Album for the Young. Appendix 1. No. 5. Lagoon in Venice

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Making good use of their manifestly narrow window, Callixtus had the city of Valencia promoted from having Bishops to having Archbishops. He thus made Rodrigo an Archbishop, then a Cardinal, and finally gave him the position of Vice-Chancellor of the Church, an important and lucrative!

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When his fifth papal election rolled around in , he was nicely on track to be another mildly-entertaining, thoroughly-corrupt Renaissance pope. The papal election of was one of the great power games of world history. Anyone seeking to create a board game or one-shot role-playing simulation of an exciting political moment need look no farther. Twenty-three men are locked in the not-yet-Michelangelized Sistine Chapel. Everyone has a different goal. A few want to be pope.

Others want to sell their votes to the papabile pope-able candidates for the best price going. Some want wealth; some have plenty and want to turn it into power. Some want titles; some have titles but have lost the fortunes that should go with them and are hoping to earn that back. Ten of the cardinals present are nephews of previous popes, eager to keep nursing from the coffers and to keep their family fortunes safe from rivals. The previous pope glutted the College with his own relatives but all are too young for anyone to be willing to vote for them, so they have thrown their collective clout behind the cunning veteran Giuliano della Rovere : learned, aggressive, interested in art, interested in the classics, and interested above all in how both can be used as tools of power.

As for Rodrigo Borgia, he has waited a long time. Resources: all the wealth, contacts, secrets, tax-returns and dirt he has accumulated in decades managing the papal purse. It was a very complex election, about which we have lots of information, but little that is reliable. We know there were four rounds of voting, and that Borgia was not one of the front runners in the three leading to his unanimous or near-unanimous victory in the last. We have records of enormous bribes, offices and territories representing tens of thousands of florins in annual income changing hands.

One delightful anecdote from the period claims that the year-old Patriarch of Venice was the last critical swing vote, who, having a wealthy family, secure lines of power, a literally impregnable homeland, and not long to live to enjoy the fruits of bribery, sold out for a couple hundred florins and some marzipan, since, when one is locked in the Sistine Chapel with a bunch of clerics for day after day, sweets are precious hard to come by.

In the end even Giuliano della Rovere himself seems to have accepted that, if he could not win, it was better to profit and wait than to remain stubborn and gain nothing. He was still fit, favored by the King of France, and likely to survive to see another election. For more nitty-gritty details on what we think we might maybe know could have happened potentially, see the wiki. One point of friction which came up in the course of the election was a proposal to contractually limit the number of new cardinals the new pope could appoint.

All popes strove to load the College of Cardinals with their kin and allies to ensure that their factions had a leg up in the next election, and over the course of the five popes Rodrigo had lived under the portion of stooges and nephews in the college had ballooned like the bubo of a plague victim. Rodrigo Borgia agreed to a high but reasonable limit I believe the limit was six, although I could be a little off.

Then, still within the blushing springtime of his papacy, he trashed that limit and appointed twelve! It was a strange and strained life growing up a Borgia bastard, with a Spanish father but an Italian mother, raised in Rome.

Guide Album for the Young. Appendix 1. No. 5. Lagoon in Venice

The Italians considered the Borgias Spanish, but in Spanish eyes they seemed Italian, making them literally at home nowhere. This left them wealthy and well-set-up, but also rootless in a world of enemies. He was an old man, and had to move fast. He bought a ducal title for his intended heir, Pier Luigi. When Pier Luigi died, he bought one for the next son, Giovanni, and made Giovanni commander of the papal armies.

He married his younger son Gioffredo, aged 12 to a princess of Naples aged He filled the College of Cardinals with stooges who owed their positions and fortunes to the Borgia family, and ensured they had no other allies and many enemies, so they had nowhere to turn if they broke from the Borgia fold.

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All this is expected of a Renaissance pope. He spent lavish sums on redecorating the papal apartments within the Vatican palace, with the Borgia bull all over them. He took a new mistress, the young and enchanting Giulia Farnese, and soon the papal palace rang with the cries of a newborn papal princess. He used papal military forces to pursue personal family vendettas, particularly against the Orsini and Delle Rovere. All this was also pretty standard for a Renaissance pope. Here is where it gets exceptional. Cardinals and other powerful figures who opposed the Borgias kept dying—sometimes of symptoms suggesting poison, sometimes of bloody assassinations, sometimes of obviously trumped up court sentences, or of unexplained issues while they were incarcerated in the private papal prison in Castel san Angelo.

The estates of the condemned kept getting confiscated by the holy see, and winding up, not in the papal treasury, but privately in the hands of the popes sons and cousins. Giovanni was a Duke, and begins demanding to be treated as the equal of the many Italian nobles who had looked down their noses all those years at the half-Spanish mutts. Cesare, meanwhile, positioned in the papal conclave and with fourteen-or-so other Cardinals appointed by his father and sure to vote his way, was in a good position to succeed his father in the next election.

