Prince of Foxes (1949) Script

This Alfonso d'Este, do they say how big he is?

Yes. They say he's over six feet tall. A giant of a man.

A respectful silence is the least you can offer your dead husband.

Would you say the dead man made a reluctant corpse?

A loose tongue soon loses its mouth, Captain Orsini.

A wise tongue never needs to repeat itself, Don Esteban... nor does a competent assassin.

Duke Cesare.

We have suffered a most tragic loss.

My dear sister Lucrezia's broken with grief.

The court will observe a proper period of mourning.

How long, de Lorqua? One year, my lord Cesare.

One month.

The dead must not place too great a burden on the living.

It's my belief that everything, even death, can be turned into profit.

Our armies hold Pesaro, Rimini, Forlì.

We're on the road to Urbino, Bologna, Siena.

All Tuscany, the center of Italy from coast to coast will be ours.

Then inevitably, Milan... and Venice.

But this devil-begotten Ferrara stands blocking our progress.

You, Gravina, you're the military genius.

- How would you take it? Perhaps with 10,000 troops.

Or a woman.

We will walk into Ferrara through a bedroom.

By arranging a marriage between my recently widowed sister Lucrezia... and, uh, Alfonso, the servant of Duke d'Este.

Your Lordship knows that Duke d'Este is negotiating such a marriage with the French king.

Alfonso's a blacksmith. He needs a lusty woman... not one of those frail, French birds.

And who will convey this delicate information?


Who but a man as quick at deceit as a fox.

He must have the grace of a dancer, the wrist of an assassin.

He must have little regard for good faith.

Yet by his astuteness, be able to confuse men's minds.

He must have confidence in himself.'... yet not permit that confidence to render him incautious.

He must charm as a snake charms a bird... yet he must make no friends... except those that can be of use to him.

And for the same reason, although we make use of love... he must not love.

You may go now, all of you, except...

Andrea Orsini.

You question me?

Then go!

You're pleased with my choice?

I have never questioned Your Lordship's judgment.

Don Esteban was annoyed. Don Esteban is easily annoyed.

Don't underestimate him, Andrea.

Remember, that in this race for glory... he's always just behind you ready to pass you if you should lose a single step.

I have learned that if my wits are quick, my feet will be quick enough.

You've learned something else today?

Why your sister's husband was sent to another world.

One life is little enough to pay for all Ferrara.

So long as it's not mine.


You are a complete rogue.

I need someone that can follow my mind... who can keep his eyes fixed on the ultimate goal— one Italy... one kingdom, one king— Cesare Borgia.

Think of it— chief minister to a great new kingdom.

What prize on earth could equal it?

But the great know only one law— the outcome justifies the act.

Have you the stomach for greatness?

The stomach and the appetite.

Then bring me Alfonso d'Este's promise to marry Lucrezia... and I'll be certain of it.

Your Lordship will find me a most efficient Cupid.

Try some of your shafts on my cousin, Angela.

She's waiting for you.


That way.

De Lorqua.

Captain Orsini leaves tomorrow for Ferrara.

He travels by way of Venice. Arrange the necessary passage.

Yes, Duke Cesare.


Oh, Angela, my love. I've been commissioned to leave immediately for Ferrara.

Yes, I know.

It will take you away from me, and yet you are pleased.

Only because the reward is great.

Oh, I love you. I love you, Andrea.

But I don't trust you.

You're too ambitious.

If I'm ambitious, it's only to make myself worthy of your love.

For without your love, I'm nothing.

What do you think of that?

Good. Very good.

It's not signed. Did you paint it?

Would it be any better if it were signed Leonardo da Vinci?

It would be worth more. Never mind.

It's not for sale. I need it in my business.


what do you think of this?

Ah. A gem! A rare gem!

It's not signed either. It doesn't need to be.

Will you sell it?

I might.

I will, uh, risk, uh, 50 ducats.

I risked my life.

Let Cesare Borgia pay for that. He does, in opportunities.

How I die is his problem. How I live is my own.

Uh, 60. I'm a poor man on an expensive mission.

Seventy-five, and that's my last offer.

My lowest price is 100 ducats, and only out of love for you.

Ninety. It's worth more than that to me.

I'll buy your painting.

Madonna Camilla. What an honor!

What a delight. Your Signora drops like an ángel from heaven.

To find you bargaining like a fishwife.

Not for myself, but for a client.

Oh, then it's worth the price?

No doubt, if beauty has a price.

Will you let me have this for 100 ducats?


Accept it as a tribute to your own beauty.

You mean that you'll give me this beautiful thing?

If Your Highness would honor me.

Well, did you hear that? And he doesn't even know me.

You have greatness of soul, Messer.

I will hang it in a place of honor in my own bedroom... where it will always recall your generosity to me and to my good husband.

Well, Messer, have you nothing appropriate to say?

Forgive my silence. I— I was just thinking... with envy and admiration of your husband.

I was also deploring the fact that while Your Highness has a memento of our meeting...

I have nothing.

You're not hinting for a gift in return?

"Hinting" is hardly the word for it.

But I—


I will keep this as a saint's relic... in memory of the divine hand that wore it.

Master da Pavia, isn't it time you presented this gentleman?

Magnifico Andrea Orsini, captain to His Excellency, Duke Cesare Borgia.

Oh, then I know your kinsman.

