Cloulas, conservator-in-chief of the French National Archives, here follows the lives of the most notorious members of the infamous Renaissance family: Alonso Borgia, the nepotistic Spanish cleric who became Pope Calixtus III; his licentious nephew, Rodrigo, who became Pope Alexander VI; Rodrigo's son, the treacherous Cesare, who was determined to bring much of Italy under Borgia control; Rodrigo's vilified daughter, Lucrezia; and the pious Francis, Rodrigo's great-grandson, who was later canonized. Cloulas presents his colorful account dispassionately; indeed, it takes little to make lively reading out of the details of this family tale--lawlessness, murder, debauchery, incest, political intrigue, fratricide, adultery and a host of other depravities speak for themselves. Stories about the Borgias have excited curiosity for centuries, and this lucidly written history, much of it based on accounts by their contemporaries, should serve to keep the fascination alive. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tales of incest, murder, and numerous other vices have long made Rodrigo, Lucretia, and Cesare Borgia subjects of popular interest. This translation from the French of a best-selling but scholarly family history succeeds in placing the Borgias within the broader perspective of Renaissance politics, religion, and ordinary dynastic ambition. Known fact is separated from legend, as the author weaves together, over two centuries, a complex group portrait that concludes with Francis Borgia, ``a genuine saint.'' The activities of the more infamous personalities are viewed as little different from those of other contemporary dynasties seeking political power in a fluid and treacherous environment. The result, at long last, is a balanced narrative likely to become the standard work. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-- William F. Young, SUNY at Albany Lib.
Library Journal - Library Journal