implore his intervention, and his pardon for having flouted him.
While matters stood so in Arezzo, Pisa declared spontaneously for Cesare, and sent (on June 10) to offer herself to his dominion and to announce to him that his banner was already flying from her turrets and the growth of Florence's alarm at this is readily conceived.
To Cesare it must have been a sore temptation. To accept such a pied a-terre in Tuscany as was now offered him would have been the first great step towards founding that kingdom of his dreams. An impulsive man had surely gulped the bait. But Cesare, boundless in audacity, most swift to determine and to act, was not impulsive. Cold reason, foresight and calculation were the ministers of his indomitable will. He looked ahead and beyond in the matter of Pisa's offer, and he perceived the danger that might await him in the acceptance. The time for that was not yet. To take what Pisa offered might entail offending France, and although Cesare was now in case to dispense with French support, he was in no case to resist her opposition.