- The cardinal, the duke of Gravina. Distant kinsman.

My family is of Naples.

My great uncle was Raimondo Orsini, count of Nola.

Oh, indeed. Now, will you please present me?

I have the honor to present Camilla degli Baglioni... wife of His Excellency, Marc Antonio Verano...

Iord of Città del Monte.

Who is very pleased to have exchanged souvenirs with you.

Would you do my husband and me the honor of waiting on us?

Well, unfortunately, I leave for Ferrara.

You go alone?

Armed with an olive branch.

A pleasant journey, Messer Orsini. Madame. Messer.

How long have you known this gentleman?

Oh, three years about.

What do you make of him?

A soldier who knows art... an Orsini unrelated to the Orsini... a servant of the Borgias going alone to Borgia's enemies.

He has too many faces.

I find him interesting.

I hope you may not find him dangerous, Madonna. He drives a hard bargain.


Don't be a fool! Don't be a fool! Fool to kill you?

If you kill me, you'll never know why I attacked you.

Get up.

On your feet.

Walk in front of me toward the light.

Ah, a face like yours shouldn't be hidden in the dark.

It's beautiful. It's been called everything but that.

Oh, only by the unartistic.

Oh, there's— there's design in your face.

A hundred twisted curves and angles... tortured into a pattern of exquisite evil.

And you have beautiful and artistic hands.

That face, those hands, your voice and manner of speaking.

You are, of course, of gentle birth.

What does my birth got to do with you?

I like to know something about the people I deal with.

Why rake over the past of a hired assassin?

Because it may determine our future.

Now tell me, who employed you to assassinate me?

I never sell my wares until I know the price. How much is your life worth?

Why? - 'Cause that's all I promise to pay.

Now you're unarmed and I'm not squeamish.

Besides, you deserve to die.

Well, I'm, uh— I'm waiting for a fresh topic of conversation.

Did I hear you say Duke d'Este paid you to draw my blood?

In advance. How much?

You were expensive. They paid without bargaining?

Yes. You're distinctly not wanted in Ferrara.

Do you know why?

I never cut a throat without knowing whose it is or why I'm cutting it.

The mere idea of a marriage between Alfonso d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia... blisters their pride.

The lady's had too public a life.

Well, having lost you one employment, I should find you another.

Your game?

It amuses me to think of entering Ferrara... the master of the man who was hired to kill me.

Such insolence is stimulating. But have you thought of what will happen to me?

The same thing that'll happen to me. We live or die together. And I intend to live.

I'll bear your service while the bond lasts, and warn you when I'm quitting.

Fair enough.

Let's to bed. We leave in the early morning for Ferrara.

There's a fine inn at Crespino with a beautiful kitchen.

Would Your Lordship wish to spend the night there?

No. That's a prosperous looking farm.

Why shouldn't it be?

That's the widow Zoppo's farm.

Why do you turn down your nose at it?

Ah, to answer that would be really a story.

There was the father, a blacksmith... and his good wife, Mona Maria.

They had a son who was more than bright.

So, the poor, foolish parents saved their money... to send him to Padua to study with the great masters.

Some six years ago, he disappeared.

The next we heard, he had become a bandit down south in the Regno.

- The father's dead, huh? - Yes, almost two years. They say from a broken heart.

The old lady lives alone?

Yes, and keeps her thoughts to herself.

Only the old woman and God know how much gold she has hid away.

Every ducat of it stolen by her bandit son.

Where does she hide her gold?

Who knows where an old woman hides her gold?

In pots buried in the earth... in sugar bowls, under her bed, in her skirts.

Women can find always places to confound a man.

They spend their lives confounding us.

We'll stop tonight at Crespino.

Yes, Your Excellency.

Who is it? What do you want?

Keep out of my house!

Andrea. Oh, Mammina.

My boy!

My boy, my boy, my boy.

Thank God you've come home to me.

Let me look at you. Let me— My goodness, just like a gentleman... with a sword... and real fur on his collar and a red hat.

So beautiful.

No, you're the one who's beautiful. You haven't changed a bit.

No, thanks to you.

For six years I worry and wait and wait.

Mammina, you're not going to waste our precious time scolding me.

How soon must you go? Sunrise.

Oh, Furio. Stop it!

Someone outside? Oh, no. Rabbits, mice, cats.

A widow's dog never rests.

I know, Mammina. He had great hopes for you.

If only he could have waited. I do well now, I assure you.

Quiet, Furio! Stop it.

Come, sit down.

Do all painters wear swords and red hats?

I live by a different art now.

Yes. People call me the mother of a bandit.

Perhaps they're right.

But at least no common bandit. I work for one who dreams of stealing all Italy.

His name is Cesare Borgia.

You devil. Why didn't you tell me that before?

Because you would have taken the money I sent you and come to Rome to see me.

Are you ashamed of your mother? No, but you'd never have found me.

Why not? Well, I have another name now.


Names are important, Mammina, to open certain doors.

The one I took belongs to the dead branch of a famous family.

What name?

I can't tell you that yet. But it's brought me good luck.

I am at home in many great palaces.

There's a title in the offing... a great marriage, the founding of a princely house.

What do you say to that?

When you, my son, Andrea Zoppo, painted this Madonna... you were depending on yourself and the light God gave you.

Now, to be a grand signore, you depend on sham and trickery.

Oh, Mammina, you don't understand.