Now the papacy was ready to become a permanent hereditary Borgia monarchy. In big problems began, somewhat hard to summarize, but largely revolving around the primary rival Borgia had defeated in that hard-fought election: Giuliano della Rovere. His every move made him more powerful at the cost of his enemies, so the worse things got, the bleaker the prospect of taking down the Borgia monster.

She was supposed to be one of the most beautiful ladies in the world, with blonde hair which fell past her knees, and a keen and well-trained intellect.

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Unfortunately, she was too valuable. That one ended in a juicy and unsolved murder. All the rumors of corruption that follow corrupt rulers naturally followed the Borgias, and I mean all of them. Every important person who died was poisoned by the Borgias. Every body found floating in the Tiber was their fault. Lucrezia was sleeping with her brothers. Lucrezia was sleeping with her father.

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Giovanni murdered his own wife. Most of these rumors must be untrue, and experts have spent many years making baby steps toward sorting true from false, but the majority is pretty much impossible to verify. It does seem to be true that there was a patch in there when so many Cardinals were being murdered that there were active betting pools in Rome where you could lay money on which Cardinal would be offed next. I myself am half convinced by the numerous accounts that claim that Cesare used to go out in the streets at night and murder people for fun.

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I mean, why not? Many of the claims may be outlandish, but neither historical facts nor the rule of plausibility can really help us quash them when the facts we do have are so exactly what we would expect if everything was true. What was history supposed to think?

But these were small things. In , one of the bodies floating in the Tiber was their own. Alexander launched an intense investigation, then suddenly halted it after less than two weeks without any announcement of the result. No one was convicted. Rumors blamed the Orsini. Darker rumors blamed his fellow Borgias. Young Gioffredo Borgia was accused, on the grounds that Giovanni was supposed to have been sleeping with his wife. Cesare Borgia was accused on the grounds of… of… frankly, it just seems that everyone who knew Cesare and knew Giovanni and knew the situation just agreed, as if by instinct, that it was Cesare.

Nothing else made sense. Fratricide—the narrative demands it. Why kill Giovanni? I freely confess that my tendency to believe those who claim he did is based solely on A its consistency with his later actions, and B the fact that it feels narratively right. There is no proof! But Giovanni, he was the one who got to be a Duke, to marry a princess, to enjoy the lands and castles, and to carry on the Borgia name. He had been the heir. The logical next heir should have been Gioffredo. Instead Cesare took center stage. He renounced the Cardinalship, becoming the only man in history ever to do so.

His father pressured the French into giving him a princess for a wife, and a Ducal title. He took command of the papal armies, and control of the Borgia estates. But Alexander continued to sort-of treat him as a Cardinal and he continued to sort-of act like one, making everyone worry that they might still intend Cesare to succeed his father as pope even though he was now also intending to succeed as worldly heir. What did it mean? Titular power was not enough now. What Alexander and Cesare made now was different.

Alexander gave a big hunk of the papal states to Cesare, as a permanent gift. These vicars were in theory appointed by the pope and could be replaced by him, though in practice the position was by custom passed along noble lines from father to son. To depose them all and give their lands to his son as the new vicar was thus technically legal but practically unthinkable, and an as great a shock to the political scene as if a king of France had suddenly deposed half his top nobles. Next Cesare raised armies and started, on small pretexts, attacking neighboring city-states and territories, ejecting the current rulers and adding them to his private Borgia kingdom.

Let me repeat: a new blotch appeared on the European map, a kingdom out of nowhere, carved out in the heart of Italy, a kingdom which no longer belonged to the pope, or any Italian house, but to the Borgias. Whether Cesare became pope next or not, he would be Duke—perhaps soon King—of an ever-growing chunk of the world. No pope had done this. No pope had done anything close to this. The new and growing Borgia Kingdom was an especially terrifying force in the eyes of those on its ever-changing borders. These were not subtle takeovers but outright sieges, with the full brutality of Renaissance warfare.

The threat of war with the Turk meant nothing to him. So even the untouchable noble house of Este fell into Borgia hands. And do you know what plump, gold-fatted city-state lay directly west of the patch where Cesare was playing king-unmaker? Good guess.

Album for the Young. Appendix 1. No. 5. Lagoon in Venice
Album for the Young. Appendix 1. No. 5. Lagoon in Venice
Album for the Young. Appendix 1. No. 5. Lagoon in Venice
Album for the Young. Appendix 1. No. 5. Lagoon in Venice
Album for the Young. Appendix 1. No. 5. Lagoon in Venice
Album for the Young. Appendix 1. No. 5. Lagoon in Venice

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