Although the proposal was politically sound, it constituted at the same time an act of flagrant nepotism. But let us bear in mind that Alexander did not lack a precedent for this particular act. When Louis XI had surrendered Valentinois to Sixtus IV, this Pope had bestowed it upon his nephew Girolamo, thereby vitiating any claim that the Holy See might subsequently have upon the territory. We judge it under the circumstances that Louis XI had surrendered it to the Church to be a far more flagrant piece of nepotism than was Alexander's now.
Louis XII, nothing behind the Pope in opportunism, saw in the concession asked of him the chance of acquiring Alexander's good will. He consented, accompanying his consent by a request for a cardinal's hat for Georges d'Amboise, Bishop of Rouen, who had been his devoted friend in less prosperous times, and the sharer of his misfortunes under the previous reign, and was now his chief counsellor and minister. In addition he besought dependent, of course, upon the granting of the solicited divorce a dispensation to marry Anne of Brittany, the beautiful widow of Charles VIII. This was Louis's way of raising the price, as it were, of the concession and services asked of him ; yet, that there might be no semblance of bargaining, his consent to Cesare's being created Duke of Valentinois was simultaneous with his request for further favours.
With the Royal Patents conferring that duchy upon the Pope's son, Louis de Villeneuve reached Rome on August 7, 1498. On the same day the young cardinal came before the Sacred College, assembled in Consistory, to crave permission to doff the purple.
After the act of adoration of the Pope's Holiness, he humbly submitted to his brother cardinals that his inclinations had ever been in opposition to his embracing the ecclesiastical dignity, and that, if he had entered upon it at all, this had been solely at the instances of his Holiness, just as he had persevered in it to gratify him; but that, his inclinations and desires for the secular estate persisting, he implored the Holy Father, of his clemency, to permit him to put off his habit and ecclesiastical rank, to restore his hat and benefices to the Church, and to grant him dispensation to return to the world and be free to contract marriage. And he prayed the very reverend cardinals to use their good offices on his behalf, adding to his own their intercessions to the Pope's Holiness to accord him the grace he sought.
The cardinals relegated the decision of the matter to the Pope. Cardinal Ximenes alone as the representative of Spain stood out against the granting of the solicited dispensation, and threw obstacles in the way of it. In this, no doubt, he obeyed his instructions from Ferdinand and Isabella, who saw to the bottom of the intrigue with France that was toward, and of the alliance that impended between Louis XII and the Holy See an alliance not at all to the interests of Spain.
The Pope made a speedy rout of the cardinal's objections with the most apostolic and irresistible of all weapons. He pointed out that it was not for him to hinder the Cardinal of Valencia's renunciation of the purple, since that renunciation was clearly become necessary for the salvation of his soul " Pro salutae animae suae " to which, of course, Ximenes had no answer.
But, with the object of conciliating Spain, this ever politic Pope indicated that, if Cesare was about to become a prince of France, his many ecclesiastical benefices, yielding some 35,000 gold florins yearly, being mostly in Spain, would be bestowed upon Spanish churchmen, and he further begged Ximenes to remember that he already had a " nephew " at the Court of Spain in the person of the heir of Gandia, whom he particularly commended to the favour of Ferdinand and Isabella.
Thus was Cesare Borgia's petition granted, and his return to the world accomplished. And, by a strange chance of homonymy, his title remained unchanged despite his change of estate. The Cardinal of Valencia, in Spain, became the Duke of Valence or Valentinois in France and in Italy Valentino remained Valentino.