Times have changed. A new world is being born.

Sham and trickery are only weapons of policy.

We live or die, succeed or fail, by only one law:

The end justifies the means.

Holy Mother of God, forgive him this blasphemy. - Mammina Stop him from following this sinful path, even if you must wither his legs—

- Mammina. Or blind his eyes.

Stop it! Stop it! Stop him even if you must— Stop that idiotic nonsense, or I swear I'll never come here again.

Nor do I want you to come back... unless it be as my true son, Andrea Zoppo.

And I suppose you'll reject the money I send you too.

I don't want your money.

Forgive my son, Blessed Mother.

Note the reinforcing of the breach.

My lord father, I have offset the softness of the bronze.

Your Grace.

One Messer Mario Belli requests an audience with Your Lordship.

Bring him here.

Dismiss these men.

Return to the foundry. Go.

Go on back, all of you. And you, Roberto.

This is a rare assassin.

You bring me news?

Come closer.

Who is the man you bring with you?

It, uh— It's a long story, my lord.

Then as to your mission, answer a simple yes or no.

I have the honor to present to Your Excellencies... the lord Andrea Orsini.

I am honored to be in the presence of Your Excell— Guards, arrest this man!

You—You will hang by the heels for this!

I beg Your Lordship not to be offended by Messer Belli's regrettable failure.

You are impudent, sir! Shall we say "tolerant"?

You will not live to return to your master.

One must be practical about these things, Your Grace.

My lord Cesare's forces, 600 lancers, 10,000 foot... are even now within striking distance of your peaceful duchy.

This is hardly the time for one to murder his emissary... even if he had thought it necessary to send one... for other than the most affectionate of reasons.

My lord father, this Messer Orsini has a rare spirit.

Then you enjoy it!

You are not welcome here, Messer Orsini.

I advise you to leave as quickly as possible.

Guards, back to your posts.

As for you— Messer Belli comes with me... and is also under the protection of Cesare Borgia.

Do not try my patience too far.

It's always best to do as my lord father commands.

I beg a moment, my lord.

I have long looked forward to this meeting. Why?

As a soldier to bow before Your Lordship's genius.

Your Grace is a man of fame.

The whole world waits with anxious wonder for your next invention.

From highest castle to humblest hut, the question is ever the same:

What new type of cannon will the genius Alfonso d'Este next devise?

Why? Because upon cannon depends the future of war.

And upon war depends the future ofhistory.

Who then can deny that history may well nominate Alfonso d'Este... as the greatest man ofhis age?

You're a man of intelligence.

I'll show you something that'll make your blood run cold.

Then I'll show you something that'll make yours run hot.

Who builds this first may well own the world.

Each of those tubes, a gun.

In each gun, a shot.

All to be sent against the enemy in rapid fire.

It is absolutely irresistible.

One hundred thousand ducats, and that's not all.

There's steel as well as gold in this dowry— the lances of Duke Cesare— enough to protect the rights of Ferrara against any state.

But the supreme dowry is herself.

Her beauty and the love she bears Your Excellence.

What love? She's only seen me once... and then she was little more than an infant.

Childhood impressions are the most lasting... especially when they are fed to maturity by constant curiosity.

You are her first and only love.

I, um— I risk my life when I tell you this.

But it was she who said to me one day, and I quote...

"It might very well be that Alfonso d'Este with his brilliant mind... fits the role of Italy's supreme ruler better than my brother Cesare."

One stroke of the pen, my lord... and you have brought glory to Ferrara and joy to your bed.

Two hundred thousand.

Amend the document and sign, my lord.

And I'll wager that your noble father is as unable to resist that heroic figure... as the beautiful Lucrezia is unable to resist yours.

I am very, very pleased with myself, Andrea.

I'm a man of extraordinarily fine judgment.

Shall I tell you how I know this?

Because I chose you to go to Ferrara.

And you did well— remarkably well.

I congratulate myself.

This new problem... it will be more profitable for you and more amusing.

What you win is yours, subject to my control, of course.

And it includes a rare jewel.

My lord. My garden is filled with beautiful women... and you stand here like a brooding nemesis.

I was thinking. Good. Practice makes perfect.

You should listen though. You might learn something. Come along.

The obvious is always a deceitful temptation in the world of practical affairs.

For example, the obvious solution to the problems I am about to present to you... might be an assassin's blade... in the back of that gentle old man.

As a matter of fact, your good friend Don Esteban has already suggested it.

Then I question its wisdom. Oh, it has value... except that it's premature.

Now, there's thejewel.

Imagine all that beauty wasted on a husband old enough to be her grandfather.

That one? - Mm-hmm.

Spring in the lap of winter.

But you're the man to correct that.

However, you will have to climb high to get to her.

Their duchy is an eagle's nest sitting atop a mountain.

Città del Monte. Is there anything about which you're uninformed?

Your plans for Città del Monte. Very simple.

I want it by next spring.

Your Lordship plans to invade the Marches in the summer.

You see, Captain, what a quick mind he has?

Now, where do we start our conquest of Città del Monte, hmm?

The husband. An old wall is more easily breached.

Our illustrious hostess designated the noble Messer Orsini... to be our guide and mentor while we're in Rome.

From what I know of the noble Messer Orsini... there should be no one more competent to guard us from evil than he.

You've met before, Madonna?

Have we, Messer Orsini?

