Simon Sebag Montefiore charts Rome's rise from the abandonment and neglect of the 14th century into the everlasting seat of the papacy recognised today. His story takes us through the debauchery and decadence of the Renaissance, the horrors of the Sack of Rome and the Catholic Reformation, through to the arrival of fascism and the creation of the Vatican State. By taking us inside Rome's most sensational palaces and churches and telling the stories behind some of the world's most beloved art, Sebag Montefiore's final instalment is a visual feast.
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Borgias, the most notorious family in Renaissance Italy. Famed for their treachery and corruption, the Borgias produced two popes during their time of dominance in Rome in the late 15th century. The most well-known of these two popes is Alexander VI, previously Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. He was accused of buying votes to elect him to the papacy and openly promoted his children in positions of power. Rodrigo's daughter, Lucrezia, is widely remembered as a ruthless poisoner; his son, Cesare, as a brutal soldier.
Murder, intrigue and power politics characterised their rule, but many of the stories now told about their depraved behaviour and evil ways emerged after their demise and gave rise to the so-called 'Black Legend'. The sullied reputation of the Borgia dynasty endures even today and their lives have provided a major theme for plays, novels and over forty films.
In his Eulogy of Florence (Laudatio Florentinae Urbis) Leonardo Bruni praised her constitution for giving first place to justice, “without which no city can exist or deserve the name.” Moreover, he said, “Not only citizens, but aliens as well are protected by this commonwealth. It suffers injury to be done to no man, and endeavors to see to it that everyone, citizen or alien, shall receive the justice that is owing to him.” During Bruni’s own tenure as chancellor of Florence, however, we hear of a Jewish banker who was ruined by the heaviest fine in the history of the city after a trial that one modern scholar has described as a monstrous miscarriage of justice.
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An overview of the main Borgias including everyone's favourite psychopath Cesare and the ever entertaining Alexander VI. Contains links to video clips from the TV series too...