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At the Court of the Borgia

Being an account of the reign of Pope Alexander VI, written by his master of ceremonies, Johann Burchard. Translated by Geoffrey Parker (1963) Excerpts are available on the Internet Archive

Johann Burchard was Papal Master of Ceremonies from 1483 to his death in 1506. His responsibilities at the Vatican included oversight of protocol and procedures for official ceremonies. He kept a detailed diary of his experiences that provides an insight into the papacy of the Borgias. This publication is an abridged version of his voluminous diary, titled Liber Notarium, which contained detialed lists and logistics of his duties at the papal court (they were his own how-to manual). The record is astonishingly detailed in parts and provides an accurate picture of the happenings at court during the reign of Pope Alexander VI.

The Borgias:  Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The Borgias and Their Enemies 1431-1519

by Christopher Hibbert (2008)
previously published as The House of Borgia

The first major biography of the Borgias in thirty years. Christopher Hibberts latest history brings the family and the world they lived in - the glittering Rome of the Italian Renaissance - to life. Erudite, witty and always insightful, Hibbert removes the layers of myth around the Borgia family and creates a portrait alive with his superb sense of character and place. This is a well-researched but very readable introduction to the Borgias and their times.

csare borgia the life and times by sarah bradford
Cesare Borgia: His Life and Times

by Sarah Bradford (1976)

His rise to fame was meteoric. The illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, he was, by his twenty-seventh year, the most hated, feared and envied man of Renaissance Europe. His story is the drama of a man of exceptional gifts and a driving lust for power, who was to die at the age of thirty-one as violently and spectacularly as he had lived.

The Borgias:  Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy

by Sarah Bradford (2004)

The very name Lucrezia Borgia conjures up everything that was sinister and corrupt about the Renaissance - incest, political assassination, papal sexual abuse, poisonous intrigue, unscrupulous power grabs. Yet, as bestselling biographer Sarah Bradford reveals in this breathtaking new portrait, the truth is far more fascinating than the myth. Neither a vicious monster nor a seductive pawn, Lucrezia Borgia was a shrewd, determined woman who used her beauty and intelligence to secure a key role in the political struggles of her day.

See Video Link for free download

The Borgias:  Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The Borgias

by Marion Johnson (1981)

In this lavishly illustrated biography, Marion Johnson plots the dramatic rise of the Borgias from their beginnings in Spain to their occupation of the highest position in Renaissance Society, at a time when Italy was the center of the European stage, both culturally and politically. She explains why history has shown the Borgias as fallen men and women in a bad era, but considers the condemnation to have been too absolute and instead contends that behind the gaudy horrors lie people of real talent and achievement, possessors of even moderate virtues.

The Borgias:  Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The Prince

by Niccolo Machiavelli (1513)

The Prince is a political treatise by the Italian public servant and political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli. Originally called De Principatibus (About Principalities), it was originally written in 1513, but not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. The Prince was one of the first works of modern philosophy, in which pragmatic ends, as opposed to teleological concepts, are the purpose. The treatise is the most remembered of his works and the one responsible for bringing "Machiavellian" into wide usage as a pejorative term.

The Borgias:  Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The Book of the Courtier

by Baldassare Castiglione

The Book of the Courtier was written over the course of many years beginning in 1508 and published in 1528 just before his death. It addresses the constitution of a perfect courtier, and in its last installment, a perfect lady. The Book of the Courtier remains the definitive account of Renaissance court life. Because of this, it is considered one of the most important Renaissance works.

The Borgias:  Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The Prettiest Love Letters in the World

Letters Between Lucrezia Borgia & Pietro Bembo 1503 to 1519
translated by Hugh Shankland (1987)

The covert love affair they conducted over sixteen years under the nose of Lucrezia's husband Duke Alfonso II d'Este, was as dangerous as it was impassioned - and their letters, which provide a unique record of life during the Italian Renaissance, are a testament both to a relationship of rare beauty and to a Renaissance society of strict boundaries, dark dynastic drives, boundless political ambition, and extraordinary gallantry.

The Borgias:  Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

Barbara W. Tuchman (1984)

Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, author Barbara Tuchman now tackles the pervasive presence of folly in governments through the ages. Defining folly as the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives, Tuchman details four decisive turning points in history that illustrate the very heights of folly in government.