An unfair question, Madonna.

I could play the gallant and answer...

"Yes, a thousand times, each time I've looked on beauty."

Or I could be cautious and sly and say that...

"Madonna's memory will guide my answer."

You would not be easy to forget.

A man's ego demands that he be completely remembered if ever met.

Therefore, in self-defense, I must assume...

Madonna means that we have never met.

There you have a perfect illustration of the language of diplomacy.

If somebody asked me now if these two have ever met... and I assure you, I couldn't answer yes or no.

Does it really matter, my lord husband? Of course not.

Begging Messer Orsini's pardon... one meets and forgets thousands of people in the course of a lifetime.

It is my pleasure as well as my duty... to make our association in Rome a memorable one.

We came to Rome for our souls' sake and in God's keeping... and we ask for no better protection.

Nevertheless, it is gratifying to know that we have Your Excellency's protection as well... if only against those who think themselves beyond God's will.

But there's been no link between us to create friendship and trust.

We must correct that. We must exchange ambassadors.

Well— It's the only solution.

I will appoint an ambassador before Your Lordship leaves Rome.

As a matter of fact, I appoint him now— Messer Andrea Orsini... one of the most amiable of all my young men.

We shall welcome you to our court as a friend, Messer Orsini.

I am dedicated to Your Signore's service from this moment on.

The journey has been fatiguing.

May we have Your Lordship's permission to retire?

The problem suits you? Uniquely.

It will not be easy, eh?

I will deliver to Your Magnificence Città del Monte... and the loyalty of its people by spring.

To be taken by romantic conquest.

We Borgias are not sentimentalists.

First, Città del Monte, then your marriage.

With Madonna Camilla somewhere in between.

We'll worry about her when the time comes.

You promised we would be married on his return from Ferrara.

Marriage is a formality which can be accomplished at any time.

Problems of state come first.

Is this agreeable to you? My lord commands. I obey.

I'll reason with her. Once you've made the old man's wife love you... it ought not to be too difficult for your ensign, Belli, to make a widow of her.

I'm told he's quite a subtle rascal.

Messer Andrea. Your Excellency.

Women are the gauge of a man's weakness.

You are an artist, Belli. You have the touch of the courtier.

The breeding of a gentleman. You were born for great enterprise.

Why— Sit, my friend.

You—You overrate me a thousandfold, my lord.

Nor could you have allied yourself with a more promising patron... than Captain Orsini.

He's a brilliant young man. But the flesh is proverbially weak.

Vicissitudes occur. It's always well to take precautions.

Thus, if the noble Orsini remains faithful to my service... you will continue to serve me by serving him.

But... if, God forbid, he should...

waver... for any reason...

you will continue to serve me.

There you are— 200 ducats.

Your Graciousness has made me wealthy beyond my most impossible dreams.

Hmm. Have no illusions about my generosity.

Knowledge is always a good investment.

I also know when I have made a bad bargain.

Good night.

I would like to say a few words.

Captain Orsini comes to us as Cesare Borgia's ambassador.

That is good. Perhaps the duke will learn through his ambassador... that if we prosper, it is because we live in peace.

And that if we enjoy peace... it is because we want only friendship and understanding... of our neighbors and of each other.

I depend on you all to help Captain Orsini... to send this message to his illustrious master...

Captain the lord Orsini.

My lord Verano. Signori.

I am a professional soldier.

If you should see me climbing your walls, know that I am studying your defenses.

But know also that I was not sent here for that.

My wise and illustrious master, Duke Cesare... has already told me that your defenses are impregnable.

He has also told me that one citizen of Città del Monte... is worth 500 mercenaries.

In his wisdom, Duke Cesare has identified your strength... as loyalty.

I am here to spy on that loyalty... to learn for him the secret of how it works.

I am already learning. Please help me to learn more.


We must talk alone. Lady Beatrice will fetch you later.

Madonna Camilla is in the chapel. Will you please wait here?

Yes. Thank you.

I know that Borgia sent you here for some evil purpose.

I've asked you here to give you warning.

My husband is— Your husband again?

If any harm should come to my husband through you...

I will hate you until the death.

I promise you, I know how to hate.

Or love, the twin of hate?

Do not betray his hospitality.

There will be peace between us, so long as you act peaceably.

So you've found our chapel. Lovely, isn't it?

I come here every night.

It makes my sleep more peaceful.

Sometimes I end by wishing that old age were slower in coming.

If old age brings wisdom such as yours, my lord, it comes too slowly to suit me.

You find my wife attractive, don't you?

Only with the deepest respect, Signore.

Words! I regret that Your Lordship thinks ill of me.

I think ill of no one. Your Lordship is tolerant.

I am tolerant of nothing that might affect Madonna's honor.

But the certainty I have of her excludes jealousy, suspicion and such claptrap.

Mind you, she's a Baglioni. Her blood's hot enough.

She's as capable of going to the devil as any other of her house.

But I'm certain of this. If she does go, she won't sneak about it.

She'll tell me first.

That's my certainty and my pride.

No, I don't think ill of you.

I've lived 70 years, and I know that in spite of the poets... youth is not the happiest season.

I'll not detain you longer. Incidentally, I'll return this to her.

I can hardly wait till spring to see what they look like.

Each year we tolerate winter... because it brings us the new flowers of spring.


Will you excuse me, my dear?

