It was specious which is the best that can be said for it.
As for putting an end to the war, the papal brief was far indeed from achieving any such thing, as was instantly plain from the reception it met with in the Romagna, which persisted in its loyalty to Cesare in despite of the very Pope himself. When that brief was read in Cesena a wild tumult ensued, and the people ran through the streets clamouring angrily for their duke.
It was very plain what short work would have been made of such men as the Ordelaffi and the Malatesta had Cesare gone north. But Cesare was fast at the Vatican, treated by the Pope with all outward friendliness and consideration, but virtually a prisoner none the less. Julius continued to press for the surrender of the Romagna strongholds, which Remolino had promised in his master's name; but Cesare persisted obstinately to refuse, until the news reached him that Michele da Corella and della Volpe, who had gone north with seven hundred horse to support his Romagnuoli, had been cut to pieces in Tuscany by the army of Gianpaolo Baglioni.
Cesare bore his burning grievance to the Pope. The Pope sympathized with him most deeply; then went to write a letter to the Florentines to thank them for what had befallen and to beg them to send him Michele da Corella under a strong escort that redoubtable captain having been taken prisoner together with della Volpe.
Corella was known to be fully in the duke's confidence, and there were rumours that he was accused of many things perpetrated on the duke's behalf. Julius, bent now on Cesare's ruin, desired to possess himself of this man in the hope of being able to put him upon his trial under charges which should reflect discredit upon Cesare.
At last the duke realized that he was betrayed, and that all was lost, and so he submitted to the inevitable, and gave the Pope the countersigns he craved. With these Julius at once dispatched an envoy into the Romagna, and, knowing the temper of Cesare's captains, he insisted that this envoy should be accompanied by Piero d'Orvieto, as Cesare's own commissioner, to demand that surrender.
But the intrepid Pedro Ramires, who held Cesena, knowing the true facts of the case, and conceiving how his duke had been constrained, instead of making ready to yield, proceeded further to fortify for resistance. When the commissioners appeared before his gates he ordered the admission of Piero d'Orvieto. That done, he declared that he desired to see his duke at liberty before he would surrender the citadel which he held for him, and, taking d'Orvieto, he hanged him from the battlements as a traitor and a bad servant who did a thing which the duke, had he been at liberty, would never have had him do.
Moncalieri, the papal envoy, returned to Rome with the news, and this so inflamed the Pope that the Cardinals Lodovico Borgia and Francesco Remolino, together with other Borgia partisans, instantly fled from Rome, where they no longer accounted themselves safe, and sought refuge with Gonzalo de Cordoba in the Spanish camp at Naples, imploring his protection at the same time for Cesare.
The Pope's anger first vented itself in the confiscation of the Duke of Valentinois's property wherever possible, to satisfy the claims of the Riarii (the Pope's nephews) who demanded an indemnity of 50,000 ducats, of Guidobaldo, who demanded 200,000 ducats, and of the Florentine Republic, which claimed the same. The duke's ruin was by now within six weeks of the election of Julius II an accomplished fact; and many were those who chose to fall with him rather than abandon him in his extremity. They afford a spectacle of honour and loyalty that was exceedingly rare in the Italy of the Renaissance ; clinging to their duke, even when the last ray of hope was quenched, they lightened for him the tedium of those last days at the Vatican during which he was no better than a prisoner of state.
Suddenly came news of Gonzalo de Cordoba's splendid victory at Garigliano a victory which definitely broke the French and gave the throne of Naples to Spain. Naturally this set Spanish influence once more, and mightily, in the ascendant, and the Spanish cardinals, together with the ambassador of Spain, came to exert with the Pope an influence suddenly grown weighty.
As a consequence, Cesare, escorted by Carvajal, Cardinal of Santa Croce, was permitted to depart to Ostia, whence he was to take ship for France. Leastways, such was the understanding upon which he left the Vatican. But the Pope was not minded, even now, to part with him so easily, and his instructions to Carvajal were that at Ostia he should await further orders before sailing.
But on December 26, news reaching the Spanish cardinal that the Romagna fortresses persuaded that Cesare had been liberated had finally surrendered, Carvajal took it upon himself to allow Cesare to depart, upon receiving from him a written undertaking never to bear arms against Pope Julius II.
So the Duke of Valentinois at last regained his freedom. Whether, in repairing straight to Naples, as he did, he put a preconceived plan into execution, or whether, even now, he mistrusted his enlargement, and thought thus to make himself secure, cannot be ascertained. But straight to Gonzalo de Cordoba's Spanish camp he went, equipped with a safe conduct from the Great Captain, obtained for Cesare by Cardinal Remolino.
There he found a court of friends already awaiting him, among whom were his brother Giuffredo and the Cardinal Lodovico Borgia, and he received from Gonzalo a very cordial welcome.
Spain was considering the invasion of Tuscany with the ultimate object of assailing Milan and driving the French out of the peninsula altogether. Piero de' Medici killed at Garigliano had no doubt been serving Spain with some such end in view as the conquest of Florence, and, though Piero was dead, there was no reason why the plan should be abandoned ; rather, all the more reason to carry it forward, since now Spain would more directly profit by it. Bartolo meo d'Alviano was to have commanded the army destined for that campaign ; but Cesare, by virtue of his friends and influence in Pisa, Siena, and Piom bino, was so preferable a captain for such an expedition that Gonzalo gave him charge of it within a few days of his arrival at the Spanish camp.