- related to: Pope Alexander VI
Pope 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 Moor, so called because of his swarthy complexion), the de facto Duke of Milan, who needed French support to legitimise his rule.
Alexander VI, original Spanish name in full Rodrigo de Borja y Doms, Italian Rodrigo Borgia, (born 1431, Játiva, near Valencia [Spain]—died August 18, 1503, Rome), corrupt, worldly, and ambitious pope (1492–1503), whose neglect of the spiritual inheritance of the church contributed to the development of the Protestant Reformation.
- Nepotism and Opposition
- French Involvement
- The French in Retreat
- Confiscations and Savonarola
- Cesare in The North
- Last Years
- Death and Reputation
- Mistresses and Family
Alexander VI's elevation did not at the time excite much alarm, and at first his reign was marked by a strict administration of justice and an orderly method of government in satisfactory contrast with the anarchy of the previous pontificate, as well as by great outward splendor. But it was not long before his unbridled passion for endowing his relatives at the expense of the Church and of his neighbors became manifest. For this object he was ready to commit any crime and to plunge all Italy into war. Alexander VI had four children by his mistress (Vannozza dei Cattani), three sons and a daughter: Giovanni (1474), Cesare, Goffredo (or Giuffre) and Lucrezia Borgia. Cesare, then a youth of seventeen and a student at Pisa, was made archbishop of Valencia, Giovanni received a cardinal's hat in addition to the dukedom of Gandia. For the dukes of Gandia and Giuffre the Pope proposed to carve fiefs out of the papal states and the kingdom of Naples. Among the fiefs destined for the duke of...
Alexander VI made many alliances to secure his position, but fearing himself isolated he sought help from Charles VIII of France (1483–98). As the King of Naples threatened to come to the aid of Gian Galeazzo, who had married the Pope's granddaughter, Alexander VI encouraged the French King in his schemes for the conquest of Naples. Alexander VI carried on a double policy, always ready to seize opportunities to aggrandize his family. But through the intervention of the Spanish ambassador he made peace with Naples in July 1493 and also with the Orsini; the peace was cemented by a marriage between the Pope's son Giuffre and Doña Sancha, Ferdinand II's granddaughter. In order to dominate the College of Cardinalsmore completely he 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 the beautiful Giulia Farnese, one of the Pope's mistresses, creations which caused much scandal. On the Janu...
But a reaction against Charles VIII soon set in, for all the powers were alarmed at his success, and on March 31, a league between the pope, the emperor, Venice, Lodovico il Moro and Ferdinand of Spain was formed, ostensibly against the Turks, but in reality to expel the French from Italy. Charles VIII had himself crowned King of Naples on May 12, but a few days later began his retreat northward. He encountered the allies at the Battle of Fornovo, and after a drawn fight cut his way through them and was back in France by November; Ferdinand II was reinstated at Naples soon afterwards, though 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 to overwhelm and unite the rest under its hegemony); since it rendered the country unable to face the ingerences of the powerful 'Nation States' that forged themselves in the previous cen...
Violent and revengeful, he now became the most powerful man in Rome, and even his father quailed before him. As he needed funds to carry out his various schemes, Alexander VI began a series of confiscations, of which one of the victims was his own secretary, in order to enrich him. The process was a simple one: any cardinal, nobleman or official who was known to be rich would be accused of some offense; imprisonment and perhaps murder followed at once, and then the confiscation of his property. The disorganization of the Curia was appalling, the sale of offices became a veritable scandal, the least opposition to the Borgia was punished with death, and even in that corrupt age the state of things shocked public opinion. The story of Alexander VI's relations with Savonarola is told in that article; it is enough to say here that the Pope's hostility was due to the friar's outspoken invectives against papal corruption and to his appeals for a General Council. Alexander VI, although he c...
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 once more and the French reoccupied Milan in April, causing the downfall of the Sforzas, much to Alexander VI's gratification. But there was no end to the Vatican tragedies, and in July the duke of Bisceglie, whose existence was no longer advantageous, was murdered by Cesare's orders; this left 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. But while a crusade was talked of, the real object was central Italy, and in the autumn, Cesare, favored by France and Venice, set forth with 10,000 men to complete his interrupted enterprise. The local despots of Romagna were dispossessed...