Give me a thousand men and enough food and ammunition...

I could hold this place until the enemy either starved to death or died of old age.

But the way it's left unguarded now.

Good morning, my lord.

Good morning.

Of all Città del Monte, this is my favorite place.

Whenever I'm troubled, whenever I need to work out a difficult problem...

I come here, and always I find the solution.

It's frightening. A loose pebble, a gust of wind and— Are you afraid of death?

Well, I can't say that I have any great affection for it.

Look below you, my friend.

For 70 years, I've watched the seasons change.

I've seen the vibrant life of summer, the brilliant death of fall... the silent grave of winter.

And then, I've seen the resurrection of spring the glorious birth of new life.

And my father and my father's father have seen it before me.

Nothing ever dies, my friend.

You don't believe that, do you?

I don't have your wisdom, my lord.

I believe that I was born and that I must die... and that I must make the best of what lies between the two extremes.

My lord, the gardeners have finished and are waiting for further instructions.

No need for you to run uphill to tell me that.

We haven't much time before winter sets in. Won't you come along now?

Excuse me.

Perfect. Absolutely heaven-sent.

Whenever we wish, we give the old man a problem to think out.

He comes up here and—

I thought a courtier and cavalier left daubing with paint to the craftsmen.

Your lord husband finds pleasure in work one usually leaves for gardeners.

His roses are the most beautiful in Italy.

It's not for me to say the same for my painting.

You have a certain skill.

Fair for an amateur.

I try, Madonna. I try.

One can do no more.

You've missed none of the evil in his face.

Judas Iscariot was evil.

I imagine you find painting beauty more difficult.

I paint what I see and feel, Madonna.

If one is beautiful inside as well as out... my brush can neither take from nor add to that beauty.

Actually, it's quite good.

Are you as good with women?

I have been very successful with women.

Perhaps— When you have finished this... perhaps you would do some of my ladies.

That is, if you have nothing else to do.

Perhaps Madonna herself.


I will need to ask my lord husband.

Ah, come in, come in, Messer Orsini.

Thank you for coming. Your Lordship is ill?

Hibernating, my friend. Hibernating.

Let those who will play winter games.

I'm for enjoying the snow by reading a book in a warm room.

And you, I'm told, pass the time in painting.

Daubing's a better name for it.

Come closer. Do sit down, please.

Why do you paint?

Helps to pass the time. Do you love it?

I can't say that I love it. It amuses me.

Are you afraid of the word "love"?

No, I'm not afraid of it, my lord. It's just that I— I have no use for it.

And yet you dream of ruling men and nations. My lord presumes.

A prerogative of age.

But don't misunderstand me. I'm no sentimentalist about love.

I'm not even as romantic about it as I used to be.

But I believe one cannot understand anything properly... until one has learned to love it.

It's true of my roses and it's true of people.

I'm afraid I haven't sufficient knowledge to debate the subject.

You're lying.

Your Lordship speaks carelessly.

You're lying, not to me, but to yourself.

There is something that you love... something beyond... this deceitful and murderous game you're playing now.

It is better if I assume Your Lordship is ill.

With Your Lordship's permission.


While you're brooding over my delirious ravings...

I'd appreciate it if you'd do a portrait of my wife.

She tells me you have an extraordinary understanding... of the art of painting and a great talent for it.

She's too kind.

But there is news, Magnifico!

Cesare moves on Capua, blood flows again in Faenza...

Naples trembles and Florence sounds with alarms.

All sure signs of spring.

Does no one notice the return of the birds or the budding of fruit trees?

Your Lordship speaks as one afflicted with lovesickness.

A woman's ailment, eh, Belli?

Unworthy of men... and certain death for politicians.

I'll see you later.

When may I look?

You sat patiently for so many months, Madonna. Have you no more patience?

A woman's entitled to a reasonable curiosity.

How do I know but what you've made me ugly as a witch?

Then my brush would lie.

Why should I expect the truth?

The portrait is finished, Madonna.

Do I look like that?

As I see you.

And I thought you were only a maker of compliments... a lord of ambitions and dark schemes.

And now, in my own portrait, I see something else.

There's a great artist in you, Messer Orsini.

I have much to learn.

You speak now with humility.

What's happened to all your quick, easy words?

Everything I know is stale. I— I must find a new language to fit new definitions. Please don't say anything.

Your portrait, Madonna.

What is troubling you?

The change of season.

Spring is here.

And what was planted in the winter must soon begin to grow.

Well, there's no question about it. Spring is here.

It appears that Cesare Borgia... has decided to launch an attack against Camerino.

I am required to afford passage for his troops... and to levy a thousand men for his service.

He assumes that I shall welcome this opportunity of showing my devotion to him.

I must think about this.

It concerns others besides myself.

Show the captain to his quarters. Yes, my lord.

I hope you will be comfortable.

The vacation is over, eh, Orsini?

We'll see now which is more effective— pretty words or a sharp blade.

If Your Lordship will please follow me...

I'll show you to your quarters.

Magnifico, soon you'll have everything— wealth, position, fame, even love, greatness too.

You've sweated for this how many years?

All my life it seems.

And now only one last hurdle— a small one at that.

Speak up, Magnifico. Give me your orders.

Could you kill that old man?

Consider it done.


Signori, my course is plain.

Honor as well as duty... forbids me to give aid to this Cesare Borgia... a man I consider evil, false and perjured.

