The Borgias: The Hidden History


As a follow-up to his previous book, The Tudors: A World Undone, Meyer brings his considerable skills to another infamous Renaissance family, the Borgias. Fans of the Showtime TV series The Borgias will find this book fascinating, as will any student of history. Meyer’s research has led him to rethink the stereotypes about the Borgia family, and he brings a fresh look into the machinations of power in Renaissance Italy.

The first Borgia (or Borja) to reach power is Alonso, who becomes Pope Calixtus III. I was surprised to learn that, rather than the power-hungry man I had imagined, Alonso is a quiet, unassuming man who is thrust into the highest seat in all Christendom. As he adapts to his promotion, he appoints two of his nephews. There is nothing evil in this, though it is a good example of the nepotism common during the time.

The next Borgia to reach the pinnacle of the Christian world is Rodrigo, who becomes Pope Alexander VI. It is he upon whom Machiavelli is supposed to have based his book, The Prince. And it is this pope who really blackens the reputation of the Borgias. But are these accusations true? Have the rumors about the family been based on fact or on letters from someone seeking revenge? Meyer makes a convincing case that the Borgias have been given a raw deal. His book is his attempt to set the record straight.

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