Juan returns from Spain, flanked by a retinue of conquistador generals led by the proud Don Hernando. Alexander is impressed by his son's newfound confidence and orders him to lead the Papal armies to besiege Catherina Sforza's castle. Lucrezia meanwhile, stalls attempts to marry her off - her father favors rich Genovese merchant prince Calvino - but Lucrezia, obstinate and deliberately perverse, proceeds to flirt with his younger (and thus inappropriate) brother Raffaello. In Florence, Cesare and Machiavelli witness Savonarola's puritan zealots strengthen their grip on power, culminating in the fevered destruction of art works and luxuries in the Bonfire of the Vanities. Della Rovere has recruited angelic-looking young friar Antonello as the suicide assassin for his plot, and begins to feed the willing boy small doses of poison to create a tolerance to deadly cantarella. Meanwhile, Juan's siege of Forli reaches a stalemate until he manages to kidnap Catherina's son Benito, whom he tortures and threatens to kill in view of the castle walls. Hernando is disgusted by this ignoble behavior and Juan's true cowardly nature is revealed when he flees in terror as the siege is broken by a surprise attack by Ludovico Sforza's reinforcements.
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