Therefore, I shall refuse to assist him in this matter.

However, I have no right to condemn you... and your families to the miseries of war.

You must decide for yourselves which you value more— liberty or life.

I shall accept your choice.

Your Excellency, you speak of liberty or life.

Life is cheap to Cesare Borgia.

To us, it is the most we have to give.

Is it living to be a slave?

Are not life and liberty one and the same?

I say it is! We will not have it said... that while others defied the power of Cesare Borgia... we meekly fixed his yoke on our necks.

Come to your senses.

You're throwing away fortune, success, life itself... for the sake of moonshine sentiments... that no enlightened man would take seriously.

Do you consider yourself an enlightened man, Belli?

Enough to know there's no profit in fighting lost causes.

I'm not so sure about that.

I am! - And if it be suicide I give you notice now I'm withdrawing from your service.

You've betrayed not only Cesare Borgia, but me.

I'll not forget that. - And to all those people, let them Nor will you forget what you have seen here at Città del Monte.

... who chose death to slavery.

Let them say we who lived in honor... knew also how to die in honor.

I offer one more sword against Cesare Borgia.

Bravo! Bravo!

We must strip the farms of everything edible.

We'll need all the food we can get to withstand a long siege.

And Borgia's troops won't be able to live off the land. We'll not have time.

We'll make what time we can. I know Borgia's technique.

First he'll send mounted troops. Artillery will follow.

If Your Lordship agrees, we won't wait for him to attack the city.

We are not strong enough to meet Borgia's army in open battle.

But, my lord, does the wolf charge headlong at the bull?

No. He waits his chance, and then rushes in from the side to escape the long, sharp horns.

And he strikes at the weakest part— always the weakest part.

Wear this, my lord husband.

My love and my prayers for your safety.

My lord Orsini... this talisman for you, with my gratitude.

Thank you, Madonna.

I once had a friend— he was a saint in honor and justice... and he passed those virtues on to his only child.

When he died, she needed a refuge from the enemies of her family.

I married her to assure her that refuge.

He was my friend, and I made her my daughter.

And as I tend the beauty of my roses... so I must always care for the beauty and the happiness of her soul.

They're coming into the wood.

They're coming into the clearing.

We're ready for your orders, Your Lordship.


We did it! We did it!

After them! Follow them into the woods!

Cut them from behind! After them!


How is it with the battle, Andrea?

We've thrown them back to Fabriano.

The dogs should be straightly followed.

Give them no pause, Andrea.

We're on their heels, Excellence. Good.

Am I alone?

No, my lord.

I'm here with Messer Andrea, your good friend.

Give me your hand, Andrea.

You've both been true to me.

I have understood.

Now be true to each other... and— and the people— always the people.

Direct your cannon fire closer to the wall.

The hot oil! The hot oil!

Hot oil! Hot oil!

Madonna, we have held out for three months.

Now we've come to the end.

The people are dying of pestilence and starvation.

One more assault and we're done.

It remains only to provide measures for your safety.

What measures? There's a secret exit from the city.

While Borgia's men pillage, you'll escape into the open... then on to Perugia, Venice or wherever you wish.

I marvel at you, Andrea.

No doubt. A sad rogue.

I marvel that you think so badly of me.

I could not sneak off and beg for refuge while you and my people die.

Heroism is a shallow thing, Madonna, if it isn't rooted in wisdom.

I don't intend to be wise.

I can only be what I am.

Then I ask you to leave for my sake.

How can my leaving... serve you?

The book is closing for me, Madonna.

I have failed in all points— in art, in politics, in war.

But if you are safe, I'll know at the very end... that my life was to some purpose.

It's been strange...

our road together...

and yet not together.

Please go.

- Captain Orsini. What is it, Fabio?

There are three Borgia men under a flag of truce at the city gates.

Do you know what they want? Did they say what they want?

Yes, sir. They say a parley.

A parley? Mattia, escort them to the council hall.

Yes, sir. Fabio, call all our men into the square.

Let it be swarming with soldiers. And leave the walls undefended?

Never mind. They must judge our strength by what they see.

Hurry! Yes, sir.

If haggling's their game, our road may be longer than we thought.

Always the fox.

With a few tricks left.

Come, Madonna. You must change your gown.

Wear your prettiest dress. Hurry.

As commanding officer of the benevolent Duke Cesare Borgia's forces engaged before your city...

I am authorized by His Excellence... to make certain proposals to Your Illustrious Signore... that he believes you will find to your advantage.

Does our fierce resistance force him to offer... what he had not first intended? - Hold your tongue, madame!

Watch your words, Esteban! Captain Orsini.

We cannot deny that the duke offers these terms... as a tribute to Your Excellency's courage.

It would be a shame to Italian chivalry should harm come to you.

A thousand thanks, Signore.

Proceed with the terms.

First, in return for the surrender of your city... my lord duke engages to restrain his soldiers from looting... and take no vengeance on the people.

What security does he offer? His illustrious word.

The next? Second... my lord duke engages to permit the noble Madonna Camilla to remain here... provided that only a captain appointed by the duke... shall command the garrison and assist her in the government.

And the next?

Third, these terms shall be considered null and void... unless the traitor calling himself Andrea Orsini... be delivered alive into the hands of Duke Cesare's officers... to be dealt with as His Excellence may determine.

