|Papacy began||August 11, 1492|
|Papacy ended||August 18, 1503|
Catalan: Roderic Llançol de Borja i Borja|
Italian: Rodrigo Borgia
January 1, 1431|
Xàtiva, Valencia, Crown of Aragon
August 18, 1503 (aged 72)|
Rome, Papal States
|Other Popes named Alexander|
Pope Alexander VI (1 January 1431 – 18 August 1503) (Spanish: Alejandro VI, Catalan: Alexandre VI), born Roderic Llançol, later Roderic de Borja i Borja (Italian: Rodrigo Borgia) was Pope from 1492 to 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, and his surname (Italianized as Borgia) became a byword for the debased standards of the papacy of that era.
Birth and family
Roderic Llançol was born at Xàtiva in the Kingdom of Valencia, one of the component states of the Crown of Aragon. His parents were Jofré Llançol y Escrivà (died bef. 24 March 1437) and his wife and relative Isabel de Borja (y Llançol?) (died 19 October 1468). His family name is written Llançol in Valencian and Lanzol in Spanish. Roderic assumed his mother's family name of Borja on the elevation of his maternal uncle Alonso de Borja, to the papacy as Calixtus III in 1455.
Education and election
|Styles of |
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
Roderic de Borja studied law at Bologna and after his uncle's election as pope, was created successively bishop, cardinal and vice-chancellor of the church, nepotistic appointments characteristic of the age. He served in the Roman Curia under five popes (Calixtus III (his uncle), Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII) and acquired much administrative experience, influence and wealth, though not great power.
On the death of Pope Innocent VIII on July 25, 1492, the three likely candidates for the Papacy were cardinals Borja, Ascanio Sforza and Giuliano della Rovere. While there was never substantive proof of simony, the rumour was that Borja, by his great wealth, succeeded in buying the largest number of votes, including that of Sforza, whom, popular rumor had it, he bribed with four mule-loads of silver. According to some historians, however, Borja had no need of such an unsubtle exchange - the benefices and offices granted Sforza for his support would be worth considerably more than four mule-loads of silver. John Burchard, the conclave's master of ceremonies and a leading figure of the papal household under several popes, recorded in his diary that the 1492 conclave was a particularly expensive campaign. Della Rovere was bankrolled to the cost of 200,000 gold ducats by the King of France, with another 100,000 supplied by the Republic of Genoa. Borgia was elected on 11 August 1492, assuming the name of Alexander VI (due to confusion about the status of Alexander V elected by the Council of Pisa). Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, later to become Pope Leo X, sharply criticized the election and warned of dire things to come:
|“||Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this world has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all.||”|
Nepotism and opposition
At first, Alexander's reign was marked by a strict administration of justice and an orderly method of government, in contrast to the mismanagement of the previous pontificate, as well as by great outward splendor. But it was not long before his passion for endowing his relatives at the church's and his neighbours' expense became manifest. Alexander VI had four children by his long time mistress Vannozza dei Cattani a countess of the House of Candia, three sons and a daughter: Giovanni, Cesare, Goffredo (or Gioffre or, in Catalan, Jofré) and Lucrezia. Cesare, while a youth of seventeen and a student at Pisa, was made Archbishop of Valencia (hence the nickname of Valentino), and Giovanni received the dukedom of Gandia, the Borgias' ancestral home in Spain. For the Duke of Gandia and for Giuffrè/Goffredo the Pope proposed to carve fiefs out of the papal states and the Kingdom of Naples. Among the fiefs destined for the duke of Gandia were Cerveteri and Anguillara, lately acquired by Virginio Orsini, head of that powerful house. This policy brought Ferdinand I, King of Naples, into conflict with Alexander, who was also opposed by Cardinal della Rovere, whose candidature for the papacy had been backed by Ferdinand. Della Rovere fortified himself in his bishopric of Ostia at the Tiber's mouth as Alexander formed a league against Naples (25 April 1493) and prepared for war.
Ferdinand allied himself with Florence, Milan, and Venice. He also appealed to Spain for help; but Spain was eager to be on good terms with the papacy to obtain the title to the newly discovered continent of America. Alexander, in the bull Inter Caetera, 4 May 1493, divided the title between Spain and Portugal along a demarcation line. (This and other related bulls are known collectively as the Bulls of Donation.)
