The Borgias and Their Enemies

The Borgias and Their Enemies

1431-1519

Book - 2008
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The name Borgia is synonymous with the corruption, nepotism, and greed that were rife in Renaissance Italy. The powerful, voracious Rodrigo Borgia, better known to history as Pope Alexander VI, was the central figure of the dynasty. Two of his seven papal offspring also rose to power and fame--Lucrezia Borgia, his daughter, whose husband was famously murdered by her brother, and that brother, Cesare, who served as the model for Machiavelli's The Prince. Notorious for seizing power, wealth, land, and titles through bribery, marriage, and murder, the dynasty's dramatic rise from its Spanish roots to its occupation of the highest position in Renaissance society forms a gripping tale. Erudite, witty, and insightful, Hibbert removes the layers of myth around the Borgia family and creates a portrait alive with his sense of character and place.--From publisher description.
Publisher: Orlando : Harcourt, Inc., c2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780151010332
0151010331
Branch Call Number: 945.050922 B64491H 2008
Characteristics: vi, 328 p. ; 24 cm

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VaughanPLKarenL Jan 11, 2017

I realize this is a slim volume and some things are going to get skipped over, but there are a lot of things that got glossed over that probably could have benefited from being covered in even just slightly more detail. Instead of removing “the layers of myth around the Borgia family”, Hibbert serves to add another layer onto them: there is precious little in this volume that has not been covered in years past (in single books). Hibbert also fails to use in-text citations, footnotes, or endnotes, with a couple of exceptions – and from memory, it may very well literally be a couple - where he does note who said or saw something (without citing it), making for a rather harrowing read when you keep in mind this is supposed to be history. He does, however, include a short bibliography at the end. If you don’t mind not knowing the reliability of information – more specifically not being given the chance to even judge for yourself – then this might be an interesting read for you. Otherwise, there are plenty of other books on the Borgia family and specific Borgia family members that would be a much better investment of your time.

The Borgias by G. J. Meyer is a much more in-depth coverage of the Borgia family, touching on the myths, or what is oft said about them (these are actually also discussed by Hibbert, though accepted completely as truth, which is what you get with older contemporary and as close to contemporary sources as well), as well as providing possible alternate explanations. It is a much longer read, but well worth it, as it discusses different perspectives regarding the information often cited in other works. Meyer also gives the reader context in which to understand actions taken by the Borgias and those around them, which helps ground what might otherwise be seen as singular atrocities. Whether you are convinced of Meyer’s hypotheses or not, Meyer gives the reader enough information to decide for themselves - I cannot say the same for Hibbert.

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