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Burckhardt
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

by Jacob Burckhardt (1898)

Jacob Burckhardt: "the investigator who has given us of today our controlling picture of the Renaissance." - Ernst Troeltsch
Jacob Burckhardt combined masterly learning and familiar enchantment - his great and delightful classic is a thing so valuable and fascinating that to speak of it in ususal words is not easy." - The Observer (london) Vol. 1 - The State as a Work of Art, The Development of the Individual, The Revival of Antiquity. Vol. 2 - The Discovery of the World and of Man, Society and Festivals, Morality and Religion

The Borgias: Non-Fiction Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The History of Italy

by Francesco Guicciardini (1561)

Translated, edited, with notes and an Introduction by Sidney Alexander (1984)

In 1537 Francesco Guicciardini, adviser and confidant to three popes, governor of several central italian states, ambassador, administrator, military captain - and persona non grata with the ruling Medicis after the seige of Florence - retired to his villa to write a history of his times. His Storia d'Italia became the classic history of Italy - both a brilliant portrayal of the Renaissance and a penetrating vision into the tragedy and comedy of human history in general.

The Borgias: Non-Fiction Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The Bed and the Throne: The Life of Isabella d'Este

by George R Marek (1976)

The Italian Renaissance -- three astounding centuries of creative rebirth and incessant political ructions--did not lack for dazzling figures...But in all that glittering gallery, the woman whose story is told here was surely one of the most she is one of the least familiar. Brilliant, vain, generous, calculating, Isabella d'Este played the Renaissance game with an expertise that outflanked Popes and Emperors, using her brains, her charm, and her unswerving purpose to psych her opponents. An accomplished flirt, an astute statesman, she kept Mantua, the state ostensibily ruled by her husband, intact and safe from a series of powerful predators: Cesare Borgia, the Republic of Venice, a succession of Popes, the King of Naples, two Kings of France. Toward the end of her life, she turned over to her son one of the few independent principalities of sixteenth century Italy.

In the Pillory
In the Pillory: The Tale of the Borgia Pope (Damning Exposure of Romanism)

by John Bond (1929)

The book is according to its title - a damning exposure of Romanism. It is a very biased andti-Borgia, anti-papist, and entertaining book. Please read it with a handful of salt, and if you must be swayed, remember the goal of this book is to discredit the church. When the author has such a slant, he will use only evidence that supports his claim.

The images are very useful, though he does not credit his sources for the pictures.

Click on the book cover for a link to the online book.

Lucrèce Borgia Lucrèce Borgia

by Geneviève Chastenet (1993)

Geneviève presents the figure of Lucrezia and put her in her context: in the heart of the Renaissance, a period of the extremes, for the suntuosity and the latent violency, for the splendorous and the refinament and the horrible crimes that were comited in it.

With this essay, the author shows
a very natural and comprenhensible Lucrezia.

Lucrezia Borgia - Maria Bellonci
Lucrezia Borgia

by Maria Bellonci (1953)

Although Lucrezia Borgia was a daughter of Pope Alexander VI and chiefly remembered as a raven-haired poisoner, Bellonci depicts a passionate woman moving uncertainly through the papal court and the intrigues, ambitions, and political chicanery that swirled about her. Winner of the Viareggio Literary Award and the Galante Prize in Italy in 1953.

The Life & Legend Of Lucrezia Borgia by MG Scarsbrook
The Life & Legend Of Lucrezia Borgia

by M. G. Scarsbrook (2011)

This eBook gathers together all the basic and crucial information needed for a study into the life of Lucrezia Borgia, including a detailed timeline, biographical profile, an extensive description of her life in Rome, and a discussion of the Borgia family's connection to poison. This edition also features a broad collection of texts about Lucrezia and her notorious family:

- Lucretia Borgia: According To Original Documents and Correspondence of Her Day by Ferdinand Gregorovius
- The Borgias (from 'Celebrated Crimes') by Alexander Dumas
- The Life of Cesare Borgia by Rafael Sabatini
- Lucrezia Borgia, libretto by Felice Romani for the opera by Gaetano Donizetti (in Italian)
- Encyclopedia Britannica articles (11th edition) on Lucrezia Borgia and Cesare Borgia
- Love letter from Pietro Bembo to Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia By Rachel Erlanger
Lucrezia Borgia - A Biography

by Rachel Erlanger (1978)

Who was the real Lucrezia Borgia? The young woman who had bestowed her favors on her father and her two brothers, or the respected duchess of Ferrara she became later in life, who was praised for her patronage of the arts and her good government? Rachel Erlanger digs deep into the life and times of Lucrezia Borgia and explores all the dimensions of this fascinating woman.

"Lucrezia Borgia is excellent. We agree with the author [Rachel Erlanger] that Lucrezia has been maligned. She deserves this brilliant resuscitation." - WILL and ARIEL DURANT, authors of The Story of Civilization

"Her latest and in many ways the most discerning of her biographers...Erlanger understands the period, indeed captures it with striking realism." -ROBERT KIRSCH, Times Book Critic

"Rachel Erlanger has not only woven a superb tapestry of Renaissance intrigue, but she has also assembled her evidence on Lucrezia with splendid lucidity." - MARION MEADE, author of Eleanor of Aquitaine

The Borgias: Non-Fiction Books - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
The Artist, The Philosopher and the Warrior

by Paul Strathern (2009)

In this masterful study, Paul Strathern (author of The Medici, and Napoleon in Egypt) details the incidental convergence of three of Renaissance Italy's most brilliant minds.The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior follows Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia through the mountains, remote villages and hill towns of the Italian Romagna. This was a period of extreme significance and considerable danger, not just for themselves, but for the country they were helping to shape.