Alexander VI arranged great marriages for his children. Lucrezia had been promised to the Venetian Don Gasparo da Procida, but on her father's elevation to the papacy the engagement was canceled and in 1493 she married Giovanni Sforza, lord of Pesaro, the ceremony being celebrated at the Vatican Palace with unparalleled magnificence.
In spite of the splendors of the Pontifical court, the condition of Rome became every day more deplorable. The city swarmed with Spanish adventurers, assassins, prostitutes and informers; murder and robbery were committed with impunity, and the Pope himself cast aside all show of decorum; indulging in the chase, and arranging dancing, and stage plays. The wild orgies that Alexander was reported to have sponsored within the papal palaces are now generally considered by the Catholic Church to have been exaggerated. One of his close companions was Cem, the brother of the Sultan Bayazid II (1481–1512), detained as a hostage. The general outlook in Italy was of the gloomiest and the country was on the eve of foreign invasion.
Alexander VI made many alliances to secure his position. He sought help from Charles VIII of France (1483–1498), who was allied to Ludovico il Moro Sforza, the de facto ruler of Milan who needed French support to legitimize his regime. As King Ferdinand I of Naples was threatening to come to the aid of the rightful duke Gian Galeazzo — the husband of his granddaughter Isabella — Alexander VI encouraged the French king in his scheme for the conquest of Naples.
But Alexander VI, always ready to seize opportunities to aggrandize his family, then adopted a double policy. Through the intervention of the Spanish ambassador he made peace with Naples in July 1493 and cemented the peace by a marriage between his son Giuffre and Doña Sancha, another granddaughter of Ferdinand I. In order to dominate the Sacred College of Cardinals more completely, Alexander, in a move that created much scandal, created twelve new cardinals, among them his own son Cesare, then only eighteen years old, and Alessandro Farnese (later Pope Paul III), the brother of one of the Pope's mistresses, the beautiful Giulia Farnese.
On 25 January 1494 Ferdinand I died and was succeeded by his son Alfonso II (1494–1495). Charles VIII of France now advanced formal claims on the kingdom, and Alexander VI authorized him to pass through Rome ostensibly on a crusade against the Turks, without mentioning Naples. But when the French invasion became a reality he was alarmed, recognized Alfonso II as King, and concluded an alliance with him in exchange for various fiefs for his sons (July 1494). A military response to the French threat was set in motion: a Neapolitan army was to advance through the Romagna and attack Milan, while the fleet was to seize Genoa; but both expeditions were badly conducted and failed, and on 8 September Charles VIII crossed the Alps and joined Lodovico il Moro at Milan. The papal states were in turmoil, and the powerful Colonna faction seized Ostia in the name of France. Charles VIII rapidly advanced southward, and after a short stay in Florence, set out for Rome (November 1494).
Alexander VI appealed to Ascanio Sforza for help, and even to the Sultan. He tried to collect troops and put Rome in a state of defence, but his position was precarious. When the Orsini offered to admit the French to their castles, Alexander had no choice but to come to terms with Charles, who on 31 December entered Rome with his troops, the cardinals of the French faction, and Giuliano della Rovere. Alexander now feared that the king might depose him for simony and summon a council, but he won over the bishop of Saint-Malo, who had much influence over the king, with a cardinal's hat. Alexander VI agreed to send Cesare, as legate, to Naples with the French army, to deliver Cem to Charles VIII and to give him Civitavecchia (16 January 1495). On 28 January Charles VIII departed for Naples with Cem and Cesare, but the latter slipped away to Spoleto. Neapolitan resistance collapsed; Alfonso II fled and abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinand II, who also had to escape, abandoned by all, and the kingdom was conquered with surprising ease.
