Before accusing Valentinois of treachery to his condottieri, before saying that he shifted the blame of the Tuscan affair on to the shoulders of his captains, it would be well to ascertain that there was any blame to shift that is to say, any blame that must originally have fallen upon Cesare. Certainly he made no effort to restrain Vitelli until the King of France had arrived and he had secret information which caused him to deem it politic to intervene. But of what avail until that moment, would any but an armed intervention have been with so vindictive and one idea'd a man, and what manner of fool would not Cesare have been to have spent his strength in battle with his condottieri for the purpose of befriending a people who had never shown themselves other than his own enemies ?
Like the perfect egotist he was, he sat on the fence, and took pleasure in the spectacle of the harassing of his enemies by his friends, prepared to reap any advantages there might be, but equally prepared to avoid any disadvantages.
It was not heroic, it was not noble; but it was extremely human.
Cesare was with the King of France in Genoa at the end of August, and remained in his train until September 2, when finally he took his leave of him. When they heard of his departure from the Court of Louis, his numerous enemies experienced almost as much chagrin as that which had been occasioned them by his going thither. For they had been consoling themselves of late with a fresh rumour ; and again they were believing what it pleased them to believe. Rumours, you perceive, were never wanting where the Borgias were concerned, and it may be that you are beginning to rate these voces populi at their proper value, and to apprehend the worth of many of those that have been embalmed as truths in the abiding records.
This last one had it that Louis was purposely keeping Cesare by him, and intended ultimately to carry him off to France, and so put an end to the disturbances the duke was creating in Italy. What a consolation would not that have been to those Italian princelings to whose undoing he had warred ! And can you marvel that they believed and circulated so readily the thing for which they hoped so fondly ? By your appreciation of that may you measure the fresh disappointment that was theirs.
So mistaken were they, indeed, as it now transpired, that Louis had actually, at last, removed his protection from Bologna, under the persuasion of Cesare and the Pope. Before the duke took his departure from King Louis's Court, the latter entered into a treaty with him in that connection to supply him with three hundred lances : " De bailler au Valentinois trois cents lances pour l'aider a conquerir Bologne au nome de l'Eglise, et opprimer les Ursins, Baillons et Vitelozze."
It was a double dealing age, and Louis's attitude in this affair sorted well with it. Feeling that he owed Bologna some explanation, he presently sent a singularly lame one by Claude de Seyssel. He put it that the Bentivogli personally were none the less under his protection than they had been hitherto, but that the terms of the protection provided that it was granted exclusively of the rights and authority of the Holy Roman See over Bologna, and that the king could not embroil himself with the Pope. With such a shifty message went M. de Seyssel to make it quite clear to Bentivogli what his position was. And on the heels of it came, on September 2, a papal brief citing Bentivogli and his two sons to appear before the Pontiff within fifteen days for the purpose of considering with his Holiness the matter of the pacification and better government of Bologna, which for so many years had been so disorderly and turbulent. Thus the Pope's summons, with a menace that was all too thinly veiled.
But Bentivogli was not taken unawares. He was not even astonished. Ever since Cesare's departure from Rome in the previous spring he had been disposing against such a possibility as this fortifying Bologna, throwing up outworks and erecting bastions beyond the city, and levying and arming men, in all of which he depended largely upon the citizens and particularly upon the art guild, which was devoted to the House of Bentivogli.
Stronger than the affection for their lord which, when all is said, was none too great in Bologna was the deep seated hatred of the clergy entertained by the Bolognese. This it was that rallied to Bentivogli such men as Fileno della Tuate, who actually hated him. But it was a choice of evils with Fileno and many of his kidney. Detesting the ruling house, and indignant at the injustices it practised, they detested the priests still more so much that they would have taken sides with Satan himself against the Pontificals. In this spirit did they carry their swords to Bentivogli.
Upon the nobles Bentivogli could not count less than ever since the cold blooded murder of the Mares cotti; but in the burghers' adherence he deemed himself secure, and indeed on September 17 he had some testimony of it.
On that date the fortnight's grace expiring the brief was again read to the Reggimento; but it was impossible to adopt any resolution. The people were in arms, and, with enormous uproar, protested that they would not allow Giovanni Bentivogli or his sons to go to Rome, lest they should be in danger once they had left their own State.
Italy was full of rumours at the time of Cesare's proposed emprise against Bologna, and it was added that he intended, further, to make himself master of Citta di Castello and Perugia, and thus, by depriving them of their tyrannies, punish Vitelli and Baglioni for their defection.
This was the natural result of the terms of Cesare's treaty with France having become known; but the part of it which regarded the Orsini, Vitelli, and Bag loni was purely provisional. Considering that these condottieri were now at odds with Cesare, they might see fit to consider themselves bound to Bentivogli by the Treaty of Villafontana, signed by Vitelli and Orsini on the duke's behalf at the time of the capitulation of Castel Bolognese. They might choose to disregard the fact that this treaty had already been violated by Bentivogli himself, through the non fulfilment of the terms of it, and refuse to proceed against him upon being so bidden by Valentinois.