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The Borgias and Their Enemies, 1431-1519


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Christopher Hibbert (1924 - 2008) wrote more than fifty acclaimed books, including The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici and Rome: The Biography of a City. A leading popular historian whose works reflected meticulous scholarship, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


In three generations, the Borgia family earned a notoriety that shows no sign of waning after 500 years. Popular and prolific historian Hibbert (The Days of the French Revolution) follows Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia (1431-1503) who, starting as vice chancellor of the Holy See to his uncle, Pope Calixtus III, rose through the ranks of papal offices to become the nepotistic Pope Alexander VI, who legitimized his mistress's children to share with them his papal power, most prominently the promiscuous Lucrezia and her syphilitic brother Cesare, the model for Machiavelli's The Prince. For the Borgias, family loyalty outweighed allegiance to church or state. Hibbert's Borgias live up to their reputation for murder, rape, adultery, and greed. At the death of Alexander, the Borgias ceased to play a role of significance; Italy was glad to be rid of them. Readers expecting a larger discussion of Renaissance morality or the Borgia's impact on the Reformation will not find it in this straightforward, carefully researched narrative. But Hibbert's unsensationalized account of sensational material makes a fascinating read. Recommended for all public and college libraries.--Stewart Desmond, Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Acclaimed British historian Hibbert's latest work focuses on three members of the notorious Borgia family of Spain, who came to power in Rome with the election of Alfonso de Borgia (1378-1458), the scholarly bishop of Valencia, to the papacy as Calixtus III. Calixtus's nephew Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (1431-1503) was known for decadence as well as keen administrative skills. Cardinal Rodrigo played a key role in electing Pope Sixtus IV, had a lucrative career as vice chancellor under five popes, fathered several children and bribed his way to becoming pope himself, as Alexander VI, in 1492. His children were infamous, including the unscrupulous military leader and politician Cesare (1475-1507), who inspired Machiavelli's The Prince and murdered his own brother and brother-in-law to achieve his goals, while his daughter Lucrezia (1480-1519) overcame an incestuous reputation to become a respected patron of the arts as duchess of Ferrara. The book is a heavily researched and generally engrossing account of a famous dynasty, but readers may wish Hibbert (The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici) had used a more assertive and analytical voice to accompany the detailed descriptions of Renaissance life. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

PRAISE FOR CHRISTOPHER HIBBERT [A] superbly scrupulous and sympathetic interpreter.--The Boston Globe Simply unputdown-able.--The New York Times Book Review

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