The French in retreat
A reaction against Charles VIII soon set in, for all the powers were alarmed at his success, and on 31 March 1495 a so-called Holy League was formed between the pope, the emperor, Venice, Lodovico il Moro and Ferdinand of Spain, ostensibly against the Turks, but in reality to expel the French from Italy. Charles VIII had himself crowned King of Naples on 12 May but a few days later began his retreat northward. He met the allies at Fornovo and after a drawn battle cut his way through them and was back in France by November. Ferdinand II was reinstated at Naples soon afterwards, with Spanish help. The expedition, if it produced no material results, demonstrated the foolishness of the so-called 'politics of equilibrium' (the Medicean doctrine of preventing one of the Italian principates from overwhelming the rest and uniting them under its hegemony), since it rendered the country unable to defend itself against the powerful nation states, France and Spain, that had forged themselves during the previous century. Alexander VI, following the general tendency of all the princes of the day to crush the great feudatories and establish a centralized despotism, now took advantage of the defeat of the French to break the power of the Orsini and begin building himself an effective power base in the papal states.
Virginio Orsini, who had been captured by the Spaniards, died a prisoner at Naples, and the Pope confiscated his property; but the rest of the clan still held out, defeating the papal troops sent against them under Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino and Giovanni Borgia, Duke of Gandia, at Soriano (January 1497). Peace was made through Venetian mediation, the Orsini paying 50,000 ducats in exchange for their confiscated lands, while the Duke of Urbino, whom they had captured, was left by the Pope to pay his own ransom. The Orsini remained very powerful, and Alexander VI could count on none but his 3,000 Spaniards. His only success had been the capture of Ostia and the submission of the Francophile cardinals Colonna and Savelli.
Then occurred the first of those ugly domestic tragedies for which the house of Borgia remains notorious. On 14 June the Duke of Gandia, lately created Duke of Benevento, disappeared: the next day his corpse was found in the Tiber.
Alexander, overwhelmed with grief, shut himself up in Castel Sant'Angelo and then declared that the reform of the church would be the sole object of his life henceforth – a resolution he did not keep. Every effort was made to discover the assassin, and suspicion fell on various highly placed people. When the rumour spread that Cesare, the Pope's second son, had done the deed, the inquiries ceased. No conclusive evidence was ever revealed about the murder, although Cesare remained the most widely suspected.
Confiscations and Savonarola
Violent and vengeful, Cesare now became the most powerful man in Rome, and even his father quailed before him. Because Alexander needed funds to carry out his various schemes, he began a series of confiscations, of which one of the victims was his own secretary. The process was a simple one: any cardinal, nobleman or official who was known to be rich would be accused of some offence; imprisonment and perhaps murder followed at once, and then the confiscation of his property. The least opposition to the Borgia was punished with death.
Even in that corrupt age the debased state of the curia was a major scandal. Opponents such as the demagogic monk Girolamo Savonarola, who appealed for a general council to confront the papal abuses, launched invectives against papal corruption. Alexander VI, unable to get the excommunicated Savonarola into his own hands, browbeat the Florentine government into condemning the reformer to death (23 May 1498). The houses of Colonna and Orsini, after much fighting between themselves, allied against the Pope, who found himself unable to maintain order in his own dominions.
In these circumstances, Alexander, feeling more than ever that he could only rely on his own kin, turned his thoughts to further family aggrandizement. He had annulled Lucrezia's marriage to Giovanni Sforza — who had responded to the suggestion that he was impotent with the counter-claim that Alexander and Cesare indulged in incestuous relations with Lucrezia — in 1497, and, unable to arrange a union between Cesare and the daughter of King Frederick IV of Naples (who had succeeded Ferdinand II the previous year), he induced Frederick by threats to agree to a marriage between the Duke of Bisceglie, a natural son of Alfonso II, and Lucrezia. Cesare, after resigning his cardinalate, was sent on a mission to France at the end of the year, bearing a bull of divorce for the new French king Louis XII, in exchange for which he obtained the duchy of Valentinois (a duchy chosen because it was consistent with his already known nickname of Valentino), a promise of material assistance in his schemes to subjugate the feudal princelings of papal Romagna, and a marriage to a princess of Navarre.
Alexander VI hoped that Louis XII's help would be more profitable to his house than that of Charles VIII had been. In spite of the remonstrances of Spain and of the Sforza, he allied himself with France in January 1499 and was joined by Venice. By the autumn Louis XII was in Italy expelling Lodovico Sforza from Milan. With French success seemingly assured, the Pope determined to deal drastically with the Romagna, which although nominally under papal rule was divided into a number of practically independent lordships on which Venice, Milan, and Florence cast hungry eyes. Cesare, empowered by the support of the French, began to attack the turbulent cities one by one in his capacity as nominated gonfaloniere (standard bearer) of the church. But the expulsion of the French from Milan and the return of Lodovico Sforza interrupted his conquests, and he returned to Rome early in 1500.
