All measures being taken so far as Forli was concerned, Cesare turned his attention to Pesaro, and prepared to invade it. Before leaving, however, he awaited the return of his absent cousin, the Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, who, as papal legate, was to receive the oath of fealty of the town; but, instead of the cardinal whom he was expecting, came a messenger with news of his death of fever at Fossombrone.
Giovanni Borgia had left Forli on December 28 to go to Cesena, with intent, it was said, to recruit to his cousin's army those men of Rimini, who, exiled and in rebellion against their tyrant Malatesta, had sought shelter in that Pontifical fief. Thence he had moved on to Urbino, where in the ducal palace he awaited news of the fall of Forli, and where, whilst waiting, he fell ill. Nevertheless, when the tidings of Cesare's victory reached him, he insisted upon getting to horse, to repair to Forli; but, discovering himself too ill to keep the saddle, he was forced to abandon the journey at Fossombrone, whilst the outcome of the attempt was an aggravation of the fever resulting in the cardinal's death, Cesare appears to have been deeply grieved by the loss of Giovanni, and there is every cause to suppose that a sincere attachment prevailed between the cousins. Yet Cesare has been charged with his death, and accused of having poisoned him, and, amidst the host of silly, baseless accusations levelled against Cesare, you shall find none more silly or baseless than this. In other instances of unproven crimes with which he has been charged there may be some vestiges of matter that may do duty for evidence or be construed into motives; here there is none that will serve one purpose or the other, and the appalling and rabid unscrupulousness, the relentless malice of Borgian chroniclers is in nothing so completely apparent as in this accusation.
1 It was customary throughout Italy that the Podesta, or chief magistrate, should never be a native of the town rarely of the State in which he held his office. Thus, having no local interests or relationships, he was the likelier to dispense justice with desirable single mindedness.
Sanuto mentions the advices received, and the rumours which say that Cesare murdered him through jealousy, knowing him beloved by the Pope, seeing him a legate, and fearing that he might come to be given the governorship of some Romagna fief.
When Gandia died and Cesare was accused of having murdered him, the motive advanced was that Cesare, a papal legate, resented a brother who was a duke. Now, Cesare, being a duke, resents a cousin's being a papal legate. You will observe that, if this method of discovering motives is pursued a little further, there is no man who died in Cesare's life time whom Cesare could not be shown to have had motives for murdering.
Sillier even than Sanuto's is the motive with which Giovio attempts to bolster up the accusation which he reports : " He [Cesare] poisoned him because he [Giovanni] favoured the Duke of Gandia."
That, apparently, was the best that Giovio could think of. It is hardly intelligible which is perhaps inevitable, for it is not easy to be intelligible when you don't quite know, yourself, what you mean, which must have been Giovio's case.
The whole charge is so utterly foolish, stupid, and malicious that it would scarcely be worth mentioning, were it not that so many modern writers have included this among the Borgia crimes. As a matter of fact and as a comparison of the above cited dates will show eighteen days had elapsed between Giovanni Borgia's leaving Cesare at Forli and his succumbing at Urbino which in itself disposes of the matter. It may be mentioned that this is a circumstance which those foolish or deliberately malicious calumniators either did not trouble to ascertain or else thought it wiser to slur over. Although, had they been pressed, there was always the death of Djem to be cited and the fiction of the slow working poison specially invented to meet and explain his case.
The preparations for the invasion of Pesaro were complete, and it was determined that on January 22 the army should march out of Forli; but on the night of the 21st a disturbance occurred. The Swiss under the Bailie of Dijon became mutinous they appear throughout to have been an ill conditioned lot and they clamoured now for higher pay if they were to go on to Pesaro, urging that already they had served the Duke of Valentinois as far as they had pledged themselves to the King of France.
Towards the third hour of the night the Bailie himself, with these mutineers at his heels, presented himself at the Nomaglie Palace to demand that the Countess Sforza-Riario should be delivered into his hands. His claim was that she was his prisoner, since she had been arrested by a soldier of his own, and that her surrender was to France, to which he added a thought inconsequently, it seems that the French law forbade that women should be made prisoners. Valentinois, taken utterly by surprise, and without the force at hand to resist the Bailie and his Swiss, was compelled to submit and to allow the latter to carry the countess off to his own lodging; but he dispatched a messenger to Forlimpopoli with orders for the immediate return of Allegre and his horse, and in the morning, after Mass, he had the army drawn up in the market place; and so, backed by his Spanish, French, and Italian troops, he faced the threatening Swiss.
The citizens were in a panic, expecting to see battle blaze out at any moment, and apprehensive of the consequences that might ensue for the town.
The Swiss had grown more mutinous than ever overnight, and they now refused to march until they were paid. It was Cesare's to quell and restore them to obedience. He informed them that they should be paid when they reached Cesena, and that, if they were retained thereafter in his employ, their pay should be on the improved scale which they demanded. Beyond that he made no concessions. The remainder of his harangue was matter to cow them into submission, for he threatened to order the ringing of the alarm bells, and to have them cut to pieces by the people of Forli whom their gross and predatory habits had already deeply offended.