Clearly this week was a fine time to be reading and finishing a book about Popes and the underpinnings of Papal Renaissance history. As the events progressed to the election on the second ballot of Francis I on my television, I held in my hand a superb historical version of many of the same events and was able to learn much more about the history of the Papacy, other popes and the murky underside of at least that political scene vis-a vis politics of Rome.
Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI,had been a Cardinal for more than 40 years and he was not seeking, nor expecting this to happen. Cardinals elect Popes, as we have seen this week and a handful of Cardinals instead of over one hundred, would have had a much harder time doing their job. Rodrigo's had helped him on his rise through the military ranks and did not fail to support his rise to becoming Pope Alexander VI.
GJ Meyer's contention, which he clearly proved, was that the Borgias were no worse and for the most part were much better than other Renaissance Italian families. A partial explanation is that the Borgias were actually Spaniards in a time and place that that was looked down upon. They were a clan of ambitious power brokers but such was the power structure of the time in Italy, Spain and France, and they rose to the top.
A fitting companion to Meyer's treatises on the Tudors as the Popes were shaped political history in this period of time. The Borgias with their military and religious political supremacy operated like Warlords and took care of their own.
The author is a splendid writer and a superb researcher, the documents he utilized to prepare and defend his treatise were awe inspiring. I am grateful to him and to NetGalley for the opportunity to accompany the Borgia family on their hidden journey through history.