Cesare Borgia (In progress…)
Imagine your family name is dragged through the mud and becomes synonymous with incest, murder, poison and unscrupulous greed. And imagine this does not only happen in your lifetime, but it becomes a Black Legend that festers for more than five centuries.
This has been the fate of the Borgias, a Spanish family who lived in Rome at the end of the 15th century.
During their 10-year rule of the Italian peninsula, Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) and his son, Cesare Borgia tried to create a buffer state to protect the papal territories. This buffer state should stretch from the Romagna at the Adriatic Sea to Tuscany at the Mediterranean, and should protect the Papal States from foreign invasions. The idea was ambitious and politically extremely progressive, and today we know that if they had succeeded, the peninsula could have been spared from a lot of war horror the following five decades.
Cesare was Alexander’s tool to accomplish not only the buffer for the Papal States but also the aggrandizement of the Borgia dynasty. He was the first cardinal ever to drop the cloth, married a French princess, became the trusted ally of the French King, toppled all petty tyrants in the Romagna and established a righteous rule that would earn him the eternal loyalty of the Romagnol. He baffled the great politician and diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli by creating the first disciplined, well trained, well paid and uniformed army that could be gathered within three days. A feat none of the Italian city states whose safety highly depended on military strength of foreign powers such as France and Spain, had ever been able to accomplish.
Those who had been stripped of power choked in the immense success of the despised Spanish Borgias. For more than a decade, these jealous enemies, greedy to re-install themselves in power, fought with the only weapon they had at their disposal: slander of the vilest kind. Pamphlets were published, theatre plays and letters were written and gossip at hostile courts thrived: the Black Legend of the Borgias was born. After the death of both Alexander and Cesare, the gossip continued to flourish, grew completely out of proportions, and was (and still is) considered ‘truth and fact’.
Only very recently, historians have begun to reconstruct and investigate the truth about the lives of Rodrigo and Lucrezia Borgia and have come to rather different conclusions in terms of their image and role in life. Up-to-now, Cesare, has not exactly received the same research attention as his father and sister, and he remains the most vilified Borgia of them all. In my book, I aim to restore his maligned reputation of cruel, incestuous, blood thirsty devil, and I will justify why he was a grand condotiere, perfect courtier, brilliant mind and ruler, and a true Prince of the Italian Renaissance. Walking in Machiavelli’s footsteps, I will justify why Cesare Borgia could have been the perfect Ruler.
This book is a work in process. Be on the look-out for snippets of the story here on my website!