The Borgias and Their Enemies: 1431-1519

The Borgias and Their Enemies: 1431-1519

The first major biography of the Borgias in thirty years, Christopher Hibbert's latest history brings the family and the world they lived inthe glittering Rome of the Italian Renaissanceto life.The name Borgia is synonymous with the corruption,

Reviews of the The Borgias and Their Enemies: 1431-1519

I was more interested in the marginal aspects, such as the familys origins, the Popes patronage of the arts, and what happened to Alexanders children well after he had died. Alexander, Rodrigo Borgia (Borja in his original language) was not the first Pope in his family. Ironically, this Sixtus--a Della Rovere who had been involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici and who also liked to take care of his nephews--, was the uncle of Alexanders greatest enemy, Giuliano della Rovere who later became Julius II. When Alexander Rodrigo, came to Spain he brought some artists in his retinue, effectively introducing Italian Renaissance art into the country.

To me it seems to minimize the emotional impact of the huge amounts of suffering this family caused to so many thousands of people. I doubt that we would find it acceptable to present more recent historical events in this fashion.

This book should really be called Renaissance Mules and the Fabrics they Carried as the author seems far more interesting in describing in detail how many mules loaded up with how many yards of brocade, silks and cloth of gold schlepped across the Apennines for sundry weddings and festivities. I suppose accurate history does depend on the contemporary documents available and the writers of the Borgias time might be the ones obsessed with fabrics, public parades and the costumes of the 300 page boys attending but Hibbert shares their obsession. Hibbert describes how Lucrezia took 200 mules loaded with gifts and clothes to her wedding amongst other vast mule trains in the book.

The only thing I really remembered about the Borgias was a comment from my European history teacher in high school who said that one of them was a Pope, who had an affair with his son and his daughter. The Borgia's were a Spanish family who found a great deal of influence in Italy largely because of their ties to the church. Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia is really the first of the family to have a major influence, though is uncle Alfonso was the first to become Pope as Calixtus III. He proved to be one of those elderly Popes who served only a very brief amount of time before dying so his influence was limited. Rodrigo, on the other hand, was able to use the papacy to start unifying Italy and to provide his children with a great deal of power, influence, and money. His influence started when he served under a number of Popes as their vice chancellor. The same could have been said of the benefits of including a family tree for the Borgias as well as similar genealogies of some of the other families playing a major role in the history of events included in the book.

I have to confess that my interest in the Borgia family comes from playing the Assassins Creed games I love knowing what has been cleverly included in the games, where things diverge, etc. Its just that lack of analysis, and even a certain impartiality I have to confess that when a historian writes a pop-history book about a particular figure or family, I want to feel their bias coming through, their interest in the subject.

This book attempts to cover almost 100 years of Renaissance Italian history in 336 pages. Oh, and if you have any illusions that a Renaissance Pope was anything other than a strangely chosen European King; this book will disabuse you.

All this Hibbert tells us as Europe's awakening washes over his reader, and by the end, though glad to have seen the end of Rodrigo's eldest son Cesare, it is easy to pity the fallen Borgias.

  • English

  • History

  • Rating: 3.74
  • Pages: 336
  • Publish Date: October 6th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Isbn10: 0151010331
  • Isbn13: 9780151010332