Pope Alexander VI 1492 - 1503

Pope Alexander VI at the wedding party for his daughter Lucrezia Borgia on June 12, 1493.

Pope Alexander VI at the wedding party for his daughter Lucrezia Borgia on June 12, 1493.

Pope Alexander VI enjoyed sex parties hosted by his son Cesare and daughter Lucrezia.

Pope Alexander VI enjoyed sex parties hosted by his son Cesare and daughter
Lucrezia.

Pope Alexander VI made it a habit to sell numerous church positions.

Pope Alexander VI made it a habit to sell numerous church positions.

Pope Alexander VI, born Roderic Llanšol i de Borja (Valencian pronunciation: [ro­eˈɾiɡ ʎanˈsɔɫ i ­e ˈβɔɾdʒa], Spanish: Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja [roˈ­ɾiɣo lanˈθol i ­e ˈβorxa]; 1 January 1431 – 18 August 1503), was Pope from 11 August 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, because he didn┤t respect the clerical celibacy and had several legitimately acknowledged children. Therefore his Italianized Valencian surname, Borgia, became a byword for libertinism and nepotism, which are traditionally considered as characterizing his papacy.

Rodrigo Borgia studied law at Bologna where he graduated, not simply as Doctor of Law, but as "the most eminent and judicious jurisprudent." After the election of his uncle as Pope Callixtus III, he was ordained deacon and created Cardinal-Deacon of San Nicola in Carcere at the age of twenty-five in 1456. The following year, he was appointed vice-chancellor of the Holy Roman Church. Both nepotistic appointments were characteristic of the age. Each pope during this period inevitably found himself surrounded by the servants and retainers of his predecessors who often owed their loyalty to the family of the pontiff who had appointed them. In 1468, he was ordained to the priesthood and, in 1471, he was consecrated bishop and appointed Cardinal-Bishop of Albano.[1] Having served in the Roman Curia under five popes – Calixtus III, Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII – Rodrigo Borgia acquired considerable administrative experience, influence and wealth.

When his uncle Alonso de Borja (bishop of Valencia) was elected Pope Callixtus III, he "inherited" the post of bishop of Valencia. Sixteen days before the death of Pope Innocent VIII, he proposed Valencia as a metropolitan and he became the first archbishop of Valencia. When Rodrigo de Borja was elected pope as Alexander VI following the death of Innocent VIII, it was the turn of his son Cesare Borgia to "inherit" the post as second archbishop of Valencia. The third and the fourth archbishops of Valencia were Juan de Borja and Pedro Luis de Borja, grand-nephew and brother of Alexander VI.

Of Alexander's many mistresses the one for whom 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: Cesare (born 1475), Giovanni, afterwards duke of Gandia (born 1476) , Lucrezia (born 1480), and Goffredo or Giuffre (born 1481 or 1482). Three of his other children, Girolama, Isabella and Pedro-Luiz, were of uncertain parentage. His son Bernardo, a product of his liaison with Vittoria (Victoria) Sailˇr dei Venezia in 1469, is much less known because his father kept him in hiding, most likely due to shame, for he was a cardinal, who aspired to become the pope. He gave up hiding his many children after he fathered four more.

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 la 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 lauded them with every honour. The atmosphere of Alexander's household is typified by the fact that his daughter Lucrezia lived with his mistress Giulia, who bore him a daughter, Laura, in 1492.

On 25 January 1494, Ferdinand I died and was succeeded by his son Alfonso II (1494–1495).[13] Charles VIII of France now advanced formal claims on the Kingdom of Naples. Pope Alexander VI authorised him to pass through Rome, ostensibly on a crusade against the Ottoman Empire, without mentioning Naples. But when the French invasion became a reality Pope Alexander VI became alarmed, recognised Alfonso II as king of Naples, and concluded an alliance with him in exchange for various fiefs for his sons (July 1494). A military response to the French threat was set in motion: a Neapolitan army was to advance through the Romagna and attack Milan, while the fleet was to seize Genoa. Both expeditions were badly conducted and failed, and on 8 September Charles VIII crossed the Alps and joined Lodovico il Moro at Milan. The Papal States were in turmoil, and the powerful Colonna faction seized Ostia in the name of France. Charles VIII rapidly advanced southward, and after a short stay in Florence, set out for Rome (November 1494).

Pope Alexander VI appealed to Ascanio Sforza and even to the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid II for help. He tried to collect troops and put Rome in a state of defence, but his position was precarious. When the Orsini offered to admit the French to their castles, Alexander had no choice but to come to terms with Charles. On 31 December, Charles VIII entered Rome with his troops, the cardinals of the French faction, and Giuliano della Rovere. Pope Alexander VI now feared that Charles might depose him for simony, and that the king would summon a council to nominate a new pope. Pope Alexander VI was able to win over the bishop of Saint-Malo, who had much influence over the king, with a cardinal's hat. Pope Alexander VI agreed to send Cesare as legate to Naples with the French army; to deliver Cem Sultan, held as a hostage, to Charles VIII, and to give Charles Civitavecchia (16 January 1495). On 28 January Charles VIII departed for Naples with Cem and Cesare, but the latter slipped away to Spoleto. Neapolitan resistance collapsed, and Alfonso II fled and abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinand II. Ferdinand was abandoned by all and also had to escape, and the Kingdom of Naples was conquered with surprising ease.

Following the death of Alexander VI, Julius II said on the day of his election: "I will not live in the same rooms as the Borgias lived. He desecrated the Holy Church as none before. He usurped the papal power by the devil's aid, and I forbid under the pain of excommunication anyone to speak or think of Borgia again. His name and memory must be forgotten. It must be crossed out of every document and memorial. His reign must be obliterated. All paintings made of the Borgias or for them must be covered over with black crepe. All the tombs of the Borgias must be opened and their bodies sent back to where they belong – to Spain." The Borgias' apartments remained sealed until the 19th century.

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