While the enterprising explorers of Portugal and Spain were quick to enslave the indigenous peoples met in the New World, the Papacy was against this practice. In 1435 Pope Eugene IV issued an attack on slavery in his Papal bull Sicut Dudum which included the excommunication of all those who engage in the slave trade. In 1537 Pope Paul III issued his own condemnation of slavery in his letter Sublimis Deus. However a form of indentured servitude was allowed, being similar to a peasants duty to his liege lord in Europe. In the wake of Columbus landing in the New World, Pope Alexander was asked by the Spanish monarchy to confirm ownership of these found lands. The bulls issued by Pope Alexander VI : "Eximiae devotionis" (May 3, 1493), "Inter Caetera" (May 4, 1493) and "Dudum Siquidem (September 23, 1493), conferred similar rights to Spain in relation to the new found lands in the Americas as Nicholas had previously done in "Romanus Pontix" and "Dum Diveras". Morales Padron (1979) concludes that these bulls gave power to enslave the natives. Minnich (2005) asserts that this "slave trade" was permitted to facilitate conversions to Christianity. Other historians and Vatican scholars strongly disagree with these accusations and assert that Pope Alexander VI never gave his approval of slavery. Other later Popes continued to condemn slavery, such as Pope Benedict XIV in Immensa Pastorium (1741) and Pope Gregory XVI in his letter In Supremo Apostolatus (1839).
Thornberry (2002) asserts that "Inter Caetera" was applied in the "Requeriemento" which was read to American Indians (who couldn't understand the colonizers language) before hostilities against them began. They were given the option to accept the authority of the Pope and Spanish crown or face being attacked and subjugated. In 1993 the Indigenous Law Institute called on Pope John Paul II to revoke Inter Caetera and to make reparation for "this unreasonable historical grief". This was followed by a similar appeal in 1994 by the Parliament of World Religions".
Cesare in the North
This year was a jubilee year, and crowds of pilgrims flocked to the city from all parts of the world bringing money for the purchase of indulgences, so that Alexander VI was able to furnish Cesare with funds for his enterprise. In the north the pendulum swung back again in favour of the French, who reoccupied Milan in April, causing the downfall of the Sforza, much to Alexander VI's satisfaction.
In July the Duke of Bisceglie, whose existence was no longer advantageous, was murdered on Cesare's orders, leaving Lucrezia free to contract another marriage. The Pope, ever in need of money, now created twelve new cardinals, from whom he received 120,000 ducats, and fresh conquests for Cesare were considered. A crusade was talked of, but the real object was central Italy; and so in the autumn, Cesare, backed by France and Venice, set forth with 10,000 men to complete his interrupted business in the Romagna.
The local despots of Romagna were duly dispossessed, and an administration was set up, which, if tyrannical and cruel, was at least orderly and strong, and which aroused the admiration of Machiavelli. On his return to Rome in June 1501 Cesare was created Duke of Romagna. Louis XII, having succeeded in the north, determined to conquer southern Italy as well. He concluded a treaty with Spain for the division of the Neapolitan kingdom, which was ratified by the Pope on 25 June, Frederick being formally deposed. While the French army proceeded to invade Naples, Alexander VI took the opportunity, with the help of the Orsini, to reduce the Colonna to obedience. In his absence on campaign he left Lucrezia as regent, providing the remarkable spectacle of a pope's natural daughter in charge of the Holy See. Shortly afterwards he induced Alfonso d'Este, son of the Duke of Ferrara, to marry Lucrezia, thus establishing her as wife of the heir to one of the most important duchies in Italy (January 1502). At about this time a Borgia of doubtful parentage was born — Giovanni, described in some papal documents as Alexander VI's son and in others as Cesare's.
