|About the Book|
The Borgias are one of the most notorious families in European history, not because of any lasting achievements nor for long occupation of positions of power and influence, but because of the moral outrages committed by members of two generations ofMoreThe Borgias are one of the most notorious families in European history, not because of any lasting achievements nor for long occupation of positions of power and influence, but because of the moral outrages committed by members of two generations of the family at a time when Italy was at the centre of the European stage. The activities of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, and his children, Cesare and Lucrezia, have attracted the attention of poets, playwrights, novelists and musicians as well as contemporary pamphleteers and historians of all subsequent generations. Most of these have devoted themselves to describing the private lives of these members of the Borigia family, thus creating the impression that the only memorable things about them were their poisonings and their incest.What has rarely been attempted in any reasonably accessible form, and therefore with little impact on popular ideas, is an assessment of the social and political aims and achievements of the Borgia family as a whole. Who were the Borgias? What were they doing in the fifteenth century that made them so hated and feared in Italy? What were the wider implications of the two Borgia pontificates? What happened to the family after the death of Alexander VI? These are the questions which this book attempts to answer for the benefit of as wide an audience as possible. The main significance of the Borgias lies not in their crimes and immoralities but in the dramatic rise of the family from a position of relatively obscure Spanish nobility to the highest position in Renaissance society. It lies in the policies of Alexander VI as one of the leading Popes of the Renaissance: the extent to which these policies were designed for the continued advancement of the family, and the extent to which he succeeded in creating positions of influence and importance for his family in Italy, France, and Spain, which survived for over two centuries.