Villefort is called as the crown prosecutor before the court, and the judges similarly call Andrea to testify. He admits that he lived a life of petty crime before causing the murder of Caderousse, and when the court asks him for his identity, he pauses and says he does not really know his “actual” name, for he was abandoned as a very young infant by his father. When the court asks who this father might be, Andrea/Benedetto declares that it is the crown prosecutor himself, Villefort.
Villefort understands instantly that, from this point on, there is nothing he can do to protect his good name. Like Fernand and Danglars, he too will suffer in shame, and will need to determine some way to slide nobly off the public stage of French civic life. The crimes Villefort committed so many years ago have finally come back to light, causing the criminal to be punished.
Villefort becomes extremely pale and a cry goes up from the audience, where the Baroness Danglars has been watching the events unfold. The judges pause and ask if Benedetto can be serious, and Benedetto tells the story, as he has learned it from Bertuccio, of the night in question. This is the Corsican vendetta that Bertuccio told the Count about so many chapters ago in Auteuil. Villefort says that Benedetto’s account is true. The judges say the case must be adjourned for a time to sort through this chaos, and in the courtroom three society gentlemen remark to one another that Villefort’s public “death” is far worse even than Fernand’s suicide or Danglars’ escape from the country.
To Villefort’s credit, he does not deny the charges against him. Villefort has engaged in a great many unscrupulous acts as prosecutor, designed to save and advance his career. But when called to account here, he says that he is indeed that criminal, that he cannot hide what he has done. In this sense, Villefort has dealt most nobly with his own condemnation, whereas Fernand immediately escaped it via suicide, and Danglars chose instead to ride out of town under cover of darkness.