As France and Spain were quarrelling over the division of Naples and the Campagna barons were quiet, Cesare set out again in search of conquests. In June 1502 he seized Camerino and Urbino, the news of whose capture delighted the Pope; but his attempt to draw Florence into an alliance failed. In July, Louis XII of France again invaded Italy and was at once bombarded with complaints from the Borgias' enemies. Alexander VI's diplomacy, however, turned the tide, and Cesare, in exchange for promising to assist the French in the south, was given a free hand in central Italy.
A danger now arose in the shape of a conspiracy by the deposed despots, the Orsini, and of some of Cesare's own condottieri. At first the papal troops were defeated and things looked black for the house of Borgia. But a promise of French help quickly forced the confederates to come to terms. Cesare, by an act of treachery, then seized the ringleaders at Senigallia and put Oliverotto da Fermo and Vitellozzo Vitelli to death (31 December 1502). When Alexander VI heard the news, he lured Cardinal Orsini to the Vatican and cast him into a dungeon, where he died. His goods were confiscated, his aged mother turned into the street and many other members of the clan in Rome were arrested, while Giuffre Borgia led an expedition into the Campagna and seized their castles. Thus the two great houses of Orsini and Colonna, who had long fought for predominance in Rome and often flouted the Pope's authority, were subjugated and the Borgias' power increased. Cesare then returned to Rome, where his father asked him to assist Giuffre in reducing the last Orsini strongholds; this for some reason he was unwilling to do, much to Alexander VI's annoyance; but he eventually marched out, captured Ceri and made peace with Giulio Orsini, who surrendered Bracciano.
Three more high personages fell victim to the Borgias' greed this year: Cardinal Michiel, who was poisoned in April 1503, J. da Santa Croce, who had helped to seize Cardinal Orsini, and Troches or Troccio, Alexander's chamberlain and secretary; all these murders brought immense sums to the Pope. About Cardinal Ferrari's death, there is more doubt; he probably died of fever, but Alexander VI immediately confiscated his goods anyway. The war between France and Spain for the possession of Naples dragged on, and Alexander VI was forever intriguing, ready to ally himself with whichever power promised the most advantageous terms at any moment. He offered to help Louis XII on condition that Sicily be given to Cesare, and then offered to help Spain in exchange for Siena, Pisa and Bologna.
Although there is no doubt that Alexander VI liked to eliminate any cardinal and immediately confiscate his property, there is no sufficient evidence on the methods used in these murders. It has been suggested that the family used their favorite poison Cantarella, an arsenic variation, which was offered to their poor victim in a form of drink with an innovative nickname, the 'liquor of succession'. Since raw forms of arsenic then known were not immediately fatal, Alexander VI must have had a method invented for the preparation of this substance, but no confirmation of this has survived. The famous cup of Borgia, a golden cup with a hidden area storing the poison so it could be mixed with the wine, is often mentioned as the family's favorite murdering method, and it has been the base for many legendary and science fiction stories, including Agatha Christie's short story The Apples of Hesperides published in the 1947 collection The Labours of Hercules.
Burchard recorded the events that surrounded the death of the Pope. Cesare was preparing for another expedition in August 1503 when, after he and Alexander had dined with Cardinal Adriano da Corneto on August 6, they were taken ill with fever. Cesare had eventually recovered, but Alexander VI was too old to have any chance. According to Burchard, Alexander VI's stomach became swollen and turned to liquid, while his face became wine-coloured and his skin began to peel off. Finally his stomach and bowels bled profusely. After more than a week of intestinal bleeding and convulsive fevers, and after accepting last rites and making a confession, the despairing Alexander VI died on 18 August 1503 at the age of 72. He is believed to have uttered the last words "Wait a minute" before his death.
His death was followed by scenes of wild disorder, and Cesare, too ill to attend to the business himself, sent Don Michelotto, his chief bravo, to seize the Pope's treasures before the death was publicly announced. When the body was exhibited to the people the next day it was in a shocking state of decomposition. Writing in his Liber Notarum, Burchard elaborates: "The face was very dark, the colour of a dirty rag or a mulberry, and was covered all over with bruise-coloured marks. The nose was swollen; the tongue had bent over in the mouth, completely double, and was pushing out the lips which were, themselves, swollen. The mouth was open and so ghastly that people who saw it said they had never seen anything like it before." It has been suggested that, having taken into account the unusual level of decomposition, Alexander VI was accidentally poisoned to death by his son with Cantarella (which was prepared to eliminate Cardinal Adriano), although some commentaries (including the Encyclopædia Britannica) doubt these stories and attribute Alexander's death to malaria, then prevalent in Rome, or to another such pestilence. The ambassador of Ferrara wrote to Duke Ercole that it was no wonder the pope and the duke were sick because nearly everyone in Rome was ill as because of bad air ("per la mala condictione de aere").