Go back to your duke with my answer.

Tell him...

I will set torches to the city... rather than accept the conditions he offers.

Madonna Camilla, I beg you to recons— I have spoken.

Your ladyship's refusal does credit to your courage.

But for this, many will suffer and die and this good city be laid waste.

How long do these terms stand?

Until tomorrow. Sunrise. Madame... understand the Duke Cesare will permit me to make no compromise regarding this gentleman.

I ask nothing... from your illustrious assassin... except that he withdraw... and leave us in peace.

I shall convey your answer exactly as you have phrased it.


Well, so much for that.

We'll renew the defense. It will be our last.

I'm not afraid.

Captain Esteban!

Enter, Baglioni.

I bring Your Lordship a prisoner.

A good haul, Baglioni. A very good haul.

I ask to be taken to Duke Cesare Borgia.

By his orders, I sit in his seat.

Well, sit lightly, my friend, lest you damage your brains.

You've a good tongue for cutting.

Since I'm not one for recriminations, Messer Andrea...

I'll not review the history of your treason.

There is only the matter of a fitting punishment.

What's the difference, since to all intents and purposes, I'm dead already?

A reasonable deduction.

And yet, like so many dead ones, I can still influence the living.

You've surrendered, yet you intimate terms. Only one.

That you honestly fulfill those you have already offered.

What if I take your life now and do as I please about the terms?

You will conquer a dead city.

Every building will be razed by fire.

Every man, woman and child will be a corpse.

There will be even less glory than loot.

I will fulfill the terms.

Put your promises in writing. My word— Is not good enough to convince the noble Madonna Camilla... who, unfortunately, does not know you as well as I.

It will be in writing.


Write this.

I, Don Esteban Ramirez... in the name of Cesare Borgia, Duke Valentino and duke of Romagna... in exchange for the immediate surrender of Città del Monte...

- promise faithfully- And on my honor.

And on my honor to fulfill the following obligations.

Madonna Camilla...

I come from Rome, not as a conqueror... but as one who would create a bond of affection between us.

Is there something I can do to accomplish this?

I ask only one thing... but you would not grant it.

Ask and find out.

Grant the lord Orsini life and freedom.

I will obey your least wish and thank you with every breath.

This is most touching.

No, no, Madonna Camilla.

You must not kneel.

Such love is indeed rare, and I respect it.

What you ask is not impossible.

All will come right in the end.

I promise... you'll be surprised.

Your Signora's not eating.

I have no taste for food.

I promised to consider the case of the noble Orsini.

Since it concerns him, should we not invite him to table?

I haven't words to thank Your Grace for this mercy.

Don't— Don't speak of it. Esteban!

Enough of this.

Get out!

Guard, bring in the Messer Orsini.

There he is.

What do you think of him?

Look at him, Madonna. I'm showing him to you out of masquerade... in the clothes proper to his station and birth.

No, Madonna. You'll stay here.

You need to be informed about this noble Orsini... who stands before you stripped of fraud... a peasant who posed as a noble.

Still want to marry this lying impostor?

I love and honor the lord Orsini.

The lady's swallowed his hook to the gills.

Well, he always had a glib tongue.

At least before he lost his voice.

You slander him when he has no voice to call you a liar with!

I've done all I could for you, my lady.

Now I must protect my own reputation for truthfulness.

Don Esteban, see to it.

Yes, Your Magnificence.

Guard, bring in the woman.

Messer Belli will see to it that the lady does not leave her chair.

Yes, Magnificence.

And you were his friend.


Messer Belli trades in friends, Madonna.

And this Messer Belli has come up in the world.

He wears lace and brocade, carries a jeweled sword... and sits at Cesare Borgia's table.

Nor has there ever been a more successful Judas than this Messer Belli.

As this peasant, Zoppo, can tell you.



Andrea, my boy.

What have they done to you?


Water. Let her be.

You, bring a chair.

Drink, my son. Drink slowly.


Oh, my boy.

Oh, Mammina.


Merciful God. They've almost killed you.

Why has he been tortured? Why is he in chains?

You'll be informed in good time, woman.

Is this your son? Yes.

Have you nothing to say to your true love now?

You need not have lied to me.

You love him less because he's a peasant.


His peasant birth gave him something more... than all you highborn thieves and assassins could ever give him.

I cursed him once for this worthless fraud.

But I curse you even more for what you have done to him.

I— No, wait. Cesare Borgia... you will live after I am dead.

Let me thank you for this— last of all the things that you have taught me.

There is no victory in power, no— no honor in deceit, no future in living as— as you will live— hated and despised by everyone.

Mammina, forgive me. I— I've caused you great pain.

He's a lord of nobility and honor... to whom I offer all my love.

The comedy is finished. My sentence, Andrea Zoppo— Be merciful, my lord, as you hope for God's mercy.

Take this woman out of here. She has served her purpose.

Oh, no! No!

My sentence, Andrea Zoppo... is that tomorrow you shall be exposed in a cage on the castle tower.

There to remain as a spectacle and a warning... until your bones drop apart.

I protest Your Lordship's judgment!

This ungrateful peasant turned against Your Loving Highness... caused the death of hundreds of good troops... created vast expenses and endangered future revenues.

I've never seen a more notable treason!

You think I am being too merciful, Belli?

What punishment is there for a half-dead carcass to rot in a cage? Nothing.