Los 7 Borgia (The 7 Borgia)
Los 7 Borgia

by Ana Martos (2006)

The 7 Borgia is the result of a extraordinary investigation about this powerfull family. Enjoyable, but at the same time, precise and rigorous, this is a book that swims with historic precision thorugh time and the acussations and perversions, to work out the truth behind thet histories - who built the miyth and the black legend that covered that surname through the ages. What's the truth significance of the Borgia's surname? Inteligence, powar, beauty, santity, ambition, death...

All about Alfonso (the First Borgia in Rome and in the Papacy), Rodrigo (the most famous Pope), Cesare (the most relevant member of the family), Lucrezia (the great renaissance lady), Juan (the most unproductive of the family), Jofre (the less famous) and Francisco (the family's saint).

The Fall of the House of Borgia

by E.R. Chamberlin (1974)

This work is a narrative style biographical treatment of the rise and fall of the House of Borgia. It uses all of the primary sources available and succeeds in having a scholarly feel without the distraction of many footnotes.

The Historical Figures of George Stuart GEORGE STUART Historical Figures

by Lee Green (2004)

In this introduction to George Stuart and the Historical Figures (R),
the author pens a seven thousand words about the life and work about
the artist, historian and entertainer. The book is illustrated with images
of fifty of the most stunning Historical Figures, including the Borgia Pope
Alexander VI and his offspring Juan, Lucrezia and Cesare. Copies are
available only from the Historical Figures Foundation or the Museum of
Ventura County.

Machiavelli by Miles J Unger Machiavelli: A Biography - Miles J Unger


Miles J Unger in his book 'Machiavelli: A Biography' says he was in reality a committed family man who appears completely different from how we imagine. The books reveals that Machiavelli, who was born in 1469 and died in 1527, had his outlook shaped by the tumultous events that took plave during his lifetime, to which he had a front row seat.

The City of Man The City of Man
A True Story of the Renaissance

Michael Harrington

A trilogy based on a true story of the Italian Renaissance. This version bundles the three books - Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso - together as one.

Renaissance Florence celebrated its Golden Age during the late 15th century under Lorenzo de’ Medici, the Magnificent. This was the age of artists, philosophers and poets like Leonardo, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Pico della Mirandola, Poliziano, and Machiavelli.

But a societal crisis was imminent by the century’s last decade. The Italian peninsula was surrounded and threatened by imperialist powers, trade declined and poverty increased in the face of obscene wealth. Avaricious popes made a family business of the Church while floods, droughts, famines, and the plague combined to inflict an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.

As chaos loomed, an obscure Dominican friar arose to restore order. Fra Girolamo Savonarola was a charismatic preacher and prophet who urged religious and political reform. His mission was to transform his corrupt and decaying society into St. Augustine’s mythical City of God. At the height of his short reign he orchestrated the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities, riding a wave of popular discontent to become the most influential religious, political, a
nd cultural figure of the age. The Savonarolan theocratic republic left its indelible mark on the face of Florence, Italy, and Western history.

The City of Man is the dramatic story of this preacher’s fantastic rise and tragic fall, symbolizing a critical juncture in the conflict between church and state in the Christian world. More dramatized history than historical fiction, the story integrates the art, religion, and politics of this glorious period.

Young Niccolo Machiavelli,
as he develops his new political philosophy, provides the counterpoint to Savonarola. Their momentous clash illuminates the transition from the Age of Faith to the Age of Reason, heralding the birth of our modern age.

Formatted for the Kindle, the digital version of The City of Man incorporates special features to explore the world of Renaissance Florence, including maps, family trees, art images, dozens of internal and external hyperlinks to biographies and historical events on Wikipedia, an extensive glossary and selected scene index.

Lucrezia Borgia by Joan Haslip Lucrezia Borgia

by Joan Haslip (1953)

Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519) was the illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, the powerful Renaissance Valencian who later became Pope Alexander VI, and Vannozza dei Cattanei. Her brothers included Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, and Gioffre Borgia. Lucrezia's family later came to epitomize the ruthless Machiavellian politics and sexual corruption alleged to be characteristic of the Renaissance Papacy.