Burchard described how the Pope's mouth foamed like a kettle over a fire and how the body began to swell so much that it became as wide as it was long. The Venetian ambassador reported that Alexander VI's body was "the ugliest, most monstrous and horrible dead body that was ever seen, without any form or likeness of humanity". Finally the body began to release sulphurous gasses from every orifice. Burchard records that he had to jump on the body to jam it into the undersized coffin and covered it with an old carpet, the only surviving furnishing in the room.
Such was Alexander VI's unpopularity that the priests of St. Peter's Basilica refused to accept the body for burial until forced to do so by papal staff. Only four prelates attended the Requiem Mass. Alexander's successor on the Throne of St. Peter, Francesco Todeschini-Piccolomini, who assumed the name of Pope Pius III (1503), forbade the saying of a Mass for the repose of Alexander VI's soul, saying, "It is blasphemous to pray for the damned". After a short stay, the body was removed from the crypts of St. Peter's and installed in a less well-known church, the Spanish national church of Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli.
Alexander gave away the temporal estates of the papacy to his children as though they belonged to him. It was clear to all Italy that he regarded the papacy as an instrument of worldly schemes with no thought of its religious aspect. During his pontificate the church was brought to its lowest level of degradation. The condition of his subjects was deplorable, and if Cesare's rule in Romagna was an improvement on that of the local tyrants, the people of Rome have seldom been more oppressed than under the Borgia.
Alexander VI has become almost a mythical character, and countless legends and traditions are attached to his name. Alexander was not the only figure responsible for the general unrest in Italy or for the foreign invasions, but he was ever ready to profit by them. Even if the stories of his murders (including the rumor that his first murder was at the age of 12), poisonings and immoralities are not all true, there is no doubt that his greed for money and his essentially vicious nature led him to commit a great number of crimes. For many of his misdeeds his son Cesare was as guilty as his father as well.
The one pleasing aspect of his life is his patronage of the arts, and in his days a new architectural era was initiated in Rome with the coming of Bramante. Raphael, Michelangelo and Pinturicchio all worked for him, and a curious contrast, characteristic of the age, is afforded by the fact that a family so steeped in vice and crime could take pleasure in the most exquisite works of art.
Alexander VI, allegedly a marrano according to papal rival Giuliano della Rovere, distinguished himself by his relatively benign treatment of Jews. After the 1492 expulsion of Jews from Spain, some 9,000 famished Iberian Jews arrived at the borders of the Papal States. Alexander welcomed them into Rome, declaring that they were "permitted to lead their life, free from interference from Christians, to continue in their own rites, to gain wealth, and to enjoy many other privileges." He similarly allowed the immigration of Jews expelled from Portugal in 1497 and from Provence in 1498.
It has been noted that the crimes of Alexander VI are similar in nature to those of other Renaissance princes, with the one exception being his position in the Church. As De Maistre said in his work Du Pape, "The latter are forgiven nothing, because everything is expected from them, wherefore the vices lightly passed over in a Louis XIV become most offensive and scandalous in an Alexander VI.".
Mistresses and familyOf Alexander's many mistresses the one for whom his passion lasted longest was a certain Vannozza (Giovanna) dei Cattani, born in 1442, and wife of three successive husbands. The connection began in 1470, and she bore him four children whom he openly acknowledged as his own: Giovanni, afterwards duke of Gandia (born 1474), Cesare (born 1476), Lucrezia (born 1480), and Goffredo or Giuffre (born 1481 or 1482). His other children – Girolamo, Isabella and Pier Luigi – were of uncertain parentage. Before his elevation to the papacy Cardinal Borgia's passion for Vannozza somewhat diminished, and she subsequently led a very retired life. Her place in his affections was filled by the beautiful Giulia Farnese (Giulia Bella), wife of an Orsini, but his love for his children by Vannozza remained as strong as ever and proved, indeed, the determining factor of his whole career. He lavished vast sums on them and loaded them with every honour. The atmosphere of Alexander's household is typified by the fact that his daughter Lucrezia lived with his mistress Giulia, who bore him a daughter, Laura, in 1492. He is an ancestor of virtually all Royal Houses of Europe, mainly the Southern and Western ones, for being the ancestor of Doña Luisa de Guzmán, wife of King John IV of Portugal.