Let him think on his sins. You suggest a dungeon?

No, my loving lord, something blacker.

Gouge out his eyes.

Blind him and set him on the road with his hag mother to lead him.

And wherever he wanders, let him be a warning of the justice of your magnificence.

My friend, you're a man in a thousand. I accept your advice.

Have sharpened stakes prepared and carry out the sentence. Remove the prisoner.

Wait, my lord!

What need is there of stakes when I have my two good thumbs?

Gouging's the thing.

And what need to remove him when I can pop his eyes out... right here for the amusement of this worshipful company?

Look now.

A quick pressure of the thumbs and out squirts the jelly.

This ought to be a show worth watching, eh, Madonna?

Oh, don't be squeamish, Madonna.

You're as curious as I to see what a peasant's eyes look like out of their sockets.

Proceed, Messer Belli. We'll all be grateful to you.

Guards, seat him and tie him to the chair.

Camilla, look at me. Let me fill my eyes.

Take a good look at me.

I'm the last thing you'll see.

Scream! Do you understand? Scream! Scream!

Stop him! Stop him! You devil, stop it!

The eyes of an artist and traitor!

Look! Pretty, aren't they?

They belong to Your Greatness.

Take that carrion away. Hand him over to his mother.

He's had his fill of palaces. Let him grope his way back to a hovel. Come along, woman.

God pity him. He was a gallant soldier.

There's no victory in this kind of war.

I shall continue to rely on you, Captain Belli.

Your Magnificence has no more faithful servant than I.

Then my future is assured— depending on which one of us is hanged first.

Better, Mammina.

Go, go. Lie down.

Why, Belli!


Oh, Belli. Magnifico.

Why did you wait so long— I have bad news for you.

Huh? Madonna Camilla tried to follow after you.

She was stopped, imprisoned in a cell. By Borgia?

No, Don Esteban. Borgia's gone with his army to move against Camerino.

But he left a strong garrison.

I— I can plan an ambush fast enough, use a knife or garrote with the best... but I have no brain for this.

It seems to me we're lost, completely helpless.

All the more reason then for settling down to the life God meant you to live.

There is a way of retaking Città del Monte if the people are willing.

I won't let you go back to this murdering.

The Borgia terror must stop somewhere.

Now one small spark will start a fire that will eventually burn down his house.

But I must get to the people.

You think they'll follow you? You the peasant, Zoppo, against Cesare Borgia?

As they followed their own lord Verano. I'll take an oath on that.

But the whole thing must be very carefully planned.

Success will depend upon stealth and exact timing.

Now, first we need to— to bring Mattia, Fabio... and some of the other leaders from Città del Monte here to Cresp— How did you know to come here?

Who, me?

Speak up, Belli.

Why, I— I've been here before. When?

On our return from Ferrara.

Then you knew all along that I was an impostor.

Naturally I profited from it— a thousand ducats.

I simply can't stand being loyal to one side.

I'm a born traitor.

The truth, Belli.

I detest fine sentiments. Mmm. And yet?

I've discovered the devil doesn't always pay best.

This whole thing pleases me.

Who betrayed who, and where did it start? No matter.

It shall be said among my fellow practitioners in double-dealing... that I was the greatest of them all.

This can only be accomplished with accuracy and precision. Fabio.

Yes, sir? You will lead your men into the piazza.

Mattia. - Yes, sir?

You will take your group into the garrison area behind the cathedral.

Men must cover every guard post in the city. But we have no arms.

Use axes, sickles, anything.

But your most powerful weapon will be surprise.

Each must choose a man and wait until the right time.

When do we strike? When you hear the tower bell.

It will be a signal that Madonna Camilla is safely out of the castle.

Strike then, and not a second before. Who will bring her out?

I will. Messer Belli will give us another miracle.

He will open the right window at the right time for me.

Remember the signal. Madonna Camilla must be out of the castle before you strike.

And listen for the tower bell.

That will tell you that she's safely out.

When the tower bell rings, it means Madonna Camilla is outside the castle.

Each choose a man. When the bell rings, strike.

When the bell rings, strike.

All clear.





In the garden— beautiful giris.

What's this?

Why, he's drunk. That's all.

Wait. Let's see.

If a man can't hold his wine, I— In his back!

Come with me.


Andrea. Andrea.

One guard stabbed. The other with a garrote around his throat.

Ring the bell. Awaken the garrison. No! Not yet.

Do that and you'll warn whoever is here. Let's find them first.

The door to the secret passage's open. Do as I command. Ring the bell!

It's not yet time!

I mean, we shouldn't frighten whoever they are.

This is no doubt a clever scheme to rescue Madonna Camilla.

Everyone involved will be executed. Sound the alarm.

To ring that bell now would be a serious mistake.

Why? That's a chance I'll take.

Something's gone wrong.

We must run for it.


Yes, Esteban.

It's me, Orsini.

You're not blind! Maybe it's a miracle... but I see you, Esteban.

How I've prayed for this moment, Don Esteban.

My hands are free now, not tied behind my back.


Get up.

I've killed enough for the Borgias.

Now is the time to ring the bell.

Ring the bell!

Sometime, somewhere, the Borgia terror must stop.

One small spark will start a fire that will eventually burn down his house.

- With this ring— "With this ring"—

- I thee wed— "I thee wed"—

- and plight unto thee- "and plight unto thee" my troth.