Shortly after Cesare's return to Rome, Imola and Forli sent their ambassadors to the Vatican to beseech his Holiness to sign the articles which those cities had drawn up and by virtue of which they created Cesare their lord in the place of the deposed Riarii.
It is quite true that Alexander had announced that, in promoting the Romagna campaign, he had for object to restore to the Church the States which had rebelliously seceded from her. Yet there is not sufficient reason to suppose that he was flagrantly breaking his word in acceding to the request of which those ambassadors were the bearers and in creating his son Count of Imola and Forli. Admitted that this was to Cesare's benefit and advancement, it is still to be remembered that those fiefs must be governed for the Church by a Vicar, as had ever been the case.
1 The scabbard of this sword is to be seen in the South Kensington Museum ; the sword itself is in the possession of the Caetani family.
That being so, who could have been preferred to Cesare for the dignity, seeing that not only was the expulsion of the tyrants his work, but that the inhabitants themselves desired him for their lord ? For the rest, granted his exceptional qualifications, it is to be remembered that the Pope was his father, and setting aside the guilt and scandal of that paternity it is hardly reasonable to expect a father to prefer some other to his son for a stewardship for which none is so well equipped as that same son. That Imola and Forli were not free gifts to Cesare, detached, for the purpose of so making them, from the Holy See, is clear from the title of Vicar with which Cesare assumed control of them, as set forth in the Bull of investiture.
In addition to his receiving the rank of Vicar and Count of Imola and Forli, it was in this same month of March at last and after Cesare may be said to have earned it that he received the Gonfalon of the Church. With the unanimous concurrence of the Sacred College, the Pope officially appointed him Captain-General of the Pontifical forces the coveting of which position was urged, it will be remembered, as one of his motives for his alleged murder of the Duke of Gandia three years earlier.
On March 29 Cesare comes to St. Peter's to receive his new dignity and the further honour of the Golden Rose which the Pope is to bestow upon him the symbol of the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.
Having blessed the Rose, the Pope is borne solemnly into St. Peter's, preceded by the College of Cardinals. Arrived before the High Altar, he puts off his tiara the conical, richly jewelled cap, woven from the plumage of white peacocks and bareheaded kneels to pray; whereafter he confesses himself to the Cardinal of Benevento, who was the celebrant on this occasion. That done, he ascends and takes his seat upon the Pontifical Throne, whither come the cardinals to adore him, while the organ peals forth and the choir gives voice. Last of all comes Cesare, dressed in cloth of gold with ermine border, to kneel upon the topmost step of the throne, whereupon the Pope, removing his tiara and delivering it to the attendant Cardinal of San Clemente, pronounces the beautiful prayer of the investiture. That ended, the Pope receives from the hands of the Cardinal of San Clemente the splendid mantle of gonfalonier, and sets it about the duke's shoulders with the prescribed words : " May the Lord array thee in the garment of salvation and surround thee with the cloak of happiness." Next he takes from the hands of the Master of the Ceremonies that same Burchard whose diary supplies us with these - details the gonfalonier's cap of scarlet and ermine richly decked with pearls and surmounted by a dove the emblem of the Holy Spirit likewise wrought in pearls. This he places upon Cesare's auburn head; whereafter, once more putting off his tiara, he utters the prescribed prayer over the kneeling duke.
That done, and the Holy Father resuming his seat and his tiara, Cesare stoops to kiss the Pope's feet, then rising, goes in his gonfalonier apparel, the cap upon his head, to take his place among the cardinals. The organ crashes forth again; the choir intones the " Introito ad altare Deum " ; the celebrant ascends the altar, and, having offered incense, descends again and the Mass begins.
The Mass being over, and the celebrant having doffed his sacred vestments and rejoined his brother cardinals, the Cardinal of San Clemente repairs once more to the Papal Throne, preceded by two chamberlains who carry two- folded banners, one bearing the Pope's personal arms, the other the arms of Holy Church. Behind the cardinal follows an acolyte with the censer and incense boat and another with the holy water and the aspersorio, and behind these again two prelates with a Missal and a candle. The Pope rises, blesses the folded banners and incenses them, having received the censer from the hands of a priest who has prepared it. Then, as he resumes his seat, Cesare steps forward once more, and, kneeling, places both hands upon the Missal and pronounces in a loud, clear voice the words of the oath of fealty to St. Peter and the Pope, swearing ever to protect the latter and his successors from harm to life, limb, or possessions. Thereafter the Pope takes the blessed banners and gives the charge of them to Cesare, delivering into his hands the white truncheon symbolic of his office, whilst the Master of Ceremonies hands the actual banners to the two deputies, who in full armour have followed to receive them, and who attach them to the lances provided for the purpose.
The investiture is followed by the bestowal of the Golden Rose, whereafter Cesare, having again kissed the Pope's feet and the Ring of the Fisherman on his finger, has the cap of office replaced upon his head by Burchard himself, and so the ceremonial ends.
The Bishop of Isernia was going to Cesena to assume the governorship of that Pontifical fief, and, profiting by this, Cesare appointed him his lieutenant general in Romagna, with authority over all his other officers there and full judicial powers. Further, he desired him to act as his deputy and receive the oath of fealty of the duke's new subjects.