Representations in popular culture
- The contemporary politician and author Niccolò Machiavelli wrote 1513 his book of power politics The Prince, in which he refers to Alexander VI as a successful politician.
- Frederick Rolfe ("Baron Corvo") wrote Chronicles of the House of Borgia. This was a revisionist account, in which he argued that the Borgia family was unjustly maligned and that the accounts of poisoning were a myth.
- Alexander VI and his family are the subjects of Mario Puzo's final novel The Family, as well as Robert Rankin's humorous and fictionalized novel The Antipope.
- The Borgia Bride (2005) is a historic fiction by Jeanne Kalogridis, told from the perspective of Sancha of Aragon, married to the Pope's youngest son Gioffre Borgia.
- In March 2005, Heavy Metal published the first of a three part graphic novel biography of Alexander VI entitled Borgia, written by Alexandro Jodorowsky with art by Milo Manara. The story focuses mostly on the sexual indiscretions and acts of violent backstabbery carried out by the corrupt papal figure. The second part was released in July 2006 and the third in July 2009.
- Gregory Maguire makes strong references to Alexander VI and specifically his daughter in the 2003 novel, Mirror, Mirror.
- Spanish author Javier Sierra writes of Pope Alexander VI in his novel, The Secret Supper.
- French author Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo mentions murder of Cardinal Spada by Alexander VI and his son. This is told by Abbe Faria to Edmond Dantes in the prison in relation to a treasure belonging to Cardinal Spada.
- Italian authors Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti depict a totally different image of Pope Alexander VI in The doubts of Salaì (2007). They reference sources which quote Alexander as an integer, hard working functionary in the Roman Catholic Church. His infamous reputation would be largely attributed to falsified documents and the slander of his opponents.
- German author Friedrich Schiller refers to Borgia in Der Verbrecher aus Verlorener Ehre referring to his less than favourable reputation, 'Stünde einmal, wie für die übrigen Reiche der Natur, auch für das Menschengeschlecht ein Linnäus auf, welcher nach Trieben und Neigungen klassifizierte, wie sehr würde man erstaunen, wenn man so manchen, dessen Laster in einer engen bürgerlichen Sphäre un in der schmalen Umzäugnung der Gesetze jetzt ersticken muss, mit dem Ungeheur Borgia in einer Ordnung beisammen fände.'
- Barnabe Barnes' 1606 play The Devil's Charter, performed at the Globe by the King's Men, dramatizes the life of Pope Alexander VI and his daughter Lucretia Borgia. In Barnes' play Alexander sells his soul to the devil in exchange for the papacy. Lucretia binds, gags, and stabs her husband onstage and later dies poisoned by her own cosmetics.
- Alexander is played by Lluís Homar in the 2006 Spanish film, Los Borgia.
- A Young Roderic de Borgia during the 1458 Conclave is played by Manu Fullola in the 2006 Canadian movie The Conclave.
- The last of Walerian Borowczyk's Contes Immoreaux (Immoral Tales) shows Jacopo Berenizi as Alexander VI, enjoying incest with Lucrezia and Cesare while Savonarola is arrested and burned.
- In the series of Short films Assassin's Creed: Lineage Rodrigo Borgia starts a conspiracy to destroy the Medici dynasty. In the first short film, he hires some assassins to kill the Duke of Milano, Galeazo Maria Sforza. Is played by Manuel Tadros
- The papacy of Alexander VI was dramatized in the 1981 BBC series The Borgias, starring the veteran Italian actor Adolfo Celi as Pope Alexander.
