A Novel of Machiavelli and the Borgias. | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

A Novel of Machiavelli and the Borgias.

Sarah Dunant continues her narrative on the campaigns of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, to carve out a family possession in Italy. Florence is hanging on to its Republican status, having booted out the Medici in 1494, while, elsewhere, old noble families are knocked aside by the mercenaries they had depended upon. One of them, Vitellozzo Vitelli, is driven by revenge for Florence’s execution of his brother, siding with and then double-crossing the pope’s eldest son, Cesare Borgia, the novel’s central character. Vitelli is garroted for his pains. The Borgias have little regard for the Italian nobles who dominate the peninsula. As outsiders, they can afford to be circumspect, playing the Italians at their own superficial game. Pius III, who briefly succeeded Alexander VI as pope in 1503, came from a bankrupt Sienese family, whose founder, Pius II, referred to the Medici rulers of Florence as ‘more cultured than merchants usually are’.