This is a very well-written book that is geared for the average historical book reader. It tells the tale of the Borgia family, from its first pope, through the death of the last famous (or infamous) person Cesare. Along the way we become acquainted with various Borgia relatives, but most of all with Rodrigo Borgia, who becomes Pope Alexander VI.
This was a time of great fragmentation on the Italian peninsula, with warlords in control of various towns, and many of those theoretically owing allegiance and money and men to the Pope when he needed an army for one thing or another. It was also an era when churchmen led armies, particularly cardinals, who often were more bloodthirsty than their own soldiers.
It's a fascinating look at those times, and we get views not only of Italy, but Naples, France, Spain, Venice, etc.. It really could get confusing, but the author keeps everything very straightforward. His main contention is that the Borgia family members were not the inhuman monsters that later writers made them out to be. The Pope was a nepotist, that's true, but that was not unusual for the time. Murders were committed for one reason or another, and often later writers would place blame for these murders, and also poisonings, on the Borgias, who, it must be said, were extremely unpopular in their own time, and absolutely vilified after they were gone.
I greatly enjoyed the revisionist tenor of the book, for it's quite difficult to present a true picture about people and events from 500 years ago. The author has done the best he could, and I applaud him for it, and recommend this book highly.
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About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka (frankiethek)
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
“A vivid and at times startling reappraisal of one of the most notorious dynasties in history . . . If you thought you knew the Borgias, this book will surprise you.”—Tracy Borman, author ofQueen of the ConquerorandElizabeth’s Women
“The Borgiasis a fascinating look into the lives of the notorious Italian Renaissance family and its reputation for womanizing, murder and corruption. Meyer turns centuries of accepted wisdom about the Borgias on its head, probing deep into contemporary documents and neglected histories to reveal some surprising truths. . . .The Borgias: The Hidden Historyis a gripping history of a tempestuous time and an infamous family.”—Shelf Awareness
“The mention of the Borgia family often conjures up images of a ruthless drive for power via assassination, serpentine plots, and sexual debauchery. This is partially owing to propaganda spread by contemporary rivals of the Borgias, nineteenth-century Renaissance historians, and even films and television shows. . . . [Meyer] convincingly looks past the mythology to present a more nuanced portrait of some members and their achievements. . . . [The] Borgias are treated with . . . evenhandedness in this well-researched and surprising study.”—Booklist “Many accounts of the Borgias focus on the most scandalous stories about this powerful Italian Renaissance family. . . . Meyer argues that many of these salacious tales are untrue and the ...