The Borgia name is synonymous with corruption, crime, and scandal. In Malice of Fortune, several Borgia family members play both prominent and subtle roles against the backdrop of the Renaissance papacy.
Pope Alexander VI
Born in Spain as Roderic Llançol i de Borja (Rodrigo Borgia), he studied law in Bologne before being appointed cardinal by his uncle, Pope Callixtus III. During his reign, Alexander VI became known for his illicit relationships, political corruption, and nepotism. In The Prince, Machiavelli writes that "Alexander VI did nothing but deceive men" (chapter XVIII).
Cesare, the Duke of Valentino
Cesare is believed to be Rodrigo Borgia's oldest son and his ruthless political manner is often cited as Machiavelli's inspiration for The Prince. He was made cardinal by his father upon his graduation from university, and was known for being a skillful soldier.
Lucrezia, the Duchess of Ferrera
Rumored to have had an incestuous relationship with her brother Cesare, Lucrezia was used as a political pawn by her father, who arranged her multiple marriages. She also had a reputation - of debatable accuracy - of being a cunning poisoner.
Giovanni, the Duke of Gandia
Also referred to by his Spanish name, Juan, in The Malice of Fortune, Giovanni's unsolved murder drove his grief-stricken father, Alexander VI, to launch large investigations. His death marks the beginning of Michael Ennis's novel.
This article was originally published in November 2012, and has been updated for the
June 2013 paperback release.
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