By Immanuel Estermann (Eds.)

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There would always be women in his life. It was not an uncommon foible; there was hardly a priest who seriously took his vows regarding celibacy, and it had been said by one of the wits of Rome that if every child came into the world with its father’s clothes on, they would all be dressed as priests or Cardinals. Everyone understood; but Roderigo was perhaps more openly promiscuous than most. Then he had met Vannozza, and he had set her up in a fine house, where now they had their children. Not that he had been faithful to Vannozza; no one would have expected that; but she had remained reigning favorite for many years and he adored their children.

Lucrezia, as soon as she was able to show a preference, should show it for him. He was determined on that. That was why he hung about her crib even more than Giovanni did, putting out his hand to let those little fingers curl about his thumb. “Lucrezia,” he would whisper. “This is Cesare, your brother. ” She would look at him with those wide blue eyes, and he would command: “Laugh, Lucrezia. ” The women would crowd round the crib to watch, for strangely enough Lucrezia invariably obeyed Cesare; and when Giovanni tried to make her laugh for him, Cesare would be behind his brother pulling such demoniacal faces that Lucrezia cried instead.

Uncle Alfonso Borgia (Pope Calixtus III to the world) was Spanish and had been born near Valencia. He had come to Italy with King Alfonso of Aragon when that monarch had ascended the throne of Naples. Spain—that most ambitious Power which was fast dominating the world—was eager to see Spanish influence throughout Italy, and how could this be better achieved than by the election of a Spanish Pope? Uncle Alfonso had the support of Spain when he aspired to the Papacy, and he was victorious in the year 1455.

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