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The Borgia Seed

This is an excerpt from the new book. Avaliable now at your bookstore and at Amazon! Coming to Kindle soon!

Chapter One
The Mission from God

On a balmy day in November 1452, Pope Nicholas V was nervously pacing up and down his private quarters in Castle San Angelo in Rome. Nicholas V was not an old man, he was barely fifty-three years old, yet the ravages of time and intrigues, corruption at home, and treachery abroad had worn him way beyond his years. This slight man with dark piercing eyes had fought hard to reform the Curia, the administrative arm of the Papacy and he had battled with all elements to promote unity amongst European powers. During the past few years there had been several attempts made on his life and nowadays he hardly ever went out without an armed escort. In Germany, Martin Luther was not even born yet, but the seeds of rebellion and schism first planted over fifty years ago by Jan Hus of Bohemia were already taking root. The German princes were already plotting against the Catholic Church and planning to divvy up its rich properties. Nicholas thought it ironic that the Germans who were among the most devout should be planning the demise of the Holy Church.

Against this backdrop rose a far greater threat. The infidel Ottoman Turks who had migrated from the central plains of Asia had taken over Yugoslavia and Kosovo and had almost completely encircled the great city of Constantinople. Sultan Mohammed II, a vicious and cold-blooded ruler who had not hesitated to murder his own infant brothers to solidify his claim to the throne was preparing for the final push.

Nicholas V had appealed, in vain, to the Christian kings, princes and churches of Europe. He appeals were ignored. Urgent appeals for help from Constantinople and its Emperor, the courageous Constantine XII fell on deaf ears also. The truth was that after more three hundred years of warfare, people were tired of wars and crusader taxes.

It was nearly the noon hour. There was a gentle knock at the door and a skinny middle-aged man attired in the costumes of the priest monks entered the room. The new comer bowed gently and said “Holy Father, as per your summons, cardinal Alfonso and his nephew are here.” The pope waved his hand absent-mindedly and within a few moments the cardinal and his nephew were ushered into the room. As was custom of the day, the pope offered the visitors his signet hand to be kissed and then motioned them to sit down. The skinny middle-aged priest was father Alfaro. Alfaro was the Pope’s devoted personal attendant and historian. Father Alfaro, moved silently to a corner of the room and stood upright near an inside Window.

Cardinal Alfonso was older than the Pope, yet he had one of the sharpest minds in the Vatican and was relied upon by the Pope to control the finances of the mother church. The younger man, Rodrigo, was barely twenty-three. He was tall and handsome with dark olive complexion and very dark, almost black eyes. He was not a priest and had no particular love for the church. He was adopted by his uncle as his son and had the greatest admiration and loyalty to both the Pope and his uncle. Rodrigo was a courageous knight. He was also known as a great seducer of young aristocratic women, married or not. He had many conquests to his name and it was even widely rumored that he had bedded his own beautiful half sister Isabella.

The Pope, obviously exhausted now, waited a few moments more to catch his breath and then in a tired voice said, “My son, I admire your devotion to your uncle and me. That is why, I am going to ask you put your life at the disposal of the Church.” Without a moment’s hesitation, Rodrigo, while looking directly into the Pope’s eyes said, “Holy Father, I will gladly give my life for you, and the holy church of Christ. The Pope managed a faint smile and went on to explain the reason for his summons. I know that I do not have much longer to live my son. I had a vision about a week ago and I have not been able to go to sleep or rest since then. Last Sunday evening as I was praying to the lord, I had a vision of the great city of Constantinople with the church of Santa Sophia surrounded by the infidels. Then suddenly I saw a light, which I can only think of as the Holy Spirit rise from within the sacred church grounds and ascend away to the heavens. I knew the end was coming for our Christian brothers in that holy city. I am fearful that we cannot do much to stop it. We may have one last chance for saving Constantinople from the infidel. I will need to send you on a mission from which you may never return alive, but first I would like to know if you are willing to risk your life for our savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Rodrigo did not hesitate for even an instance. He replied with the bravado of the youth, “Holy Father, I laugh at death and will give my life gladly for our savior, I beg of you to let me be the instrument of his will.” The atmosphere was so charged with raw emotions that the old man, Cardinal Alfonso, overcome with emotions, was on the floor, weeping uncontrollably and with his forehead on the ground was reciting the Lord’s Prayer repeatedly.

The Pope beckoned Rodrigo who stepped forward and kneeled in front of the Pope. Pope Nicholas took a ring from one of his fingers and placed it in Rodrigo’s palm. He was weak and tired and he almost fell forward on Rodrigo, but in a whisper, he said, “with this ring I am entrusting you to be the agent of our Lord.”