Alexander's old enemy Ludovico of Milan and the powerful Mantuan Duke Gonzaga seek the Pope's blessing for an alliance with Venice to attack the French army, which is still laying waste to the Italian countryside. Cesare learns that the retreating French have burned the nunnery of St. Cecilia and his beloved Ursula has been killed; he and Micheletto recruit a band of cut-throat killers and mercenaries to seek revenge. Leaving Lucrezia in charge at the Vatican, Alexander and Cesare travel to join the Italian forces who seem doomed in the face of the French cannon. But the dreaded artillery does not fire - either because of Alexander's fervent Papal prayers for rain or because of Cesare's hired killers' daring raid on a French ammo dump. The battle is a bloody inconclusive draw, but the wily Alexander has come out on top, seizing abandoned French booty as the price of his blessing and seeing potential enemies weakened by the slaughter. Back in Rome, Lucrezia tests her new power as she joins in Giulia's quest to fight Vatican corruption and provide charity for the poor.
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