Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/252

This page needs to be proofread.


bath of Sinigaglia, where he drew the outwitted soldiers into a trap and ordered them strangled, cleared his path once more. The Orsini followed the Colonna down the path of destruction; the subjugation of Tuscany appeared to be only a question of time; the Spanish ma- jority in the College of Cardinals served as an instrument of the House of Borgia; and the Papal states were on the verge of becoming the sec- ular kingdom of their dynasty. Then everything was wrecked by an accident which seems like the closing act of a bad drama; and the splendour of the House of Borgia was destroyed.

Father and son had already done away with many a rich member of the Sacred College by resorting to poison. Cardinal Hadriaa Castellesi was also destined to meet the same fate. They agreed to come to dinner as his guests at his villa on the Janiculum. Poisoned wine, which they had provided, was destined for the lord of the house- hold; but the servants blundered and wine was drunk by all present. For two weeks the Pope fought for his strong life, but all efforts availed naught and he died on August 18, 1503.

Cesare hovered for a long rime between life and death, powerless to master the situation created by the decease of his father. After the pontificate of Pius III, an excellent Pope who unfortunately ruled only a meagre month, the energetic Giuliano Rovere became Pope. Now the head of the House of Borgia had to surrender his dominion over the Romagna. His life, which had known so many victories, came to an inglorious end in Spain during 1507. Lucrezia outlived him by twelve years; and in Ferrara she won for the name of Borgia some association with the milk of human kindness as the wife of the Duke, and as a mother and philanthropist.

Cesare and Lucrezia were personages one can understand, but it is otherwise with Pope Alexander, that formless son of chaos. Many contemporaries regarded him as a Marrane, but his habit of brooding over everything without proving able to reach a conclusion is an argu- ment against his having been of puie Jewish descent. On the other hand his superstitious nature, his intense sensuality and a certain heavy lack of intelligence make it impossible to look upon him as a repre- sentative of the pure Spanish character. But the riddle of his temper- ament is meaningless in comparison with the historical significance of his rule. Never before in the history of the Papacy was the tragedy