The Renaissance Popes: Statesmen, Warriors and the Great Borgia Myth


To say the Renaissance popes were not known for their morality would be an understatement, but neither were some of them, Noel asserts, quite so bad as the accepted historical understanding would have us believe. Noel covers the colorful reigns of seventeen different popes, from Nicholas V to Pius V, allowing the reader to witness the Renaissance cultural flowering of the arts, wars, murder, reform, and more.

Noel’s writing style is accessible and his research seems to be thorough, although some popes are given much more chapter space than others. It is obvious that this book is apologetic in tone, especially where Alexander VI (patriarch of the infamous Borgia clan) is concerned, but Noel does not gloss over the horrendous deeds of some of the popes he covers. At the same time, he examines these men in light of the age in which they lived, emphasizing the importance in 15th century European society of promoting family interests to illustrate that those of the Renaissance period would not have had the same reaction to the nepotism of some popes as do current biographers and historians. Overall, this book is an interesting look at Renaissance popes and the times in which they lived.

Share this review

Buy "The Beggar at the Gate & Other Stories" for £2.05 (Kindle edition)

12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award





(US) $27.95
(UK) £25.00

(US) 9780786718412
(UK) 9781845293437




Appeared in

Reviewed by