- The Canadian sketch comedy History Bites parodied Pope Alexander VI by portraying him and his family as The Osborgias (Done as a parody of The Osbournes).
- In the popular TV show, Alias, the character Milo Rambaldi was said to be Alexander VI's "chief architect".
- In Assassin's Creed II, Rodrigo Borgia is portrayed as the primary antagonist of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. In the game, Borgia uses power struggles in Florence and Venice to gain enough power to be named the Pope. He is characterized as dismissing all of the Bible's teachings, and the only reason why he became Pope was to gain access to "The Vault", a temple underneath the Sistine Chapel which is rumored to be the dwelling place of the biblical God, to overthrow God and gain his power. Ezio spares his life after a fistfight underneath the Sistine Chapel.
- The English occultist Aleister Crowley considered Alexander VI to be one of his previous incarnations.
- In the Hellblazer story arc 'Mortification of the Flesh' (issues 243-244), much of the plot revolves around a special room beneath the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican; any act performed within the room cannot be said to be sinful, as it is 'set apart from the world', and '[hidden] from God'. One character claims that specific papal decree lead to the room's creation. Main character John Constantine affirms this, further stating that the pope who issued the decree was none other than Alexander VI, or Roderic Llancol de Borgia, of 'those Borgias', and that the room was created to have 'somewhere were he could rape little boys without being damned for it'.
- ↑ Pope Alexander V is now considered an anti-pope. At the time however, he was not considered as such and so the fifth true Pope Alexander took the official number VI. This has advanced the numbering of all subsequent Popes Alexander by one. Popes Alexander VI-VIII are really the fifth through seventh recognised popes by that name.
- ↑ Barbara Tuchman (1984). The March of Folly. ISBN 0-394-52777-1.
- ↑ Peter de Rossa, Vicars of Christ, p.144.
- ↑ John Burchard, Diaries 1483–1492 (translation: A.H. Matthew, London, 1910)
- ↑ James Reston, Dogs of God, New York, Anchor Books, 2005, p. 287.
- ↑ "The Papacy" by Paul Johnson, page 106 in the chapter titled "The Renaissance Papacy", written by the Revd. Dr. John W. O'Malley SJ
- ↑ Stogre, p. 69-70
- ↑ Raiswell, p. 469, "Black Africans in Renaissance Europe", P. 281, Luis N. Rivera, 1992, p. 25-28
- ↑ cited by Luis N. Rivera, 1992, p. 28
- ↑ "Black Africans in Renaissance Europe", P. 281
- ↑ Patrick Madrid, "Pope Fiction"
- ↑ Thornberry 2002, p. 65; Luis N. Rivera, 1992, p. 37
- ↑ Thornberry 2002, p. 65
- ↑ Norman Davies, Europe: A history p. 687
- ↑ de Rossa, op.cit., p.151.
- ↑ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6943005
- ↑ The Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition (1911)
- ↑ Black Legend#Origin
- ↑ James Carroll, Constantine's Sword, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, pp. 363-64.
- ↑ Niccolò Machiavelli. "The Prince". Wikisource. pp. chapter XVIII. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Prince/Chapter_XVIII.
- ↑ Mirror, Mirror, Gregory Maguire (2003)
- ↑ Crowley, Aleister. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, ch. 86.
- "Pope Alexander VI" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
- John Burchard, Diaries 1483–1492 (translation: A.H. Matthew, London, 1910)
- Eamon Duffy, Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes (Yale Nota Bene, 2002)
- Peter de Rossa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy (Corgi, 1989)
- Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition.
- Borja or Borgia (in Spanish)
- "That the world may believe: the development of Papal social thought on aboriginal rights", Michael Stogre S.J, Médiaspaul, 1992, ISBN 2890395499
- "The Historical Encyclopedia of World slavery", Editor Junius P. Rodriguez, ABC-CLIO, 1997, ISBN 0874368855
- "Black Africans in Renaissance Europe", Thomas Foster Earle, K. J. P. Lowe, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 0521815827
- "A violent evangelism", Luis N. Rivera, Luis Rivera Pagán, Westminster John Knox Press, 1992, ISBN 0664253679
- "Indigenous peoples and human rights", Patrick Thornberry, Manchester University Press, 2002, ISBN 0719037948
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