The Borgias

22 Nov, 2012 940 History of Europe

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Borgias, the most notorious family in Renaissance Italy. Famed for their treachery and corruption, the Borgias produced two popes during their time of dominance in Rome in the late 15th century. The most well-known of these two popes is Alexander VI, previously Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. He was accused of buying votes to elect him to the papacy and openly promoted his children in positions of power. Rodrigo’s daughter, Lucrezia, is widely remembered as a ruthless poisoner; his son, Cesare, as a brutal soldier. Murder, intrigue and power politics characterised their rule, but many of the stories now told about their depraved behaviour and evil ways emerged after their demise and gave rise to the so-called ‘Black Legend’. The sullied reputation of the Borgia dynasty endures even today and their lives have provided a major theme for plays, novels and over forty films.

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  • Evelyn Welch 6 episodes
    Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London
  • Catherine Fletcher 4 episodes
    Lecturer in Public History at the University of Sheffield
  • Christine Shaw No other episodes
    Honorary Research Fellow at Swansea University

Reading list

  • Lucrezia Borgia
    Maria Bellonci (Phoenix, 2000) Google Books →
  • Cesare Borgia: His Life and Times
    Sarah Bradford (Phoenix, 2001) Google Books →
  • Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy
    Sarah Bradford (Penguin Books, 2005) Google Books →
  • Pope Alexander VI and His Court: Extracts from the Latin Diary of Johannes Burchardus
    Johannes Burchardus (Bibliolife, 2009) Google Books →
  • The Italian Renaissance: The Essential Readings
    Paula Findlen (ed.) (Wiley-Blackwell, 2002) Google Books →
  • The House of Borgia
    Christopher Hibbert (Constable, 2009) Google Books →
  • The Borgia Chronicles: 1414-1572
    Mary Hollingsworth (Metro Books, 2011)
  • The Prince
    Niccolo Machiavelli (Oxford World Classics, 1984) Google Books →
  • The Borgias: The Rise and Fall of the Most Infamous Family in History
    Michael Mallett (Academy Chicago Publishers, 2005) Google Books →
  • Italy in the Age of the Renaissance: 1300-1550
    John M. Najemy (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2004) Google Books →
  • Art in Renaissance Italy: 1350-1500
    Evelyn Welch (Oxford Paperbacks, 2000) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. The Borgias are thought to be one of the most notorious dynasties in European history.