Second Marriage, Second Chance
Cesare did not spend the night with her before his departure, but came to make his farewells and receive her blessing and tell her of his plans in the early morning. “You must move in while I am gone, the staff is nearly full and what the larders do not hold you can obtain from the market—which I know you prefer. When I return, we can spend our first night together in our home, you, me, and our Marco.”
She put her arms around him, holding him tightly, trying to hide her fears from him. There was something she knew which he did not, but she would not tell him until he came home—and hoped that all would be well.
“Goodbye, my love, safe travels, and may the negotiations go smoothly. Does Lucrezia know the ’Infans Romanus” will have to remain in Rome when she goes to Naples?”
“I have not yet told her,” he said gravely, “But it is the custom for children from a previous marriage to not accompany their mother when she re-marries. It would not matter if Giovanni were legitimate or not.” He kissed her hands, and took his leave.
She and Julia were assigned the task of entertaining the couple while they waited for Cesare to return from Naples with the marital contract. For once she was glad to be in mourning, she could take part in entertainments when she wished, but was not required at state functions. She had never had so much time to herself, except for taking care of her Marco, it left her free to be by herself and obligated to no one.
She moved her household to her new villa, finding it seemed almost deathly quiet to the noise and hustle of the Vatican. At first it was hard to adjust to, then she found herself enjoying being her own mistress, and ordering things as she liked. Even the new servants seemed to suit her, and for now they obeyed her with no objections, though she knew that might change. Maybe being the mistress of Cesare Borgia convinced them.
Two days after establishing herself in her new house, Cesare returned. He came to see her immediately following reporting to the Pope. He handed his cloak and hat to a servant, and went into the sitting room and collapsed upon the divan. He commanded that Marco be brought to him and soon one of the nurse’s appeared, holding the infant in her arms.
“God, I am glad that is over,” he said, holding his son high while the baby laughed, “I wonder why Father is even bothering with Naples. France and Spain both claim it, and soon one, hopefully the French, will assert their rule.”
“And your father wants you to marry France! Will that not create problems? If France re-takes control of Naples, what will that do to Lucrezia’s marriage? Cesare, she is in love with Alfonso, for the first time she is marrying for love as well as your father’s ambitions.”
“Nothing is settled yet, my love, her marriage may prove safe. You on the other hand, where will father send you?”
“Nowhere, my mourning is not yet up. And I may prove to be a less than desirable bride.”
“Why is that, my love?” he asked her.
She came to him and placed his hand on her belly, smiling, and the smile told him all.
He handed the baby to his nurse and picked her up and spun her around until she protested. “Are you sure? When is it due?”
“Eight months from now, I should think. I wanted to wait until you returned to tell you. Are you pleased?”
“Oh, little love, how could you even ask that? Yes, I am pleased, perhaps it will be a brother for our little Marco.”
“I am hoping it is a sister, someone who will make an advantageous marriage for the House of Borgia. I am so happy, Cesare, I worry only what the Holy Father will say. You are going to have to recognize her, you know.”
“I will, and you leave Father to me. I will convince him to make a bull and legitimize him or her. Children are a blessing Constanzia, and our little Marco’s health and vigor are proof that we are blessed. I will make a good marriage for you and…”
“Cesare, I don’t want to marry again. I’ve been married twice and both times my husbands died prematurely. Maybe if you find someone who appeals to me, I will live with him and be his mistress, but I will not marry.”
“But now, with my connections to France, I could make an advantageous match for you. Maybe not one of the royal family, but a prestigious one all the same. You are beautiful, can provide a good dowry, and you’ve born healthy children, so an heir would be assured.”
“Cesare, I’ve been married twice, widowed twice. I’d much rather be a mistress and not be tied to a husband. Maybe if I married a French husband and he consented to live in Rome, I might consider it. France is cold and rainy, I’m a Roman girl, a Turkish girl, we live in the sun.”
“But with you in France you could look after my interests. I’d suggest Spain, but soon that will not be an alternative.”
“So, the Holy Father will give his blessing if France wants Milan and Naples?”
“Milan for now, Naples? Perhaps later, but I do not see Spanish influence lasting there for long.”
They sat on her bed and she took his hand. “I wish I weren’t in mourning, then I would go with you, and perhaps seek out a husband myself. Have you or the Holy Father thought about what affect this might have on Lucrezia?”
He patted the hand that held his, then stood up. “She’s a Borgia, my love, as are you. We do as the Holy Father bids us for his sake. Lucrezia knows this, as do you and I. A match with France will provide me with an army, as well as a bride and some badly needed money. I want to rule the Romagna and I cannot conquer it without an army.”
“Then you will have to take my advice, or you will utterly fail. You cannot rely upon the Vatican to give you what you need. What if uncle dies and Della Rovere becomes Pope? He bears this family no great love, neither you nor your father have found favor in his eyes. And he has the French disease, he will grow more unstable and unreliable. You need to court the young lords of the Romagna, convince them that you are the future, if you cannot make them your allies, someday you may lose all you’ve gained.”
This was not what he’d expected to hear. “You truly mean this? You think that once I establish my empire I could lose it? That is not loyal of you, cousin.”
“It is because I am afraid for you and our children. What if the French desert you to pursue their own interests, especially at a time when you need them the most? Kings are fickle, Cesare, we both know this, as are popes. We are at the mercy of fortune, perhaps you will conquer Caterina Sforza, obtain the power you desire, but what if it doesn’t last? What if everyone you’ve counted on deserts you? I am so afraid at times, Cesare, you have no idea. I have these dreams…”
He down next to her, “Shh, you are upsetting yourself. What if none of your fears comes to pass? You are with child, my love, and you are fearful, it is natural. I intend to take the Romagna for us and make it a safe place for our child. We will make him a duke, perhaps even of Forli.”
He drew her close to him, “When I marry, it will provide me with connections I do not now have. I will have an army, I will have cannon and a cavalry well as an infantry. Do not think my plans are not well thought out.”
“Then be careful of the bride you choose. I do not think Carlotta D’Aragona will want you, and a Neapolitan connection may not be in your best interests. I think Naples is doomed to the French, Louis XII has made his intentions clear. We may have to rescue Lucrezia and her husband someday.”
He lifted her chin with his finger, “Are you a witch, my love, that you can foretell the future? Were it anyone but you saying these things to me I do not think I would believe what I am hearing. As it is, you are scaring me a little. Have faith, it will be all right, I will arrange an advantageous marriage for you, maybe to a member of the French royal family. You are not to worry; it is bad for the child. Let us see Lucrezia married, and then wait for what the future will bring.” He kissed her, then gave the baby one last kiss, before she watched his elegant frame slip out the door.
Someday, Cesare, she thought, my words to you will be proved right. When uncle dies they will crush you, and you will lose all you have gained. Where did this come from? Why am I thinking this way? All I know is that I am scared, and he will not listen to me.