A promise of French help at once forced the confederates to come to terms, and Cesare by an act of treachery seized the ringleaders at Senigallia, and put Oliverotto da Fermo and Vitellozzo Vitelli to death (December 31, 1502). As soon as Alexander VI heard the news he decoyed 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 numbers of 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 a great step achieved towards consolidating the Borgia's power. Cesare then returned to Rome, where his father wished 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 eventual...
Burchard recorded the events that surrounded the death of the Pope. According to Burchard, Alexander VI's stomach became swollen and turned to liquid, while his face became wine-colored and his skin began to peel off. Finally his stomach and bowels bled profusely. On August 18, 1503 Alexander VI died at the age of 72. His death was followed by scenes of wild disorder, and Cesare, himself apparently ill or poisoned but who survived, could not attend to business, but sent Don Michelotto, his chief bravo, to seize the Pope's treasures before the demise was publicly announced. When the body was exhibited to the people the next day it was in a shocking state of decomposition. Its tongue had swollen and jammed the late Pope's mouth open. Burchard described how the Pope's mouth foamed like a kettle over a fire. The body began to swell so much that it became as wide as it was long. The Venetian ambassador reported that the Alexander VI's body was "the ugliest, most monstrous and horrible de...
Of his 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 Borgia (1498), afterwards duke of Gandia (born 1474), Cesare Borgia (born 1476), Lucrezia Borgia (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 honor. A characteristic instance of the pa...Encyclopaedia Brittanica,1911 edition.Burchard, John. The diary of John Burchard of Strasburg, Bishop of Orta and Civita Castellana: Pontificial master of ceremonies to their Holinesses, Sixtus P.P. IV.; Innocent … III; and P.P. Julius...Chamberlin, E. R. The Bad Popes. Dorset Press, 1986. ISBN 978-0880291163Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, in association with S4C, 1997. ISBN 0300073321
Borgia, by a bare two-thirds majority secured by his own vote, was proclaimed Pope on the morning of 11 Aug., 1492, and took the name of Alexander VI. [For details of the conclave see Pastor, "Hist. of the Popes", (German ed., Freiburg, 1895), III, 275-278; also Am. Cath. Quart.
Borgia, by a bare two-thirds majority secured by his own vote, was proclaimed Pope on the morning of 11 Aug., 1492, and took the name of Alexander VI. [For details of the conclave see Pastor, "Hist. of the Popes", (German ed., Freiburg, 1895), III, 275-278; also Am. Cath. Quart. Review, April, 1900.]
- Alexander VI Was Born Into Spanish Nobility. Pope Alexander VI was born Rodrigo de Borja in Xàtiva, near Valencia, Spain to a family of Spanish nobles.
- He Wasn’t the Only Borgia Pope. Alexander VI was not the only Borgia to become pope. In fact, he was the second of three Borgias to lead the Catholic Church.
- He Ascended the Ranks Through Nepotism. After the election of his uncle Pope Callixtus III, Callixtus made Rodrigo Borgia a cardinal. Soon after, he went even further and made Rodrigo then vice-chancellor of the Catholic Church.
- He Kept Multiple Mistresses. In this era, it wasn’t too scandalous for high-ranking church officials to have mistresses. However, Rodrigo made the rare and controversial move of openly acknowledging the children he fathered out of wedlock.
Jun 20, 2020 · Pope Alexander VI was born Rodrigo Borgia in the Spanish town of Xàtiva, near Valencia, in 1431. The infamous Borgias were Spanish nobles who attained power and wealth in Spain and across the Italian peninsula during the Renaissance by securing high-ranking civic and ecclesiastical offices.
- Natasha Ishak
Jun 14, 2019 · Alexander VI and his son Cesare Borgia emerged as two of the most feared and hated figures in Italy during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, leading some to believe Pope Alexander VI's cause of death was assassination.
The collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century created a political and cultural vacuum that was filled, in part, by the Roman Catholic Church. For the next 1000 years the continuity of the Church of Rome provided a semblance of stability as Europe sank into barbarism. By the dawn of the Renaissance, however, the mission of the papacy had been corrupted by the conflict between its sacred duties as the Vicar of Christ and its temporal responsibilities as head of the Papal States. This was not the papacy's finest hour.
Pope Alexander VI epitomizes this corruption. Born as Rodrigo Borgia in Spain in 1431, he was elected Pope in 1492, an event that spawned rumors that he had spent a considerable fortune bribing the appropriate Cardinals to assure his success. Fourteen years after his death, the corruption of the papacy that Alexander VI exemplified - particularly the sale of indulgences - would prompt a young monk by the name of Martin Luther to nail a summary of his grievances on the door of a church in Germany and launch the Protestant Reformation.
The new Pope loved the good life. He sired at least twelve children through a number of mistresses. The most famous of his offspring were his son Cesare, noted for the murder of political rivals, and his daughter Lucrezia who was married off to a number of husbands for political gain.
Pope Alexander VI was in constant need of money - to support his lavish life style, to fill the coffers for his political bribes and to fund his various military campaigns. The sale of Cardinalships was a major source of cash, so too was the sale of indulgences. An indulgence was a written proclamation that exonerated - for a fee - the individual (or his relatives) from punishment in the after-life for sins that had been committed, or in some cases, may be committed in the future.
\\"On Saturday morning, August 12th, the pope felt unwell, and at about three o'clock in the afternoon he became feverish. Fourteen ounces of blood were taken from him three days later and tertiary fever set in. Early on August 17th, he was given some medicine, but he worsened and at about six o'clock on the following morning, he made his confession to Don Pietro Gamboa, the Bishop of Carinola, who then celebrated Mass in His Holiness's presence. After he had made his own communion, he gave the pope the Host as he sat in his bed and then completed the Mass. The service was also attended by five cardinals - Serra, Francesco Borgia, Giovanni Castelar, Casanova and de Loris of Constantinople - to whom His Holiness stated that he felt ill. At the hour of Vespers he was given Extreme Unction by the Bishop of Carinola, and he expired in the presence of the datary, the bishop and the attendants standing by.
Don Cesare, [the Pope's illegitimate son] who was also unwell at the time, sent Michelotto with a large number of retainers to close all the doors that gave access to the pope's room. One of the men took out a dagger and threatened to cut Cardinal Casanova's throat and to throw him out of the window unless he handed over the keys to all the pope's treasure. Terrified, the cardinal surrendered the keys, whereupon the others entered the room next to the papal apartment and seized all the silver that they found, together with two coffers containing about a hundred thousand ducats.
At four o'clock in the afternoon, they opened the doors and proclaimed that the pope was dead. In the meantime, valets took what had been left behind in the wardrobe and the apartments, and nothing of value remained except the papal chairs, some cushions and the tapestries on the walls. Throughout the whole of the pope's illness, Don Cesare never visited his father, nor again after his death, whilst His Holiness for his part never once made the slightest reference to Cesare or Lucrezia [the Pope's illegitimate daughter].\\"
Burchard and a colleague dress the Pope's body and leave it in a Vatican courtyard. We rejoin his story that evening as he enters the city of Rome accompanied by an armed guard:
Burchurad's account appears in: Burchard Johann, At the Court of the Borgia, Geoffrey Parker editor and translator (1963); Chamberlin, E. R., The Fall of the House of Borgia (1974); Manchester, William, A World Lit Only by Fire: the medieval mind and the Renaissance : portrait of an age (1992). How To Cite This Article: \\"The Death of Pope Alexander VI, 1503\\" EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2007).
Apr 20, 2005 · Alexander VI was born Rodrigo de Borja y Borja in 1431 and made a cardinal at age 25 by his uncle, Pope Callistus III, who reigned in 1455-58.. Once pope, Alexander VI named his own 18-year-old ...
- Don Lattin
- related to: Pope Alexander VI
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