City of Fortune City of Fortune

by Roger Crowley (2011)

A magisterial work of gripping history, City of Fortune tells the story of the Venetian ascent from lagoon dwellers to the greatest power in the Mediterranean; an epic five hundred year voyage that encompassed crusades, sea battles, trade, plague and colonial adventure

Cover illustration Michael Mallett The Borgias The Borgias: the Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Dynasty

by Michael Mallett (1971)

Michael Mallett charts the rise of the Borgia family from their arrival in Italy as obscure foreigners to the heights of power in Renaissance Italy. He explains the orgins of the more sensational legends and places the Borgias in their political context.

julius ii Julius II - The Warrior Pope

by Christine Shaw (1997)

Dr. Shaw's biography of the Borgias' inveterate enemy, Giuliano della Rovere, is the first in English to make extensive use of archival sources.

Giuliano's personality made him better suited to military life than a career in the Church. This book charts his life from humble beginnings through his elevation to the cardinalate by his uncle Pope Sixtus IV, his opposition to Pope Alexander VI and unwise involvement in the French invasion of Italy to his election as Pope and subsequent career. His bellicose behaviour and uncontrollable temper earned him the nickname 'il Papa Terrible': leading his troops in armour, he increased the papacy's temporal power at the expense of its spiritual authority. He was also noted for his patronage of the arts and his relationship with Michaelangelo was as stormy as his dealings with his allies and enemies.


At the Court of the Borgia (Johann Burchard, 1506) The Folio Society publication is the most up-to-date edition of this most valuable account of the papacy under Alexander VI by his Master of Ceremonies, Johann Burchard.

The Prince (Niccolò Machiavelli, 1513, pub 1532) The famous treatise on the qualities and successes of secular rulers.

The Book of the Courtier (Baldassare Castiglione, written in 1507) about life at the court of Urbino before Cesare's rise to power.

Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (Giorgio Vasari, 1550) The first art history, this work contains facts and errors about most of the major Italian Renaissance artists, with an emphasis on the author's native Tuscany.

The History of Italy, Volume 1 (Francesco Guicciardini, written in 1537, abridged and edited by Sidney Alexander in 1970). The author, a renowned Florentine diplomat, politician and historian, covers the period 1490 to 1530.

The Prettiest Love Letters in the World: Letters Between Lucrezia Borgia & Pietro Bembo 1503 to 1519 (translated by Hugh Shankland, 1987) A record of the correspondence between Lucrezia Borgia as Duchess of Ferarra and her admirer, humanist and later cardinal Pietro Bembo.


The House of Borgia (Christopher Hibbert, 2008) (also published as “The Borgias and Their Enemies”)
The Renaissance Popes: Statesmen, Warriors and the Great Borgia Myth (Gerard Noel, 2006)
The Borgias (Michael Mallet, 1971)
The Borgias (Clemente Fusero, translated by Peter Green, 1st US ed 1972)
The Borgias (Ivan Cloulas, 1993)
The Borgias (Marion Johnson, 1981)
Chronicles of the House of Borgia (Frederick Rolfe, 1901)


The History of the Popes, Vol. 5 (Ludwig Pastor, 1908)
The Papacy (Paul Johnson, ed 1997)


The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy - 2 vols. (Jacob Burckhardt, 1929)
The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (Barbara W. Tuchman 1984)
The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy (Peter Burke, 1986)


Lucretia Borgia - According to Original Documents and Correspondence of Her Day (Ferdinand Gregorovius, 1874)
Lucrezia Borgia - Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy (Sarah Bradford, 2004)
Lucrezia Borgia: A Biography (Rachel Erlanger, 1978)
Lucrezia Borgia (Maria Bellonci, 1939)
The Life & Legend Of Lucrezia Borgia (M. G. Scarsbrook, 2011)


The Life of Cesare Borgia: of France, Duke of Valentinois and Romagna (Raphael Sabatini, 1912)
Cesare Borgia: His Life and Times (Sarah Bradford, 1976)
Cesare Borgia: the Machiavellian Prince (Carlo Beuf, 1942)


Charlotte d'Albret - Duchess of Valentinois - Wife of Cesare Borgia (Gustave Leon Schlumberger)
Caterina Sforza: A Renaissance Virago (Ernst Breisach, 1967)
Catherine Sforza (Count Pier Desiderio Pasolini, 1898)
Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, 1474-1539: A Study of the Renaissance (Julia Cartwright Ady, 1907 2 vols.)
Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497: A Study of the Renaissance (Julia Cartwright Ady, 1920)
The Mystery of the Duchess of Malfi (Barbara Banks Armendola, 2002)
The Pope's Daughter; the Extraordinary Life of Felice della Rovere (Caroline P. Murphy, 2005)

The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy's Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de' Medici by Elizabeth Lev

Celebrated Crimes Essay

The Borgias (Alexandre Dumas, 1839) described as based on the facts, except for the scandal and rumor surrounding Lucrezia's reputaion.

***Please add to this page Borgias fans****

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